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Despite frequent reports of its death, the rom-com is alive and kicking.

Nowhere is that more evident than in romance publishing where rom-coms, contemporary and historical alike, are regularly hitting bestseller lists. We understand why readers have fallen hard: these books are just so darn much fun. Here are 9 of our favorite spring romance novels, all of which have rom-com laughs and feels in abundance.

In a New York Minute by Kate Spencer
Credit: Forever

In a New York Minute by Kate Spencer

Podcast host and memoirist Kate Spencer makes her fiction debut with this sunny rom-com. When Franny Doyle and Hayes Montgomery III have a chance subway meeting during what is possibly the worst day of her life, they go viral as millions on the internet completely misread their situation. Dubbed #SubwayQTs, Hayes and Franny are suddenly thrust into each other's orbit as they try to dismiss a connection that others have manufactured. After all, she's a bit eccentric, outgoing, and obsessed with bright colors, while he wears a designer suit every day and is painfully shy. But then they start realizing just how much they enjoy each other's company: underneath their exterior differences, they're both kind and comforting, an easy place for the other to rest. As Franny wrestles with starting her own business and discovering long-obscured truths about her biological father, Hayes is trying to find his footing after a painful divorce — and they soon become each other's rock in a crisis. Spencer writes with a wry lilt and a gift for dialogue. The novel is as much a love-letter to New York City as any Nora Ephron screenplay, an ode to sticky days in Central Park, bodega shopping, and the serendipity that can crash into you in a city that big and bustling. There's not an urgency to the storytelling as much as a cozy languidness, a book made to savor rather than devour. Franny and Hayes' connection thrives in smaller moments — a night planting a rooftop garden, an unexpected rainstorm. It celebrates the ways connections are forged not in grand gestures or viral meet-cutes, but instead in the quiet, in-between spaces where we have the grace to listen to our hearts and our most earnest needs. Spencer joins a crop of contemporary romance authors who understand the bittersweet edges of the genre, the ways that loss and hurt enrich our love stories if we can weather the storm. It's not angst so much as melancholy — the reminder that in a New York minute, everything can change. But maybe that's ok with the right person at your side.

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

Grade: A

Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma
Credit: Avon

Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma

When Nisha Sharma first announced her intentions to write a contemporary series that she dubbed "If Shakespeare Was an Auntie," it was hard to resist getting my hopes up. But thankfully, Sharma delivers on the concept and then some. Her first entry is inspired by The Taming of the Shrew (not the most natural rom-com fodder, but hey, if 10 Things I Hate About You can do it, why not?). Kareena Mann has always been more focused on her career than her love life, even if she does dream of one day finding her soulmate. But when her father announces plans to sell her late mother's home, she's determined to get engaged within four months so that he'll gift it to her. Things get further complicated when her failed hook-up with gorgeous cardiologist Dr. Prem Varma leads to them both going viral after she confronts him about his refusal to believe in love, live on his TV program, The Dr. Dil Show. The two realize they could be the answer to each other's problems — if they didn't have totally opposing views on love and arranged marriage. But the more time they spend together, the more they fall for each other, even if Prem refuses to admit it to himself. It turns a historically problematic play into a charming rom-com dotted with the interference of Kareena's well-meaning, overbearing aunties and her challenges to instill boundaries amidst the traditions of her South Asian family. Sharma paints a vivid world, crafting a story that both believes in happily-ever-afters without seeing the need to completely discount the value of an arranged marriage within her culture. Prem is swoony, except for his unfortunate tendency to call his genitals "Charlie." Despite his frustrating scientific refusal to believe in love, we slowly come to understand why he's built these walls. Kareena is a vibrant heroine, one who is unapologetically herself, whether it's in her favorite sweater vests, her love of her career, or her refusal to accept anything but true love with a partner who respects and values her. The pop culture references and delectable banter are only rivaled by the steamy sex scenes (quite literally in the case of a shower scene so filthy it could use some Mr. Clean). Sharma knows how to craft a tale with a blend of irresistible rom-com hijinks and real world stakes that makes it easy to get lost in her work.

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Grade: A-

With Love from Rose Bend by Naima Simone
Credit: HQN

With Love from Rose Bend by Naima Simone

Naima Simone continues her small-town Rose Bend series with this entry about two people fighting to overcome their past trauma in order to find happiness. Owen Stafford has come to Rose Bend to hide. The retired professional football player is still nursing emotional and physical wounds after a devastating car accident and wants to be left alone. But that goes out the window when the one-night stand he can't forget shows up on his front. Leontyne Dennison has lived in Rose Bend all her life, and she has no idea that the football player she's been sent to recruit for their annual spring festival is also the man responsible for the hottest sex of her life. Both Leo and Owen nurse deep-seated trauma over loss, the way they're perceived by their families, and the exceedingly high expectations they believe they must hold themselves to. It almost demolishes their own shot at love, as they're reluctant to surrender themselves to the risk. The story is packed with charming small-town fare, including the aforementioned spring festival, which includes Leo being roped into competing in their annual pageant. The town is lively and inviting, the type of place one suspects might only truly exist in fiction. But Simone is never one to back away from angst and bigger issues, threading themes of guilt, miscarriage, and parental expectation throughout the storytelling. She handles it all deftly, granting her characters as much care as they do each other. But the novel can sag a bit, Leo and Owen's pity parties and fear being dragged out just a hair too long. Still, we can't imagine not wanting to make a return trip to Rose Bend.

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Grade: B

To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters
Credit: Headline Eternal

To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters

Martha Waters is quickly becoming one of our favorite historical romance authors. Her wry sense of humor paired with kind-hearted characters always produces a winning, tender combination. Hamstrung by her father's debts, Emily Turner has spent six seasons on the marriage market making herself smaller for the sake of propriety. But when friend and rakish theater owner Julian Belfry proposes a marriage of convenience, she senses a way out from under the thumb of her snobbish parents. However, as Emily and Julian realize that they each have different aims for their marriage, they also start to develop all too real feelings. Waters has a unique gift for writing funny, genuinely kind people whose greatest fault is their own idiocy when it comes to matters of the heart. Her prose, despite being set in Regency England, is crisply modern and delightful, more like reading a text from your best friend (albeit one that happens to be rife with corsets and historical detail). But it's the deep well of caring that her characters have for each other — as lovers and friends — that sets her work apart. To Marry and To Meddle is perhaps the grandest realization of that, as Julian and Emily put the needs of others first to a fault. Emily is a sparkling heroine, one whose marriage of convenience allows her to come into herself in ways she did not even expect. Julian is a man who refuses to acknowledge that his entire life has been built on trying to prove something to his father, now too proud and stubborn to mend the relationship he secretly values most. They help each other find a way forward, allowing the other to become the most honest, vulnerable version of themselves, expectations be damned. Waters' colorful cast of characters, including the protagonists of her previous two novels, dot the action with irresistible hijinks. And there's even a devilishly adorable kitten, Cecil, who proves the most diverting on-page pet I've read about in ages. There's a specificity to Waters' work, a humor utterly grounded in the idiosyncrasies of our daily lives that rings true even within the exorbitant wealth and absurd societal rules of the ton. But in a time where cruelty in and of itself seems to be the point, Waters' words — the abject decency of her characters — are the softest, gentlest hug. Each new title from her is a cozy, twinkling gift to hold dear.

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

Grade: A

Something Wilder by Christina Lauren
Credit: Gallery Books

Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

With the success of the movie The Lost City and this latest entry from inimitable writing duo Christina Lauren, adventure romance is back, baby! A decade ago Lily Wilder (yes, she's named after the heroine of Romancing the Stone) and Leo Grady were going to be each other's forever. But when tragedy and misunderstanding split them apart, Lily was left with nothing, except her famous treasure hunter father, Duke, and his reams of hand-drawn maps of Utah canyons. Lily has spun Duke's reputation and his papers into a struggling business, leading tourists on "treasure" hunts that follow in the footsteps of Butch Cassidy and his gang. But when her latest booking thrusts Leo back into her life, the two have to risk both their lives and their hearts to uncover the truth about Duke — and each other. This is a sure-footed departure for Lauren, taking their signature brand of humor, steam, and whimsy and injecting it with a shot of pure adrenaline. As Leo and Lily race against the elements and unexpected betrayals, they face very real jeopardy at every turn. But there's nothing quite like rekindling a romance with a good danger bang and the impending threat of death or dismemberment. They have crafted a rip-roaring adventure (complete with a superb author's note warning readers not to try this at home). Leo and Lily burn with yearning for each other, the hurt of their respective losses and abandonment barely superseding their want. But the brilliance of the storytelling is how essential they are to each other in completing this mission. Yes, Leo is a genius with numbers and codes, but it's his steadiness and loyalty that help Lily heal the unresolved wounds of her past. The deep caring and tenderness between them also helps root the propulsive action of the narrative in a relatable and real place. I can only hope this is the start of a trend for more adventure stories in romance. Who wouldn't want to go on a treasure hunt — and fall in love — all from the comfort of your couch?

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Grade: A

Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Credit: Berkley

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

It is humanly impossible for Emily Henry to write a bad book. Her particular blend of grief and messy relationships is a heady cocktail of intoxicating yearning. She returns to the publishing world here with successful agent, Nora Stephens, and persnickety editor, Charlie Lastra. Nora has a reputation as a cutthroat agent, a woman who has given her entire life to her clients. But she can't say no to her little sister Libby when she begs her to accompany her on a trip to the town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. The last person Nora expects to run into there is Charlie, with whom she's never had a pleasant interaction. But as the two are increasingly thrown together, they find that they might have more in common than they ever dreamed. Whatever Henry decides to spear, be it literary posturing or vacation rom-com, she subverts her subjects in the most delicious ways. Here, it is Hallmark movies, specifically their favorite villains — the big city significant other who has no work-life balance and whose entire personality is having a toxic relationship with a metropolis. On the surface, Nora is one of these women. So much so that her own client renders a thin imitation of her in her next novel, Frigid. But Charlie loves Nora's drive, her ambition, all the things that make her a shark. He's turned on by her deep caring that others mistake for a mercenary approach to life. What's more — Nora is like this for a reason. Still reeling from the sudden death of her mother 10 years prior, she's spent a decade protecting her heart, erecting walls, and keeping her sister happy at the cost of anything else. Charlie knows about sacrifice and the concept of making yourself smaller to align with someone else's needs. In each other, they unlock their most secret desires and a promise of what life could look like lived to its fullest. Henry gets in plenty of her cheeky sense of humor, particularly in Libby's determination that they complete a checklist of small town cliches. But the book's real magic lies in its melancholy heart, its sense that asking for everything you ever wanted is a dangerous game. Both Charlie and Nora are, as the title suggests, book lovers — people who believe in the all-consuming, healing power of story and the restorative scent of a bookstore or a library. This book is for everyone like them out there, and those who believe that happy endings are always worth the risk.

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Grade: A

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory
Credit: Hyperion Avenue

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory

Jasmine Guillory, contemporary romance darling, expands beyond her Guillory Extended Universe to join Disney Publishing's Meant to Be series, adult romance novels that re-imagine the stories of classic Disney princesses as updated, modern takes. Guillory tackles Beauty and the Beast, transposing it to the world of publishing. Isabelle has been toiling as an editorial assistant for two years, burnt out on the bad pay, lack of opportunities, and the toll of being one of the only Black employees at her publishing house. She sees a chance to prove her worth in getting her boss' beastly high-profile client to deliver his long-awaited manuscript. But it means she has to travel to Beau Towers' Santa Barbara mansion and convince him that he is capable of producing an insightful memoir. But Beau is hurt and lost, jaded in his isolation. Soon, Isabelle finds herself needing to coax a story from him beyond just fulfilling her job expectations. Guillory cleverly plays with the Disney source material, finding ways to thread memorable song lyrics, plot points, and costumes into the storytelling. Her take on the "enchantment" of the Beast's castle is clever maneuvering for the story's new setting. Beau and Isabelle have lovely chemistry, and for anyone who's ever possessed dreams of a literary romantic gesture, this will make you swoon. Sometimes, especially for what was arguably Disney's most impactful film of the animation Renaissance, it can feel a bit slight. But Guillory wisely layers in parental trauma and family secrets to explain Beau's behavior, banishing any pesky hints of imprisonment or Stockholm syndrome. Beauty and the Beast is, for a generation of audiences, one of the most enchanting love stories ever told. By the Book could likely never live up to such a bar, but Guillory manages to capture that magic while still grounding her novel in the real world.

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥

Grade: B+

Romance Books 2022 A Caribbean Heiress in Paris
Credit: HQN

A Caribbean Heiress in Paris by Adriana Herrera

Historical romance has to fight an uphill battle against its tendency to skew extremely white, existing in a fantasy world that ignores the more problematic issues of the past. But now there's Adriana Herrera to give readers a lush historical romance that is escapist, diverse, meticulously researched, and willing to engage with the hard subjects in ways that only elevate the happy ending. In 1889, heiress Luz Alana travels from Santo Domingo to the World Exposition in Paris to expand her family's rum business into a true empire. Hampered by sexism and lack of access to her inheritance (unless she marries), she finds the ideal business partner — and lover — in whisky purveyor James Evanston Sinclair, Earl of Darnick. Adriana Herrera's novel is as layered, spiced, and intoxicating as Luz's rum but its most effective aspect is the sobering ways it layers its indictments of colonialism and slavery amid luscious romance and revenge. Bridgerton has come under fire for the ways its diverse casting laid over white source material skirts any real engagement with these questions, and it's a valid criticism. If creators want to see how to make historical romance that acknowledges the world as it was while still giving people of color and queer people the happily-ever-afters they deserve, they should take a page out of Herrera's book. A Caribbean Heiress in Paris is a vital shot in the arm to the sub-genre, and we hope it's catching.

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Grade: A

The Wedding Crasher: A Novel by Mia Sosa
Credit: Avon

The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa

Mia Sosa can write a wedding rom-com like no one's business and The Wedding Crasher is the perfect blend of fake dating and fuzzy feels. When Solange Pereira is roped into helping her wedding planner cousin, she never intended to stumble upon the fact that the bride is in love with someone else. As a dyed-in-the-wool romantic, Solange has no choice but to stop the wedding — something that Dean Chapman, who was a-ok with his marriage of convenience, is none too pleased about. But they both end up being a solution to a mutual problem, and Solange agrees to fake date Dean to make up for blowing up his wedding. Of course, pretending often feels an awful lot like the real thing and it doesn't take long before they both start wanting more. But can Solange stop putting up walls long enough for Dean to decide his itemized life plan has some room for spontaneity and love? In their cheekiness and stubbornness, Sosa crafts two characters who are obviously perfect for each other from the word go. Even their baggage aligns, with Solange afraid of a guy who will cut and run and Dean unwilling to let himself take the risk of falling in love. But amidst all her banter, hilarious situational humor, and the vibrant family and friends that populate Dean and Solange's lives, Sosa reminds readers that we don't get to choose when or who we fall for — all we can do is have the courage to surrender.

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Grade: A-

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