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From 'Fourth Wing' to 'Bridgerton', these swoon-worthy reads will have you turning those pages.

| By Bella Westaway | Entertainment

Haven’t Read a Book This Year? These 11 Romance Novels Will Ease You Back Into the Habit

From 'Fourth Wing' to 'Bridgerton', these swoon-worthy reads will have you turning those pages.

Can’t remember the last time you picked up a book? We feel you! Between the allure of Tiktok, the endless streaming options and the demands of work and life, taking time to slow down with an analogue form of entertainment can feel all too hard.

But as the year draws to a close and many of us are looking forward to some well-deserved time off, it’s nice to stretch out on a sun-lounger and get lost in the pages of a romantic book.

So, if you’re looking for a read that’ll make you swoon, get ready. We’ve compiled a list of our fave romantic page turners that’ll keep you up at night. From a steamy fantasy to a zingy workplace romance, we’ve got just the books to get you back into reading this summer.

1. Fourth Wing, by Rebecca Yarros

Fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent will love Fourth Wing, the 2023 adult fantasy novel that set social media on fire this year. And certainly, if it’s been a while since you read a novel, this is a great place to start.

The enemies-to-lovers romance is set in Basgiath War College, where Violet is one of hundreds of candidates training to be a dragon rider – the elites of society. Being both frail and small, the elite training school is not the ideal place for her, but her war-general mother has ordered her to join, putting her at risk of injury and what seems like the inevitability of death.

The stakes are high, the romance is hot, and the world is detailed and compelling – if you’re looking for an adventurous, page-turning read that doesn’t require you to do too much work… this is it!

2. Romantic Comedy, by Curtis Sittenfeld

If you’ve never read a Curtis Sittenfeld novel, stop what you are doing right now and pick up this book! The perfect intro to one of the best writers of the moment, Romantic Comedy is the ideal read to reignite your love of books.

In the novel, we meet Sally, a writer for The Night Owls, a comedy sketch show (based not-so-loosely on Saturday Night Live), who is writing a sketch about how common it is for average-looking guys to end up with extraordinarily beautiful women. That is, until the hearthrob celebrity guest host flirts with her, and she’s forced to reconsider her hypothesis.

Charming and zingy, this is a high-quality holiday read that’ll make you swoon, laugh and think.

3. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles is a re-telling of the Trojan War from the perspective of Patroclus… but if that turns you off, reconsider. Madeline Miller is a masterful storyteller, and she builds complex characters within a rich, compelling world and narrative arc that’ll keep you guessing, right until the final pages.

Exploring themes of fate, destiny and the price of love – with a very modern point of view – this is one of our fave books of the past few years. You won’t regret picking it up.

4. Tom Lake, by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett has really mastered her craft and in Tom Lake, she delivers. This beautiful book is set during the pandemic on a cherry farm in Michigan, where Lara’s three daughters have returned for the lockdown. While picking cherries, Lara tells them the story of her first love; A-list movie star Peter Duke, who Lara met before he was famous.

This one might not keep you up into the early hours, but you’ll certainly savour the nuanced characters, shimmering setting and effortless prose of this gentle novel.

5. A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas

People are obsessed with this adult fantasy series, and it’s easy to see why. There’s spicy romance, faeries, adventure, and a magical world which expands with each book.

A unique retelling of Beauty and the Beast, A Court of Thorns and Roses follows Feyre, a 19-year-old human huntress fighting for survival through a challenging winter. When she kills a wolf in the forest, a terrifying beast shows up demanding retribution, and she’s swept away into a secret land of faeries, where she must live with her captor – spoiler, he’s not a beast but a dashing young man!

It starts slow, but give it a chance – you’ll devour the last half in a single, breathless sitting.

6. The Summer I Turned Pretty, by Jenny Han

You’ve seen the show, now it’s time to immerse yourself once again in Cousins Beach with Belly, Conrad and Jeremiah in this deliciously compelling read.

For those unfamiliar with the story, The Summer I Turned Pretty is a young-adult romance with a difference. Belly spends every summer with her family at her mum’s best friend Susannah’s beach house. Susannah’s boys, brooding Conrad and playful Jeremiah, are her crush and best friend, respectively. But this summer, Belly’s had a glow up, and when both brothers notice, everything changes.

With loads of angsty drama and a love triangle that has divided the internet, this series is sure to transport you back to your teenage years, in the very best way possible.

7. The Paper Palace, by Miranda Cowley Heller

You won’t be able to put down The Paper Palace, an enthralling romantic drama from writer Miranda Cowley Heller. The book opens as our protagonist, Elle, has a romantic encounter with her oldest and best friend, Jonas, while both their spouses chat inside.

Over the next 24 hours, we follow Elle as she reflects upon the experiences which led to this moment, and the tragedy that shaped it all. From the complex love triangle to the sparkling setting and rich character development, this is a well-crafted novel that’ll sweep you up and break your heart.

8. Really Good, Actually, by Monica Heisey

A cracking debut from writer Monica Heisey, Really Good, Actually is a painfully relatable millennial divorce novel for fans of the ‘sad girl’ genre. As a writer for Schitt’s Creek, you’d expect Heisey to deliver us a funny, page-turning story, but this book also captures the zeitgeist so well. Whether you’re divorced, single or happily married, you’ll hard relate to our protagonist, Maggie, who is reeling after she splits from her husband after only 608 days.

Bad dates, late-night burgers and crippling insecurity ensue, with hilarious – and poignant – results.

9. The Break, by Marian Keyes

It’s not new, but if you’re looking for a fabulous book to break your reading drought, look no further – The Break is Marian Keys at her brilliant best. When Amy’s husband Hugh decides he wants a break from their marriage to travel the world on a kind of mid-life-crisis-gap-year, she’s devastated. But then she realises… if Hugh is on a break, so is she.

Hilarious and heartfelt, with Keys’ classic Irish charm and wonderful cast of characters, this is the perfect read to snuggle up on the couch/recline on the beach with and get lost!

10. The Duke and I, by Julia Quinn

If you loved Bridgerton, why not step back into the world with the book that started it all? The Duke and I is the first book in the Bridgerton series, where we meet Daphne, a young woman poised to enter the marriage mart in Regency London. Soon, she meets the handsome and haughty Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, with whom she hatches a plan to improve both their prospects. They will pretend to be courting, making her more attractive to other suitors while simultaneously dissuading the society mamas from pushing their daughters on him. Will they fall in love? Who knows?

11. One Day, by David Nicholls

Do you remember the gorgeous film One Day, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, from back in 2011? Well, it’s based on a book of the same name, and it’s a goodie. Emma and Dexter agree they’ll meet at least once a year, every year, on the same day – 15 July, St Swithin's Day. Through their twenties and thirties, we learn of their relationship, which shifts from best friends to lovers and everything in between.

Poignant, funny and heartbreaking, we recommend you read it before the 2024 Netflix adaptation – starring The White Lotus star Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod – comes to our screens in February 2024.

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