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15+ (More!) Romance Books to Read Right Now


Graphic featuring a photograph of books with text 15+ (More!) Romance Books to Read Right Now

by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)


Earlier this month, Ashley updated her post sharing some of her favorite recent romance reads, and I couldn't resist chiming in with an update of some of my own recommendations. Romances are a constant in my life, and when we record episodes like the two we're releasing this month (our newest iteration of Love Is in the Air, from last week, and our upcoming Book Club discussion of Gary Lonesborough's Ready When You Are (Bookshop.org), a YA romance), there are always books I want to recommend that we just don't have time to include. (My newest recommendations are marked with an asterisk.)


Recent Romance Favorites


*Mhairi MacFarlane's Between Us (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Mhairi McFarlane has long been on my list of authors to read—I’ve seen so many rave reviews from readers I trust that I just knew I would love her work . . . and I was right!


Between Us is a lovely, compelling romance centered on Roisin Walters, a young woman who joins her boyfriend Joe and their long-time friends for a celebration at a luxurious weekend getaway. They’re going to celebrate the launch of Joe’s new show, their friend Dev’s engagement to Anita, and their friend Gina’s birthday, along with Meredith and Matt, the final two members of the group who first bonded when they worked together right out of college.


You can read my full review here.


*Nikki Payne's Pride and Protest  (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

My first new recommendation to arise from my #readausten23 buddy read (I spent 2022 and 2023 devoted to reading all-things-Austen, including some fantastic retellings) is a fantastic, modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Set in DC, the novel focuses on Liza B, a DJ who is determined to save her family's home, and Dorsey, the acting CEO of the company building the condos that threaten to push out her family.


Payne takes the outlines of Austen's novel and reshapes them for the modern world, dealing with race (Liza is Black, and Dorsey was born in the Philippines and then adopted by a wealthy white family), socioeconomics, activism, and the perils of social media. All of the main characters have new parallels—for example, Mr. Bennet has been replaced by Liza's grandma—but the enemies-to-lovers trope is steamed up for modern romance expectations, and some elements that could be even more disturbing when viewed through a modern lens (like Wickham's behaviors) are shifted to maintain a compelling but fairly light tone. Payne's Sense and Sensibility retelling, Sex, Lies and Sensibility (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), just came out, and I look forward to seeing what Payne does with this source material.


Elissa Sussman's Funny You Should Ask (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Funny You Should Ask is my first book by Elissa Sussman and, apparently, her first book for adults. (I'll definitely be checking out her YA books.) This was a five-star read for me. Chani Horowitz's career is built on a single interview with movie star Gabe Parker ten years ago. She resents it. She yearns to have made a name for herself, not based on a "did they?" question that has plagued her every since. Ten years later, Chani is invited to participate in a sort of anniversary interview with Gabe. She wants to say no. But she also wants to say yes. The time between has been filled with marriages and divorces (one each for each of them), successful books for Chani, and a meltdown that ended Gabe's gig as James Bond and, perhaps, his career. But it hasn't ended that chemistry that made the initial interview so appealing to everyone who read it. I read this book in one sitting.


*Elissa Sussman's Once More with Feeling (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

After loving Funny You Should Ask so much, I pre-ordered Sussman's second novel. Yes, Sussman is now officially an auto-read author for me.


I read this in an accidental series of romances featuring boy bands (I always love those moments of readerly serendipity). This one is honestly more a tribute to Broadway and musicals but has a great boy band component. Kathleen Rosenberg has wanted to be on Broadway since before she became a pop superstar (Katee Rose) and then destroyed her career by cheating on her boy band boyfriend Ryan with his fellow boy band member Cal, who she met at theater camp.


Now, decades later, Cal is directed Kathleen's best friend's musical, and Kathleen has a part created just for her. But working with Cal, with their unresolved enmity after he abandoned her to the enmity of the entire world (Ryan used her mistake to further his career), is not at the top of her list. This book is completely swoony and would be perfect for anyone who loves Broadway (or boy bands)!


Sophie Sullivan's A Guide to Being Just Friends (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

This is book three in her Jansen Brothers series (following Ten Rules for Faking It and How to Love Your Neighbor). This one may just be my favorite of the three. Book three centers on Wes Jansen, the oldest brother who set himself the goal, when he was very young, of protecting his younger brothers from the trauma of his parents’ vicious fights and eventual divorce. This has left him proud of the lives that they lead but convinced that loving someone will lead only to misery. Hailey Sharp has moved to a small town and opened a new salad restaurant, By the Cup, in hopes of starting fresh after a toxic relationship and ugly breakup. Though her business is struggling, she’s determined to make her new life work. Hailey and Wes’s meet cute is not so cute. Hailey, seeking to drown her sorrows about her new business in chocolate, has picked up a to go order at the neighboring bakery when Wes approaches her, convinced that she’s his date. When she protests—she’s Hailey, not Hayden—his reaction is less than kind. But Wes is determined to admit and apologize for his mistakes (unlike his dad!), so when circumstances bring him together with Hailey again, their friendship begins. While Wes’s determination to be friends-and-nothing-more meets with approval from Hailey, still fragile from her last relationship, it did eventually strain my credulity. Still, with a bit of suspension of disbelief, I was immersed in this romance and enjoyed the slow build of their relationship. I’m also a fan of romance series, allowing the reader to see the couples from previous books living out their happily ever afters, so this one was a joy. I’m sad that Sophie Sullivan’s first series is over, but I look forward to what comes next!


Tried-and-True Romance Authors


Each of these books is one of the newest entry in one of my favorite romance author's catalog. These are auto-read authors for me, and each book more than lived up to my expectations!


Kate Clayborn's Georgie, All Along (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Chloe Liese's Two Wrongs Make a Right (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

*Sarah MacLean's Hell's Belles series: Bombshell (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), Heartbreaker (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm), Knockout (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) - Read my review here.

Penny Reid's Drama King (Bookshop.org)

Kennedy Ryan's Before I Let Go (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

*Curtis Sittenfeld's Romantic Comedy (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

*Rachel Lynn Solomon's Weather Girl (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Recent YA Romance Picks


*Amanda Quain's Ghosted (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

This one is a YA retelling of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and far exceeded my expectations. Quain uses her source material creatively but isn’t beholden to it, instead finding an emotional core that (I must admit) I found missing from Austen’s novel.


Hattie Tilney attends Northanger Abbey, a ritzy private boarding school her family can afford because her mother, Dr. Tilney, is the headmaster. Despite the fact that her school is notorious for being haunted, Hattie is entirely anti-paranormal, convinced that those who hope to find a ghost are deluding themselves.


Then, along comes Kit Morland, a handsome, quirky new student who is decidedly pro-paranormal. Normally, Hattie would avoid Kit completely, but her mother has assigned Hattie to be his ambassador, so she resigns herself to a few tours, some friendly chats, and that’s it.


As the layers peel back on Hattie’s story, it becomes clear that this is really a novel about grief and healing. Immediately before her family moved to Northanger Abbey, her beloved father died of a cancer that killed him quickly. Hattie decided that her new school offered a chance at a fresh start, so she rejected the study of history, of hauntings, of ghosts that had so captivated her and her father. She makes new friends, does what she needs to do to be successful and moderately popular, and blends into the background.


Until Kit.


Kit immediately gets under Hattie’s defenses, and when they’re assigned to work together for their journalism class on a semester-long project focused on the ghosts of Northanger Abbey, Hattie realizes that everything she had suppressed is coming to the surface.


Quain crafts brilliant, complex characters. Hattie, whose first-person narration drives the novel, is vivid and empathetic and sad. It’s clear that, while she looks out for her younger brother, Liam, and tolerates her older sister, Freddie, she’s not really connected with her family, particularly her mother, who she most often calls Dr. Tilney.


As Hattie works through her college applications (she’s a senior), it becomes clear that she’s also not connected to the college path she’s committed to. Even her friends see only her surface. It’s only Kit who begins to see who Hattie really is and could be. I absolutely loved this novel, which so beautifully delves into both Hattie’s healing but also into the inevitably difficult transitions that all teenagers at this age must undertake and, of course, into the relationship that grows between Hattie and Kit. Watching her again feel her feelings is an incredible journey.


Alice Oseman's Heartstopper series (Bookshop.org)

I devoured the Heartstopper series. Seriously. I'd had book one on hold at my library for a while, thinking that I'd space out my reading of the next three volumes. Ha! Once I finished book one, I feverishly checked out the next three and read them all in the space of a day. (There's supposed to be a book five this year!) Alice Oseman's gorgeous graphic novel series (based on a webcomic) focuses on two high school boys in England. Charlie, who is openly gay after having been outed by someone else the year before, becomes friends with Nick, a rugby player, just as Charlie's manipulative relationship with another boy is ending. Nick is, as far as everyone (including him) knows, straight, so Charlie thinks that his desperate crush on Nick will go nowhere. Spoiler alert: he's wrong. I don't want to give away too much about these lovely books, but Charlie and Nick are both fabulous, deep, nuanced characters, and the secondary characters (their friends, both of their families, and even their teachers) vividly enrich the story as a whole. (Now, I'm looking forward to watching the Netflix adaptation!) Emma Lord's Begin Again (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Emma Lord has become one of my go-to YA authors. Her books are sweet but not saccharine, they’re romances but not *just* romances, and they focus on characters whose struggles are authentic and require some real growth. I should say that I still—somehow—haven’t read Tweet Cute, but I’ve adored each of her other books, including this newest one, Begin Again. Andie Rose has clawed her way into a mid-year transfer to Blue Ridge State, her dream school, the college where her parents met . . . and her boyfriend Connor’s school. In a moment of misplaced romance, she decides to make her transfer a surprise. And then she discovers, in a sort of Gift of the Magi twist, that her boyfriend has also made a surprise transfer to Andie’s much-less-prestigious college. Cue chaos and angst. Despite the less-than-fortuitous start, Andie decides that her boyfriend can just transfer back after this current semester, and she resolves to make the best of the situation, as she often does. She and her new roommate, Shay, hit it off, and though she faces some academic challenges, she’s ready to dive into the traditions that her parents and, particularly, her deceased mom told her about. I’m going to pause here to say that I absolutely loved this book. Lord captures Andie’s college experience so well, the promise and peril of seeking a promised fresh start when you know that you’re still just the same person you’ve always been. Andie is an amazing character who is strong and inspiring and always willing to help her friends, yet she’s simultaneously fragile and all too willing to avoid conflict, even if it means sacrificing something that means a lot to her. The development of Andie’s formative relationships is clearly a huge part of Andie’s identity. Lord shows us the grandmas who dropped everything to raise her after her mom’s death, the father who became distant in his grief, Connor who has been her friend since childhood and whose family became a second sort of family for her, and of course the mother she lost who has become such an inspiration—and someone to live up to—for her. Yet Lord balances the ways that her new relationships help to shape who she’s becoming. Those include Shay but also Milo, the RA who quickly becomes a source of support, and Valentina, who starts as her much-needed math tutor but quickly becomes another friend. I’ve barely scratched the surface of this book. There’s so much here that it’s tough to cover it all in a review, but it doesn’t ever feel like there’s too much going on. Instead, Andie’s story feels like the real story of a college freshman who is both building a new life for herself and still working to figure out the life she has. I read this one in as close to one sitting as I could because I just had to know what would happen next. I can’t recommend Emma Lord’s Begin Again enough.


Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

This one is a bit of a cheat because it was a re-read, but I can't help shouting it out again. Rowell is another auto-read author for me, and Fangirl is my favorite of her books. This one has alternating sections—one focusing on Cather, an introverted freshman in college who is struggling to establish an identity independent of her identical twin, and the other on stories related to Cather's Simon Snow fanfiction (yes, this was the beginning of Rowell's Simon Snow trilogy!).


I love this book so much because I really connect to Cather (introverts, unite!) and because of the fabulous romance that develops over the course of the novel. (This is another that's a romance, but not just a romance.) There's also a fabulous manga adaptation of this novel that is still in progress!


(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)


Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.


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