Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. What better way to celebrate love than snuggling up to your loved one? New romantic comedy book? And with today’s rom-coms, the old boy-meets-girl trope isn’t the only type of relationship between (book) covers.
In this month’s roundup, USA TODAY staff reviews books that revolve around an LGBTQ couple with polar opposite personalities, two people who find love while overcoming heartbreak, and a look at life. black love in all its dimensions. There’s also an updated version of “Romeo and Juliet” where tacos feature heavily – who could resist?
Here are February’s most exciting romantic comedy reads
‘Black Love Matters’: A real conversation about romance and being seen. And happily ever after.
By Jessica P. Pryde. ★★★ (out of four). Out Tuesday.
Black people falling in love and being happily ever after is just one reason “Black Love Matters” is necessary reading. Pryde’s first book “Black Love Matters” isn’t just an intersectional anthology, it’s a love letter to black people past, present and future. With essays from best-selling novelists such as Beverly Jenkins and Jasmine Guillory, as well as essays from Pryde, academics and librarians, readers get a general insight into the importance of black love. And it’s not just in terms of romantic relationships. Dark romance is hope, but it’s also so much more. It is a promise and a means of liberation for a people who were never meant to survive. In a world full of intense hatred, “Black Love Matters” is a form of resistance we all need. – Mabinty Quarshie
‘Ramon and Julieta’
by Alana Quintana Albertson. ★★★ (out of four). Out Tuesday.
As in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the families of young lovers Ramón Montez and Julieta Campos are at odds. Unlike the Bard’s doomed love story, this much less tragic tale not only revolves around a generations-long feud, but also fish tacos. A particular recipe for fish tacos, to be precise. Ramón’s family owns Taco King and restores fast food restaurants. Julieta is a chef whose family recipe for fish tacos was stolen many years ago by Ramón’s father. The pair first meet at a Day of the Dead celebration, both in costume, not knowing who the other is until later. Albertson writes a sweet and sassy story of young lovers caught between their desires and their obligations, resulting in a page-turning tale that is sure to touch the reader’s heart. – Mary Cadden
Following:Rom-com roundup: ‘Weather Girl’, ‘Lucky Leap Day’ top January playlist
“Count Your Lucky Stars”
By Alexandria Bellefleur. ★★★★(out of 4) Out Tuesday.
Ten years after splitting from her best friend and lover Margot, Olivia finds herself recently divorced and starting over. She builds her career in Seattle when she’s tasked with planning a lavish wedding – for some of Margot’s best friends. At the reunion, it’s immediately clear that none of Margot and Olivia’s attractions for each other have faded, and when Olivia’s apartment suddenly becomes uninhabitable, Margot does the only rational thing and invites Olivia to become his roommate. The tension is building! Margot and Olivia make the perfect grumpy/sunny couple. The chemistry between them is palpable immediately and intensifies throughout the book; Bellefleur does not hesitate to leave its heroines aspire each other, which is a delight. This is the third book in Bellefleur’s “Written in the Stars” series. I loved how this book put Margot’s friends (and their budding friendship with Olivia) right into the action. Margot’s friends’ genuine investment in her happiness made the happy ending all the sweeter. – Madison Durham
‘Lease on Love’
By Falcon Ballard. ★★★ (out of four). Out Tuesday.
If you can look past the first page (and really chapter) of “Lease on Love,” cringe-worthy and loaded with millennial references, you’ll be in for a fun, light read. The book follows a less traditional romance. Sadie, who loses her job in finance after a necessary – and deserved – promotion returns to the son-in-law of her former boss. Luck turns in her favor when she moves in with Jack, a guy she is dating on a roommate finder app. The story is slow moving as Sadie develops feelings for Jack, who is clearly not her type. Ballard intersperses the book with text conversations (emojis and all) between Sadie and Jack, as well as her group chat with her friends, which make readers feel like they’re really part of the story. When Sadie and Jack’s feelings for each other finally come true, you can’t help but celebrate alongside the characters. – Lindsey Vickers
‘Text for you’
By Sofie Cramer. ★★★½ (out of four). Released February 8.
“Text For You” ditches the traditional girl-boy romance for something raw and honest. Clara learns to navigate the world after the death of Ben, her beloved but poor choice of future husband. Sven struggles to connect with the world after his girlfriend ends their relationship. But then, due to a technological hiccup, Sven begins to receive Clara’s sentimental text messages to her deceased fiancé. Her soulful tone intrigues Sven just enough to dust some funk on his shoulders and go solve the mystery of his texting widow – and Clara has no idea what’s in store for her. What follows is a heartfelt and compassionate journey into the messy but real side of love. Stock up on tissues. – Joanna Nelius
“Not the witch you married”
By April Asher. ★★★ ½ (out of four). Released February 8
“Not the witch you married”This book transports the reader to another New York City in which paranormal creatures are integrated into society. Violet Maxwell, a witch without magic, is caught up in a fake love affair with Lincoln Thorne. The scheme avoids archaic supernatural mating requirements. This is made more difficult by the fact that Lincoln broke Violet’s heart as a teenager. As if things weren’t chaotic enough, Violet’s powers are starting to emerge after 32 years and they aren’t easy to control. It’s an excellent read. Lincoln is hot, but unlike many romance heroes, he’s a real gentleman. The book does a fantastic job of incorporating dialogue about consent into its sex scenes. The love story is predictable, but it’s offset by fun world-building, supernatural political intrigue, and light-hearted humor. -Sara Tabin
Following:20 winter books we can’t wait to read by Valerie Bertinelli and Brian Cox.
“A Night on the Island”
By Josie Silver. ★★★★ (out of four). Released February 15.
This romantic comedy is filled with unexpected twists and engaging details and has a truly emotional ending. It starts with Chloe, a columnist who wants a new perspective on her work and a bit of solitude and books a vacation on a remote island. Mac, who lives in Boston, also wants solitude and books a vacation on the same island, accidentally in the same one-room cabin, and the two end up having to stay together for a few days. This is the beauty of the novel: it is sometimes in the most unexpected places that we find friendships and warmth. It also takes a unique approach to exploring what loneliness means and gives a new perspective on romantic relationships in modern life. With the hustle and bustle of work, family, and friendships, it’s not often that we get to escape to our own reality. – Sudiksha Kochi
“Delilah Green Doesn’t Care”
By Ashley Herring Blake. ★★★★(out of four). Available February 22.
A rebellious lasbian from New York is destined to cause trouble in the small town where she grew up. What if she falls in love with her best friend, her sister? “Delilah Green Doesn’t Care” It does exactly what it says, but with more nuance. You’ll be on the edge of your seat as you read about family drama, trauma, childhood memories, love and romance, and many more relationships. A queer love story is also included in this novel. It is a very engaging read. Many books of this genre focus on the relationship itself, but this book focuses on the details that make a relationship successful. – Melissa Rorech
Following:Best-selling author Isabel Allende tackles abuse and sexuality in drama ‘Violeta’.
Also this month
“Good girl complexby Elle Kennedy (out Tuesday). Mackenzie is a popular choice. “Mac” Cabot wants to be able to focus solely on his web business. However, his parents insist that Cabot get a college degree. So she heads to the seaside town of Avalon Bay to attend Garnet College and meets local bad boy Cooper Hartley, who changes everything.
“Lock on London Lane,by Beth Reekles (out Tuesday). Some friendships and relationships blossom when residents of a building receive notices that they will be quarantined for several days.
“I’m so (not) above youby Kosoko Jackson (released February 22). Kian Andres, an aspiring journalist, hasn’t heard from Hudson Rivers in months. Hudson sends her an urgent text asking Kian to pretend he’s her boyfriend again at the family wedding. Can old feelings be revived?