August is Read-a-Romance month. Do yourself a favor and check out what the genre has to offer and what it has been up to lately. I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.
The Romance genre has made a huge comeback, for me, recently. There are just so many great titles being released and I cannot resist their beautiful, colorful, happy covers. I took a break from reading romances because the love story lines and happily ever after endings got a little boring for me. I switched to dark mysteries, thrillers, and literary fiction for a long time. This past fall and spring so many titles that caught my eye; and most of them were romances. So I took a chance on One Day in December and I am quite happy I did.
There is nothing better than a romance set in London. The wonderfully drawn, believable characters make One Day in December by Josie Silver stand out. Laurie and Jack’s love story is complicated, messy, and swoon worthy. One cold evening Laurie is sitting on a bus and makes intense, wonderful eye contact with a beautiful stranger and knows he’s the one. After searching London for him he turns up at her apartment; but there’s a terrible catch. Jack, from the bus stop, is Laurie’s best friend’s boyfriend. Laurie tells no one. Jack pretends he does not remember the girl he tried to get on the bus for and assumes she’d never remember him. What follows is a life of missed timings, accidents, missteps, and a great love story.
I tend to look for contemporary romance with realistic characters I can root for. British romance novels are my preferred treat. The language, slang, and humor are such a delight! The British love stories also seem so much more romantic. Be on the lookout for Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior. It is delightful! Ellie Jacobs, the Exmoor housewife, stumbles into the Harp Barn during her daily walk meeting Dan Hollis, the harpmaker, who will change her life. Their blossoming friendship, harp lessons and a pet pheasant named Phineas provide entertainment, chuckles, and a few tears along the way. This is a big-hearted, warm novel full of off-beat and interesting characters.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary is another British romance I’m smitten by. Tiffy is a DIY book editor and Leon is a hospice nurse who needs a roommate. The two are literally sharing a bed and because of their work schedules the pair never meet. They communicate via Leon’s girlfriend, Kay, and Post-It notes. The clever notes are adorable and the perfect way to move this story along. A brother in prison, a domineering ex-boyfriend, and a cast of characters rooting for Tiffy and Leon give this story a real boost.
After stumbling across the movie, About Time, I started watching all the Rom-Coms directed by Richard Curtis. About Time succeeds because of the wonderful love story, the father/son relationship and time travel. The time travel in this movie is fascinating because all Tim wants to do is make Mary fall in love with him and make everything in their lives perfect. I enjoy how the film makes you imagine how changing one thing you did can lead to very drastic differences in your life elsewhere. This movie and love story are so perfect and I cannot wait to watch it again. The dialogue is hilarious and whip smart. At a certain point I wanted to stop the movie and not watch anymore because it was just so perfect. I was terrified something would happen to end the relationship between Tim and Mary. Rest assured, there were no disappointment in this one.
Notting Hill starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts left me wanting more. More dialogue. More romance. More story. Sure the montage scenes of walking through Portobello Road Market and the hidden garden were eye candy but this love story needs more connection.
Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding and made into a spectacular movie is a love triangle I can get behind. This is one of my all-time favorite romances because it is so funny and real. Bridget is a 30-something looking for love and personal fulfillment. Luckily she writes all her hilarious thoughts down for us. There’s nothing like doing a modern Pride and Prejudice retelling and straight-up naming your character Darcy.
The plethora of Netflix romance movies hooked me in even further with: "Always Be my Maybe", "To All the Boys I've Loved Before," "The Perfect Date." These Netflix Rom-Coms reminded me why I love the will-they-won’t-they dynamic of the characters. They’re also so funny and goofy. “Always Be My Maybe” is a perfect combination of actors, humor, ridiculous songs, and Keanu Reeves. I haven’t laughed so hard at a movie in a long time.
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was my gateway movie back into reliving the glory days of the late ‘90s, early 2000s teen movie. Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky are just about adorable as can be as they hatch a plan to make their crushes jealous, fake date each other and then of course (spoiler alert) fall in love. I should mention the music in this film makes it even better. This one is based on the book by Jenny Han, and there’s a sequel Always and Forever, Lara Jean.
“The Perfect Date” follows Brooks Rattigan’s senior year as he tries to get into and make enough money to attend Yale. What follows is a hilarious tale of a dating app, a date montage, school dances, life lessons and love with the girl he least expects. You’ll recognize Brooks Rattigan as Peter Kavinsky.
I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. This enemies to lovers romance looks hilarious and so tropical! When the bride and groom get severe food poisoning and can’t go on their non-refundable honeymoon they insist the bride’s twin sister and groom’s brother, who hate each other, go instead. I am sure there will many mix-ups and mistakes along the way to a gorgeous love in paradise.
If you’re looking for even more great romance novels, you should definitely read about Clever Candy Lit, a term my brilliant co-worker coined, which will give you so many titles to add to your holds shelf. Try adding a few new romance titles to your August reading!