With casual readers, "I like romance" is enough of an identifier. They're steered toward the romance section and encouraged to pick at random. Or what's on sale. Or Twilight. But with seasoned, hardcore bookdragons, "I like romance" is A TERM FOR PLEBES. "I dislike romance" falls into the exact same category.

But what KIND of romance, really? What genre? What shippability? Friends-to-lovers? Enemies-to-lovers? Romance-in-the-background-as-characters-fight-for-their-lives? Or cute-romance-in-the-forefront-with-nothing-else-going-on? 

'Tis a daunting romantic world out there, friends. And today, in all our bookdragonish glory, we are sharing the various different kinds of books we appreciated for their various different brands of romances. After all, as Victoria Schwab put it last week, if we all gave people books instead of Valentine's and cards, the world would be a happier (or at least more ship-obsessed) place. So without further ado...

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Picked by: Lexie & Natalie
Genre: Fantasy
Romance level: JUST KISS ALREADY!

Don't let the epic fantasy tag fool you - A Court of Thorns and Roses is one highly shippable series. The gripping, agonizing, is-everyone-dying-on-the-next-page plot takes a good long while to get underway, in fact. But in the meantime, the protagonist and her captor do the dance of denial, then a dance of sexual tension, and finally... well, read it and find out. The beauty of this series is that in our particular case, us two have boarded separate ships and still manage to agree on absolutely everything and love everyone.

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Picked by: Natalie
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Romance level: Adorkable nerds being adorkable

You can't read anything as relatable or as cute as Fangirl. This one is full of dorky goodness, bringing us all back to those days when we'd be obsessing over a book - *cough* Harry Potter - and writing all that fan fiction in our spare time. But it's not just that story that makes us love it, it's the connection and the very cute relationship between our MC Cath and Levi. If you've yet to read this one, I recommend giving into the hype and trying it. I think, with Valentines Day coming up, that this is a good time to get reading.

3. I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Picked by: Lexie
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Romance level: In the background, but two ships (one LGBT, one straight couple)

Admittedly, I'll Give You The Sun has many a story arc, and only some of them involve mild kissing. It centers around family and art, and also art, and so much art, and sibling dynamics, and art, and loss, and art. But when the characters aren't arting or plotting their siblings' demise (while loving them to death), they are romancing their intensely shippable counterparts, and it's fifty five kinds of beautiful.

4. Thoughtless by S.C Stephens

Picked by: Natalie
Genre: New Adult
Romance level: Add a tablespoon of complication, a sprinkle of drama with a dash of angst.

This one is for the readers who want something a bit more dramatic and to get away from all that lovey-dovey cuteness. I will give you a warning though, this book series does contain cheating, but I personally think this is the only 'cheating' book worth reading. I also dislike cheating in books (and, uhm, in real life), but S.C. Stephens wrote such an intriguing and captivating story that it's a series that's high up on my favorites list. You'll fall in love with Kellan and be sucked into the world of sex, coffee and rock 'n' roll. 

5. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Picked by: Lexie
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Romance level: Always a love, never a triangle

The Mara Dyer series should come with one of those disclaimer warnings: not for the faint of heart. It isn't gore or demons which make this series eerie and mysterious - it's that Mara Dyer is not quite herself. (And by not quite herself, we mean psychotic. Quite literally.) Her real world blends with her hallucinations seamlessly and you can never quite discern what is supposed to be real, and what is a product of Mara's mind. But the one thing we desperately wanted to be real was the delicious Noah Shaw, his incredible sass, and his unyielding devotion to Mara and her pet crackers. (Don't ask.) As to whether Noah and Mara's romance is everything it seems, well... read it and find out.

6. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Picked by: Natalie
Genre: Romance
Romance level: Tear-jerker

It's been a while since I read this book, but I do remember finding this a fascinating story. Audrey tells us the tale of Claire and Henry and their very complicated relationship, due to his unusual ability to time travel (Stating the obvious. The title and all). It's a compelling story about sacrifice, fate and a never-ending love, so if you want to weep at a love story, I do suggest this one. 

7. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Laroux

Picked by: Lexie
Genre: Classic (Gothic romance? Horror? Hard to tell.)
Romance level: All the anti-heroes and forbidden fruit!

For this one recommendation, and this one recommendation only, I deem the watching of the musical / movie / any other adaptation an acceptable alternative to the book. Having said that - the book is well worth the read. As Jandy Nelson writes art almost palpably, so does Gaston Leroux depict the music with skill worthy of a fin-de-siecle opera-house romance. As Christine Daae finds herself torn between a childhood friend and a mysterious tutor from the shadows - believe me, so will you. The choice should be easy, really - one has a heart of gold, and the other is troubling to the nth power. But as the title would imply - this is the troubled's story, and the choice is nowhere near as easy as it seems. (Hoorah for exceptional character development. It gives my anti-hero-loving heart life.)

8. You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

Picked by: Natalie
Genre: Chick Lit
Romance level: Think of One Day but without the depressing parts

I absolutely adore this book. It's one of those fluffy stories with characters that are so cute and charming that you can't not like them. It's by a British author and it's set in the UK, so that's always fun, especially for me. I was smiling and laughing all the way through this one, and the ending isn't going to disappoint at all. This book was written to be read on Valentine's Day, something to cheer anyone up whether you're celebrating it single or in a relationship. 

9. Lips Touch by Laini Taylor

Picked by: Lexie
Genre: Short stories, fantasy
Romance level: Laini Fairytaylor-level epic

If the title doesn't say it all, the synopsis should. The Lips Touch collection comprises three short stories all revolving around a (frequently magical) kiss. And in Laini Taylor's typical fashion, these won't be Disneyfied tales, either. Expect oldschool fantasy. Expect exotic settings. Expect all kinds of morally grey areas. And expect the otherworldly. (And in the spirit of fair warnings, one needs to be at least half as weird as the author herself in order to really appreciate her style. Ponder your weirdness-level thoroughly before proceeding.)

10. Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Picked by: Natalie
Genre: Romance
Romance level: *sob* So emotional

Although we at The Honest Bookclub aren't as big of fans of Colleen Hoover as we used to be, her earlier books are still amazing. Personally, my favourite has always been Slammed, and the real connection the characters have in this one is strong and so interesting to read about. I fell in love with their love. Colleen had such a way with telling this story that I couldn't put it down, it's a tear-jerker, romantic and full of such emotion that you'll be reaching for those tissues. Wanting a tear-stained Valentine's Day for some masochistic reason? Grab this one.

There's more where that came from. We've had to scale down massively in order to reduce the list to top 10. While we are rarely in a book for the romance, there has been a truly staggering amount of romanced that we've loved. So whatever sort of thing you're in the mood for - if the list doesn't have it, our brains still do. Feel free to ask!

What's your favorite kind of romance, pumpkins? And do you have any shippable books to recommend to us? Let us know in the comments below, or find us on all kinds of social media everywhere.



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Write comments
11 February 2016 at 01:19

Okay, I am so excited to learn about You Had Me at Hello, because a) I really need a good Valentine's Day book. Is it me or has the January and February YA been not very romantic? b) love Brit Lit and c) the depressing qualities of One Day sent me into a fit of annoyed depression that took weeks to shake. I just put in a request for YHMAH at the library :)
Jen @ YA Romantics

11 February 2016 at 03:15

YES YES AND YES TO ALL. Well, not that I've read them all. But I've read a sufficient amount to conclude that I have to read the REST of them. Maybe not Phantom of the Opera - that shit's way too long. Ain't nobody got time for that.

The musical, however...

11 February 2016 at 21:52

YES, YES AND YES! Do read it, it'll hopefully make you smile and give you warm, fuzzy feelings inside. I agree, One Day gave me that annoyed depression too after I finished it, but YHMAH is the happy version :)
I really hope you enjoy the book - let us know how you get on! And I absolutely agree, I think Jan/Feb have been very unromantic lately, I think people are moving away from all the lovey dovey stuff.

- Natalie.

11 February 2016 at 21:58

We're glad you like the list! :) Hopefully this'll help you or anyone pick up some good Valentines books for this week. Yeah, the idea of reading Phantom of the Opera is daunting, so maybe sticking to the musical is a good idea!

Thanks for stopping by!

- Natalie.

18 February 2016 at 19:02

YES TO SO MANY OF THESE!!! I LOVED Slammed, The Time Traveller's Wife and ACOTAR!!! I have to admit to not loving Thoughtless, I just felt the cheating aspect went a little too far. Just break up with your boyfriend already or stop cheating >.< It's not hard haha

18 February 2016 at 22:55

YAYYY! :) I'm glad you like our choices of books, Charnell. It's a shame you're not enjoying Thoughtless, but we're aware it's not everyone's cup of tea :D I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, it's not something I tend to read about, but I just adored the characters. Although Kiera was a tad frustrating at times, I was so immersed in the story and Kellan... *swoon*
Did you finish the book? :)

Thanks so much for commenting!

- Natalie