I have been knee deep in romance books during the shelter in place and most of them were amazing. I find myself getting further and further behind in reviews and, in an attempt to catch up, I wanted to feature some of my favorites in the mini review format. If you are looking for a romance book to keep you company and during this time, look no further! The link in the title will take you to Goodreads.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.
I had never read any of Christina Laurens’ books before and these two authors gave me a friends-to-enemies story that I enjoyed from cover to cover. Occasionally, this type of romance is hard to swallow but Olive and Ethan’s story was nuanced and felt wonderfully real. There were one too many side stories that could have been edited out to make this book perfection itself but, in the end, I was wholly won over.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…
I want to live in Tiffy and Leon’s apartment building. Separately these are two genuinely good people who deserve nothing but happiness in life. Bringing them together was necessary. And the journey that got them there? Perfection! Beth O’Leary’s inclusion of Tiffy’s ex-boyfriend and Leon’s brother in prison took this romance from light vacation read to a deeply personal look at how romantic relationships can break us down or build us up. This is one I cannot wait to re-read.
Emma by Jane Austen
Emma Woodhouse is one of Austen’s most captivating and vivid characters. Beautiful, spoilt, vain and irrepressibly witty, Emma organizes the lives of the inhabitants of her sleepy little village and plays matchmaker with devastating effect.
I am working my way through all of Jane Austen’s works and eating crow with each page. See, in high school a girlfriend of mine was so obsessed with Austen and talked about her so much that I grew to hate her work completely unread. Turns out, she was right and I was wrong. Even with all the hype, Austen’s works are wonderful. Emma manages to be utterly likable even though she mettles too much. The supporting cast of characters is wondrous. I would have liked a splash more romance when Emma and Mr. Lightly finally confess their love but Austen gives me just enough to sigh and dream away the day imagining their life together.
To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.
Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.
I was hesitant to include this book. Much like Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, I felt that To Be Honest was a fantastic book of self-discovery and growth that had an element of romance rather than a romance-first story. But, since it is marketed as a romance I figured, why not? I loved Savvie. I cannot imagine being that self-possessed and confident in high school with a mother that is clearly struggling with several mental health issues and losing my sister (and only buffer) to college. In fact, my only complaint would be that I wanted the mother to have to explain herself more and apologize longer. Still, watching Savvie come into her own was just as rewarding and lovely as it could be.
Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests’ Austen fantasies.
Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn’t sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside’s mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte’s heart be a sign of real-life love?
The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen’s world. How could it not turn out right in the end.
As much as I loved Austenland, Midnight in Austenland topped everything I hoped for in a sequel. With a different leading lady and gentleman and a mystery to boot, this book had everything I wanted to transport me away for this repetitive quarantine existence. I especially loved watching Charlotte get her confidence back during her stay at Austenland. Not only will I look forward to another in the Austenland series (Hale says she has two more planned out already!) but this book has my vote for being made into a film. Quickly please!
Tell me, please!
Have you been reading any good romances?