Happily, romance novels aren’t what they used be – a helpless heroine swooning into the overly brawny arms of the hero as he sweeps her off into the sunset. Now we get well fleshed out, capable heroines, full of awesome, who just happen to meet brainy, cute guys. Yay for progress!
Some of my favorites:
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Told in the alternating voices of Dash and Lily, challenge each other to a wintry scavenger hunt at Christmas-time in New York, neither knowing quite what–or who–they will find. It all starts in a bookstore (perfect way to start a relationship, imo) when Dash finds this in a book, “I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia. If you’d like something with a paranormal bent, try this. In a small South Carolina town, where it seems little has changed since the Civil War, sixteen-year-old Ethan is powerfully drawn to Lena, a new classmate with whom he shares a psychic connection and whose family hides a dark secret that may be revealed on her sixteenth birthday.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. Sam LaCroix, a Seattle fast-food worker and college dropout, discovers that he is a necromancer, part of a world of harbingers, werewolves, satyrs, and one particular necromancer who sees Sam as a threat to his lucrative business of raising the dead. Romance isn’t the main focus but Sam is thoroughly adorkable when he starts crushing on werewolf Brid.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits–smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. Just read it.