Favorite (romance) reads of 2021

Welcome to the final post of my favorite reads of 2021 series!

This year was the year of the Romance (mostly romcom) novel, for a couple reasons:

  1. I beta read another writer-mom’s* romcom this summer and absolutely loved it. We’ve since become friends and CPs and she’s recommended so many great romance novels that I couldn’t believe I’m so late to this game.
  2. It came at the perfect time—since I started deep diving into my Gothic novel, I could not read anything remotely unsettling before bed or else I’d never sleep. Romance novels were the perfect reads to balance out my daytime horror research.

There will always be naysayers about this genre, but I am officially a convert. I can’t think of a better time to welcome more joyful stories, more stories about love. And there’s such a variety! So many subgenres and niches, and they range in steam level from sweet (usually kissing only, sex might be implied but it’s “closed door,” we don’t see it on the page) to spicy (“open door” scenes). There’s really something for everyone.

So, here were my favorites from this year (in no particular order):

People We Meet on Vacation/Beach Read by Emily Henry

I read People We Meet on Vacation this summer and loved it. Then I read Beach Read, her debut adult romcom, and now I’m a diehard fan. She writes amazing banter and has this enviable way of making the characters jump off the page. I’ve already pre-ordered her next book, Book Lovers, out in May 2022!

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

I’ll admit, some books I read this year billed as romcoms didn’t deliver as well as I’d hoped on the “com” end. Dial A for Aunties, though? Had me literally lol-ing at parts. A true slapstick comedy, Dial A is already optioned for film, and I cannot wait to see it; this book was made for the big screen!

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

I’m real picky about enemies/rivals-to-lovers, but this was done so well. The main characters work at a public radio station in Seattle which was so interesting (and gave me major Frasier vibes at first). The diverse cast of characters felt so real and there was such good tension throughout.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

I didn’t think I would like a story about a professor and a (PhD) student, but I ended up really liking this. While I thought some of the protagonist’s motivations were a little shaky, the banter was great, the steam was hot, and the fact that I kept picturing the male lead as Adam Driver didn’t hurt. At all.

Love at First by Kate Clayborn

I had a massive book hangover after reading Love at First! It’s a quieter novel and the only non-romcom on this list, but it stuck with me for so long after I finished it. I got so wrapped up in the characters, the emotions. I also thought it was unique because it seemed to me like the male character was our protagonist. It’s dual POV, but we started with his (not necessarily denoting the protagonist, but usually) and some of the critical scenes were told from his perspective. I could be totally wrong, but I hope I’m not! It was different and I really liked it. I also got Only Murders in the Building vibes as this also features an apartment building full of quirky residents.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

The first in Hibbert’s Brown Sisters series, Get a Life, Chloe Brown was excellent. Chloe is a protagonist after my own heart—bougie and scathing in the most English of ways; I couldn’t get enough. There were some subversion of tropes/gender expectations that I found really delightful as well. I haven’t read the other two books yet (three sisters, three books), but they are definitely on my list for 2022!

*I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Nikki’s blog, where she talks all about reading and writing romance (and more). Check it out!

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