In honor of Valentine's Day: My fave romance novels
Ask and you shall receive! Here are 7 of my all time fave romance novels, both adult and YA!
Hello! Happy 2022. I know that it’s February, but I didn’t send out a newsletter in January, so it felt appropriate to begin by acknowledging that we’ve entered a new year. I hope 2022 is off to a good start for all of you. Before I talk about other things, here’s a quick reminder that you can preorder my next book Zyla & Kai.
I spent majority of January doing a very heavy self-edit on the first draft of my adult romance debut, The Neighbor Favor (out next Spring, if all goes to plan!). I just emailed the draft to my editor last week, and I’m officially deadline free for the next three weeks or so. I’m trying my best to actually rest and do things I’ve been putting off while on deadline. Like cleaning and buying a new desk chair and watering my plants [cries in plant mom guilt] and going for walks and watching television or reading in the evenings after I log off from my day job instead of diving into my draft.
Anyway, enough about me and my struggle to balance a personal and professional life. Valentine’s Day is upon us. I am a self professed hopeless romantic who also happens to be a prickly Capricorn, so I think that Valentine’s Day is both sweet and a capitalist scam. But I love love, so I thought it would be fun to dedicate this newsletter to all things romance. On my Instagram stories, I asked if people would rather read about my favorite romance books or romance movies. Books won, which I suspected would happen lol. There are many romance novels (both YA and adult) that I love deeply, but if I were to talk about all of them, I’d be here all day, so I limited this list to my all time favorites, which was very hard to do! They are as follows:
Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas – to know me is to know that historical romance is my go to genre. It gets me out of a reading slump every time. And Lisa Kleypas is someone whose books I return to time and time again. Devil in Winter, the third book in her Wallflower series, is about a sheltered woman named Evie who enters a marriage of convenience (one of my fave tropes!) with the roguish and self-centered Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. I really love an introvert/extrovert pairing, and this book does that so well. Also! This book has one of the best uses of the injured/sick bed trope that I’ve ever read. (Also, while we are on the topic of Lisa Kleypas, my second favorite book of hers is Again the Magic, a second chance romance about a woman who couldn’t marry her childhood love because he wasn’t of her class, but they meet again as adults. Classism! Pining! Miscommunication! It’s very good!).
Indigo by Beverly Jenkins – Beverly Jenkins is another one of my go-to authors, and she is also a queen of historical romance! I was introduced to her work via her Old West series, which I also love. But my favorite book of hers is Indigo, about a woman named Hester who escaped slavery as a child and now, in Michigan, is a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Hester is tasked with hiding an injured man named Galen (AKA the Black Daniel), a fellow conductor with a hefty price on his head. There’s an injured/sickbed trope here as well. I’m starting to see a pattern with my interests lol. The chemistry between Hester and Galen is just *chef’s kiss*. There is a reason that most readers start their journey through Beverly Jenkins’s backlist with Indigo!
A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare – It was difficult to choose a favorite Tessa Dare novel because her books are so enjoyable. When I was in the throes of revising Now That I’ve Found You and struggling with anxiety and overall book 2 stress, Tessa Dare’s books were a bright spot for me. A Week to be Wicked, the second book in her Spindle Cove series, is just such a joy. It’s a master class in structure (I think all romance novels are a master class in structure, but I will save that for another newsletter). Minerva (one of my favorites heroines ever!!) an aspiring geologist ropes a roguish (I love a rogue hero, clearly) Lord named Colin into a fake elopement so that he can accompany her to a geology symposium because women weren’t allowed to do very much on their own back then. Things go awry on their journey very quickly. Cue the hilarity and hijinks. I’ve read this book more times than I can count.
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams – This is a more recent favorite that I’ve been yelling about since I read it last summer. Most of you have probably already heard about it or read it, but if you haven’t, this is a second chance romance about two Black writers, Eva and Shane, who fell in love as teenagers, spent an emotional and chaotic week together, and parted ways, only to meet again over a decade later as adults. Essentially, this book has a fated mates trope, which I always love to see in contemporary stories. Also Eva writes vampire/witch erotica, and she and Shane have been writing to each other through their books for the past decade. How romantic is that??? Answer: VERY.
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen – Onto YA. I don’t think it’s possible for me to write a list of my favorite romances without including Sarah Dessen. Her books have been so influential to my writing. I discovered her books in high school, and I read them over and over (and shook my fist at the sky, wondering why the boys I knew couldn’t be more like Dexter and Wes and Owen etc!!). I love her books so much. But my all time favorite is This Lullaby. I still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I started reading this book for the first time. It was the summer before my junior year of high school and I was sitting at my grandma’s kitchen table. I thought I’d dip into the book and read a couple pages, and I spent the rest of the afternoon reading. A quick pitch is that it’s a book about a girl named Remy who’s kind of tough and disillusioned by love and only believes in short term relationships with no real expectations. Then she meets an endearing, goofball drummer with a heart of gold named Dexter who completely throws a wrench in all of her plans. Dexter and his bandmates were so funny and sweet and that ending!! Omg, I love this book. I wrote my critical thesis on Sarah Dessen’s books in grad school, and I spent a lot of time talking about This Lullaby lol. (Someone Like You is a very close second favorite, and The Truth About Forever is my third fave.)
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – Here is an example of how much I love this book: When I finished reading it, I immediately started over from the beginning so that I could read it again. This is a book about a girl named Lola, and as the title indicates, the boy next door, her childhood crush, Cricket, who moves back to town after several years. This book made me want to visit San Francisco so badly! (And when I finally visited, I sat in Dolores Park, smiling to myself, thinking about this book lol). Lola is just so cool with her wigs and custom made outfits and she and Cricket are so sweet together.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – Last but absolutely not least is Everything, Everything. I read this book right as I started my second semester of grad school, and I was working on a story about a Black girl falling in love, and I was nervous that my book wouldn’t have a place in the industry. Then I read Everything, Everything in one afternoon and it was all the encouragement that I needed. If you’re here and have read my books, then I’m going to assume you’ve read Nicola Yoon’s books too lol, but if you haven’t, this is a story about a girl named Maddy who has an illness that keeps her inside of her house, and she falls in love with her new next door neighbor, Olly, and becomes eager to live in the outside world. (I also really love the film adaptation.)
Okay, I only wrote about seven books and I am TIRED. I hope I’ve convinced you to read at least one of the above mentioned. Happy Valentine’s Day! Until next time!
Also Dexter is NOT a drummer, he's the lead singer!! I haven't read This Lullaby in a while. Can you tell I wrote this late last night? LOL either way, it's still a good book!