We love love. No, really: we love it, so we jumped at the chance to feature some of our favorite romance titles to celebrate this year’s Bookstore Romance Day — an event Powell’s is a proud sponsor of this year. Be sure to check out their really great line-up of day-of virtual events.
We pulled together our favorite romance titles where the romantic leads find love in (or near!) the stacks. Grab one (or all) of these and tell your friends not to bother texting — you’re not going to want to be disturbed.
Did the Bromance Book Club series by Lyssa Kay Adams cure my depression? No, but it surely came close! As someone who reads a lot of romance novels, it was so nice to come across a series with a fresh and promising premise. Adams takes toxic masculinity and flips it on its head, showcasing what it would be like if high-powered men took a deep breath and read romance novels to figure out what is going wrong with all of their relationships, including the one with themselves. I read the entire series in a span of two weeks' time, and I'm eagerly awaiting the fifth book in the series. You'll fall in love with these characters just like I did. — Katherine M.
Emily Henry has to be on this list (Book Lovers is also great)! Beach Read has everything — it's emotionally complex, it's spicy, it addresses difficult topics (grief, familial secrets, trauma) with grace while being genuinely funny and uplifting and a little over-the-top in all the best rom-com ways. Romance author January inherits a house from her father, but his secret infidelity has rocked her belief in happily-ever-afters, and given her a wicked case of writer's block. She discovers her new neighbor was her writing nemesis-slash-crush in college, and despite his status as a Serious Fiction author, he's struggling with writer's block of his own. They make a bet to write in each other's genres, and also sign up to take each other on field trips in their chosen field (yes, this means they end up doing rom-com things together with a flimsy pretense, and it's great). This is already a very literary premise, but their little beach town has a stellar bookshop-café called Pete's Coffee, and I was particularly charmed by the local author display and spy novel book club. — Michelle C.
Julia Whelan returns with her second novel, Thank You For Listening, which is every bit the gift that her work as audiobook narrator is. The novel focuses on two audiobook narrators, Sewanee and Brock, and the story of their relationship. Whelan’s dialogue, pacing, and sense of humor are topnotch. This is a standout offering amid a sea of rom-coms. — Mary Jo S.
Thank You For Listening is the perfect book to listen to on audiobook. You can get your copy at Libro.fm, a site we couldn’t recommend enough for all your audiobook needs!
My favorite teen trope might be "fish out of water is new at school" (see, Mean Girls), followed closely by "strictly following rules that you made up" (see: the Burn Book betrayal in Mean Girls). Mary is a 15-year-old classic literature fiend being sent to public school for the first time when her very small, extra-nerdy high school closes. Her extensive knowledge of 19th century novels means she can spot red flags, and she makes new friends by having surprisingly good relationship advice. But her new friendships are threatened when she realizes she's falling for a scoundrel, as defined in her own (and real!) Scoundrel Survival Guide. This sweet YA romance has a strong focus on staying true to yourself and your friendships, and the literature references are the delicious icing on this absolutely delightful cake. — Michelle C.
Jasmine Guillory is a national treasure. In her latest, a beastly fairytale is updated — Isabelle is frustrated by her publishing career, and travels to former child star Beau's Californian mansion to convince him to turn in (or, write) the manuscript for his memoir. They don't get along at first, but he ends up employing her services to help break his writer's block. And... there may be something there. The publishing focus is a really neat way to incorporate the library and book-love in the Disney version of this story, and this delightful tale is appropriate for all ages. — Michelle C.
This book is actual, pure catnip for me: who wouldn’t want to discover they’ve inherited a great uncle’s estate exactly when they need an excuse to escape their recently ruined life? It’s a romantic scenario, made even better by the small-town bookstore that the main character, Thea, applies to work at. And this is before romance gets involved! This book will make you want to abandon your live and start over in the Scottish highlands. BRB, booking a ticket right now. — Kelsey F.
This aptly-named romance stems from a bookstore meeting! Jordan runs a romance book club, and Rex — the cynical temporary bookseller — mocks him when Jordan is buying his latest stack at his local bookstore. Unfortunately, Rex thinks Jordan is very cute when he's angry. Partially to apologize, and partially because of that cuteness, Rex tracks Jordan down to join his book club and give romance novels a try. This is especially fun as a meta-read, and a romance that digs into the joys of romance reading is always a good time. And look, an enemies-to-lovers story that starts because of a book disagreement is tailor made for bookish fans of romance — imagine your crush falling head-over-heels for you while becoming entranced by your favorite books. Swoon. — Michelle C.
This book hurt... in a good way. It isn't my typical read — there's no smut, it's filled with negative tension, and the main characters' past relationship is shrouded in mystery for a good few chapters. But the story hooked me. It felt real and very emotional. Katrina and Nathan went from writing partners (who wrote a bestselling novel together) and best friends to... nothing. Just, all of a sudden, their friendship ceased and all that's left are rumors. Finding their way back to each other was painful and I enjoyed every minute of it. — Rose H.
This book is the coziest, sweet, bookiest (it’s a word!) romance. I had so much fun reading it and living vicariously through Evie’s decisions to leave behind her more-than-disappointing life in Chicago to run a cute little bookstore in a cute little Scottish town. The villagers are surprisingly kind to her and there’s a surprisingly sexy farmer (with a very cute dog) that she just can’t keep away from. Fun and sexy — everything you could possibly want in a romance! I highly recommend — Lucinda G.
I have been singing the praises of Happily Ever Afters for months, and I'm still just as excited to share my feelings about this book with you as I was in January. Happily Ever Afters is such a charming and refreshing story, one that I think of often and smile. When Tessa suddenly develops writer's block after transferring to a prestigious arts school, her best friend Caroline comes up with a brilliant idea: turning Tessa's life into a romance novel by following all of their favorite tropes. The results are sometimes disastrous, kind of awkward, and quite funny. Filled with stories of baked goods (there's a muffin recipe in there that you have GOT to try and recreate), good friends, and a reason to believe in yourself, Happily Ever Afters is an absolute treat. — Katherine M.
Mix one part friends-to-lovers with one part softboi love interest and one part prickly publisher, and you’ll have A Duke in Disguise. The characters in this one are refreshingly unexpected and the romance piece of it grows from a longterm foundation, a scenario that is deeply satisfying to read. This book is funny and fun, sexy and smart. A perfectly calibrated recipe for a satisfying read. — Lucinda G.
Kiss Her Once for Me doesn't come out until November 1, but we're sounding the alarms now. This holiday title (from Alison Cochrun, who wrote last year's incredible The Charm Offensive involves love at first sight, immediate betrayal, fake dating for an inheritance scheme, and being surprised by close quarters with your dreamboat/nemesis. It's also partially set in Portland, and there is... wait for it... a POWELL'S MEET-CUTE. I'm in love. — Michelle C.
And, mark your calendar! We're so lucky to host Alison and Anita Kelly (of Love and Other Disasters for a book launch event on November 1, at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing.