Sure, they're clichés, but no romance novel would be as engrossing without one of these plots or characters

By Nina Terrero
Updated October 17, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT

Alpha Hero
The capable, caring, hot-looking protector — he of the strapping chest and chivalrous ways — swoops in to save the day…and get the girl.

Fiery Vixen
This siren — who’s never daunted, even in the face of incredible adversity — often meets her match in the alpha hero.

Ugly Duckling
Whether a man or a woman, the ugly duckling always gets passed by — until an unexpected plot twist reveals the beauty that’s been there all along.

One That Got Away
The genre staple explores all the hand-wringing drama that ensues when a great love affair jumps the tracks.

Often of the tall, dark, and handsome variety, this unlikely hero is a playboy with a string of broken hearts in his wake.

The ingenue — often a doe-eyed virgin intent on keeping her virtue intact — simultaneously exudes innocence and sexuality, a combination that, of course, makes her completely irresistible to men.

Bad Boy
This lovable scoundrel has a penchant for trouble — until, at long last, he meets the woman beguiling enough to change his roguish ways.

Damsel in Distress
Utterly helpless and a victim of dire circumstances that are beyond her control, she’s ripe for rescue — and romance.

Girl/Boy Next Door
She’s shy and studious; he’s a star athlete. But the undercurrent of passion between them makes these characters a time-honored trademark of romance.

Secret/Surprise Baby
Nothing adds heightened drama to a blossoming relationship quite like an unplanned pregnancy.