Fall in love with these Valentine’s Day reads
February 12, 2019
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Celebrate this Valentine’s Day with a list of romantic reads that should appeal to cynics and hopeless romantics alike.
Leah On the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda blew up last year after it was adapted into the movie Love, Simon, but did you know that she has also written an adorable companion novel, Leah On the Offbeat? Leah follows teen Leah Burke as she navigates her senior year of high school, wrestling with uncertainty about the future, shifting friendships and a (potentially?) unrequited crush on her friend Abby Suso. Albertalli’s depiction of Leah as a plus-size, bisexual girl who is confident, snarky and unapologetically herself is pitch-perfect, and the blossoming flirtation between Leah and Abby is just to swoon for.
The Prince and The Dressmaker by Jen Wang
The Prince and The Dressmaker is a heartfelt exploration of gender identity and first love, set against the lavish backdrop of turn-of-the-century Paris’ fashion scene. It tells the story of Frances, a talented dressmaker who is hired to create outfits for the glamorous Lady Crystallia. Frances soon discovers that Lady Crystallia is really the alter-ego of the crown prince Sebastian, and becomes his secret weapon, designing elaborate dresses for Crystallia that set Paris abuzz. But keeping Sebastian’s secret means that Frances too must remain a secret, and can she really sacrifice her own dreams of fame to protect her (maybe more than a) friend? Wang’s adorable illustrations infuse this graphic novel with humor and charm, making it the perfect feel-good Valentine’s Day read.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Equal parts fast-paced adventure and dreamy romance, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a delight from start to finish. It follows 18-year-old Henry “Monty” Montague as he sets out on a grand tour of Europe with his sister, Felicity, and his best friend (and secret crush) Percy in tow. Monty intends for the tour to be one last hedonistic hurrah before he inherits his father’s estate and is forced into the life of a 18th-century English lord. However, when a reckless split-second decision makes them the subject of an international manhunt, Monty and Percy are forced to contend with pirates, assassins and the nature of their feelings for one another. Full of edge-of-your-seat action, hilarious banter and simmering romantic tension, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is everything you could want from a historical romance.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Tahereh Mafi is best known for her dystopian Shatter Me novels, but she proves herself to be just an adept a writer of contemporary romance as she is of genre fiction with A Very Large Expanse of Sea. Drawing from her own memories, Mafi tells the story of Shirin, a Muslim-American high schooler dealing with racism and Islamophobia in the aftermath of 9/11. Shirin finally begins to let her guard down when she meets Ocean James, one of the first people in forever who seems to see her as more than a stereotype. Still, she can’t help but wonder if the two vastly different worlds that she and Ocean come from make their budding romance impossible. A Very Large Expansive of Sea is a beautifully written coming of age story about the power of love in the face of prejudice that will melt even the most jaded of hearts.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Persuasion may be nearly two hundred years older than every other book on this list, but some classics are classics for a reason. Jane Austen is the undisputed queen of the romantic-comedy, and Persuasion is Austen at her best, an achingly-romantic, scathingly-funny story about the enduring strength of love. When chance circumstances reunite Anne Elliot with Frederick Wentworth, the man whose heart she broke when she broke off their engagement eight years earlier, the two long-separated lovers must persuade one another that their feelings still hold true. At just under 200 pages, Persuasion is a quick read–perfect for a cozy Valentine’s Day afternoon.
Alanna Felton is a senior and the Editor-in-Chief of the journalism staff. She is also president and founder of the RHS Young Writers’ Club and an officer...