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ONTD Original: Love is in the Pages

Love cover

Goodreads is at the end of its romance week so I think the genre deserves its own post.

Whether it's for lacking plot and substance or involving weak and underdeveloped characters, romance books get a lot of flack. Somebody mentions the genre and people assume the worst about it. *cough*fiftyshades*cough*

I'm here to recommend the ones worth your time. The ones that are filled with all your favorite tropes, the ones that are masters of the slow-build, and the ones that are filled with angst and will frustrate you but you still love them at the end. The new adult, the contemporary, and the romcom books.

Let's get started, shall we?
[Who can resist a good romcom?]
Lauren Layne
She's into the romcoms. She loves the tropes. Whether it's exes who have to work together or life-long friends to more, she's got it handled.
She has a number of series that you could start off with but I'd recommend the Sex, Love, and Stiletto series as well as the Oxford series because it's a spin-off of the first.
Layne Yours
Irresistibly Yours
Hotshot sports editor Cole Sharpe has been freelancing for Oxford for years, so when he hears about a staff position opening up, he figures he’s got the inside track. Then his boss drops a bombshell: Cole has competition. Female competition, in the form of a fresh-faced tomboy who can hang with the dudes—and write circles around them, too. Cole usually likes his women flirty and curvy, but he takes a special interest in his skinny, sassy rival, if only to keep an eye on her. And soon, he can’t take his eyes off her.

Just One Night (#3 in the series)
Layne Night
Riley McKenna knows sex—good sex, bad sex, kinky sex…Her articles in Stiletto magazine are consistently the publication’s most scandalous—and the most read. But Riley has a secret…all that sexy talk? Not an ounce of it comes from personal experience. Her own bedroom escapades are more limited than even her best friends know. When her editor requests that all columnists write something more personal for Stiletto’s anniversary issue, Riley turns to the one man she’s always been able to count on and calls in the favor of a lifetime.

If Lauren Layne doesn't strike your fancy, that's okay! You could try this next author.

R.S. Grey
Another one who writes romcoms and loves the tropes. She has a number of series that you can pick and choose from as well.
Anything You Can Do
Grey Anything
Lucas Thatcher has always been my enemy. It’s been a decade since I’ve seen him, but our years on opposite coasts were less of a lasting peace and more of a temporary cease-fire. Now that we’re both back in our small town, I know Lucas expects the same old war, but I’ve changed since high school—and from the looks of it, so has he.
The arrogant boy who was my teenage rival is now a chiseled doctor armed with intimidating good looks. He is Lucas Thatcher 2.0, the new and improved version I’ll be competing with in the workplace instead of the schoolyard.

Scoring Wilder
Grey Wilder
With Olympic tryouts on the horizon, the last thing nineteen-year-old Kinsley Bryant needs to add to her plate is Liam Wilder. He's a professional soccer player, America's favorite bad-boy, and has all the qualities of a skilled panty-dropper. Not to mention Liam is strictly off limits. Forbidden. Her coaches have made that perfectly clear. But that just makes him all the more enticing…Besides, Kinsley's already counted the visible ones, and she is not one to leave a project unfinished.
Kinsley tries to play the game her way as they navigate through forbidden territory, but Liam is determined to teach her a whole new definition for the term “team bonding.”

Some other authors of note.

If you're a fan of reality TV and the drama behind it, try Dawn L. Chiletz's The Fabulist
Dawn Fabulist
After losing her job and her apartment, Samantha Wittaker takes a leap of faith when she tries out for The Fabulist, a new reality TV show promising a prize well worth the risk. Her sexy, tough as nails personality attracts more than just the attention of the producers. She also catches the eye of a couple of contestants as well as a hot, challenging cameraman.
The twists and turns of reality TV are like nothing she ever even imagined. Deception, danger, love and lust lurk at every turn.

Fake dating? Try The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Jasmine Date
Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist. On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend...
After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other...

Did you love The Hating Game by Sally Thorne? Or were you one of the ones caught up in the hype and wish it was more realistic? Try Christina Lauren's Dating You/Hating You!
Lauren Dating
Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.
But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

See Also: Alice Clayton, Emma Chase, and Jessica Park

[How about some YA romances?]
It's hard to find a YA romance that actually has a good story line and strong characters. These may fit the bill.
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett (Really, I'd check out anything she writes at this point)
Jenn Alex
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is a whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway
Robin Emmy
Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson
lily worse
It's a modern adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing!
Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four.
Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.

See Also: A Million Junes by Emily Henry and Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

[He ends up with him and she ends up with her]
Annoyed that this post only has M/F recs? Try Christina Lauren's Autoboyography
Lauren Auto
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

Or Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman (Note: This one is more fluffy and cute than steamy)
Shira Knit
Small-batch independent yarn dyer Clara Ziegler is eager to brainstorm new color combinations--if only she could come up with ideas she likes as much as last time! When she sees Danielle Solomon's paintings of Florida wildlife by chance at a neighborhood gallery, she finds her source of inspiration. Outspoken, passionate, and complicated, Danielle herself soon proves even more captivating than her artwork...

A&B by J.C. Lillis
Eighteen-year-old Barrie Krumholtz is a super-tall optimist hell-bent on a single goal: securing a slot on Pop University, a reality show for singer-songwriters helmed by her #1 musical idol. When she humiliates herself on national TV and loses a spot in the finals to smug balladeer Ava Alvarez, the door to Barrie’s well-hidden dark side swings open. Never a quitter, she uses her bitter envy of Ava to shape a bold new artistic direction, and people love it. But when Ava ropes her into a secret collaboration, it sparks feelings neither girl expected—feelings that might threaten their creative identities and distract them from their professional goals.
Can love and ambition live side by side? Is happiness an art-killer? They’ll figure it out with the help of a blue guitar named Fernando, a keyboard named Rosalinda, and a few new friends who feel like home.

See Also: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

[Where are the angsty romances?]
I got you covered.
Tarryn Fisher has written a trilogy called Love Me With Lies. These are not sympathetic characters. You'll straight up hate one of them but somehow, you'll still want to keep reading.
The Opportunist, Dirty Red, and The Thief
Tarryn OpportunistTarryn DirtyTarryn Thief
Olivia Kaspen has just discovered that her ex-boyfriend, Caleb Drake, has lost his memory. With an already lousy reputation for taking advantage of situations, Olivia must decide how far she is willing to go to get Caleb back. Wrestling to keep her true identity and their sordid past under wraps, Olivia’s greatest obstacle is Caleb’s wicked, new girlfriend; Leah Smith. It is a race to the finish as these two vipers engage in a vicious tug of war to possess a man who no longer remembers them. But, soon enough Olivia must face the consequences of her lies, and in the process discover that sometimes love falls short of redemption.

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Heather romance
Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.
Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.
Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again

See Also: Krista Ritchie, Kylie Scott, and Atheists Who Kneel and Pray by Tarryn Fisher

[How about a few adaptations of the classic Pride and Prejudice?]
Boots and Backpacks by K.C. Kahler
Kahler Boots
Originally a fanfic but published since I read it.
In classic romantic comedy tradition, Boots & Backpacks follows our reluctant partners (William and Elizabeth) as they build trust, friendship, and even more. Six weeks together on America’s most famous hiking trail may turn out to be just what these two need!

All The Things I Know by Audrey Ryan
Ryan Know
All the Things I Know is a one-mistake-at-a-time retelling of Pride & Prejudice set against the backdrop of modern-day, techie Seattle. Full of wry observations, heartache, and life lessons, All the Things I Know shares the original's lessons of correcting ill-conceived first impressions and learning who you really are.

The Muse: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Jessica Evans
Muse evans
Elizabeth Bennet, the newest corps de ballet dancer at Ballet Theater of New York, dreams of rising through the prestigious company's ranks to become a prima ballerina. When she's cast in superstar choreographer William Darcy's newest work, she believes she's one step closer to realizing her dream-until she meets him.
William Darcy, the former dance legend and ballet bad boy, is a jaded perfectionist whom dancers both fear and admire. Although touted as the next big thing in the ballet world, he secretly battles a bad case of artist's block-until he meets Elizabeth Bennet.
Tempers ignite between Elizabeth and Darcy, but he's irresistibly drawn to the stubborn and beautiful corps de ballet dancer. Could she be the muse he needs to reignite his passion for ballet?

This one was also originally fanfiction and then reworked to be published. Personally, I find the original better but the published book is still great. You can't really go wrong with a ballet-inspired Pride and Prejudice fic. It will definitely give you Center Stage vibes.

(Side note: If you're really digging the ballet aspect, check out Katherine Locke's District Ballet Company series)

See Also: The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer, Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson, and A Weekend With Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly

[Slow burns are the best burns]
Last but not least, the slow-build romance. This is a tough to get just right but Mariana Zapata might be the master at it. She writes long books but the build-up is usually worth the wait.
The Wall of Winnepeg and Me
Zapata Wall
Vanessa Mazur knows she's doing the right thing. She shouldn't feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary. But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she's beyond shocked.
For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn't find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He's asking for the unthinkable.
What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

And last but certainly not least, From Lukov With Love.
If you're in an Olympic mood, if you love figure skating, if you adore the hate-to-love trope, or The Cutting Edge then this needs to be your next read.
Zapata Lukov
From Lukov With Love
If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.
After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.
But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.
Including Ivan Lukov.

See Also, everything else written by Mariana Zapata

This could go on but this is a good starting point. Romance doesn't get enough love.

Many thanks to readmymiind and simplyxkate for contributing recs for this post. Thanks to hjalmartazar for helping me format this beast and for the graphic!

Book post! Feel free to rec your favorite romances!

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Tags: books / authors, ontd original
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