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.