With Valentine's Day approaching, the pressure to be romantic is intense — and no one feels that pressure like the characters in romance novels. They have to meet someone, fall in love, overcome the obstacles and anxieties holding them back from true happiness, then come up with a grand gesture and declaration of love — all in just a few hundred pages. Fortunately for us, they always succeed. Here are three short and sweet romances that are sexy, funny, a little bit quirky and absolutely end happily.
If a second chance at love is your trope of choice, don't miss House Rules by Ruby Lang. Once upon a time, Simon and Lana got divorced; seventeen years ago the young couple split up and went their separate ways. Or rather, Lana went off and Simon stayed in exactly the same place. Now Lana is back in New York City and looking for an apartment — and so is Simon. He's finally ready to make some changes in his life, starting with a new place to live. Long story short, they end up as roommates in an amazing Harlem apartment, for reasons (#1 of which is Manhattan real estate. The struggle is real, y'all!).
Of course they vow to themselves that Nothing Will Happen. Besides, they hardly expect to cross paths — she works nights in a popular restaurant downtown and he works days as a music teacher. But inevitably they progress from roommates to friends to lovers. In the process they untangle why they didn't work the first time around and why maybe they have a chance at working for real, possibly even forever. Lana has learned to focus on what's best for her, while Simon is learning to let go of his expectations for people, and they're both in a wiser and stronger place to fall in love again. When an amazing career opportunity arises for Lana, it's a test for the woman she's become and the relationship she and Simon want to have. And yes, it's a question of both real estate and romance.
Candy Hearts by Erin McLellan is sweet, steamy, totally cute and a little bit kinky. Benji Holliday is a young hunk who fixes cars and has a thing for wearing lingerie. William O'Dare is a workaholic nightclub owner. Their paths cross when Benji inadvertently shows up early to a Valentine's Day weekend getaway with his sister and her friends — including William. Thanks to mixed messages, Benji and Will are alone in a secluded lake house — and the power is out. Obviously there is only one thing to do: Get busy. And, because they are both single, be secret fake valentines for the weekend.
Yes, they move fast but the love story doesn't feel rushed. In each sexual encounter and all the other moments together, Benji reveals his real self and discovers the feeling of being loved for who he is, lace undies and all. William has come to the realization that he's ready for love, and while Benji doesn't match up to his list at all, he might just be the perfect match anyhow. It's all hot sex and romantic moments for the weekend — even when friends arrive and the power comes back on. The real test is whether Benji and William can make it work in the real world. (Of course they do!)
Another great fix for Valentine's Day is Jackie Lau's A Big Surprise For Valentine's Day. After a series of really bad boyfriends, Amber Wong has one rule: No Dating. She even cross stitched it and hung it above her bed. The problem is that she misses sex — and in anticipation of getting back in the game, she goes to buy condoms at the grocery store, where she runs into Dr. Sebastian Lam, the son of family friends, whom she hasn't seen in years. Sebastian is now hot. And he's buying magnums. And so begins their great not-a-romance.
Sebastian has broken up with his long-term girlfriend, settled into his home and career and is looking for fun. Just fun. Especially with Amber, who is incredibly sexy and funny. There are no surprises in how this story unfolds: What's supposed to be just sex swiftly becomes something more as Amber and Sebastian realize they bring out the best in each other. But meddling families will meddle, potentially ruining the new romance. This story has sex toys, naughty cross-stitch and funny banter that feels fresh and modern, plus a happy ever after that's sexy and romantic.
Maya Rodale is a best-selling romance author. Her new book is Some Like It Scandalous.