How To: Find Romance Recommendations(as a New romance Reader)

I was 30 when I picked up my first romance novel. If you’re new here, my venture into the romance world all began with me lounging on the couch engrossed in a Hallmark Christmas romance. After questioning why I faithfully watch Hallmark’s holiday romances every year, yet had never actually read a romance novel..here I am! Two years later, a little obsessed with the genre.

I remember going into the bookstore and always beelining it to the romance section and feeling overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start. I followed a couple romance readers on Youtube, but it was hard to find the books they chatted about in the actual bookstore and I wasn’t sure if I was quite ready for the types of romances they were recommending.

I get quite a few DMs on Instagram that go a little like this, “I really want to read romance but have no idea where to start.” Without further ado my loves, here are my recommendations on where to find recommendations as a new romance reader.

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Youtube. The Booktube corner of Youtube is continuously growing with romance readers. I remember for what felt like forever, Jess, from Peacelovebooksxo was the only romance reader I could find, followed by Carol from thereadingwallflower. With Youtube you can literally type an author’s name, a book title, or even romance reader into the search box, and *wha-la* romance recommendations just a click away. Also with the surge of new romance readers, we are seeing more readathons dedicated to romance! Join in on those and watch out for people’s to be read videos. A lot of times, creators will also post recommendation videos for the different prompts within a readathon. Steph, from Steph’s Romance Book Talk hosts Romance GenreAthon and with each new month she will post recommendations to go along with whatever category is up for reading that month. Click here for one of her videos.

Podcasts. Are you a Podcast listener? I freaked when I began finding podcasts dedicated to romance reading. The very first I discovered was Smart Podcast, Trashy Books but my library now consists of Heaving Bosoms, End of Story, Smart Women Read Romance, Wicked Wallflowers Club, Learning The Tropes and Journeys of Romance. Ranging from reviews and author interviews it is impossible to not walk away from one of these podcasts with a new to you title. I honestly recommend starting from their earlier episodes and work your way to the current. You are bound to find recommendations along the way.

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Goodreads. Romance kicks total ass on Goodreads. Romance readers create all types of shelves. Looking for an historical romance? Paranormal? Contemporary? With a little digging, you are bound to find shelves that other romance readers have created. For example, my friend Sarah, from Steeped In Books on Youtube has tons of shelves on Goodreads. Looking for Harlequin Intrigue recommendations? She has a shelf dedicated specifically to that, just click here, to check it out.

Frolic. When I started reading romance, I read a lot of backlist titles. This is fine, but I also think reading new releases can also be a big help with figuring out what you’re going to vibe with and what you won’t.  Weekly over on Frolic, Mary Dube writes Contemporarily Ever After: Top Picks for *whatever week you’re currently on*  This is a must read for me every week. I am not always the best with keeping up with new releases just because I live with a constant stack of books I need to get to on my nightstand, but I’m constantly checking for Mary’s recommendations.

Blogs & Instagram. Now I put these two together because I didn’t really consider blogging until I got pretty serious with Instagram and decided to leave Youtube. A lot of romance readers who post avidly on Instagram are also bloggers. Find them and follow them. With Instagram, I search hashtags. Search for #romancestagram #romancelandia to begin with and peruse through the results. Once you come across creators who pique your interest, if they are also a blogger, follow them to keep up with reviews and posts that they don’t post on Instagram. I get tons of recommendations from other bloggers.

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I really hope this helps. I am always only a message away if you want to chat a bit more. Romance is huge, and I truly believe there is something out there for everyone, you just have to find what works for you. Give yourself time, peruse a bit. At first it may be trial and error but have fun with it. And I haven’t met a romance reader yet who isn’t willing to gush about the genre with me, so never be too shy to reach out.

xo.

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Published May 14, 2019 by Gallery Books

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.14 Stars

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

Synopsis:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

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My Thoughts:

The Unhoneymooners is freaking hilarious! It was 6:15 on a Wednesday morning, I was driving in my car, laughing my butt off at only two chapters into this book. I knew then that I was going to enjoy it.

This romance follows Olive and Ethan and has a few tropes that make the story. It is enemy to lovers. When Olive and Ethan first meet their interaction is far from perfect and they have basically hated each other since. There are plenty of other scumbag reasons behind it that you find out later on in the book.

Along with enemy to lovers, this is also fake marriage and every freaking thing that can go wrong when you’re faking a marriage! Olive’s sister’s wedding is a disaster and long story short, Olive and Ethan end up taking her sisters honeymoon.

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I liked seeing these two tropes and Christina Lauren’s creative spin on them. I need a Netflix adaptation to this romance asap! Olive was a mess and I loved her. Her sister Amy is the lucky sister and Olive just believes that luck isn’t on her side. She is a total skeptic. She is a negative thinker. What I liked that Christina Lauren did with these character traits is when crap hits the fan, showcase how easy it is to doubt Olivia because of her track record, because of her negative thinking.

I also really enjoyed the spin they put on the backstory of Olive and Ethan. Olive puts together the pieces behind their interactions and the manipulation that was being played behind closed doors which lead into a story of its own. I thought it was so, so well done.

I highly recommend The Unhoneymooners whether you’re already a Christina Lauren fan or if this would be your first by the author duo. If you can get your hands on the audiobook, even better! The narration was fantastic and especially for the scenes where Olive’s family was around..it was perfection.

*it can be hard putting thoughts together on books I love* but basically, you should read this book. I loved it.

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A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

It is a gloomy Friday evening as I’m lounging on my sofa typing this post and I deserve this chill! Life is great at the moment, and my Friday mood was made even better because I finished A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole which I have been reading for the past few days..

A Princess in Theory is Book 1 in Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series

Published February 27, 2018 by Avon

Average Goodreads Rating of 3.84 Stars on Goodreads

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Synopsis:

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

 

My Thoughts:

“I feel like my entire life has been me trying to keep everything together, but right now I want to fall apart. And I want you to be the guy that makes me.”

Read This Book! I totally understand now why this book has been so hyped up. The hype this book receives is a huge part of the reason it took me so long to read it (finally)! I was nervous. I was a bit intimidated.

I honestly just want to share a few reasons why I think you should jump on the bandwagon like I finally did, and pick A Princess In Theory up.

  • Royalty romances are a pretty big deal, but when was the last time you picked one up where the Princess was a woman of color betrothed to an African Prince? I’ll wait. If royalty romances are your jam, I dare you to read this one that steps away from the norm and features two people of color. *triple dog dare*
  • Naledi, our heroine in A Princess in Theory grew up an orphan in New York City. Alyssa Cole wrote Naledi’s character so well. She is such a complex woman. There are so many layers to her. One minute she frustrated the hell out of me, the next I wanted to be her best friend and the next she had me totally confused. The big issue with Naledi is all of her life she was passed from one family to the next. She never felt as though anyone *chose* her. Alyssa Cole really captured the repercussions of that and showcased what life as an adult who experienced that can be like. Because of this Naledi doesn’t expect any of the relationships she has with people to be anything long term. She always has the mentality basically of, “why would they choose you?”
  • Thabiso! Prince Thabiso finds himself humbled real quick during his visit to NYC. I enjoyed the fake identity trope while it lasted. Seeing how much Thabiso enjoyed his time as Jamal really made me put into perspective how much work being a royal must be.
  • Likotsi. Okay, had I not already read Once Ghosted, Twice Shy I’d be begging for Likotsi to have a novel of her own but as I do..I read her novella before even reading this book. Likotsi is Thabiso’s assistance and I love her. She is so much more technologically advanced than basically everyone and I was here for it.
  • I think this romance did a fantastic job of looking at identity from the perspective of a woman of color who basically had no idea who she was thanks to her crappy upbringing. Naledi grew up the way she did, then finds herself on the complete opposite of the spectrum.
  • It shows what greed and hatred can push people to do.
  • Naledi is so smart and hustles her butt off. Even she, as smart as she is though, takes one co-workers crap one too many times before finally standing up for herself. And when she did, she got a Hell Yeah from me as I read it.
  • The romance was also very complicated. Naledi is Thabiso’s betrothed which he has known all of his life since they were kids. So it is literally them meeting as adults and rather than convincing her to marry him because she is supposed to, he has to do things her way. And I think the icing on the cake for me with this one is that Naledi didn’t have to leave her life behind because of Thabiso. She worked very hard to get where she is so seeing her not have to leave everything she worked for behind was great to see.

 

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Unbroken Cowboy by Maisey Yates

“I don’t know what you’ve done to me,” he said, brushing her hair off her face. “But I’m pretty obsessed with you. Just so you know.”

Ever since reading A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas by Maisey Yates during my 2018 Holiday Romance Binge, I knew Maisey Yates was an author I needed to add to my list of “I need to read everything she’s written,” list. I’m totally reading her Gold Valley series out of order, definitely need to back track and read the first 3 books in the series, but I’m basically obsessed with what I have read so far.

Unbroken Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Gold Valley #5)

Published April 23, 2019 by HQN Books

Narrated on Audio by Suzanne Elsie Freeman

Average rating on Goodreads: 4.08 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

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Synopsis:

Dane Parker traded in his trailer-park roots for glory as a bull rider. But when a serious injury sidelines him for months, it’s the first time he can’t just pull himself up by his bootstraps. The last thing he wants to deal with is sweet family friend Bea treating him like one of her wounded animals—or the unexpected attraction that suddenly flares between them.

Beatrix Leighton has loved Dane for years, while he’s always seen her as another sister. When she enlists his help to start her animal sanctuary, she thinks it will give him purpose. Instead, it brings all the desire she feels for him to the boiling point. Bea’s father taught her early on that love means loss. But could her forbidden crush turn into a love that will last a lifetime?

 

My Thoughts:

What I loved about Bea and Dane’s romance is how well Maisey Yates captured first love, and how in some ways it never really leaves you..especially in Bea’s case. Dane, her first crush, first love..whichever you choose to call it is in so many ways a constant in her life. Their circle of people are the same so there is no way they wouldn’t be in some way, a part of each others lives.

Both Bea and Dane have Dad issues. Bea especially came from a situation where she felt kind of wrote off and associates love with loss so as the relationship between her and Dane grows she makes a decision to keep it strictly about sex. In her mind, it makes total sense. Dane is this rodeo bull rider guy who is completely experienced with women while Bea has never went there with a man. But I felt that Bea’s infatuation with Dane was written so well. I as the reader could feel how much this man who in her mind never noticed her, meant to her.

“there was something about the way Dane inhabited his skin that made her want to get closer to him.”

 

I can’t express how full my heart was when things started to heat up between these two. I was internally screeching with excitement because Bea felt like a girlfriend of mine who finally got her guy. 

“This was why people needed to have love affairs.”

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I really enjoyed reading Bea as a character and seeing her evolution as the girl with a love of animals living in her cabin in the wood. She is the nice girl whose strength gets underestimated at times. I love that she continued to pursue the things she loves and capitalize on them. Her pursuing her dreams is definitely inspirational.

Dane, in the beginning is this pissed off yet sexy grump because he’s been hurt doing what he loves the most. For both of these characters, they checked off  a ‘character growth’ must have for me. We get to see both of these individuals have to confront their own issues separately before being able to be fully happy together.

This book, just like the previous one, took me be surprise. I saw the cover and it gives me the cozy vibes..but oh how sexy it is!

“He stripped her clothes from her body slowly, so very slowly, taking his time as he kissed the curve of her neck, her shoulder, her collarbone. He avoided the more obvious parts of her, instead of moving straight through the centerline of her body, down to her stomach, stopping just above where she was wet and hungry for him. He kissed her inner thigh, her knee, down. Until she was shaking. Until she felt like every kiss was a gunshot. Piercing her skin and going deep. Adding to that endless pain in her chest. He stood, stripped the rest of his clothes off slowly. Her mouth went dry.”

The sex scenes were descriptive just enough. It gave me what I needed without being overly done and yes, I was excited. Yates wrote Bea and her crush for Dane so well, that when she finally has sex with him I was like,”Yes, finally.” I as the reader could feel how she never expected this, never thought she would find herself in the situation in which she did.

I couldn’t give this book any less than 5 stars for the emotions it stirred in me. It really made me think of the importance of first love and how it can be so important for the emotions it stirs. There was this sweet combination of innocence yet hot and intense when it came to Bea’s feelings for Dane and when you begin to realize his feelings for Bea have grown it’s almost as if you question if they are now stronger than his feelings for her. She tries so hard to remain strong and stick to keeping it strictly physical. It was an ode to love finding it’s way though, and I loved it!

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My “Why”: Why I started My Romance Blog

In a nut shell, why not..?

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I had too many “I have time to do that later moments,” in my 20s..so my Dirty 30s are all about seizing the most out of every moment I’m blessed with. I kept making excuses and finally just Went for it.

As a woman of color occupying a teeny tiny piece of this very white female online book community who also reads the red headed step child genre (yet the genre making the most money) the odds can feel VERY against me but who gives a sh*t about *odds*?

Romance was the genre I thankfully began reading and fell in love with months before the darkest mental health moment I’ve had in my life. Once I sought help, while at every group meeting, during outpatient therapy, every doctors appointment..I always had a romance novel with me. Always. I felt the genre and it’s authors became companions for me and helped pull me through a tough time..so it’s only right I do my part, regardless of how big/small to show them love.

Romance is such a huge genre, I truly believe there is something out there for everyone..you just have to find the right book. I’d love for someone who maybe never read a romance to find a new favorite book due to reading my blog or seeing an Instagram post.

I work full time. I’m a mom of 3 littles and *fingers crossed* will be going back to school in the next few months. I wanted something I could give my attention to that truly felt like mine. Blogging and my Instagram (falling4romance) are mine. They keep me motivated to make time for myself both to read and blog. It’s having my blog that gets me out of bed on the weekends to go visit a coffee shop, sip a delicious latte and get reading done.

I love when I hear what someone’s idea of what they think a romance reader looks like. While in some cases I know someone who can identify with their idea..I am typically not it. Being in the military and a police officer in the military, it is very much a man’s game. Women in our career field tend to be one of the guys..not what you would expect to be a romance reader. I hope my being here gives that young lady/woman at home who is torn because she doesn’t think she’s the right demographic..she’s not what people would expect..she’s not sure where she’ll fit in, that girlfriend push to just go for it!

There it is Friends. My ‘Why’ behind starting my blog. I’d love to know yours..

until next time, take care of yourselves. xo.

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