Now before I start this article, I want to get one thing out of the way. I am not a romance reader. At least before the month of September I was not a romance reader. Sure, I would read the occasional romance here and there as, you know, one does, but my primary genre of books was fantasy. Fantasy I was able to get lost in. I was in many ways more comfortable with it, but then I got on booktok and now here we are.
In consequence, within the past 4-ish months I have read many books, a majority romance. So, this list is a simple 7 of the books that I am the least embarrassed to admit that I have read. Some I loved, others left much to be desired.
Many of these books do integrate sexual content within the story in various levels of detail.
1. Seven Days in June by Talia Williams – 5/5 hearts
This was one of the most heart wrenching books I have ever read. This book follows Eva and Shane as they slowly rekindle a relationship they had when they met in high school and heal old wounds that were left behind. When we meet up with them they are in the middle of their individually successful writing careers and at vastly different stages of their personal lives.
I won’t go into too much detail about the plot because that lack of knowledge going into it helps so much, or at least it did for me. Each character breathed life into one another and the bonds between them created a foundation that made me invested in every move they made. I wanted everyone to be happy, longed for it even. With every misunderstanding all I wanted was for it to be cleared. This book broke my heart and put it back together again at least 6 times. The book is beautifully written and that beauty is reflected with an even more beautiful cover. Before reading please be aware that this novel deals with themes of addiction, alcohol usage, drug usage, and invisible chronic illness.
2. Brown Sisters Trilogy by Talia Hibbert – average 5/5 hearts
To be honest, after reading the entire series there are not enough words to describe how wonderful this series is and how amazing I found every book in this trilogy. Each sister is so loveable and endearing in their own ways. Their men will never be possible to find in real life no matter how hard you try. Consisting of Get a Life, Chloe Brown, Take a Hint, Dani Brown, and Act Your Age, Eve Brown, each book is as different and colorful as the sisters themselves.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown tells the story of Chloe after she has a near death experience and decides she’s going to step out of her box and live life on a comfortable edge. During this exploration of herself, she meets Red who is the superintendent of her building which she has a slight mutual rivalry with. This book is the perfect introduction to the sisters and this book really is the book that kicked me into this romance kick I’m in right now.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown to be honest is my favorite in the series at the moment. Maybe it has something to do with the fact I love romances that take place on college campuses, or have some semblance of the fake dating trope. Zafir and Dani after a fateful semi-disastrous fire drill go viral and to help promote Zafir’s rugby non-profit they agree to fake date. To be honest, I’m jealous of their relationship because why can’t I also find the love of my life on campus? What am I doing wrong? This book also happens to be my favorite because out of the three men Zafir is my favorite to read in the perspective of and hear about throughout the rest of the series.
Finally to close out we have Act Your Age, Eve Brown this is a workplace romance between the sunshine Eve and the gump Jacob who is the owner of a small Bed and Breakfast. The novel starts with Jacob desperate for a new cook and Eve shows up in a whirlwind and sort of hits him with her car and breaks his arm so she now has to help care for the B&B while Jacob gets better. It’s so cute and throughout the novel both Eve and Jacob work on communicating their needs in the ways they need. Their relationship is super cute just like all the rest of the relationships and despite it being written and possibly taking place in 2020/2021 the pandemic doesn’t exist so that is a win.
These books are so wonderful not only on their own but also as a completed work. Some of the topics within these books include discussions of chronic illness, psychological abuse, and marginalization (Chloe Brown) mental health, lgbt identities (Dani Brown) and autism (Eve Brown).
3. Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet an anthology – 4.5/5 hearts
If you are someone who can’t focus on a full romance story this anthology of meet cutes is absolutely perfect for you. This anthology has a little bit of everything from the beginnings of a contemporary romcom to that of a space age romance. I personally found the vast majority of the stories told within the pages of the book stories that I would read if they were an entire book. Each writer tells their own story in such a masterful way that when you are finished it’s almost impossible not to want to read more of the story you just spent time on. Read this when you need just a little pick me up but don’t want to get distracted, possibly getting sucked into an entire book .
4. People Meet We On Vacation by Emily Henry – 3.75/5 hearts
After reading both Beah Read and People We Meet on Vacation or as the British title states You and Me on Vacation I found myself to have enjoyed the experience of reading this book more than I did Beach Read. Personally I love time jumps in novels especially when it serves a purpose. I think jumping between those moments of the past to the moments of the present helps to ground the book within the emotions it is trying to convey. There are moments where the emotions do begin to fall flat slightly as if losing steam, but it does end up picking right back after a few moments. I do have to say that I think Emily Henry has a thing for writing about writers falling in love with a past crush after they experience writer’s block. People We Meet on Vacation takes an interesting look at how close we can be to a person one day and how quickly we can be distanced from those same people the next.
5. Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur – 3.5/5 hearts
I’m going to be honest with you all if this story didn’t have any references to fanfic and astrology twitter and other shit like that I would have enjoyed the book a whole lot better. For me too many references or a characterization around those references is something I immediately dislike. While I do enjoy the occasional fanfiction here or there I don’t want them referenced, I don’t want them annalized and there is a line. So I am going to hold these things against it. I am sad I couldn’t find it in my heart to enjoy this as much as I wanted to, but oh well. Overall it was cute and Elle’s and Darcy’s relationship was cute and the side characters were fun to interact with but man every time a reference was made I was simply taken out of the book for a little while. I think if you’re someone who enjoys pop culture references within your novel this is definitely the book for you.
6. Beach Read by Emily Henry – 3/5 hearts
While I loved Gus and January’s relationship and love Gus as a character. January half way through started to bother me. January knew Gus in college and in her head started this one-sided rivalry with Gus. A few years pass her father dies and boom she’s cleaning out her father’s second house and guess who is her neighbor, Gus. Throughout this novel we get a glimpse of the novel that January is working on and quite frankly I sayed through it all to find out more about January’s novel.
There are so many points in the book where I wished that January would be better to even try to understand Gus and try to understand his actions and where they stem from. Like needed to read a conversation where January actually internalizes what Gus is saying. And because I got annoyed by January’s point of view I found myself wishing from Gus’s perspective, I would have to hear what he’s thinking. Also just note, if Emily Henry ever wanted to write either January’s or Gus’s book and release it I’d read it. I overall didn’t hate the book and for the most part I even enjoyed it, I just found myself wishing for something else.
7. The Ex-Hex by Erin Sterling – 2.25/5 hearts
Let’s not lie to ourselves and pretend the love interest and the main character had any chemistry. The premise of the story is good, a young witch gets drunk and accidentally curses their ex, but doesn’t realise it until their ex comes back. And it has a very big potential to be an amazing magical second chance romance but it falls short. One of the problems that I had with the novel is that the two characters were a fling that they had in like freshman year of college, and despite not seeing or even contacting each other for 10 years are still completely hung up on each other.
I understand that first romances can be overwhelming, but to the point that you’re still hung up on each other for like 10 years, to me seems like a lot. I wish that the initial relationship was either and few more days (weeks would be better) and that the thing that ended that initial fling was mentioned to have been addressed earlier. Another problem, overall the novel makes very little impact. It’s quite frankly a forgettable novel. It’s fun, sure I’ll give it that but in some ways I wish I spent my time with a different novel that also had witches who want to fall in love.