The best romance books that flash back to the 1980s and 90s

Who am I?

I was a teenager in the 80s (with the big-hair pictures to prove it) and a chain-smoking, bar-hopping, flannel-clad twenty-something in the 90s. I remember everything about those days. Because my brain is basically a pop culture museum, most of my books are nostalgic, geared toward Gen X, and heavily influenced by the John Hughes films from my youth. My novels are always written with humor, heart, and heat… and more than a little sarcasm. Then again, I’m a lifelong Jersey girl, so that might go without saying. I love reading stories with fun, gorgeous heroes and smart, vibrant heroines… so that’s what I write.

I wrote...

Remember When

By T. Torrest,

Book cover of Remember When

What is my book about?

You know how sometimes, your high school crush grows up to become an insanely famous movie star? Okay, probably not. But I do.

Years before Trip Wiley could be seen on movie screens all over the world, he could be seen sitting at the desk behind me in my fifth-period English class. This was back in 1990, back in the days of Aqua Net and Cavariccis, of keg parties and NKOTB. Back when Trip’s “fame” only extended to the female population of our nothing little town. I mean, we were practically drooling over the guy. In our defense, he was pretty freaking hot. And smart. And funny. And talented. And hot. Still is. Can you blame me for never getting over him?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Seduction and Snacks

T. Torrest Why did I love this book?

Tara Sivec is flipping hysterical, and if you haven’t discovered her yet, I highly suggest you dive into her entire book catalog immediately. Seduction and Snacks was my first read from her, and I noticed so many similar pop culture references in our writing that I messaged her to introduce myself and find out if we’d been separated at birth. S&S is crude, silly, and thoroughly entertaining. Oh, and also—according to the warning on her book’s sales page—not to be taken seriously. You should probably go in with an open mind (and a bottle of Tequila). 

By Tara Sivec,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From USA Today bestselling author Tara Sivec comes the first book in the hilarious Chocolate Lovers series - NOW A FILM FROM PASSIONFLIX!

Claire is a twenty-something, single mom that grudgingly helps her best friend sell sex toys while she attempts to make enough money to start her own business to give her foul-mouthed, but extremely lovable (when he’s asleep) toddler a better life.

When Carter, the one-night-stand from her past that changed her life forever, shows up in her hometown bar without any recollection of her besides her unique chocolate scent, Claire will make it a point that he…

Book cover of The Good Life

T. Torrest Why did I love this book?

Jodie Beau and I have a mutual blogger friend who badgered me incessantly to read this book. I’m so glad she did! The Good Life is an enchanting story about a single mother heading back to her hometown to start over, but it’s all the awesome movie and TV show references that landed it a spot on this list. This author is as much of a pop culture junkie as I am… and that’s saying a lot. I’m a sucker for a steamy second-chance friends-to-lovers story that will leave me with a huge smile on my face by the last turn of the page. TGL delivered on all counts! 

By Jodie Beau,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Twenty-two year old Roxie Golightly is a fun and carefree spirit...until she marries a wealthy man and her role as a trophy wife leaves her isolated in a condo with an ironing board and an obsessive desire to impress people.When her marriage ends after seven years, Roxie's identity is buried under layers of furniture polish and piles of designer shoes. She doubts she can ever be the person she once was.But when Roxie's charmed life is turned upside down, her best-friend creates The Good Life List to help turn it back around. The instructions are simple: Complete each task on…

Book cover of Melt With You

T. Torrest Why did I love this book?

Like, omigod! What a blast from the past! This adorable teen romance takes place in 1984 in southern California. It was a totally awesome 80s flashback that reminded me of Pretty in Pink (never a bad thing, amirite?). Granted, I felt that too many of the pop culture references were awkwardly crowbarred into the narrative, but it was still a fun ride nonetheless. I love stories like this, ones where the average girl lands the school’s most popular guy. Throw in a makeover, and I’m one-clicking every time. Does that make me shallow? I don’t care. Plots like that always give good butterflies, and MWY is no exception. If you’re looking for a totally rad romance that won’t gag you with a spoon, Melt With You will like, totally stoke your 1980s heart.

By Addison Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Melt With You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Addison Moore: Love the '80s? Miss big hair, rad music, and leg warmers? Take a step back in time with Melt with You (A Totally '80s Romance). It’s like totally awesome.September 1984 Junior year is really shaping up to be something. After three years of trying, I finally made the cheer squad. And on the last day of summer practice the demigod of Glen Heights High, Joel Effing Miller, finally notices me—right after he runs me over and lands my leg in a cast. Yeah, junior year is really shaping up to be something.…

Book cover of Oona Out of Order

T. Torrest Why did I love this book?

In a word… wow. This book blew me away. It’s about an 18-year-old on New Year’s Eve in 1982 who, at the stroke of midnight, wakes up in the body of her 51-year-old self. Each new year, she finds herself time-hopping into a random version of herself. I loved the concept of this story and the many, many nods to the 80s and 90s in New York City (OMG the outfits!!!). I consider myself a queen of nostalgia, but I may need to hand my crown over to Ms. Montimore. She seamlessly weaves in the pop culture of each year during every new chapter, fully immersing you in that time period. I felt the ending was a little rushed, but I’m still putting this on my “top recommendations” shelf. I implore you to take a chance on this quirky, sexy, and surprising book. You won’t be disappointed.

By Margarita Montimore,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Oona Out of Order as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



"With its countless epiphanies and surprises, Oona proves difficult to put down." ―USA Today

"By turns tragic and triumphant, heartbreakingly poignant and joyful, this is ultimately an uplifting and redemptive read." ―The Guardian

A remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of order.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence.…

Book cover of Virgins

T. Torrest Why did I love this book?

Gah! Virgins! I should mention that this book was actually written in the 80s and flashes back to the 50s, but in the spirit of this list (and simply because I flipping love it), I’m including it here. Peggy and Sean are two good little Catholic teens navigating their senior year of high school. Sean is slated to enter the priesthood upon graduation, testing the limits of the pair’s carnal restraint in the final days of their relationship. I don’t think there’s a book in the world that has influenced my storytelling more than this one. It’s hot, hilarious, and heartbreaking… and pretty much serves as the blueprint for my own book. Highly recommend.

By Caryl Rivers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seniors at Immaculate Heart High, Peggy Morrison and Constance Marie Wepplener set out to defy the conventions and strictures of "Nice Catholic Ladyhood," in a bittersweet story of the coming of age

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Fourth and Long

By Britt Belle,

Book cover of Fourth and Long

Britt Belle Author Of The Earl Was Wrong

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Romance reader Romance writer Sports lover

Britt's 3 favorite reads in 2023

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What is my book about?

Fourth and Long is a novel written in the first person with dual POVs.

Ellie: When I meet Slater, an infamous quarterback trying to salvage his career, I know better than to form expectations. Our relationship starts out casual, but I can’t help falling for him. The problem is, that he’s leaving as soon as he signs with a new team, and I have no choice but to let him go.

Slater: I can’t risk distractions, so when I hook up with Ellie, I tell myself she’s nothing but a pretty girl. We keep it casual because as soon as the ink is dry on my new contract, I’ll be hundreds of miles away. She follows my rules and lets me go without a fight, but even though football consumes me, I can’t forget her.

Fourth and Long

By Britt Belle,

What is this book about?

My professional life is a failure—I’ve convinced more couples to divorce than to work on their marriages. My personal life is a mess—my mother wants my attention, but not my advice, my father is pushing me to bond with his second family, and my sister, who likes to meddle in my love life, thinks I need to get laid.

When I meet Slater, an infamous quarterback trying to salvage his career, I know better than to form expectations. Our relationship starts out casual, but as our lives become more intertwined, I can’t help falling for him. Problem is, he’s…

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