Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and what better way to get in the spirit of love than to curl up with a new romantic comedy book? And with today’s rom-coms, the old boy-meets-girl trope isn’t the only type of relationship between (book) covers.
In this month’s roundup, USA TODAY staff reviews books that revolve around an LGBTQ couple with polar opposite personalities, two people who find love while overcoming heartbreak, and a look at life. black love in all its dimensions. There’s also an updated version of “Romeo and Juliet” where tacos feature heavily – who could resist?
Here are February’s most exciting romantic comedy reads:
‘Black Love Matters: A real conversation about romance, being seen and happily ever after’
By Jessica P. Pryde. ★★★ (out of four). Out Tuesday.
Black people falling in love and being happily ever after is just one reason “Black Love Matters” is necessary reading. Pryde’s first book “Black Love Matters” isn’t just an intersectional anthology, it’s a love letter to black people past, present and future. With essays from best-selling novelists such as Beverly Jenkins and Jasmine Guillory, as well as essays from Pryde, academics and librarians, readers get a general insight into the importance of black love. And it’s not just in terms of romantic relationships. Dark romance is hope, but it’s also so much more. It is a promise and a means of liberation for a people who were never meant to survive. In a world full of intense hatred, “Black Love Matters” is a form of resistance we all need. – Mabinty Quarshie
‘Ramon and Julieta’
by Alana Quintana Albertson. ★★★ (out of four). Out Tuesday.
As in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the families of young lovers Ramón Montez and Julieta Campos are at odds. Unlike the Bard’s doomed love story, this much less tragic tale not only revolves around a generations-long feud, but also fish tacos. A particular recipe for fish tacos, to be precise. Ramón’s family owns Taco King and restores fast food restaurants. Julieta is a chef whose family recipe for fish tacos was stolen many years ago by Ramón’s father. The pair first meet at a Day of the Dead celebration, both in costume, not knowing who the other is until later. Albertson writes a sweet and sassy story of young lovers caught between their desires and their obligations, resulting in a page-turning tale that is sure to touch the reader’s heart. – Mary Cadden
“Count Your Lucky Stars”
By Alexandria Bellefleur. ★★★★ (out of four). Out Tuesday.
Ten years after splitting from her best friend and lover Margot, Olivia finds herself recently divorced and starting over. She builds her career in Seattle when she’s tasked with planning a lavish wedding – for some of Margot’s best friends. At the reunion, it’s immediately clear that none of Margot and Olivia’s attractions for each other have faded, and when Olivia’s apartment suddenly becomes uninhabitable, Margot does the only rational thing and invites Olivia to become his roommate. The tension is building! Margot and Olivia make the perfect grumpy/sunny couple. The chemistry between them is palpable immediately and intensifies throughout the book; Bellefleur does not hesitate to leave its heroines aspire each other, which is a delight. This is the third book in Bellefleur’s “Written in the Stars” series. I loved how this book put Margot’s friends (and their budding friendship with Olivia) right into the action. Margot’s friends’ genuine investment in her happiness made the happy ending all the sweeter. – Madison Durham
‘Lease on Love’
By Falcon Ballard. ★★★ (out of four). Out Tuesday.
If you can look past the first page (and really chapter) of “Lease on Love” cringe-worthy and loaded with millennial references, you’ll be in for a fun, light read. The book follows a less traditional romance. Sadie, who loses her job in finance after a necessary – and deserved – promotion returns to the son-in-law of her former boss. Luck turns in her favor when she moves in with Jack, a guy she is dating on a roommate finder app. The story is slow moving as Sadie develops feelings for Jack, who is clearly not her type. Ballard intersperses the book with text conversations (emojis and all) between Sadie and Jack, as well as her group chat with her friends, which make readers feel like they’re really part of the story. When Sadie and Jack’s feelings for each other finally come true, you can’t help but celebrate alongside the characters. – Lindsey Vickers
‘Text for you’
By Sofie Cramer. ★★★½ (out of four). Released February 8.
“Text For You” ditches the traditional girl-boy romance for something raw and honest. Clara learns to navigate the world after the death of Ben, her beloved but poor choice of future husband. Sven struggles to connect with the world after his girlfriend ends their relationship. But then, due to a technological hiccup, Sven begins to receive Clara’s sentimental text messages to her deceased fiancé. Her soulful tone intrigues Sven just enough to dust some funk on his shoulders and go solve the mystery of his texting widow – and Clara has no idea what’s in store for her. What follows is a heartfelt and compassionate journey into the messy but real side of love. Stock up on tissues. – Joanna Nelius
“Not the witch you married”
By April Asher. ★★★ ½ (out of four). Released February 8
“Not the witch you married” transports the reader to another New York City where paranormal creatures have emerged from the shadows and become part of society. Lead actress Violet Maxwell is a magicless witch who gets caught up in a fake dating plan with werewolf Lincoln Thorne that goes against archaic supernatural mating requirements. The situation is further tense as Lincoln broke Violet’s heart when they were teenagers. As if things weren’t chaotic enough, Violet’s powers are starting to emerge after 32 years and they aren’t easy to control. It’s a fun read. Lincoln is hot, but unlike some romance heroes, he’s also a really good guy. The book does a great job of dialogue about consent alongside its sex scenes. The love story is predictable, but it’s offset by fun world-building, supernatural political intrigue, and light-hearted humor. -Sara Tabin
“One Night on the Island”
By Josie Silver. ★★★★ (out of four). Released February 15.
This romantic comedy is filled with unexpected twists and engaging details and has a truly emotional ending. It starts with Chloe, a columnist who wants a new perspective on her work and a bit of solitude and books a vacation on a remote island. Mac, who lives in Boston, also wants solitude and books a vacation on the same island, accidentally in the same one-room cabin, and the two end up having to stay together for a few days. That’s the beauty of this novel: friendship and warmth are often found in the most unexpected places. It also takes a unique approach to exploring what loneliness means and gives a new perspective on romantic relationships in modern life. With the hustle and bustle of work, family, and friendships, it’s not often that we get to escape to our own reality. – Sudiksha Kochi
“Delilah Green Doesn’t Care”
By Ashley Herring Blake. ★★★★ (out of 4). Released February 22.
Take a rebellious New York lesbian, throw her into the small town she grew up in, and she’s sure to cause a ruckus. But falling for her sister’s best friend? “Delilah Green Doesn’t Care” does just that, with a few more nuances. There are family dramas, traumas, childhood memories, love, romance, diverse relationships between not just the main couple, but everyone in the book, that will put you on edge. your seat. The novel also does a great job of inserting a weird love story in the middle of engaging reading. While many others in the genre tend to focus only on the one-on-one relationship, this book focuses on all the little details surrounding a truly successful relationship in the making. – Melissa Rorech
Also this month
“Good girl complex,” by Elle Kennedy (forthcoming Tuesday). People-loving Mackenzie “Mac” Cabot wants to focus on her internet business, but at her parents’ insistence she must get a college degree. So heads to the seaside town of Avalon Bay to attend Garnet College and meet local bad boy Cooper Hartley, who changes everything.
“Lock on London Lane,by Beth Reekles (out Tuesday). When residents of an apartment building are warned that they will be quarantining for the next few days, some relationships and friendships flourish while others are tested.
“I’m so (not) above you,” by Kosoko Jackson (out February 22). Aspiring journalist Kian Andres hasn’t heard from her ex-boyfriend Hudson Rivers in months. Then he receives an urgent text from Hudson asking Kian to pretend to be her boyfriend again in an upcoming family wedding Will old feelings lead to a new beginning?