Valentine Reads

It’s that time of year again.  And if it’s anything I’ve learned from all the reading I’ve been doing, it’s what’s good in the romance department.  Looking for a good book with a happily ever after?  Try one of these.

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Romantical:

The ones in this category have swoon-worthy romance, but are PG rated:

  • Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell – Lincoln hasn’t got it all figured out. Which is why he moves in with his mom and takes a job reading company emails for suspicious or banned content.  But when witty Beth and Jennifer’s correspondence keeps getting flagged, Lincoln finds himself fascinated and then falling for one of the girls (who don’t know they’re being monitored).  Hijinks ensue, both heartbreaking and hopeful.  I ended up falling as much in love with the book as I did the characters.
  • Dear Mr. Knightly, by Katherine Reay – Sam gets a scholarship to her dream college, practically a miracle for a foster kid in and out of shelters her whole life. The only catch?  She has to write to the donor, addressing him as Mr. Knightly, and tell him about her life.  She befriends a former professor and his wife – both childless and happy to have her around.  She also gets close with charming Alex, an alum of the writing program she’s in.  And then there’s the identity of Mr. Knightley… which all become an amalgamation of a surprise ending.
  • Midnight in Austenland, by Shannon Hale – When Charlotte’s husband leaves her for a woman named Justice, the only thing she wants is to leave her kids with the step-family, her American worries behind, and have a dream vacation in a recreation of Austen’s England. But things aren’t right in Austenland.  There are money problems, and people are disappearing.  Is it part of the ambiance, a planned story line; or is it real?  And what about the cute guy who’s supposed to be her “brother?”

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Historical:

Another bunch of PG reads that are set in history, and not today.

  • Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart – 1940s? 1960s?  Linda takes a job as a governess in a French Chateau and soon learns that there is a plot to end her small charge’s life.  It is impossible to tell who is in it and who is out, and she must put aside her only chance at love amidst a very lonely life to make sure the small boy is safe.  Casinos, fast cars, moonlit balls, beautiful forests, and much Peggity all combine to make this book magical.
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen – This one gets much less attention than some of Austen’s others.  But you have to feel sorry for poor Anne Elliot as she’s attempting to save her crazy family from themselves when she can’t even save herself.  She listened to bad advice, and now she has to watch her one true love court another.  Until an accident proves that they might still be suited to each other, and still in love.  Plus, you know, bonus points for hunky Captain Wentworth.
  • A Tangled Web by L. Montgomery – 1920s. When Aunt Becky leaves her coveted jug to an unnamed person – to be revealed a year after her death – it sets off all sorts of crazy happenings amongst her Dark and Penhallow cousins on Prince Edward Island.  Love stories of the entire clan entwine, untangle, and mix in ways they never would have if that infamous jug hadn’t been at stake.  It’s a little trite, but it’s FULL of hilarious characters, and one of my favorites.

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Fantastical:

For books that are full of fantasy, but still have happy endings:

  • Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell – Yeah, but she’s my favorite! At a wizard school in England, Simon Snow is trying to find out what happened to his roommate and enemy, Basilton Grimm-Pitch, while also fighting the Insidious Humdrum (who shares Simon’s face) with the help of his friends Penelope Bunce and Agatha Wellbelove.  The dead start to appear, the magicless spots start to spread, and the only thing that’s certain is that Simon and Baz are enemies.  Whether they want to be or not.
  • Stardust, by Neil Gaiman – In the town of Wall, a star falls in the night sky. Tristan tells his true love, Victoria, that he will bring it back for her.  But when he journeys through faerie to find it, he realizes that stars there aren’t at all like stars here, and she’s not a lump of metal but a beautiful woman.  Tristan isn’t the only one who is interested in finding her, though, and together they must escape a band of murderous brothers and an evil witch (among others) to get back to the town of Wall.
  • Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede – It’s regency England, and cousins Cecelia and Kate are forced to spend the season alone when Kate goes to London and Cecelia must stay home. But when Kate refuses to take a drink from a chocolate pot at the royal convention of wizards, and the liquid burns through her dress, they’re both suddenly thrust into a scheme in which the life of a powerful magician is at stake.  But with their society debuts coming up, and dresses and beaux on the line, deadly magic is just one of their concerns.  Bonus: it reads like it was a blast to write.

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Hawt:

These are the historical romances with all the naughty stuff in.  Most definitely R, and possibly X?  Don’t read unless you can stand growling gentlemen and naïve ladies.

  • A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James – When Kate’s stepsister is too unwed and pregnant to go to the prince’s betrothal ball, her stepmother insists that Kate go and pretend to be her sister instead. 3 small rats of a dog, several technicolor wigs, a fairy godmother, some capsized boats, and a hot prince in a tower later, and Kate might just be able to find happily ever after.  If she can get that princess out of the way first.
  • Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn – One of the Bridgerton books (4, I think?), but you don’t have to have read the rest for this one to be enjoyable. It’s a silly book with a scathing gossip columnist, a heroine who looks like a lemon tart, a CRAZY secret, a beau who is always hungry, and some steamy romance along the way.
  • Much Ado About You by Eloisa James – I know. But just ignore the name for a minute, okay? It’s a book about 4 sisters who, when their father dies, are left as the wards of a man who hardly knew him with nothing but a purebred horse each for a dowry.  The best thing to do, of course, is for Tess to marry well so she can take care of the lot of them.  She’s the oldest, and the Earl of Mayne is interested.  It’s practically her duty to walk down the aisle.  But when Mayne is MIA, who will Tess marry instead?  The whole series is good, and this is the first of them.  Essex sisters for the win!
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