As the world seemingly crumbles around us, it can feel really nice to escape to a world of happy endings. In the chaos that was 2020, I found temporary peace in romance novels, which led me to read over 100 of them in the last year.
Was it excessive? Probably. Was it enjoyable? Definitely.
In no particular order, these were my ten favorites.
- “The Proposal” by Jasmine Guillory
I consider Jasmine Guillory to be the queen of romance. In The Proposal, doctor Carlos saves journalist Nik from a proposal gone-wrong in the middle of Dodger stadium. Somewhere between Carlos offering Nik a ride home and their surprising encounter with sour cream, you’ll fall in love with these characters. They’re strong and relatable, and Guillory’s wit will have you smiling into the pages.
- “Red White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston
Hear me out on this one. The first son of the United States and the prince of England. I know it sounds cheesy, but McQuiston is one of the most talented writers I’ve ever experienced. This story exemplifies a young person’s struggle to come to terms with their sexuality and the pressure of growing up in the public eye. I will not shut up about how much I love this book. Check it out if you want to believe that true love exists or that Texas may go blue in the 21st century.
- “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon
This young-adult pick switches between the perspectives of Natasha, a science nerd who is trying to delay her family’s deportation to Jamaica and Daniel, a hopeless believer in fate who ends up on her journey. These high school seniors’ entire story takes place over a single day, and I read it in the same amount of time. Yoon raises some important questions about the complicated nature of citizenship while demonstrating the joys of first love. Let me know if you manage to get through this one without crying.
- “One to Watch” by Kate Stayman-London
Think The Bachelor – but make it inclusive. Stayman-London seamlessly combines the realities of looking for love in a judgemental society with the glitz and glamor that is falling in love on reality TV. This is a story about personal growth and not settling for less than what you deserve, and is an incredible example of the representation we need.
- “Not the Girl You Marry” by Andie J. Christopher
If you liked How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, you’ll love this book (And if you didn’t we can’t be friends). Protagonist Hannah has had one bad experience too many, and has subsequently given up on finding love. But when she meets Jack, ulterior motives from both characters lead to a relationship that you will root for from the very first chapter.
- “The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang
This is a great read for anyone who has ever felt that their differences may make it difficult to find love. Protagonist Stella is autistic and Michael has an unconventional career, but through their story Hoang reassures us that epic love can happen to anyone.
- “Get a Life, Chloe Brown” by Talia Hibbert
When Chloe Brown has a near-death experience, she vows to stop merely existing and start living. She makes a “Get a Life” list and somewhere along the way enlists the help of her artist super Red. I’m in love with Hibbert’s writing. Her wit and ability to pull at your heartstrings will have you thinking about Chloe and Red long after the final chapter.
- “The Bromance Book Club” by Lyssa Kay Adams
Pro baseball player Gavin and stay-at-home mom Thea’s marriage falls apart after Gavin discovers Thea’s been lying to him. But when Gavin realizes he played a significant role in the dissolution of the relationship, he turns to drastic measures to earn his wife’s trust back. Adams blend of humor and truth will make you believe in second chances.
- “The Right Swipe” by Alisha Rai
Rhiannon and Samson’s romantic history comes to a point when they’re both working for dating app companies. A joint campaign and misunderstood past has them reconsidering their position in each other’s lives. This book navigates the harsh realities of being a woman in a male-dominated industry and finding a way to fit love into a narrative of success. I loved it.
- “The Tourist Attraction” by Sarah Morgenthaler
Zoey plans to seize every moment of her two week Alaskan vacation. Hating tourists seems to be a part of local business owner Graham’s DNA, yet it’s not long before he develops a soft spot for Zoey. This one is light and fun for anyone who has ever dreamed of falling in love on vacation. (because who hasn’t?)
As 2021 proves to be more stressful than we would have hoped, I’d recommend adding one of these titles to your reading list. I think we could all use a little more love in our lives.
Consider purchasing one of these through Bookshop.org to support local bookstores. Happy 2021 and happy reading!