This month in Romancelandia, true love and a happy ever after are possible at any age. Whether it's a teenager's first love, a 50-year-old's forever love, or somewhere in the middle, these three outstanding novels show it's never too early — or too late — for that HEA.
Gray Hair Don't Care by Karen Booth is a fun, sexy, contemporary "seasoned" romance about characters who discover true love a little later than most. Lela Bennet and Donovan James were best friends in college — until they slept together. Years later, they reconnect for another hot night, but once again, he's gone by morning. Lela is 47, divorced and twice burned; she decides she's no longer going to hide her sparkle. Instead, she lets her hair go grey, builds her own cosmetics business and starts living her best life.
Three years later, Lela's company is poised for massive success when she runs into Donovan again. This time he and his daughter, 28-year-old Echo James, are executives brought in to help Lela take her flourishing beauty brand to the next level — starting with an ad campaign that shows off Lela and her gorgeous gray hair. Now working close together, Lela and Donovan's friendship blossoms again. There's too much at stake for them to mess around — he's committed to mending his relationship with his daughter, Lela is dedicated to her business — but that spark won't fade and the passion won't go away. This is a third chance at love story with characters who just happen to be 50. It's got all the sparkles and tingles of first love, but without all the angst and BS. Just sexy, confident, competent people finding everlasting love.
In Alisha Rai's First Comes Like, the third novel in her Modern Love series, Instagram beauty influencer Jia Ahmed falls for Bollywood star Dev Dixit via some very romantic DMs, only to awkwardly discover he doesn't know her at all. She's been catfished — but by who? Dev has no idea, but he's soon smitten by Jia and her videos. Dev, being total hero material, buys some products she recommends and takes her out to apologize. That's when paparazzi snap a suggestive photo of the couple. One thing leads to another and her family is vowing to visit LA to visit Jia and her new "boyfriend."
Just pretend, right? Jia is desperate to prove herself to her family and the publicity helps Dev's career. Their agreed-upon fauxmance has a Regency-esque emphasis on propriety (part of the characters' culture) that enhances the swoony feeling of a friends-to-lovers romance. Soon engagement rumors start to swirl, their families arrive, and Jia and Dev must decide how far to take their charade. In the end, there's nothing fake or "just friends" about their love and happy ever after in this fun and funny contemporary romance.
A Pho Love Story, by Loan Le, is a Romeo-and-Juliet love story between two Vietnamese teens from feuding families with competing restaurants — though this story ends happily. Both Bao and Linh are hardworking kids whose days are consumed with school and nights with helping in the family restaurant; they never question the fierce rivalry between the restaurants, or the reason why. One night, they strike up a friendship, but they know it must be a secret one.
An assignment for the school newspaper brings them even closer together. They're asked to do restaurant reviews; as "restaurant kids" they can provide unique insights — Bao will write and Linh, an artist, will provide illustrations. They know their families wouldn't approve of the assignment, their blossoming romance, or even their passions for art and writing (their immigrant parents want more reliably lucrative career paths for their children). But Bao and Linh build each other's confidence to pursue their love and the things they love. Their romance also gives them the courage to confront their parents about the two families' decades-long feud and to finally resolve it. In this sweet YA romance, young love leads to happy ever after for everyone.
Maya Rodale is a bestselling author of historical romance. Her next novel is a work of historical fiction about Nellie Bly. Connect with her on Twitter: @mayarodale