v’day tbr: backlisted romances

Hello everyone! Happy Valentine’s Day ❤️ While I love reading fantasy novels that are more plot intensive, a cozy romance is the way to end a hectic day. In recent years, I gravitate to historical romances. Just something about the setting and people falling in love is a little different. In today’s list, these are some books published in 2021 and 2022 which I haven’t gotten to yet.

the crown of gilded bones – jennifer l. armentrout

  • April 20, 2021 by Blue Box Press
  • Blood and Ash #3
  • fantasy, romance
    She’s been the victim and the survivor…
    Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.
    The enemy and the warrior…
    Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.
    A lover and heartmate…
    But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.
    And now she will become Queen.
  • Jennifer L. Armentrout is the first fantasy author that I thought of when I think of romance as well. The series isn’t done yet but I’m hoping to catch up to all the books before this year’s release is out.

a trial of sorcerers – elise kova

  • March 4, 2021 by Silver Wing Press
  • A Trial of Sorcerers #1
  • fantasy, romance
    Ice is in her blood.
    Eighteen-year-old Waterrunner Eira Landan lives her life in the shadows — the shadow of her older brother, of her magic’s whispers, and of the person she accidentally killed. She’s the most unwanted apprentice in the Tower of Sorcerers until the day she decides to step out and compete for a spot in the Tournament of Five Kingdoms.
    Pitted against the best sorcerers in the Empire, Eira fights to be one of four champions. Excelling in the trials has its rewards. She’s invited to the royal court with the “Prince of the Tower,” discovers her rare talent for forbidden magic, and at midnight, Eira meets with a handsome elfin ambassador.
    But, Eira soon learns, no reward is without risk. As she comes into the spotlight, so too do the skeletons of a past she hadn’t even realized was haunting her.
    Eira went into the trials ready for a fight. Ready to win. She wasn’t ready for what it would cost her. No one expected the candidates might not make it out with their lives.
  • The second fantasy romance author I thought about is Elise Kova. Although I’ve only read one book from her, I want to discover more of the world and read about the characters falling in love.

once upon a quinceañera – monica gomez-hira

  • March 2, 2021 by HarperTeen
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
  • rep: cuban
    Carmen Aguilar just wants to make her happily ever after come true. Except apparently “happily ever after” for Carmen involves being stuck in an unpaid summer internship! All she has to do is perform! In a ball gown! During the summer. In Miami.
    Fine. Except that Carmen’s company is hired for her spoiled cousin Ariana’s over the top quinceañera.
    And of course, her new dance partner at work is none other than Mauro Reyes, Carmen’s most deeply regrettable ex.
    If Carmen is going to move into the future she wants, she needs to leave the past behind. And if she can manage dancing in the blistering heat, fending off Mauro’s texts, and stopping Ariana from ruining her own quinceañera Carmen might just get that happily ever after after all.
  • This has been on my TBR for a while. There’s no excuse why I haven’t pick this up, but I’m definitely going to try to read it this February.

how moon fuentez fell in love with the universe – raquel vasquez gilliland

  • August 10, 2021 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance, magical realism
  • rep: mexican-american
    When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister’s camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the “merch girl” on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.
    Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Phillips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.
    Moon is certain she hates Santiago and that he hates her back. But as chance and destiny (and maybe, probably, close proximity) bring the two of them in each other’s perpetual paths, Moon starts to wonder if that’s really true. She even starts to question her destiny as the unnoticed, unloved wallflower she always thought she was.
    Could this summer change Moon’s life as she knows it?
  • Similarly, I should’ve read this long ago. I don’t really know much about the standalone but I’ll read this soon!

not here to be liked – michelle quach

  • September 14, 2021 by Katherine Tegen Books
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
  • rep: chinese-vietnamese, half-japanese
    Eliza Quan is the perfect candidate for editor in chief of her school paper. That is, until ex-jock Len DiMartile decides on a whim to run against her. Suddenly her vast qualifications mean squat because inexperienced Len—who is tall, handsome, and male—just seems more like a leader.
    When Eliza’s frustration spills out in a viral essay, she finds herself inspiring a feminist movement she never meant to start, caught between those who believe she’s a gender equality champion and others who think she’s simply crying misogyny.
    Amid this growing tension, the school asks Eliza and Len to work side by side to demonstrate civility. But as they get to know one another, Eliza feels increasingly trapped by a horrifying realization—she just might be falling for the face of the patriarchy himself.
  • Sounds up my alley! This will probably be a rivals to lovers type of story.

when we were them – laura taylor namey

  • November 16, 2021 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
    When they were fifteen, Willa, Luz, and Britton had a friendship that was everything.
    When they were sixteen, they stood by one another no matter what. When they were seventeen, they went through the worst. And when they were eighteen, Willa ruined it all.
    Now, the week of graduation, Willa is left with only a memory box filled with symbols of the friendship she has nearly destroyed: A book of pranks. Corsages from a nightmarish homecoming. A greasy pizza menu. Greeting cards with words that mean the world… It’s enough to make Willa wonder how anything could tear her, Luz, and Britton apart. But as Willa revisits the moments when she and her friends leaned on one another, she can’t avoid the moments they leaned so hard, their friendship began to crack.
    As Willa tries to find a way back to Luz and Britton, she must confront the why of her betrayal and answer a question she never saw coming: Who is she, without them?
  • Picked up A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by the author last year and now I’m intrigued to try her other books. When We Were Them came into my TBR afterwards.

the dream runners – shveta thakrar

  • October 5, 2022 by HarperCollins US
  • Standalone
  • fantasy, romance
  • rep: indian
    Seven years ago, Tanvi was spirited away to the subterranean realm of Nagalok, where she joined the ranks of the dream runners: human children freed of all memory and emotion, who collect mortal dreams for the entertainment of the serpentine, immortal naga court.
    But when one of Tanvi’s dream harvests goes awry, she begins to remember her life on earth. Panicked and confused, she turns to the one mortal in Nagalok who might be able to help: Venkat, the dreamsmith responsible for collecting the dream runners’ wares and shaping them into the kingdom’s most tantalizing commodity. And as they search for answers, a terrifying truth begins to take shape—one that could turn the nagas’ realm of dreams into a land of waking nightmare.
  • Shveta Thakrar’s Star Daughter was simply magical and beautiful. I won’t be surprised if The Dream Runners has a similar vibe.

the ballad of never after (once upon a broken heart #2) – stephanie garber

  • September 13, 2022 by Flatiron Books
  • Once Upon a Broken Heart #2
  • fantasy, romance
    Not every love is meant to be.
    After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she’ll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.
    But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.
    Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can…
  • Now that I’m done with Finale, I’m 100% more intrigued in what will happen between Evangeline and Jacks.

ophelia after all – racquel marie

  • February 8, 2022 by Feiwel & Friends
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
  • rep: mental health, queer
    Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.
    So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.
  • Weirdly intimidated to start the novel but I’ve heard lots of great things about Ophelia After All.

kamila knows best – farah heron 

  • March 8, 2022 by Forever
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
    Kamila Hussain’s life might not be perfect, but, whew, it’s close. She lives a life of comfort, filled with her elaborate Bollywood movie parties, a dog with more Instagram followers than most reality stars, a job she loves, and an endless array of friends who clearly need her help finding love. In fact, Kamila is so busy with her friends’ love lives, she’s hardly given any thought to her own…
    Fortunately, Kamila has Rohan Nasser. A longtime friend of the family, he’s hugely successful, with the deliciously lean, firm body of a rock climber. Only lately, Kamila’s “harmless flirting” with Rohan is making her insides do a little bhangra dance.
    But between planning the local shelter’s puppy prom, throwing a huge work event, and proving to everyone that she’s got it all figured out, Kamila isn’t letting herself get distracted—until her secret nemesis returns to town with an eye for Rohan. Suddenly, it seems like the more Kamila tries to plan, the more things are starting to unravel—and her perfectly ordered life is about to be turned upside down.
  • Been meaning to read all of Farah Heron’s books since I’ve already checked Accidentally Engaged and Tahira in Bloom off the list.

kiss & tell – adib khorram

  • March 22, 2022 by Dial Books
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
  • rep: vietnamese-canadian, queer
    Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend–leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all–and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens.
    But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the drummer for the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble–for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.
  • After reading Darius the Great Is Not Okay, I needed to pick up Adib Khorram’s other books when he published them.

the romantic agenda – claire kann

  • April 12, 2022 by Berkley
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
  • rep: black, asexual
    Joy is in love with Malcolm. But Malcolm really likes Summer. Summer is in love with love. And Fox is Summer’s ex-boyfriend.
    Thirty, flirty, and asexual Joy is secretly in love with her best friend Malcolm, but she’s never been brave enough to say so. When he unexpectedly announces that he’s met the love of his life—and no, it’s not Joy—she’s heartbroken. Malcolm invites her on a weekend getaway, and Joy decides it’s her last chance to show him exactly what he’s overlooking. But maybe Joy is the one missing something…or someone…and his name is Fox.
    Fox sees a kindred spirit in Joy—and decides to help her. He proposes they pretend to fall for each other on the weekend trip to make Malcolm jealous. But spending time with Fox shows Joy what it’s like to not be the third wheel, and there’s no mistaking the way he makes her feel. Could Fox be the romantic partner she’s always deserved?
  • This sounds messy af but maybe it’s what I need after long, dreary days.

i kissed shara wheeler – casey mcquiston

  • May 3, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
  • rep: lgbt
    Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.
    But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.
    On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.
    Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.
  • I may have copied and pasted the synopsis into this list but I have no idea what this is about. Hoping to keep the book a mystery so that I can dive into the I Kissed Shara Wheeler unaware.

a show for two – tashie bhuiyan

  • May 10, 2022 by Inkyard Press
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
  • rep: bengali
    Mina Rahman has a plan for her future:
    • Finally win the Golden Ivy student film competition
    • Get into her dream school across the country
    • Leave New York City behind once and for all
    Mina’s ticket to winning the competition falls into her lap when indie film star—and known heartbreaker—Emmitt Ramos enrolls in her high school under a secret identity to research his next role. When Mina sets out to persuade Emmitt to join her cause, he offers her a deal instead: he’ll be in her short film…if she acts as a tour guide to help him with a photography contest.
    As Mina ventures across the five boroughs with Emmitt by her side, the city she grew up in starts to look different and more like home than it ever has before. With the competition deadline looming, Mina’s dreams—which once seemed impenetrable—begin to crumble, and she’s forced to ask herself: Is winning worth losing everything?
  • Adored Tashie Bhuiyan’s debut so when she announced A Show for Two, I immediately put this into my TBR. Want to reach for this before she publishes her next book.

bad at love – gabriela martins

  • August 30, 2022 by Underlined/Delacorte
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
  • rep: ldemisexual Brazilian MC, pansexual Brazilian-American MC, lesbian Black SC, Korean-American SC
    Ever since Daniel moved to L.A. from Brazil to join the band Mischief & Mayhem, he’s become the tabloids’ bad boy. Paparazzi follow him and girls swoon over him…except for Sasha, who hates bad boys. When a chance encounter brings them together, Sasha sees an opportunity to get close to Daniel and write a story that will make a name for herself at the celebrity gossip magazine where she interns. But Daniel is surprisingly sweet and extremely cute—could she be falling for him?
    The truth is: Daniel is hiding something. When Sasha discovers his secret, will she follow her heart or deliver the hottest story of the summer?
  • No excuse that I haven’t read this yet and it’s only 200+ pages!

the feeling of falling in love – mason deaver

  • August 16, 2022 by PUSH
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
  • rep: transgender
    Just days before spring break, Neil Kearney is set to fly across the country with his childhood friend (and current friend-with-benefits) Josh, to attend his brother’s wedding—until Josh tells Neil that he’s in love with him and Neil doesn’t return the sentiment.
    With Josh still attending the wedding, Neil needs to find a new date to bring along. And, almost against his will, roommate Wyatt is drafted.
    At first, Wyatt (correctly) thinks Neil is acting like a jerk. But when they get to LA, Wyatt sees a little more of where it’s coming from. Slowly, Neil and Wyatt begin to understand one another… and maybe, just maybe, fall in love for the first time…
  • Mason Deaver left me in tears after I read their debut, I Wish You All The Best, and their second book, The Ghosts We Keep. I’m just gonna guess that I’ll most likely shed a tear or two while reading The Feeling of Falling in Love?

the decoy girlfriend – lillie vale

  • September 6, 2022 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
    Writer Freya Lal has a huge secret: she’s a dead ringer for It-girl actress Mandi Roy. Her second novel is due in a month, but inspiration is nowhere to be found. Desperate to shake off her writer’s block, Freya leans into her look-alike abilities and indulges in some mistaken identity for simple perks, like scoring a free mimosa or getting into a trendy nightclub.
    Actor Taft Bamber appears to have it all: gorgeous, talented, and Mandi’s love interest both on- and off-screen. But what nobody knows is that their relationship is a PR stunt, and after years of playing make-believe, he’s yearning for something real.
    When Freya’s latest impersonation of Mandi goes viral thanks to Taft’s accidental interference, rumors of a breakup threaten Hollywood’s golden couple. To make amends, Freya is forced to give Mandi a little time off: she’ll pretend to be the actress for a month, move in with Taft, and squash the rumors by acting completely in love. But as Freya and Taft play house, it becomes impossible to ignore that their instant chemistry isn’t just for the cameras. While faking it, they might have just found the real thing.
  • Will reach towards this when I’m in the mood for some fake dating!

seoulmates – susan lee

  • September 20, 2022 by Inkyard Press
  • Standalone
  • contemporary romance
  • rep: korean-american
    Hannah Cho had the next year all planned out—the perfect summer with her boyfriend, Nate, and then a fun senior year with their friends.
    But then Nate does what everyone else in Hannah’s life seems to do—he leaves her, claiming they have nothing in common. He and all her friends are newly obsessed with K-pop and K-dramas, and Hannah is not. After years of trying to embrace the American part and shunning the Korean side of her Korean American identity to fit in, Hannah finds that’s exactly what now has her on the outs.
    But someone who does know K-dramas—so well that he’s actually starring in one—is Jacob Kim, Hannah’s former best friend, whom she hasn’t seen in years. He’s desperate for a break from the fame, so a family trip back to San Diego might be just what he needs… that is, if he and Hannah can figure out what went wrong when they last parted and navigate the new feelings developing between them.
  • Second chance romances are always fun, especially with a best friend. I can’t wait to see what this is about.

That’s the end of the list. While I won’t be able to read all the books within this month, I’ll try to pick up some for a little bit of romance. Hope you’re having a lovely day! ♥️


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