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. (Stay tuned for another list to come of six more favorites!)
For more Bossy lighter fiction favorites, you might want to check out the books on these Greedy Reading Lists:
If you've read any of the books mentioned here, I'd love to hear what you think!
What are some of your favorite lighter fiction reads, from the past year or from this one so far?
01 Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez
Jimenez's rom-com frequently had me laughing, made me tear up a little, and kept me hooked on the fake-dating, will-they-won't-they tension while also digging into some deep themes.
Briana Ortiz's divorce from her cheater husband is about to be finalized, her brother Benny's health is failing, and she's living in her childhood home, complete with its original flowered couches and shabby carpet.
At least she can pour energy into her work. She's busy as an ER doctor and is poised to become the next Chief.
But when a new doctor relocates to the hospital, Bri's promotion is in jeopardy. She's set to detest this interloper--but then he sends her a letter that changes everything.
It's not unusual for me to feel frustrated by a drawn-out will-they/won't-they tension, or by a fake-dating setup between two characters who should obviously be together. But this novel had me eating out of Jimenez's hand.
The banter between Bri and Jacob is funny and adorable, their attraction is sometimes steamy, the supporting characters are all wonderfully wrought, and I loved tracing Bri and Jacob's emotional self-discovery as they moved toward a hard-fought resolution to the issues initially stopping them from being together.
Jimenez also digs into deep themes here: anxiety disorders, trauma, miscarriage, divorce, financial struggles, and more.
02 This Time It's Real by Ann Liang
I was hooked by Liang's fake-dating, famous-everyday relationship duo setup, fantastically funny dialogue, and wonderfully imperfect characters with their hard-fought vulnerability and heartbreaking missteps. I devoured this in a rainy afternoon.
In Ann Liang's young adult rom-com This Time It's Real, when seventeen-year-old Eliza's class essay about young love goes viral, it leads to the offer of a competitive internship and soaring popularity at her new school. She should be on cloud nine.
The only problem is, she made it all up. She's never been in love. But the whirlwind around her pretend relationship is taking on a life of its own.
So Eliza makes a desperate deal with a famous actor in her class: if he plays the role of her fake boyfriend at school, she'll help him write his college applications. He's already seen how convincing her writing can be, after all--she's got everyone fooled.
When the line between acting and reality becomes blurred, will Eliza's grand plans end up in her own heartbreak?
I love a fake-dating premise and a famous-everyday dating premise, and here they are combined. Ann Liang's funny dialogue, characters' various interpersonal challenges and victories, and messy family dynamics had me swooning.
Yes to all of this!
For my full review, please check out This Time It's Real.
This Time It's Real was one of my Favorite Bossy Reads of the Summer last year.
03 The Seven-Year Slip by Ashley Poston
I loved the aunt-niece bond, the peeks into the NYC worlds of publishing and restaurants, and the playing with time. I was irritated by the cutesy life quotes put forth by Clementine's aunt and some elements I found convenient but unrealistic.
Ashley Poston's newest romantic fiction is centered around Clementine, a harried book publicist who falls in love with her temporary roommate...then discovers he's living seven years in the past.
I love when stories play with time (see my multiple favorites lists below), and I loved that the relationship between Clementine and her aunt is said to have been special and strong, and that it is clearly formative in Clementine's life. I loved that The Seven Year Slip was about the publishing world and also the restaurant world, and how much NYC life was showcased and celebrated.
A small issue that was key to the plot: there seems to be a lack of Googling on Iwan’s part that was convenient to the story but perplexing to me.
Ashley Poston is also the author of The Dead Romantics.
Several of my Greedy Reading Lists highlight some of my very favorite books that twist time: Six Riveting Time-Travel Stories to Explore, Six More Riveting Time-Travel Stories to Explore, and Six Second-Chance, Do-Over, Reliving-Life Stories.
Click here for my full review of The Seven-Year Slip.
04 Woke Up Like This by Amy Lea
I loved the premise of a teen who wakes up as a thirty-year-old, engaged to her high school nemesis. Some of the small moments didn't feel real to me, and the story felt like it was young adult--which I love but wasn't expecting here. A fun read.
Charlotte Wu is a super organized overachiever, and planning the perfect prom is the final item on her high school to-do list. But decorating disasters threaten to undo her plan when she falls off a ladder and crashes into her nemesis, J. T. Renner.
When Charlotte wakes up, she finds that more has gone awry than the streamers in the gym. Unless she's hallucinating or dreaming, she's thirty years old. Living in a grown-up's house, holding down a job, having an adult life.
And the bearded fiance sleeping next to her...is J. T. Renner.
This premise is a slam-dunk for me. I looove a book that plays with time.
I may have seen the mistaken-premise setup coming, and the friend betrayal, and the rough lines of the resolution to come, but I loved the bookending of the time capsule and letters to their future selves, the second-chance element, and the love. Woke Up Like This is a fun read.
For my full review, check out Woke Up Like This.
05 Charm City Rocks: A Love Story by Matthew Norman
Charm City Rocks is sweet, interesting, and layered. I loved this story about relationships, complications, famous/everyday person romance, and a love of music that binds.
Billy Perkins is a music teacher living above a record store in Baltimore called Charm City Rocks with his beloved teen son Caleb. He's content co-parenting with his ex-partner Robyn, who is remarried.
Margot Hammer, on the other hand, is miserable. The former drummer of the popular band Burnt Flowers is, decades later, a recluse living in New York City.
When a documentary shines a light on Margot again, Billy's longtime crush on the musician is renewed. Caleb cooks up a scheme to get Margot to perform at Charm City Rocks so his dad, who Caleb thinks is lonely, can finally meet Margot and, if all goes as planned, hopefully forge a connection.
The everyday-person/famous-person love is a favorite trope of mine, and Norman adds emotional complexities to each of the main characters' situations so that their ups and downs feel appealingly realistic.
I was in love with Charm City Rocks. This is a perfect light-fiction read that's fun and funny, but never silly.
If this book sounds intriguing, you might also be interested in the books on my Greedy Reading List, Six Rockin' Stories about Bands and Music.
Please click here for my full review of Charm City Rocks.
06 Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune
Summertime is the backdrop to Fortune's Meet Me at the Lake, light fiction with an anchor in deeper issues, some steamy scenes, conflicting feelings surrounding coming home again, shifting dreams, and a satisfyingly layered resolution.
Thirty-two-year-old Fern Brookbanks has pinned most of her romantic dreams on Will Baxter--despite the fact that they spent only 24 hours together in their twenties.
A chance encounter blossomed into a glorious connection and a pact to meet up one year later at her family resort...but while Fern showed up to their romantic meet-up, Will did not.
Fern has moved on. Now she's coping with a tragedy--and guess who shows up to meet Fern, nine years late?
Within the book's summertime setting Fortune explores heavy issues related to mental illness, sudden death, unplanned pregnancy, substance abuse--and also the complicated joy of having friends like family, facing responsibility and challenge, and acknowledging when long-held dreams have changed.
The banter is fun, there are some steamy scenes, and I believed in the relationship and its ups and downs.