It's that time of year again! The 5th annual Bookstore Romance Day is almost upon us. Saturday, August 19th will be full of great romances and equally great giveaways and deals, both from us and from our audiobook partners at Libro.fm. You can sign up for free virtual panels featuring a variety of topics and amazing romance authors, or stop by the store for fun displays of romances of all sorts. In case you want to get a head start on some great recommendations, a few of our staff have highlighted favorite recent romance reads below!
Recommended by Lori
Florist Annie Walker is the youngest, sweetest sister of four. Orphaned at an early age, Annie's grown up under the protective wing of her older brother and two older sisters, not to mention the close-knit (and nosy) population of Rome, Kentucky. But now Annie would really like to find "the one," settle down, and have a family. That would fill the emptiness that nothing else seems to satisfy, right? Except Annie's social anxiety makes dating a nightmare, and when her most recent date fakes an emergency to ditch her, Annie is ready to give it all up. Enter tattooed bodyguard Will Griffin, back in town to guard Annie's future sister-in-law, pop star Amelia. Will agrees to be Annie's dating coach, just to give her tips and practice with the things that seem so hard when she's in the middle of a date. Unsurprisingly, the more time Annie and Will spend together, the closer they become, and the more Annie wonders what she's going to do when Will's assignment with Amelia is over. Annie is so delightful as a character, trying to break out of the box her siblings, and everyone in the town have put her in -- and with Will she is able to explore aspects of her personality that she hasn't shown anyone else. Will, of course, has his own past to contend with, and his own hangups to overcome. I listened to the audiobook on this one, and the dual narration really brought the novel to life. As I say in my rec card, "the most adorable small-town romance."
Recommended by Lillian
Even though I think there is too much talk about tropes these days, it does work as a quick way to sum up a story. With Love, From Cold World seems like it would be easy to categorize. It's an Enemies to Lovers, workplace romance. The author ticks a few classic Rom-Com boxes - stuck in the office overnight together, beach trip sunscreen application, the setting is an almost too-quirky Winter-themed amusement park in Florida called Cold World. But hold on - there's more going on here that just that. Every layer starting with something as simple as the cover and continuing on to the emotions of the main characters is handled with a little more thought and a little less cookie-cutter storytelling. Lauren is a buttoned-up accountant, but getting her to open up and take risks for friendship and love didn't feel simple. Asa is a career Cold World employee who is not living up to his potential, but actually maybe he's doing great right where he is. There were moments I laughed, got choked up, and—of course—swooned. I found their getting together to be surprisingly touching. Definitely recommend for the romance reader as well as the romance-curious.
Fake Dates and Mooncakes by Sher Lee
Recommended by Becca
All Dylan Tang wants is to help keep his aunt's struggling Chinese takeout, Wok Warriors, afloat. He has a plan, too. Win the Mid-Autumn Festival mooncake competition—using his grandmother's unique blue mooncake recipe—and get Wok Warriors featured on a popular food television show. There are only two problems: 1) his aunt doesn't have the recipe, and 2) Theo Somers. After Dylan has an unfortunate run-in with Theo's best friend, Theo (wealthy, charming, and very attractive) tries to make it up to him by making a rather large donation to the takeout. Unable to refuse the needed money but not wanting to owe any favors, Dylan agrees to be Theo's fake date to a family wedding. But a weekend in the Hamptons surrounded by rich-people problems and having to contend with his growing attraction to Theo as they get to know each other might be more than he bargained for. Will sabotage, scandal, and stress get in the way of their budding relationship, or will Dylan learn the secret ingredients for both mooncakes and romance? Short, sweet, and a quick read, Fake Dates and Mooncakes was everything I wanted. Delicious food descriptions and a fake dating plot where they don't mess around too long saying, "Oh, it started as fake but now I have feelings for him and I can't act on them because we had an agreement!" (my least favorite part of the trope), took it over the top. Also, the cover art! I'm in love.
Long story short, next Saturday should be a lot of fun. Good vibes, good people, and good books. Come stop by and celebrate love and people who love love!