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A cozy small town. A quaint Main Street lined with quirky family-owned shops. Community events—farmers markets, pumpkin carving contests, Christmas tree lightings—attended by everyone. A plucky, adorable heroine finds love with the gorgeous guy who drove her crazy, right up until their nonstop sparring turned into love.

We all know the formulas. Like receiving a gift-wrapped bicycle, the joy doesn’t come from wondering, “Whatever could this be?” but rather from the instant recognition that you’ve gotten exactly what you want. Sweetness? Check. Warm fuzzies? Check. Happily ever after? Checkmate.

As Seen on TV

In Meredith Schorr’s debut, As Seen on TV, Adina Gellar has let made-for-TV movies convince her that everything wrong with her big-city life could be cured by a small-town romance. Of course she hasn’t found love in superficial, fast-paced New York City. What she needs is a down-home everyman who will offer her steadiness and commitment—something she craves both personally and professionally.

In a last-ditch effort to kick-start her freelance journalism career, Adina pitches a story about Pleasant Hollow, a nearby small town about to be forever changed by the addition of a huge housing tower. She anticipates being welcomed to Pleasant Hollow by a grandmotherly bed-and-breakfast owner, befriended by a spunky waitress and charmed by a small-town Romeo, all of whom will confirm that the interlopers are ruining the character of their adorable town. Instead, the B&B owner is curt, the waitress is impatient, the town is bleak and no one cares about the development or Adina . . . except for the tower’s project manager, Finn Adams. Despite being absolutely gorgeous, city boy Finn’s lack of interest in a picture-perfect HEA is a red flag for Adina.

Nevertheless, Adina remains plucky to the max and continues trying to fit everyone else into the parts she wants them to play. The relentlessness of her search for quaintness and charm is admirable, if at times exhausting, while her struggle to find a simple, straightforward romance in a way-too-complicated world is relatable. Schorr provides an interesting foil for Adina in Finn, who encourages and frustrates her in equal measure as he helps her realize that love doesn’t have to be neat and tidy to be right and real.

★ Nora Goes Off Script

Nora Hamilton, of Annabel Monaghan’s Nora Goes Off Script, lives on the other side of a romance fixation—not as the addict but as the dealer, churning out scripts of sweet, interchangeable stories for the Romance Channel. But when her spoiled wastrel of a husband leaves her and their two kids, and she realizes she’s secretly, guiltily glad to see him go, she ends up pouring her own story into a new screenplay.

That screenplay gets turned into a serious Hollywood movie, starring Hollywood’s most gorgeous star, Leo Vance, who comes to Nora’s house to film on location and then . . . doesn’t leave. Leo has looks, talent, fame, fortune and a smolder that could melt glass. But after a recent personal loss, he’s floundering to figure out who he is, and Nora’s historic home in a low-key small town seems like the right place to find his footing. Will love ensue? Romance readers know it will, but their mutual feelings manage to catch both Nora and Leo totally off guard.

The plot—big-city hotshot finding his real self with help from a small-town sweetheart—may be a classic formula, but not a single thing in Nora Goes Off Script comes across as predictable. The characters seem to genuinely discover their story as it unfolds, always digging for something authentic and rejecting stereotypes (at least, the ones that Monaghan doesn’t gently lampoon before employing). Nora and Leo’s struggles are honest and poignant, Nora’s children are genuine and nuanced characters who are never treacly or smarter than the adults, and the romance takes its time while taking its main couple seriously. Warm, witty and wise, Nora Goes Off Script tells the truth about all of love’s ups and downs: family love, friendship love, romantic love that comes to a wrenching end—and love that triumphs so beautifully, you’ll still be smiling over it long after you’ve put the book down.

Are you a sucker for a made-for-TV movie? Then you'll love As Seen on TV and Nora Goes Off Script.
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New York Times bestselling author Emily Henry (Beach Read, People We Meet on Vacation) returns with Book Lovers, in which an ambitious literary agent’s summer trip takes an unexpected turn when she’s stuck in a small town with her professional nemesis.

Nora Stephens is known for her cutthroat drive and the dogged devotion to her clients and their manuscripts. There’s really only one person who can get through her tough exterior, and that’s her younger sister, Libby. When Libby proposes a sisters’ trip to the small town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, Nora acquiesces. Once there, Nora is surprised to run into book editor Charlie Lastra, a man she’s deeply disliked ever since he ruthlessly turned down one of her books. Apparently, Charlie is a Sunshine Falls native, and he seems different than Nora remembers from their encounters in New York City. He’s not the abrupt editor that spurned her before; he’s actually charming, which Nora finds particularly infuriating.

Henry excels at writing introspective, heroine-focused romance, and she uses the character of Nora to dismantle the stereotypical “career woman” archetype: the cold, ambitious person who sacrifices relationships for the sake of her job and often stands in the way of a more conventionally “feminine” woman’s happiness. But in Book Lovers, Nora doesn’t have to change her driven nature to find a partner who appreciates her. While Charlie is a real softie at heart, he still celebrates Nora’s desire to excel. He understands her professional ambitions, because he harbors similar ones himself.

Emily Henry wants justice for the “Big City Woman.”

And while Sunshine Falls’ small-town charm does eventually win Nora over, the most significant result of her letting her guard down is not so much her relationship with Charlie so much as it’s the reaffirmation of her love for her sister. Nora deeply cares for Libby, and as the trip goes on, Nora begins to sense that something is amiss. Their sisterly affection is a sweet delight to witness, an unconditional and supportive love that Henry celebrates just as much as Nora’s romance with Charlie.

Is it possible for Henry to write a romance that doesn’t glitter with pithy banter or that isn’t filled with characters you want to root for? So far, the answer is no. As the title suggests, readers who love meta “books about books” will delight in the details of Nora’s and Charlie’s occupations and their passion for reading. But Book Lovers is also a wonderful examination of work-life balance, the intricacies of family relationships and the realization that you shouldn’t have to compromise yourself for love.

A delightful romance that both dismantles and celebrates the “career woman” archetype, Book Lovers cements Emily Henry's status as one of the best rom-com writers around.
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In The League of Gentlewomen Witches, India Holton returns to the Dangerous Damsels, her magical romp of a series complete with flying houses, adventuring pirates and tenacious witches. In this fast-paced enemies-to-lovers romance, a witch destined to take over a secret society teams up with a roguish pirate captain to recover a stolen amulet.

Charlotte Pettifer is a descendent of the famed Beryl Black, founder of the Wicken League, which fosters the talents of both young and experienced witches. It’s Charlotte’s birthright to lead the league, just like her ancestor, and she’s always thought that her destiny was also her dream job. But a treasure-hunting pirate makes her reconsider her future. When Beryl Black’s long-lost amulet resurfaces, Captain Alex O’Riley sets out to claim it—and so does Charlotte, by stowing away on Alex’s flying house.

India Holton reveals which fictional sorceresses she’d want in her own coven.

Close quarters turn Charlotte and Alex’s rapid-fire banter into a sort of foreplay, but despite their mutual antagonism, their romance skews more toward the sweet and heartwarming end of the spectrum. The dashing, daring Alex provides the perfect foil for buttoned-up and duty-bound Charlotte. It’s not exactly a grumpy-meets-sunshine pairing—more like a stuffy character falling for a free-spirited one. Alex oozes charm; he already made a grand first impression in Holton’s debut, The Wisteria Society for Lady Scoundrels, and he will further secure his spot in readers’ hearts here. They will immediately understand why Charlotte is envious of Alex’s freedom, especially as the weight of becoming the head of the Wicken League looms over her. His very existence and infectious spontaneity make Charlotte waver on her commitment to the league. Can she really live the life she wants while also fully committing to the role of leader?

Holton takes readers on a wild ride through a fun, limitless world, where frivolity and whimsy reign supreme and skilled swordwork and grand displays of magic abound. It’s all a hodgepodge of delightful silliness, with over-the-top action, exaggerated villainy and the fact that it’s possible to fall in love with your sworn enemy while recovering an ancient amulet. Think Mel Brooks meets The Princess Bride with a dash of Austen-esque comedy of manners. And then crank that all up to 11.

It’s impossible to know where the series will go next, but after finishing The League of Gentlewomen Witches, readers will be completely on board for more of Holton’s imaginative, rollicking romances.

Mel Brooks meets The Princess Bride, with a dash of Austen-esque comedy of manners, in India Holton’s imaginative, rollicking romance.
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You know that part in a wedding ceremony when the officiant asks if there are any objections? In The Wedding Crasher, that’s when the fun—and the chaos—begins. While assisting her wedding-planner cousin Lina, Solange Perreira witnesses the bride in a moment of passion with a man who clearly isn’t the groom. Despite some natural trepidation, Solange feels compelled to stop this marital train wreck.

Dean Chapman, the jilted and romance-skeptical groom, is less heartbroken by his wedding going down in flames than he is worried about his professional prospects. He works at a conservative law firm that thinks only family men are partner material. To save face, he says that Solange ruined his wedding because they’re in love. Conveniently for him, Solange is willing to play along. A temporary boyfriend would come in handy to impress her visiting family, who won’t be satisfied with her single status regardless of her meaningful and innovative career in education.

The follow-up to Sosa’s breakout rom-com The Worst Best Man, The Wedding Crasher is a winner—thoroughly delightful, modern and fun. The romance naturally flows from the close proximity that’s part and parcel of a fake relationship. And while the scenario is fun, Sosa’s novel is also thoughtful and emotionally resonant, in large part due to its two distinctive main characters and their sparky chemistry. Dean and Solange aren’t looking for true love, and both are battling other people’s restrictive ideas of what a successful life looks like. And most importantly, they’re heavily influenced by their childhoods, both spent with single moms.

When Dean was a child, his mother moved them around from place to place, chasing love and finding bad men and disappointing relationships time and again. Those formative experiences led him to conclude that love is dangerous and destabilizing. He wants a stable home, marriage and a family yet avoids romance, preferring relationships that are structured like business arrangements.

Solange, on the other hand, grew up surrounded by the love of her supportive Brazilian American family. But she’s terrified of making an important life or career choice and having it turn out to be the wrong one, and equally terrified of staying or working in one place for years like her mother did. In contrast to Dean’s story, the origins of Solange’s angst aren’t quite as clear. Why does she think that her mother has made such an enormous mistake? While the emotions come through loud and clear, the reasoning behind them is frustratingly fuzzy.

Ultimately, however, this doesn’t preclude The Wedding Crasher from delivering what readers want most in a romantic comedy. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, tartly sweet and scorching hot—a delicate balance that only a writer of Sosa’s considerable talent can strike.

The follow-up to Mia Sosa’s breakout rom-com The Worst Best Man, The Wedding Crasher is a winner—thoroughly delightful, modern and fun.
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★ Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

Children’s and young adult author Ashley Herring Blake makes her adult debut with Delilah Green Doesn’t Care, a queer small-town romance between—let’s be frank—two total babes who are most certainly worthy of their swoony whirlwind of a love story.

Delilah Green has no desire to return home to Bright Falls, Oregon; the tiny town is full of painful memories of a childhood spent feeling abandoned and isolated by her stepfamily. But when her estranged stepsister, Astrid, offers Delilah a large paycheck to photograph her wedding, Delilah finds herself back in Bright Falls for the first time in years. She hopes to get the trip over as soon as possible, but then she reunites with Claire Sutherland, a single mom who runs the local bookstore. Delilah recalls Claire being one of Astrid’s pretentious, “mean girl” friends, but she’s matured into a warm, kind and all-too-alluring woman. 

This tender story of growth and change is about becoming a person your younger self can be proud of. Delilah and Claire’s connection starts as a sexy sort of antagonism, an attraction they just can’t get out from under their skin, but it soon blossoms into a wild vulnerability neither expected. Blake’s impressive talent is on display on every page, especially when it comes to tracking the evolution of her central couple’s relationship. Romance readers are sure to welcome her (and Delilah) with open arms. 

Love at First Spite

An interior designer and an architect work together to build the perfect revenge in Anna E. Collins’ Love at First Spite.

Dani Porter’s already gotten mad about her cheating fiancé. Now, she wants to get even. When a vacant lot opens up next to her ex’s house, the place where they were supposed to live happily ever after, she quickly snatches it up. Her plan? Build an Airbnb right next door to block his beautiful view. To help with the project, she hires Wyatt Montego, a grumpy architect who works at her design firm. Their personalities immediately clash, but they soon find their groove within the large-scale project, moving from strangers to friends to something more. 

Given how much time and emotion she invested in her last relationship, only to then have her trust completely shattered, Dani is wary of love. And Wyatt is hiding his own sensitivities beneath his terse, stuffy exterior. The renovation and design elements provide the story’s foundation, giving Dani and Wyatt’s slow-burning chemistry plenty of opportunities to sizzle. This is a sweet story of healing after heartbreak, finding your person and debating the wrong and right ways to eat a sandwich.

If You Love Something

Some romances aren’t about finding something new, but rebuilding and reclaiming something you’ve lost. DeShawn and Malik Franklin haven’t seen each other in years and, as far as they know, they’ve been divorced for just as long. 

DeShawn is a successful executive chef in the Washington, D.C., area, but his comfortable lifestyle gets shaken up by one phone call from his dear grandmother. She reveals that she has cancer, she won’t be seeking treatment and she’s finalizing her will and plans to leave half of her estate to Malik, with whom she is still very close. But, there was a mix-up with DeShawn and Malik’s divorce paperwork: They’re still married.

When DeShawn’s uncle contests the will, DeShawn agrees to pretend that he and Malik are back together, hoping the ruse plus the fact that they are still technically married will make it easier for Malik to fight for his rightful share. But once they reunite, old problems and even older attractions emerge. 

Fans who love a bit of family drama in their romances, as well as some fake dating (between spouses!), will tear through Jayce Ellis’ endearing If You Love Something. DeShawn and Malik are clearly the right person for each other—they just met at the wrong time. Ellis shows how both men have worked on themselves and grown in order to become better romantic partners. If You Love Something will give you all the warm and fuzzy feelings.

Perfecting the rom-com is no easy feat. But these authors have cracked the code. Their satisfying romances boast heaping doses of lightness and humor, as well as some perfectly deployed and fan-friendly genre tropes.

With her latest contemporary romance, K.M. Jackson will win the hearts of any reader who loves Keanu Reeves (especially if they’re a Gen-Xer).

Bethany Lu Carlisle is a 40-something artist on the brink of a breakout—and a Keanu Reeves superfan. Her Keanu fixation is how Lu copes with life’s stresses: There’s a Keanu role out there to suit any mood, ready to provide a cathartic pick-me-up. So when news of the star’s forthcoming wedding hits the tabloids, Lu hits the road with the lofty goal of confessing her love to him.

Riding shotgun on her cross-country dash is BFF Truman “True” Erickson, a great guy and even better friend. A college economics professor, True recently wrote a popular book and is making the rounds on local talk shows, but his friendship with Lu keeps him humble and grounded. He’s loved Lu for years, but since he started out as her brother’s bestie, his affection has gone unnoticed. She’s his Keanu.  

Lu and True have the familiarity and intimacy of lifelong friends, but true to the friends-to-lovers trope, their communication stinks. They may have decades of life experience and disappointments behind them, but they are still their own worst enemies until they give in to the inevitable spark. Their journey is quirky and full of misadventures, while being poignant and heartfelt and full of emotion. 

How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days is charming even when it’s working through heavier emotional issues like grief and healing. Jackson brings a light-hearted and personal touch to the smallest of details, from the chapter titles echoing the names of Reeves’ movies to the pointed moments when True uses Lu’s full name to get her attention.

Is Keanu Reeves the perfect boyfriend? Answers may vary, but Jackson has definitely written an extremely enjoyable friends-to-lovers rom-com. How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days is a fun story with humor and heart, and a supremely satisfying conclusion.

Is Keanu Reeves the perfect boyfriend? Answers may vary, but Jackson has definitely written an extremely enjoyable friends-to-lovers rom-com.
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A Certain Appeal is a rompy and raunchy retelling of Pride & Prejudice—with a burlesque twist. The Jane Austen inspiration is clear, but debut novelist Vanessa King excels at infusing her own fresh voice and sparkling ideas into this contemporary romance.

Liz Bennet had dreams of becoming an interior designer, but her career in Los Angeles crashed and burned before it really even got off the ground. Looking for a new start, she heads to New York City and quickly falls into a routine with Jane—in this retelling a Black, gay man who is Liz’s best friend and roommate. By day, Liz works as an executive assistant. But at night, she’s at the Meryton, a burlesque club in Manhattan where Jane is employed as a singer. Liz is a “stage kitten,” tasked with picking up after the performers and collecting their discarded bits of costuming.

Stuffy, buttoned-up wealth manager Will Darcy certainly isn’t prepared to attend a show at the Meryton but goes along with his friend Charles, who’s interested in investing in the club. He’s quite taken aback by Liz’s flirtatious nature, and when Liz overhears Darcy describe her as merely “tolerable,” the stage kitten shows her claws. Liz is a confident and saucy heroine, always ready with a sly innuendo or a sharp, witty remark. It’s a torturous delight watching her unravel the starchy Darcy. 

Despite that disastrous first impression, the pair keep crossing paths thanks to Jane and Charles’ whirlwind romance, graduating from acquaintances to confidants to something much more. It’s a slow burn that keeps its momentum, even amid all the fun of King’s detailed, luxe descriptions of buzzing nightlife, sexy show performances and extravagant costumes.

There is some additional conflict as Darcy and Liz explore their romantic connection: The Meryton is at risk of closing, and rumors swirl around Darcy’s past. But these factors don’t take much focus away from the romance, giving the large cast of side characters time to flourish. (Seriously, who wouldn’t want to see more of aerialists named Ginn and Tonic?)

Fans of the source material will have an immeasurable amount of fun identifying all the Easter eggs within, from recognizable characters to dialogue that harkens back to the original text. King captures the magical feeling of seeing New York City awash in lights, and the electric hum of a rapt crowd during a live performance. There is something both cozy and thrilling about the Meryton and its found family of performers, and readers will be sad to leave them.

A Certain Appeal is incredibly charming, and it knows it. The only big questions left are what King will write next and when can we read it?

A rompy, raunchy retelling of Pride & Prejudice with a burlesque twist, A Certain Appeal is incredibly charming and it knows it.

With Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words, Annika Sharma kicks off a new contemporary rom-com series about four South Asian friends living in New York City. Four besties make up the Chai Masala Club, also known as the CMC. Kiran, Payal, Akash and Sonam are as varied and vibrant as the Empire State, which Sharma has imbued with a heartbeat and perspective to rival the story’s other secondary characters. The city is more than just a place; it’s the foundation for everything that happens to the CMC.

A perfect literary companion to the author’s popular podcast, “The Woke Desi,” this romance focuses on Indian immigrant Kiran Mathur, a biomedical engineer and dynamic woman raised by traditional, conservative parents. She often feels the pull of opposing obligations among her family, her culture and herself, but her list of things she’d like to accomplish before turning 30 is her own, for the most part. The things that were quickly crossed off, like seeing the Empire State Building and a Broadway play, were fun and easy. Riding a horse, playing games at an arcade and dancing under the stars are so far unchecked but, again, fun and easy to accomplish. The things that really matter, like falling in love and reuniting her older sister, Kirti, with Ma and Baba . . . those are more serious. More daunting. 

Kiran’s new neighbor, Nash Hawthorne, is a fellow big-city transplant whose goal is to become a child psychologist at a hospital downtown. He’s handsome, tempting and as interested in Kiran as she is in him. But whereas he lost his parents as a child, Kiran grew up in the shadow of her family. Not only does Nash have to learn about Kiran’s Indian parents, he has to learn about the obligations any child feels toward their parents.

Sharma packs every sentence with information in this book. And every bit of information hints at important decisions the characters must make. Nash is uninformed about Kiran’s culture, but he works hard to learn about and understand her. Where he sees disapproval and isolation, Kiran sees tradition and responsibility. Kiran has to take into consideration the fact that Kirti was disowned for falling in love with a man her parents didn’t choose, and that her parents would be devastated if Kiran didn’t marry an Indian man.

It’s a lot of responsibility, and the heaviness of tradition weighs profoundly on Kiran’s shoulders. She works hard to stay present, but her wants and desires are constantly in battle with her parents’, and with her own reluctance to step out of line. Sharma poses the difficult question of how younger generations can evolve while still observing the practices of generations past. How lenient should we be with our parents and grandparents about their outdated opinions and practices? Are they even outdated? Should we try to teach them to be better? More future-thinking and progressive? How do you move forward if everybody stays on pause and never grows?

There’s a lot to think about in this forbidden love story, chiefly how brave someone must be to follow their heart. Falling in love is terrifying, but in the end Kiran and Nash find their four-letter word.

In this dynamic rom-com, Annika Sharma explores how younger generations can evolve while still observing the practices of generations past.
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Dark and angsty romances certainly have their place, but laughter and love never go out of style. In these two romances, you will find not just humor and heart but also a pair of happily ever afters that remind you life goes on and love always finds a way.

Love’s path is more than a bit unconventional in Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Jackie Logsted’s Joint Custody, a story that feels a little like The Parent Trap and a little like the Disney short “Feast,” with a couple that has separated and a devoted dog that’s bound and determined to bring them back together again.

Three years before the beginning of the story, the couple in question, named only the Man and the Woman, connected when the Man, a reclusive but highly acclaimed author, adopted a dog and immediately met the Woman, a successful book editor. They bonded over their shared appreciation of good books and handsome (not cute) dogs, and love ensued. The dog is named after their mutual favorite book, The Great Gatsby, and Gatz becomes a major part of their courtship as the pair falls in love . . . and then ends up in an awkward shared custody situation when the relationship starts to fall apart.

The story is narrated in its entirety by Gatz, who loves pop culture references and has the same kind of wryly amused exasperation for his hapless humans that you might expect from a smarter-than-the-grownups kid in a rom-com. In fact, the story has a lot of classically screwball comedy Hollywood hijinks.

New York City’s publishing world is a crucial element of the story, providing not just a social circle for the characters but also a rival for the Woman in the form of an author she meets at the London Book Fair, spurring Gatz to new heights of matchmaking—and match sabotaging. You could say that the plot has some tricks up its sleeves, but of course, the protagonist doesn’t wear any. Perhaps: It has some surprises tucked under its tail, or a few unexpected treats in its doggie bags.

However you want to say it, the plot gets to its happy conclusion in a way you won’t expect, but the journey to get there is filled with all the fun and playfulness you could want, and some surprising warmth to close it all out.

“Warmth” certainly comes to mind when considering the main characters of The Worst Duke in the World. Continuing her delightful Penhallow Dynasty series, Lisa Berne introduces a hero and heroine so kind and pleasant and amiable that they seem almost entirely out of place in a 19th-century romance. If you’re looking for high drama, desperate passion, brooding and poetic heroes or delicate, swooning heroines, look elsewhere. There is a devastatingly handsome aristocrat in the story, but when the hero tries to imitate his smoldering eyes, he’s accused of squinting. The heroine does start off tragically impoverished and waifish—but when her circumstances change and food becomes readily available, she’s more than happy to take every opportunity to stuff down multiple sandwiches, several tea cakes, a few apple puff pastries and perhaps more chocolates than are good for her.

This well-fed heroine is Jane Kent, recently discovered to be the illegitimate offspring of the Penhallow clan. And her squinting sweetheart is Anthony Farr, the Duke of Radcliffe, who lives on the neighboring estate and is—according to his sister—the worst duke in the world. This is largely because he cares very little about being grand and snobby and marrying again to father more heirs, and very much about being a good landlord, a good father to his 8-year-old son and a good caretaker to the enormously fat prize pig that he named Duchess and which he hopes will win the weight contest at the local fair.

Not your typical dukely traits, perhaps, but such appealing ones, attached to such a gentle, awkward, good-humored, warmhearted man, that it’s hard to imagine wanting a duke to behave in any other way. And while Jane might make a more classic heroine if she were tormented with despair or haunted by her past, her sunny frankness and keen appetite—for sweets, yes, but also for knowledge and friendship—make her endlessly endearing.

As light as a meringue and as sweet as honey, this romance is deliciously satisfying down to the last drop.

Dark and angsty romances certainly have their place, but laughter and love never go out of style. In these two romances, you will find not just humor and heart but also a pair of happily ever afters that remind you life goes on and love always finds a way.
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Two fun, flirty rom-coms with celebrity characters have hidden depths beneath their glittering surfaces.

Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series comes to a close with First Comes Like. Jia Ahmed is a beauty expert and influencer. She’s well-versed in fashion and camera angles and promoting posts—in short, she knows how to highlight not only the best parts of her look, but also the best parts of her life, the pieces she wants to amplify and share with the world. And when she takes up an epistolary romance with a hot Bollywood soap opera star through her direct messages, Jia is on cloud nine. He’s heir to an influential family, he’s giving her the romance she didn’t know she needed and he’s oh, so dreamy. He’s also oh, so fake.

Dev Dixit doesn’t have time for romance—between moving to America, closing out his brother’s estate and taking on the care of his niece, his schedule is full. But when he realizes someone is catfishing Jia, his sense of honor kicks in and he decides to help. It’s not that she’s beautiful and compelling and interesting—he’s just a great guy. Really. So, of course when they’re photographed in a sultry position, Dev has no option other than to agree to her request that they fake date for a bit, just to get the paparazzi off their backs.

Every page of First Comes Like is bursting with fun, especially for pop-culture junkies, but Rai also addresses deeper questions about fame and access and culture. Online personalities and romances versus real-life relationships; imposter syndrome; microaggressions about heritage and culture and Bollywood cinema. The large cast of characters surrounding both Jia and Dev are lovingly and individually drawn, and it’s hard not to feel swept up into both of their families. All that, and there are helpful tips for selfies courtesy of Jia!

Read an interview with Alisha Rai about the first book in the Modern Love series, The Right Swipe.

Former Hollywood actress River Lane travels to the tiny town of Moose Springs, Alaska, in Sarah Morgenthaler’s Enjoy the View. Determined to keep a stake in the film industry, River has shifted to working behind the screen and plans to direct a documentary about Moose Springs. She grew up in Wyoming, so the rugged landscape isn’t as daunting as the people of Moose Springs, who don’t want publicity about their little slice of heaven. River’s got a lot riding on the success of her directorial debut, which explains her short temper and brashness. She’s bold and she’s brave, and, thanks to local hottie Easton Lockett, she’s got an in for her Moose Springs documentary. The mountaineer agrees to guides River’s team into the Rockies to climb Mount Veil, their local 14er. Perennial peacemaker Easton is a lot nicer and more receptive to outsiders than other men in Morgenthaler’s series, but he’s no less cautious and protective of Moose Springs.

Morgenthaler’s romance is pure escapism and competence porn, full of adventure, beautiful mountain vistas and knowledgeable alpine climbing guides. It’s like “Northern Exposure” meets Cliffhanger; River’s reckless bravery keeps her on the edge of the mountain and readers on the edge of their seats. As a woman in Hollywood, River has walked a fine line between nice and pleasant and not making waves, because too much of the latter meant her career would be over. But now that she doesn’t have to walk that particularly unfair tightrope, she’s unsure of the right balance to strike in her life going forward. River and Easton have an adrenaline-filled journey to their happily ever after, but it’s the boldness and patience, community and independence they learn from each other that makes it the most satisfying.

Two fun, flirty rom-coms with celebrity characters have hidden depths beneath their glittering surfaces.

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This pair of enemies-to-lovers romances takes readers on a bicoastal journey from classic Los Angeles showbiz glitz to sleek Manhattan high-rises.

LA-based YA author Bridget Morrissey hits the ground running with her first adult novel, Love Scenes. Morrissey’s Angeleno bona fides shine through in this sweet and thoughtful rom-com that tackles real-world problems of addiction, sobriety and second chances with wit and wisdom.

Told in first person, Love Scenes follows Sloane Ford, actor and second-generation Hollywood royalty, as she contemplates retiring from the industry following the disastrous demise of her longtime gig on a TV crime procedural. But she’s quickly roped in to being the consulting producer of a new movie written by her stepfather, directed by her sister, co-starring her mother and starring Joseph Donovan, a fellow actor she never wanted to work with again after his difficult behavior during the one and only movie they made together.

Sloane’s gigantic family, with parents and siblings and steps galore, has the potential to overwhelm everything else in this romance—particularly since, in true Hollywood fashion, everyone is involved in showbiz. But they’re well rounded and secondary to the real focus of the story: Sloane and Joe. Despite the professional, generational and financial privilege Sloane could easily fall back on, she works hard and recognizes all the ways she’s been given a leg up in her career. She also recognizes, eventually, Joe’s genuine effort to make amends. He was an emotional wreck and struggling with alcoholism when they last worked together, but now he’s sober and dedicated to keeping it that way. What follows is real emotional growth, true friendship and a satisfying love story.

Lauren Layne proves once again that she’s the queen of contemporary New York City romance with To Sir, With Love. Her breezy dialogue and delightful characters will fully immerse readers in this dreamy and sophisticated love story.

It’s easy to connect with Gracie Cooper right out of the gate. She’s an earnest, hopeful character anyone would love to call a friend. She’s crazy about her best friend’s baby, names the pigeons she feeds in the park, blurts out everything and blindly gives herself over to the attraction she feels to “Sir,” the mystery man she’s been chatting with under the name “Lady” through a dating app called MysteryMate. All of that, and she’s set aside her own dreams to keep her late father’s champagne shop, Bubbles & More, in business.

Gracie thinks she’s fallen in love with Sir. But if she has, how can she also be so drawn to Sebastian Andrews, the man whose company wants to buy out Bubbles & More’s lease? At first glance, Sebastian is the villain in this fairy tale, but the more Gracie learns about the businessman, the more the goodness in her recognizes the goodness in him. Sebastian is kind and supportive and recognizes the community impact his business decisions could cause. And the more time they spend in one another’s company, the more he suspects the possibility of Gracie being the Lady to his Sir.

This hopeful, happy love story sparkles with fairy dust, even as Layne makes it clear how high the professional and personal stakes are for her main couple. The superb characterization of Gracie and Sebastian and the parallel journeys they take toward one another make To Sir, With Love a wonderfully satisfying romance.

This pair of enemies-to-lovers romances takes readers on a bicoastal journey from classic Los Angeles showbiz glitz to sleek Manhattan high-rises.

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These witty enemies-to-lovers rom-coms are perfect for both fans of all things royal and readers who are eager for a variation on the trend. Rather than being princes or princesses themselves, the couples in these romances either work for or get sucked into the orbits of royal families.

In Battle Royal, the first book of her Palace Insiders series, Lucy Parker follows two London bakers at war with each other over lucrative, high-profile commissions. 

Dominic De Vere is famous for his exactingly perfect desserts, whereas Sylvie Fairchild is building a reputation for wildly imaginative cakes. They met on the set of “Operation Cake,” a baking show that Dominic judges with stern disdain. Sylvie had a strong run as a contestant thanks to her superb sugar work and unusual designs. Unfortunately, when her unicorn cake exploded and clocked Dominic on the forehead, she was promptly eliminated. Undaunted, Sylvie opened her own bakery bang opposite Dominic’s and proceeded to prove him wrong by making it a success. 

Their worlds collide again when Sylvie is invited to be a judge on “Operation Cake” while both of them are also competing to snag the commission of a lifetime: Princess Rose’s wedding cake. Sparks arc between the bakeries—and between the pastry chefs. As Dominic and Sylvie layer flavor upon flavor and craft intricate details into their cakes, they uncover essential truths about each other and themselves. Parker strikes the perfect balance between relationship growth and delicious, pastry-related escapism.

In Karina Halle’s The Royals Next Door, a duke and duchess’s departure from royal duties leads to romance between two solitary people who find themselves unwillingly fascinated with each other.

Piper is a second grade schoolteacher, diehard romance reader and anonymous podcaster. She also lives with and takes care of her mother, who has borderline and dependent personality disorders. Then the Duke and Duchess of Fairfax—a fictionalized version of England’s Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex—move in next door to Piper’s modest cottage on an island off the coast of British Columbia. Harrison Cole, the duke and duchess’s personal protection officer, takes his job very seriously and is not easily amused by life’s vagaries. He sees Piper as a security hazard; she sees him as a burr under her skin. 

The main couples in both Battle Royal and The Royals Next Door have to take giant leaps of faith into trust and love, giving these royal-adjacent romances a satisfying dose of reality. Parker and Halle have a lot of fun with all the glamorous trappings of royalty, but they temper the whimsy with the emotional inner journeys of their four main characters, all of whom come to terms with their turbulent childhoods over the course of their love stories.

In Battle Royal, Parker slowly reveals that Dominic’s stepfather was openly disdainful of him, and Dominic’s subsequent desire for control over his emotions results in his somewhat narrow-minded arrowing through life. The Royals Next Door’s Harrison was a caregiver to his mother and siblings in his early teens, and  he’s found comfort in adherence to rules ever since. Both men expect structured excellence from themselves and others. Imagine their consternation, then, when they are strongly attracted to whimsical women. 

But under their carefree exteriors, Sylvie and Piper have struggles of their own. Sylvie must overcome recurring feelings of inadequacy, while Piper has been haunted since childhood by her mother’s debilitating illnesses, which contributed to Piper developing anxiety and complex PTSD. Halle does an especially good job of realistically and empathetically depicting Piper’s relationship with her mother, who is never stereotyped or demonized.

Drawing on the strength of the friendships with the royal women they encounter, both Sylvie and Piper gain confidence over the course of their stories. Even with their sorrows, both women retain their desire to eke out a life for themselves that is joyful, which constantly endears them to readers. 

These witty enemies-to-lovers rom-coms are perfect for both fans of all things royal.

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Enemies to lovers is a favorite romance trope, and two new titles up the ante by making their central couples not just personal rivals but professional ones as well.

The prolific Meg Cabot is an expert in matters of the heart, having written love stories between characters from middle school to middle age. In No Words, the third book in her Little Bridge Island series, readers are once again whisked away to the lovely Florida Keys for a little sun, fun and romance.

Jo Wright is a children’s author who recently received an invitation to speak at Little Bridge Island’s first book festival. She’s successful and beloved by her legions of young readers, not just for the adventures in the books she writes but for the way she interacts with and treats them.

The lure of good money is hard for Jo to resist, but she wants nothing to do with one of the festival’s other invitees: arrogant novelist Will Prince, the man who once maligned Jo’s work to the New York Times. When she hears that Will is going to be out of the country that week, visiting the set of a film adaptation of his new book, she agrees to attend. Too late she discovers that not only does Will own Little Bridge Island, he is bankrolling the festival and very much in attendance.

Worshipped by the legions of women who read his angst-filled dramas, Will’s the Nicholas Sparks to Jo’s Judy Blume. She’s not interested in an apology, but the Will she meets on Little Bridge Island is awkward and sweet, and willing to go to great lengths to make amends. In a refreshing twist on the trope, he’s an enemy who begins the book hoping to change their status and ready to put in the work.

No Words doesn’t have much in the way of tension or conflict, making it a quick, easy and lighthearted read (despite the huge cast of side characters). Cabot is a whiz at writing dialogue that’s both charming and believable, and she riffs on her years of experience in the publishing industry in snarky, silly ways that will bring readers plenty of laughs alongside this love story.

Julia London’s It Started With a Dog is a fun rom-com full of dog puns and good-natured, never mean-spirited competition that pits two like-minded coffee aficionados against one another.

When Harper Thompson and Jonah Rogers accidentally swap phones, neither knows that the trajectory of their life will be changed forever. In the process of getting the phones back to their rightful owners, Harper and Jonah learn that they have much in common, from favorite movies and food to their love of dogs and coffee. Both even have professional nemeses: each other.

Harper’s shiny new coffeehouse, Deja Brew, is bad news for the Lucky Star coffee shop, which is owned by Jonah’s family. The town isn’t big enough for two coffee shops, and something must be done. Harper and Jonah decide to organize a delightful battle of the baristas, but one for a good cause. As a way to raise funds for a local dog shelter, each shop will foster a rescue dog and urge their patrons to vote for their adorable new mascot to be named King Mutt.

London does a great job of developing characters who are likeable, engaging and relatable. Harper’s Type A personality is tons of fun (in London’s capable hands, she’s never irritating or unbelievable), and Jonah’s ability to step in and save the day for his family is a perfect example of how attractive sheer competence can be. It Started With a Dog is almost as good as a lavender latte.

Enemies to lovers is a favorite romance trope, and two new titles up the ante by making their central couples not just personal rivals but professional ones as well.

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