Welcome to part 2 in this series getting us into the romantic mood.
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and whether you have someone to celebrate with or not (or even still), it’s a great time to just bury ourselves in a cute, romantic book. I mean, my boyfriend already knows this.
While I’m always excited and open to read new romantic contemporaries or fantasies/thrillers that have strong romantic elements in them, there are definitely comfort romances I gravitate towards when I just wanna curl up with a cozy blanket and a hot drink on a cold February night.
If that sounds like something you’re looking for, I wanted to share some of my go-to romances with you. Maybe you’ll find a great read out of the list. Or even better, maybe we can swap favorite romances in the comments below!
This is my list. I hope you enjoy!
Love, Life and the List by Kasie West
Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings, Abby isn’t going to take any chances.
Which is where the list comes in.
Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list, she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being.
But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems . . . and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.
This is my favorite trope, best friends to lovers, with the angst of unrequited love. I also love the exploration of Abby’s identity in her art, but her growth throughout Cooper’s process of finding out she liked him tested her and made her and their relationship even stronger. Altogether a really cute and solid read.
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.
The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.
Another wonderful trope beloved by many, this story has all the feels of fake dating (except they’re really more for specific dates than continuously). It was one of the first books I picked up with this trope and it hits the spot for the reason I enjoy YA contemporaries.
The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory
Maddie and Theo have two things in common:
1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other
After an “Oops, we made a mistake” kiss, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking.
But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love.
I loved this more than even the first book in the series solely because I felt this romantic chemistry between the leads so much. The conflict and verbal sparring was bound to explode at some point and their ensuing relationship they hid from those around them was hilarious and so much fun!
If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good.
In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…
But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.
There’s just something about a mean girl falling for the cute brainy loner guy. Or is that just me? The romance surprisingly hits all the feels, and the growth of our girl in her journey towards being a “better” her is the cherry on top.
Best Laid Plans by Cameron Lund
High school senior Keely Collins takes on firsts, lasts, and everything in between in this sweet, sex-positive rom-com for fans of Meg Cabot and Jenny Han.
It seemed like a good plan at first.
When the only other virgin in her group of friends loses it at Keely’s own eighteenth birthday party, she’s inspired to take things into her own hands. She wants to have that experience too (well, not exactly like that–but with someone she trusts and actually likes), so she’s going to need to find the guy, and fast. Problem is, she’s known all the boys in her small high school forever, and it’s kinda hard to be into a guy when you watched him eat crayons in kindergarten.
So she can’t believe her luck when she meets a ridiculously hot new guy named Dean. Not only does he look like he’s fallen out of a classic movie poster, but he drives a motorcycle, flirts with ease, and might actually be into her.
But Dean’s already in college, and Keely is convinced he’ll drop her if he finds out how inexperienced she is. That’s when she talks herself into a new plan: her lifelong best friend, Andrew, would never hurt or betray her, and he’s clearly been with enough girls that he can show her the ropes before she goes all the way with Dean. Of course, the plan only works if Andrew and Keely stay friends–just friends–so things are about to get complicated.
Cameron Lund’s delightful debut is a hilarious and heartfelt story of first loves, first friends, and first times–and how making them your own is all that really matters
Don’t you love that kinda story that seems to point towards one guy being the love interest but you just KNOW another person right in front of them is even better for them? Well, that’s what this one is, and I’m a huge sucker for these stories.
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.
That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.
Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.
This book probably needs no intro, but who doesn’t love a well executed love story between a grumpy and sunshine couple combo? The science stuff is all the extra stuff I never knew I needed in my romance books!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed.
But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh.
As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
Before it became a hit Netflix movie, this story drew me in with its cute fake dating plot mixed with Korean references I wasn’t used to seeing in YA fiction at the time. There’s a lot of hope and growth in this story that is the hallmark of good YA.
Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets: Secrets from her boyfriend: I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken. Secrets from her mother: I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur. Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world: I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is. Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger.…Until Emma comes face-to-face with Jack Harper, the company’s elusive CEO, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her…
The premise just immediately draws you in! Imagine having all your biggest secrets rushing out during a moment of sheer panic. But what if the person listening to you spilling your guts was your new boss? What a conundrum! This is the perfect comfort read with tons of laugh out loud moments and a sweet romance budding between an unlikely pairing.
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership.
Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer–and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope–and finds love–is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake.
But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?
In the same vein, this Sophie Kinsella book brings two opposite people together but with undeniable chemistry. A workaholic lawyer placed as a housekeeper of sorts who knows absolutely NO basic house skills? That’s bound to get messy, especially when the man she’s interested in doesn’t know who she is! You know things are going to go down.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, didn’t expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.
I rave about this book all the time, and it’s the only one on this list that’s not contemporary romance. While it’s sci-fi, the characterization here is truly a work of art, and Wanda’s journey in finding where she belongs among enemy humans is THE best I’ve read. Especially the romance. Trust me.
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.
Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.
If you’ve stuck around long enough, one thing about me is that unrequited love is a trope I absolutely ADORE. I love the angst of it and the question of happily ever after for the one pining away. Am I little masochistic for loving such angst? Maybe. But that won’t stop me from wanting more, and this book delivers! Not just the initial angst, but also the exploration of how a young couple can survive the external factors thrown at them.
Dare You To by Katie McGarry
If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….
Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.
But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all….
Opposites attract with this love story. The chemistry was off the literal charts with this one as bad girl Beth and golden boy Ryan genuinely fall for each other, navigating the hardships that definitely impede them from a happily ever after. It’s real, it’s gritty, it’s all chemistry. Sometimes I just need such a couple to read about.
Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts
Wedding baker Laurel McBane is surrounded by romance working at Vows wedding planning company with her best friends Parker, Emma, and Mac. But she’s too low-key to appreciate all the luxuries that their clients seem to long for. What she does appreciate is a strong, intelligent man, a man just like Parker’s older brother Delaney, on whom she’s had a mega-crush since childhood.
But some infatuations last longer than others, and Laurel is convinced that the Ivy League lawyer is still out of her reach. Plus, Del is too protective of Laurel to ever cross the line with her-or so she thinks. When Laurel’s quicksilver moods get the better of her-leading to an angry, hot, all-together mind-blowing kiss with Del—she’ll have to quiet the doubts in her mind to turn a moment of passion into forever…
I love the idea of falling for the guy you least expected who is someone you’ve also known for so long. There’s just something magical about suddenly seeing someone in a completely new light, and the crazy antics that come from all your mutual friends in a state of disbelief over it. I laugh and I cry through this one and that’s what a rom-com to me should be like.
Tell me, what are your go-to romance reads where the couple and romance story just understands your heart? Let me know in the comments below!