Looking for the perfect romance that will set all your senses tingling at once and will keep the boredom of lockdown at bay? Then, have I got the list for you! Whether you enjoy curling up with a novel about the ups and downs of love and passion in the workplace or enjoy a contemporary romance set in an online sphere, this list has something for everyone, and hopefully, you can find something that suits your romance reading needs:
by Rosie Danan
This novel is categorized under the newly coined genre ‘Raunch-com’ and revolves around protagonist Clara Wheaton who finds herself on a journey of love and self-discovery and her life after she moves in with a porn star. This is not only a tale of pleasure and desire but also of consent and of removing the stigma from desire and is meant to promote sex-positivity in the romance genre.
Critics have called it a sweet, gentle love story that, despite its steamy scenes, is also an intimate tale coupled with emotional depth.
by Chloe Liese
Considered to be one of the freshest and most heartfelt novels to be released in 2020, ‘Always Only You’ is centered around Frankie Zeferino, who is autistic and has rheumatoid arthritis. She has closed herself off from society due to her condition …until she bumps into a handsome and hunk hockey player Ren who has emotional baggage of his own but whom she connects with instantly. She learns the value of letting someone into her life in this story of two real people with their own emotional baggage.
During this journey, Frankie must also gradually learn to not only open up but also triumph over her illness. The novel has been praised by critics for its dry, quirky, witty, and humorous dialogue between its characters, as well as idiosyncratic vigor and great and believable chemistry between the lead pairing of Ren and Frankie. It will make you believe in the power of love and overcoming problems by relying on kindness.
by Alexis Hall
Hailed by many as a page-turner when it comes to homosexual romance, ‘Boyfriend Material’ is a beautiful tale of a messy and broken young man named Luc who is trying to prove himself capable of holding down a healthy relationship while also being capable of holding down a job.
As this proves to be difficult for him, he agrees to fake it till he makes it and enters into a relationship with the prim and proper Oliver Blackwood, who also benefits from this faux romance, but gradually the fake couple begins to realize their true love for each other. The novel has been noted for its use of biting wit and for how the author has succeeded in exploring the complexities and chaotic nature of love…whether it is the true kind or merely a façade of it.
While most romance novels tend to focus on the romantic couple or the love story itself, ‘The Boyfriend Project’ is one of those few which also highlights the importance of female friendship that exists alongside the crackling romantic subplot. In this novel, protagonist Samiah Brooks is aided by her two new friends as she vows to spend 6 months working on a project of self-love and self-discovery. Her focus, however, is tested when her new co-worker Daniel Collins enters her life, and she begins to struggle with the pressure to be perfect and someone she is not in order to win his love.
‘The Boyfriend Project’ is not only a breezy and fun read but also acts as a reminder to readers that sometimes it is best to not let others weigh us down with their expectations. The novel has also been commended for being a celebratory portrait of the power of female friendship and the human spirit to overcome pressures and for the author’s ability to weave a tale that is deeply rooted in the real world as well.
‘How to Fail at Flirting’ is the story of an overachieving professor named Naya Turner, who strives for perfection in her life and her misadventures in flirting (the title is a dead give-away, of course). Professor Turner is urged by her colleagues to let her hair down one evening and is challenged to stray away from her comfort zone. She is given a to-do list with a bunch of things to tackle, ranging from letting a man buy her a drink to spending an evening trying out a no-strings-attached hookup.
One thing leads to another, as the saying goes, and she soon finds herself attempting to flirt with a man named Jake, who makes her laugh and eventually helps her get over her previous abusive relationship. However, Professor Turner soon realizes that nothing is easy when it comes to love and relationships and that her love-life is beginning to impact her career negatively, as is her perfectionist persona.
‘How to Fail at Flirting’ has been praised by critics for being a ‘warm romance that bursts forth with realism’ and is also noted for its relatable characters and for blending the romcom-style with more weighty subjects and a feministic approach that will appeal to the modern woman. It is a must-read for all those who yearn for a story about the healing power of true love.
‘Tis the season for time loops! ‘In a Holidaze’ follows Maelyn Jones, a woman who not only finds herself in the midst of a quarter-life crisis but now also has to deal with trying to get out of a time loop while she is trying to make sense of a nightmarish vacation. After putting up with a job that gives her no sense of satisfaction, Maelyn finds respite in her annual Xmas trip to a Utah cabin with her mom, her friend Theo and his brother Andrew. However, her vacation takes a turn for the worse when she inadvertently strikes up a romance with Theo and ends up being part of a love triangle with both him and Andrew! To add to her problems, Theo and Andrew’s parents are thinking of selling off the cabin, which has been the only constant in Maelyn’s messy life and has given her a sense of comfort throughout.
A car crash during their return from the cabin leads to Maelyn finding herself stuck in a time loop, akin to ‘Groundhog Day’ and/or ‘Palm Springs’ (if you loved the plotline of those movies, this novel will be right up your alley) and she has to figure out how to set things right in her life so she can stop reliving her hellish Xmas vacation!
The cleverly titled ‘In a Holidaze’ is packed with plenty of yuletide cheer as well as hilarious hijinks and is a perfect read if you want to relive the magic of holidays and will make you realize the utmost importance of family and true love.
by Allysa Cole
The first novel in Alyssa Cole’s ‘Runaway Royals’ series, ‘How to Catch a Queen’ revolves around Shanti Mohapi, whose dream is to be wed to the King of Njaza. However, when she finally makes this dream come true, it tosses up a whole new set of problems as she now has to fight for power with her husband, and she has to try to win her subjects over as they’ve already begun to see her as an outsider. She also struggles to follow the strict rules of being the ‘perfect wife’ and leaving up to what is expected of her as a royal.
When turmoil erupts within the kingdom, Shanti finds herself on the run, and she must now learn what it takes to lead her people as their queen, while her husband King Sanyu must learn to win her love back as outside forces begin to take a toll on their marriage. Critics and literary journals have hailed Cole’s world-building prowess and character-building as well.
The novel is also known for subverting gender roles while also incorporating a contemporary romantic narrative that is both smart and sexy and even features cameos from other installments in the series. It is considered to be a solid starter for both fans of the series as well as for new readers of the saga.
by Jen DeLuca
If you find Renaissance Faires and geeking out over cosplay events appealing, then this romance set against the backdrop of one such Renaissance Faire will fit right in on your bookshelf! The protagonist of this novel, Stacey, is a big fan of the Renaissance Faire that takes place in her small hometown of Willow Creek. The Faire distracts her from her sick mother, whom she cares for and is also her favorite pass-time. However, a surprise engagement of one of her friends leads to her wanting to find love for herself by summer, and she takes the Faire as an opportunity to find love in the form of an ex-flame, Dex MacLean, who resurfaces at the event.
Dex is playing in the band ‘The Duelling Kilts’ at the Faire and what starts out as an innocent and non-physical exchange of sweet emails with an online presence during the weeks leading up to the fair soon turns into a more physical, face to face meeting between the lead couple.
Except to Stacey’s shock and horror, the person with whom she was exchanging sweet nothings online may turn out to not be Dex but instead a stranger, and she might have fallen in love with a man whom she barely knows!
‘New York Times’ has described the novel as a captivating romance and ‘hands down a feel-good novel’ especially for readers who enjoy indulging in Renaissance Faire shenanigans as well as a treat for ‘nerdy English teachers who wear vests’. It is also noteworthy for its witty and hilarious banter and is also replete with swoon-worthy moments, thanks to the many meet-cutes which the characters indulge in from start to finish.
by Alexa Martin
‘Snapped’ isn’t just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill romance novel, but instead takes advantage of the politically charged atmosphere in the current era (more specifically, the BLM movement) and features a racially diverse group of characters as well.
Protagonist Elliot Reed finds herself in a conundrum as her job of managing the ‘Denver Mustangs’ comes under fire after one of her clients, quarterback Quinton Howard Jr takes a knee during the national anthem as a form of peaceful protest. Elliot is assigned to handle the aftermath and backlash post his protest, and as a result, they need to find common ground and work together if they are to take things to the next level. Their rocky initial meeting only leads to more tension between the couple.
The author Alexa Martin also succeeds in bringing to the fore the good, the bad, and the ugly side of football and strikes a fine balance between the real and hard truths and a romantic fantasy future that the lead pair builds as they try to find love in a hate-fuelled atmosphere and a dreary dystopian situation.
by Sarah Smith
An ‘enemies-to-lover romance’ set against the backdrop of a food truck, Sarah Smith’s ‘Simmer Down’ will appeal to foodies everywhere and makes for a mouth-watering read.
Protagonist Nikki DiMarco is struggling to keep her Maui food truck running, and the arrival of a Londoner named Callum James only makes things more difficult for her! As soon as he arrives, Callum begins to deliberately push Nikki’s buttons and begins stealing customers from her business as he parks right next to her food truck.
Soon, they both find themselves at loggerheads and partaking in the Maui Food Festival, competing against one another. The weeks leading up to the festival also cause Nikki to start seeing Callum in a different light, and she must now choose between laying her pride down for a chance at love and also saving the food business that she runs with her mum. The young Filipino chef also learns that life isn’t’ all sunshine and coconuts as she’d once believed and that the food truck scene is one of ‘eat or be eaten’ …and that sometimes, the competition is unexpectedly smoking hot!
Will Nikki survive the heat of love and succumb to her pangs of hunger for her enemy, or will they both throw in the towel and call a truce? Find out more by digging into this flirty and finger-licking good romance which has been described by critics as being a perfect melange of spicy banter, lush scenery, and red-hot passion!
And those were my picks of the top 10 romance novels of 2020, which you should definitely check out if you are a hard-core fan of the romance genre or just need something to take your mind off what has come to be one helluva rollercoaster of a year! Till then, stay safe and keep believing in the fighting power of love and relationships!