Books about love to dive into head first this Valentine's Day

Whether you're lucky in love, letting love happen naturally or aromantic, one thing's for sure, we still love a romance.

Although bookshops across the UK were shut for over three months at the start of 2021, fiction was up 20% compared with 2019, partly driven by a 49% increase in romance. Wow, we certainly took to romantic fiction in our droves.

With Valentine's Day coming up, a day that is celebrated by millions of us each year, whether you have a love interest or not, we have some brilliant romantic reads here for you to cosy up with. 

We’ve chosen some stunning relationship tales to sit beautifully beside the heartfelt romance and fantastic reads where love looms large. So light some candles, grab a box of your favourite chocs and get comfy. There's something here for everyone.

Whether you love historical romance that takes you back to days of yesteryear, you love to binge a romcom or you adore a beautiful love story, there are plenty of book recommendations here to sate you.

Romance is a diverse and expansive genre with household names like Mills & Boon delivering breezy, modern escapist romances alongside lively historical novels. There's so much more to explore in this genre than the types of books you may have seen next to your mum's bed including a dip into the paranormal and YA feminist reinventions of a fairy tale classic.

If you love a romance, let us know which books you think deserve to sit on this list. 

The Kiss Quotient

The Kiss Quotient

Author: Helen Hoang Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/07/2018

 A steaming hot and beautifully tender love story, with an added element to appreciate and connect to. Stella Lane is a successful business woman in San Francisco, she has Asperger syndrome and has never had a relationship. Determined to learn how to be a good girlfriend with all that entails, Stella hires Michael a male escort, and the more time they spend together the closer they become. In 2016 the author was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (Asperger syndrome), and felt inspired to write ‘The Kiss Quotient’. Helen Hoang releases short sharp bursts of words and feelings, then allows them to settle, encouraging the storyline to build. Asperger syndrome is very much a part of this book, however it isn’t the sum of it, the connection between two people takes centre stage, with all that they have to discover about each other. ‘The Kiss Quotient’ is an intoxicating tale, it wraps itself around thoughts and releases stings of awareness, creating a feast of a read.

eBooks of the Month
Beautiful World, Where Are You

Beautiful World, Where Are You

Author: Sally Rooney Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/09/2021

One of literature’s brightest talents and most talked about authors of her generation, Sally Rooney follows up 2018 Waterstones Book of the Year and Costa Novel Award Winner Normal People with another sure-fire award winner. Once you get past the fact that Sally Rooney isn’t a lover of conventional punctuation (there are no speech marks in her work), you sink into this beautiful novel following the life and love, the trials and tribulations of four young Irish friends. Yet again you are gripped from the first page with her searingly honest observational prose and dialogue. Both first books Normal People and Conversations with Friends featured characters in late adolescence and early adulthood struggling through first relationships whilst starting to find their way in the world. Just four years after her debut, this is another twenty-first-century love story of sexual entanglements and love lives of two best friends on the eve of their thirties. Alice, a successful novelist who has moved to the Irish countryside following a breakdown meets Felix a warehouse worker with a troubled past, via Tinder. Her best friend Eileen is in Dublin, working for a literary magazine, working through a painful break up and still battling with the on-off “friends with benefits” relationship between her and one of their oldest friends Simon. Her compelling writing just grabs you and her way of investigating the complexity of relationships and dynamics is just so incisive. Whilst you feel they are “ordinary”, “normal” people, the beautiful dialogue is interspersed with long narratives on email between Eileen and Alice. So cleverly done, rhetorical and didactic and it really serves to getting you thinking about the current state of our social fabric, of society, our global challenges, day to day political helplessness and environmental collapse. And it gets you to thinking: beautiful world, where are you? Beautiful? Yes. Serious? Definitely. I loved it. Barriers and all. Magnum opus. Without a doubt.

Star Books
PS, I Love You

PS, I Love You

Author: Cecelia Ahern Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/06/2007

Cecelia Ahern’s debut novel propelled her in to the public eye and quite rightly so. This is a good romantic comedy with plenty of weepy bits, so get the tissues out and indulge in some harmless romantic fun. Easy to see why Hollywood picked it up and made it a summer blockbuster film. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Flatshare

The Flatshare

Author: Beth O'Leary Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/02/2020

A refreshingly different, sparkling romantic comedy with real depth and heart. Tiffy and Leon agree to share his flat, which has just the one bedroom. They’ve never met or want to meet, he works nights and stays away at the weekend and she works days, what could go wrong? I absolutely adore this premise, it feels as though it shouldn’t work, but oh, it so does! I settled in straight away, with chapters either headed by Tiffy or Leon. They are both wonderful characters, and I felt as though I really got to know them, the more I read, the closer friends we became. The surrounding cast are fabulous and add real flavour. There are some darker and disquieting aspects to explore, which are handled with sensitivity and empathy by Beth O’Leary, while the humour dances feather-light across the page. The Flatshare is an original romantic comedy debut that made my heart smile. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Postscript

Postscript

Author: Cecelia Ahern Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/10/2020

Huge, in fact, huger than huge klaxon alert as Cecelia Ahern has written a sequel to her truly wonderful debut, P.S. I Love You. It’s been seven years since Gerry died, and after Holly talks about his letters in a podcast, a group approaches her asking for help. I adore Cecelia Ahern’s writing, it just speaks to, and connects with my entire being. Confession time, I didn’t write any notes as I read, I just read for the pure pleasure of it. Which in itself, really makes a statement doesn’t it? Holly is honest, and entirely human as she initially tries to distance herself from the group. This is an older Holly, an altered Holly, she has moved on while Gerry and the letters have remained anchored in time. The other characters are absolutely fascinating, I grew to care about the group members and fell completely in love with Ginika. After reaching the end I found myself reflecting, the writing not only entered my heart, it also still sits in my thoughts. Postscript is just as brilliant, just as emotional, just as gorgeous, as P.S., and while linking so effectively to the past, grows into a truly beautiful novel in its own unique right. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Audiobooks of the Month
Three's A Crowd

Three's A Crowd

Author: Simon Booker Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/08/2021

A thoroughly modern, wonderfully readable and clever romantic comedy that acts as a perfect pick-me-up. Tom, Dick, and Harry (well actually it’s Tom, Richard, and Harriet but who could resist!) find themselves in the most awkward of situations when they start dating. Estranged father and son Tom and Richard don’t share the same surname and when Harriet decides to date them both, by the time they realise, love has already worked its magic. I was hooked from the very first sentence, an entertaining web is woven as each distinct voice tells their own side of the story. The age range of characters is handled beautifully and there are a few knotty intrigues to unravel along the way. Simon Brooker writes with a truly witty pen, I smiled, laughed, and even exclaimed out loud. There are also sweet notes, canny moments, and a penetrating blast of reality. I genuinely had no idea where this diverting tale was going and I just want to applaud the ending, for me it was perfectly placed. Three’s A Crowd is a romantic comedy with bite, it’s a glorious blend of sweet and sharp, and sits very nicely in our LoveReading Star Books and as a Liz Pick of the Month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
My One True North

My One True North

Author: Milly Johnson Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/07/2020

A delightfully readable, emotional, warm and witty relationship tale. This is Milly Johnson’s 17th novel, and I still look forward to them, each feels fresh, different, and I just know I will have a lovely reading experience. Friendships form and love whispers hello at a counselling group, will it be recognised or even welcomed? If you haven’t read any of her books before, just be aware that there are plenty of emotional subjects to discover along the way, you just have to read the book synopsis here to know that! The prologue sent a shiver coursing through me, grief has kept company with many of the characters. Milly Johnson approaches the more difficult side of life with true compassion. Here, there are also some wickedly funny excerpts from the local paper which balance the story beautifully. Although your heart may well ache during, the overall feeling that I was left with after, was that I had just been given the hugest, squashiest hug. My One True North is a truly lovely read, and after I had turned the final page was left feeling fully satisfied and contented. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
Ellie and the Harpmaker

Ellie and the Harpmaker

Author: Hazel Prior Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/02/2020

An absolutely delightful story ready and waiting to wrap you up in a delicious blanket of warming feel-good. Ellie thinks she is happy, assumes she is happy, but a present from a harp-making stranger heralds change. Oh I did enjoy this story, told in alternate chapters by Ellie and Dan, I settled myself into a comfy spot and stayed there until I had finished. Dan introduces himself in the most simple and beautiful way, he is able to see through clutter to the heart of things and I have to admit to rather falling in love with him. Hazel Prior doesn’t spell things out for you, instead I felt that I was able to explore and encouraged to contemplate. The descriptions of Exmoor, nature, and colour are particularly special, and I now find myself taking the time to look properly, to really see, to feel, to smile. Ellie and the Harp Maker is truly lovely and rather special, if you feel like a hug, then read this book! 

Debut Books of the Month
The Notebook

The Notebook

Author: Nicholas Sparks Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/11/2007

Celebrating 25 years of The Notebook - the classic novel which became the heart-wrenching film.  Once again, just as I do every day, I begin to read the notebook aloud... Noah Calhoun has returned from war and, in an attempt to escape the ghosts of battle, he sets his mind and his body to restoring an old plantation home to its former beauty. But he is haunted by memories of the beautiful girl he met there years before. A girl who stole his heart at the funfair, whose parents didn't approve, a girl he wrote to every day for a year. When Allie Hamilton shows up on his doorstep, exactly as he has held her in his memory for all these years, Noah has one last chance to win her back. Only this time, it's not just her parents in the way - Allie is engaged and she's not a woman to go back on her promises. The Notebook is the love story to end all love stories - it will break your heart, heal it back up and break it all over again.

In the Time We Lost

In the Time We Lost

Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/10/2020

An enticing relationship tale with a difference, and just a touch of magic! After several decidedly difficult years the fabulously named Luna Lark travels to a remote Scottish island to make a fresh start. I must confess (and I’m really very sorry) that I hadn’t read any of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s books before. I initially wondered whether this would be a sugary sweet confection, but there is so so much more on offer here. I don’t want to tell you too much, as it will spoil the story, so I’ll just say to keep a close eye on the chapter headings! As I stepped inside the pages, as I realised what was happening, I gripped the book more tightly and got carried away by the story. Oh, and by the way, I simply adored the ending, it is rather special! A wonderfully easy book to read, In The Time We Lost touches love, kisses magic, and serves up an appealing and wonderfully engaging tale.

Books of the Month
Open Water

Open Water

Author: Caleb Azumah Nelson Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/02/2021

Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists - he a photographer, she a dancer - trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence. At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it. With gorgeous, soulful intensity, Caleb Azumah Nelson has written the most essential British debut of recent years.

The Book of Love

The Book of Love

Author: Fionnuala Kearney Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/02/2019

The normal, the extraordinary, the highest ups and very deepest downs, this absolutely gorgeous book is about life, in all of its wonderful, charming, heartbreaking glory. I’m very conscious about the fact that I will probably gush with enthusiasm because I quite simply adored it, sorry (not sorry), you’ll just have to go with me on this one. Erin and Dom marry in 1996, and her father gives them an empty book, a book to write what can not be said, an opportunity to create honesty, love, commitment, and so we are introduced to The Book of Love. Little excerpts from the book start each chapter, we hear from either Erin or Dom as we view their life, travelling in time from now which is 2017, and then, which starts in 1996 and travels forward to meet now. I will warn you that I whimpered and cried, I also smiled, laughed, and felt the joy of this couple, but there are points when I really really cried. Fionnuala Kearney allows you to get to know Erin and Dom without judgement getting in the way, she writes with huge compassion and brings their story to vibrant life, this is glorious writing, just glorious. I gobbled up the words, which join together to create a simple, touchable, beautiful tale. The Book of Love is one of my picks of the month, yes, yes, I loved it! Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Star Books
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Author: Balli Kaur Jaswal Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/09/2017

An enchanting story with real strength, oodles of charm, warmth and laughter. When Nikki starts a teaching job at a temple, she discovers a class of widows full of earthy tales. Her unauthorised story time with the women brings unwanted attention and danger into their lives. Balli Kaur Jaswal writes with a beautiful balance, humour walks alongside menace, while challenging preconceived ideas. I felt as though a door was opened, allowing more than a glimpse into the lives of these Punajbi women. I met them, grew to love them, laughed, celebrated, cried with them. The eye-opening colour and wit of the stories within the story highlight the fear and resignation they feel. With a real sense of community, yet not shying away from darker and more sinister topics, I flew through this novel on rollercoaster rails of emotion. ‘Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows’ is a fiercely alive and resilient tale with real heart and passion, I adored it.

eBooks of the Month
Ghosts

Ghosts

Author: Dolly Alderton Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/07/2021

Nina George Dean on the surface has it all. Fantastic friends, a new home all of her own, a successful career as a food writer and a loving family. Saying that, her thirties thus far haven't been all they were cracked up to be...and so she decides to dive into online dating. This is a funny observational debut novel by Dolly Alderton, a voice we recognise from her best-selling memoir Everything I Know About Love and her podcast The High Low. But it's fresh, it's so relatable, so real. We've all been through it or know someone who has - and because of that it's so heartfelt and sad and tender and true. But funny; I chuckled, laughed and nodded along on every step of Nina's journey. And it's not an easy journey as love interest Max isn't quite what she hoped he'd be with his good looks and prepackaged charm and we hope she doesn't fall hard when after two hours she "wants to touch his face which looked like it belonged to a Viking warrior". Her doting dad shows more and more signs of dementia, and her friendships drift as friends become consumed with kids, love and moving out to the 'burbs. Whatever decade you're in, this will serve as a witty warning, a reeling realisation or a magnificent memory and I can't recommend it enough. 

Star Books
Again, Rachel

Again, Rachel

Author: Marian Keyes Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/02/2022

If you met Rachel in the 90s, you’ll remember she was an absolute mess. In Keyes’ 1998 book Rachel’s Holiday, Rachel Walsh had such a fondness for recreational drugs that her family had forked out the cash for a spell in Cloisters - Dublin's answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She’s come a long way since then…rehab sorted her out. She even enjoys gardening now, who’d have ever thought it? Everything looks hunky dory until the reappearance of an old flame makes her question everything. In this much anticipated sequel the wonderful Marian Keyes does it again as Rachel bursts back into our lives in this heart-warming sequel. Tackling complex issues in the way only Marian Keys can, it’s charming, it’s joyful, it’s funny, it’s poignant and I loved it. Welcome back Rachel…and thank you Marian!

eBooks of the Month
The Lion Tamer Who Lost

The Lion Tamer Who Lost

Author: Louise Beech Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/09/2018

An absolute wow of a relationship tale, gloriously beautiful yet it may well have broken my heart. Ben travels to Africa and volunteers at a lion reserve, as we remain with him in the present, we also look back to his past, where he meets Andrew, who keeps a Wish Box. When Louise writes it feels touchable, even if I have not experienced the emotions she describes I can feel them deep inside me. I remained in every moment, moving with the words, the feelings, knowing I was heading into unchartered territory, yet unable to pause, to stop reading. Another story heads each chapter, linking Ben and Andrew, yet creating a separate connection. As I neared the ending, I will admit to sobbing, the story hit me low in my stomach, unexpected, yet as true and real and felt as could be. Louise Beech has done it again, this will most definitely be on my list of favourite reads of the year. The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a relationship tale with a difference, it is tender, gripping, eloquent, and I want to shout about it from the rooftops.

Star Books
Noughts & Crosses

Noughts & Crosses

Author: Malorie Blackman Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/04/2017

Michael Rosen on a compelling favourite: "A book that dared to go where no one thought you could with young audiences because it raises tough stuff to do with race."  It takes a brave author such as Malorie Blackman to consider a sequence of the like of Noughts and Crosses and to pull it off with utmost aplomb. Award-winning author Blackman has tackled the issues of racism and prejudice in a world set in an alternate historical reality. Although 11 year olds will take great joy and learn much from reading this first one in the sequence, adults will devour it with equal enthusiasm. The contrast of the two main protagonists makes the novel totally compelling and the writing style is both original and superbly paced. The plot unravels at the pace of a thriller and as a consequence it’s a book that is almost impossible to put down. Perfect for Reluctant Readers as well as keen readers.  To view other titles we think are suitable for reluctant readers please click here. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers. The Noughts and Crosses Series: 1. Noughts and Crosses 2. Knife Edge 3. Checkmate 4. Double Cross 5. Crossfire 6. Endgame Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.

eBooks of the Month
The Other Half of Augusta Hope

The Other Half of Augusta Hope

Author: Joanna Glen Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/12/2019

A different, emotionally beautiful and rewarding debut about love, hope, and all the strange little things that come together to make up a family. Augusta and Parfait, born on different continents into different worlds, both want to leave everything behind but does that ever solve anything? What a first sentence! Those few words stayed with me throughout the entire book, sitting, waiting, every now and then tapping me on the shoulder to say hello. I so love how this story unfolds, two separate tales, are they on a collision course or destined to remain forever apart? Joanna Glen has set intricate strands from the past coiling and twisting together through to the present to create a feeling of tension and mystery. While undeniably and wonderfully quirky, there is a real sense of warmth here, even when your heart may feel as though it is about to crack in two. As I read I found myself filling up with love for The Other Half of Augusta Hope. It has been chosen as a Debut of the Month and a LoveReading Star Book too, as it really is that gorgeous! Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Star Books
One Day

One Day

Author: David Nicholls Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/02/2010

  Winner of the Galaxy Book of the Year 2010.       Now a film starring Anne Hathaway as Emma and Jim Sturgess as Dexter.   Two people meet on the last day of university and forge a friendship which the reader follows on the same day of the year, every year, for the next twenty years. Emma and Dexter are so believable, so simply and eloquently drawn that you will take them to your heart. You will laugh and you will cry and if you don’t you are a hard, hard person!! Absolutely brilliant!   You can now vote for the overall Galaxy Book of the Year 2010 - click here to find out how and cast your vote.  

eBooks of the Month
The Duke and I

The Duke and I

Author: Julia Quinn Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/06/2006

This is the first in a delightful series where each book tells the tale of how each of the eight children of the Bridgerton family find love.  Jane Austen meets Bridget Jones in this charming Regency-set romantic comedy.A new series is due this summer so we wanted to remind you about an author who is perfect for summer reading.

eBooks of the Month
So Lucky

So Lucky

Author: Dawn O'Porter Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/10/2019

IS ANYONE'S LIFE . . . Beth shows that women really can have it all. Ruby lives life by her own rules. And then there's Lauren, living the dream. AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS? Beth hasn't had sex in a year. Ruby feels like she's failing. Lauren's happiness is fake news. And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out... The bold and brilliant new novel from Dawn O'Porter, the bestselling author of The Cows.

Normal People

Normal People

Author: Sally Rooney Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/05/2019

A beautiful albeit painful story of the 4 year on-off relationship between two Irish teenagers. You feel the highs and the lows, the awkwardness yet exquisite nature of first love as well as the agony. Oh, the agony. Marianne is a loner at school, proud, intense, very clever, from a household without love or attention. Callum is charming, sporty, popular and intelligent. An unlikely match made even less likely by Callum’s mother being Marianne’s housekeeper but they have chemistry and a connection they can’t deny. Their relationship begins in secret adding to the challenges and feelings of worthlessness, so when you add in lashings of self doubt from both sides, you can see how the rollercoaster builds. All the memories of our formative years flash back as we become engrossed in their story. Just two normal people who fall in love. As the chapters alternate between our star-crossed lovers you will them together, you implore them to make it work. Always so far and yet so close. So close and yet so far. As their journey continues at Trinity College, Marianne blossoms and Callum shrinks into the background, losing his way, now the outsider feeling so out of place away from home. As they drift in and out of each other’s lives you are so emotionally invested in this oh so real love story. Bravo to Sally Rooney for her stunning narrative and writing which elevates this to another level. Be prepared to be heartbroken, just like the first time.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Black Flamingo

The Black Flamingo

Author: Dean Atta Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/08/2019

Uplifting and dazzlingly unique, this coming-of-age treasure explores identity and sexuality with an emboldening message to remember that “you have the right to be you”. As a young Barbie-loving boy, mixed race Michael wonders if he’s “only half” of everything, to which his mother poignantly replies: “Don’t let anyone tell you/that you are half-black/and half-white. Half-Cypriot/ and half-Jamaican./ You are a full human being.” But he doesn’t feel like a whole human being. Dubbed a “queerdo and weirdo” by bullies and subjected to “batty bwoy” taunts through his teenage years, he leaves London for Brighton University with hope in his heart. But even here Michael feels “like Goldilocks; trying to find a group of people/the perfect fit for me”. He doesn’t feel black enough for the Caribbean Society, or Greek enough for Hellenic Society, or queer enough for the LBGT Society. Then Michael finally finds a fit at Drag Society where he becomes The Black Flamingo, “someone fabulous, wild and strong. With or without a costume on.” Michael’s journey is complex, moving and told with a raw vitality that makes the soul soar and the heart sing, with Anshika Khullar’s magnificent illustrations and the smart design adding further depth, prompting the reader to pause for thought as his story requires.

The Heart Principle

The Heart Principle

Author: Helen Hoang Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

It takes a certain skill to make a novel that’s part of a series feel like a standalone, while also pleasing loyal fans. It’s what Helen Hoang, with her latest release, has managed to pull off – and in style. At the start of The Heart Principle, we are thrown into the life of Anna. She’s a young violinist who’s found fame online. It quickly transpires, though, that she has a few problems on her talented hands. First there’s the professional one about anxiety around performing. And another: her boyfriend wants to sleep with other women. (To, you know, make sure she’s really the one, of course.) Understandably, this throws Anna into a state of chaos – and eventually into the arms of Quan.  Pearl clutchers, best not to read much further. This book has all the hallmarks of a contemporary romance, plus the deleted bedroom scenes. It’s steamy, very steamy. Yet it’s incredibly tender, emotive and revealing too. Hoang doesn’t hold back on subjects other writers may shy away from, and she explores sensitive issues with a boldness that’s hard not to admire. The Heart Principle introduces newbies to her work (like me) to her confident and gutsy storytelling, and to characters you’ll want to revisit again. 

eBooks of the Month
It Takes Two

It Takes Two

Author: Natalie Cox Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/10/2021

Offering a huge burst of escapism this romantic comedy from the winner of the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2019 skates along with attitude. When Clem’s identity is stolen she is determined to foil the thief, along the way with her life thrown up in the air, Clem discovers friendship and romance in unexpected places. The synopsis describes Clem’s adventure as a: “madcap quest”, which perfectly expresses how I felt about this reading journey. 30 year old Clem is an irrepressible, unstoppable, somewhat rebellious woman and at times I sat open-mouthed as she charged into danger. Natalie Cox (a pseudonym) co-owns a bookshop in London and has two Great Danes, which sounds like a perfect combination to me! A large dog called Charlie Bucket rather steals the show in It Takes Two, and several friendships bloom into being while romance flirts along. Friendship (which comes in many guises) was for me a really successful part of this entertaining novel. Incredibly easy to fall into and read, It Takes Two is a bouncy, occasionally bonkers, fun-filled romantic comedy with gumption. 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Hana Khan Carries on

Hana Khan Carries on

Author: Uzma Jalaluddin Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/06/2021

Wearing its warm heart and uplifting messages on its sleeve, Uzma Jalaluddin’s Hana Khan Carries On is a highly readable romance about staying true to your principles - even when that means risking your future. Riffing on You’ve Got Mail, and exuding the same feel-good vibe of forging a positive path through hardship as the author’s debut, Ayesha at Last, this is a cute and charismatic read with a powerful portrayal of a community rallying round to stand up to racists. Twenty-four-year-old Hana Khan is a Toronto-born, South Asian Muslim who interns at a radio station, helps out in her family’s dwindling restaurant on the Golden Crescent and hosts a podcast “to ask questions, without worrying who might be listening and judging”. Through her podcast Hana strikes up an adorable anonymous friendship with one of her listeners, to whom she turns for advice about her worries, particularity those around her family’s restaurant when a flashy competitor rocks up and threatens to put them out of business. While Hana’s family is at the heart of her life, she’s chosen to follow her own path, not unlike her charismatic aunt, “a woman ahead of her time” who “hadn’t been afraid to make bold decisions and carry them out.” Evoking her aunt’s spirit comes to the fore when Hana’s put in an impossible situation at her radio station - an exciting opportunity to work on a show with a fellow intern sours when they’re pushed into “perpetuating harmful stereotypes about Brown people and Muslims”. To handle this, Hana must heed her aunt’s advice: “Find your principles and see your story through to the end, no matter what.” Alongside worries about work and the restaurant, Hana is attacked by racists before a baseball game, and then comes a hate-fuelled attack on the Golden Crescent. Throughout, the sense of unity and generosity in her community is a joy - it serves as such a wonderful support network. Hana is persistent, tenacious and, as the title states, “carries on” to forge a bright future - on her own terms, according to her principles, with an unexpected someone at her side. Fun and thought-provoking, this serves up a sweet slice of romance with a side of real-life grit.

Books of the Month
Red, White and Royal Blue

Red, White and Royal Blue

Author: Casey McQuiston Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/04/2022

What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales? When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius-his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse. Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston's Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn't always diplomatic.  

An Act of Love

An Act of Love

Author: Carol Drinkwater Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

A dramatic and enthralling relationship tale that captures emotion and takes you on a journey through the Second World War. When Sara and her parents flee their homeland taking refuge in the French Alps, the full impact of the Nazi oppression edges ever closer. Inspired by her visit to a small museum in the Lower Alps Carol Drinkwater has created the most captivating story of young love, and the courage needed to face the most devastating of times. She has the ability to focus on the things that make us human, to create a link that alters the focus from watching, to actually feeling the events that take place. A balance is created between the intimate moments of relationships and how they sit within the wider fields of battle during the horror of war. This is ultimately as much a story about Sara’s own relationship with, and understanding of herself as it is with the man she falls in love with. The ending came with beautiful words and tears welling up in my eyes, I just had to include this as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month. An Act of Love will encourage emotions to dip and soar as it gives hope even in the darkness. The LoveReading LitFest invited Carol to the festival to talk about An Act of Love. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival. What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member. 

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Author: Abbi Waxman Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/07/2019

Abbi Waxman’s The Bookish Life of Nina Hill will raise many smiles as it follows twenty-nine-year-old Nina’s journey from self-contained bookworm to open book (pun entirely intended). LA resident Nina is perfectly happy with her life, thank you very much. She loves working in a bookstore, loves her cat Phil, loves excelling at quiz nights and loves how organised her life is. Yet “she had a niggling suspicion she was underperforming in some way. Surely her purpose in life wasn’t simply to read as many books as possible?” And she’s also aware that “the trivia, the reading, the book club... they were simply weapons of self-defense.” These niggles escalate when Nina’s regimentally planned life is disrupted by falling for a member of an opposition quiz team, and discovering a huge new family when the father she never knew passes away and leaves her something in his will. Suddenly – horrors of horrors! – Nina is forced to interact with a whole bunch of strangers, but to her surprise she discovers she actually likes spending time with other people, and that maybe – just maybe – she does have space in her life for a significant other.  Truly a treat for bibliophiles who’ll nod knowingly at Nina’s devotion to reading, her complex home library cataloguing system, her observation that “coming out of a book was always painful”, this is also excellent on female camaraderie, anxiety and the complexities of family bonds. Awash with whimsy and peppered with amusing asides addressed to the reader, this is romantic fiction at its feel-good, funny, outlandish best. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

The Shelf

The Shelf

Author: Helly Acton Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2021

Plenty of people (myself most definitely included) have been swept away by the pressures and expectations to work towards big life milestones: getting that promotion, finding a relationship, hearing those wedding bells and welcoming a bundle of joy into the world. This is how we are introduced to Amy, scrolling through the perfect lives she sees on Instagram while waiting for her boyfriend to pop the question. What actually happens lands her not only single in her thirties but a contestant on a gameshow where she must compete with a cast of other women to get off "the shelf" and be crowned as "The Keeper". The Shelf is an anti-Love Island held in the Big Brother house, where the six women, each with their own values and personalities demonstrate that the most important thing in life, love and relationships isn't to "keep C.A.L.M" but to stay true to yourself, your values and you requirements for a relationship.  I loved the dynamics between all of the different women, the differences in their life stories, motivations and plans for the future. The Shelf clearly demonstrates that you don't have to fit any stereoptype to be a strong and independent woman. I laughed and cried with them as they participated in each outrageous task and the absurdity of the (male) production staff and presenters. This is a bright and entertaining plot that still manages to hit on key and thought-provoking points about what it means to be a woman and single, at any age and life stage. I found that the most powerful part of this book is the differences between each of the contestants, and the message comes from each of them undergoing their own journey and revelations: whether you want a more traditional role in your relationship, or to strike out on your own, don't settle for anything that compromises your core requirements for a happy and healthy relationship. A bright, feminist read that will have wide appeal amongst women.

Sing You Home

Sing You Home

Author: Jodi Picoult Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/09/2013

You can't choose who you love ... Number One bestselling author Jodi Picoult's new novel asks what it takes to make a family in today's world.   Click here to see her latest book, Between The Lines, which was written with her teenage daughter, Samantha Van Leer.

eBooks of the Month
Me Before You

Me Before You

Author: Jojo Moyes Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/04/2016

A gifted, high achiever walks out of his flat one morning and gets hit by a taxi. We pick up on him a few years later when he is finding it impossible to accept and adapt to his paraplegic life. Various carers have been and gone - unable to take his anger. Then along comes our protagonist - a girl desperate for work with no idea what she is walking into. This is beautifully written and very powerful. The relationship between the two unfolds with heartfelt poignancy. To tell you more would be a sin, but certainly the ending took me by surprise. A very fine and impressive book tackling a sensitive subject - euthanasia. ~ Sarah Broadhurst The New York Times Number 1 Bestselling Novel is due to be released as a film starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Clafin on Friday 3 June 2016. Click below to view the trailer. Shortlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 'Popular Fiction of the Year' 2012. Click here to see a reading guide for this book. A 'piece of passion' from the publisher... 'When I first read Me Before You I knew it was a very special book. A story that makes you fall in love, makes you sob your heart out and changes your view of the world is a powerful and beautiful story indeed, and that’s exactly why I loved this novel so much. When a book stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it, you know it is a real gem and Jojo Moyes has done it again – to our delight she has given us another precious gem in her new novel The Girl You Left Behind. I have once more fallen in love, sobbed my heart out and looked at the world in a new way. From occupied France during WWI to modern day London, this book swept me away. The Girl You Left Behind is a beautifully written, heartbreaking and utterly stunning novel and I hope you will love it as much as I do.'

eBooks of the Month
A Suitable Boy - Special Limited Edition

A Suitable Boy - Special Limited Edition

Author: Vikram Seth Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/07/2009

Vikram Seth's novel is at its core a love story, the tale of Lata - and her mother's attempts to find her a suitable husband, through love or through exacting maternal appraisal.

Asking for a Friend

Asking for a Friend

Author: Andi Osho Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/02/2021

Asking for a Friend, the debut novel by comedienne Andi Osho, is a funny fictional romp about three close friends who are on very different career trajectories, with very different attitudes to romance and sex. Forty-something talent agent Jemima is doing pretty well for herself and loves the no-strings hook-ups she has with a guy who definitely isn’t her boyfriend. Meanwhile, nervous thirty-something actress Simi is all at sea after just being dumped, while writer Meagan is struggling to write romance into her current novel. As a result, the friends decide to mix things up and try a new approach to dating that should see them date blokes who might good for them, as opposed to always going for the same (wrong) guys. That approach involves abandoning dating apps and instead asking people out in person, but on behalf of a friend, in a hilarious “my friend fancies you” kind of way. It’s lively and light with a strong dose of reality, plus lots of laughs courtesy of some hilarious scenarios and whip-smart one-liners.

Outlander (Cross Stitch)

Outlander (Cross Stitch)

Author: Diana Gabaldon Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/02/2015

Oh what an entertaining series this is, I have read each book as it has been published since the early 1990’s. Cross Stitch is the first in the series and sets the scene for Claire and Jamie’s meeting. This is historical fiction with just the tiniest winiest smidgeon of fantasy as Claire Randall steps through a stone circle in 1945 into the midst of a skirmish in 1743. Diana Gabaldon wields a mighty pen, combining a beautiful relationship story with bloody battles, political shenanigans and a somewhat brutal fight for survival. The Outlander series is now on TV, I highly recommend starting with the books, they are fabulous!  Books in The Outlander Series: 1. Outlander / Cross Stitch 2. Dragonfly in Amber 3. Voyager 4. Drums of Autumn 5. The Fiery Cross 6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes 7. An Echo in the Bone 8. Written in My Own Heart's Blood Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.

eBooks of the Month
Love Your Life

Love Your Life

Author: Sophie Kinsella Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/06/2021

The irresistible new standalone novel from No. 1 bestselling author Sophie Kinsella. I love you . . . but what if I can't love your life? Ava is sick of online dating. She's always trusted her own instincts over an algorithm, anyway, and she wants a break from it all. So when she signs up to a semi-silent, anonymous writing retreat in glorious Italy, love is the last thing on her mind. Until she meets a handsome stranger. . . All she knows is that he's funny, he's kind and - she soon learns - he's great in bed. He's equally smitten, and after a whirlwind, intoxicating affair, they pledge their love without even knowing each other's real names. But when they return home, reality hits. They're both driven mad by each other's weird quirks and annoying habits, from his eccentric, naked-sauna-loving family to her terribly behaved, shirt-shredding dog. As disaster follows disaster, it seems that while they love each other, they just can't love each other's lives. Can they overcome their differences to find one life, together?

If I Never Met You

If I Never Met You

Author: Mhairi McFarlane Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/03/2020

If faking love is this easy... how do you know when it's real? Laurie and Jamie have the perfect office romance (They set the rules via email) Everyone can see they're head over heels (They staged the photos) This must be true love (They're faking it) When Laurie is dumped by her partner of eighteen years, she's blindsided. Not only does she feel humiliated, they still have to work together. So when she gets stuck in the lift with handsome colleague Jamie, they hatch a plan to stage the perfect romance. Revenge will be sweet... But this fauxmance is about to get complicated. You can't break your heart in a fake relationship - can you?

On the Bright Side

On the Bright Side

Author: Nell Carter Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2021

A simply gorgeous and emotional tale about love and all the different forms it can take. Jack and Clare have the chance to learn that leaving love behind can potentially allow it back into your heart. Just one thing to note, while this is a relationship tale, it comes with an edge so be prepared for some thought-provoking themes. The characters in On The Bright Side make mistakes, find themselves on unexpected paths as thoughts alter and grow, and really put my feelings through the wringer! Jack, Clare, and Grace entered so fully into my heart that I truly cared about them, while certain other characters got so far into my head, that they evoked other strong feelings! I love how Nell Carter writes, she has the ability to encourage feelings to falter, fall, and soar, all while expressing herself with beautiful compassion. Plus she has an uncanny ability to get to the heart of what it is to be human. On the Bright Side is a truly lovely novel that I can wholeheartedly recommend as a Liz Pick of the Month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Spirited

Spirited

Author: Julie Cohen Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2021

Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her - and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . . Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them - but Victorian society is no place for reckless women. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight. Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom? Driven by passionate, courageous female characters, SPIRITED is your next unforgettable read! Perfect for fans of other bestselling historical novels The Binding by Bridget Collins, The Familiars by Stacey Halls, and Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield.

Books of the Month
The Coldest Touch

The Coldest Touch

Author: Isabel Sterling Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/12/2021

Billed as a paranormal romance for young adults, a missing person and a murder mystery theme sit centre stage, and actually friendship plays a key part in this novel. Elise can see how everyone she touches will die, the Veil sends vampire Claire to help Elise grow into her powers. Isabel Sterling has created a supernatural world championing LGBTQ characters, and it feels beautifully organic and straightforward, people (or vampires) are who they are. The two main characters narrate their own story ensuring a wider overview of thoughts and feelings. The vampire threat of compulsion is handled thoughtfully as is the theme of consent. Murder, violence, greed, and obviously death are major topics, the romance doesn’t exactly take a back seat, but it feels as though the author has so much to say, that there are times when the plot bubbles with all the different possibilities. I was fascinated by some of the supporting characters and wanted to know more about them. I felt as though there was still more to discover when I reached the end, is this the start to a new series? The Coldest Touch is a readable, engaging story perfect for paranormal loving older teens searching for LGBTQ centred characters.

eBooks of the Month
Cinderella Is Dead

Cinderella Is Dead

Author: Kalynn Bayron Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/08/2020

In this rip-roaringly feminist re-imagining of Cinderella, our justice-seeking heroine, Sophia, seeks a princess rather than a prince, and bodice-ripping is done in the name of shedding the shackles of patriarchy. Giddily entertaining, and spiced with dagger-sharp dialogue and romantic attraction, one message beams bright through Sophia’s story - “do not be silent. Raise your voice. Be a light in the dark.” Though 200 years have passed since Cinderella’s time, a twisted version of her legacy lives on in Lille, where the present-day Prince Charming, King Manford, has decreed that girls must recite the fairy tale daily and, at the age of sixteen, they will be sent to the palace to be chosen by a man at a grand ball. Attending the ball is law, and, in the words of Erin, Sophia’s best friend and lover, “It is our only hope for making some kind of life”, for those not chosen are doomed to an even worse existence than being married off.  As Sophia’s father admits, “I’d rather see you unhappy than imprisoned or killed.” Such is the impossible situation. So, Sophia goes to the ball, still hoping to escape with Erin, still burning with anger that the “founding tenet of our laws is that women, no matter their standing, are at the mercy of the fickle whims of men.”  At the grandiose selection event, girls are put on show for the male suitors, some of them old enough to be Sophia’s grandfather, “but that doesn’t stop them from shamelessly ogling the young girls.” As shocking events unfold here, she flees and finds a sisterly comrade in flame-haired Constance, who also sets her heart alight. As the feminist fugitives go on the run, Constance reveals truths about Cinderella’s real story - a story that was suppressed and twisted into patriarchal propaganda by men in power. And so they embark on a quest to find the White Wood, the last known location of the original fairy godmother, who might just hold the key to further truths that will help Sophia rouse revolution.  What an inventive, entertaining and flamboyantly feminist treat this is.

Debut Books of the Month
Sunny Days and Sea Breezes

Sunny Days and Sea Breezes

Author: Carole Matthews Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/05/2021

A wonderfully warm, bright book to escape into, to give yourself up to and just enjoy. Jodie Jackson leaves everything she knows for a houseboat in the Isle of Wight, she soon finds herself falling for the island and its inhabitants, but London is calling and won’t take no for an answer. I always look forward to reading the latest book by Carole Matthews, they wrap me up and give me a massive loving squeeze. Having said that, this isn’t syrupy sweet, oh no, some real life dilemmas and mistakes sneak in to ensure a feeling of connection, that this could be you, or someone you know. I loved Jodie’s voice and how she talks to the reader, it not only created a bond, I ended up feeling as though I had made a brand new friend. Pure, wonderful escapism, Sunny Days and Sea Breezes really is the most lovely relationship tale and I can thoroughly recommend picking up a copy and just allowing yourself to sink into the pages. We simply adored this book in the office and so it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book as well as a Book of the Month.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Star Books
Christmas for Beginners

Christmas for Beginners

Author: Carole Matthews Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/10/2021

A fabulously perfect festive read that delivers oodles of heartwarming charm. This could easily be read as a standalone novel, but I do recommend starting with Happiness for Beginners as Christmas for Beginners continues the lovely story of Molly and Hope Farm.  When I read the first few sentences: “One of the alpacas has eaten the Baby Jesus. I’m not sure which one. Frankly they all look the picture of innocence, but I know them better.” I knew I was in for a treat of a read. Carole Matthews takes the ‘up’ in uplifting and elevates it to a whole new level. She doesn’t shy away from the aches and pains of real life and it is this that makes her books so relatable. The characters of the farm animals ensure they sit front and centre, often eclipsing their human counterparts. Even here, in the middle of a freezing cold farm yard you can also discover humour, hugs, and merrymaking. Carole Matthews really is the most beautifully consistent writer and we just had to pop this into our LoveReading Star Books category. Christmas for Beginners is an absolute gift of a book and comes as highly recommended by me.

Books of the Month
Sunrise by the Sea

Sunrise by the Sea

Author: Jenny Colgan Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/06/2021

Welcome to the most squishy heart-warming hug of a romance. Marisa finds herself adrift after her grandfather dies, her grief moves with her to Mount Polbearne in Cornwall where she shies away from her neighbour and the welcoming community. Neil the puffin is back, but no need to worry if you’ve not yet joined the Little Beach Street Bakery Series. Jenny Colgan’s books read as perfect standalone titles, though this as an introduction will undoubtedly call you back to read the rest of the series! It is acknowledged that grief is something we all feel differently, Marisa’s feels touchable and relatable, and I positively ached for her. Polly and her wonderful family are as joyful as ever, even with money difficulties. I simply adored getting to know Marisa’s neighbour, and again Jenny Colgan adds real depth to the characters. The storyline, with delicious glimpses of Italy, is a compassionate delight and the ending all that I had hoped for. Uplifting and gorgeous, Sunrise by the Sea is another approachable and heart-soothing read from one of the most wonderfully consistent authors around. 

Books of the Month
The Christmas Bookshop

The Christmas Bookshop

Author: Jenny Colgan Format: Hardback Release Date: 28/10/2021

A simply joyous and magical relationship story to brighten up the darkest of times. Carmen’s sister Sofia comes to her somewhat reluctant rescue when Carmen is made redundant. The Christmas Bookshop goes to the top of my favourite books by Jenny Colgan, she is one of the most consistently fabulous romance writers out there, and if I need a boost I know just where to head. Yes there’s romance, you’ll also find intruiging family relationships and inviting new friendships. When we meet Carmen she’s not at her best, she’s definitely not perfect (who is!), and because she’s multi-dimensional it adds extra layers to this Christmas tale. I particularly loved the cast of characters, even the smallest part has depth, and then of course there is the Bookshop, which is divinely intriguing and welcoming. Edinburgh becomes a winter wonderland, with snow, beautifully decorated shops, and even if you’ve never been, the descriptions ensure a spellbinding sparkle. With a plot that weaves and twists its magical course with charm, The Christmas Bookshop is a truly lovely festive romance, and we’ve added it to our Star Book collection.

Star Books
The Impulse Purchase

The Impulse Purchase

Author: Veronica Henry Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

A friendly and heart-felt embrace awaits in this wonderfully entertaining and rewarding novel. You’ll find a multi-generational story covering tots to great-grandparents and a return to the village of Rushbrook as visited in A Home from Home. This is a standalone novel, but if you follow Veronica Henry there will be some recognisable elements. Cherry, Maggie, and Rose take on a run-down pub in the hope of breathing life back into the heart of the village. Veronica Henry is a firm favourite with the LoveReading team, her feel-good novels have such emotional reach, and it’s always incredibly easy just to sink into their warm and welcoming arms. She’s an author I am always happy to recommend, and this particular tale allows an escape from our current reality. She excels in finding love and joy, and creating a family that you feel a part of. While men feature with some pretty fabulous characters among them, it’s the women who really shine. I felt as though I was stepping into their story, their pub and village. The smaller parts are full of exuberant life too, and alongside the vividly realised location, ensure a well-rounded tale. I needed this story, this uplifting tale in my life, The Impulse Purchase is a little slice of reading heaven. Sitting as a LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month, we can happily recommend this book far and wide.

Books of the Month
A Million Dreams

A Million Dreams

Author: Dani Atkins Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/05/2020

What a gorgeously emotional and heart-warming read this is. Two women linked by an event that occurred eight years ago, find themselves at the centre of storm that could change their worlds forever, both will fight for what they believe in. The first chapter slams with impact. Oh Dani Atkins, you really know how to make me cry! In the very best possible way of course, with a heart full of emotion and feeling and wonder. The words reached inside me, made me ponder, and truly affected me. The characters are so engaging, the ups and downs so accessible. This is a relationship story with real personality, yes there is some anguish along the way, there is also plenty of hope, love, and feel-good too. I chose the hardback as one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month. If you choose to read A Million Dreams, and I really hope you do, I’ll just leave this here… have some tissues close to hand. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
Lives Like Mine

Lives Like Mine

Author: Eva Verde Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

I’m thrilled to introduce you to the most thought-provoking and intoxicating debut novel. Constantly ambushed by prejudiced in-laws and estranged from her own parents, Monica struggles to play happy families. Her loving husband fails to challenge his racist family, however a chance meeting on a school outing brings Joe into her life. The style of writing conjures a conversation, Monica pours out feelings, occasionally fractured but flowing into your own thoughts. Spaces lurk, they caught me unaware, and I stumbled before I settled in and started to feel at home. This novel really spoke to me, it slowly gathered me up, allowing me to get to know Monica at her pace, and she is the most fascinating, flawed, yet beautiful character. I felt as though she was speaking directly to me, trusting me with her honesty. Eva Verde has the most compassionate yet bold writing style, there is a subtlety at play even when the words gang up and get punchy. I flinched, laughed, raged, ached, as emotions hurled and curled themselves around me. I have given Monica a piece of my heart, her authenticity shines, as does this fiery, powerful story. Lives Like Mine, a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, is hand on heart gorgeous and I proclaim it a must-read.

Debut Books of the Month
Just Like You

Just Like You

Author: Nick Hornby Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/04/2021

A beautifully gentle yet pointed, and amusing yet thoughtful, feel-good relationship tale. When head teacher and separated mum of two Lucy, meets butcher, babysitter, and aspiring DJ Joseph, their age gap is just one of the obstacles in their path to finding love. This isn’t an overly sensational or dramatic tale, it’s more subtle than that, though it does cover three years during and after the EU referendum. Don’t groan, as Nick Hornby looks back in the most mindful way possible. Thoughts are provoked and rich pickings are to be found, as lots of little lightbulb moments clicked on as I read. The plot settled in the lightest of dances through some pretty weighty subjects. It’s not shouty, or finger-pointy, a relationship is created within a set of circumstances that allows you to form your own thoughts. I feel Nick Hornby has written the perfect story for anyone suffering from Covid 19 blues. Just Like You is an incredibly uplifting, engaging and stimulating read, and I absolutely loved it.

Books of the Month
Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Author: Sue Lynn Tan Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/01/2022

Hand on heart this is truly beautiful, a delightful mix of ancient myth and modern storytelling creates a spellbinding tale. When Xingyin has to leave her mother and flee her home, she finds herself alone in the Celestial Kingdom attempting to master archery and magic. From the very first page I was held, captivated by the words and story. This is Sue Lynn Tan’s debut fantasy, the first in a duology, and she is most definitely an author I will be keeping an eye out for. She writes with a lyrical, otherworldly energy, yet I immediately felt comfortable and at home in this story. The characters feel touchable and relatable, they also hold a legendary magic through their very being which adds a fascinating vitality. The spirit, the magic, it feels grounded, but oh how it sparkles with intensity! The core of strength and power that runs through the pages, lies in the vulnerabilities that are as much a part of the characters as their life force. I was left feeling fully satisfied and rewarded by this debut, and yet excited and longing for the next. Daughter of the Moon Goddess glows with intoxicating energy and heartfelt emotion. It has been chosen as both a LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Pick of the Month, it’s just gorgeous! 

Audiobooks of the Month
Once Upon A Broken Heart

Once Upon A Broken Heart

Author: Stephanie Garber Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/09/2021

The most deliciously moody, romantic, and enchanting tale awaits. Written for young adults, this is a book that will also quite happily sit on bookshelves belonging to adults too. Evangeline strikes a deal with an immortal Fate in order to stop the wedding of the man she loves and complete her own happily ever after. This particular Fate isn’t to be meddled with, and when Evangeline strikes a bargain, things don’t go according to plan. A new series by the best-selling Stephanie Garber is to be celebrated and there is a crossover from her previous Caravel trilogy (though you don’t need to have already read them). As you can probably tell by the title, there is more than a hint of fairytale contained within the pages, however, this is not the syrupy sweet kind, oh no, darkness plays its part with aplomb. The setting is fabulously enticing, the characters engaging, and the plot beautifully sets up this book as the first in the series. A Liz Pick of the Month, Once Upon A Broken Heart, is a captivating tale, perfect for lovers of romantic fantasy.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Rehearsals

The Rehearsals

Author: Annette Christie Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/07/2021

If you’re looking for a lovely hit of romantic escapism then oooh hello, this could well be the book for you. With a Groundhog Day vibe, this thoroughly modern romance makes engaged couple Megan and Tom relive their day of their rehearsal dinner again and again after they call off their wedding. The Rehearsals is Annette Christie’s debut novel, and what a sparkle of a gem it is. The descriptions ensure the setting of San Juan Island just north of Seattle comes alive and acts as the perfect foil for Megan and Tom to be trapped in a time loop. Both are relatable and likeable, I found myself invested in their story and living alongside them every step of the way. This is such an entertaining yet heart-warming read, the delicious mix of will-they won’t-they and second chances is handled beautifully. I loved the surrounding family members, they ensure a wider exploration of relationships (and are rather diverting too). I’ve chosen The Rehearsals as a Liz Pick of the Month as it’s a sunshine dream of a romantic comedy.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The World at My Feet

The World at My Feet

Author: Catherine Isaac Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/03/2021

An evocative and satisfyingly engaging read focusing on family, friendship, and hope. Ellie knows she needs to step beyond the sanctuary offered by her home and garden, but she hasn’t left it for over two years. Sitting alongside the main story in 2018, we also visit Romanian state orphanages with journalist Harriet in 1990 and the two stories begin to merge. I so love Catherine Isaac’s writing, she has the gift of transporting you both in heart and mind. She encourages a connection to her characters, and makes them relatable, even when exploring darkness. This is as much about Ellie’s relationship with herself as it is with others. The story explores trauma in an open yet balanced way and encourages thoughts to expand. I similarly adored Messy, Wonderful Us which journeys to Italy and I described as both heart warming and achy. The World at my Feet just has so much heart, it really is a lovely read and joins my Liz Picks of the Month. 

Audiobooks of the Month
Rescue Me

Rescue Me

Author: Sarra Manning Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/01/2021

A sparkling bright and entertaining contemporary romance, and just to make you smile even more there’s a rescue dog who shares (steals) the limelight. When Margot and Will meet and both fall in love with Blossom at the rescue centre, they reluctantly agree to share custody. Sarra Manning has the most wonderfully light touch, she adds notes of sunshine to proceedings even when darkness threatens. With poo bags, dog treats, and increasingly bad behaviour Blossom is an absolute delight. Margot or Will head each chapter with each given equal billing, they feel entirely relatable, flaws and all. The background characters add colour and vibrancy to an already lovely novel. This really is the perfect read for anyone wanting to escape from reality for a while. So, wrap yourself up in the comforting embrace of an uplifting modern romance and sit back and relax with Rescue Me.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
Something to Live For

Something to Live For

Author: Richard Roper Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/07/2020

Our July 2020 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. A completely divine and ultimately uplifting debut, I cried, I smiled, I laughed, I loved it. With the best intentions Andrew has told a fib which has grown to surround and become a part of him, his life is then thrown up in the air when he meets Peggy. Ahh, Andrew, I admit to completely falling for this shy, kind, thoughtful man. The first few pages had me smiling, humour finely balancing and holding hands with poignancy. Richard Roper has developed the most fabulous characters and one heck of an emotional setting, which he handles with beautiful sensitivity. As the story developed, I hoped, oh how I hoped for a happy ending but I really couldn’t tell what the final outcome was going to be. With heartache tempered by gentle good humour Something To Live For casts the warmest of glows. I have no doubt that it will be topping my favourite reads of the year. We adore this quirky must-read and have chosen it to sit as a Debut of the Month, Liz Pick, and LoveReading Star Book! Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Star Books
Fortune

Fortune

Author: Amanda Smyth Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/06/2021

From the exceptional author of Black Rock, Amanda Smyth’s Fortune is an absolute dazzler. Set in 1920s Trinidad, and based on real-life events, the novel is founded on exquisite storytelling. It’s measured in style, and panoramic in impact - though the writing is so finely accomplished its influence swells over time as the novel charts a universal story of desire and ambition, of love and lust, of all-but impossible battles with the external forces of nature. I relished every sentence, every considered word, every beat of a plot that pulses to the varied rhythms of its characters’ unsettled hearts. What’s more, it captures a nation on the cusp of monumental change - Trinidad’s earth-shattering shift to oil from its struggling sugar and cocoa industries. A chance encounter between handsome, charismatic Eddie Wade and Trinidadian business man Tito (lately down on his luck) leads them to hatch a plan to make their fortunes in oil. And the man who holds the key to their future fortunes is Sonny Chatterjee, a superstitious farmer whose cocoa estate is failing due to the abundance of oil oozing up through his soil. Sonny is reluctant to go into the oil business with anyone, and sceptical, as is his wife (“Who really need oil? Who want it? Not me, not you. You can eat oil?”), though she’s also angered by their escalating poverty. And so the two men convince Sonny, and they’re granted a lease to drill his land for a year. The very first meeting between Eddie and Tito’s wife Ada is charged with electricity. She’s a beautiful enigma, he’s like no one she’s never met, “he could have fallen out of the sky.” As the oil project progresses, the men battle sickness and set-backs until the black gold starts surging, as does the yearning between Ada and Eddie. Though ignorant of this, Tito unwittingly makes a premonitory statement, of sorts: “Ada has fire in her. A woman who has fire, if you love her, she’ll warm up your heart.” To which Eddie replies, “If you don’t she’ll burn down your house.” Tito laughs, “That’s exactly right, Eddie. She’ll burn down your house.” The way Ada and Eddie’s relationship buds from fascination, to lustful tension, to overwhelming desire, is exquisite: “Ada knew something was happening to her. The world was different. The hills were greener, the sky a painting of light.” A fatal accident on a neighbouring oil site causes Sonny to want to halt the drilling and sell up, but Tito and Eddie want to drill one more well before their lease is up. Enthralling and heart-stopping to the end, Fortune is a magnificent feat of fiction.

Star Books
The Mermaid of Black Conch

The Mermaid of Black Conch

Author: Monique Roffey Format: Audiobook Release Date: 30/07/2020

From the author of The White Woman on the Green Bicycle and Archipelago comes what might be Monique Roffey’s most ambitious and accomplished novel yet. It’s a feat of invention – a brilliant interweaving of mermaid myth and the effects of colonial legacies on modern life. The time and place is 1976 in a small fishing village on the island of Black Conch. David is out strumming his guitar, hoping for a catch when he attracts the attention of Aycaycia, a beautiful woman whom jealous wives cursed to live as a mermaid. Some weeks later Aycaycia is caught by American tourists out on a fishing trip. Seen as source of cash, she’s strung up by them, then rescued by David. While in his care, she begins to transform back into a woman.  Blending myth and history, magic and reality, this multi-voiced, multi-textured novel (it features journal excerpts and verse) tells a rich tale of love, jealousy and freedom, exposing racism, oppression and gender inequalities through its otherworldly cloak. Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Confessions of Frannie Langton

The Confessions of Frannie Langton

Author: Sara Collins Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/08/2019

The Old Bailey, 1826 and Frannie Langton stands in court accused of the brutal murder of her former master and mistress. But “there was love between me and her”, she tells the court as she relates her story from 1812, when she worked at Paradise plantation, Jamaica. With the skills of reading and writing “packed inside” her, “dangerous as gunpowder”, Frannie is taken to London and sent to work for a man named George Benham. His wife, the beautiful, eccentric Madame Marguerite Benham “stirred a feeling of wanting” in Frannie, and she becomes Madame’s lady’s maid and secretary - and more. But theirs is a complex, volatile relationship. “The truth is there was love as well as hate,” Frannie acknowledges. “The truth is, the love hurt worse”. Speaking at her trial, during which she recounts the inhumane racial experimentation undertaken by the master of Paradise, Frannie asks, “Sirs, I wonder...in the whole sum of human history, by what order have you white men been wrong more than you’ve been right?” She also questions the privileges and entitlements of gender: “how confident a man must be to write down his musings, expecting anybody else to be interested in reading them”.  Ablaze with drama, detail, tension and wit, and wise on the nature of agency and freedom, this comes highly recommended for fans of Andrea Levy’s The Long Song, Marlon James’s The Book of Night Women and Sarah Waters.  According to Frannie, “A novel is like a long, warm drink but a poem is a spike through the head”. By her definition, this novel is both these things - as potent as a poem, as addictive as a long, warm drink. Have a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Confessions of Frannie Langton. Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Star Books
The Next Together

The Next Together

Author: Lauren James Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2015

September 2015 NewGen Debut of the Month. At once a sweeping love story and a high-concept page-turner, this ambitious, accomplished debut resonates long after the story has ended. Teenagers Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. And during their incarnations – the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the speculative near-futures of 2019 and 2039 – they are destined to meet, fall madly in love, and change the course of history for the better, though in so doing they lose one another, and themselves, over and over and over. Innovatively told through prose, letters, emails, articles and social media posts, this expansive debut is rich in both historical detail and thought-provoking hypotheses. The multi-narrative structure and compelling, question-driven plot (How many times must Katherine and Matthew die to save the world? Will their next time together be different?)will appeal to readers with a wide range of tastes and interests, from historical fiction and romance, to speculative fiction and time slip mysteries. Moreover, Katherine and Matthew’s extraordinary love and heart-breaking predicament speaks to the romantic in us all. ~ Joanne Owen

eBooks of the Month
The Music Shop

The Music Shop

Author: Rachel Joyce Format: Hardback Release Date: 13/07/2017

A heartrending love story. An ode to vinyl. A poignant evocation of a community of shopkeepers in the late eighties. Like the music beloved by its protagonist, this pitch-perfect novel has an ineffable power to uplift the soul. At the heart of the story - and of run-down Unity Street - is Frank, steadfastly selling vinyl (no cassettes, and definitely no CDs) from his decaying shop: “With vinyl, you couldn’t just sit there like a lemon. You had to GET UP OFF YOUR ARSE and TAKE PART”. The polar opposite of Black Books’s Bernard Black, Frank is one of life’s altruists. He “knew what people needed even when they didn't know it themselves”. But, while his music recommendations transform and heal the loves of countless customers, Frank has neglected to partake in his own life. That is, until a well-dressed woman wearing a distinctive pea-green coat faints outside his shop. Ilse Brauchmann radiates movie-star magnetism, and Frank immediately falls for her, as does pretty much everyone on Unity Street. Ilse sets Frank’s heart-a-pounding, and his nerves-a-tingling, but his past pains (particularly his relationship with his music-obsessed mother) have left him emotionally impotent, and he’s at risk of losing his once-in-a-blue-moon chance to truly take part in life. The groove of this gloriously life-affirming novel gets under the skin and lingers long after the final sentence has been savoured. It’s a newly-heard riff you can’t get out of your head, and the favourite album you’ll return to in times of need. I loved it.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Great Godden

The Great Godden

Author: Meg Rosoff Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/06/2021

This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer - the summer when everything changes. In a holiday house by the sea, in a big, messy family, one teenager watches as brothers and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding. Enter the Goddens - irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there's a serpent in this paradise - and the consequences will be devastating. From bestselling, award-winning author Meg Rosoff comes a lyrical and quintessential coming-of-age tale - a summer book that's as heady, timeless and irresistible as Bonjour Tristesse and I Capture the Castle but as sharp and fresh as Normal People.

Books of the Month
Stella

Stella

Author: Takis Wurger Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2021

Ringing with bell-clear writing, remarkable atmosphere and emotional honesty, Takis Würger’s Stella is a hauntingly gripping story of naive young love and duplicity in wartime Berlin. Innocent soul Friedrich grew up in Switzerland, with an alcoholic mother and somewhat eccentric father. In 1942 he takes the inadvisable decision to travel to Berlin to study art, where’s he’s entranced by Kristin, the model in his life drawing class, and a character who’s partly based on a real person. Kristin is bold, intoxicating and brilliantly evoked as a “warm and soft” enigma. “Would you call me Tink? Like Tinkerbell?” she asks of him. Friedrich obliges, of course, for “there was nothing I could refuse this woman,” and she fast becomes a permanent presence in his suite at the Grand Hotel. Their life of drinking and dancing in banned jazz clubs feels worlds away from the war, but as the months pass and the Nazi grip tightens, so the couple’s merrily enclaved existence darkens. Friedrich is disturbed to discover their mutual friend is in the SS, and perplexed by Kristin’s high connections. Then, after vanishing and returning with a shaven head and “dark welts on her neck”, she reveals that she’s Jewish, with more revelations to come. “I don’t know if it’s wrong to betray one human being to save another. I don’t know if it’s right to betray one human being to save another” Friedrich muses, and herein lies the heart of this powerfully melancholic story - fundamental moral questions swell beneath its simply-told surface.

eBooks of the Month
Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry

Author: Bonnie Garmus Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/04/2022

“Once a research chemist, Elizabeth Zott was a woman with flawless skin and an unmistakable demeanour of someone who was not average and never would be”. So we are introduced to gloriously unconventional Elizabeth near the opening of Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry, an enchanting, uproariously witty novel that I cannot recommend highly enough — think a funny, feminist Mad Men set in the world of science, in a “patriarchal society founded on the idea that women were less. Less capable. Less intelligent”.  With her doctoral career cut short after daring to defend herself against the groping hands of a tutor, in 1951 Elizabeth is working as a chemistry researcher, surrounded by men who overlook her work and treat her with sexist disdain. One of her colleagues is Calvin, an introverted, socially awkward Nobel-prize nominated scientist with a penchant for holding grudges, which is one of the things Elizabeth first admires in him, for “Elizabeth Zott held grudges too”, especially against a society that all but forbade women to do anything of importance. Elizabeth and Calvin strike up a sparring working relationship, start dating, and move in together — unmarried (the horror!). She suggests paying her share of the rent by cooking dinner, declaring that “Cooking is a serious science. In fact, it’s chemistry”. Meanwhile, while the unique chemistry between the couple is a delight to devour. Some years later, Elizabeth finds herself single again, and a single mother to boot. And it’s through her daughter (specifically, the delicious, nutritious lunches she cooks for her) that she’s offered a slot on a TV cookery show. True to form, Elizabeth refuses to play ball with the producer, declaring that “There’s nothing average about the average housewife”, and using the show to deliver cracking advice: “Courage is the root of change…Do not allow your talents to lie dormant, ladies. Design your own future”. Guaranteed to have you roaring with laughter, weeping in empathy, and fist-pumping the sheer joy of Elizabeth’s indomitable spirit, Lessons in Chemistry is a revitalising, stirring triumph.

Star Books
It Must Be Love

It Must Be Love

Author: Caroline Khoury Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

If you’re longing for a romantic read that fizzes with “what ifs”, tantalising close encounters, emotional conflict and a sense of destiny, Caroline Khoury’s debut It Must Be Love might just be your flute of bubbles.    With a well-paced narrative playing out in different timeframes — the here and now, and events leading up to the present for over a decade — the novel follows the simmering, slow-burn romance between Abbie and Oz, who met as students on a march. This chance encounter led to an unexpected evening of joy, with an idealistic “if it’s meant to be, it’ll be” notion left on the table when they part — Oz returns home to Istanbul and Abbie embarks on a legal career.   Then, years later, another chance encounter cements the bond between them, but their lives have moved on, they have other commitments and family issues to deal with. In short, it’s almost as if fate is conspiring against them. But as more times passes, and their liaisons see them connect in London, Istanbul, Beirut, Damascus, and Paris, it becomes all the more important for them to push fate aside and take control of their own destinies.   With a colourful cast of characters and plenty of sub-themes (post-natal depression, the conflict between wanting to make your family proud and do you own thing), It Must Be Love takes readers on an emotional rollercoaster that shows how some things are worth waiting for and pursuing to the end.

Comments (0)


Leave A Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.