We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we adore romance novels. The bodice rippers, the paranormal love stories – if it’s well-written, we’re all for it. If you’re new to the genre or just looking for your next read, this is the perfect time of year to discover your newest page-turner. After all, there’s nothing like a sweet meet-cute or steamy fantasy to get you ready for Valentine’s Day. Whether you’ve got big plans with your loved one or are spending the day treating yourself, we’ve got a romance novel for you.
Controversial opinion: crying while reading > crying while watching a movie. We’re fans of both, but Nicholas Sparks’ novel about two lovers finding their way back to each other will have us frantically reaching for our box of tissues every time. Two decades after its publication, the plot of The Notebook isn’t revolutionary or shocking, by any means – but there’s something to be said for the fact that this short romance novel has managed to stay on the public’s radar and in its collective imagination for so many years. Reach for this classic if you’re willing to put cynicism aside in favor of a good cry.
Maybe you’re not a hopeless romantic, and The Notebook just makes you want to roll your eyes. That’s okay! We’ve got something for everyone here, including those who like their romance a little more thrilling – and not in the steamy way. Verity, by Colleen Hoover, follows a writer struggling to make ends meet. Just in time, Lowen Ashleigh accepts an incredible offer from a bestselling author’s husband to finish her novels that remain unfinished due to an injury. While searching through the author’s notes, Lowen discovers a hidden autobiography and a terrible secret. Hoover is primarily a romance novelist, but this recent release steps deeply into spine-tingling, bone-chilling, creepy territory. Enjoy!
Like a little (actually, a lot of) sci-fi with your romance? Pick up Fortune’s Pawn, the first book in Rachel Bach’s Paradox trilogy, and prepare to blast into space. You’ll follow Devi Morris, a mercenary aiming for the top of the food chain who gets herself a job on a trading ship with an ominously high mortality rate. Mystery, intrigue, and sexual tension abound, and at the center of it all is our fiery heroine, who lets nothing stand in the way of what she wants. One thing you may want to prepare yourself for – the books in this trilogy are known to end with cliffhangers! You should probably pick them all up at once, unless you enjoy frantic trips to the nearest bookstore before it closes.
Eleanor and Park
Some people think that romantic relationships between teens aren’t “real,” but this young adult novel from Rainbow Rowell validates every feeling you had about your significant other in high school. Eleanor & Park follows its titular characters as they bond over their shared feelings of “otherness.” As time goes on, Park realizes how different Eleanor’s home life is from his – things are awful, to put it lightly. Ultimately, we’re gifted with a picture of genuine love and a sense of the strength people can draw from it.
A Court of Thorns and Roses
Fantasy lovers will want to nab all four books in Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses that are currently out and settle in for a wild ride replete with magic, a captivating cast of characters, and (honestly) breathtaking prose. Feyre, the grumpy but dedicated heroine, is the unbothered huntress you never realized you wanted. Tamlin, the cursed faerie lord, is keeping a secret. And Rhysand, well – he’s keeping a lot of secrets. Some lists call the series young adult, but numerous explicit scenes later on place it firmly in an emerging genre termed “new adult,” which we’ve found fascinating to watch develop!
Crazy Rich Asians
Unless you’ve been purposefully avoiding any and all movie news, you’ve heard that the film based off of Keven Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians is being hailed as the romcom of the century – it’s currently the highest-grossing romantic comedy in the last ten years – so of course we had to add the original form of this hilarious hit to our list. Kwan takes us to Singapore in the summer, where Nicholas Young introduces his girlfriend, Rachel Chu, to his family. It’s a classic case of imposter syndrome – Rachel was born and lives with Nicholas in America, and Nicholas’ family is rich, elite, and extremely skeptical of her worthiness. Hijinks amidst a strong cast of characters ensue, and all we can do is marvel through the opulence and hope that love wins in the end!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Is it just us, or is the romance genre in the middle of a renaissance? Netflix and movie studios alike are adapting our favorite reads for the big and small screens, and we’re here for it! Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before spawned a Netflix film and an internet obsession with the sweet story, but we still prefer the written word. The novel itself focuses on writing, following our heroine’s experiences when the mishap of a lifetime occurs. Instead of professing her love for her various crushes, Lara Jean has always written letters detailing her feelings and hidden them beneath her bed. To her horror, she discovers that someone has mailed them out, leading to some sometimes painful, sometimes wonderful confrontations with various crushes.
Let Frostbeard Light the Way
We hope this list of some of the best romance novels sparks some inspiration that will lead you to your ideal February read. You’ll find us curled up on the couch and working our way through a stack of books all month! Whatever novel you choose, Frostbeard’s luxury soy candles can help set the scene for a lovely night (or day!) of reading. Our February Candle of the Month, Bedtime Stories, is the perfect scent for kicking your feet up and letting yourself be absorbed into sweet and trashy tales alike this Valentine’s Day.