Posts Tagged 'Romance'

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Genre: Romance

Lina is spending the summer in Italy with the father she’s never known after the tragic death of her mom. Howard, her father, seems eager to please and although he wants to explain why he hasn’t been a part of her life Lina puts him off because she’s not ready to hear it just yet. Meanwhile, she receives the diary her mother kept the year she went to art school in Italy and she slowly begins learning what happened to her mother the year before she got pregnant. Lina also meets a local boy named Ren who agrees to show her around Florence and introduce her to other students of the American high school, a place Lina still isn’t sure she wants to go in the fall. As Ren and Lina become friends she allows him to read her mother’s journal and the two of them decide to start retracing her mother’s footsteps. Can they get to the bottom of why Lina’s mom left Italy and Lina’s father behind when she clearly loved it there? Will she ever learn why Howard was never a part of her life? Will Lina and Ren become more than friends?

This romance story has a beautiful setting in Italy and Lina does visit everything from famous landmarks to local restaurants, which makes for a fun journey. Lina’s grief for her mother is very clearly illustrated with her words and actions, but it is still frustrating to watch her struggle to find the truth when it could have been so much easier if she had trusted those around her. At times, both Lina and Ren act in ways that don’t seem to fit with their character up to that point, but as everyone knows, sometimes you can’t help how you feel. Recommended for audiences that enjoy romances.

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Genre: Romance

Yvette’s world shatters when her parents announce they are getting divorced and her belief is true love is put to the test. She does not react well to the news that her mother, her sister, and her must move out of their family home and into a smaller apartment and decides it is time to downsize her belongings as well. She takes all of her favorite romance books to donate to a free library. When she is there a mysterious woman convinces her to take a book in return for her donation and she grabs the book titled Instructions for Dancing. After receiving this book, Yvette notices that every time she sees a couple kiss she see flashes of their entire relationship from beginning to end, and they always end. This only cements her belief that love never lasts and she decides if she gets rid of the book she might not see these premonitions anymore. She notices that there is an address inside for a local dance studio and goes to return the book, but the instructor sees something in her and convinces her to practice for a big ballroom dancing competition. Yvette does not know why, but she feels drawn to the dance floor and her magnaminous partner, X. Can she really get involved with someone when she is so down on romance at the moment? Will she ever be able to reconcile with her father after he tore their family apart?

Fans of Nicola Yoon will not be disappointed with this story about two very thought out characters and their struggle to find their way in a complicated world. There are also many interesting side characters that prove nothing is ever as cut and dried as it first appears. Not all young adult readers enjoy reading romances, but this one truly has something for everyone if they are willing to give it a chance. The characters are all going through very relatable issues and most everyone can find something they can identify with. Highly recommended.

Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson

Genre: Romane/Realistic Fiction

Nala Robertson is a very typical teenager who enjoys relaxing and having fun, so when she has go to an open mic night for an activist group for her cousin’s birthday she isn’t too excited. However, the emcee for the event, Tye, immediately catches Nala’s eye and she finds a way to talk to him after the show. He is funny, charismatic, and passionate, which Nala loves, but he is also a very serious activist for causes he cares about. Nala is worried he won’t like her since she doesn’t have any strong causes that she supports, so she lies and tells him she volunteers at her grandmother’s assisted living home, amongst other things. She knows she will be in trouble if Tye or anyone else finds out about her lies, but she’s so afraid he won’t like her if he knew the real Nala. Can she ever face the truth of who she is and will that be enough for Tye? Will she begin to change like those around her to find things she cares about and is willing to dedicate all her time and energy to?

This engaging story tackles serious issues such as finding ways to love yourself and mother/daughter issues, but does so in a way that feels light and fun. Many readers will be able to identify with Nala and her fear of not being accepted, sometimes even by herself, for who she truly is. At the same time, she must realize that people are constantly changing and growing and it’s absolutely possible to change yourself at any stage of life. Several of the supporting characters are fun, such as Nala’s grandmother and all of her friends at the assisted living home. There are many examples of love in this story and it’s through all these different relationships that Nala begins to understand how love is present in her life and how she contributes love to those around her. Recommended for fans of romances, but also for people who enjoy real stories about unique people.

All This Time by Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott

Genre: Romance

From the same authors as Five Feet Apart, this romance story begins with Kyle learning that his longtime girlfriend is actually not going to go to the same college as he is on their graduation night. There is a terrible storm and as they fight about their future together they get into a terrible accident where Kyle is seriously injured and Kimberly dies. He struggles for months to heal and get up every morning knowing that Kimberly is gone. He shuts out friends, puts college on hold, and generally fails to progress in any way. Then, he meets Marley and everything starts to change. Marley has also lost someone close to her and the two of them begin to work through their grief together, but as they begin to find happiness they feel overwhelming guilt that they are here and those they lost are not. Both of them harbor guilt about how their loved one died as well. Kyle can’t help shake the feeling that something will come along to disrupt his happiness because he doesn’t think he deserves it, and something definitely does but it’s something you won’t see coming. Can he fight for what he had with Marley or is it just not the right time?

This story definitely keeps the reader guessing as the plot takes some serious twists. Kyle’s relationship with Kimberly has kept him from truly living his best life and he’s starting to realize that, but also feels terrible about the fact that Kimberly is not there anymore. Marley, meanwhile, has faced some terrible things as well and because of that struggles to truly open up and believe in happy endings and forgiveness. Recommended for fans who enjoy unique romance stories such as The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park.

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Genre: Historical Fiction and 495 pages

Set in 1957 Madrid, Ana is working at the newly opened American hotel and Daniel has traveled to Madrid with his parents from Texas. Daniel’s mother is Spanish and always wanted to travel there with him, but under Francisco Franco’s rule Americans were not welcome for many years and tourism has only recently opened up. Ana’s family is struggling to pay bills and she is very grateful for the job she has at the hotel, but her and Daniel immediately feel a connection and begin spending time together despite everyone telling them it can only end badly. Daniel aspires to be a photojournalist and takes his fancy camera everywhere, even though the Italian soldiers have tried to intimidate him into not taking any photos of the “real Madrid.” Daniel feels fairly confident that nothing bad will happen to him since he is an American with a powerful father, but Ana knows that the Italian police can make her and her family’s life very hard so she tries to keep her head down and do what is expected of her. Meanwhile, Ana’s cousin and brother have noticed some unusual occurrences at their places of work. Puri, Ana’s cousin, works at an orphanage and begins to suspect that not all of the babies brought to her are actually orphans. Rafa, Ana’s brother, works as a grave digger and he begins to notice that many of the infant coffins that arrive from the local hospital are actually empty. What is happening to the babies in Italy and why is their reported infant mortality rate so high? Is it something Daniel could investigate on his road to hopefully becoming a photojournalist or is it too dangerous? Is there any way for Daniel and Ana to be together or do they just come from too many different backgrounds to make it work?

Once again, Ruta Sepetys has highlighted a time and a place in history that many people do not know much about and put a human face on it. Many aspects of this time period in Madrid are discussed and readers will want to know more about all of the characters. Even some of the less likable characters have understandable reasons for why they act the way they do. The environment has bred fear and want among the Italians and they aren’t sure if it will ever get any better since it’s already pretty far after the war. The characters are all so engaging that readers will find they simply do not want to stop reading about them, but the setting is also unique and thought provoking on its own. Recommended for fans of historical fiction.

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Genre: Romance and # of Pages: 313

Mia was accepted into an elite ballet program in Paris for the summer and she very much wants to make the most of this opportunity, but along the way she really wants to immerse herself in the culture as well. Unfortunately, shortly after she arrives she learns that her rival back home was also accepted to the program and she must face her ridicule all summer. She also meets a very cute boy on the steps of her dorm and he helps her out of a tough situation early on which endears him to her all the more. Mia’s also curious about a family legend in which it is believed her ancestor was a famous ballerina. Some believe the legend wholeheartedly while others claim it is a myth. Her new Parisian friend offers to help her find out if the story is true. As they spend more time together she begins to wish she never had to go back home, but then her romance is exposed and she is shamed for having a summer romance when her focus should be entirely on ballet. She is heartbroken and embarrassed, but she can’t help but wonder how her romance was exposed. Was it her ballet rival? Was it someone else who wanted her spot in the final showcase? Is it possible to work hard and still have a little fun this summer?

This fun romance offers quite a setting with both the ballet school and Paris and readers will want to know as much as possible about Mia’s amazing opportunity, both inside and outside the classroom. Mia is thrilled to be in Paris and truly wants to enjoy the food, sights, museums, and friendships along the way. The ballet school is depicted as being difficult, but she seems to manage the stress with ease as she balances work and fun. She also easily makes friends with the other ballerinas and there isn’t a huge sense of competition among them. Still, the story is fun and you can’t help but pull for her to get everything she wants. This story has a little bit of everything to impress fans of romance novels.

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Barnes

Genre: Mystery

Number of Pages: 258

In this sequel to the Inheritance Games, Avery is still navigating her new life as an heiress. When rumors begin spreading that Tobias Hawthorne’s son, Toby, is still alive Avery and her cousins begin trying to find out where he is and why he ran away from the family in the first place. Meanwhile, there are definitely people trying to steal Avery’s money and they don’t care who they have to hurt to get it. For example, creepy things have been left in her room despite her having 24/hr security. She’s also noticed that the longtime Hawthorne employees definitely do not feel like she belongs at the manor and go out of their way to treat her as such. Plus, Avery’s long lost father has returned and is threatening to try and get custody of her, and by extension, her billions. Who can Avery really trust? Is Toby really alive and if so why doesn’t he want his inheritance? What are Grayson and Jameson’s intentions toward her?

This book was really a continuation of the first and was just as much fun with several twists and turns along the way. Avery and the Hawthorne’s definitely keep things interesting as they try to find new clues left behind by Tobias, the patriarch. No one living seems to know all of the Hawthorne secrets and even people who think they know everything get surprised at one point or another in this book. Despite the many changes that Avery has experienced in a short amount of time, she is always so curious to find out what happens that she doesn’t seem to worry too much about her own personal safety. She is definitely unsure of how to handle the potential affections of the Hawthorne Brothers. Fans will want to see more from this fun, fast paced mystery story and its lively characters.

The Betrayed by Kiera Cass

Genre: Romance

Number of Pages: 292

In this sequel to The Betrothed, Hollis has been forced to flee her home country after her husband and parents were brutally murdered. All she has left is her new mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They have chosen to return to their homeland, but they are unsure if they will be welcome as the Isoltan King has made it clear he does not trust their family. Her husband’s cousin, Etan, has come to help them on the long journey but he has made it very clear that he does not care for Hollis and feels she has put his family in unnecessary danger. Hollis finds that she must prove herself to everyone she meets in this new kingdom because so few people trust Coroans. As she tries time and again to prove her loyalty to the family, Etan begins to come around and eventually the two grow close. They can’t help but feel guilty about their new infatuation after the recent demise of Hollis’s husband, who was Etan’s cousin. When they are summoned for a wedding of the Prince of Isolte, the King is very surprised to hear that Hollis’s husband and his family were brutally murdered. Hollis finds this interesting because she had assumed he was the one who ordered the attack. If the King of Isolte did not order her husband’s death then who did? Is she still in danger from this person? Why would someone want to murder her entire family on her wedding day? Is there any way for her and Etan to be together without feeling terrible guilt?

This book has a lot more action and drama than the first one did. The Betrothed ended in a really exciting way, but The Betrayed has more action and plot twists throughout the entire story. Hollis is a much stronger character than she first appears, but that could be because she finds along the way that there are things she truly cares about. In the beginning she simply went along with whatever people asked her to do, but by the end she is a force and will not be silenced. The ending has a few convenient developments that readers might find to be too easy, but nonetheless they will be satisfied with the ending of the story. The characters grow and develop throughout this series and readers will care what happens to them in the end.

The Secret Recipe for Moving On by Karen Bischer

Genre: Romance

Number of pages: 280

Ellie Agresti was blindsided when her boyfriend of 8 months dumped her on the first day of senior year. Ellie had been a semester transfer the year before and therefore hadn’t made many friends of her own once she met Hunter and she joined his group of friends. Now, she is facing a horrible reality of starting school alone yet again. To make matters worse, she is in Home Ec with Hunter and his new girlfriend, Brynn, and they seem to make it a mission to rub their relationship in her face. She ends up with a bizarre group of students for her home ec group, but as time goes on Ellie begins to realize they all have their strengths. Slowly, her home ec group starts to work together and fight to be the champion group by the end of the semester. One member of the group, Luke, started out really annoying Ellie but she grows to find him funny, smart, and helpful. The only problem is that Luke has been dating a girl for awhile and she is determined to never do to anyone else what happened to her. Can her and Luke find a way to be together where it doesn’t feel like she broke them up? Can her home ec group master the skills required for life and beating the other home ec groups in her class? Can Ellie find a way to be happy in this new school on her own, without the help of a boyfriend to tell her what to do or who to hang out with?

This book is fun and funny as Ellie struggles with very relatable high school issues such as dating and group projects. She definitely has a lot to juggle and often mistakes are made, which many readers will be able to identify with. She is quick to apologize if she is wrong and willing to take responsibility for her actions, even when provoked. The romance between Luke and Ellie is slow building and exciting as they truly get to know each other and find ways to support each other in their own ways. Fans of romances by authors such as Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will enjoy this title.

The Invention of Sophie Carter by Samantha Hastings

Genre: Historical Fiction

Number of pages: 258

In 1851, identical twins Sophie and Mariah Carter are struggling to get out of the difficult situation they found themselves in when their adoptive family cast them aside after 8 loving years and sent them to live with a family who treated them as slave labor. Despite many years of loyal work, they are not treated well and any money they earn outside the home is kept by the wife or spent at the local pub by the husband. Sophie has never understood why their mother’s sister refused to take them in when their mom died in childbirth. She has become quite fond of science and technology from working in a clock shop and she desperately wants to go to London where she hopes to become an inventor. Sophie writes to her aunt and her aunt replies that she can take one of them for one season in the hopes of helping her find a husband, but Sophie cannot leave Mariah behind so they go to London together and pretend to both be Sophie. Mariah’s interests are literature and art, which takes her in a different direction in London and both sisters end up meeting men who like them as individuals. Can they keep up the charade of both being Sophie? Will the men they like forgive them for not telling them the truth up front? Will their aunt ever find any affection for her only nieces?

This historical fiction story is full of adventure and romance. Both Sophie and Mariah desperately want to make their way in this exciting city, but they have grown up realizing they really only have each other they can depend on which makes them a little slow to trust people they meet. They are fortunate to meet many kind, generous people in their London adventures, but they always have the fear that it will be discovered they are both posing as Sophie and be cast out. The romances are both realistically built up over time and the two men are sufficiently different for two such different sisters. Recommended for historical fiction and romance fans.

Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Genre: Romance

Number of Pages: 307

Dylan is a typical high school student in Alabama, except for the fact that her sister, Dusty, is a former Miss Alabama and recently found love with a Scottish Laird on a reality tv show called Prince in Disguise. Now, she has to give up her Christmas vacation to go to Scotland for her sister’s wedding, which will be filmed for an upcoming television event as a follow-up to the original show. Dylan feels like the reality film crew is setting her up to look bad as the comic relief in their show when no one comes to get her from the train station, she never receives an itinerary but it still chastized for being late to events, and even when they force her to attend a formal dinner in muddy running clothes. What she does not count on, however, is that there will be a funny, sweet young man there to make her feel visible at all times in a world where she thought everyone only saw her sister. As soon as she meets Jamie, she is instantly intrigued by him as he seems to truly like her just the way she is. As they spend more time together she thinks she could actually find her first boyfriend in a Scottish castle. Can she find a way to spend more time with Jamie without the cameras following her every move? Can she handle all the planned twists and turns the reality show producers throw at her? Could she find her first love in the last place she would have looked for it?

This delightful Christmas romance is fun for anyone looking to escape for a bit or for fans of Holiday TV movies. Dylan’s initial awkwardness fits with the build up of a southern girl in Scotland for the first time and readers will want to see what happens as she becomes more confident with Jamie. Many readers will pick up on some of the big reveals long before Dylan does, but that doesn’t take away from the charming nature of the story at all. Even Dylan’s relationship with her sister, Dusty, feels developed and real instead of the generic backdrop to Dylan and Jamie’s story. Recommended for romance fans looking for a Christmas story.

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass

Genre: Romance

# of Pages: 307

Hollis is a wealthy young lady who has suddenly caught the eye of the King at court and she is unsure how she feels about it. Her parents are thrilled at the prospect of their daughter becoming a Queen, but Hollis is not sure if this is the life she really wants. At the same time, she doesn’t have any other ideas for what she wants to do in life so she might as well be pampered and adored wherever she goes. In this kingdom, Queens have always been highly respected and revered, which pressures Hollis into thinking she has to be great if she were to become Queen. Suddenly, a family of refugees from a nearby kingdom arrives and with them, a young man whom she feels instant chemistry with. He is a talented metalsmith and has a mysterious past and Hollis can’t help but feel drawn to him. Could she really give up becoming Queen in order to chase someone she barely knows? Could she let down all of those around her who plan to benefit off of her impending nuptials?

As a fan of The Selection series I was so excited to read this new title by Kiera Cass, but unfortunately, most of the book lacked any real character development or plot movement. The ending was really exciting and definitely opens up the possibility for Hollis’s story to find some excitement, but up until then Hollis was a very difficult character to care about. She was unsure how she felt most of the time and extremely impressionable, but she was also unbelievably forgiving to those around her who might wish her harm. Most of the characters around her were very one-note as well which made it hard to feel one way or another about who Hollis ended up with. After the dramatic ending the next book could be really good, but I wish that the first one had taken the first 200 pages to better develop the characters and drive the plot.

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash

Genre:  Romance

356 p.

College freshmen Mariam is still reeling from her breakup from Caleb, her high school boyfriend and she believes the love of her life.  She has a great relationship with her roommate, but otherwise she hasn’t gotten out much since she’s started college.  One day she decides she’s done feeling sorry for herself and she goes to the local virtual dating experience in order to see if she has any more “matches” out there.  To her surprise, the matchmaking program uses artificial intelligence in order to assess all of her qualities and match her up with three top choices.  They tell her that her top choice is one of the highest percentages they’ve ever had, but she can’t help but notice that her third choice is none other than Caleb.  Can she really ignore this incredible coincidence?  No, she can’t, so she invites Caleb’s avatar on a virtual date without him knowing it’s really her.  It goes really well and pretty soon they are going on other virtual dates, but the longer this goes on the more she knows that she must tell him the truth and she’s not sure she’s read to lose Caleb all over again.  Meanwhile, is it possible she’s already had contact with her #1 match?

This romance story puts a very modern twist on dating with the virtual experience, but it’s still fun and filled with engaging characters.  The story feels genuine and believable despite the use of very advanced matchmaking technology and the reader really wants Mariam to find happiness.  Mariam’s difficulty adjusting to college life is very relatable to many students and they will want to see how she copes with her parents, siblings, and making new friends during this transitional time.  Recommended for romance fans.

 

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  398

There is an island that is almost totally cut off from the rest of the world where a set of triplets are born every generation.  The queen immediately knows what power each of the girls will have and when they are a few years old they are separated so that they can hone their craft.  When they come of age they must compete in a bizarre set of rituals in which only the last one alive can become the next queen.  Katherine is a poisoner, but she while she has become adept at administering poisons she has not yet become immune to them herself.  Arsinoe, the naturalist, has not yet found her familiar, which is like her animal soul mate, but she has been very happy growing up alongside her best friend, Jules, who is a very talented naturalist.  Finally, Mirabella, the elementalist, is very gifted and can easily manipulate water and fire.  It is expected she will easily take the crown over her weaker sisters, but once the games begin everyone has a few surprises in store for the waiting spectators.  Who will end up with the crown?  Whom can the sisters really trust in this process?  Who will get hurt along the way?

This series has received a lot of attention from my students, but it did take me awhile to get into the story and the characters.  Once I did become immersed in the characters I not only wanted to finish the first one right away but wanted to read the second one as well.  It’s definitely a unique story that does not rely on plot details seen in other fantasy series.  There is still a lot that needs to be revealed about these characters, their motivations, and the ultimate outcome which will keep readers engaged for a long time to come.

The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill

Genre:  Historical Fiction Mystery

# of pages:  349

Piper is living on the outskirts of 1920s Chicago.  As she nears the end of her senior year she is startled to learn that her best friend, Lydia, is suffering from seizures and her own family has not told her about them because they do not want to upset her.  Piper has witnessed two of these episodes and both have frightened her terribly.  She’s not that surprised when Lydia arrives on her doorstep one afternoon distraught because her parents want to send her to the Mayo Clinic mere weeks before graduation.  Piper is sad to see Lydia leave, but understands why her parents feel she needs medical attention.  She watches Lydia walk the short distance to her house and waves at her from her white picket fence and that’s the last Piper sees of her best friend before Lydia’s family notifies her that Lydia never came home.   As the police begin investigating Lydia’s murder Piper can’t help but begin investigating herself a bit by retracing Lydia’s last steps and finding that not everyone is telling her the truth about that night.  Many people around Piper believe she should leave the crime solving to the police and act more like a traditional lady, but Piper believes she may be the only one who can truly find out what happened to Lydia that fateful day.

This mystery is well written and engaging.  The 1920s backdrop is fun as Piper tries to become a more modern woman at a time when that earned you a ruler to the back of the hand in school.  When it counts, Piper’s family support her even if they don’t approve of her behavior all the time.  There are many intriguing characters which helps to keep the mystery more difficult for Piper to solve.  The mystery itself holds up as everything is properly explained in a plausible way, but it is still challenging for Piper to solve.  Highly recommended.


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