This month, Romancelandia delivers three delightful new romances about staying true to your passions — whether they're old cars, wedding dresses or a grade school crush. The couples in these stories also remind us to cast aside faded dreams and other people's ambitions and to fearlessly pursue a new future with the one you love, for that is the way to happy ever after.
Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan is a queer YA novel that pairs the beauty queen with the sporty new girl for a smart, heartfelt teen romance. Even though Ruby Thompson spends most of her free time in beauty pageants to please her mom, her real passion is fixing up old cars. So she is Not Happy when Morgan Matthews nearly collides with her vintage baby blue Ford on the first day of school. Morgan is the new girl — she's transferred in after being forced to leave her conservative Catholic school after coming out. She doesn't know anything about Ruby, except that she can't stop thinking about her.
As Morgan and Ruby navigate high school halls and a budding friendship, something more starts to develop between them. Morgan is proudly out, joins the LGBTQ club, volunteers at the local LGBTQ youth center and she's even waging a lawsuit against her old school on behalf of the other queer kids there. She wants everyone to be out and proud like her and she finds it hard to accept that Ruby isn't quite ready to reveal this part of herself to everyone in town, especially her mother. Their romance reminds us that everyone's journey is different and can progress at different paces; the real magic happens when love comes before labels and you find someone to join on the journey.
If you grew up reading Anne of Green Gables, you won't want to miss Brina Starler's Anne of Manhattan, a contemporary retelling of the classic love story. In this version, Avonlea is a small town in Long Island and Anne is living in New York City with her bestie, Diana Barry, while they finish up their grad school studies. Who should return to the city but Gilbert Blythe; he's back from the West Coast and just happens to be crashing Anne's graduate thesis project. They've never gotten along, but this is their big chance to reconcile ... and maybe take a chance on romance.
Anne hasn't seen him since one inevitable and ill-fated kiss on the beach six years earlier, and she's not keen to see him now. But it's Anne and Gilbert; they can't help but be friendly — and to their surprise (and literally no one else's) they become more than friends too. Starler brings in many of the high points of the original series, and she delivers the snap and spark between Anne and Gilbert — as well as his slow burn love for Anne. Like the original, this isn't a story of two people falling in love, it's about two people realizing they've been in love the whole damn time.
A Lowcountry Bride by Preslaysa Williams is a sweet and chaste romance featuring an ambitious wedding dress designer who takes a break from her intense career in New York City to return home to Charleston to care for her father — only to find love and her ideal career too. It has long been the dream of Maya Jackson and her mother for Maya to be head designer for the high-end brand, Laura Whitcomb Inc, but Laura's style is "classic" and she doesn't care for Maya's Afro-Filipino inspired designs. Maya's still up for head designer, though, when she returns home and starts pursuing her own designs on the side.
Derek Sullivan inherited the shop Always a Bride from his late mother. This black-owned shop with a rich history and meaning is unfortunately on the verge of failing. Plus, he's struggling with his relationship with his teenage daughter — it's been hard ever since he lost his wife in a shooting at the New Life Church. But then Maya arrives, with brilliant ideas and dress designs to help his shop, and emotional intelligence that helps him connect with his daughter too. It's love — if she can just allow herself to fall. Maya and Derek are a couple so clearly better together, able to fulfill their dreams and love each other ... if they just dare to go for it, happy ever after is assured.
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