16 fiction and movie love stories that make the perfect Valentine's Day pair
Happy Valentine's Day! Whether you're flying solo or celebrating with a special someone, we recommend curling up with a good book or movie for some TLC. In that spirit (and since Valentine's Day is all about finding your perfect pair), we've paired off 16 romantic books with their ideal cinematic counterparts. Whether you want to cry, laugh, go on an adventure, or see some eye candy, we've got the romantic match-up perfect for you.
Read Roomies by Christina Lauren; Watch The Proposal (2009)
This 2017 novel about an Irish busker who marries a twenty-something NYC aspiring writer to secure his chance to star in a Broadway play is a confectionary take on the fake relationship trope. In The Proposal, a similar relationship arrangement is reached when Margaret (Sandra Bullock) forces her employee Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) to pretend to be engaged to her to protect her visa status in the U.S. Roomies makes vivid use of its NYC setting and Broadway atmosphere, while The Proposal does the same with its remote Alaska setting. What’s more irresistible than a fake marriage where the feelings between the bride and groom become all too real?
Read A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole; Watch The Princess Diaries (2001)
In both A Princess in Theory and The Princess Diaries, our respective heroines learn they have ties to royalty they never imagined. While they both have swoony romance storylines, ultimately, they are also both about their leading ladies, Ledi and Mia (Anne Hathaway), learning to find their own inner strength and value -- and how their newly discovered positions of power can allow them to embrace their intelligence and ambition. As a cherry on top, they get their prince charming in the bargain. Girl power, tiaras, and handsome heroes -- what more could you ask for?
Read The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang; Watch Pretty Woman (1990)
Helen Hoang describes her debut novel The Kiss Quotient as a reverse Pretty Woman with neuro-divergent heroine Stella Lane hiring escort Michael Phan to help her overcome her struggles with sex and intimacy. Stella’s in for more than she bargained for when she begins to fall for Michael, realizing that love and desire are much more than pipe dreams for her. With the book and Pretty Woman, both of the couples grow and blossom as the possibilities of love open up to them. If you need a reassurance that the fairy-tale is never too far out of reach, this is the perfect pairing.
Read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid; Watch A Place in the Sun (1951)
While romance as a fiction genre requires a HEA (happily-ever-after), movies define things a little differently, so we had to include a weepy one for those looking for a good cry this Valentine’s Day. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a lush, mysterious yarn about the life of a glamorous movie star infamous for her seven marriages -- a figure who takes clear inspiration from Elizabeth Taylor. One of Evelyn’s core relationships feels influenced by Taylor’s intimate friendship with Montgomery Clift, so why not watch this timeless, heartbreaking film starring both of them? Clift and Taylor are at their most beautiful (an impressive feat), and their faces fit together like puzzle pieces in a way that makes you believe they are truly made for each other. Get your dose of old Hollywood glamour and heartache from both of these romantic dramas.
Read Bigger Love by Rick Reed; Watch Love, Simon (2018)
Bigger Love is a heartrending tale of a gender fluid teen who dreams of the bright lights of Hollywood and the quiet, brooding object of his affections, whose sexuality remains a big question mark. This quiet, sensitive romance pairs perfectly with the tender joys of Love, Simon (also a novel itself), a teen rom-com about a gay teen who goes to extreme lengths to avoid being outed, all the while falling for a secret email correspondent who he knows to be a fellow student. The film and the book share the lovely setting of high school drama class (and the spring production) as a key place where much of the action happens. This combo makes us even more in love with love.
Read The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean; Watch The Philadelphia Story (1940)
With The Day of the Duchess, Sarah MacLean crafts a second chance historical romance with its finger on the pulse of our contemporary moment. The Duke of Haven offers his estranged wife a deal -- she can have her freedom if she spends the summer with him helping him to secure her wifely replacement. A summer he intends to spend proving to her the depths of his love. Similarly, The Philadelphia Story finds C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) returning to his ex-wife’s home for her wedding weekend with tabloid reporters in tow. Tracy (Katharine Hepburn) falls into a love triangle with reporter Mike Connor (James Stewart) and Dexter, all the while learning the importance of loosening up long enough to fall off the pedestal she’s placed herself on. The themes of second chance love, forgiveness, and learning to be the bigger person run rampant through both this book and film, offering up a meaningful Valentine’s Day escape.
Read The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick; Watch It Happened One Night (1934)
Set in 1930s California with the frequent interplay of Hollywood bigwigs and mysterious movie stars, The Other Lady Vanishes makes potent use of its Golden Age of Hollywood setting while interspersing plenty of the wit and intrigue of the best films of the era. There’s no better choice to pair it with than all-time screwball comedy classic It Happened One Night, which follows an heiress on-the-run from her father and fiancé as she crosses paths with a journalist who can’t help but be charmed by her. In The Other Lady Vanishes, Adelaide Blake is hiding out after escaping from a reprehensible sanitarium. She can’t help but fall for her customer Jake, even if she is concerned about his possible ulterior motives. Intrigue, concealed identities, and plenty of breezy romance make this film and book as great a pairing as flowers and chocolates.
Read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne; Watch When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Are you sucker for an enemies to lovers story? Maybe with a pit stop at friends along the way? As coworkers who sit across from each other, it’s loathe at first sight for Josh and Lucy. She can’t stand his uptight cynicism; he is baffled by her perky outlook on life. Similar to rom-com duo Harry and Sally when they first meet, and she is turned off by his pragmatic view of life, while he can’t stand her quirky particularities. In both cases, the joy comes in watching their tension melt until they eventually realize they are each other’s perfect match. Have what she’s having with this match-up.
Read The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson; Watch Miss Congeniality (2000)
Charlotte Gorman is perfectly happy with her bookish life as a librarian, but when her beauty pageant obsessed twin sister suffers a heinous allergic reaction, she’s forced to assume her identity, complete with a pageant makeover to help her sister get the crown she’s always wanted. Along the way she finds romance and friendships rather than the vapid stereotypes she’s expecting. Similarly, Miss Congeniality follows Gracie Hart, who also has to glam-ify to become a believable pageant contestant to assist with an FBI sting -- and of course, she also learns about sisterhood, the value of self-confidence, and scores a hot romance as part of her journey. This combo gets the crown.
Read One and Only by Jenny Holiday; Watch 27 Dresses (2008)
Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series meets the ultimate always-a-bridesmaid, never-a-bride rom-com. In One and Only, Jane is the perfect bridesmaid, bending over backwards to make bride Elise happy, including babysitting the groom’s bad boy brother Cameron. Except Cameron has long-ceased to hold the troublemaker reputation that proceeds him and self-sacrificing Jane finds herself coming out of her shell and putting herself first for once in his presence. In 27 Dresses, Jane (Katherine Heigl) is obsessed with weddings and making sure other people’s special days are the stuff that dreams are made of -- when her sister comes to town and steals her crush, Jane finds her life turned upside down with the help of a cynical “Commitments” reporter intrigued by her penchant for being a bridesmaid. If you love rom-coms that circle around the drama of weddings, but also are about a woman finding her voice (and happily-ever-after), then toast to this perfect match.
Read Stripped by Zoey Castile; Watch Magic Mike XXL (2015)
Before it even hit shelves, Stripped was being touted as Magic Mike meets Bridesmaids, which is an extremely accurate representation of this book that follows elementary school teacher Robyn Flores’ chance romance with stripper Zac Fallon. Their meet-cute starts when his sequined thong accidentally ends up in her laundry bag. The book is both explosively hot and a non-judgmental look inside the world of stripping, enhanced by Castile’s own experiences as a nightlife manager. Jump from one smoking hot stripper romance to Magic Mike XXL, an epic tale of bromance with a heartfelt undercurrent of emotion as Mike takes his troupe on the road for one last hurrah. Throw all your dollar bills at this match-up.
Read For the Duke’s Eyes Only by Lenora Bell; Watch Romancing the Stone (1984)
Looking for an adventure with enough swoons for a hopeful romantic? Pair the treasure-hunting of Lenora Bell’s For the Duke’s Eyes Only with meta romance flick Romancing the Stone. In For the Duke’s Eyes Only, India Rochester is an archaeologist determined to uncover the forgotten women of history. She’s forced to pair off with her one weakness and mortal enemy, the dashing, antiquities hunting Duke of Ravenwood, when a relic is stolen from the British museum, and the two embark on a grand adventure. Similarly, when romance novelist Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) travels to Colombia to ransom her kidnapped sister, she finds herself embroiled in a dangerous treasure hunt with a dashing rogue named Jack Colton (Michael Douglas). What happens next is worthy of one of Joan's novels. If you want some extra thrills for Valentine’s Day, adventure is written all over this pairing.
Read Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka; Watch 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Megan Harper has never been lucky in love, but when she gets cast as the ultimate ingenue -- Juliet in Romeo and Juliet -- in her high school play, she’s forced to confront what barriers to happiness she might be creating for herself. The book is a sex-positive teen romance that unabashedly professes its love for Shakespeare on every page. Megan’s spiky exterior is a perfect match for Kat (Julia Stiles) in 10 Things I Hate About You, a teen rom-com based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The shared admiration for the Bard in both properties makes this a pairing more perfect than any of Shakespeare’s lovers.
Read Take the Lead by Alexis Daria; Watch Dirty Dancing (1987)
Dance is supposedly the language of love -- and with all that hip-swiveling and forced proximity, we can understand why the dance floor is the perfect place to spark chemistry. Alexis Daria’s Take the Lead takes the fish-out-of-water in the ballroom story to new heights with this tale of dance reality competitor Gina Morales and her romance with her partner, reality TV mountain man Stone Neilson. She resists producers attempts to foment a relationship between them in spite of their very real growing feelings. While Baby’s (Jennifer Grey) new moves in Dirty Dancing begin as a naïve attempt to help a girl who works at the Catskills resort she’s visiting, the sultry dance routine she learns quickly has her falling for bad-boy Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). Nobody puts this book and movie combo in a corner.
Read Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai; Watch An Affair to Remember (1957)
Like your romance with a heavy helping of angst? Look no further than the family feud tension between Nicholas and Livvy, old childhood sweethearts who reunite once a year for smoking hot sex. But when Livvy returns home unexpectedly, they can’t help but be drawn to each other – even as their emotional trauma, family history, and Livvy’s depression threaten to keep them apart. An Affair to Remember is an oft-cited weepy, even inspiring Rita Wilson’s teary-eyed monologue in Sleepless in Seattle. After falling in love onboard a cruise. Nickie (Cary Grant) and Terry (Deborah Kerr) agree to meet six months later atop the Empire State building to rekindle their romance – but fate intervenes in tragic ways. From their carefully time-stamped meetings to their mess of emotional misunderstandings, this is the ideal combo for those looking for some warm memories in the midst of their cold winter.
Read When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri; Watch Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)
When Katie Daniels is dumped by her fiancé, the last thing she’s looking for is a new romance or to make a major realization about her sexuality. But she can’t help but feel drawn to Cassidy Price, a sexy woman in menswear who challenges all of her preconceived notions about life and love. Kissing Jessica Stein is a similar moving tale of romantic discovery as the title character connects with career woman Helen Cooper and realizes her sexuality might be more fluid than she assumed. Crucial self-discovery alongside tender romance? Both this book and film have it in spades.