Today I’m joining in for Top Ten Tuesday, a link up from That Artsy Reader Girl that provides a weekly topic for a list having something to do with books and reading. This week’s theme is a love freebie, so I’m sharing 10 Love Stories to Read in February. Of course, you can read love stories (or romance books or rom coms) all year long, but I love having a month that I dedicate to a certain genre, and this month I’m concentrating on rom coms! In this post, I’ll share some of my past favorites, some I just finished, and some that I still plan to read. As always, Amazon links are affiliate links and if you use them and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission.
Title: The Friend Zone
Author: Abby Jimenez
Publisher: Forever, 6/11/19
File Under: Friends to Lovers
Originally Reviewed in March 2020
When I realized [last February] I wasn’t going to have time to read all the rom coms I wanted to this month, I looked for advice on the last one I should choose and was told this one. I’m so glad I read it because I think it was my favorite of the month! Josh and Kristen were so adorably cute together and fun to read.
“Kristen Peterson doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children. Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen — especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.”
This book does deal with infertility and the ending has lead some people to dislike the book, but I truly loved it. This book is funny and sad and is about friends, grief, love, and loss.
Title: The Hating Game
Author: Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks, 8/9/16
File Under: Enemies to Lovers, Workplace Romance
Originally Reviewed in March 2020
This is a well loved book on Instagram. I liked it, but it moved slowly for me. I thought it was very sweet once Lucy and Josh admitted their feelings for each other!
“Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude. Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.”
The Hating Game is going to be a movie and Lucy is played by Lucy Hale. I can see that working! For a great discussion on this book, The Stacks podcast covered it!
Title: Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Author: Talia Hibbert
Publisher: Avon, 6/23/20
File Under: Fake Dating, Friends to Lovers, Steamy
Originally Reviewed in July 2020
I had read the first book in this series, Get a Life Chloe Brown, earlier in the year and I was excited to read about the next Brown sister, Dani, and I loved her story even more than Chloe’s.
“Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom. When big, brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and former rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact to him, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Suddenly, half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse? Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf is secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs. The easy lay Dani dreamed of is now more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?”
I enjoyed that the gender roles in this book were somewhat swapped, as the man was the one who wanted romance and the woman was the one who wanted to be friends with benefits. There was Muslim representation as well as bisexuality and anxiety in this story.
I am excited to read the third book in this series, Act Your Age, Eve Brown, soon!
Title: Red, White, and Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin, 5/14/19
File Under: Male / Male Romance, Enemies to Lovers, Steamy
Originally Reviewed in December 2020
Reading about an alternate American in which the woman president has a biracial and bisexual son was a sweet and hopeful way to spend Election Day this month. I’m one of the last people to read this well loved book!
“When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius―his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse. Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?”
I enjoyed reading this although I admit I was distracted while doing so! If you’re looking for a book that can make you hopeful about the future politically, this may be it!
Title: Written in the Stars
Author: Alexandria Bellefleur
Publisher: Avon, 11/10/20
File Under: Female / Female Romance, Enemies to Lovers, Fake Dating, Steamy
Originally Reviewed in December 2020
What a fun, sweet, and romantic fake dating leads to love story this was. Darcy is tired of being set up on blind dates by her brother so she tells him that she and Elle hit it off. When Elle hears that they hit it off, she wonders what she missed! But she agrees to pretend they are dating and guess what? Opposites really do attract.
“After a disastrous blind date, Darcy Lowell is desperate to stop her well-meaning brother from playing matchmaker ever again. Love—and the inevitable heartbreak—is the last thing she wants. So she fibs and says her latest set up was a success. Darcy doesn’t expect her lie to bite her in the ass. Elle Jones, one of the astrologers behind the popular Twitter account Oh My Stars, dreams of finding her soul mate. But she knows it is most assuredly not Darcy… a no-nonsense stick-in-the-mud, who is way too analytical, punctual, and skeptical for someone as free-spirited as Elle. When Darcy’s brother—and Elle’s new business partner—expresses how happy he is that they hit it off, Elle is baffled. Was Darcy on the same date? Because… awkward. Darcy begs Elle to play along and she agrees to pretend they’re dating. But with a few conditions: Darcy must help Elle navigate her own overbearing family during the holidays and their arrangement expires on New Year’s Eve. The last thing they expect is to develop real feelings during a faux relationship. But maybe opposites can attract when true love is written in the stars?”
One thing I loved about this book was that although both women have issues with their families, none of those issues had to do with sexuality. That Darcy and Elle are both women was not a problem for either family. I appreciated that, and I enjoyed their relationship in this book!
Title: Tweet Cute
Author: Emma Lord
Publisher: Wednesday Books, 1/21/20
File Under: YA, Enemies to Lovers, Mistaken Identities
Originally Reviewed in January 2020
My Instagram friend picked this up at a book festival and it wasn’t her type of book, so she offered to send it to me! I thought it looked cute and it was sooo cute. The two main characters, Pepper and Jack, are involved in their family’s respective restaurant businesses. They end up competing with one another via Twitter, while also becoming friends in real life.
“Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time. All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built. As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.”
In a book that is about business, baking, apps, college, friendships, and family, the cutest relationship develops between Pepper and Jack and their group of friends. I really enjoyed reading this one!
Title: The Simple Wild
Author: KA Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books, 8/7/18
File Under: Enemies to Lovers
Originally Reviewed in March 2020
The Simple Wild was all over Instagram [the month I read it] because the new sequel, Wild At Heart, had just came out. I was excited to finally pick this one up. I loved the setting in Alaska, but the story itself was a little slower moving than I prefer.
“Calla Fletcher was two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when her father reaches out to inform her that his days are numbered, Calla knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born. She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this new subarctic environment, Jonah—the quiet, brooding, and proud Alaskan pilot who keeps her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild. Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. As time passes, she unexpectedly finds herself forming a bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.”
I guess I expected this to be a full rom com, but it was really a second chance family story for Calla and her father. There was also a bit of an enemies to lovers thing going on with Jonah and Calla, and I loved their relationship. There were great side characters in this book, as well as some funny scenes. Overall, it was enjoyable!
I recently read the sequel Wild At Heart and enjoyed it as well.
Title: The Roommate
Author: Rosie Danan
Publisher: Berkley, 9/15/20
File Under: Friends to Lovers, Steamy
Originally Reviewed this month
When Clara moves to L.A. to reunite with her childhood crush, Everett, she doesn’t expect him to take off, leaving her living in his house with a renter, Josh. She also doesn’t expect her new roommate to be an adult entertainment star!
“The Wheatons are infamous among the east coast elite for their lack of impulse control, except for their daughter Clara. She’s the consummate socialite: over-achieving, well-mannered, predictable. But every Wheaton has their weakness. When Clara’s childhood crush invites her to move cross-country, the offer is too tempting to resist. Unfortunately, it’s also too good to be true. After a bait-and-switch, Clara finds herself sharing a lease with a charming stranger. Josh might be a bit too perceptive—not to mention handsome—for comfort, but there’s a good chance he and Clara could have survived sharing a summer sublet if she hadn’t looked him up on the Internet…Once she learns how Josh has made a name for himself, Clara realizes living with him might make her the Wheaton’s most scandalous story yet. His professional prowess inspires her to take tackling the stigma against female desire into her own hands. They may not agree on much, but Josh and Clara both believe women deserve better sex. What they decide to do about it will change both of their lives, and if they’re lucky, they’ll help everyone else get lucky too.”
This book wasn’t what I expected, and I appreciate the spin on tackling the stigma on female desire. The love story also wasn’t solely focused on attraction, which I was happy about! If you don’t mind steamy scenes, this book was well done!
I’m looking forward to read Rosie Danan’s new book, The Intimacy Experiment, soon!
Title: Kiss My Cupcake
Author: Helena Hunting
Publisher: Forever, 8/11/20
File Under: Enemies to Lovers, Steamy
This super cute romance takes place around two competing bars – a Cupcakes and Cocktails bar and a manly bar that includes axe throwing. The banter and relationship that forms between Blaire and Ronan was so fun to read about!
“Blaire Calloway has planned every Instagram-worthy moment of her cupcake and cocktails shop launch down to the tiniest detail. What she didn’t plan on? Ronan Knight and his old-school sports bar next door opening on the very same day. He may be super swoony, but Blaire hasn’t spent years obsessing over buttercream and bourbon to have him ruin her chance at success. From axe throwing (his place) to frosting contests (hers), Blaire and Ronan are constantly trying to one-up each other in a battle to win new customers. But with every clash, there’s also an undeniable chemistry. When an even bigger threat to their business comes to town, they’re forced to call a temporary time-out on their own war and work together. And the more time Blaire spends getting to know the real Ronan, the more she wonders if it’s possible to have her cupcake and eat it too.”
I would really like to visit Blaire’s cupcake cafe! I appreciated the family dynamics that came up in this book and the way that Blaire and Ronan supported each other throughout the story!
Title: First Comes Like
Author: Alisha Rai
Publisher: HarperAudio, 2/16/21
File Under: Fake Dating, Traditional Values
First Comes Like is the third in a series by Alisha Rai, but I haven’t read the other two books and you don’t have to read them to read this one. I listened to the audio of this book. While it was different from most of the rom coms I read, there were things I appreciated about it.
“Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast. There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is. The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?”
Both Jia and Dev are traditional religiously, and don’t believe in sex before marriage. They begin to be attracted to each other and agree to get engaged to thwart some online rumors. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I do kind of feel that they ran into an actual relationship a little bit quickly after not faking it for long! I appreciated the family relationships explored in this book, as well as the possibility of love not being based on sex, though I do wish that it was more believable overall.
As it turns out, I have many more rom coms that I hope to read soon, some this month and others just as soon as I can, including:
Shipped by Angie Hockman
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Dating Plan by Sara Desai
Coffee Girl by Sophie Sinclair
Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn
Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
What I Like About You by Marissa Kanter
Do you have any further recommendations for me and for others?