Whether it’s a historical saga, a torrid bodice-ripper or a contemporary tale of love in our times, there are plenty of romantic reads out there to enjoy with your Valentine.
Here are 11 choices of reads as the season of love begins.
Last Chance In Paris by Lynda Marron
From a new voice in Irish fiction comes this story following an Irish couple’s make-or-break trip to Paris as they try to save their marriage. Other characters with emotional issues who emerge in this romantic city include a student from Boston who is torn between love and duty, a Hollywood film producer looking back with regret at his life and a Ukrainian refugee trying to protect her older sister.
(Eriu, available now)
Island In The Sun by Katie Fforde
Bestselling author Fforde recently received a lifetime achievement award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and is a force to be reckoned with for her uplifting tales of romance – so fans should bag a copy of her latest. It finds Cass on an unusual photography project in the Caribbean where she falls for her travel companion Ranulph, who is in search of rare stone carvings her father wants her to photograph.
(Century, 15 February)
One Love by Matt Cain
From writer, broadcaster, commentator and ambassador for Manchester Pride, Matt Cain, comes this uplifting tale of Danny and Guy, who become friends at university and 20 years later, when they are both single for the first time in their adult lives, return to the Gay Village of Manchester Pride. It is there that Danny plans to share his secret that he has always been in love with Guy. Told in two timelines, 2002 and 2022, the novel highlights the challenges they faced and why they never got together in the first place.
The Bride by Ali Hazelwood
From the bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes this paranormal romance involving an unlikely and dangerous alliance between an Alpha werewolf and a Vampyre bride, who surrenders herself to the Weres, her mortal enemies to keep the peace – and to fight for the only thing she’s ever cared about …
(Sphere, available now)
The Memory Of Us by Dani Atkins
Three-time winner of the Romantic Novelists’ Association award, Atkins draws on her own experience of suffering a heart attack during lockdown to bring readers this story about a woman whose heart attack results in false memories of a man named Sam, and a love story that never existed. Enter her sister, who seeks assistance from a local vet, who looks uncannily like Sam, and together they set out to trigger true memories.
(Head of Zeus (Aria), 15 February)
Enchanted Hill by Emily Bain Murphy
Glitz and glamour in 1930s Prohibition Hollywood is the setting for this tale of second-chance romance with a dose of mystery and intrigue. The story centres around Cora McCavanagh, an aspiring PI posing as a maid at Hollywood magnate Truman Byrd’s legendary estate. In between champagne-fuelled parties Cara searches for damning evidence for a high-profile client. But when a romantic figure from her past reappears, new desires emerge and the stakes are raised, as a single false move could cause both their secret identities to come crashing down.
(Union Square & Co, available now)
Green Dot by Madeleine Gray
There’s been a buzz around this debut that centres on a misguided love affair between a 24-year-old in her dull first office job and a married senior colleague. She knows the workplace romance is doomed but falls into it anyway. The book has been praised by Elizabeth Day, while Caitlin Moran has said ‘every sentence sparkles’.
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson, available now)
Once Upon A Leap Year by Anna Bell
From the author of Note To Self comes this enjoyable romcom, which follows the paths of two leap-year babies who meet on a trip to Calais. It soon becomes clear there’s a spark between them, but at the time both are with other partners. The story follows them every four years on their birthday over the next two decades, as they share each other’s significant moments – weddings, babies, jobs, family illnesses – and fall in love.
(HQ, available now)
Big Date Energy by Bethany Rutter
The journalist and blogger, who writes about fat bodies, plus-size fashion and body politics, brings us this steamy queer rom-com, which follows serial monogamist Fran who has waited years to be single and, fresh from a break-up, is determined to date as many people as possible. That is until Ivy, the one-who-got-away, shows up unexpectedly and throws Fran’s plan off course.
The Wedding Of The Year by Jill Mansell
Set in a picture-postcard Cornish village, there’s a wedding about to take place, but like all good romantic tales, nothing goes quite as planned. The story focuses on three main characters, bride-to-be Freya, wedding guest Lottie, and Ruby, the vicar’s wife, and how their characters interconnect. Along the way there are secrets and lies but ultimately, it’s a feel-good, funny read.
And a classic …
One Day by David Nicholls
With a new tie-in cover to the forthcoming Netflix mini-series adaptation starring Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall (running from 8 February), this timeless classic sees Dexter and Emma meeting for the first time on the night of their graduation and follows their paths in life, their ups and downs, both together and apart, somehow remaining the most important people in each other’s lives. Sheer magic and certainly worth revisiting.
(Hodder & Stoughton, available now)
Do you like romance books or do you think they are rubbish? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?
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– With Hannah Stephenson