Paranormal is not my usual cup of tea, but Rosie Danan did such a great job with her other 2 books, I had to give this one a try.
It did not disspoint! I love Clark's softness and care for Riley, even while framed in the enemies-to-lovers. The plot has the perfect amount of sexual tension brewing throughout, and the intimacy hits at all ther right moments, so that you feel the pay off of their earned HEA. I love books that are tender and relatable, especially when the premise is bananas. I only wish this was coming out around Halloween so I could rec it for those wanting a spooky-lite read.
The love story of two black sheep told with a poignant intimacy that braids together self, family, and romantic acceptance. Clayborn has a talent of digging down to the core of her characters and keeping her readers close to their beating hearts.
Sarah MacLean, my queen! Knockout is the first book in the newest feminist bodice ripper series by one of my favorite romance authors. The twist? The heroines are all vigilantes! I love that this book follows a sister from the earlier "Scandal & Scoundrel" series. This book is the first of three rollicking adventures of spice and righteous revenge.
Equal parts personal memoir, biography of natrualist David Starr Jordan, meditation on science, and reflection on how that science impacts our social views, this quick read will lead you through a satisfying mental journey that's as fulfilling as your favorite public radio podcast.
TW: suicide ideation
If you were to make a Venn diagram of some of my favorite romance elements, this book would meet SO MANY of the qualifications: it has a strong emotional punch and character growth, there's a historical element, it has a tender queer story line, the spice is 5 chili-peppers strong, and while on the road trip our main character are stuck on a "only one bed" situation. Make this your next summer read and bring both a fan and tissues so you're prepared.
Neuroscientist Lisa Genova explains in a very digestible way exactly how memory works. This book illustrates each way the brain functions by its natural design, even (and especially) in circumstances where we think our memory has failed us. Fascinating! Genova has been described as the next-gen Oliver Sacks and I definitely agree.
A Victorian romance that focuses on a fascinating note widely told in the genre. Slow burn, open door, and feminist, this book has the right amount of political focus when featuring marginalized cultures in imperialistic England. Gideon Fox is a dreamy book boyfriend and Ana María is a breath of fresh air. I can't wait to read the next books in this series!
Pick this book armed with your natal chart (accurate with your birth time), a highlighter, and a pencil for annotations. This is your chose-your-own-adventure style astrology guide to help learn pop-astrology on a level more deeply than your daily horoscope. Start prepared and you'll get a lot out of this deeply accessible book. It isn't something to be read linearly nor will your read the entire thing; just the parts that apply to you (hence the need for an accurate natal chart). Fall down the rabbit hole of self-reflection!
If I were going to dream cast this book, it would star Jessi Klein and Justin Timberlake.
If this book was a meme, it would be a mash up of Liz Lemon & Dr. Drew Baird and Pete Davidson with every hot female he's ever dated.
A cynical, tender, cringy, intimate, pandemically explorative book that zeroed-in on my own insecurity as an elder millennial as I related to the main character Sally. Yet, by the end, Sally's growth reflected the collective growth I've seen over the past few years.
This is, dare I say, Emily Henry's best book to date. Harriet "Harry" Kilpatrick explores the concept of her happy place in so many aspects of her life, be it through physical or emotional place, or in terms of relationships with others. Themes of found family are strong, yet the through-line remains a steady focus on Harry and Wyn's relationship. By the end of this book, my heart was full to brimming. If you're a Henry fan, there's a sneeze-and-you-miss-it reference to January and Gus from Beach Read that's a fun little easter egg too. This is easily my favorite read of the year thus far.
Tessa Bailey always brings the spice, but with Secretly Yours, you really start to see her growth as an author. The signature charm and escapism of a low stake romance is all there, but she really did the work with the Anxiety and PTSD rep; I really feel like Hallie and Julian earned their HEA through their character development. She may rely a little too heavily on gendered stereotypes, but the charm of the small town Napa Valley setting and characters helps ground the story. Plus Julian is a dreamy book boyfriend.
I've been impressed by everything I've read by Joanna Lowell so far (and that means everything that I can get my hands on), so it's not surprising that I loved this book. But oh man, this book was divine. Lowell has such a beautiful innovative control of language and she really digs into the complexities of character so that as a reader you feel the tensions of the "grey-ness" of human motivation. I feel like I really understood and loved Nina and Alan, but also could see where they needed to grow. The growth was authentic and the love story developed with a balance of selfish and selflessness that felt both relatable and true to the times. I also love that Lowell doesn't shy away from giving her characters deep scars, though I will say that these scars mean there are some TWs (in this case, gas-lighting and Munchausen by proxy) that should be disclosed before reading. Even though this book is the third in a series, it's independent enough to be read on its own.
This is the second book I've read by Kate Manning and I was just as impressed with this one as I was with My Notorious Life. Manning has the distinct ability to create character voices that crawl into your subconscious and stay there. Sylvie is a powerful, unique voice and her journey through the topics of survival, morality, class, fairness, feminism, and race are held in such a tension that feels true to the greyness of life. The writing is delicious and the topics echo through to the current debates of today. Highly recommended!
A philosophical guide to the concept of time and learning how to prioritize your tasks in the bigger picture of life. It's a refreshing take on time management when we've been trained to look at time as commodity. Sometime you need to zoom out and see the larger picture to find joy in the mundane.
A light, sexy escape into the charismatic, New Adult voice of Elle Kennedy. Her popular Off-Campus and Briar U series are TikTok famous and this new series, Avalon Bay, follows in the same footsteps of the twenty-something friends-are-family coming-of-age spicy romance. The Good Girl Complex and it's sequel are already out, with the third installment expected in July 2023.
Mystery and romance steeped in a historical context; that's what I've come to expect from Beatriz Williams. More layers are added to the Beatriz Williams charm with an intriguing espionage plot interwoven between the family drama. Set in post WWII, this novel explores the tension of conflicting loyalties and the power of the Iron Curtain. It's a good entry into the world of Beatriz Willliams and prepares you for her new book, The Beach at Summerly, out in June 2023.
It's a concept that you think you have to suspend reality to believe: a DNA-based matchmaking company promises it can find your soulmate. And MC single-mom, Jess? She's matched with the standoffish founder (who is also kind of a jerk-face). Two of my favorite Romance tropes: fake dating and a misunderstood Mr. Darcy type hero.
This is a story that hooks you in and stays with you well after it's finished. Historical fiction with interconnected generational story lines, Kate Morton is an expert at weaving together an intricate picture that you're not sure you understand till the very end. She has a whimsical, magical voice that is strongly influence by The Secret Garden. Your heart will break a little, but in the best way.
You won't be able to put down this eloquently written, atmospheric re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes starring a neurodivergent heroine Charlotte Holmes masquerading as her fictional brother, Sherlock, along with other cleverly gender-swapped characters. The nuance, humor and writing craft of this entire series makes it unputdownable.
Sexy, charming, and full of rich representation, this is a story about an American born Latinx soap actor looking to expand her career and a famous Telenovela star hoping to break into Hollywood. Together, these two actors embark on a romance all while acting in a new tv series opposite each other. Bonus points for single parent rep and BFF cousins. The sequel to this book, A Lot Like Adiós, is also fantastic.
Tender, magical, and intimate, this is the fated-to-love story that makes me wish I was a morning person. Clayborn's writing style is absolutely delicious. This is book is alternately a slow burn and absolutely spicy, all wrapped up in the search for belonging.
Sharp and waspy, this is a book reminiscent of Gossip Girl with the echo of Edith Wharton commentary on class and reputation. These are characters who you can't quite bring yourself to like, but also can't look away from. It's a trainwreck in the best, juiciest sense.
We all love to go on a downward spiral with an unlikeable girl sometimes. Main character Evelyn Beegan starts out as your run-of-the-mill upper middle class millennial who gets caught up in the status and privilege of the 1% Upper East Side New Yorker. She makes terrible decisions and reaps the rewards. Lessons in humility never came so hard and I'm here for them.
Amazing. A tender slow burn written with poignant, evocative language. It’s long because the interior development is so intricately done. Take the time and savor it.
This is the conventional historical romance plot of the libertine who needs to clean up his act so he can marry a respectable woman. He asks a female acquaintance for help and then... feelings! Eva Leigh follows some of my favorite romance frameworks in her books, but where she shines is the character depth, explorations of class, and sheer sexiness. Read this for a good time and as a kick off to a fun new series.
(Yes, I have read the newly released second book in this series, How the Wallflower Was Won. I may even like it better than the first ;). So what I'm really say is, if you like Bodice Rippers, read both!).
A Caribbean Heiress in Paris changes the paradigm for standard historical romance bodice ripper. I don't say this lightly: about 90% of what I read is romance, and the historical bodice ripper is my favorite subgenre. Adriana Herrera has done careful, decolonized research to share the story of a Dominican rum heiress and a Scottish Earl. Though set in Paris and Scotland, this book is rich in diversity and chalk full of refreshing, enlightened details. This is the historical romance I've been waiting for.
Compulsively readable, The It Girl is the the type of mysterious candy that's fun to get lost in over a few days (seriously, it's hard to put down). With notes of dark academia, this whodunnit keeps you guessing till the very end.
The No-Show was a pleasant surprise for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm predisposed to like a Beth O'Leary book, but this one blew me away. First, I continually wondered whether or not it was actually a rom-com as it was billed. I kept thinking I had it all figured out, then O'Leary would masterfully redirect. And the characters. I wanted to hate the MMC, James, but by the end he was in solid book-boyfriend territory. Each of the three FMCs had meaningful character journeys as well. I don't want to give anything away, but this is a rom-com and you won't be disappointed.
I picked up this book in a moment when I was triggered and could have easily gone into a body-shame spiral. Instead, I'm so grateful I finally read these words (why did it take me so long?). Sonya Renee Taylor expertly defines the societal voice that loudly announces what the default body is and helps readers separate their own internal voice from the prominent ableist, capitalist, sexist, and colonist voice that defines certain bodies as "less than". A new classic that will empower you to challenge unloving thoughts you may have toward yourself.
Nellie Bly has been in my peripheral for a while, but I haven't done much to delve into her story. This book, a fictional recounting of her groundbreaking news story when she committed herself to a mental institute, was the historical, feminist story I needed to read. Maya Rodale, a typical romance author, does the main character justice by depicting her scrappiness and empathy in a midst of a practically unlivable situation. I appreciate that there is a potential love triangle brewing for the future books (yes, this book is kicking off a series), but the focus of this story was the marginalized women of Gilded Age New York. A surprisingly light read for the topic -- bring it to the beach with you this summer!
This love story has a nostalgic, British 90s romc-com feeel akin to Notting Hill, yet MacFarlene doesn't shy away from putting her main characters (and reader) through the emotional wringer. Even so, she balances this with witty moments that doesn't make the story feel too heavy. A second chance romance that fans of People We Meet on Vacation will enjoy.
I have a soft spot for this book since it was one of my earliest romance reads.
- Feminist Wallflower ✓
- Tarnished Hero ✓
- Rebellion against societal norms ✓
- Forbidden trysts ✓
MacLean is a favorite in the historical romance genre for a reason.
Perfect for fans of Where'd You Go, Bernadette and Mad Men, this book explores the journey of misunderstood chemist Elizabeth Zott who refuses to accept the societal norms of her time. I loved the exploration of love, acceptance, and found family in the often restrictive views of the 1950s and 60s. With a charming voice and Julia Child-like nostalgia, Garmus tells a satisfying story you won't soon forget.
A British rom-com with with a fated-to-be love story, this is a very seasonal, wintery book that isn't holiday oriented. Similar to Beach Read, but without the spice, Eight Perfect Hours bring readers through the development of a relationship with all of the tenderness you never knew you needed in a book. +10 for all the feels!
If there was one underrated book I could recommend, it would be Battle Royal. Don't let the Hallmark-eque set-up fool you -- this is a book about loss, loneliness, and finding someone who understands the real you. Parker does a delicate job of weaving these deeper themes in with trademark British rom-com humor. Bonus points for a grumpy hero.
I'm totally in love with this book. The romance is neurodiverse, with a MC with Tourette's and a Love Interest with ADHD. The character development is spot on and the struggles of each character oh so relatable. Easily one of my favorite reads of 2021 so far.
As a mainly fiction reader, I can honestly say that this is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. The late neurologist Oliver Sacks explores a collection of case studies from some of his more extraordinary cases he witnessed throughout his course of his career. Not only is the material interesting, but the writing is readable and sumptuous.
Another wonderful collection of Sloane Crosley essays that provides a perfect distraction from the ugliness of the real world. Full of literal laugh-out-loud moments, you will be more than a little impressed by the insights she folds into the humor of her anecdotes. Her writing makes me want to be her best friend.
Emily Henry has that thing in her writing. It's the slow unfurling of character development and the gentle way she draws together her love interests. Just like Beach Read, I was completely charmed by People We Meet on Vacation. Friends-to-lovers isn't always my favorite romance trope, by it was done so right in this book. I can't recommend it enough!
I love historical romance and happy stories in general, but I'm also a sucker for flawed characters, and a bit of grit in the frosting, so to speak. That's why this particular Lisa Kleypas book is a stand-out to me. The main characters aren't nobles: they spend their times in dirty, poor places, and they have to rely more on their wits than privilege, yet there's still the satisfying love story, emotional development, and sparkling escapism that romance novels provide. Plus, the main character is one of the (fictional) first female physicians in England. Lisa Kleypas always tells romance well, but exceeded my expectations in this book.
The entire Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas has all my heart eyes, but this particular volume in the series is a stand out. It's probably not surprising: this series can be categorized as either mystery or romance, though I would lean more heavily in the mystery direction. Still, the slow burning tension between Charlotte Holmes and Lord Ingram keeps me hooked in and this book had such engaging development with them. The plot twist to the mystery is a device that isn't my favorite (I don't want to spoil it), but the Ocean's 11 type ending was so satisfying.
I'm an unreliable cook who is decent when I put in the effort, but the fact of the matter is I'm much more likely to improvise than follow an exact recipe. This is why Julia's Kitchen Wisdom is perfect for people like me: its instructions on the basics, like how to steam the perfect vegetable or make a basic béchamel sauce with suggestions on how to add variety. I refer to it more than any other cookbook I own.
"The Bodyguard" meets a Victorian Era bodice bodice ripper, the romance hits all the right spots. Set in a secret STEM society for women, you'll adore the bluestocking heroine and her gruff Scottish investigator love interest. Highly relatable characters and some of my favorite secondary characters of all time (seriously, I want to live at Athena's Retreat).
The grumpy(her)/sunshine(him) chemistry between the main characters of this book is just perfect. The details of Lina's Afro-Brazilian background are interwoven throughout the book, especially in the connection to her mother's generation. Light and charming, but with surprising depth and personal growth, you'll love Max and Lina's story.
It's like a mash-up of "Hitch, "You've Got Mail", and Cyrano de Bergerac in the modern dating age. The main characters both work for agencies that ghost write dating profiles and end up inadvertently falling for each other. The romance unfolds with incredible depth as they transition to an IRL relationship. Featuring main-characters of color in a delicious slow-burn.
I love everything I've ever read by Beatriz Williams, but Summer Wives is a particular stand-out. Full of mystery, romance, and beautiful historical details, this is one of those books that's hard to put down and easy to get lost in.
Something about the hero and his interest in the Heroine is incredibly charming to me. On the scale of chaste to erotic, this is definitely more on the PG end of things, but the slow burn is a fun adventure. Some of the situations in the novel do get a bit slap-stick, but that lends itself the the lightheartedness of the novel. A good rec for YA readers who want to cross into Romance.