By Kelly Stone, Lucy Lillystone, Sarah Lundy, Laura Jones and Ellie Brady
As the long, lazy days of summer finally arrive, we’ve got the perfect list of swoonworthy novels to inject some romance into your holidays.
The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan
Naomi Grant is looking to advance her professional profile through live lecturing. Though she earned a degree in Social Psychology and helped found a sex-positive start-up called Shamless, higher education won’t accept her due to her past in sex work. Ethan Grant is a former high school science teacher who uprooted his life to become the rabbi of a local synagogue that is struggling to find new members. This unlikely pair come together when Ethan offers to hire Naomi to teach a seminar on modern intimacy. Though not the opportunity Naomi expected, she is used to taking unconventional routes to achieve her goals and accepts the gig. As the sparks fly between Naomi and Ethan, they begin to experience the stages of Naomi’s course on romance in their own real lives. A companion novel to Rosie Danan’s The Roommate that is filled with heart and humor, The Intimacy Experiment offers a modern take on the 'opposites attract' love story, all the while exploring questions of identity and overcoming the odds.
One Day by David Nicholls
Including David Nicholls in a romance list is surely to be expected, but One Day is a novel I always feel is so much more than what it appears to be. I first read this novel by a swimming pool on a summer holiday and that feeling of warmth comes back to me whenever I think of it. The structure of the text, chronicling one date over many years in the lives of Dexter and Emma, reads as if you are in a dream, trying to orient yourself in their changed lives as they continually get the timing wrong in expressing their feelings for one another. Despite covering over two decades, this focus on one date lets us know just enough about these characters to feel for them deeply. A romance with reality at heart and now a movie adaptation starring Anne Hathaway, it is the perfect read for the long summer days ahead.
Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Red, White, & Royal Blue follows a rivalry-turned-romance between the Prince of Wales, Henry, and the First Son of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz, whose mother is running for a second term as president. Though Alex is obsessed with helping his mother win, he’s equally as obsessed with hating Henry. When the pair get messy at a royal wedding, they are forced to publicly appear together to save face and convince the world they are best friends. Alongside incredible representation, this novel poses important questions regarding love, family and courage. The romance between Alex and Henry is beautifully crafted and developed. As you read Alex glide into love unaware, you can’t help but root for these two characters who, polar opposites in every way, are discovering what they want in their lives. McQuiston is also an expert at comedy, completely capturing what communicating is like in your twenties. Red, White & Royal Blue brought me so much joy and happiness. I cannot recommend it enough.
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
For a summer read with all the ingredients of the perfect romance, look no further than The Wedding Date. A funny, energetic and truly swoony romance, it’s the story of Drew, Alexa, a fake date and a broken-down lift! When Alexa agrees to accompany perfect stranger Drew to the wedding of his ex-girlfriend, it’s nothing more than a short-term arrangement. But as the weekend gives way to long distance dating, it’s clear that Drew and Alexa have an undeniable connection. Ideal for fans of Sarah Morgan, The Wedding Date has the added bonus of being the first in a series of romantic stories which will put a sizzle in your summer. This is definitely one to pack in your beach bag for a timely reminder that life is an adventure with unexpected opportunities.
The Break by Marian Keyes
For me, a truly great romance is characterised by one key feature: a happy ending. Don’t take it as a spoiler, but a much-needed guarantee that no matter how bad things seem, you know that everything will be alright in the end. This is something that I trust Marian Keyes with. The Break has moments where things seem hopeless, moments where you have no idea how things will work out. As Keyes never shies away from the difficult topics, it's not always sunshine and flowers, but her delicate touch means that you feel safe in her hands. In my opinion, she is the master of romance and you can pick up any of her books knowing that you'll come away with a smile on your face, and a warm feeling in your heart.