Today I’m happy to share the top 10 romances I read this year and live up to half my username! We’ve all needed a good HEA or two this year and there were so many cute pairs to squee over this year! Without further ado (in no particular order) here are my 10 favorites of the year!
Fangs by Sarah Andersen
Summary: Elsie the vampire is three hundred years old, but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets Jimmy, a charming werewolf with a wry sense of humor and a fondness for running wild during the full moon. Together they enjoy horror films and scary novels, shady strolls, fine dining (though never with garlic), and a genuine fondness for each other’s unusual habits, macabre lifestyles, and monstrous appetites.
First featured as a webcomic series on Tapas, Fangs chronicles the humor, sweetness, and awkwardness of meeting someone perfectly suited to you but also vastly different. Filled with Sarah Andersen’s beautiful gothic illustrations and relatable relationship humor, Fangs has all the makings of a cult classic.
Thoughts: I love Sarah Scribbles so I had a sneaking suspicion I would love this one from Sarah Andersen- and it most certainly did NOT disappoint. The relationship and the characters were fun and precious, and as always the cartoon style was simple and accessible. Though it’s short, this one is certainly a winner and I’m soon to be buying a copy to own!
Readalikes: When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll, Kim Reaper by Sarah Graley, Vampire Loves by Joann Sfar
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Summary: Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret.
When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
Thoughts: This had been long on my TBR, as I love Jane Austen and Captain Wentworth has long been my favorite Austen man. I picked up the audiobook as my Valentine’s Day read, and this one delivered a comforting HEA I was desperately in need of. The longing portrayed in this one was beautiful and frustrating, and the narrator was perfect for this title. Hopefully she does more Austen titles, because this one was a perfect experience.
Readalikes: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
Summary: Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, Gods of the Gates, he’s known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster. Marcus is able to get out his own frustrations with his character through his stories, especially the ones that feature the internet’s favorite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.
April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her “real life” for years—but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus, one half of her OTP, sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realizes life is really stranger than fanfiction.
Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realizes that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she’s actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her.
With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?
Thoughts: When this cover was unveiled, I immediately put it on my Goodreads to-be-read. A swoony cover with someone who looks like me- sign me up! And thankfully, the contents were just as beautiful as the cover- this was a cute romance I could NOT put down and reminded me of my past days as a member of many fandoms! Truly Olivia Dade is becoming one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait to see what’s next from her.
Readalikes: Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert, Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert, One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
Summary: When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.
But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.
At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.
Thoughts: This book was a last minute swap-in for the #HEAYourWayBINGO challenge I put together with my friends Mollie, Mazey, and Megan this May, and it really tugged on the heart strings. Though it isn’t an easy read in terms of emotions and experiences, the relationship between Ben and Nathan is so tender and nurturing that it is all okay in the end. This is a debut that makes Mason Deaver an author to keep an eye on!
Readalikes: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin, The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
Summary: Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.
When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?
Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.
Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?
Thoughts: I knew I was going to love this one, as I loved Get a Life, Chloe Brown, but wowee I might have loved this one more?! One thing’s for sure: I bagsied Zaf as my perpetual book boyfriend and he will stay that way for the forseeable future- also Talia Hibbert only writes bangers!
Readalikes: A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole, Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade, Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins
Summary: What would you do if you had to spend the next 15 days with your lifelong crush?
Felipe gets it — he’s fat. Not chubby. Not big-boned. Fat. And he doesn’t need anyone to remind him, which is, of course, what everyone does. That’s why he’s been waiting for this moment ever since the school year began: school break. Finally, he’ll be able to spend some time far away from school and the classmates who tease him incessantly. His plans include catching up on his favorite TV shows, finishing his to-be-read pile, and watching YouTube tutorials on skills he’ll never actually put into practice.
But things get a little out of hand when Felipe’s mom informs him that Caio, the neighbor kid from apartment 57, will be spending the next 15 days with them while his parents are on vacation. Felipe is distraught because A) he’s had a crush on Caio since, well, forever, and B) Felipe has a list of body image insecurities and absolutely NO idea how he’s going to entertain his neighbor for two full weeks.
Suddenly, the days ahead of him that once promised rest and relaxation (not to mention some epic Netflix bingeing) end up bringing a whirlwind of feelings, forcing Felipe to dive head-first into every unresolved issue he has had with himself — but maybe, just maybe, he’ll manage to win over Caio, too.
Thoughts: You had me at queer and fat rep. Seriously, that’s my jam…and a gorgeous cover to boot? I was sold before this was even released. When I finally got my hands on a copy, I read it in one sitting because Felipe and I are soul siblings and Becky is everything I want to be in life. Truly this story is so sweet and touching, and I hope more of Vitor Martins’ works are translated into English!
Readalikes: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli, Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes
Summary: Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.
Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. The one thing both Kiri and Analee can’t do, though, is work up the nerve to confess her romantic feelings for Kiri’s partner-in-crime, Xolkar—aka a teen boy named Harris whom Analee has never actually met in person.
So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees. Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. In fact, it’d maybe even help her with Harris.
But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process?
Thoughts: This was not the book I expected, but that worked out so well for me! I picked this one up because I had a copy languishing on my shelves and it fit perfectly for the #HEAYourWayBINGO challenge. Analee is so relatable, especially to teen girls out there just trying to find their place in the world. The ending is unexpected, but that makes it even more brilliant! I’m excited to pick up more of Janelle Milanes’ works in the future.
Readalikes: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz
Summary: Isabel has one rule: no dating. It’s easier—It’s safer—It’s better—
—for the other person.
She’s got issues. She’s got secrets. She’s got rheumatoid arthritis.
But then she meets another sick kid. He’s got a chronic illness Isabel’s never heard of, something she can’t even pronounce. He understands what it means to be sick. He understands her more than her healthy friends. He understands her more than her own father who’s a doctor. He’s gorgeous, fun, and foul-mouthed. And totally into her.
Isabel has one rule: no dating. It’s complicated—It’s dangerous—It’s never felt better—
—to consider breaking that rule for him.
Thoughts: Hallie (@bookloaner) raved about this one at the end of the year last year so once I saw it was available as an eAudiobook, I had to check it out from my library. The tagline really is what sold it for me- they don’t die in this one! This love story was sweet, realistic, and heart-wrenching- this is what actual teens experience, and it was so lovely to see on the page without making one of them die or miraculously get cured. Truly this one, in my opinion, has not been appreciated fully both on Bookstagram and by librarians alike so I hope this convinces more people to pick it up!
Readalikes: Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali, Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, It’s My Life by Stacie Ramey
Heartstopper, Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman
Summary: Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…
Thoughts: What is there to say about Heartstopper, truly? There’s a reason it’s a Bookstagram darling and a teen favorite- it’s so flipping cute! From the illustrations to the characters to the EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, this one is a winner on all fronts and I am desperately clutching for the next volumes to see where Charlie and Nick go next- Alice Oseman definitely has my heart.
Readalikes: Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau, Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks, Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Summary: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
Thoughts: This one, like others mentioned previously in this post, was selected for the #HEAYourWayBINGO challenge and I wasn’t sure how it was going to be (Everything, Everything threw me for a loop, I’ll be perfectly honest). However, what happened is that I read this book, and watched the movie, in one day. I instantly fell in love with Natasha and Daniel, felt their struggles and feelings, and spent a magical day with them. This book made me think more broadly and more critically about the world around me, and I still have moments where it crosses my mind almost 7 months later. This one is a winner y’all.
Readalikes: The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert, Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram, They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
What romances made you swoon this year? Share them in the comments below!
Tomorrow I hope to share my top 10 graphic novels, so until next time…