The best gateway romance novels for literary readers (and writers)

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I currently write romantic women’s fiction, because I came up in the Literary Fiction community, I frequently have writer friends ask me to recommend well-written Romance. Leaving aside the subjectivity of well-written and the snobbery inherent in the suggestion that Romance—a category they’ve admitted to never having read—isn’t generally well-written, I first have to explain that Romance has rules: While we often associate Romance with sex on the page, technically, it’s not a requirement. There are only two requirements, according to the Romance Writers of America: the love story has to be the central storyline of the book; and there has to be a happily ever after (HEA). 

I wrote...

Book cover of Thank You for Listening

What is my book about?

From the author of My Oxford Year, Julia Whelan’s uplifting novel tells the story of a former actress turned successful audiobook narrator—who has lost sight of her dreams after a tragic accident—and her journey of self-discovery, love, and acceptance when she agrees to narrate one last romance novel.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Idea of You

Julia Whelan Why did I love this book?

Start here, because: this isn’t a Romance novel. It wasn’t written as one, it wasn’t marketed as one. But it was adopted by the Romance community, even though it doesn’t adhere to HEA conventions, because it’s erotic, gorgeous, and brilliant. Come for the reverse age-gap/wanderlust/Anglophilic sexy-times, stay for the astute meditations on ageism, fame, and motherhood. Because you’re a Literary reader, you will embrace the ending; but also because you’re a Literary reader, I need to get you comfortable with sex scenes that are about pleasure, not merely some device to reveal the insatiable ennui of the main character (I kid, I kid).

By Robinne Lee,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Idea of You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Solene Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favourite boy band, she doesP so reluctantly and at her ex-husband's request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things. What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as…


Book cover of Beach Read

Julia Whelan Why did I love this book?

Now that you’re acclimated to the s-e-x, you’re going to chuckle at how silly you were, thinking there was some massive divide between Books of Literary Merit and Books That Make You Happy. In fact, that’s actually the plot of the novel itself: a Literary author and a Women’s Fiction author challenge each other to write a book in the other’s category and sparks fly. A deliciously meta romp of, yes, impeccable literary merit.

By Emily Henry,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Beach Read as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FROM THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION AND BOOK LOVERS!

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring…


Book cover of The Luckiest Lady in London

Julia Whelan Why did I love this book?

You like your small, introspective, architecture-of-a-marriage stories? Well, here’s the Romance version. Nothing really happens, plot-wise. It is simply a masterclass of two characters matched in every way that matters, ready to destroy everything they could potentially have because they’re scared of getting hurt. Humorous. Hot. Nerdy. Incisive. Affecting. This will introduce you to the basic foundation of Historical Romance—essentially, “the marriage plot”—in the quiet way you’re looking for.

By Sherry Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Luckiest Lady in London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the superbly gifted Sherry Thomas comes this beautifully written romance about a marriage of convenience that turns inconveniently passionate...  

Felix Rivendale, the Marquess of Wrenworth, is The Ideal Gentleman, a man all men want to be and all women want to possess. Even Felix himself almost believes this golden image. But underneath is a damaged soul soothed only by public adulation.

Louisa Cantwell needs to marry well to support her sisters. She does not, however, want Lord Wrenworth—though he seems inexplicably interested in her. She mistrusts his outward perfection, and the praise he garners everywhere he goes. Still, when…


Book cover of Mr. Impossible

Julia Whelan Why did I love this book?

While I could recommend any Loretta Chase novel and dare you to tell me you couldn’t spin at least a bread loaf-length lecture out of her style, I think you should start with Mr. Impossible, simply because the setting is as unique as her prose. We have a himbo and a genius running around Egypt in 1822 trying to rescue her kidnapped brother from the clutches of monument-thieving imperialists. Mind her character work. Note her humor. Her research. Her specificity. Her turn of phrase. Bring your highlighter. Or whatever instrument of self-loathing you use when another writer is so good at what they do it makes you want to give up.

By Loretta Chase,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. Impossible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Impossible...Rupert Carsington, fourth son of the Earl of Hargate, is his aristocratic family's favorite disaster. He is irresistibly handsome, shockingly masculine, and irretrievably reckless, and wherever he goes, trouble follows. Still, Rupert's never met an entanglement - emotional or other - he couldn't escape. Until now. Outrageous...Now, he's in Egypt, stranded in the depths of Cairo's most infamous prison, and his only way out is accepting a beautiful widow's dangerous proposal. Scholar Daphne Pembroke wants him to rescue her brother, who's been kidnapped by a rival seeking a fabled treasure. Their partnership is strictly business: She'll provide the brains, he,…


Book cover of Priest

Julia Whelan Why did I love this book?

Look. I could tell you it’s a modern-day gothic. I could tell you it wields its heresy to illuminate the true meaning of God. I could tell you she writes with the clarity of an imprisoned martyr watching the pyre being assembled outside her window. But, really, I just want you to know that I read Sierra Simone with a goofy smile on my face, marveling at how she makes the bonkers believable. She’s a surreal realist. There’s an energy here that’s simply unmatched. The book vibrates. And if you make it through Priest, might I suggest her New Camelot trilogy, which tackles the only thing more sacred than the Catholic church: the American presidency.

By Sierra Simone,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Priest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There are many rules a priest can't break. A priest cannot marry. A priest cannot abandon his flock. A priest cannot forsake his God.

I've always been good at following rules.

Until she came. Then I learned new rules.

My name is Tyler Anselm Bell. I'm twenty-nine years old. Six months ago, I broke my vow of celibacy on the altar of my own church, and God help me, I would do it again.

I am a priest and this is my confession.


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Book cover of The Complete Eldercare Planner: Where to Start, Which Questions to Ask, and How to Find Help

Joy Loverde

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Trusted for more than three decades by family caregivers and professionals alike, this comprehensive and reassuring caregiving guide offers the crucial information you need to look after your elders and plan for the future.

Being a caregiver for aging parents, close friends and family, and other elders in your life is an overwhelming experience, whether you are one who has stepped into this role without warning or one who is also contemplating their own care plan. Now in its fourth edition, The Complete Eldercare Planner will help you navigate today’s complex caregiving landscape while addressing your unique needs.

By Joy Loverde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Eldercare Planner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Trusted for more than three decades by family caregivers and professionals alike, this comprehensive and reassuring caregiving guide offers the crucial information you need to look after your elders and plan for the future.

“The most complete resource between two covers.”—Woman’s Day
 
Being a caregiver for aging parents, close friends and family, and other elders in your life is an overwhelming experience, whether you are one who has stepped into this role without warning or one who is also contemplating their own care plan. Now in its fourth edition, The Complete Eldercare Planner will help you navigate today’s complex caregiving…


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