Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Hand to Someone Who Claims to Not Like Reading Romance


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is actually Books I Would Hand to Someone Who Claims to Not Like Reading.  I’ve been on such a romance kick lately after years of saying I didn’t like reading romances.  I was mostly reading my grandmother’s old historical romances and they just didn’t appeal to me.  It turns out, I just wasn’t reading the right kind of romances.  As soon as I picked up my first contemporary romance, I was hooked and have been devouring them ever since.  Rom-coms seems to be my preference of late, but I also just finally read my first Colleen Hoover book the other day and can attest that I’m also a fan of the more emotional, dramatic romances that rip your heart out and have you reaching for the teaching.  All of that said, today I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite romances, ones that I would definitely hand to someone I was trying to convince that they’d like romance as soon as they found the right book.  Most of these are standalones, but there are a few books from series included as well, including The Bromance Book Club, The Brown Sisters, and Wild.


Books I Would Hand to Someone Who Claims to Not Like Reading Romance


1. PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION by Emily Henry “Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.  Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.  Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.  Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?”


2. THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS by Ali Hazelwood  – “As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.  That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.  Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.”


3. THE SIMPLE WILD by K.A. Tucker – “Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born. She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild. Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.”


4. ACT YOUR AGE, EVE BROWN by Talia Hibbert  – “Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how… Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right. Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.”


5. RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston  – “First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?”


6. THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang  – “Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.  It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position… Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…”


7. THE SOULMATE EQUATION by Christina Lauren  – “Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.  But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess–who is barely making ends meet–is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist–and the science behind a soulmate–than she thought.”


8. IT HAPPENED ONE SUMMER by Tessa Bailey  – “Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington. Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face. Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart.”


9. VERY SINCERELY YOURS by Kerry Winfrey  – “Teddy Phillips never thought she’d still be spending every day surrounded by toys at almost thirty years old. But working at a vintage toy store is pretty much all she has going on in her life after being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend. The one joy that she’s kept is her not-so-guilty pleasure: Everett’s Place, a local children’s show hosted by Everett St. James, a man whom Teddy finds very soothing . . . and, okay, cute.  Teddy finds the courage to write to him, feeling slightly like one of the children who write to him on his show. He always gives sound advice and seems like he has everything figured out–and he pretty much does: Everett has a great support system, wonderful friends, and his dream job. But there’s still that persistent feeling in the back of his mind that something’s missing.  When a woman named Theodora starts writing to Everett, he is drawn to her honesty and vulnerability. They continue writing to each other, all the while living their lives without meeting. When their worlds collide, however, they must both let go of their fears and figure out what they truly want–and if the future they want includes each other.”


10. THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB by Lyssa Kay Adams  – “The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.  Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.  Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.  Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.”


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Question:  What romance novels would you hand to someone who claims not to like reading romance?

44 replies
  1. Angela
    Angela says:

    This is such a great list, I’ve read and loved a few of these! I agree with you, I never thought I was a romance reader, until last year when I started getting into contemporary romances, too. It’s all about finding what works for you!

  2. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
    Deb Nance at Readerbuzz says:

    I agree completely. Once I did not like romance at all, but now I find romances to be quite delightful.

    Some of my favorites are The Fault in Our Stars; Eleanor & Park; and The Rosie Project.

  3. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books says:

    The Simple Wild and Red, White & Royal Blue are such favorites of mine. The story in The Simple Wild hit me hard as I read it the week after my father passed away. (Had I known the content I definitely would have waited!) It made such an impact on me and the follow up was just as good. And RW&RB… Alex and Henry were everything! 🙂

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Oh wow, yeah I can only imagine how tough a read The Simple Wild would be after losing your dad. I’m reading Wild at Heart right now and loving it so much.

  4. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy
    Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy says:

    Great idea for a post! And perfect for me, since I don’t read a lot (or any actually!) of romance. I see this list as “romance for people who don’t have time to read romance so just give me your best ones”😁

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I’m so glad I finally gave them a chance because I’m obsessed with them now. They’ve really gotten me through the stress of the pandemic.

  5. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    Here’s a first – I read every book on your list!! It’s hard for me to determine if a non-romance reader would enjoy a particular romance or not because I love the genre so much. All these books were stupendous though

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      It really is hard to tell what someone else would like. I’m just so glad I finally gave the contemporary romances a chance because I’m obsessed with them now. 🙂

  6. Lori Piper
    Lori Piper says:

    I’ve read—and LOVED—three of these, which probably means that we have similar taste, which means that I should read the other seven. Right? Right. Good talk. <3

    My post—

    Happy TTT!

  7. Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!
    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create! says:

    I feel the books your grandmother read are the ones that I refer to as bodice-rippers because the female on the cover was often holding her dress up with an arm under her bosom. And generally, they were set in the 1400s (some may be in the 1700-1800s). Those books turned me off of reading historical fiction for a long time because of the stories.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Haha, yes, I always referred to all of her old books as bodice rippers. The time periods and the storylines just didn’t really appeal to me even though I enjoy historical fiction. The contemporary romances are so much easier to relate to.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I definitely recommend Christina Lauren’s books whenever you’re in the mood for a fun romance. I’ve read 7 of their books so far and loved every one of them. 🙂

  8. Cindy Davis
    Cindy Davis says:

    I am always embarrassed to say I like romance because I think people assume the smutty half-dressed people on covers or the old boring ones, LOL. Interesting list, thanks for sharing.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      LOL! I could see people thinking that. That was my own perception for far too long. I’m really glad I gave the contemporary romances a chance because they really changed my mind about the genre.

  9. Greg
    Greg says:

    The Simple wild sounds really good and the Alaskan setting sounds like such a neat part of the story. I’ve seen good reviews for a lot of these though.

  10. verushka
    verushka says:

    I don’t read nearly enouh romances, but thanks to stories like Red White and Royal Blue, and the Bromance Club I don’t avoid them like I used too. Contemporaries definitely made me appreciate the genre more!

  11. Jo
    Jo says:

    I’m not a romance reader, I like rom-coms but I find that I can’t really connect to romance in books in the same way.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      That’s interesting. I do think I connect better with them when I do audiobooks, something about actually hearing the voices just works better for me.

  12. ShootingStarsMag
    ShootingStarsMag says:

    I have been reading more romances lately. I loved Red, White, and Royal Blue. I have It Happened One Summer from the library right now and I own The Bromance Book Club.


  13. Aj @ Read All The Things!
    Aj @ Read All The Things! says:

    I usually don’t read romance, but I do have Red, White & Royal Blue on my TBR shelf. I don’t want to write off a whole genre just because I haven’t found the right romance for me. There’s probably one out there that I’ll love.

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