Author Alexis Hall is adored by fans and critics alike for his signature blend of witty repartee, endearing characters and warmhearted love stories. He’s already proven himself to be one of the best writers of contemporary rom-coms with books like Boyfriend Material and Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, and in 2022, he’s making the jump to historical romance. January saw the release of the Regency-era romp Something Fabulous, and this summer fans will finally get their hands on A Lady for a Duke, one of the most the hotly anticipated romances of the year.
Read the official summary from Hall’s publisher, Forever, and you’ll immediately understand why:
When Viola Carroll was presumed dead at Waterloo, she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood.
Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognises her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become. As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again.
You can get A Lady for a Duke at your local bookstore or library on May 24, 2022. But in the meantime, you can sigh at the absolutely gorgeous cover below.
The cozy renaissance is upon us, gothic thrillers are about to be everywhere and historical mystery lovers are going to have a truly fantastic year.
The Goodbye Coastby Joe Ide Mulholland | February 1
Modern master of mystery Ide will be updating one of the most iconic detectives of all time: Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. It’s a perfect pairing—a figure that couldn’t exist anywhere but Los Angeles, brought to the present day by one of the city’s most acclaimed writers.
A Game of Fearby Charles Todd William Morrow | February 1
The Inspector Rutledge series represents the best of what historical mystery has to offer, and A Game of Fear, Rutledge’s 24th case, has a particularly intriguing hook: Lady Benton claims she witnessed a murder, carried out by Captain Nelson. But there’s no body, no blood and Captain Nelson has been dead for several years. Charles Todd is a mother-son writing duo, and the death of Caroline Todd last year gives this mystery an extra poignancy.
Cherish Farrahby Bethany C. Morrow Dutton | February 8
Morrow—who has shown so much range as a writer, from her bestselling contemporary YA fantasy with sirens (A Song Below Water) to her reimagining of Little Women (So Many Beginnings)—makes her adult debut with this slow-burning tale of power and manipulation, following a Black girl who ingratiates herself to her Black best friend’s adopted white family.
Our American Friendby Anna Pitoniak Simon & Schuster | February 15
After writing a novel (The Futures) and a thriller (Necessary People), Pitoniak is splitting the difference with her third book, a decades-spanning espionage thriller that follows glamorous, mysterious Lara Caine, a Russian model who eventually becomes the first lady of the United States (Remind you of anyone?).
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley William Morrow | February 22
Foley’s big breakout, The Guest List, was absolutely everywhere in 2020. The Paris Apartment is another glamorous mystery with a sprawling, secretive cast—namely, the inhabitants of the titular apartment complex.
This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wroebel Berkley | February 22
I will never, ever get tired of complicated sister relationships or cults, and lucky for me, the Darling Rose Gold author’s sophomore thriller goes all in on both. Natalie Collins’ sister, Kit, has been sucked into Wisewood, a cult operating on a private island off the coast of Maine. When Natalie receives a threatening email from someone in the cult, she sets out to save Kit.
Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist Dutton | February 22
All I have ever wanted is a revival of the romantic, gothic thriller, and thanks to the incredible success of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic, I may have finally gotten my wish. 2022 is replete with creepy tales of degenerate families in crumbling manors, and Mayquist’s is one of the most promising of the lot. In this modern take on the subgenre, med school dropout Lena takes a job as an assistant to the rich and powerful Verdeau family. But when she learns that they are the ones ultimately responsible for her family’s poverty, she decides to get revenge.
The Verifiersby Jane Pek Vintage | February 22
A particularly pleasing recent development is that publishers seem to have finally realized the allure of the cozy, or cozy-adjacent, mystery. Could the cozy be due for a critical reevaluation a la the romance novel? (Please say yes!) All this to say, we expect more books like Pek’s hilarious, utterly winning debut in the near future. Claudia Lin has stumbled into what she believes is her perfect job: working at an online-dating detective agency. She’s content with her duties of ferreting out catfishers and tracking down ghosters, but when a client disappears, the mystery novel-obsessed Claudia jumps at the opportunity to solve a real case.
The Club by Ellery Lloyd Harper | March 1
There are a lot of thrillers out there that incorporate social media and try to have Something to Say about our current digital reality. But very few of them were as smart or nuanced as Lloyd’s 2021 debut, People Like Her. For their next trick, the husband-and-wife writing duo tackles the world of exclusive celebrity clubs. Set on a private island off the English coast, this is the thriller for you if you’re anxiously awaiting the next season of “The White Lotus.”
Give Unto Others by Donna Leon Atlantic Monthly | March 15
Commissario Guido Brunetti is one of those urbane, witty sleuths that people want to be as much as they love to read about. See also: Martin Walker’s Bruno and Louise Penny’s Gamache. A new case with Leon’s clever Venetian sleuth is always cause for celebration, but this one is especially intriguing as it purports to contain new and startling information about Brunetti’s past.
Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian Minotaur | March 15
Is it too early to hand out the award for most creative cozy premise? Because I highly doubt anyone’s going to come close to Pandian’s new Secret Staircase mysteries. When Tempest Raj returns home to San Francisco after losing her job, she ends up working for the family business, Secret Staircase Construction, which makes hidden passageways, incredible treehouses and any other whimsical creation a client’s heart desires. And then, of course, someone is found dead in a supposedly sealed passageway.
Nine Livesby Peter Swanson William Morrow | March 15
Swanson has a gift for not only crafting a killer premise, but also creating characters that are just as intriguing. In his latest mystery, nine people receive a list of names, and one of those names is their own. And then those nine people start getting picked off, one by one.
Secret Identity by Alex Segura Flatiron | March 15
A mystery set in the comic book industry in 1975? Say no more! Billed as a mash-up between The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clayand the novels of Patricia Highsmith, this book sounds like the coolest, nerdiest neo-noir you’ll ever read.
Shadow in the Glass by M.E. Hilliard Crooked Lane | April 5
Hilliard’s Greer Hogan series started with a bang last year; The Unkindness of Ravenswas “moody and tense, literary and urbane, and an edgy delight to read,” according to our cozy column. This time around, librarian Greer faces that most iconic of cozy scenarios—a wedding disrupted by murder, with an entire guest list’s worth of suspects.
Insomniaby Sarah Pinborough William Morrow | April 12
You may have heard of Pinborough due to a little book (and later Netflix miniseries) entitled Behind Her Eyes, which boasts one of the most go-for-broke, completely wild final twists of, honestly, maybe all time? So who even knows what’s going on in her next thriller, which follows Emma, a woman whose mother committed a horrible act when she turned 40. Now on the cusp of her own 40th birthday, Emma is consumed with fear that the same fate awaits her.
Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothchild Putnam | April 19
Something about me that I am very comfortable admitting is that I love a charismatic murderer. You want to tell me how you got away with it and why they had it coming for an entire novel? I’m all ears! So I’m especially excited for Rothchild’s debut, which introduces readers to Ruby, who is being accused of her husband’s death. She didn’t do it (and she’s not a sociopath, okay?), but she has killed three other people before.
The Mad Girls of New Yorkby Maya Rodale Berkley | April 26
An acclaimed romance author, critic and advocate for the genre, Rodale is one of several authors who recently made the Gilded Age one of historical romance’s hottest and most interesting settings. She’s bringing all that expert knowledge to bear in her mystery debut, the launch of a series that follows trailblazing female journalist Nellie Bly. Rodale’s first mystery starring Nellie will depict one of her most famous real-life stunts: going undercover at an insane asylum.
Harlem Sunset by Nekesa Afia Berkley | May 3
The Harlem Renaissance-set Dead Dead Girls was one of last year’s best mysteries, and it looks like amateur sleuth Louise Lloyd’s next case will not only delve into the secrets of her own past, but also jeopardize her future with her girlfriend, Rosa Maria.
The Haciendaby Isabel Cañas Berkley | May 10
This historical gothic thriller has a priest who is also a witch, and I don’t really think there’s anything else to be said. But, if you insist: Cañas’ debut is set right after the Mexican War of Independence and boasts a creepy house, a handsome but mysterious man and what just might be the ghost of his first wife.
The Murder Ruleby Dervla McTiernan William Morrow | May 10
The acclaimed author of the Cormac Reilly mystery series is releasing her first standalone novel, which follows a young law student who seems like a passionate anti-death row advocate, but is really out to get one of the supposedly innocent men her organization is defending.
Renovated to Deathby Frank Anthony Polito Kensington | May 31
HGTV shows leave me completely cold, but even I think this book sounds like the coziest thing imaginable. Peter Penwell is a bestselling mystery author and his husband, JP, is an actor who used to star on a cop show. The couple recently became reality TV stars while chronicling the renovation of their home, but their second season gets off to a murderous start when they find one of the owners of their new project dead at the foot of a staircase.
A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong Minotaur | May 31
Armstrong is the acclaimed writer behind the gritty, addicting, yet still somehow heartwarming Rockton series, which is set in an off-the-grid town in the Canadian wilderness. She’s one of the last authors you’d expect to write an Outlander-style timeslip mystery. Which only makes her new series, where a modern-day homicide detective wakes up in the body of a Victorian maid, all the more intriguing.
Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman Minotaur | June 7
The author of the Regency-era Lily Adler mysteries jumps forward to the (very hot right now) 1920s, and will hopefully bring her previous series’ perfectly balanced blend of escapism and social commentary to this tale of a working-class woman who stumbles upon a dead body at her favorite speakeasy.
The Lies I Tellby Julie Clark Sourcebooks Landmark | June 21
Clark’s second novel, the runaway bestseller The Last Flight, was exactly what you want in a summer thriller: snappy but smart, fast-paced but with characters that felt like real people. So my expectations were high even before I learned that Clark will be taking on one of my very favorite crime novel archetypes—the con artist. Meg Williams ruined Kat Roberts’ life, and Kat’s been bent on revenge ever since. But when she finally catches up to Meg 10 years later, she begins to doubt everything, including whether Meg really should be the target of her ire.
The Half Life of Valery Kby Natasha Pulley Bloomsbury | June 28
In my humble opinion, one of the most underrated historical settings for a mystery or thriller is Soviet Russia. It’s bleak, it’s cold and almost everyone has a reason to lie or a secret to keep. So I was delighted to learn that acclaimed, idiosyncratic historical fantasy author Pulley’s first thriller would be set in 1963 Siberia. The Half LIfe of Valery K will follow a former nuclear specialist who is freed from a gulag, only to be taken to a mysterious town that seems to be absolutely suffused with dangerous radiation.
The Ruinsby Phoebe Wynn St. Martin’s | July 5
The last gothic on our list, Wynn’s sophomore novel takes its cues from Patricia Highsmith as much as it does from Daphne du Maurier. You’ve got wealthy, messed up people, the disgustingly gorgeous backdrop of the Mediterranean coast and a creeping suspicion that something is about to go terribly wrong. But in an intriguing little twist, The Ruins seems to wed those Ripley influences with the more modern template of a feminist coming-of-age tale.
Omega Canyon by Dan Simmons Little, Brown | November 1
It’s been seven years since the acclaimed author of The Terror released a novel, and this new historical thriller sounds heartbreaking and addicting in equal measure. Paul Haber fled Nazi Germany and has devoted his scientific abilities to the American quest for the atomic bomb. But when a German spy tells him that his wife and child, whom he thought died in a concentration camp, are actually still alive, he’s faced with the terrible choice of whether to save his family or betray his newly-adopted country to fascism.
Grab your magnifying glasses and notepads, and get ready for 2022.
New voices are rising to the forefront in sci-fi, fantasy continues to flower in new and surprising ways, and a YA icon is about to make her long-awaited adult debut.
Goliathby Tochi Onyebuchi Tordotcom | January 25
Riot Baby, Onyebuchi’s 2020 novella, was one heck of a calling card, and he’s letting his prodigious imagination and piercing social critique run rampant in his first adult novel. Set in the 2050s, Goliath follows a large cast of characters as they roam a crumbling Earth that has been largely abandoned by the upper classes, who have decamped to space colonies.
Hunt the Starsby Jessie Mihalik Harper Voyager | February 1
If you’ve already been introduced to Mihalik’s sci-fi romances, chances are you’re already obsessed with her. Equal parts pulpy fun and steamy love stories, Mihalik’s books are for everyone who’s watched the scene of Han Solo and Princess Leia’s first kiss more times than they’d like to admit. This start to a new series introduces a bounty hunter with a heart of gold, her alien nemesis-turned-employer and an outrageously cute alien that’s like a cross between a cat and fox—and can communicate telepathically.
The Atlas Sixby Olivie Blake Tor | March 1
Dark academia will never go out of style if I have anything to say about it. And it looks like a sizable portion of BookTok agrees with me, as Blake’s self-published series took the platform by storm in 2021. The first novel of the series, which follows six talented, ambitious magicians as they compete to win a place in an elite secret society, has been revised and expanded for its release by a traditional publisher.
The Ravenous Dead by Darcy Coates Poisoned Pen | March 15
The Whispering Deadwas one of last year’s little wonders, a horror novel with a surprising amount of humor and heart among all its terrors. This sequel continues Keira’s quest to uncover her lost memories and bring peace to the spirits of the dead, but gives her a new enemy in the form of a ferocious ghost that refuses to go gently into that good night.
The Kaiju Preservation Societyby John Scalzi Tor | March 15
National treasure John Scalzi recently finished a complex sci-fi series, so it makes sense that his first book after that accomplishment is a standalone adventure that sounds like an absolute blast. (It also is the only book that takes place during the COVID-19 pandemic that I’d actually be willing to read.) A delivery app driver desperate for a better job, Jamie jumps at the chance to work for an “animal rights organization.” But Jamie soon learns that the job actually means traveling to a different universe to take care of kaiju! Kaiju are Godzilla-type beasties, but in Scalzi’s version they are not automatically aggressive; they’re more like huge, dangerous pandas. If this book is half as good as the book in my head, it will be a masterpiece.
The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller Tor | March 22
Even if it didn’t have that absolutely magnificent cover, I would be anxiously awaiting this fantasy debut, which follows Charm, an emperor’s mistress who is also a necromantic witch. When the emperor is poisoned, he tasks Charm with not only solving his murder but also deciding which of his three terrible (large, adult) sons should ascend to the throne.
Wild and Wicked Thingsby Francesca May Redhook | March 29
Set on a resort island off the English coast, this book basically sounds like a mashup between Practical Magic and “Downton Abbey.” It’s set right after World War I but in an England where magic has been banned, due to its horrific applications during the war.
Sweep of Starsby Maurice Broaddus Tor | March 29
There can never be enough ambitious, sweeping space operas in the world, and Broaddus’ start to a new series sounds truly epic. In his vision of the future, humanity has colonized the solar system. Our heroes hail from the Muungano Empire, a collection of city-states established by African space pioneers that is in danger of being destroyed by other human civilizations.
In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power Del Rey | April 5
It’s kind of wild that ancient Greece isn’t a more common inspiration for fantasy worlds, so kudos to YA author Rory Power for using it as a backdrop for her adult debut. This series starter introduces two twins with unnaturally long lives and supernatural powers who help their father rule over their small country. But their father is getting unpredictable and his abilities are fading, while at the same time an independence movement is growing, so the twins have to work together to keep the kingdom under control. All I’m saying is that this kind of sounds like fantasy “Succession.” “Succession” with magical powers? Yes, please.
God of Neverland by Gama Ray Martinez Harper Voyager | April 12
I am someone who loved, and I mean truly, deeply loved, the first season or so of “Once Upon a Time.” So here’s hoping that this fantasy about a grown-up Michael Darling returning to Neverland to find a missing Peter Pan (here characterized as a god of chaos and childhood) will fill the Storybrooke-size hole in my heart.
The Fervorby Alma Katsu Putnam | April 26
After writing a rather excellent espionage thriller (last year’s Red Widow), Katsu is returning to her idiosyncratic brand of horror: awful events in world history made even worse through supernatural frights. This tale of a demon terrorizing the inhabitants of a World War II-era internment camp will be one of her most personal works yet, as she’ll be drawing from her own family history and heritage as a Japanese American.
Nettle & Boneby T. Kingfisher Tor | April 26
Through what I’m sure is some form of black magic, Kingfisher’s books are both totally hilarious and deeply scary. That particular combination is why her latest book, a subversive take on fairy tales, is so very exciting. Nettle & Bone will follow a princess on a quest to save her sister—by murdering her sister’s awful husband.
Book of Night by Holly Black Tor | May 3
It seems impossible, but YA fantasy icon Black has never written a novel for adults. Until now. Book of Night centers on Charlie Hall, who lives in a world where it’s possible to magically manipulate shadows. Doing so can alter another person’s memories and perceptions, but the cost is time lost from your own life. Charlie is a bartender and con artist, but she has ties to the shadow trade that prove difficult to sever.
Boys, Beasts & Men by Sam J. Miller Tachyon | May 10
The author of acclaimed speculative novels Blackfish Cityand The Blade Between will release his first collection of short fiction, which is sure to please fans of cli-fi, weird sea creatures, queer SFF and pretty much everyone who wants to read something brilliant, strange and new.
Siren Queen by Nghi Vo Tor | May 10
After The Chosen and the Beautiful, her luminous, dreamy take on The Great Gatsby, Vo is heading to the West Coast wonderland of Pre-Code Hollywood. Of course, in her version of the film industry, wannabe movie stars like protagonist Luli Wei must sign magical pacts, selling their entire selves to companies ready to exploit them.
All the Seas of the World by Guy Gavriel Kay Berkley | May 17
There’s almost nothing I can tell you about the plot of this book, but it doesn’t really matter because Guy Gavriel Kay is one of the best writers of historical fantasy of all time. This book will return to the Renaissance Italy-inspired world first introduced in the superb A Brightness Long Ago, and I will be ready for him to take me wherever he wants to go.
A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland Tordotcom | June 21
Rowland’s Conspiracy of Truths duology seems destined to become a cult classic; the blisteringly smart fantasy novels flew a bit under the radar but won the hearts of all who read them. I would not be surprised if A Taste of Gold and Iron makes Rowland the next big thing in fantasy. This queer romance set in a world inspired by the Ottoman Empire sounds like a blockbuster hit and a perfect use of Rowland’s talents for world building, intrigue and complex relationships.
Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey Tor | July 19
The genre-hopping Gailey seems to be settling down (at least for now) in a delightfully specific niche: female-led thrillers with a supernatural twist. If last year’s The Echo Wife could be described as Alfred Hitchcock meets “Orphan Black,” this tale of the daughter of a serial killer sounds like “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” mixed with Shirley Jackson, aka the dark cocktail of my dreams.
A Half-Built Gardenby Ruthanna Emrys Tordotcom | July 26
Cli-fi’s been around long enough that authors are starting to find innovative twists on what was, originally, a pretty bleak sort of formula. (Humans destroy Earth! Here’s the depressing society that’s arisen afterward!) Acclaimed fantasy author Emrys offers her rather brilliant twist on the subgenre. In 2083, the Earth has just begun to heal from the ravages of the climate crisis. But then aliens show up, intent on saving humanity by taking them off the planet—whether they want to or not.
The Spear Cuts Through the Waterby Simon Jimenez Del Rey | August 30
It’s almost impossible to overhype The Vanished Birds, Jimenez’s debut novel (the first chapter alone was award-worthy). Not one to rest on his laurels, Jimenez is immediately switching from sci-fi to fantasy: His sophomore novel will follow a warrior who teams up with a goddess to overthrow a tyrannical emperor.
Correction, January 18, 2022: This article previously misstated the gender of Jamie in The Kaiju Preservation Society. Jamie is not gendered in the novel.
There’s never been a better time to be an SFF fan than right now.
Foodie-friendly rom-coms, literary love stories and some very hot takes on Greek myths—all these things and more await romance fans in 2022.
The Roughest Draftby Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka Berkley | January 25
The powerhouse YA romance duo (and real-life married couple!) will make their adult debut in a very meta fashion. Two writers who found great success with a co-written novel owe one more book to their publisher. The only problem? They now hate each other, and haven’t spoken in three years.
Lockdown on London Laneby Beth Reekles Wattpad Books | February 1
And lo, the romances inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic hath begun. This kaleidoscopic romance by the author of The Kissing Booth follows various couples in the same London apartment building during a seven-day lockdown.
Out of the Blueby Alison Bliss Forever | February 1
The wonderful Bliss was writing rom-coms before they were cool—check out her underrated A Perfect Fit series. She now returns after a few years away (an eternity for a romance writer) with this rom-com about a woman who falls for her personal trainer.
Ramón and Julietaby Alana Quintana Albertson Berkley | February 1
A retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in San Diego, California, Ramón and Julieta will swap out Renaissance aristocratic families for contemporary fast-food and taqueria dynasties.
Not the Witch You Wedby April Asher Griffin | February 8
The witchy rom-coms that were everywhere last fall are back in 2022! Asher’s stands out from the pack with its urban setting (New York City) and by including other supernatural beings—chiefly a wolf shifter as a love interest.
Delilah Green Doesn’t Careby Ashley Herring Blake Berkley | February 22
Anticipation is high for Blake’s opposites-attract love story, which is a sapphic spin on the small-town romance.
Kamila Knows Bestby Farah Heron Forever | March 8
Heron’s Accidentally Engaged was an utterly adorable treat (with truly scrumptious descriptions of food), and she’s upping the ante with this follow-up by adding another favorite romance trope: a Jane Austen adaptation. Kamila Knows Best will be a modern take on Emma (the cool kid’s choice for best Austen novel to adapt? Discuss.).
How to Be a Wallflowerby Eloisa James Avon | March 29
James is heading back to the Regency period after wrapping up her Georgian-era Wildes of Lindow Castle series. In this start to a new series, a British heiress and an American businessman go to war over a London clothing emporium.
Going Publicby Hudson Lin Carina Adores | March 29
Romances set in various high-stakes businesses were all the rage a few years ago, and Lin’s 2021 release Hard Sell was both a throwback and a breath of fresh air. All the corporate complications and power dynamics were present, but Lin’s diverse characters and soulful, deeply felt love story updated the subgenre while also bringing it down to earth. So readers will be in good hands for her next book in the Jade Harbour Capital series, which will venture into the tricky territory of a relationship between a devoted assistant and his boss.
The Wedding Crasherby Mia Sosa Avon | April 5
Another frothy, wedding-centered treat from the author of The Worst Best Man, Sosa’s new rom-com pairs a diehard romantic with a cynical man in search of a modern-day marriage of convenience.
Part of Your Worldby Abby Jimenez Forever | April 19
This romance between a sophisticated, city-dwelling ER doctor and a small-town carpenter seemingly has rom-com written all over it. But given that this is Jimenez we’re talking about, it’ll probably also be sneakingly profound and tear-inducing in both happy and sad ways.
The No-Showby Beth O’Leary Berkley | April 26
The author of The Flatshare and The Road Trip returns with another satisfyingly messy, refreshingly human rom-com. Her third novel sounds a bit like a less vengeful version of John Tucker Must Die: Three women get stood up by the same man, but then they all forgive him and are all still in danger of falling in love with him. (Who is this paragon to inspire such devotion??? We’ll find out this spring.)
Book Boyfriendby Kris Ripper Carina Adores | April 26
After wrapping up zir wonderful Love Study series last year, Ripper returns with another brainy but heartfelt contemporary romance. One of many recent romances that star either authors or people who work in publishing, this book will follow Preston Kingsley, an editorial assistant who’s in love with his best friend and expresses his love via a thinly veiled fictional version of himself.
By the Bookby Jasmine Guillory Hyperion Avenue | May 3
YA superstar Julie Murphy kicked off the Disney Princess-inspired Meant to Be series last year with If the Shoe Fits, her reality TV-set, rom-com spin on Cinderella. This year, the baton passes to Guillory, who will take her cues from Beauty and the Beast in the series’ second installment.
Book Loversby Emily Henry Berkley | May 3
Beach Read author Henry returns to the world of publishing for her third novel, an enemies-to-lovers romance between a literary agent and a book editor.
From Bad to Cursedby Lana Harper Berkley | May 17
From Bad to Cursed brings fans back to the cozy, perfectly spooky town of Thistle Grove, the extremely enviable setting of Harper’s first romance, Payback’s a Witch. In this sequel, thrill-seeking sorceress Isidora Avramov has to team up with her buttoned-up archnemesis to clear her family’s name after someone starts sabotaging the town’s Beltane festival.
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi Atria | May 24
It’ll be a huge year for National Book Award finalist and bestselling author Emezi, who in February publishes Bitter, a sequel to their YA novel Pet, and then in late May releases their first romance novel, You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty, about a woman’s healing after loss and her second chance at love. Upon announcing the book deal, Emezi tweeted that they started writing the novel in 2019, “one of the worst years of [their] life,” and attributed the title’s inspiration to Florence + The Machine’s song “Hunger.” Each of Emezi’s books has been more powerful and groundbreaking than the last, with some of the essays in their 2021 memoir, Dear Senthuran, providing a closer look into their experiences and processes as such a wide-ranging storyteller.
A Lady for a Dukeby Alexis Hall Forever | May 24
After carving out a niche for himself as the Richard Curtis of contemporary romance, Hall is finally bringing his signature wit and lovable, idiosyncratic characters to the world of historical romance! A friends-to-lovers tale set in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, A Lady for a Duke follows Violet Carroll, a trans woman who is reunited with her oldest friend after making a new life for herself after being presumed dead at Waterloo.
Wicked Beautyby Katee Robert Sourcebooks Casablanca | June 7
We truly do not deserve Robert. Not only is she giving us two Dark Olympus romances in 2022, but the second (after January’s Electric Idol) will be her own delicious spin on the figure of Helen of Troy. In Robert’s version, Helen is gunning for the title of Ares, placing her in direct competition with Achilles and his partner, Patroclus. But all three soon realize they might be better together than on opposite sides—both professionally and personally.
Husband Materialby Alexis Hall Sourcebooks Casablanca | August 2
If you read the entry for A Lady for a Duke and wondered wistfully when Hall would gift us with another contemporary rom-com, do not fear! Not only will Hall be releasing a modern-day romance in 2022, it will be a sequel to Boyfriend Material! Luc and Oliver are happily together, but everyone around them is getting married . . . are wedding bells in their future?
Here's to another year of tropes galore and Happily Ever Afters for all!
As a lifelong period drama devotee, historical romance is probably my favorite subgenre in all of Romancelandia. But as a history nerd, I’ve never quite understood why the Regency and Victorian eras are so very, very dominant. Don’t get me wrong—I will never say no to a good bustle, and I love Austen-esque tales as much as the next romance reader. But why isn’t there an entire genre of fast-paced, witty Roaring ’20s romances? Or love affairs within the court intrigue of Tudor England? Or, you know, more romances set anywhere other than England or America? The following list is unfortunately still Anglocentric, much like the romance genre itself, but these authors offer a place to start for those looking to move beyond the Regency or Victorian romance.
After the Regency and Victorian periods, the medieval era is probably the third most common setting in historical romance. In Ye Olde Decades Past of romance, it was a super popular period but is now mainly the territory of dashing Highlanders. Which is not at all a bad thing!
Medieval, but make it paranormal: The dashing Scottish hero of Highland Dragon Warrior is, you guessed it, a dragon shape-shifter. And if that wasn’t enough, his love interest is a Jewish alchemist. If you get hooked, Cooper also has a previous series starring the same family, centuries later.
She’s currently writing romantic suspense, but longtime romance fave Garwood has an extensive backlist of acclaimed medieval romances. Start with the Highlands’ Lairds or Lairds’ Fiancées series.
If you’re looking for a realistic depiction of the period in both its cultural sophistication and near-constant violence, let me introduce you to the wonderful Elizabeth Kingston. Her deeply romantic Welsh Blades series takes place during the chaotic English conquest of Wales, and both books have a unique, utterly ferocious heroine.
Wine’s book list is almost entirely medieval and early Renaissance, and she specializes in strong-willed female characters and lushly detailed depictions of Scotland and England.
The Tang Dynasty was one of the golden ages of imperial China, and a particularly good example of how most of the world was doing just fine during what we Westerners have self-centeredly called “the Dark Ages.” Start with Butterfly Swords, where sword-wielding Princess Ai Li flees her upcoming wedding and enlists a handsome, mysterious warrior to keep her safe.
No less an authority than Terry Dresbach, the costume designer for “Outlander,” has said that the 18th century, known as the Georgian period in England, was one of the sexiest ever periods of fashion. This era comes right before the Regency but was earthier, more sex-positive and far less constrained by propriety. Which to me sounds like a recipe for a pretty great time.
After writing many beloved regencies, James has moved back a few decades to give us some arch, intelligent Georgian love stories. I’m partial to her current series, the Wildes of Lindow Castle, which works in the burgeoning gossip press of the era in hilarious ways, but readers also love her Desperate Duchesses books.
Like Mary Wine and the medieval period, Hoyt has staked out a claim for herself as the happy queen of her particular era. Check out her Maiden Lane or Legend of the Four Soldiers series for a grittier take on Georgian England, or go to the Princes books for some upper-class romance.
The Gilded Age/Edwardian Era
As any reader of Edith Wharton knows, the Gilded Age is a particularly fantastic setting for romance (even if it tends to end in gut-wrenching heartbreak—I still haven’t forgiven Edith for what The House of Mirth did to me). The extraordinary wealth accumulated by the American upper class in this period put much of the European aristocracy to shame, and the Yanks compensated for their lack of noble titles by adhering to hilariously byzantine rules of social engagement. In other words, everyone was very sexually repressed and looked super hot all the time.
Shupe has established herself as a go-to author for smart, well-researched historicals, and she does particularly great work in this era. Her superfun Knickerbocker series put her on the map, but I’d recommend starting with A Daring Arrangement, which follows an English noblewoman as she embraces the hustle and freedom of NYC and hooks up with a delicious, dashing financier.
Inspirational romance is often a good place to go for great work set in less popular eras, and Camden’s Empire State series is perhaps the best example of this. Camden’s romances are witty, warm and exhaustively researched. She has a particular knack for writing about the scientific advances of the era, so any readers looking for STEM heroes and heroines will be very happy.
Laura Lee Guhrke
Guhrke has series in all sorts of eras, but her Abandoned at the Altar books take place in Edwardian England. All three romances have delightfully independent ladies, all of them center around broken engagements, and characters can actually drive themselves around in cars rather than carriages! (You’ve heard of carriage love scenes—I raise you old-timey automobile love scenes.)
You’d think with the popularity of “Mad Men,” “Downton Abbey” and every other 20th-century period drama on television, there’d be a corresponding boom of romances. Alas, no. But there are a few shining stars out there, daring to write historical romances in eras sans corsets.
The alter ego of romantic suspense icon Jayne Ann Krentz has lately started writing romances that I swear were tailor-made for yours truly—sexy mysteries set in Hollywood circa 1930. It’s like “Poirot” and the second season of “Agent Carter” had a baby and wow am I sorry for that image. So sorry. Anyway, these books are great—start with The Girl Who Knew Too Much.
Roseanna M. White
Another hidden gem of inspirational romance, the Shadows Over England series takes place during the lead-up to the Blitz. As you might expect, things are very tense, very dramatic and very British. There are spy games and refugee musicians and clockmakers and reformed criminals aplenty, making these books excellent reads to curl up with on a chilly day.
The wonderful Cole has a fantastic backlist of historical novels and novellas written both before and after she became a total superstar with An Extraordinary Union (which is a great pick for a different historical, given its Civil War setting, but also technically still in the Victorian era). Let Us Dream is set in 1917 Harlem, and follows a romance between a cabaret owner and her chef. And Let It Shine stars a boxer and a civil rights activist who fall in love in 1961.
As a history nerd, I’ve never quite understood why the Regency and Victorian eras are so very, very dominant in romance. The following list is unfortunately still Anglocentric, much like the romance genre itself, but these authors offer a place to start for those looking to move beyond the Regency or Victorian romance.
More than any other genre, the wonderful world of romance novels has its own separate lingo. It can be overwhelming for a newcomer, but once you learn the basics, it’s much easier to find the books that will make you smile like an idiot, and avoid the ones that will make you fling them across the room in a rage.
Some fandoms would be content to simply describe themselves as “fans of [blank].” Not so the romance-loving blogosphere, who have coined this delightful term for themselves. If you’re looking to dip your toe into the romance discourse, searching the Romancelandia hashtag on Twitter is a good way to start.
Hero and heroine
The leading man and the leading lady in heterosexual romances. This may also be abbreviated to “H” for hero, and “h” for heroine. These are usually used instead of calling either character a protagonist because most romances focus equally on both halves of a central couple.
Old school romance/bodice ripper
If you’re not a romance reader, a bodice ripper is probably what you think most of the genre is—an innocent virgin, a swaggering he-man, not much subtlety, purple prose aplenty. However, those books fell out of style a few decades ago. If you pick one of them up, you’re probably going to have to deal with an uncomfortable (at the very least) lack of consent, and quite possibly any number of other discomfiting aspects—racism, homophobia, etc. “Old school romance” and “bodice ripper” function as giant you-have-been-warned signs for readers venturing down the backlist of the genre.
Insta-love and insta-lust
A trope that’s fallen somewhat out of fashion but can still be found in most subgenres, insta-love is when the hero and heroine lock eyes across a crowded room and fall madly in love right there on the spot. This works best in either high melodrama historicals or paranormal romances. Most modern authors are content to have their couple fall in insta-lust instead, which is exactly what you think it is.
Desert Island Keeper (DIK) and Keeper Shelf
A Desert Island Keeper is a book so beloved, one would take it to a hypothetical exile on a desert island. Keeper Shelf is the more practical cousin of this term and refers to the metaphorical or literal place where one’s favorite, eternally re-readable books are stored.
If a book is a DIK for you, chances are it also contains one of your Book Boyfriends, the men you wish were real and could date you. Or make out with you. Whatever you’re looking for.
Speaking of men in romance, the alpha male is probably still the most common variant. This is your standard commanding, arrogant, accomplished dude. Think Mr. Darcy before Elizabeth Bennet’s rejection humbled him, and we all learned he was actually an adorable nerd who gets shy around sassy girls.
An alpha male whose bossy and/or stubborn tendencies go too far, causing the reader to imagine kicking him repeatedly instead of being wildly attracted to him.
Contrary to popular belief, most alpha males don’t stay bossy and commanding throughout the entire book. Usually, their lady love humbles them somehow, resulting in The Grovel. This is where the hero metaphorically or literally falls to his knees, begging forgiveness and telling the heroine how much she has changed him for the better. A good grovel may also be required for any character who lied to or tried to manipulate their true love before inevitably falling for them.
A counterpoint to the traditional alpha male hero. Beta males are generally kinder, more nurturing and more open about their emotions and thoughts than a taciturn alpha.
I approach defining this term with trepidation since Romancelandia is still figuring out exactly what it means. A conclusion seems to have been reached that a gamma male is a mix of alpha and beta qualities. Usually strong and commanding, but not arrogant, a gamma male can be seen as the villain at first. He is often independent and may be indifferent to the heroine initially. Literally all of what I just wrote could change tomorrow though, so take this definition with a grain of salt.
Happily Ever After. The finale, the explosion of sparkles and rainbows, the endorphin high every romance hopes to spark in its readers. A good romance novel is nothing without a wonderfully sweeping conclusion, and if a reader says they weren’t sold on the HEA, it probably means they won’t be recommending the book to a friend.
Happy For Now. An ending that either leaves something to be desired or leaves the couple in a decent place while hinting there is more drama to come. A standalone book with a HFN is generally not desirable, although there are some fans that don’t mind. Most romance readers however, prefer a HFN if it comes at the end of a book in an ongoing series, and the author makes it clear the couple’s journey is not over yet.
An author you love and trust so much, you automatically buy their books whenever they come out.
A trope that gets you every single time. For example, some people are suckers for a good friends-to-lovers story, or a workplace romance. Most romance tropes are pretty self-explanatory, but there are a couple worth explaining.
This trope is when circumstances force a couple to spend a lot of time in the same space. So, snowed into a cute cabin in a contemporary, or stuck together on a long carriage ride in a historical.
Marriage of Convenience
When somebody has to get married to avoid scandal, being betrothed to some horrible old lord, get money for an impoverished family, what have you. This is a cherished trope of historical romance because it allows for society-sanctioned sexy times (heirs aren’t going to make themselves!) while the main couple slowly falls in love.
Speaking of historical romance, I would do a whole other list of period-specific terms, (but since a good amount of them will already be known to lovers of biographies or historical fiction, I’m not going to). Ton is one of the most commonly used phrases in historical romance, and one that historical fiction readers might not know. It refers to British high society, and you’ll probably come across this word quite a bit since almost every historical takes place in Ye Olde England. Unfortunately, historical romance is even whiter than contemporary romance, but that is the subject of an entirely different article.
Another historical-specific term, a bluestocking refers to a bookish lady, probably a wallflower, probably on the road to spinsterhood. This was a derogatory term in reality, but since romance loves a smart heroine, the fictional lady in question often wears this epithet with pride.
Too Stupid To Live (TSTL)
One would think this is the direct opposite of bluestocking. But rather than refer to a lack of book smarts, a heroine described as TSTL is a person who wanders into or creates dangerous situations at an annoying rate, and thus makes sympathizing with her rather difficult. This is especially egregious in any Highlander or paranormal romances, where the stakes are often life-and-death.
The Duke of Slut
The ladies over at beloved romance website Smart Bitches, Trashy Books are responsible for this utter masterpiece of a term, which makes me laugh every single time I think about it. The Duke of Slut refers to a type of hero commonly found in historicals—the sexy aristocrat who never met an actress, dancer, courtesan or mildly attractive and consenting woman he didn’t then immediately sleep with.
More than any other genre, the wonderful world of romance novels has its own separate lingo. It can be overwhelming for a newcomer, but once you learn the basics, it’s much easier to find the books that will make you smile like an idiot, and avoid the ones that will make you fling them across the room in a rage.
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