10 Romance Books to Read around Valentine’s Day

 

Since Valentine’s Day has just passed, I’ve been thinking a lot about romance. Whether by choice (or not), many people (including myself) are single. The pandemic hasn’t been helping since dating has also gone virtual. There will be no meet-cutes in bookstores or around the town. You’ve got to turn to apps. Frankly, they’re not the best place for a good love story.

While some may be going on virtual dates, I’m practicing self-care the best way I know how: reading. I decided to share the first 10 romance books I read this year. I love sharing book recommendations. So, why shouldn’t I put together a list?  

In this list, I didn’t want to include young adult romance books (you can find these on my Goodreads). I’m only looking at adult romance books because these books aren’t filtered if you know what I mean. In other words, these books are 18+.

In addition, many of them are books in series, but they can also be read as stand-alone novels. Just note that you will see spoilers if the books aren’t read in order.

So, here are the first 10 romance books I read this year (in no specific order).

 

  1. 1. The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

    This book follows a woman, Kristen, who is struggling with a medical procedure that will leave her unable to have children when she meets a guy that will change everything.

    Although she is fiercely stubborn, Kristen goes through a lot of sh*t emotionally and physically, making her an incredibly strong woman. Plus, there’s quite a lot of tension between her and the new guy in her life, Josh. It’s a slow burn, but I fell in love with Josh and Kristen (and the other characteres in the book). The dual perspectives help us learn even more about both Kristen and Josh as they grow.

  2. 2.  The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

    The Happy Ever After Playlist is following The Friend Zone. Do not read this one first like I did!

     This book follows Kristen’s best friend, Sloan, two years later after tragedy has struck her life. When she meets rising musician, Jason, after finding his dog, she starts to learn how to live again.

    I’m not giving away any spoilers, but if I thought Kristen is strong, Sloan may be stronger. I think that Sloan’s emotional arc is developed insanely well. Unlike the slow burn of The Friend Zone, this book burns fast. Content warning for drugs and alcohol.

  3. 3. Burn for Me (Fighting Fire Book One) by Lauren Blakely

    This book is a steamy (literally) friends to lovers romance about Jamie and Smith, who both want each other in more ways than one.

    I say steamy because Smith is a fireman. If you need a quick read, this book is it. This book only focuses on the budding romance between Jamie and Smith. Honestly, there’s not much going on plot-wise, and there isn’t a ton of character development; however, I didn’t pick it up for the plot. Since my expectations were lower, I wasn’t as bothered as a later book I write about.

  4. 4. Melt for Him (Fighting Fire Book Two) by Lauren Blakely

    Perpetual wanderer, Megan, is back in her hometown after a horrible relationship where she meets the new guy, Becker, bar owner and fireman. Their relationship sparks from the start, but will apprehensions due to past events make this relationship go up in flames?

    This book is my favorite of this series. Both Megan and Becker have more going on in their life than just figuring out whatever they have between them. This is also a lower-stakes plot, but It’s a character-driven novel, which is exactly my favorite kind if you’ve read other book rec articles from me.

  5. 5. Consumed by You (Fighting Fire Book Three) by Lauren Blakely

    The third and final book with our sexy firemen follows Cara and Travis, former exes who just can’t get enough of each other. Yet, Cara doesn’t want to ruin their working relationship, and Travis just isn’t a relationship guy.

    Cara and Travis have a lot of growing up to do. Like Melt for Him, there’s more character development in this book. Aside from that, there’s not much to it. I was glad when I finally finished this series. While there may be some good elements, they didn’t come close to being favorites.

  6. 6.   One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

    Bea is a plus-sized fashion blogger chosen to be the star in a reality dating show akin to The Bachelor franchise. While she’s meeting over two dozen men, she also has to sort through her feelings for her engaged best friend.

    I’m not writing a ton about this one because I actually wrote a Goodreads review about this book. The gist is that Bea is a strong, confident woman who grows a lot. Go check out my review for more and add me!

  7. 7. Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers Book One) by Sarina Bowen

    Georgia has just gotten a dream job as a publicist for the new hockey team out of Brooklyn, but little did she know her ex and only love, Leo, would be joining the team. They must sort out their unresolved relationship issues to keep things professional or Leo’s time on the ice could come to an end.

    I found Rookie Move by accident, but I guess I’ve fallen in love with hockey romance novels. I also love second chances when they actually make sense. Aside from a lot of great character arcs (especially from Georgia), the high stakes of reading about the games left me on the edge of my bed. Content warning for sexual assault.

  8. 8. Hard Hitter (Brooklyn Bruisers Book Two) by Sarina Bowen

    Yoga instructor Ari isn’t looking for a new relationship since she's just left a bad one. Plus, she has to focus on healing injured Bruisers captain Patrick so he’s in fighting condition for the ice, literally. Yet, when they realize how lost each other is, they start to lean on each other in more ways than one.

    I hate violence, so I didn’t think I’d love reading about a hockey player whose job is to fight on the ice; however, Patrick isn’t loving it anymore, either. I think there’s as much personal growth for him as there is for Ari. Readers follow the same hockey season as the Rookie Move. There’s more scandal in this book, which just amped up the spice. Content warning for abusive relationships, violence and drugs.

  9. 9. Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers Book Three) by Sarina Bowen

    Lauren hates watching the Bruisers play because of a certain goalie, but her boss (and the team’s owner) asks her to help when a co-worker is injured. Said goalie Mike wants Lauren back, but his daughter may have something to say about their relationship.

    This is another second chance at love book. This may be my favorite of the series. Lauren is fierce and doesn’t put up with anything. Despite his rough exterior, Mike is so sweet with his daughter. There’s quite an interesting backstory for these two and a great subplot for Lauren. Plus, the team is in the playoffs! It’s great to see where they all end up.

    So, there are four more books in this series. I need to read the others, but they're not on Libby and that makes me so mad! On the bright side, if you know any hockey romances (or know where I can find these ones), I’d love to hear some recs!

  10. 10.  Unexpected Rush by Jaci Burton

    Harmony has been pining over her brother’s best friend and teammate, Barrett for years. Now, she’s finally ready to claim him, and Barrett doesn’t seem to be arguing too hard about that.

    This book needs more plot or something. I also wish the characters were more developed. All Harmony seems to care about is Barrett.  The only saving grace to this book are the tons of steamy scenes. I love romance books, but when the only thing the girl is focused on is the guy (like Burn for Me), there’s little to be desire. Well, except the sex scenes.

 

Remember, if you prefer to buy your books and are financially able to, shop from BIPOC-owned bookstores or use bookshop.org to shop local

Happy reading during this Valentine’s Day season! I'll be getting my romance from more books.