Rebecca, a bit frazzled and jetlagged from her transatlantic flight, arrives in Oxford for a year of study abroad. Struggling with her suitcases, she accepts the help of a handsome young man who shows her to her room. She jokes with him a bit (including some off-color but good-natured remarks about the Royal Family), then collapses on her bed after he leaves, exhausted, only to be startled when her new neighbor crashes into her room, asking if she’d met “him” yet? “Him” is Nicholas, Prince of Wales and future king of England and also, on occasion, helpful porter.
After this somewhat mortifying introduction, Rebecca (known as Bex), settles into having a prince as a classmate and becomes a member of the tight-knit circle surrounding the prince after proving her ability to be descrete. Bex and Nick become friends, bonding over bad television shows and junk food, gradually becoming confidents and finally, in love. A rocky romance begins, ends and then begins again, this time when they are both more mature and clear-eyed. But can the Prince marry his beloved, or will one more obstacle stop them at the alter?
Witty and fast-paced, The Royal We is a tons of fun. I admit I was skeptical at first but early on the heroine mentions that her hometown is Muscatine, Iowa. That peaked my interest, especially since I grew up in Muscatine myself. (No blunders or missteps in describing Muscatine or Iowa, although 95% of the book does take place in England!) The excellent writing kept me reading and the ups and downs of their adventures kept me entertained. Obiviously loosely based on the lives of Prince William and Princess Kate, it’s interesting to get a (supposed) peek behind the walls of The Firm (as the Royals call their institution). Conversations and actions of the circle of royal friends are made-up of course, but feel realistic and plausible. More interesting is the push and pull of Bex and Nick’s relationship – the conflict between duty and love, of doing what is expected of you vs what you want to do. What seems like a unique and special relationship in fact must struggle through many of the same issues that ordinary people must work through.
Recommended for a quick, fun read that is at turns funny and touching.
When I was growing up, I always had a secret hope that I would meet my significant other on a plane and we would magically fall in love, travel to an exotic location, and live happily ever after. When I reached high school, I realized that my plane-phobic self would actually have to get WILLINGLY on a plane(and not freak out) to do this… My child self was crushed. I would have to continue to look for those fairy tales in books.
Just last week, I stumbled upon a fiction romance novel called Dictatorship of the Dress by Jessica Topper that allowed me to live out my childhood fantasy of travel love. In this novel, Topper weaves together the lives of Laney Hudson, the dress bearer for her mother’s wedding, and Noah Ridgewood, a software designer on his way to his bachelor party. Laney is sick of hauling her mother’s dress around, as her mother seems to care only if the dress actually makes it to the wedding, not her daughter. As she carries the giant dress bag through the airport, she is constantly mistaken for the bride, a mistake Laney uses to her advantage so she can be bumped up to first class. Here she is seated next to Noah, who the flight crew mistakenly thinks is her husband-to-be. Enter in horrible winter weather, missed flights, Laney’s lost love, and an overbearing fiancé, Laney and Noah soon find themselves grounded in the last available honeymoon suite. The two must wrestle with events in their past that are holding them back from catching this new love connection.
Let me tell you about one of my favorite places in the library: the new shelves. The new shelves are the first place I look whenever I go into any library. They let me see what reading mood I am in before I decide to trek through the whole library, since I can never come into a library and leave in less than an hour… When I’m pressed for time, I wander the new shelves because I’m bound to find something, usually more than one something, that I want to read.
My latest new shelf discovery was A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev. In this fiction romance, Dev has woven a classic story of love, loyalty, and confusion. Mili Rathod was promised and married to her husband when she was 4 years old and hasn’t seen him since. For years, she waited for her husband to come back and rescue her. When he never shows up, Mili takes it upon herself to go to America to get an education, so she can become a more perfect modern bride. Enter in Samir Rathod, a famous Bollywood director, who just happens to be Mili’s brother-in-law. After an accident has injured his brother, Samir is sent to Michigan to convince Mili to sign the divorce papers. This should be easy, right? WRONG. Enter in last-name confusion, accidents, Samir’s writer’s block, and Mili’s crazy roommate’s love story, and readers are guaranteed to be hooked into this story and rooting for Mili to finally get her happily ever after.
The Dress Shop of Dreams is a captivating novel of enduring hopes, second chances, and the life-changing magic of true love.
Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires. Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora.
But magic spells–like true love–can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways. (description from publisher)
Paris Letters explores finding love and freedom in a pen, a paintbrush… and Paris
How much money does it take to quit your job? Exhausted and on the verge of burnout, Janice poses this questions to herself as she doodles on a notepad at her desk. Surprisingly, the answer isn’t as daunting as she expected. With a little math and a lot of determination, Janice cuts back, saves up, and buys herself two years of freedom in Europe.
A few days into her stop in Paris, Janice meets Christophe, the cute butcher down the street-who doesn’t speak English. Through a combination of sign language and franglais, they embark on a whirlwind Paris romance. She soon realizes that she can never return to the world of twelve-hour workdays and greasy corporate lingo. But her dwindling savings force her to find a way to fund her dreams again. So Janice turns to her three loves – words, art, and Christophe – to figure out a way to make her happily-ever-after in Paris last forever. (description from publisher)
A touching new novel from bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand in which a woman sets out to find love for those closest to her – before it’s too late.
48-year-old Nantucketer Dabney Kimball Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. Some call her ability mystical, while others – like her husband, celebrated economist John Boxmiller Beech, and her daughter, Agnes, who is clearly engaged to the wrong man – call it meddlesome, but there’s no arguing with her results: With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Dabney has never been wrong about romance. Never, that is, except in the case of herself and Clendenin Hughes, the green-eyed boy who took her heart with him long ago when he left the island to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Now, after spending 27 years on the other side of the world, Clen is back on Nantucket, and Dabney has never felt so confused, or so alive. But when tragedy threatens her own second chance, Dabney must face the choices she’s made and share painful secrets with her family. Determined to make use of her gift before it’s too late, she sets out to find perfect matches for those she loves most.
The Matchmaker is a heartbreaking story about losing and finding love, even as you’re running out of time. (description from publisher)
Ever since she was a little girl, Abby Wilkes dreamed of her wedding, the day when she’d wear a pretty white dress and look like a princess. . . . But that was before her life fell apart for the entire world to see. Her longtime boyfriend-turned-fiancé, Ben, unceremoniously dumped her – changing his status to single on Facebook – while she was trying on the most gorgeous Vera Wang dress for the big day in On the Rocks by Erin Duffy.
Six months and twenty pounds later, the usual remedies–cupcakes, a freezer stocked with pints of Ben and Jerry’s, sweatpants, and a comfy couch–haven’t worked their magic. Worried about her best friend, Grace devises the perfect plan to get Abby back on her game. The two of them are going to escape sweltering Boston and its reminders of Ben and head to Newport for the summer. In a quaint rented cottage by the sea, the girls will enjoy cool breezes, cocktails, and crowds of gorgeous men. But no matter which way they turn, Abby and Grace discover that in this era of social media – when seemingly everyone is preserving every last detail of their lives online and prying eyes are everywhere – there is no real escape.
Truth to tell, dating has never been easy. But now that the rules have changed and the boundaries are blurred beyond recognition, will they ever find true love? And if they do, how can romance stand a chance when a girl’s every word and move can go viral with a single click? As the summer winds down to Labor Day, Abby will make some surprising discoveries – about love, men, friendship . . . and, most important, herself. (description from publisher)
Who knows the ins and outs of romance better than a Harlequin editor? Romance is My Day Job by Patience Bloom gives us some insight into one editor’s search for love.
At some point, we’ve all wished romance could be more like fiction. Patience Bloom certainly did, many times over. As a teen she fell in love with Harlequin novels and imagined her life would turn out just like the heroines’ on the page: That shy guy she had a crush on wouldn’t just take her out – he’d sweep her off her feet with witty banter, quiet charm, and a secret life as a rock star. Not exactly her reality, but Bloom kept reading books that fed her reveries.
Years later she moved to New York and found her dream job, editing romances for Harlequin. Every day, her romantic fantasies came true – on paper. Bloom became an expert when it came to fictional love stories, editing amazing books and learning everything she could about the romance business. But her dating life remained uninspired. She nearly gave up on love. Then one day a real-life chance at romance made her wonder if what she’d been writing and editing all those years might be true. A Facebook message from a high school friend, Sam, sparked a relationship with more promise than she’d had in years. But Sam lived thousands of miles away – they hadn’t seen each other in more than twenty years. Was it worth the risk?
Finally, Bloom learned: Love and romance can conquer all. (description from publisher)
A novel of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas’s great romance from the New York Times bestselling author of My Name Is Mary Sutter.
The young Mary Cassatt never thought moving to Paris after the Civil War to be an artist was going to be easy, but when, after a decade of work, her submission to the Paris Salon is rejected, Mary’s fierce determination wavers. Her father is begging her to return to Philadelphia to find a husband before it is too late, her sister Lydia is falling mysteriously ill, and worse, Mary is beginning to doubt herself. Then one evening a friend introduces her to Edgar Degas and her life changes forever. Years later she will learn that he had begged for the introduction, but in that moment their meeting seems a miracle. So begins the defining period of her life and the most tempestuous of relationships.
In I Always Loved You, Robin Oliveira brilliantly re-creates the irresistible world of Belle Époque Paris, writing with grace and uncommon insight into the passion and foibles of the human heart. (description from publisher)
I’m pretty sure that if a cute stranger offered to take me to a romantic European city for the day, I would probably say “No, but thank you. I’m just too awkward for that.” And I wouldn’t even fret about possibly missing out on an experience of a lifetime because, luckily, there are plenty of young adult romances that can satisfy my “but what would have happened?!” curiosity. Just One Day by Gayle Forman (and its companion book, Just One Year) is the perfect choice for armchair travel because the heroine just happens to be quite introverted herself, and thus, very relatable to us classic Librarian-types 😉
Just One Day begins with sensible, quiet Allyson feeling ready for her graduation trip around Europe with a teen tour group to be over so she can go home to the States. Yeah, that whining-about-being-in-Europe part isn’t that relatable to me, but granted her best friend has gotten a little bit wild/annoying, and the tour skipped over Paris–the one city Allyson wanted to see on the tour. But then she runs into a cute street actor who had flirted with her during his performance the night before…AND HE OFFERS TO TAKE HER TO PARIS! YES! YES! YES! So Allyson tells him her name is Lulu and hops on the train to Paris with him (and then promptly has several panic attacks on the train about him leaving her, killing her, making a fool of her, etc–this is actually the moment where I went from liking the book to LOVING the book). Lulu/Allyson and Willem spend an amazing day running around Paris and then live happily ever after. Swooooooon.
Well, until the next morning when Allyson wakes up alone in an empty Paris art studio.
With lots of tears and panic, Allyson finds her way back to London and her tour group and then back home to the United States. We then follow her through her first year of college as she learns to overcome her broken heart and embarrassment. After a long self-inflicted isolation, new friends help Allyson discover that she needs to revisit Paris and find Willem–partly because she believes that there is a mystery surrounding the morning Willem left her and partly because she needs to prove to herself that she is in control of her life.
Sorry, I can’t tell you if she finds Willem…BUT I will tell you that the companion book Just One Year tells the story of what happened to Willem during his year apart from Lulu. He does quite a bit more traveling…that is all I will say.
These two books are a must read for fans of Stephanie Perkins, John Green and Maureen Johnson and anyone else who likes a little independence and a little travel with their romances.