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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bucknell chapter.

I, like so many others, am a sucker for a good romance book. As a result of my constant consumption of these books, I have identified a couple of problems I come upon all too often. 

One of these problems is the story’s, for lack of a better term, “cringe” factor. Sometimes the dialogue compels us to shrink back into ourselves and hurl our book across the room out of sheer secondhand embarrassment. Another more significant problem I encounter is the book’s predictability. If two characters are enemies pining after each other for 300 pages, we can assume their hatred will build until there is ultimately an explosive moment where they confess their undying desire for each other. While moments like these are still swoon-worthy, sometimes we as readers need something a little different or out of the box. Now, this is also taking into account that everyone’s formula for their ideal romance read is different. Whether you favor books bursting at the seams with fluff or full of steamy scenes with little to no plot, everyone has their preference. Here are a couple of romance books I have read in my life that I believe are perfect for all different kinds of romance readers:

  1. This is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

This is How You Lose The Time War is actually one of my most recent reads and has managed to climb its way to the top of my favorite books of all time. This science fiction romance is narrated through letters written between two time-traveling and universe-jumping women during a war they are on opposite sides of. We get to watch their love story grow as their letters’ closings change from “Best,” to “Yours,” to “Love.” This does not mean, however, that it is a wholly uplifting story; the authors still grant us profoundly heartbreaking moments that personally had me sobbing into my pillow at three in the morning. The somber moments make their love and their journey feel all the more real. Well, as real as a story about women jumping between different worlds across time and space can be. 

  1. These Violent Delights and Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights and Our Violent Ends are two books in a duology and the story acts as a Romeo and Juliet retelling. The book follows Roma and Juliette, two members of rival gangs in Shanghai, China. What makes this story unique in comparison to other Romeo and Juliet retellings is Juliette and Roma’s journey from enemies to friends to lovers back to enemies and ultimately back to lovers again. Their history is slowly unraveled through scenes of tension and romantic pining as well as moments of violence and angst. Although it is clear throughout the story that Roma and Juliette follow much of the same plotline as the original Romeo and Juliet, you find yourself so immersed in their love for one another that you forget how Romeo and Juliet’s story actually ends. After reading 976 pages of their obstacle-ridden love story, you hope that maybe, just maybe, Gong will allow these two lovers to have their happy ending. But the ending is a type of heartbreak you must read and experience for yourself.

  1. Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Neon Gods is a recommendation for readers who prefer a little bit of spice in their romance books. Well, more than a little bit. This is the first book in Robert’s Dark Olympus series and in my opinion, the best one by far. The book is a creative retelling of Hades and Persephone’s story with double the romance and triple the spice. If you love the writing and the building tension between the characters, I highly recommend reading the other books in the series as well. Each book follows a different pair of Greek mythological figures like Psyche and Eros in the second book Electric Idol or Apollo and Cassandra in the fourth book Radiant Sin

  1. Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

On the opposite side of the spectrum from my previous recommendation, Red, White, & Royal Blue is better suited for readers who live for a fun and fluffy romance. In all honesty, I did not think I would like this book as much as I did because I read it during a stage in my life when I was primarily reading steamy romance books. However, despite my initial hesitations, McQuiston’s portrayal of humorous characters and the story’s heartwarming twists and turns reeled me in and had me giggly and red-cheeked anytime I picked it up. The story follows two boys: the Prince of Wales and the First Son of the United States. The book is comically tense at times but endearingly wholesome at others. The characters’ humor never seemed forced or cringey as I often find, especially in young adult romance books. I found myself cackling when the characters made an unintentional joke and sobbing when they experienced heartbreak as if I was experiencing it myself. Overall, this book was a pleasant surprise and I recommend it to anyone looking for an uplifting and fluffy romance!

Romance books are often overlooked or generalized, but the reality is that the world of romance books is vast and unique! Even within the genre itself, there are endless variations like contemporary romance, historical romance, sports romance, forced proximity, steamy romance, friends to lovers, marriage of convenience, office romance, and everyone’s favorite, enemies to lovers. In the search to uncover the perfect romance book, we all want to read something that resonates with us and encounter characters so authentic that we feel the love they feel, grieve the loss they grieve, and celebrate the triumphs they celebrate. In my long and emotionally-taxing journey of discovering what I believe to be some perfect, and not-so-perfect, romance stories, I hope at least one of these books will be the same for you.

Grace Liberman

Bucknell '26

Grace is a student at Bucknell double majoring in English - Literary Studies and Sociology. She enjoys reading books with her cat and crying over the unnecessarily heartbreaking endings as well as being an avid listener of Noah Kahan, Hozier, and Bon Iver.