Love is on the shelves: Romance reads to pick up this Valentine's Day

Read your heart out this Valentine's Day. (Kalyani Saxena/Here & Now)
Read your heart out this Valentine's Day. (Kalyani Saxena/Here & Now)

Tuesday is Valentine's Day!

It's a day that reminds us of so many romantic tropes: Bouquets of flowers, heart-shaped boxes of candy, enemies becoming lovers. Well, that last one is among the most popular themes for the romance readers in our audience.

Our own romance bookworm, producer Kalyani Saxena, surveyed listeners about their favorite romance tropes and shares some recommendations.

First place: The enemies-to-lovers trope 

The Hating Game" by Sally Thorne

This is my comfort novel, the romance book that got me into the genre. It’s the ultimate classic enemies to lovers fare. Beware the multiple Smurf references — it’s a little strange but somehow works.

Act Your Age Eve Brown" by Talia Hibbert

I adored the banter in this book. It was genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. It’s wonderful to see a Black woman as the romantic lead, and there’s some very thoughtful representation of autism within the book. This book is for everyone who feels like they’re a mess.

Producer Kalyani Saxena holds some of her romance picks. (Kalyani Saxena/Here & Now)
Producer Kalyani Saxena holds some of her romance picks. (Kalyani Saxena/Here & Now)

Second place: The friends-to-lovers trope

People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry

This is one of the only friends-to-lovers book that’s ever really hooked me. Picture “When Harry Met Sally,” but as a novel: Full of yearning as all excellent romance novels are.

The Countess Conspiracy” by Courtney Milan

Historical romance is one of my favorite subgenres. This love story between a rake and a scientist — two friends with one shared secret — has a delicious amount of longing and angst.

Third place: The fake-dating trope 

The Soulmate Equation” by Christina Lauren

With how saturated the romance genre is with this trope, it’s really hard to find a book that does fake dating in a unique way. This book nails it. A love story between a single mom and a prickly CEO who fake date to convince the world a new genetic matching technology that can find your soulmate actually works. Read for grounded characters and a mature romance.

Fourth place: The second-chance-romance trope 

"You Deserve Each Other" by Sarah Hogle

This romance novel about two fiancés participating in an all-out war of pranks and sabotage  is the perfect balance of unhinged and swoonworthy.

Funny You Should Ask” by Elissa Sussman

I read this book in one morning; I could not put it down. A gripping love story full of missed chances and stolen glances. But if you’re a journalist, you may cringe a little at the reporter falling in love with her source.

Bonus: This novel is perfect if you like your romance with a side of fantasy

The North Wind” by Alexandria Warwick

A loose Hades and Persephone retelling. Read this for a slow-burn love story between a fierce heroine with a sharp edge and a frosty love interest.

Upcoming 2023 romance titles to keep an eye on:

  1. The True Love Experiment” by Christina Lauren
  2. Love, Theoretically" by Ali Hazelwood
  3. The Secret Service of Tea and Treason” by India Holton
  4. Happy Place" by Emily Henry
Headshot of Kalyani Saxena

Kalyani Saxena Associate Producer, Here & Now
Kalyani Saxena is an associate producer for Here & Now.



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