"Suddenly, Stephanie spotted Lance on the beach..."—the Danielle Steel card in Apples to Apples
Danielle Steel is an American author. Steel's novels have been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 390 consecutive weeks and 22 have been adapted for television. She has written at least one book almost every year since 1973. Many of her works are self-referential: for example she marries and divorces a heroin addict, and then her next novel is about -- quelle surprise! -- a woman who marries and divorces a heroin addict. For a full bibliography, click here.
Almost all of her books are Romance Novels.
- Airport Novel
- Beauty Equals Goodness/Beauty Is Bad: And how. Every. Single. One. of her lead characters is stunningly gorgeous or handsome, and if they're over forty, it's frequently mentioned that they look much younger than they actually are. Their good looks are just the tip of the iceberg, as the reader soon learns that they are perfect in every other way--intelligent, funny, hard-working. Any "flaws" only serve to make them more endearing. The closest she's come to an unattractive heroine is the Hollywood Pudgy protagonist of the book "Big Girl".
- Conversely, her villains are just as attractive but it's always repeatedly stated that their good looks are artificial and fading, (whereas the heroine is naturally lovely without any extra effort on her part necessary), and is the only attribute they have.
- Broken Bird: The female protagonist.
- Chick Lit
- Deus Angst Machina: Very common. An example is Gabbie in The Long Road Home, who has a very abusive mother, a father who doesn't help and leaves when she is 9 years old. Her mother then moves to California and leaves her in a convent, where she decides to become a nun and falls in love with a priest. However, they are not allowed to be together, and her lover feels guilty and hangs himself. She is kicked out of the convent and ends up moving into a boarding house. Just as things seem to be moving up, she falls in love with a con-man who beats her half to death so he can get the money she was left in a will.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Mostly played straight. It will almost always be perfectly okay for the hero/heroine to cheat on his/her partner/spouse, because said partner/spouse is a horrible, awful person. Conversely, it will always be despicable for the villain to cheat on his/her wonderful, perfect lover. To her credit, Steel does not always make all the bad adulterers male and good adulterers female and she often subverts this trope as well.
- Gratuitous Rape: Often paired with Rape as Drama. In a book where the female lead was already going through hell -- daughter injured in a car accident, husband cheating and leaving her for the other woman, distant ice queen mother, was it really necessary for a revelation that she'd been sexually abused by her father? There are numerous examples in her books, but that one really stands out.
- Lifetime Movie of the Week: During the early-to-mid '90s, many of her books where adapted for television. Although they initially ran on network TV, sure enough, Lifetime soon acquired the rights to them. It probably helps that her books are essentially literary versions of this trope.
- May-December Romance: A favorite trope of hers and unfortunately one where she frequently displays a blatant Double Standard, depending on the type of character -- a villain (usually male, of course) will always look ridiculous paired with someone younger (who will almost inevitably be a villain herself-- gold-digging, airheaded, trampy, etc.), even if the age difference is a mere 15 years. Meanwhile, a heroine can marry someone 44 years her senior (as happened in the book A Perfect Stranger) and no one bats an eye. One of the most egregious examples of this is seen in the novel Family Album is which a 40-something year old man and a 16 year old girl falling in love is present as a romance (to the point where they marry as soon as she's of legal age) rather than a case of ephebophilia and statutory rape.
- Mills and Boon Prose: The sex scenes in her novels usually fall into this.
- Strictly Formula: Probably what she is most known for. Common elements include the female protagonist who had a hard life but who now is most likely a career woman, who is with a husband who cheats and lies to her and is probably abusive, then she will meet a wonderful man who changes her life, who may be still married or unavailable in some way. This man will turn out to be a Romantic False Lead and he will either die or they will get divorced, then she falls in love with another man (or the same guy again) and they have hot sex and live happily ever after.
- Trauma Conga Line: For someone whose books are geared towards women, Steel has a disturbing tendency to frequently employ this trope. The only redeeming factor is that there's always a happy ending for the protagonist but still...
- Too Happy to Live: If a book starts off with an endless description of a character's utterly perfect life, there's a pretty good chance that all hell is going to break loose any minute.
- Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: Sometimes... her characters... they tend to use a lot of... ellipses... usually when they are in deep thought.