Romance is usually linked with February – Valentine’s Day, hearts and chocolates but did you know that August is Romance Awareness Month? For a whole month, we get to shout about romance books, highlight our favourites and ask you for your recommendations.
“Romance” can cover a wide variety of different types of reads and is a label that can come with a lot of stereotypes. Here at Warwickshire Libraries, we don’t buy into such things – we want everyone to feel free to read for pleasure and to read whatever book they like the look of, regardless of what that is. So, if the latest Mills and Boon historical read ‘The Brooding Duke of Danforth‘ grabs you, dive in! For me, I like a good cowboy read – bring on the ‘Cowboy Defender‘ or ‘Kansas Cowboys‘.
But “Romance” covers a lot of other reads – steamy, erotic fiction has seen an upswing recently with the popularity of E L James (her latest, The Mister, was published earlier this year) while some of the world’s biggest authors spend a lot of time writing the genre. Nora Roberts’ ‘Vision in White‘ starts the ‘Bride Quartet’ series of books while James Patterson, probably the world’s best selling author has dabbled in romance fiction as well as thrillers, children’s books, YA fiction and writing his ‘BookShots’ series of short, sharp reads (search the catalogue for ‘BookShots’ to see the titles we have). ‘The Christmas Wedding‘ and ‘First Love‘ are two to borrow if some romance is missing in your life (I know it’s not Christmas but I love my festive romance too – so much so, I’ve posted about it before here and will probably do so again later in the year when this year’s haul of Christmas romance reads arrive on our shelves!)
Without further ado then, here are a few I recommend if you’re looking for a dash of romance during your summer holidays
Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani
This is my favourite book in the whole wide world (I may have mentioned that before)! I love this book to the moon and back and I can not shout about it loud enough. Set in the mountains of Virginia, in the mining town of Big Stone Gap, it tells the story of Ave Maria, the town spinster and how she gets through life accompanied by her friends and family, dealing with loss, love and choking on chicken bones. It includes one of my favourite fictional characters – Iva Lou Wade, driver of the bookmobile and Ave’s best friend – and the book features a cameo by Elizabeth Taylor.
I love all of Trigiani’s books – each is filled with romance and a story that will stick with you after the final page. If you’re looking for an author to try this summer, then try Adriana Trigiani!
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Stella Lane’s mother wants her to settle down, but for Stella, living with Asperger’s, this is easier said than done. With little experience of dating, Stella hits on the idea of hiring an expert – Michael, a male escort – who can guide her through the awkwardness of first dates and get her ready for the search for the love of her life. Little does Stella know that the universe has other thoughts and things are unlikely to go as planned.
I really enjoyed this book and have shared it with several of my colleagues who also loved it. I am also looking forward to reading the next book by Helen Hoang, ‘The Bride Test‘.
‘Meet Cute‘ by Helena Hunting
The perfect title for a romance novel! If you’re looking for a light-hearted and funny read this August, I’d recommend this one. When Kailyn bumps into Daxton (literally) and they become friends, this novel explores what happens when friendship evolves into something more. With fantastic character names and a writing style that will entertain you, look no further this Romance Awareness Month.
‘A Night Like This‘ by Julia Quinn
If Regency romance is your thing then I really hope you’ve already discovered Julia Quinn – if you haven’t, get reading! These hilarious and sometimes a little steamy reads will delight you. This one follows governess Anne Wynter as she looks after her three challenging charges while at the same time avoiding the temptations of the head-turning Earl of Winstead. If you enjoy this one, browse through her other books on our catalogue or you could try other Regency authors such as Lisa Kleypas and Eloisa James. You could also try ‘My Lady’s Choosing‘ by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris – a choose your own adventure book that I have mentioned before! Very enjoyable and nostalgic, bringing back memories of the books I used to read growing up.
‘What If It’s Us‘? by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli
A YA romance that centres on Ben and Arthur. When the two briefly meet in the Post Office, a series of events are set in motion that will bring the two together, tear them apart and leave you hanging on a ‘will they, won’t they?’ question.
I really enjoyed this title and it started me reading both authors’ other books – why not try ‘They Both Die at the End‘ by Adam Silvera and ‘Simon vs the Homo Sapien Agenda‘ by Becky Albertalli (this was made into a film last year, ‘Love Simon’).
‘Me Before You‘ by Jojo Moyes
A heart breaking yet uplifting romance that has been hugely popular over the last few years, spawning two sequels and a film starring Emilia Clarke. If you haven’t caught up with the story of Lou and Will then there is no better time than now. Be warned, you will need some tissues as there are likely to be tears!
‘Dark Lover‘ by J R Ward
If you like your romance on the darker side, and perhaps with a bit of spice, then J R Ward’s ‘Black Dagger Brotherhood’ series will be right up your alley. In the first novel, a deadly war between vampires and vampire slayers is erupting, but when the last purebred vampire is left to save the daughter of one of his trusted fighters, a dark and very grown up tale ensues. Not for the faint hearted.
If paranormal romance is the reading experience for you, I’d also recommend giving Laurell K Hamilton, Christine Feehan or Charlaine Harris a try.
I’ve not mentioned the classics here – ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Pride and Prejudice‘, ‘Jane Eyre‘. It goes without saying you should consider giving them a go too.
Don’t forget also our e-book and e-audio collections via BorrowBox – you’ll discover lots of romance books of all shapes and sizes there. Many of our titles will also be available to borrow in Large Print or Spoken Word editions. You can browse our collections here so wherever and however you’re reading, you’ll find something at your library to explore.
If you’re looking for even more inspiration then look no further than our Prizes catalogue page – we’ve created a list of the titles nominated for this year’s RONA (Romantic Novelist’s Association) Awards back in February that you can find here and if you want to know more, have a look at their website.
There are obviously a gazillion titles I’ve missed out so do let me know any recommendations in the comments – I am always keen to discover new authors and escape into a heart-warming romance, whatever the weather.
Sending lots of reading love to you this Romance Awareness Month and as always, happy reading!
For romance with a scifi/fantasy twist Nalini Singh, Patricia Briggs and Kelley Armstrong are also worth droping in on. Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy is a classy series for those who like their erotica well written!
All added to my list – thank you kindly! ED