“Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston. This political rom-com is set in an alternate universe where, instead of Trump winning the 2016 election, a woman won. Her son, Alex, falls in love with Henry, the Prince of England. With an ensemble cast of characters and a generous amount of feel-good, karaoke moments, this enemies-to-lovers romance is perfect for Valentine’s Day.
“I’ll Be The One” by Lyla Lee. Looking for a story where both the male and female love interests are bisexual? This novel is the one for you. Skye Shin’s Orange County life radically changes when she enters a K-pop competition. There, she meets model Henry Cho, another contestant. Can Skye prove to her mom — and the world — that fat girls can sing and dance?
“Beach Read” by Emily Henry. January, a romance writer, tries to mitigate writer’s block with her college rival, Augustus, a literary fiction writer, who also happens to live next door to her in the Michigan home she inherited from her dad. Together, they challenge each other to write in the other’s genre. Complete with lesbian side characters and a best friend who — mostly communicating by phone and text — is long distance, this novel about novels will bring you the warm fuzzies.
“The Kiss Quotient” and “The Bride Test” by Helen Hoang. This series is about characters with Asperger’s, written by an author who also has the condition. Described as a “reverse pretty woman,” the first book follows Stella, a successful econometrician, who hires Michael to be her practice boyfriend, after a coworker made a rude comment to her. Can their sexual chemistry keep these two from entering a relationship for real?
The second book follows Khai, Michael’s cousin, after Khai’s mom flies Esme, who lives in Vietnam, to the Bay Area as a potential marriage prospect for her son. As someone with Asperger’s, I personally related more to Khai’s symptoms than Stella’s, but both books are expertly crafted stories of love on the spectrum. The third one, “The Heart Principle,” comes out later this year.
“Autoboyography” by Christina Lauren. Tanner, who is half-Jewish and bisexual, signs up for The Seminar, a class where seniors write a book in a semester in his Provo, Utah high school. His TA, Sebastian, who is Mormon and closeted, graduated from his school last year, with a fantasy novel deal in tow. Will Tanner be able to revise his story, which is about Sebastian, in time before outing Sebastian to his entire school and the greater Mormon community?
“The Sun Is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon. Taking place over the course of a day, I recommend reading this book for hours on end in order to get the full effect of the passage of time. Natasha is pragmatic, determined to become a data scientist not because of passion, but because that is what best serves her skillset. Daniel aspires to be a poet, despite what his immigrant parents wish for him. He is here legally, but Natasha is scheduled to be deported to Jamaica, today. Can he convince her that true love exists, while, at the same time, thwarting her deportation?
“Written in the Stars” by Alexandria Bellefleur. Darcy, an actuary, uproots her life to move to Seattle after finding her ex in bed with another woman. Her brother, Brendon, sets her up on a date with Elle, an astrologer who believes in the mystical, which ends disastrously. To get Brendon off of her back, she agrees to fake date Elle, but will that stop her from catching real feelings?
“Wicked Fox” by Kat Cho. Want a paranormal romance redone by a person of color? “Wicked Fox” is for you! A retelling of the story of the gumiho or kitsune, Miyoung feeds on the gi, or life force, of the evil for sustenance and can transform into a nine-tailed fox. Her mom, also a gumiho, told her not to make any friends at her new high school in Seoul, but when Jihoon saves her from a goblin in the forest, Miyoung becomes tethered to him in ways she cannot imagine.