Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Romance Books For Romance Haters

This week, we’re talking about romance. I’m not the biggest fan of romance-heavy books. The love lives of random people don’t interest me. My own love life doesn’t even interest me. I tend to avoid romance-focused books, but here are ten that have earned my “Does Not Suck” stamp. The romance is part of the story, but it's not the whole story.

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Romance-Focused Books I Actually Enjoyed

1. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she's determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda's been keeping? It's that at her old school, she used to be Andrew.

2. The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

London, summer 1763. At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher's apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him. 

The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead. Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub. But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.

3. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

A coming-of-age tale of fanfiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

5. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery, and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

6. Blankets by Craig Thompson

Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry between two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith.

7. Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

8. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now, Henry and Flora.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured—a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

9. Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

10. Cold Summer by Gwen Cole

Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.

Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

What’s your favorite book with romance?


  1. I'm actually not a fan of Rainbow Rowell. I tried to like her writing but to no avail :/

  2. I loved Blankets, too! And I'm generally not a romance fan, so you really hit the nail on the head there.

    My TTT.

  3. Well, I enjoyed all of these that I've read (Fangirl, Carry On, and Simon), and If I Was Your Girl and Gentleman's Guide are on my "Must Read Soon" list. So I guess I need to read the rest of these too...

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  4. I love your topic! As a self-proclaimed romance hater myself, it's quite relatable. I loved Aristotle and Dante, and I'm going to have to check out some of these other books! I just ordered Carry On, so I'm excited to see that on your list. :D I'm also really looking forward to A Gentleman's Guide, too. Thanks for the recommendations!

    Here's my TTT post.

  5. I kind of had the same problem. I read such a variety and enjoy so many different genres. I guess romance is basically the one I read the least. I've started getting into science fiction so it could count too I guess.

  6. I think it's hard not to like Simon. The book was just adorable and feel-good. I love RR, and Fangirl was a good read for me.

  7. The Game of Love and Death sounds so interesting!

  8. I liked Fangirl! That was such a pleasant surprise for me, and early in my blogging days so I was just discovering all kinds of YA gems. :)

    Cold Summer sounds really interesting too!

  9. I've only read a few of these, but I loved If I Was Your Girl and Gentleman's Guide! One of these days I'll get to Blankets!

  10. I own 3 or 4 of these and have read exactly none of them. I do like romance so I should give them a try soon.

  11. This post is great because I definitely qualify as a romance hater. Listen, I enjoy a good romance in a book that isn't about that romance, but I hate when the story is entirely centered around a relationship. Carry On is a perfect example because I loved that one.

  12. "Blankets" and "Cold Summer" both sound intriguing. Maybe they even go together :)

    I have actually read two Nichols Sparks books--they should give me a pass from ever having to read a romance book again, right? Guess which books?

  13. How do you not like romance books?! Haha, I love all things romance, but I must say that from this list I have only read Fangirl. Maybe it's time for me to come out of my comfort zone and try some of the other books :)

  14. I used to not gravitate towards romantic books either buuuut, I don't know?! I got old and grey and kinda like some soft romances. :') But yeah!! I ADORE Simon Vs, Ari & Dante, Fangirl, and The Gentleman's Guide here!! Also Carry On, omg I cannot wait for the sequel. I read Red White & Royal Blue this year and looooved it, and that's just outright romance haha.

  15. You know I'm no romance fan but there are a few books that had romance that I enjoyed. DelSheree Gladden's 'Someone Wicked This Way Comes' YA paranormal series nearly broke my heart with that forbidden love with Ketchup and Van...*whimpers*.

  16. I've read all of these except The Butcher's Hook and Cold Summer, so now I want to go read those, of course. You've mentioned the first one several times--I really need to read it!

  17. I loved Simon Vs., and I still need to read The Butcher's Hook! Thanks for sharing your list. 👍✨

  18. I love Simon Vs., Fangirl, Ari and Dante, and Gentlemen's Guide. I hope to read Carry On soon; I've owned it since it came out - I'm the worst with books I own. LOL


  19. Ahh this is a lovely list! I really need to read Fangirl, hoping to very soon, I can't wait. I've heard so many great things about it. I'm happy to see The Game of Love & Death on your list, as well! I have this book on my TBR, I'm eager to read it :)

  20. I really liked Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell's short story "Midnights" is pretty good too, although I haven't read anything else by her.

  21. Fangirl is such an amazing book! I loved it too!