Contemporary romance is one of my favourite genres – I love a conversational, easy to read writing style, I love the huge variety of nuanced characters and I love stories about love! Sweet gestures, heartfelt confessions and the occasional saucy moment.
I think it’s one of the most popular genres on bookstagram and booktok – most of the books I see being massively hyped online and on the featured tables in book shops are contemporary romance books and I’m absolutely with them. They’re definitely some of my fastest reads and they’re the ones I get most enthusiastic about – I was listening to an audiobook on my way back from the gym (yes, that was a minor flex that I did actually go to the gym) and the lovers in the book I’m currently listening to overcame a huge hurdle and I literally exclaimed out loud how excited I was.
But there are lots of amazing romance books that I don’t see people talking about so I wanted to shout about three books that I adored and rated five stars. These books cover some varied topics – being a mixed raced girl in the 21st century, turning fairy tales into modern stories of a bunch of nerds going to a fan convention and an incredible insight to selective mutism and being deaf.
The Mismatch – Sara Jafari
I picked this up on a whim and I cannot explain how much I want everyone else in the world to read it – it’s a dual perspective family story told from the point of view of a mother and a daughter, but each when they were teenagers. Seeing the mothers perspective growing up in an Asian Muslim culture and the decisions she makes about her identity, her education and her relationship, in comparison to her daughters perspective as a fresh graduate, figuring out her religion’s place in her British upbringing and whether she can tell her parents she might be getting to know a white English boy.
The Mismatch is not only a great romance story, but such a wonderful insight into growing up in one culture and figuring out how to blend it with a new one as well as growing up in a culture that’s nothing like the one your parents want you to honour. Just writing about it here has made me want to reread it! Honestly a truly heartwarming and hugely insightful story.
Geekerella / Once Upon A Con – Ashley Poston
Honestly, it’s the third book in the Once Upon A Con series ‘Bookish and the Beast’ which is my favourite but the whole series is fantastic and I gave ‘Geekerella’ five stars as well.
The whole series centres around a Star Trek/Star Wars-esque TV show with spin-off novels and a rebooted movie franchise and a nerdy con to bring all the fans together and celebrate it. Each novel focuses on a different set of characters in relation to the actors in the movies and whilst they can be read individually, the references and nuances are so much better when they’re read in order (hence why I read them 3, 1, 2, then 3 again to truly appreciate it).
I love stories about nerds and with protagonists who care about this franchise so much and their fangirl-y adoration translates so well to the page (and the audiobooks – the narrators are all perfect). They make my little fangirling, fanfiction writing teenage self feel seen and the nostalgia is real.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
I saw this book recommended in one random YouTube video maybe five years ago and immediately added it to my tbr – the only thing I really knew about it is that it was about a deaf character and was really insightful about being someone who can’t hear in an audio world.
What I didn’t anticipate was that the lead protagonist has selective mutism (another condition I didn’t know much about) and anxiety and she’s inadvertently paired up with a hard of hearing boy because she knows a little bit of sign language and their story of trying to figure each other out whilst figuring out each others languages and being teenagers is a recipe for a very sweet YA romance novel.
All three of these novels were easy five star reads from me and writing about them has made me want to reread them all!
Let me know if you decide to read any of them or if you have already read them I would love to hear your thoughts!!
Thank you for reading,