It’s that time of year again where we dive into every single romantic comedy movie and let it consume our lives. A casual walk through the park becomes a meet-cute quest. Our fashion becomes, simply put, chunky knit sweater chic. And any reading plan we had gets thrown aside and replaced with books that gives us the lovey-dovey feels. I’ve rounded up my favorite rom-com reads with dialogue that I’ve already memorized (just in case the moment calls for it) and characters I’ve already cast in my head.
Having a fake engagement is already hard enough, but what happens when you fall in love with his sister? KISS HER ONCE FOR ME plays with the marriage of convenience trope but makes it a little more complicated when Ellie goes to meet her fake fiancé’s family for the first time and runs into the mysterious woman she hasn’t seen since Christmas the year before. This sapphic Christmas rom-com that combines a fauxmance with second-chance romance is the perfect book to cuddle up with by the fire and as soon as you finish it, you’ll want to make it a movie, too!
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.
Is there a “one” after “the one”? In THE KEY TO MY HEART, Natalie is a young widow who unexpectedly lost her husband in an accident but two years later, she’s feeling a spark again for the very first time. When someone begins leaving her messages in the form of sheet music, Natalie has no choice but to play along and see where this takes her. Instead of shying away from grief, Lia Louis beautifully captures the positions Natalie is in and brings readers along for a journey about love after loss that feels cinematic.
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.
I’m pretty sure Kimberley Allsopp climbed into my head and used what she found to write LOVE AND OTHER PUZZLES because Rory and I are kindred spirits. When Rory’s organized and predictable life begins to feel stagnant, she decides to let the clues from the New York Times crossword puzzle dictate her decisions. Sprinkled with references to all the best rom-coms, this book is made to be turned into a movie.
Music, Charm, Fame, and Dreams. If all four of these were combined in one book, it would be GOOD MORNING, LOVE by Ashley M. Coleman. This lighthearted rom-com would fill the hole in your reading list that you have been looking for as you get to see an adorable love story unfold between musician Carli and rising star Tau. After you finish this one, you’ll know exactly why it deserves to be adapted for the big screen.
For fans of My (Not So) Perfect Life and Jasmine Guillory’s While We Were Dating, a disarmingly fun debut novel follows Carlisa Henton as her life comes undone after a chance meeting with a rising pop star.
Carlisa “Carli” Henton is a musician and songwriter hoping to follow in her father’s musical footsteps. But, biding her time until she makes it big in the music industry, she works as a junior account manager at a big-name media company to cover her New York City rent. Carli meticulously balances her work with her musical endeavors as a songwriter—until a chance meeting with rising star Tau Anderson sends her calculated world into a frenzy. Their worlds collide and quickly blur the strict lines Carli has drawn between her business and her personal life, throwing Carli’s reputation—and her burgeoning songwriting career—into question.
A smart, timely, energizing romance, Good Morning, Love shows us what the glamorous New York’s music scene is really like and takes us into the lives of a rising but somewhat troubled R&B star and a promising protégé who knows her job better than she knows herself.
With fresh and honest prose, Good Morning, Love examines the uncertainty of being a new professional looking to chase a dream while also trying to survive in a world that’s not always kind to ambitious women.
Brinkley Saunders spends her days working at a company focused on avenging jilted lovers and exes with the most elaborate revenge plans and her specialty is putting people in their place. But when the company starts hiring male heartbreakers and a new coworker ends up being one of Brinkley’s targets, the lines between hate and love begin to blur. HEARTBREAK FOR HIRE had me laughing and smiling from ear to ear and I think that a movie adaptation of it would do just the same.
A smart, sexy, and witty romantic comedy—perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne—about a twentysomething who lives out every woman’s fantasy: getting paid to give men who do us wrong a taste of their own medicine. But when a previous target unexpectedly shows up at her office, she’s forced to rethink her life as a professional heartbreaker.
Brinkley Saunders has a secret.
To everyone in the academic world she left behind, she lost it all when she dropped out of grad school. Once a rising star following in her mother’s footsteps, she’s now an administrative assistant at an insurance agency—or so they think.
In reality, Brinkley works at Heartbreak for Hire, a secret service that specializes in revenge for jilted lovers, frenemies, and long-suffering coworkers with a little cash to spare and a man who needs to be taken down a notch. It might not be as prestigious as academia, but it helps Brinkley save for her dream of opening an art gallery and lets her exorcise a few demons, all while helping to empower women.
But when her boss announces she’s hiring male heartbreakers for the first time, Brinkley’s no longer so sure she’s doing the right thing—especially when her new coworker turns out to be a target she was paid to take down. Though Mark spends his days struggling up the academic ladder, he seems to be the opposite of a backstabbing adjunct: a nerd at heart in criminally sexy sweater vests who’s attentive both in and out of the bedroom. But as Brinkley finds it increasingly more difficult to focus on anything but Mark, she soon realizes that like herself, people aren’t always who they appear to be.
With Sonia Hartl’s “bitingly funny” (Publishers Weekly) prose, Heartbreak for Hire is a clever romcom you and your girlfriends won’t be able to stop talking about.
I am an avid Christina Lauren fan, so every holiday season, I always do a reread of IN A HOLIDAZE and it’s the perfect rom-com for the season. After traveling to revisit her hometown and having an unfortunate run-in with her ex, Mae finds herself stuck in a cycle of reliving the same day over and over again and realizes she is being given the chance to finally reconnect with the magic of the holidays. If this got adapted into a movie, I’m pretty sure it would climb to the top of my holiday watch list immediately.
THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.
But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.
The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.
Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.
CHEF’S KISS by TJ Alexander is the lovable queer rom-com that you’ve been searching for. When a pastry chef Simone and kitchen manager Ray have to work together to create cooking videos to promote their company, the icy facade of disinterest melts into something magical. This heartfelt rom-com that touches on important messages about inclusivity was exactly what I wanted and seeing this story unfold in a movie would be the perfect balance of funny and moving.
And, after you immediately devour this book, pick up a second serving with CHEF'S CHOICE!
A high-strung pastry chef’s professional goals are interrupted by an unexpected career transition and the introduction of her wildly attractive nonbinary kitchen manager in this deliciously fresh and witty queer rom-com.
Simone Larkspur is a perfectionist pastry expert with a dream job at The Discerning Chef, a venerable cookbook publisher in New York City. All she wants to do is create the perfect loaf of sourdough and develop recipes, but when The Discerning Chef decides to bring their brand into the 21st century by pivoting to video, Simone is thrust into the spotlight and finds herself failing at something for the first time in her life.
To make matters worse, Simone has to deal with Ray Lyton, the new test kitchen manager, whose obnoxious cheer and outgoing personality are like oil to Simone’s water. When Ray accidentally becomes a viral YouTube sensation with a series of homebrewing videos, their eccentric editor in chief forces Simone to work alongside the chipper upstart or else risk her beloved job. But the more they work together, the more Simone realizes her heart may be softening like butter for Ray.
Things get even more complicated when Ray comes out at work as nonbinary to mixed reactions—and Simone must choose between the career she fought so hard for and the person who just might take the cake (and her heart).
THE AMERICAN ROOMMATE EXPERIMENT is the fun and quick follow-up to Elena Armas’s smashing debut novel, THE SPANISH LOVE DECEPTION. If you liked watching Lina and Aaron’s love story unfold, you will be obsessed with this story about her best friend, Rosie, as she is forced to share an apartment with Lina’s cousin Lucas. I devoured this book in one sitting and bringing it to the big screen would make my heart SO happy.
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.
Imagine You’ve Got Mail, mixed with Married at First Sight, and you’ve got TO SIR, WITH LOVE. In this story, Gracie Cooper signs up for a dating app where you get to know someone through pen names and have a chance to connect without knowing what the other person looks like until the first date. She hits it off with “Sir” and finds herself slowly falling for him, unbeknownst to her that she’s already met him in real life. This slow-burn rom-com with fairy-tale vibes is the perfect story to bring to the big screen and I have my fingers crossed for it.
Love Is Blind meets You’ve Got Mail in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy following two thirty-somethings who meet on a blind dating app—only to realize that their online chemistry is nothing compared to their offline rivalry.
Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.
Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.
But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.
Photo credit: iStock / adamkaz