The best romances off the beaten path

The Books I Picked & Why

Take a Hint, Dani Brown

By Talia Hibbert

Book cover of Take a Hint, Dani Brown

Why this book?

Take a Hint, Dani Brown features characters so unique in their complexity that they immediately felt like real people to me. They are so multi-faceted that I find it impossible to describe them in all of their glorious fullness here. However, I can say that I particularly related to Dani's coexisting commitments to intellectual rigor and personalized spirituality, and to Zaf's internal wrestling matches between fear and courage, as a hopeless romantic with anxiety issues. Having a curvy, bisexual heroine also places this book "off the beaten path" for the romance genre. Throughout, this wonderfully realistic romantic comedy had me alternately laughing out loud and sighing at the deeply satisfying love story. 

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Cold Magic

By Kate Elliott

Book cover of Cold Magic

Why this book?

Nowhere have I seen Cold Magic categorized as a romance, but as a reader, my experience of the book (and the rest of the trilogy) was definitely centered around the epic love story. But that's what places this book in the "off the beaten path" category for me – it could sit on several different sections in a bookstore or library: science fiction, fantasy, Steampunk, mystery, action/adventure, romance, or all of the above! Books like this are a gourmet feast for the imagination, particularly when they're handled by a masterful writer and builder of worlds like Kate Elliott. If you love discovering new series that will delight and surprise you while entertaining all the different parts of your brain, you will love The Spiritwalker Trilogy.

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By Rosanna Leo

Book cover of Covet

Why this book?

In a genre where "happily ever after" so often means marriage and children, it is definitely unconventional to start a romance novel with themes of relationships ending and infertility. (I feel safely in non-spoiler territory, here, since these themes are introduced in the first two pages.) It's an intense start to a deeply emotional and richly layered contemporary romance set against the glitz and grit of the Las Vegas strip. This is my favorite kind of romance, in which two wonderful but wounded souls redeem and heal each other by courageously embracing the deep power of love. Add in Rosanna Leo's smooth, masterful writing and perfectly timed razor-sharp wit, and you have an incredible read ahead of you!

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Glimpses of Wilderness

By Lee Ann Ward

Book cover of Glimpses of Wilderness

Why this book?

Glimpses of Wilderness is an absolutely enchanting example of the YA reincarnation/time travel romance genre – wait, there is no such genre, you say? Well, that's why I consider this romance "off the beaten path." It is truly a unique gem that transports you to a spellbinding world with a gripping plot and a beautiful, world-stopping love story. This romance has one hand on the ground and the other reaching out to touch the mysteries of the universe. I'm not usually a reader of young adult fiction, but for Lee Ann Ward's incredible writing, I'll make an exception.

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By Diana Gabaldon

Book cover of Outlander

Why this book?

Since Outlander was originally published in 1991 and now is the basis for a hit TV series, you may already be well-acquainted with this book. However, since I had no idea it existed until a couple of years ago, I'm going to recommend it here to anyone who has not yet discovered Diana Gabaldon's historical time-travel romance saga. Another book that would be equally at home in the general fiction, fantasy, or romance sections, Outlander draws us into the world of Claire, a 1940s combat nurse, as she is catapulted into Scotland 200 years earlier. Gabaldon is a master of every aspect of writingquite a lot of mastery for a book this complex and multi-layered. A read that is 100% worth the hype, this is a true "Do Not Miss!"

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