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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Six More of My Favorite Romantic Fiction Reads from the Past Year



Six Bossy Favorite Light Fiction Reads from Last Year

I love spending Fridays highlighting books I've loved. And I do love rom-com books--as long as I buy into the small moments they're built upon. These six did the trick for me in the past year. (You can check out my roundup list Six of My Favorite Light Fiction Reads from the Past Year, which I posted in January, here.)

For more romantic reads and lighter fiction Bossy favorites, you might want to check out the books on these Greedy Reading Lists:


You can also check out My Very Favorite Bossy 2023 Reads for my overall favorite reads from last year across all genres, and if you're interested in more more more Bossy favorites, check out My Very Favorite Bossy 2022 Reads too.

If you've read any of the books mentioned here, I'd love to hear what you think!

What are some of your favorite romantic fiction reads, from the past year or from this one so far?


 

01 Will They or Won't They by Ava Wilder

Ava Wilder's rom-com takes us behind the scenes of a hit teen TV show whose lead characters once liked each other in real life but now can't stand each other. This was funny, sweet, steamy, and poignant--a fantastic summer light-fiction read that I loved.

Lilah Hunter and Shane McCarthy are the stars of the popular paranormal television show Intangible, and for multiple seasons they've yearned for each other on screen, but their characters have never gotten together.

Lilah has dreams of directing and of breaking into movies, but she's back for the sixth and final season of the show, in which her character and Shane's will finally get together.

But in real life, Shane and Lilah detest each other. Their secret tryst at the end of season one ended badly, and they've been far from friendly ever since.

I LOVED this. The premise sounded like a slam dunk for me, and the reality of the book was a funny, poignant, banter-filled, behind-the-scenes, realistically complicated, wonderful story.

There's a ton of steaminess as Lilah and Shane at times can't deny their attraction and act upon it.

I smiled a lot, I teared up, and I loved this romantic read!

For my full review of this book, check out Will They or Won't They.


 

02 The Second Ending by Michelle Hoffman

Hoffman's novel is about facing dark realities, entering uncharted territory, leaning on music as a solace, and welcoming new beginnings. The Second Ending was fun and full of heart.

Prudence Childs was a prodigy. She taught herself to play the piano as a toddler, became famous, played at the White House, and appeared on television. She inspired a generation to take up the piano.

Then she realized her grandmother was exploiting her and she broke from both her family and her fame. She fell into a career writing jingles--creatively unsatisfying but it paid the bills.

Decades later, Prudence's dark past threatens to upend her peaceful, if uneventful, adult life.

One thing leads to another and she agrees to participate in a popular televised dueling piano competition--against Alexei Petrov, a young Russian pianist who has flawless technique. But Alexei's parents have always pushed him so ruthlessly, he never made friends or developed a life outside of music.

When the two face off, they each have something to prove--to their families, their exes, those who have doubted them--and to themselves.

There are a number of appealingly zany hijinks here as well as a surprising amount of heart. The Second Ending is about self-discovery, facing dark truths, taking a terrifying leap out of the safety of what is known, and opening the door to a boundless, uncharted future. I really enjoyed this.

For my full review, check out The Second Ending.


 

03 Happy Place by Emily Henry

Six longtime friends gather for one last Maine vacation--but each of them has been keeping secrets that impact their relationships. I was impatient with the prolonged lack of communication but loved the main characters' interactions once they began.

Harriet and Win were attracted to each other from the start, but they spent ages trying to deny it for fear of upending their close-knit friend group if things didn't work out.

Now they've been engaged for six years, they're desperately in love, and they've been dating long-distance while Harriet pursues her residency and Win, a furniture repair person, helps his sick mother at home in Montana.

For years they've taken annual trips to their friend Sabrina's cottage in Maine with the rest of their group, building traditions, strengthening their friendships, and enjoying their happy place.

So this year, when their friends surprise Harriet upon her arrival with the fact that Win was able to come after all, it should be a good--no, a great--thing.

Except, Harriet and Win broke up months ago...and haven't told anyone yet.

The grown-up friends' ability to move past the evolutions of their relationships was a highlight. Happy Place involves steamy scenes and will-they/won't-they tensions. Win and Harriet's interactions, when they do begin communicating, are lovely and sweet and funny and heartbreaking.

For my full review of this book, please check out Happy Place.

 

04 A Winter in New York by Josie Silver

Despite the many outlandish details of Iris's situation and ongoing secrets, I was taken with the sweet family relationships and the multi-phased wrap-up ending.

Iris is a chef who moves to New York City in hopes of a fresh start--and is quickly intimidated by the scope and action of the city. But her new best friend Bobby--along with his partner Robin--takes her under his wing.

Then Iris spies a storefront familiar from one of her deceased mother's old photos, a gelato store...where she discovers that they use her exact, closely guarded, definitely secret family recipe.

Handsome Gio, son of the ill owner, explains that the store is in danger of being shuttered. Iris may be able to help--if only she could also figure out the store's connection to her mother's past.

I was frustrated with several aspects of A Winter in New York--I typically have trouble with a lack of communication as a key plot point--but the sweet-as-pie, satisfying, multiple-phased ending was, admittedly, adorable. And the Bobby-Robin relationship as well as the Gio romance had me swooning.

Josie Silver is also the author of One Day in December and The Two Lives of Lydia Byrd, a book that appeared on the Greedy Reading List Six Second-Chance, Do-Over, Reliving-Life Stories.

For my full review, check out A Winter in New York.


 

05 The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren

The True Love Experiment is a wonderful, romantic read about forbidden attraction and heartwarming vulnerability, with steamy scenes, will-they/won't-they tensions, funny dialogue, behind-the-scenes televised moments, and loooooooove.

I loved The Soulmate Equation from the writing team known as Christina Lauren. That book introduced the fantastic best-friend character of Felicity "Fizzy" Chen. The True Love Experiment is Fizzy's story.

Fizzy is a straight talker, a sex-positive woman, and a successful romance writer, but she's never been in love, only in lust. Now she's beginning to feel like she's been selling her readers a lie.

Connor Prince (his last name is Prince!) is a single dad and documentary filmmaker slated by his boss to create a reality TV program about finding love. He's completely out of his comfort zone and the pressure is on--but when he meets Fizzy, he just knows he's found the perfect star for the show.

The True Love Experiment is an irresistible exploration of a spark of feelings, impossible difficulties, terrifying vulnerability, and hard-won joy.

The issues keeping the two love interests apart felt powerful and heartbreaking and offered tantalizing tension to the story. The happy ending made me tear up and also made me want to cheer.

I loved this. For my full review, check out The True Love Experiment.


 

06 Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood

Ali Hazelwood's light fiction novel is wonderfully immersed in science, offering a forbidden relationship and an enemies-to-lovers dynamic, plus lots of steamy scenes.

Elsie Hannaway is an adjunct physics professor, but her dream is to dedicate herself to a career in research.

To help pay the bills, Elsie is a paid escort (who does not have sex with her clients, as she keeps explaining to certain men). She's fake-dating a nice man in order to keep his family off of his back.

Now Elsie has the interview of a lifetime, at MIT. But a series of coincidences and misunderstandings lead to her being unaware that the head physicist on site...is her fake boyfriend's brother.

I loved the significant science element here, the jargon, the exploration of academic politics, and the passion for research and discovery.

I was frustrated by Elsie's lack of assertiveness, although I recognized that it was set up in order to have her ultimately find her own opinions and set her course.

I found the family dynamic related to her mother's demands of Elsie absurd. The situation with her twin brothers felt slapstick and silly to me.

The steamy scenes, the twisty route to the relationship, the career shifts, and the science focus were all winners for me. I'd like to read more by Ali Hazelwood. For my full review of this book, check out Love, Theoretically.

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