The best romance novels of 2021 from NPR’s Books We Love: NPR


two women kissing;  in the pages of a book

Who doesn’t love a good, well, to like story? Whether it’s cute dating, cross stars, or pure passion, we’re big fans. And let’s be honest: the tastier the story, the better.

The books we love, NPR’s list of best reads from 2021, has hundreds of recommendations: 369 of them, to be exact. With this kind of long list, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start. So here are 13 suggestions from our fellow freelance critics on what to read if you want a good love story.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown: A Novel by Talia Hibbert

“Has there ever been a better time to read about a charming and hilarious young woman who just can’t seem to get it? This book follows Eve Brown – a talented cook, phenomenal singer, devoted sister and, at the start of the story, a notorious rascal. As her story unfolds, Eve ends up learning a lot about herself and what she’s capable of. maybe. ” – Lea Donnella, editor-in-chief, Code switch

A bit like Adiós by Alexis Daria

“Childhood best friends Michelle and Gabriel meet up one night after high school graduation – and for a moment it looks like the two might finally reunite until Michelle finds out that Gabe plans to move to college across the country. After an explosive brawl, the two don’t speak for years – until the gym Gabriel owns hires Michelle to work on a rebranding campaign. once they reconnect … well, let’s just say they’re collaborating on more than a marketing campaign. It’s hot, it’s fun, and it’s a great opportunity to brush up on your Spanish vocabulary. ” – Lauren Migaki, senior producer, NPR Ed

Dial A for aunts by Jesse Q. Sutanto

“A detective story shrouded in romance? Exactly what the doctor ordered readers during the pandemic! There’s a lot to love here, especially the criminal high jinks that Meddelin, his mother and aunts find themselves plunged into so may it rekindle a flame. Beyond that, however, it is a love letter to the bonds of family and culture. “- Tayla burney, senior content manager

Big Luck, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

“I’m glad there’s a surge of YA books with big protagonists, but the characters often possess a level of self-confidence that is too good to be true. Crystal Maldonado has created a believable protagonist whose teenage readers and adults are in great need. Charlie Vega is a fat biracial Puerto Rican, wearing glasses, with a dieting mother and a beautiful athletic best friend. When his classmate Brian pursues a romantic relationship, Charlie is plagued by self-doubt . The book is propelled by both internal and external conflict. I am glad that this book is not a positive bodily escape, but rather a well-observed story of the life of a fat teenager. ” Jessica reedy, producer / editor, Happy Hour Pop Culture

First come as: a novel by Alisha Rai

“Alisha Rai is one of my favorite writers when I need a romance. Her books are usually quite spicy, but with First come like, Rai shows that she can write a great slow-burning romance. When beauty influencer Jia Ahmed learns she’s been trapped by a man posing as Bollywood star Dev Dixit, she ends up befriending the real actor. A paparazzi accident causes Jai and Dev to start a bogus encounter. Will their fake relationship lead to real feelings? (Of course it will – it’s a love story after all.) It’s a great story about honest people just trying to do the right thing. “- Jessica reedy

Delicious girl by Morgan Rogers

“One night Grace Porter – exhausted and aimless after finally getting her doctorate in astronomy – got married drunk to a woman whose name she did not know, in Vegas no less. Cliché? Certainly. A bad idea ? May be. .. no ? Through the mists of her epic hangover, Grace begins to piece together clues about his mysterious new bride. Yuki, in fact, hosts a radio show about the supernatural. What follows is a delightfully weird summer where together Grace and Yuki discover mythical monsters and even face off against some of their own. “- Lauren Migaki

Love in color: mythical tales from around the world, told by Bolu Babalola

This multifaceted and multitalented Nigerian-British writer – comedian, television creator and now bestselling author – has traveled the world to find a radically diverse group of stories about love, from magical folk tales of the West Africa to iconic Greek myths and ancient Middle Eastern legends. Then, with an evocative and lively style, she breathed new life into old tales and wrote three original stories. The result is a remarkable collection. modern 13 news about love. – Carole V. Bell, book review

One last stop: a novel by Casey McQuiston

“One last stop Made me fall in love with Casey McQuiston’s writing again. In it, August, an inexperienced twenties trying to figure out life in the big city, is an expert at keeping others at bay until she meets Jane, an incredibly cool girl who always seems to take the metro at the same time as her. One last stop is a queer romance with a side of time travel shenanigans, but amid all the clever banter and heartwarming tropes of romantic comedy, it’s a powerful reminder to make room for love in all of them. aspects of your life. Sharon pruitt-youngjournalist, press office

The Dating Game Book by Farrah Rochon

“Any list of the best romantic comedies of 2021 must include that of Farrah Rochon The Dating Game Book. The story she weaves about Taylor Powell, a fitness trainer who needs a few clients, and Jamar Dixon, an injured football superstar who needs a secret but tough fitness regimen, is fresh, funny and sexy. It also features a headline storyline that touches on topics like soccer and concussions, and how social media has made privacy an art form for anyone with celebrity status. Rochon presents his themes with stunning humor, and they go far beyond the ups and downs of romance to address broader concerns about family, women, friendship and jealousy. “- Denny S. Bryce, literary criticism

The principle of the heart: a novel by Hélène Hoang

Anna Sun is a talented Bay Area violinist whose disappointing boyfriend makes her an offer: an open relationship. While dealing with her boyfriend’s request and struggling with a creative block, Anna meets Quan and wonders herself. he might be the real deal. I love this book because it deals with issues that seem really relevant today, such as creative burnout, bad boyfriends, and neurodivergency, which Helen Hoang explores through these deeply rich and sincere characters. ” – Candice Lim, production assistant, Happy Hour Pop Culture

The prophets: a novel by Robert Jones, Jr.

“This book broke my heart in a way that was necessary. It’s spectacular. A poetic queer love story and an excruciating portrayal of life on a Mississippi plantation, it deserves all accolades. At the center is Samuel and Isaiah, two slave boys who grow up as best friends and eventually become lovers, and an older slave, Amos, who takes on the role of preacher as a means of ensuring a semblance of security and power. Jones excels at storytelling together, treating each character with compassion while being brutally blunt – the system they live in and the desperate compromises they have to make. ” – Carole V. Bell

Confidence: a novel by Domenico Starnone, translated by Jhumpa Lahiri

“In author Domenico Starnone’s Italian to English translation, a couple named Pietro and Teresa are on and on until one day Teresa says, essentially, ‘Let’s tell each other our worst secret. “What she thinks will bind them. Together forever turns out to be what separates them; they revealed the worst and it’s unforgettable. For a lesser writer, that might be enough. For Starnone, it’s a starting point, even in a thin, tense book without wasted words or ideas. When Pietro and Teresa find themselves in the evening of their lives, the power one of them wields over the other still counts. ” – Bethane Patrick, literary criticism

While we were dating by Jasmine Guillory

Jasmine Guillory is the queen of charming romance novels. In her sixth book, we meet publicity director Ben Stephens and movie star Anna Gardiner, who hit it off at a marketing campaign meeting and end up falling for a relationship just for the cameras (with a few fun perks too). Unfortunately, romantic feelings (as it always is) stand in the way of this arrangement. You may remember Ben from one of the last books by Guillory, The wedding date – Theo’s brother stuck. The best part of Guillory’s books is revisiting these characters and guessing who will appear in subsequent novels. Not to mention the descriptive California references (as a California native I eat them). Guillory’s writing style is addicting, but she also tackles heavy themes. I can guarantee you that you will finish this book quickly and want to check out its others. Anjuli Sastry Krbechek, producer, It’s been a minute with Sam Sanders

To read more romantic recommendations, you can explore the “Love Stories” section on the 2021 Books We Love website.


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