Fall in love with these modern romance recommendations


Maya Martinez

The Young Adult section in Barnes & Noble. Photo by Maya Martinez / Mass Media Staff

Katrina Sanville, Arts Editor

Though Valentine’s Day has come and gone, the romantic spirit still lingers for some, and even sticks around throughout the year. Romantic movies and books aren’t just for Valentine’s Day, however finding romance books with realistic characters and settings amidst novels like “50 Shades of Gray” and the traditional, outdated romance novel can be something akin to finding a needle in a haystack. However, many authors have written novels to reflect modern audiences and modern relationships to draw in readers, including these few select picks.

If you’re looking to find a book that covers several bases—begrudged friends to lovers, Jewish and Muslim main characters and love interests, and getting involved in politics long before you can vote—look no further than “Yes, No, Maybe So” by Becki Albertalli and Aisha Saeed. The novel follows Jamie and Maya as they canvas and volunteer for their state’s Senate elections. While it can be a bit slow to get into at first, this Young Adult novel was a fun read for those informed on politics or those looking to get a bit more involved.

Fake dating is a classic book trope, but if you’re on the hunt for something new to read from this theme, pick up “Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating” by Adiba Jaigirdar. As the title implies, the Young Adult novel follows classmates Hani and Ishu as they get into a fake dating scheme to help uphold a lie after Hani comes out to her friends and tells them she’s dating Ishu, a girl her friends hate. Fake dating turns to real feelings, and with discussions of homophobia, racism, Islamophobia and familial relationships wrapped into an adorable romance, this novel is absolutely worth a read.

If a series is what you’re in the mood for, give The Brown Sisters trilogy a try, specifically its first book, “Get a Life, Chloe Brown.” The trilogy, as its name states, follows each of the three Brown sisters throughout their romances with their specific love interests. Though they can be read as stand-alones, I personally found reading all three novels to benefit the story much more than just reading one on its own. All three sisters are Black and plus size, and Chloe is chronically ill.

In “Get a Life, Chloe Brown,” Chloe decides to move out of her family home and have some freedom and rebellion in her life. However, despite the fact that she has it planned out, she still has no idea what to do until she meets the effortlessly rebellious “Red” Morgan. Although “Take a Hint, Dani Brown” is my favorite of the trilogy, “Get a Life, Chloe Brown” is perfect for those who are a fan of the enemies to lovers trope. Just as a note, this series is categorized as Adult Romance, so it is a bit more explicit in some scenes than a novel like “Yes, No, Maybe So” or “Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating” would be, and I would not recommend reading this around family members.

For those looking for something a bit less realistic, try either of Casey McQuiston’s novels. McQuiston’s debut novel, “Red, White, and Royal Blue” blew up in popularity on every reading list and TikTok account, not only for its witty dialogue but also the captivating storyline. “Red, White, and Royal Blue” follows Alex, son of the President of the United States, and Henry, Prince of England, as they are forced to get along to keep peace amongst the two countries which eventually devolves into romance.

“One Last Stop,” McQuiston’s sophomore novel, is set in New York City and follows former ameutur detective August Landry as she moves to the city to get a fresh start and meets Jane, an impossibly mysterious and beautiful girl on the subway who seems to be permanently stuck in the 1970s. With the help of her roommates, her detective skills and Jane herself, August is able to piece together that Jane isn’t simply aesthetically in the ‘70s, but stuck on the train—and the ‘70s—because of a freak time loop. Both of McQuiston’s Adult Romances have an incredible cast of characters, the much beloved found family trope, hilarious dialogue and endings that will make you cry your eyes out, and they’re some of my favorite books. McQuiston also has a Young Adult novel coming out on May 3 called “I Kissed Shara Wheeler” for those who’ve already read their other works.

Whether you like your romance novels steamy or sweet, in ebook, audiobook or physical paper form, there’s something out there for everyone. Hopefully these novels were able to give you some inspiration for your next trip to the library or bookstore, and if not, wander around the stacks for a few minutes and you’ll be sure to find something of interest. Happy reading!