Trope Tuesday #9: Secret Baby

Trope Tuesday is a meme/series created by yours truly. On Tuesdays, the goal is to discuss one trope that you dislike, love, are indifferent to, hate, currently annoyed by, think is problematic, want to kill with fire, or throw out the moon door (a la Petyr Baelish). You can learn more about Trope Tuesday here.

It has been said by many people that despite my love of complex tropes, I also love some pretty basic ones. Secret Baby is one of those.

As the name suggests, the Secret Baby trope happens when the heroine hides her baby from the father. The time the baby is kept secret for depends on the story, it can be anywhere from a couple months to 5 years. Typically, the heroine will hide the baby from the hero because they have broken up after she finds out she is pregnant, or in the case of Nobody’s Baby but Mine, the heroine was just using the hero for his sperm. Secret Babies are common to contemporary romances, but they seem to be especially popular in Sports Romance.

There are two books with the Secret Baby trope that I’m going to talk about. Both of them are Sports Romances. The first, Trying to Score by Toni Aleo, follows the traditional Secret Baby path, while the second, Nobody’s Baby But Mine by The Devil, sorry, I mean Susan Elizabeth Phillips, has a different play on the trope.

In Trying to Score, the heroine, Fallon, finds out that she is pregnant after breaking up with the man she thought she was going to marry. Many years later she runs into her ex, Lucas, because she is now working as a sponsor for the Nashville Assassins who Lucas plays hockey for.

Trying to Score as everything that classic Secret Baby stories have:

  1. A huge misunderstanding that lead the couple to break up.
  2. Hiding the child well into their elementary school years
  3. That dramatic moment when the hero sees the heroines kid and realizes that the kid could be his doppelganger (Fallon gets bonus points for naming her son after Lucas’s dead father).

Now, Nobody’s Baby But Mine is truly something else. If you have been following me on Twitter for a while then you probably have seen me talk about the book before. It’s a doozy.

The heroine, Jane Darlington, is a genius physicist who desperately wants to have a baby. Unfortunately for her, her partner just broke up with her and she now has no sperm supply. Being the genius that she is, she wants to find a “dumb” husband so her child will not have to face the stigma she did growing up as a genius (now whoever said being a genius meant you have an ounce of rationality). Naturally, she picks a football player. Who better than Cal Bonner, who she has not researched, but seems incredibly unintelligent from the one interview she saw him in (she later has a break down when she learns he has a degree in biology and that he isn’t actually an airhead).

Nobody’s Baby But Mine is different from Secret Baby stories like Trying to Score for a couple reasons:

  1.  Unlike most Secret Baby stories, Jane was never in a relationship with Cal prior to getting pregnant. She pretends to be a hooker hired for his birthday so she can have sex with him and trick him into getting her pregnant (she sabotages the condom without telling him).
  2. Cal finds out that he got Jane pregnant before she even has the baby. In fact, the vast majority of the story is them living together during his pregnancy (which he forces her to do because it is his kid).

Yeah, that book is a mess.

People often criticize the Secret Baby trope for being over the top or bad because the heroine hides the child’s existence from their father. Those are both valid criticisms that I don’t disagree with. I just love the drama. As a big fan of second chance romances, the premise of a couple being forced back together after the big secret comes out is very appealing to me. That’s not to say I rate these books high because I don’t. I’m seriously in it only for the Drama™ .

Other examples of the Secret Baby trope can be found in The Total Package. You can check out even more examples here on my Goodreads shelf for Secret Babies.

My Verdict: Even if I believed in what people call “guilty pleasures”, Secret Baby would not be one of those… Do I have any shame?

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What do you think of the Secret Baby trope? Love it, Hate it, Tired of it?

3 thoughts on “Trope Tuesday #9: Secret Baby

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