Romance has a reputation for being essentially the same story every time — people meet, sparks fly, obstacles get in the way, and all ends happily — to which many readers reply YES, PLEASE and THANK YOU. In uncertain times like these, nothing is as swoon-worthy as predictability and the guarantee of a happy ever after. These three romances deliver what we crave from our romances: relatable characters, families and communities who work hard and love hard to ensure a happy ever after for all.
In Diana Quincy's Regency romance, Her Night With A Duke, one night with the duke is only the beginning. Lady Delilah Chambers, a widowed countess, indulges in one night of passion after a chance encounter with a very handsome man at a roadside inn. As one does. The next day when she arrives at the ancestral home for a house party, she learns not just that he's the Duke of Huntington, he's also courting her stepdaughter. Let the house party begin!
Huntington is not normally prone to such reckless behavior — he's one of those strictly rule-abiding heroes easily flummoxed by daring heroines. There are so many reasons it seems impossible for them to be together — Delilah's beloved stepdaughter to start (fear not — everything is age appropriate). Plus, Delilah has ambitions to continue writing her popular books, Travels in Arabia, about her mother's native land, and she has no wish to be judged by a society that will find her wanting. Readers will love the attention to historical detail. I personally loved the heroine who swore in a foreign language — and everyone's happy ever after.
Love and relationships are complicated in Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo. As a young girl in Nigeria, Azere made a deathbed promise to her father to always preserve their Nigerian culture. Even after moving to Canada, her mother has held her to it, arranging dates with suitable Nigerian men. Now she's a creative director at an ad agency, on yet another bad date when she meets Rafael. One drink in the bar leads to a one night stand, which leads to much more than they had bargained for.
Things get complicated when Rafael turns out to be her new coworker (!) and even more complicated when she learns she's pregnant (!!). Azere must navigate her mother's furious reaction, the expectations of her beloved Nigerian culture and her budding relationship with Rafael — to say nothing of impending motherhood. It's all very complicated, but it's also a love story, and one not just between Azere and Rafael, but between Azere and her family and culture. Because this is a romance, they find a way to honor all aspects of each other and let love prevail.
The Duke Who Didn't by Courtney Milan is not to be missed. This friends-to-lovers, small town romance takes places in 1891, in the English town of Wedgeford, during "The Trials," a yearly event which draws participants from all over England. Jeremy Wentworth, Duke of Lansing hasn't attended these past three years, but now he's back and ready to woo the woman he's always loved — and to finally reveal that he's the duke who owns the entire town. She, however, has other plans.
Miss Chloe Fong is a perfectionist who lives and breathes by her endlessly ambitious to-do list, which includes revenge, naming the Unnamed Sauce, and, now, helping Jeremy come up with a list of qualities in his perfect wife — a list which happens to describe Chloe perfectly. It's clear she's the woman he wants, but she can't possibly be the woman he needs — or can she? The romance is beautifully developed — they're already half in love on page one, and the story is one lovely surrender. The world building is also wonderfully done — may there be more towns like Wedgeford in historical romance. And may there be more heroines who cross everything off their lists, including finding love and living happily ever after.
Maya Rodale is a best-selling romance author. Her new book is Some Like It Scandalous.