What’s your favorite trope within CCR? I see this question asked a lot, and I have to admit I am one of those people who can’t choose a favorite ANYTHING to save her life. I mean, in all the breadth of the whole world, why would I limit myself? I do find myself drawn to some more than others, however, and one of my top ten favorites is childhood sweethearts.
Here’s how I’ll define childhood sweethearts, in case you’re wondering: a couple who knew each other as children/young teens and either one or both experienced a strong affinity for the other.
Best friends? Counts. Childhood crush? Definitely counts. Next door neighbors sweet on each other? Totally counts.
As you can see, I might be a little liberal in my definition of childhood sweethearts. But considering a little quick research (thanks to DuckDuckGo) reveals that only about 2% of the population marries their childhood first love and the numbers aren’t much higher for marrying a high school sweetheart, there’s got to be more to the story than two kids who’ve loved only each other most of their lives.
Perhaps that’s what makes childhood sweethearts such a wonderful trope—how well it pairs with others. Think about it. Second chance romances, reunion romances, marriage of convenience, friends to lovers… and that’s not even factoring in the various subgenres like cowboy romance, Southern romance, etc. The options are fairly limitless and equally appealing.
I’ve written a number of friends-to-lovers type books (and read a gazillion more), but childhood sweethearts is something I’ve only played with a couple times in the past year or two. I have to say, though, it’s a lot of fun keeping each story unique!
For example, in This and Every Christmas (which released individually on Oct 1), Noah and Clari met several times as kids. It was fun crafting vignettes in which their annual meetings were memorable enough they’d recognize each other years later. I got to pair this novella with the single dad trope, throw in a tree farm and a music teacher, all under the umbrella of the Christmas romance subgenre.
The sequel to this tale is coming up at the end of the month in the 2021 Christmas Lights collection Home for Christmas (eBook) and individually (paperback) October 26. Now and Forever Christmas is technically a friends-to-more/second chance romance, but since they were young teen sweethearts, I think it sort of counts.
I’m kind of loving this trope right now, if you can’t tell. The third sister will get her HEA in 2022 with Not Another Christmas, but for that one I’m twisting the childhood sweethearts into childhood enemies who gradually discover more. I’ve never done enemies-to-lovers, but that is one of my top five favorite tropes, so I’m kind of excited to finally write one.
And of course, I can’t forget to talk about Braver With You, which is in the upcoming Save the Date collection. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me talk about this one (LOL! we’re in the home stretch, people!), but I’m really attached to Ashlyn and Conrad. This is the purest (as in, closest to the definition of) childhood sweethearts story I’ve written… or read for that matter, now that I think of it. They’ve only ever loved or dated each other and never faced a potential breakup. From their first pretend wedding as kids to the one they’re stressed over now, there’s never been a doubt in either of their minds that this was forever. These guys are the 2% statistic who defy the odds, and I adore them. Just because they’re sweet, though, doesn’t mean there isn’t trauma or chaos on the horizon they have to work through!
Have I enticed you to check out more of this fun trope? I hope so. And because I love contributing to your already out-of-control TBR pile, I’ve got a great list of other titles in CCR for you to choose from!
Starting with a randomly assembled list from several Inspy Romance authors and a couple others just because I can:
- Glory Falls by Janine Rosche (Book 3 in the Madison River series, you don’t HAVE to read the first two, but you should!)
- Give Me Another Chance, Cowboy from Valerie Comer (2nd in series, these are high school sweethearts)
- Tropical Kiss and Tell, also by Liwen Y. Ho is 100% childhood sweethearts. Start with book 1 to meet them as kids! Also try The Sweetest Spark.
- Saving Grace from Amy Anguish (childhood best friends, unrequited crush)
- Restoration by Laurie Larsen (high school sweethearts)
- A Sidelined Christmas from Toni Shiloh (she has a few that probably count, these are HS sweethearts)
- Valerie’s Verdict by Hallee Bridgeman certainly qualifies!
- Someplace Familiar was Teresa Tysinger’s debut (childhood friends + crush) and soooo good!
- Truth is a Whisper from Mandi Blake looks awesome, also her What if I Loved You (friends with mutual crushes in youth)
- Magnolia Storms by Janet Ferguson (this whole series is amazing)
- Jenn Faulk’s Always is one of my favorites from her. Tough issues, but it’s wonderful.
- Becky Doughty’s Gufstafson girls get better with each story, and Gia and the Blast From the Past finishes the series strong.
- Remember Me from the late Marion Ueckermann (childhood best friends, reunion, over forty)
Okay, I’m letting the list get away from me. I know many more of our IR authors and CCR favorites have titles that fall under the “childhood sweethearts” heading, so I will leave the rest to YOU to put in the comments so I can add to my own out-of-control TBR. Influence away, my friends. Tell me why the title you’re commenting with qualifies! At the end of the week, one lucky commenter will be selected at random to win an eBook of their choice between This and Every Christmas or Braver With You (an ARC). Looking forward to reading your comments!