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Booktok Made Me Buy it: Shea Explores Booktok’s Popular Romance Novels

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bowling Green chapter.

Was anyone else the kid that didn’t participate in summer camp activities because they were too busy reading some sort of young adult fantasy series in the corner, on the floor?

No? Just me?

But in all seriousness, I have been obsessed with books since my mother read the Harry Potter books to me when I was in elementary school. From Harry Potter I moved on to books like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Hunger Games, the Maze Runner series, and many other stories, but after a few years, I fell out of reading because I was too busy reading the never-ending amounts of middle school homework. After a long, and hard few years I hopped onto TikTok and went down one of my usual three-hour rabbit holes and came across the Holy Grail: BookTok!

After reading lots of books from Booktok, I think it is only fair to discuss some of the books that I liked and didn’t like without being spoiled. I should also mention that a few of these books are not to be taken too seriously so I read them just to enjoy the stories and not to pick every detail of the relationships apart.

The Love Hypothesis

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood was probably one of my favorite BookTok recommendations so far. The Love Hypothesis follows Olive Smith, a third-year Ph. D. candidate and her wild journey of fake dating a professor, Adam Carleson (and, no, Adam is not her professor). While the fake dating trope is not my most favorite trope, Hazelwood managed to make Olive very relatable. I don’t know if it is just being in college that makes me empathize with her busy schedule and tiredness but, in all honesty, it’s a mood. 

One of the main points that differentiates this book from other romance novels is that Hazelwood expands on ideas outside of the love interests. This book explores harassment in the workplace as well as representation for women, specifically women of color, in STEM. It is definitely a breath of fresh air reading this book and having it talk about issues that are so prevalent to society today.

I am a sucker for a good romance novel but that doesn’t mean that I am blind to the faults. Hazelwood, while I really did enjoy her writing style, could have made Adam Carleson more… of a person? He felt a little cartoonish in the sense that I don’t think his character was fully developed by the end of the book. He was a little bland at times but by no means was a bad character.

From the romance sense of things Hazelwood did a nice job prolonging this throughout the book. This novel, including the epilogue, is 352 pages but Hazelwood paces the romance so well. The romance did not appear out of thin air and the romance was not stretched out unnecessarily which is something that I appreciate.

Overall, this was a very fun read for me and discussed some social issues that needed to be talked about. I would give this an 8/10.

Dreamland Billionaires Series

Dreamland Billionaires is a series written by Lauren Asher and is a three-book series made up of The Fine Print, Terms and Conditions, and The Final Offer. Each book follows one of the three Kane brothers (Rowan, Declan, and Cal) who have to partake in challenges that were made by their late Grandfather so that they can get their inheritance and their stakes in the family company from their Grandfather’s will.

Just for some context, in these books Dreamland is equivalent to Disney and Grandpa Kane created Dreamland. For the first book it focuses on Rowan and Zahra who, if I’m being honest, are not my favorite characters. Zahra submitted a drunk proposal that criticized Dreamland’s best ride which, one, is very unprofessional behavior and two, doesn’t seem realistic. I know that these are romance novels and I have to have some sort of imagination to be able to read through these without going insane. Zahra is a little abrasive which, in some books, I like for the female lead but she just seems over the top with some of the things that happen. She isn’t a bad character but she can be a little annoying at times.

As for the romance in that book, it wasn’t my favorite but it wasn’t bad. The Fine Print for me was a solid 6/10 but when the romance started to progress I thought that the interactions between Rowan and Zahra were very nice to read.

Terms and Conditions was probably my favorite book out of the Dreamland Billionaires series. I think Asher did a nice job with the pacing of the book because I could not put this book down. This book focussed on the oldest Kane brother, Declan, and his assistant named Iris. I loved Iris as a character, she was professional when it came to her job, very likable when it came to interactions with other characters, and was very well rounded.

Declan’s challenge from his Grandfather did seem a little weird because it was to marry someone and have a child within a certain amount of time. This just rubbed me the wrong way especially because Declan is the business man who doesn’t have time for anything else. He doesn’t believe in romance. Not to mention that forcing someone to marry and have a kid for money is very weird. 

The romance between these two was actually really well written and was spread out nicely in the book so I would give this book an 8/10.

When I got to The Final Offer I was a little run down from this series and I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the whooping 592-page book. This was probably one of the longest books I have read since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The Final Offer follows the middle child, Cal, and his adventure back to a lakehouse that the family used to stay at in order to sell it (which is his challenge to get his share from the will). Come to find out that his childhood sweetheart, Lana, and her daughter Cami live there. This book probably has the most interesting characters because we see Cal’s struggle with addiction, his broken relationship with his father, and the dynamic between him and Lana. The only reason why this book was not my favorite was due to how long it was. This book was an 8/10 for me.

Overall, the Dreamland Billionaires series by Lauren Asher was a very good series that I would recommend. Some of the things that I liked about these books was that there were dual perspectives for male and female leads in all of these books so we could see what each of them were thinking. I also liked how characters from other books made appearances in each of the different books.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses, written by Sarah J. Maas, is a book that I have some feelings about. For the sake of fingers I will be calling this book ACOTAR.

ACOTAR follows 19-year-old Feyre who kills a wolf in a forest to feed her family and is then kidnapped by Tamlin, the lord of the Spring Court and a high Fae, because the wolf turned out to be a Faerie wolf from the Spring Court of Prythian. 

I know that a lot of BookTok people love this book and the series, granted I have only read the first book, but I fell asleep while reading this book. It wasn’t a one-time thing either! I fell asleep multiple times while reading this. I have been a fantasy lover since I was a young child but ACOTAR was one of the weird occurrences where I actually don’t remember much of the plot. For me it was very boring until the last third of the book when I kind of sighed and accepted that I would have to get the second book in the series to see if it was any better than ACOTAR. My bank account is crying from buying all of these books. I have been told that the second book is better than the first so that gives me some hope.

The characters were just very forgetful and boring to me. As a reader, I did not connect with either of the main characters, Feyre and Tamlin, because I think this book was more about building the world of Faeries and humans and Maas did a pretty good job at that part. I will say that the ending third of the book had me at the edge of my seat and I am still interested in seeing where this series will go. For me, this book was a 4/10 just because I did not feel any connection to any of the characters for almost all of the book.


Last but not least is Icebreaker by Hannah Grace which was probably the most interesting BookTok read so far for me. It follows Anastasia Allen, a University of California, Maple Hills, competitive figure skater who is looking to become a figure skater for Team USA in the Olympics. This book also follows Nate Hawkins, the captain of the University of California, Maple Hills’ hockey team. Their paths cross due to trouble in one of the two ice rinks which forces hockey players to share a rink with the figure skaters which causes a lot of tension between the two groups but specifically Anastasia and Nate. 

I have watched figure skating since I was very young and have loved it. So much so that I actually split my lip open on my family room’s coffee table when I was young because I was trying to do a jump like the figure skaters on TV. This book was very exciting in that aspect because it did involve some skating terminology that I found very interesting.

I will warn you that you should not take this book very seriously because it does read like a fanfiction but sometimes those reads are the most fun books to read. In terms of romance, this book was very smutty but there were also very important, non-smutty, moments that happened. When the romance progresses there are a lot of talks about Anastasia’s skating partner, Aaron, and how he is encouraging Anastasia to eat in an unhealthy manner (undereating) which becomes a big plot point and character-defining moment for Nate. This was something that I found very interesting because Grace showed the complexities of a relationship and somehow made me feel like I was in therapy again. There is a lot of talk about mental and physical health in this book which I think is very much needed when sports are involved.

I’m going to be honest and say that the relationship between Nate and Anastasia is not the healthiest romantic partnership I have seen because there are a lot of moments where I thought that these two could use a good session of couples therapy. Anastasia is very much a character that needs someone to take care of her even though she has a hard exterior and Nate is the type of character who needs to protect someone which gets a little overbearing at some points.

One of the things that I liked about this book was that there were so many characters in this book yet I could picture all of them. I am one of those people that have a hard time remembering everyone’s name and what their personalities were like but Grace does a really nice job of writing characters with distinct personality traits so that we don’t get confused when there is a conversation between the whole hockey team. I also really enjoyed the dynamic between the hockey team as well as the dynamic between Anastasia, her friend, and the hockey team. It was very fun to read the banter between them.

The one thing that I will say about this is that, as a college student, I could not imagine going to that many parties. I don’t want to judge but my socially awkward self could never.

Overall, I think this was a book that was not meant to be taken too seriously but had a pretty interesting plot and some interesting characters. I would give this a 7/10.

Reading all of these books has been very fun for me because I get to sort of enter into different worlds after so many years of depriving myself of a good book. Booktok did a pretty good job of keeping me entertained with these drama-filled romance novels so I feel the need to read more. If you have any book recommendations, feel free to let me know!

Shea Filbrun

Bowling Green '26

Hello! I’m a sophomore at Bowling Green State University and I love to read, watch movies, and listen to music.