Like many this Valentine’s day, I will be at home (believe it or not) with a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other. As a seasoned comfort romance reader, here are a few recommendations depending on what you need this arbitrary holiday.
For the gift giver (or those in need of a good sob): Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
This book was hyped up to me for a long time, and oddly enough it did not disappoint my unrealistically high expectations. It was, quite simply, beautiful. A retelling of a Greek tragedy, Miller’s prose is warm and graceful; this book bleeds emotion in a way I cannot explain. It is beautiful – go read it.
These three books here all serve some classic tropes well.
Red, White and Royal Blue sees the First Son of the President of the United States fall in love with the prince of England. A delightful escapade into an optimistic alternate result to the 2016 election, this friends-to-lovers story is a celebration of identity that left me smiling.
The classic enemies to lovers trope is done incredibly well in both The Hating Game and The Unhoneymooners. One as an office rivalry and the other sees the best man and maid of honour at a wedding go on the honeymoon. Are these recommendations somewhat outlandish? Yes. Was there a lot of cheesiness? Definitely. Did I enjoy every word? Completely. Though I admittedly can be somewhat of a fool for snappy dialogue and easy romance, I would recommend these as they delivered it to a tee.
For those who need to know it’s okay to be figuring it all out: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Let’s Talk About Love centres on Alice – a biromantic asexual at university in America, who has recently gone through a break-up with her girlfriend. She then meets a guy at work and has to grapple with these new feelings for him. She finds herself with the all too real issue of finding it hard to communicate with not only those she loves, but also herself, on what she feels, wants and needs.
Though I do admit her voice as Alice is not for everyone (there is some quite off-putting phrasing), Kann writes in a very upbeat and fun manner that is easy to get lost in. The novel also provides much-needed representation and in doing so it offers an often unheard perspective on finding love. A charming read, this book ultimately lets you know that it’s okay to still be figuring things out.
For the Bridgerton lover: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Here’s the thing: I am not a big fan of the Bridgerton book The Duke and I. I found Daphne a boring archetype, much like Bella from Twilight in the sense that they were very flat characters, so any woman can project herself onto them. If you are looking for steamy, it is the way to go and what one should expect from a 9 book historical romance series turned into a racy Netflix series.
Instead, I would recommend Outlander. The series are quite similar – though from different time periods, they are both historical and have been turned into a very popular TV series. I would, however, argue that Outlander is written a lot better, in that it is a lot easier to immerse oneself in the world Gabaldon has written.
And yes, there is still a lot of steamy scenes. Promise.
For the classic romance reader: any of Jane Austen’s novels
Austen never fails. Endlessly likeable main characters, misunderstandings for days, and men that are so goddamn respectable they make us swoon. My personal favourites are the classic Pride and Prejudice and the utterly endearing Emma, but honestly pick one and you’ll most likely be won over. Not only this but every romance is intertwined with biting irony, issues like class struggle and a push for the feminist agenda in early 1800s Britain.
If you are not so much into the language of the era, however, there are countless retellings of these ageless stories. Or you could watch Colin Firth walk out of a pond in a wet white shirt.