There’s nothing like a good romance read to get you into the seasonal spirit! These most-anticipated releases of fall and winter are what finally convinced us to take out our plaid flannels, purchase that first pumpkin-spice latte, light our cozy candles, and bake our favorite festive cookies. From fake dating to second-chance love, you’ll find your favorite tropes and exciting new twists on the genre in here.
Emily’s Pick #1: I’m a big fan of IT ENDS WITH US—along with the entirety of BookTok, it seems—so I can’t wait for this book from the perspectives of both Lily and Atlas, picking up right after the emotional epilogue of the first book. Lily has had some time to reorient her life after separating from Ryle, and they’ve figured out a workable coparenting routine—which is why Atlas and Lily are finally able to go on a date (AHH!!). But, of course, with the volatile Ryle still in the picture, there’s bound to be conflict. I just hope that Atlas and Lily get to have the beautiful love they both deserve. October can’t come soon enough!
Before It Ends with Us, it started with Atlas. Colleen Hoover tells fan favorite Atlas’s side of the story and shares what comes next in this long-anticipated sequel to the “glorious and touching” (USA TODAY) #1 New York Times bestseller It Ends with Us.
Emily’s Pick #2: Speaking of Colleen Hoover, if you like her books, you’ll love Lia Louis. She has that special authorial magic that makes you really care for her characters, and she does that right from the get-go in her newest wintery read, THE KEY TO MY HEART. Two years ago, Natalie and her husband bought a charming cottage with plans to rebuild it together, but then he died in a tragic accident. Now, her grief is still unbearable—along with her guilt. She can’t let go of the still-unfinished cottage, and she can’t find the creative spark to work on her musical. The only thing that allows her to escape is anonymously playing a public piano at a train station. When sheet music (with strange connections to her life) mysteriously appears right before her usual playing days, she embarks on a quest to find the person who sent it, and along the way learns how to build, create, and love once more. Plus, the identity of the person leaving the sheet music is one you won’t see coming!
A heartwarming novel about hope after loss as a young widow receives mysterious messages of love from the “must-buy author” (Jodi Picoult) of Eight Perfect Hours.
Sparkly and charming Natalie Fincher has it all—a handsome new husband, a fixer-upper cottage of her dreams, and the opportunity to tour with the musical she’s spent years writing. But when her husband suddenly dies, all her hopes and dreams instantly disappear.
Two and a half years later, Natalie is still lost. She works, sleeps (well, as much as the sexually frustrated village foxes will allow), and sees friends just often enough to allay their worries, but her life is empty. And she can only bring herself to play music at a London train station’s public piano where she can be anonymous. She’s lost motivation, faith in love, in happiness…in everything.
But when someone begins to mysteriously leave the sheet music for her husband’s favorite songs at the station’s piano, Natalie begins to feel a sense of hope and excitement for the first time. As she investigates just who could be doing this, Natalie finds herself on an unexpected journey toward newfound love for herself, for life, and maybe, for a special someone.
Molly’s Pick: I will read anything Jasmine Guillory writes. Her novels are smart, sexy, and satisfying; I’m always delighted by them. Her newest, DRUNK ON LOVE, is separate from her Wedding Date series (a series I’ve recommended more than any other over the last five years) and I’m so excited to meet a new cast of characters. In DRUNK ON LOVE, we meet Margot Noble, who’s stressed out by running her family’s winery in Napa. She’s excited to have a no-strings-attached one-night stand with the sexy stranger in town . . . only to learn the following morning that he’s her newest employee. Luke Williams has recently moved to Napa after burning out at his Silicon Valley tech job, and is feeling sheepish about his sudden career shift. As he and Margot try to keep their relationship professional, they can’t help but be drawn to each other. This book is practically begging you to pour a glass of wine and watch the sparks fly.
Sharon’s Pick: I read Alison Cochrun’s debut rom-com THE CHARM OFFENSIVE last year, and I cannot stop recommending this book to everyone. It would be an understatement to say that I’m thrilled to read her sophomore novel, KISS HER ONCE FOR ME. Set during the holiday season, this sapphic rom-com follows Ellie, who’s trying to keep it together after she loses her dream job and is betrayed by a Christmas Eve meet-cute. As Ellie barely keeps herself afloat by working at a coffee shop, the shop’s landlord, Andrew, hatches a drunken plan to alleviate their financial woes: a marriage of convenience. However, when Andrew’s sister turns out to be Ellie’s Christmas Eve hookup, a mysterious woman named Jack, Ellie must decide between the safety of her fake relationship and the risk of starting something real. I’m so excited to read this book next to a roaring fire while drinking eggnog!
The author of the “swoon-worthy debut” (Harper’s Bazaar) The Charm Offensive returns with a festive romantic comedy about a woman who fakes an engagement with her landlord…only to fall for his sister.
One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.
Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.
Perfect for fans of Written in the Stars and One Day in December, Kiss Her Once for Me is the queer holiday rom-com that you’ll want to cozy up with next to the fire.
Heather’s Pick #1: Fake dating is one of my favorite romance fiction tropes, so I thoroughly enjoyed Elena Armas’s THE SPANISH LOVE DECEPTION (published late last year). If there’s a trope I adore even more, though, it’s when characters with obvious chemistry find themselves forced to live together as roommates, like in Armas’s forthcoming sequel, THE AMERICAN ROOMMATE EXPERIMENT. Consider me psyched! This new novel centers on romance writer Rosie Graham, who happens to be best friends with Lina, the heroine of THE SPANISH LOVE DECEPTION. When Rosie accepts Lina’s generous offer to crash at her New York City apartment while her own is undergoing renovations from a collapsed ceiling, she has no idea that Lina’s cousin, Lucas, is also planning to stay there while visiting from Spain. And given how expensive housing is in NYC, can you blame them for deciding to stick out the next six weeks as temporary roommates? I can’t! Of course, those six weeks will give them ample opportunity to fall in love, and I can’t wait to see how their rom-com unfolds.
From the author of the Goodreads Choice Award winner The Spanish Love Deception, the eagerly anticipated follow-up featuring Rosie Graham and Lucas Martín, who are forced to share a New York apartment.
Rosie Graham has a problem. A few, actually. She just quit her well paid job to focus on her secret career as a romance writer. She hasn’t told her family and now has terrible writer’s block. Then, the ceiling of her New York apartment literally crumbles on her. Luckily she has her best friend Lina’s spare key while she’s out of town. But Rosie doesn’t know that Lina has already lent her apartment to her cousin Lucas, who Rosie has been stalking—for lack of a better word—on Instagram for the last few months. Lucas seems intent on coming to her rescue like a Spanish knight in shining armor. Only this one strolls around the place in a towel, has a distracting grin, and an irresistible accent. Oh, and he cooks.
Lucas offers to let Rosie stay with him, at least until she can find some affordable temporary housing. And then he proposes an outrageous experiment to bring back her literary muse and meet her deadline: He’ll take her on a series of experimental dates meant to jump-start her romantic inspiration. Rosie has nothing to lose. Her silly, online crush is totally under control—but Lucas’s time in New York has an expiration date, and six weeks may not be enough, for either her or her deadline.
Heather’s Pick #2: If you’re anything like me, now is about the time you’re seeking the perfect book to read in between annual rewatches of Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic. No summoning spell will be needed this year, though, because THE KISS CURSE is poised to fill that role. Set in the same world as THE EX HEX, Erin Sterling’s new novel welcomes readers back to Graves Glen, a town founded by a family of witches. Centuries later, one of their descendants, Wells Penhallow, has returned to town and opened a new store called Penhallow’s. There’s just one problem: He’s in direct competition with Something Wicked, a witchcraft shop across the street whose owner, fellow witch Gwyn Jones, has no intention of losing business to him. But even as Wells and Gwyn’s professional rivalry heats up, they’re forced to reckon with pesky romantic feelings and a threat to Gwyn’s magic from another coven of witches.
Heather’s Pick #3: Spooky season is a marathon, not a sprint, so you have to pace yourself. For a cool drink of water in between reading spine-tingling thrillers and magical adventures, why not pick up a refreshing romantic comedy with a twist? Alisha Rai’s PARTNERS IN CRIME centers on Mira, who is pleased with her latest dating-app match, Naveen. After all, based on his profile, the handsome English professor is exactly the kind of guy she could have a normal, boring life with, which sounds like heaven to Mira, given her past. That past won’t let her go so easily, though—a fact that becomes clear when a straightforward trip to Las Vegas sees Mira and Naveen dodging kidnappers and art thieves, plus working with computer hackers to solve a mystery involving her recently departed aunt. Naveen didn’t sign up for this level of chaos or danger . . . or did he? Could Naveen be an even better match for Mira than she realized?
Emily’s Pick #3: I found myself with a big smile on my face after reading just the premise of this book, so I can’t even imagine how happy I’ll be when I read the whole thing. Broke, embarrassed, and obsessed with her social media reputation, Bettie Hughes decides to squat in Colorado rather than be honest with her family and her followers about her financial mistakes. But then she accidentally conjures the Holiday Spirit, who appears as Hall, a handsome, chipper man who loves all things holiday—basically Buddy the Elf, but hot. As Hall convinces Bettie to take him to her family’s Christmas celebrations (they pretend they’re engaged) and teaches her how to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas, she grows happier. But the happier she gets, the less she needs him—and the sooner he’ll be out of her life forever. I’m keeping this one in my back pocket for when the holiday bug starts biting.
Mackenzie's Pick: Nobody does paranormal romance like J.R. Ward! In THE VIPER, readers follow vampire Kane’s dangerous pursuit to escape a notorious prison camp with his love, the nurse who revived him after a vicious burning incident, and his life intact. How J.R. Ward manages to make prison a sexy backdrop for falling in love I’ll never know, but THE VIPER is the perfect steamy ready to cozy up with this fall. Readers don’t need prior BDB knowledge to enjoy this story, but given how good THE VIPER is, you’ll probably have no choice but to dip into J.R. Ward’s extensive and impressive backlist!
In this newest Prison Camp installment, #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward pens a heart-wrenching tale of love and betrayal in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world…
Framed for the grisly murder of his shellan, Kane is condemned to the notorious prison camp—unaware of the dark truth behind his arranged mating. Centuries later, when he is horribly burned while attempting to save others, he prays he’ll finally be reunited in the Fade with his mate…not knowing what revelations await him.
Nadya is a self-taught nurse who does what she can to ease the suffering of the prisoners. When Kane comes under her care, she cannot help but empathize with his condition for very personal reasons—and as the guards take him away one last time, she fears he is facing a terrible death.
After a daring rescue, Kane is offered a treatment that will change his very nature. Choosing life, for the time being, he goes back for the female who took such good care of him—but his duty to Nadya sets him on a collision course with his own past. When long-buried secrets are exposed, his self-destruction is inevitable…unless true love can save his soul.
Photo credit: iStock / Anastasiia Stiahailo