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Happy Valentine’s Day! Read Some Romance Novels!

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Miscellaneous | February 14, 2020 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Miscellaneous | February 14, 2020 |

Bookshelves Romance Novels Flickr 1.jpg

It’s February 14th today and that means a few things are guaranteed: One, I will buy myself flowers and splurge with some internet shopping of things I do not need but eagerly want; two, heteronormativity will be rife, so stay cautious; and three, we’ll see a sudden rise in think-pieces about how silly romance novels are from people who don’t actually read them. It’s one of life’s certainties, right up there with death, taxes, and the ineptitude of Tom Hooper. Indeed, we already have The Independent out there with their post of the ‘finest literary romances for Valentine’s Day’, featuring John Green, The Great Gatsby (?), and Pride & Prejudice. Groundbreaking. I’m surprised they didn’t include Lolita, a book that seems to feature far too much on such lists despite the whole ‘protagonist is a predator and pedophile’ thing.

Never fear, intrepid readers, for I am here to recommend you some wonderful romance novels to tide you over on this cold, supposedly lovelorn weekend! I’m sticking to new or relatively recent titles here, and a couple of ones you can pre-order now as a Valentine’s Day gift to yourself, but if you want to see some of my favorite reads then check out my other posts on the matter.

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

What would you do if a mundane and forgettable incident in your everyday life suddenly became the hot new viral moment? That’s the unfortunate fate that befalls Katrina, a reclusive ex-model and investor who has an innocent conversation with a cute guy in a coffee shop, utterly unaware that the woman next to them has live-tweeted the meeting and turned it into the greatest romance of the modern-day. Now everyone wants to know who the #CuteCafeGirl is. Katrina decides to get out of public view for a while, accompanied by the true focus of her affections, her hunky bodyguard Jas! Sadly, this one doesn’t come out until April but that’s no excuse for you not to pre-order it as soon as possible!

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

How do you say no to a title like that? Want me to make it even more irresistible? How about we add French astronomy texts, historical queerness, and women in science? The first book in her planned Feminine Pursuits series, Olivia Waite has written an utterly delightful F/F romance about a widow seeking to fulfill her late husband’s scientific legacy and the intriguing woman who helps her interpret the complicated text that may contain the answers they need.

Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Weatherspoon writes some of my favorite contemporary romances and Xeni is an absolute treat, even by her impeccable standards. The eponymous heroine has traveled from New York to California to settle the affairs of her recently deceased aunt. While her family’s long-running feud continues even after her aunt’s death, Xeni just wants to claim her inheritance and move on. Sadly, that comes with some conditions, mainly that Xeni must marry before she can get her hands on the estate. Conveniently, a handsome Scotsman is on the scene with debts to clear and no ring on his finger. Xeni is maybe the only romance I’ve read where the hero is fat, and both leads are bisexual, which is dealt with matter-of-factly in a way I wish more novels would do!

A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

The name Milla Vane may not mean much to you, but if you’re a romance lover, then her alternate name Meljean Brook most certainly will! Brook’s steampunk romances are some of the finest of their kind in the subgenre, so of course, I jumped at the news that she was returning to writing with an epic gritty fantasy romance. Who can say no to that?! Vane doesn’t hold back in this dense and brutal tale of battling realms, forbidden alliances, and warrior queens. It’s gotten a lot of comparisons to Game of Thrones, as most fantasies these days do, but this one really isn’t cut from that cloth. I can’t wait to see how far Vane’s ambition stretches with this series.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

We all love Pride and Prejudice for obvious reasons (although my favorite Austen book is still Northanger Abbey), and the romance world is chock-full of re-imaginings of the classic novel. I could have filled out this whole list with them but decided to go with this hotly-hyped release from last year. Ayesha is out Lizzie Bennet, a hard-working modern Muslim woman who has put aside her dreams of being a poet to deal with paying off her debts to her rich uncle. She’s too busy right now to think about marriage, arranged or otherwise, and that feeling is only strengthened when the handsome but utterly aggravating Khalid steps onto the scene. This is a looser Austen adaptation than some re-tellings but it’s all the better for it and the fully fleshed-out world it creates atop those stripped-down foundations.

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Romance plus food? Hello there, please take my money. Natalie Tan returns home to San Francisco after her mother’s death and is devastated to discover that the local Chinatown is a shell of its former self. A chef who was never supported in her career choice by her late mother, Natalie is surprised to discover that she’s inherited her grandmother’s restaurant and must make it a success as well as help the same ailing neighbors who turned their back on Natalie when she was a child. This is a warm and comforting book, the literary equivalent of a home-cooked meal, and it’s likely to make you extremely hungry as you read it! I suggest you order in before starting this one.

Headliners by Lucy Parker

I cannot recommend Lucy Parker’s contemporary romances about London actors, celebrities, and entertainers highly enough. Every single entry in this series is magnetically appealing and endlessly addictive. The latest title, which was released last month, brings the focus to the cutthroat world of daytime TV. Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have been TV rivals for years, trading insults over the airwaves of their respective shows. It’s all good fun and games in the public’s eyes until things get too dirty and both hosts see their reputations sink to new lows. If they want to make their way back to the top, they must team up to resurrect a morning show with tanking ratings, despite barely being able to stand in the same room as one another. Of course, we know how this will end. If you want a delicious enemies-to-lovers story, this has your name written all over it!

What romances are you reading this Valentine’s weekend? Let us know in the comments.

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Kayleigh is a features writer for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter or listen to her podcast, The Hollywood Read.

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