Last week, on episode 112, we talked about some favorite love stories, including Alyssa Cole's A Princess in Theory and Linda Holmes's Evvie Drake Starts Over. I (Jen) could not, however, bear to stop there. As an avid romance reader, I didn't want to leave out contemporary romance authors like Penny Reid or historical romance favorites Lisa Kleypas and Courtney Milan (who also writes contemporary romances!). So, here are a few more recommendations for your TBR stack!
Alyssa Cole's An Unconditional Freedom, the third in her Loyal League series, is a strong historical romance. Cole's Author's Note, in which she explores the difficulty of writing about black characters' fighting for freedom from slavery at a time of "surging White supremacy" places the novel in a context that illuminates the importance of exploring this time period. I love her conclusion that "[the book's happily ever after] is in the *possibility* of perfecting, in finding a community of like-minded people who share similar goals and work toward them, together" (loc. 3934).
After I finished Sonali Dev’s Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, I still felt as if I was in the world she'd built. She took the most essential parts of Pride and Prejudice and transformed them, building a modern world in the midst of an Indian family living in America. Dr. Trisha Raje, the protagonist, has been (sort of) disowned by her family after a mysterious mistake that threatens her brother's political career. When she meets DJ Caine (DJ stands for Darcy James. Ha!), their relationship seems to be built on immediate repulsion. But of COURSE (because it's a Jane Austen re-telling), that initial conflict seems to be hiding something. Dev uses the class conflict that lies at the heart of Pride and Prejudice and embraces the horribly awkward misunderstandings that characterize the protagonists' relationship. In the course of the novel, she addresses the pros and cons of assimilation, the medical field, the art of cooking, the #metoo movement, racism, and police brutality . . . and so much more. And all of that is wrapped up in a subtle, complex, yearning romance that is just gorgeous. I'll definitely be reading more of Sonali Dev's catalog.
Linda Holmes’s Evvie Drake Starts Over is SUCH a perfect contemporary romance. Protagonist Evvie, who becomes a widow on the night she's decided finally to leave her husband, is trying to reconcile the grief of those who are mourning her husband with her own conflicted feelings. And then her best friend tells her about a friend who can take some weight off of her shoulders by renting her attached apartment and paying some rent. Dean is a professional baseball player with the yips who is feeling media scrutiny by spending some time in Evvie's small town. I loved both of these characters so much, and watching their relationship grow as each grieves something lost is simply beautiful. I can't recommend this novel enough!
Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory (book 1 in the Reluctant Royals series)
Lisa Kleypas’s Cold-Hearted Rake (book 1 in The Ravenels series)
Christina Lauren’s Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
Courtney Milan’s The Duchess War (book 1 in The Brothers Sinister series)
Lucy Parker’s Act Like It (book 1 in the London Celebrities series)
Penny Reid’s Neanderthal Seeks Human (book 1 in the Knitting in the City series)
Penny Reid’s Truth or Beard (book 1 in the Winston Brothers series)
Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.
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