Part of the reason I've been exploring tropes in this series of entries is that once you can identify what themes and elements you like best, you can find many, many more books to read, ones that you're very likely to enjoy. Being able to identify your own reader catnip is a powerful thing.

Everyone's romance catnip is different, too. My closest friends hardly ever recommend romances to me because my reading tastes are so different from theirs. But when I can identify a book that will absolutely appeal to one of them based on that fact that it contains a list of tropes I really dislike, I know whom to email immediately.

One excellent way to identify your favorite tropes is to look at the books on your keeper shelf. Which romances have you held onto, even to the point where they're falling apart, because you love to re-read them? Those books probably hold the secrets to your reading catnip.

Here are two books from my tattered keeper shelf which can tell me quite a lot about my own reading preferences.

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The Bride, Julie Garwood

The Devil in Winter, Lisa Kleypas

The Bride is about a misunderstood, intelligent and determined young English woman who, by royal decree, ends up married to a Scottish laird she's never met. They are neither of them pleased by this turn of events. During the course of the story, she creates upheaval in every part of his life, but she also makes many things better for him in the process. The part I love best: They are so completely opposite one another, but they both try to resist admitting that there are feelings behind the attraction between them. The Devil in Winter

The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas is about a young woman with a severe stutter who is abused horribly by her family. Her uncle is plotting to marry her off to her cousin, then kill her once her inheritance arrives. She escapes her family to offer a bargain to Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, who is notoriously awful: He's a skirt-chasing, semivillainous wastrel. She'll marry him and give him her inheritance if he will protect her from her uncle and take her to see her father before he dies. Not only is this a story of redemption, but they also must resist admitting their emotions to one another. They need one another, but don't want to admit how much they do.

Do you see the pattern? If these were the only two books you knew I liked, you might surmise that I like marriage of convenience or forced marriage stories, romances wherein opposites attract, and novels that feature characters trying to resist admitting how they feel. You'd be entirely right about all those things. Now that I can see the common elements in my own reading, I can go find books that are similar that I know I'll enjoy.

Being able to identify what kinds of romance you love, when there are SO MANY ROMANCES published each month, is empowering and important. I hope this has been helpful for you to identify what your catnip is, and where to find it.

Which are your favorite books? What do they have in common?

Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. She loves talking with romance readers, and hopes you'll share your new favorite romance reading recommendations. You can find her on Twitter @smartbitches, on Facebook, or on her couch, most likely with her eyeglasses turned towards a book.