The romance genre tends to have a bad reputation about books with fainting women and shirtless men on the covers. But, the romance genre has books for everyone based on what they want to read, shirtless men and all. 

That being said, if you’re in the market for a good Valentine’s Day read, I have come up with a list of romances and books with some romance elements in them. 

I would like to preface this list with the fact that I do not read a lot of romance, but a lot of these books helped me get into the genre. To start, the book that got me into reading romance in the first place: “The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren. 

The story follows Olive and Ethan, the sister to the bride and the brother to the groom, as they have to pretend to be a married couple at a resort after the actual bride and groom are unable to. The one problem is, Olive and Ethan hate each other.

“The Unhoneymooners” was such a good time, and I read through the whole book in a day because I couldn’t put it down. Olive and Ethan have great chemistry, and both of them were strong characters outside of their relationship. 

The story is also hilarious. I highly recommend “The Unhoneymooners” for anyone looking for a fun, humorous romance to read. 

My second recommendation is “The Royal We” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Set in an alternate timeline with a different British royal family, the book follows the American Bex studying at Oxford when she meets Prince Nicholas, and they form a romance. I adored this book. 

Bex is one of my favorite heroines, and she is such a fun character to follow. Nick is also great, and all of the side characters from Bex and Nick’s family and friends were a blast to read about. I am excited to read the sequel when the book is available for me to borrow from my library. 

For all the Bridgerton fans out there, “The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn is the first book of the series and follows the events of the first season. Each of the books after follow a different Bridgerton sibling. 

The world of historical romance is a fun one, and “The Duke and I” is a good place to start if you liked Bridgerton. 

Next up is a book with less of a focus on romance, but rather includes it subtly. Even my boyfriend, who dislikes romance in any of his books, enjoyed the “romantic subplot” that this book had. 

“Ace of Shades” by Amanda Foody is book one in “The Shadow Game” trilogy and follows Enne, who is in search of her mother in New Reyes, the fantasy equivalent of Atlantic City, a city of magic and gangs and mystery. Enne then meets Levi, the young gang leader trying to become king of New Reyes. 

Enne and Levi have excellent chemistry together, but also are strong characters by themselves. The mystery and magic of the world is interesting and engaging, and the entire city is a character in itself. 

I am on the second book of the trilogy myself, and I can’t wait to see where Enne and Levi end up next.

Now, for my favorite book on this list: “Mistborn: The Final Empire” by Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson himself pitches the book as “Ocean’s Eleven” meets “Miss Congeniality” in a fantasy world where the evil dark lord won. 

The story follows Vin, a thief who discovers she has the ability to use magic and is recruited by another magic user in his plan to defeat the evil dark lord and bankrupt him in the process. 

Vin is then disguised and sent to spy on the nobles where she meets Elend, and she feels conflicted about wanting revenge and her attraction to him.

This book is a wild ride, and despite it being the first book in the trilogy, it has a satisfying conclusion for those who just want to read the first one. I would recommend continuing the series because “Mistborn: The Final Empire” is just that good. 

The characters are great, and the romance between Vin and Elend is sweet. For people who are not big fantasy fans, I still think “Mistborn: The Final Empire” is a great book to give a read thanks to it feeling like a heist movie.

Finally, for those who don’t want to read anything involving romance, I suggest “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. The book follows Nick and Amy Dunne in their sleepy Missouri town after Amy goes missing. 

Everyone blames Nick for her disappearance, but he claims he is innocent. This book is a wild ride start to finish, and I really enjoyed it. 

It will mess you up in a way and make you think, which is what I enjoy in my thrillers. I cannot recommend this book enough.

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