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Foodie-friendly rom-coms, literary love stories and some very hot takes on Greek myths—all these things and more await romance fans in 2022. 

The Roughest Draft jacket

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Berkley | January 25

The powerhouse YA romance duo (and real-life married couple!) will make their adult debut in a very meta fashion. Two writers who found great success with a co-written novel owe one more book to their publisher. The only problem? They now hate each other, and haven’t spoken in three years. 

Lockdown on London Lane by Beth Reekles
Wattpad Books | February 1

And lo, the romances inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic hath begun. This kaleidoscopic romance by the author of The Kissing Booth follows various couples in the same London apartment building during a seven-day lockdown.

Out of the Blue by Alison Bliss
Forever | February 1

The wonderful Bliss was writing rom-coms before they were cool—check out her underrated A Perfect Fit series. She now returns after a few years away (an eternity for a romance writer) with this rom-com about a woman who falls for her personal trainer.

Ramón and Julieta jacket

Ramón and Julieta by Alana Quintana Albertson
Berkley | February 1

A retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in San Diego, California, Ramón and Julieta will swap out Renaissance aristocratic families for contemporary fast-food and taqueria dynasties. 

Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher
Griffin | February 8

The witchy rom-coms that were everywhere last fall are back in 2022! Asher’s stands out from the pack with its urban setting (New York City) and by including other supernatural beings—chiefly a wolf shifter as a love interest.   

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
Berkley | February 22

Anticipation is high for Blake’s opposites-attract love story, which is a sapphic spin on the small-town romance.

Kamila Knows Best by Farah Heron
Forever | March 8

Heron’s Accidentally Engaged was an utterly adorable treat (with truly scrumptious descriptions of food), and she’s upping the ante with this follow-up by adding another favorite romance trope: a Jane Austen adaptation. Kamila Knows Best will be a modern take on Emma (the cool kid’s choice for best Austen novel to adapt? Discuss.).    

How to Be a Wallflower by Eloisa James
Avon | March 29

James is heading back to the Regency period after wrapping up her Georgian-era Wildes of Lindow Castle series. In this start to a new series, a British heiress and an American businessman go to war over a London clothing emporium. 

Going Public by Hudson Lin
Carina Adores | March 29

Romances set in various high-stakes businesses were all the rage a few years ago, and Lin’s 2021 release Hard Sell was both a throwback and a breath of fresh air. All the corporate complications and power dynamics were present, but Lin’s diverse characters and soulful, deeply felt love story updated the subgenre while also bringing it down to earth. So readers will be in good hands for her next book in the Jade Harbour Capital series, which will venture into the tricky territory of a relationship between a devoted assistant and his boss.

The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa
Avon | April 5

Another frothy, wedding-centered treat from the author of The Worst Best Man, Sosa’s new rom-com pairs a diehard romantic with a cynical man in search of a modern-day marriage of convenience.  

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez
Forever | April 19

This romance between a sophisticated, city-dwelling ER doctor and a small-town carpenter seemingly has rom-com written all over it. But given that this is Jimenez we’re talking about, it’ll probably also be sneakingly profound and tear-inducing in both happy and sad ways. 

The No-Show by Beth O’Leary
Berkley | April 26

The author of The Flatshare and The Road Trip returns with another satisfyingly messy, refreshingly human rom-com. Her third novel sounds a bit like a less vengeful version of John Tucker Must Die: Three women get stood up by the same man, but then they all forgive him and are all still in danger of falling in love with him. (Who is this paragon to inspire such devotion??? We’ll find out this spring.) 

Book Boyfriend by Kris Ripper
Carina Adores | April 26

After wrapping up zir wonderful Love Study series last year, Ripper returns with another brainy but heartfelt contemporary romance. One of many recent romances that star either authors or people who work in publishing, this book will follow Preston Kingsley, an editorial assistant who’s in love with his best friend and expresses his love via a thinly veiled fictional version of himself.

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory
Hyperion Avenue | May 3

YA superstar Julie Murphy kicked off the Disney Princess-inspired Meant to Be series last year with If the Shoe Fits, her reality TV-set, rom-com spin on Cinderella. This year, the baton passes to Guillory, who will take her cues from Beauty and the Beast in the series’ second installment.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Berkley | May 3

Beach Read author Henry returns to the world of publishing for her third novel, an enemies-to-lovers romance between a literary agent and a book editor.

From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper
Berkley | May 17

From Bad to Cursed brings fans back to the cozy, perfectly spooky town of Thistle Grove, the extremely enviable setting of Harper’s first romance, Payback’s a Witch. In this sequel, thrill-seeking sorceress Isidora Avramov has to team up with her buttoned-up archnemesis to clear her family’s name after someone starts sabotaging the town’s Beltane festival.

You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Atria | May 24

It’ll be a huge year for National Book Award finalist and bestselling author Emezi, who in February publishes Bitter, a sequel to their YA novel Pet, and then in late May releases their first romance novel, You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty, about a woman’s healing after loss and her second chance at love. Upon announcing the book deal, Emezi tweeted that they started writing the novel in 2019, “one of the worst years of [their] life,” and attributed the title’s inspiration to Florence + The Machine’s song “Hunger.” Each of Emezi’s books has been more powerful and groundbreaking than the last, with some of the essays in their 2021 memoir, Dear Senthuran, providing a closer look into their experiences and processes as such a wide-ranging storyteller.

A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall
Forever | May 24

After carving out a niche for himself as the Richard Curtis of contemporary romance, Hall is finally bringing his signature wit and lovable, idiosyncratic characters to the world of historical romance! A friends-to-lovers tale set in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, A Lady for a Duke follows Violet Carroll, a trans woman who is reunited with her oldest friend after making a new life for herself after being presumed dead at Waterloo.  

Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert
Sourcebooks Casablanca | June 7

We truly do not deserve Robert. Not only is she giving us two Dark Olympus romances in 2022, but the second (after January’s Electric Idol) will be her own delicious spin on the figure of Helen of Troy. In Robert’s version, Helen is gunning for the title of Ares, placing her in direct competition with Achilles and his partner, Patroclus. But all three soon realize they might be better together than on opposite sides—both professionally and personally. 

Husband Material by Alexis Hall
Sourcebooks Casablanca | August 2

If you read the entry for A Lady for a Duke and wondered wistfully when Hall would gift us with another contemporary rom-com, do not fear! Not only will Hall be releasing a modern-day romance in 2022, it will be a sequel to Boyfriend Material! Luc and Oliver are happily together, but everyone around them is getting married . . . are wedding bells in their future?

Here's to another year of tropes galore and Happily Ever Afters for all!

The Redemption of Philip Thane

A self-described wastrel gets a chance to change in The Redemption of Philip Thane by Lisa Berne. In exchange for a hefty sum, the low-on-funds titular character agrees to deliver a speech on his wealthy aunt’s behalf during Plough Day, a local holiday in the small village of Whittlesey. On the journey there, he picks up the beautiful and brainy Margaret Allen. She needs a ride due to a broken carriage; he needs distraction from the boring task ahead. Margaret doesn’t succumb to his wiles, and after giving his speech, Philip can’t wait to leave town . . . but then he wakes up the next morning and discovers that it’s Plough Day all over again. And again. And again. In this Groundhog Day-style story, Philip realizes he’s fated to repeat both the speech and his attempts to woo Margaret, all without success unless he can mend his selfish and arrogant ways—and maybe also fall in love. Berne has penned an extremely clever and entertaining addition to the canon of “rake redemption” romances, and readers are bound to find it smart, tender and surprisingly sweet.

Weather Girl

Matchmaking goes awry in Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Meteorologist Ari Abrams teams up with sports reporter Russell Barringer to bring together their feuding bosses, who are also ex-spouses. But as they work to spark a do-over for the pair, they find themselves also feeling a little amorous—toward each other. The gun-shy Ari, who’s recently broken off an engagement and is unsure how to share her experiences with depression, begins to take a chance on single dad Russell, but can they stay the course and really commit? This is mainly Ari’s story, and it’s told in her engaging first-person voice, with Russell filling the role of the wonderful guy who hopefully isn’t too good to be true. Secondary characters add sparkle and fun, and there are brief but deeply enjoyable glimpses of newsroom life in this delightful romance.

The Rebel and the Rake

An aristocrat and a well-educated lady’s companion try to maintain their distance—and their disguises—in Emily Sullivan’s Victorian romance The Rebel and the Rake. Rafe Davies, the second son of an earl, plays the role of charming dilettante while actually spying for the Crown. His latest mission is to discover the source of anonymous threats made to John Wardale, a very wealthy self-made man, while attending a house party at Wardale’s Castle Blackwood in the Scottish Lowlands. Posing as a callow rogue has never bothered Rafe before, but then he meets Sylvia Sparrow, a quiet bluestocking whom he wishes to impress with more than his good looks and facile conversation. While Sylvia is similarly attracted to Rafe, she knows nothing can come of a relationship. She’s hiding aspects of herself, the most damning of which is that she was once imprisoned on suspicion of being an anarchist. But hearts cannot be denied, and the pair are soon sharing steamy love scenes while their true natures are gradually revealed. Danger and desire intertwine in this tale of deception and injustice, an engrossing read that follows two characters who deserve their happily ever after.

Two historical romances twist tropes to their own clever ends in this month’s romance column.

In romance, the teaching occupation transcends time and subgenres. Reasoning with a kid, whether it’s a toddler or a teen, can require some unshakeable persistence, and the teacher heroines of these two romances are patient, empathetic and just a bit stubborn. It’s no wonder that when faced with these determined women, two guarded heroes finally take a chance on love.

The latest installment in Marie Harte’s Turn Up the Heat series, Hot for You, finds multiple meanings in the phrase “hot for teacher” as a love-shy firefighter meets a charming teacher and her daughter amid disastrous circumstances. 

Firefighter Reggie Morgan first encounters Maggie Swanson when she’s lying unconscious on the side of the road. Minutes earlier, Maggie and her 6-year-old daughter, Emily, had stopped to rescue a stray puppy, and the young teacher was clipped by a passing car. When Reggie responds to the hit-and-run call, he finds a distraught girl, one ugly dog and a woman in need of medical attention. 

Maggie’s injuries aren’t serious, but thanks to a fracture, her dominant arm has to be in a sling for several weeks. Reggie can’t help but check up on her, which puts him at risk of breaking his personal rules about avoiding serious romantic relationships. Maggie, on the other hand, is quickly and uncomplicatedly attracted to Reggie. After all, he made quite an impressive knight in shining armor, and Emily and Reggie get on like a house on fire. But Maggie senses there is something beneath the affable firefighter’s exterior that holds him back. 

Reggie is an attentive and kind hero whose previous relationship with another single mother ended with him nursing a seriously broken heart. Maggie slowly coaxes him to trust her and their feelings for each other, giving this tender love story an emotionally resonant arc as Reggie learns to be vulnerable again. As an added bonus, Harte throws some wonderful puppy hijinks into the mix of this sizzling and sweet contemporary romance.

Author Anna Bennett offers a Regency take on the teacher heroine and kicks off a new series with Girls Before Earls, an angsty historical romance between a headmistress and a slightly curmudgeonly earl.

Gabriel “Blade” Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had it with his teenage niece and ward, Kitty, who has been kicked out of several schools. His attention is firmly set on making an advantageous match in London, and Kitty’s scandalous behaviour is driving him to distraction. He hopes to find her another school, far away from his life and London, and sets his sights on the seaside Bellehaven Academy.

Hazel Lively, the headmistress of Bellehaven, has settled into her spinsterhood (she’s practically ancient, having reached her late 20s) and dreams of turning her struggling school into a success. Hazel and Blade immediately lock horns when he arrives to enroll Kitty in Bellehaven, as Hazel correctly senses that Kitty is acting out because of her distant relationship with her uncle. Hazel declares that she’ll agree to admit Kitty on one condition: Blade must visit every two weeks. 

That two-week space between encounters places Girls Before Earls firmly in the delicious slow burn category. Readers who love a bit of banter and antagonism between the leads will especially love this romance, as Hazel and Blade are natural opposites with diametrically different approaches to life. Hazel is a dreamer who wants to nurture the minds of young women and help them on their paths to greatness. Meanwhile, Blade is pragmatic and dry, with a mind for business and structure. Bennett keeps the relational momentum going with each new scene Hazel and Blade share and with every obstacle they need to overcome. It’s quite the uphill battle to happily ever after, but despite her lofty ideals, Hazel is a tenacious force to be reckoned with. Blade may be stubborn, but he never stood a chance against a headmistress who dedicates her time to teenage girls.

Bennett knocks it out of the park while also setting up plenty of opportunities for side characters to get their own love story in future installments. The entertaining Girls Before Earls is an utter delight until the very last page.

Two teacher heroines give their respective heroes lessons in love.

Despite a disastrous first meeting, sparks eventually fly between a grumpy duke and a scandalous opera singer in Julie Anne Long’s After Dark with the Duke.

When Miss Mariana Wylde meets James Duncan Blackmore, the Duke of Valkirk, it’s disdain at first sight. Mariana’s bad reputation precedes her: A disastrous duel was fought over her favor, and she was lambasted in the press as the “Harlot of Haywood Street.” Although Mariana didn’t encourage the duel or welcome the media attention that followed, this is 19th century England, and women are usually blamed for men’s bad behavior. James, an upright former general who places a great deal of importance on reputation, needs no further information to judge her harshly.

The Grand Palace on the Thames, a somewhat pretentiously named but very cozy boarding house, is a safe haven for Mariana, but her presence there doesn’t sit well with the duke, a fellow boarder. He cannot abide Mariana’s supposed recklessness, having lost too many men to foolish actions during the Napoleonic wars. The dislike between them is instant, but the duke takes it too far by lording his education over Mariana and making her the object of ridicule. Having violated the house rules of harmony among guests, James is in danger of being kicked off the premises entirely, until the house’s proprietors strike a deal: He can stay if he apologizes and helps Mariana learn Italian so she can understand the words she sings. 

Long has a gift for language and razor-sharp descriptions that pinpoint a character’s essence. In After Dark with the Duke, she offers a master class in characterization, even by her high standards. Mariana’s vibrance and sparkle contrast strongly with James’ uncompromising virtue, which Long describes as being “as stark and strange as if an obelisk had been dropped into the sitting room.” But Long takes care to make sure that readers know exactly why James’ respectability means so much to him. He rose from humble beginnings to the aristocracy on his own merit and is thus painfully aware of all the rules he must follow to keep his reputation intact.

Mariana and James should make no sense together, but their interactions are delightfully chaotic and charged with an explosive sexual chemistry that shakes them to their bones. The more time they spend together, the more they see past each other’s outward appearances. The combustible chemistry of opposites breaks down their defenses, leading to mutual respect, support and love in this sublime and steamy historical romance.

Julie Anne Long’s sublime and steamy historical romance is a master class in characterization and the combustible chemistry of opposites.

Think about the way you feel after a delicious meal. Although you know there are dishes to wash and leftovers to put away and perhaps a long drive home or work in the morning, as you look around the table at the faces of the people you love, and for that one moment, your spirit feels full, safe, happy, loving and loved. 

If that’s how you’d like to feel after your next read, the BookPage editors suggest one of these 2021 releases. 

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

The latest novel from Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is a vast undertaking, spanning centuries and incorporating multiple storylines. Amid this tangle of events, each character must face what feels like the end of their world, and it feels like a gift to the reader that Doerr’s response to each of these characters, even those who commit potentially unforgivable deeds, is mercy and hope and compassion. We have seen dark times before, and we’ll see them again—and maybe, if we trust in each other, it will all work out in the end.

—Cat Acree, Deputy Editor

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

If possible, this mystery is even better than the Osman’s charmer of a debut, The Thursday Murder Club. It’s a load of fun and an ode to how important the power of friendship is throughout one’s life but especially during the final stretch. 

—Savanna Walker, Associate Editor

These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett

As BookPage reviewer Kelly Blewett put it, “These Precious Days reinforces what many longtime fans like best about Ann Patchett: her levelheaded appraisal of what is good in the world.” Indeed, this essay collection overflows with goodness: good writing, good stories, good people. (One essay is literally about a priest whose work with unhoused people in his community caused Patchett to label him a “living saint.”) This is a companionable book, full of warmhearted reflections on how to love what we love—books, dogs, family—a little better.

—Christy Lynch, Associate Editor

Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson

Today’s young readers are so lucky to have a writer like Renée Watson creating books for them, and Love Is a Revolution is a perfect example of why. This YA novel is a master class in characterization, from its grounded yet swoony central couple, to the family and friends who surround them, to Harlem itself, which Watson evokes vividly. Her respect for and belief in the power of young people comes through on every page, but what sets Watson apart are her words. Watson is a poet who writes novels, and that means every few pages, you will encounter a sentence so beautifully phrased that your eyes will brim with tears and your heart will be quietly filled.

—Stephanie Appell, Associate Editor

Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey 

A sweet and lighthearted rom-com that will appeal to readers who prefer stories that focus more on character than conflict, Very Sincerely Yours centers on the epistolary relationship between Teddy, a young woman who feels somewhat adrift in life, and Everett, the beloved host of a local children’s show. Both characters are lovingly and carefully drawn by Winfrey, who also creates a cozy, friendship-filled environment around her central pair. 

—Savanna Walker, Associate Editor

Goodbye, Again: Essays, Reflections, and Illustrations by Jonny Sun

On the one hand, reading Goodbye, Again feels like sharing a warm cup of tea with author and illustrator Jonny Sun. On the other hand, your pal Jonny might be a little depressed, or at least deeply introspective, and so your time together, while enriching, might make you cry. They’re good tears though—an overflow of feeling understood, of relief after hearing from someone else who feels as lonely, burnt out and hopeful as you do. Each short essay touches on an aspect of modern life that makes true connection, with yourself and others, harder. Together, they form a kaleidoscopic declaration that it’s worth the effort to nurture yourself and see what grows.

—Christy Lynch, Associate Editor

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes by Mary Lee Donovan, illustrated by Lian Cho

In her author’s note, Mary Lee Donovan writes that this deceptively simple picture book is her “love song to our shared humanity.” In multilingual rhyming couplets, A Hundred Thousand Welcomes offers a benediction for the sacredness of gathering together. Lines such as “The door is wide open— / come in from the storm. / We’ll shelter in peace, / break bread where it’s warm” have a plainspoken power, and Lian Cho’s friendly, colorful illustrations capture the joy of greetings and the happiness to be found around a shared table.

—Stephanie Appell, Associate Editor

Carry On: Reflections for a New Generation by John Lewis

During the last months of Congressman John Lewis’ life, he put pen to paper to collect some parting thoughts after 80 years of remarkable activism and service. Carry On captures Lewis’ memories of growing up as the son of a sharecropper in Alabama, shopping for comic books at the flea market, joining the Freedom Riders movement and more. Interspersed are snippets of advice for the next generation who will carry on the justice work Lewis and others began during the civil rights movement. After his death in 2020, Lewis’ last book reads as an even more precious labor of love, laced through with the congressman’s trademark wisdom, patience, determination and hope.

—Christy Lynch, Associate Editor

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

The type of book that the word heartwarming was made for, Chambers’ sci-fi novella follows a monk who is literally devoted to small comforts as they brew tea, explore the wild edges of the world and try to offer solace and warmth wherever they can. There are some heady philosophical themes at play, but just enough to engage and not overwhelm your brain as you happily sink into this small, perfectly wrought gem of a story. 

—Savanna Walker, Associate Editor

Of a Feather by Dayna Lorentz

“Two lost souls find each other and the way forward” is a story I will read as if it’s the first time every time. In Dayna Lorentz’ middle grade novel Of a Feather, the lost souls are a young girl named Reenie who’s been sent to live with an aunt she’s never met and a 6-month-old owl named Rufus who has also found himself alone and unprotected in the wide, wild world. Watching these two slowly drop their defenses and open themselves up to healing, love and hope has tremendous appeal and power: It reminds us that no one is ever truly so lost that they cannot be found.

—Stephanie Appell, Associate Editor

If you’d like your next read to leave you feeling uplifted and filled with love, we recommend picking up one of these books.

Kenya Davenport is the ideal contestant for “Cosplay or No Way,” a reality competition show that follows cosplayers as they construct elaborate ensembles based on their favorite fictional characters. She’s smart and funny, with pop culture savvy, a passion for anime and quips for every situation. Her nerdy interests may not overlap much with those of her engineer parents, but she’s fine with that. So is her BFF, Cameron Lassiter. Cam’s her ride or die, her partner in crime. He’s not into cosplay like Kenya, but he still agrees to pose as her boyfriend r in the final round of the show, where the contestants enlist their real-life partners in the construction of their final costumes. It’s both more and less awkward than it should be, because Cam’s secretly been in love with Kenya for years.

Author Seressia Glass displays a talent for natural dialogue and effortless humor, which shine in the interactions between Cam and Kenya. Cam is particularly lovable: He seamlessly integrates into his role of fake boyfriend and proves time and time again, even outside of the demands of the show, that he’s there for Kenya. His steady, unerring support bolsters her inner strength, and he always lets her know that she’s remarkable, with or without a costume or mask.

Glass touches on a handful of real-world issues without slowing the forward momentum of the central love story. Yes, Kenya is fat. Yes, Kenya and Cam are an interracial couple. Yes, her parents whittle down her confidence. But Kenya dances to the beat of her own drummer and knows that she’s all the better for it. She doesn’t expect or want Cam to protect her when the show’s judges make snide comments about her weight and physical appearance; she’s more than capable of either doing that herself or choosing to ignore these types of slights. Glass constantly strikes the right balance in these moments, acknowledging the problems Kenya would face on reality TV or in her relationship with her parents while maintaining The Love Con’s exuberant, hopeful tone.

Kenya and Cam’s partnership proves that while plenty of things in life are a con, their love isn’t one of them. The Love Con is a unique glimpse into the world of cosplay that will lighten your heart and make you smile uncontrollably. 

Seressia Glass’ The Love Con is a unique glimpse into the world of cosplay that will lighten your heart and make you smile uncontrollably.

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