Swoon, savour, repeat.
10 Delicious Rom-Com Books to Devour in 2022
Swoon, savour, repeat.
Although the rom-com genre has acquired something of a tainted reputation for its frequently formulaic plots and saccharine storytelling, we are going to go out on a limb and say there’s nothing quite as comforting as a good romantic comedy—especially in book form. After all, there’s enough unpredictability and difficulty in the world. Hence, there’s a certain joy to be found revelling in the witty banter between two love fictional interests who you know will spend fifteen chapters squabbling before they realise they are made for each other. Swoon.
Having said that, not all frothy rom-coms are created equal, and there’s an art to weaving warmth, wit and wondrous love (and, ahem, lust) stories together without all the added sugar. So, to help you uncover the novels worth your precious time we’ve rounded up the best new releases, #BookTok’s trending tales and underrated standouts of recent years you need on your reading list.
From sizzling enemies-to-lovers arcs to fabulous ‘fake dating’ facades and more delicious tropes that soothe the soul, scroll on to discover the best romantic comedy reads to devour this year.
Perfect for fans of the ‘fake dating’ and ‘grumpy/sunshine’ tropes, The Love Hypothesis’ follows Olive Smith, a third-year Ph.D candidate who doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships. However, her best friend Anh does, and as a scientist, needs proof of Olive’s disbelief in happily ever after. Naturally, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees, also known as Adam Carlsen, a young “hotshot professor and well-known ass”. To Olive’s relief, he agrees to keep their act a secret and pretends to be her fake boyfriend, but when a big science conference goes topsy-turvy and Adam provides unwavering support (and abs) to lean on, their experiment takes a dangerous turn—throwing Olive’s carefully calculated theories on love into total chaos.
While Emily Henry’s Beach Read was technically released in 2020, it would be remiss of us not to include what is arguably one of the best romantic comedy books of the last few years. For the uninitiated, Beach Read is about January Andrews, a best-selling romance writer devoted to the Happily Ever After. On a deadline to finish her next book, she escapes to a coastal town only to find herself the neighbour to the surly Augustus Everett, an acclaimed author of literary fiction with a penchant for killing off his characters. Equally struck down with writer’s block, the two make a deal to jolt them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. The goal? Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. But as the summer rolls on, January begins to look at the plot holes in her own life, leading her to wonder if she really knows the story behind the man next door.
If you adore Jane Austen and the friends-to-lovers trope, consider Kamila Knows Best—a retelling of Emma—your next must-read. While she doesn’t have the perfect life, Kamila Hussain has got it pretty good: a job she loves, a dog with more Instagram followers than most reality stars, nights brimming with Bollywood movie parties and plenty of friends to matchmake—friends whose love lives keep her so busy, she barely has time for her own. Luckily, there’s Rohan Nasser, a highly successful and, ahem, very fit long-time friend of Kamila’s family. Cue: “harmless” flirting that becomes not-so-harmless when our protagonist’s secret nemesis returns to town with her eye on Rohan, turning Kamila’s carefully designed life upside down.
A Regency era rom-com to fill the void Bridgerton season 2 left behind? Yes, please. The tale follows Lady Emily Turner; whose father’s gambling debts have rendered her an unfavourable prospect on the marriage mart, and the rakish Lord Julian Belfry; the scandalising second son of marquess with little to his name but a questionable acting career and the deed to a seedy theatre. When the pair meet by chance at a party, they realise a marriage of convenience could be the key to solving both of their problems: with Emily lending Julian’s theatre some respectability, and Julian offering her an escape route out of her father’s dubious world. Throw in some conflicting ideas about their roles in their “marriage”, an actress on-the-run, a murderous kitten and some meddlesome friends, and it’s the recipe for a slow-burn, historical romantic comedy that you’ll devour in one sitting.
The latest from the best-selling author of The Kiss Quotient, The Heart Principle isn’t a lighthearted rom-com in the traditionally fluffy sense, but it is one that delivers wry humour and unapologetic depth in equal measure. The story centres around violinist Anna Sun, who accidentally catapults her career via a YouTube video but can’t seem to recreate that viral success. Then, when her long-time boyfriend declares that he wants to try an open relationship before committing completely, a hurt Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship: he’ll get an open relationship. Fully intent on pursuing a series of one-night stands with a series of unacceptable men, it all goes awry when the motorcycle-riding, tattoo-covered Quan Diep appears in her life, disrupting all her plans while accepting her unconditionally. However, when tragedy hits Anna’s family, everything changes and Anna and Quan will have to fight for their chance at love—by fighting for themselves.
A delight for ‘grumpy/sunshine’ devotees and ‘forced proximity’ fans, Act Your Age focuses on Eve Brown: a certified “hot mess” whose life, despite her best efforts, has a tendency to go, well, horribly haywire. So, after her signature style of chaos sends a very expensive wedding into a tailspin, Eve’s parents make a call: it’s time for her to grow up and prove herself. Unlike Eve, B&B owner Jacob Wayne has no problem with ‘control’. An uptight perfectionist to a fault, he’s brutally forthright when purple-haired Eve applies for an open chef position: absolutely not. Then, she accidentally (allegedly) hits him with her car. Now with a broken arm and an understaffed B&B, he has no choice but to keep Eve, his natural-born nemesis, around to help in very close quarters. Sure, he can’t stand her sunny, chaotic nature, but the longer they spend together, the more their animosity evolves into something else entirely.
Described as a “swoon-worthy, laugh-out-loud romp of a romance”, the book follows the titular Delilah Green, who swore she’d never return to her childhood home of Bright Falls. With nothing there for her besides her cold and distant step-family, Delilah is content to stay in New York where her photography career is finally taking off and her bed is warmed by a different woman every night. That is, until her estranged step-sister Astrid guilts her into making the trip to photograph her wedding. Her plan is to show up, shoot and disappear, but then Delilah meets Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up best friends and a bookstore-owning single mother, and decides both fun and a little revenge are on the cards. Despite decades of history between them, they don’t really ‘know’ each other, and after being forced together for Astrid’s wedding preparations, Claire is unnerved when Delilah knows exactly how to wind her up. Before long, she begins to wonder if she has the fortitude to resist Delilah’s allure—and if she even wants to.
Perfect for fans of The Bachelor, this modern retelling of Cinderella has all the qualities of a classic comfort read. Having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, all Cindy wants is to get her foot in the door (pardon the pun) and make a name for herself. So, when a spot on her executive producer stepmother’s reality dating show Before Midnight needs filling, Cindy steps up in the hopes it might kick-start her shoe design career (or at least, distract her while her fellow graduates score all the high fashion jobs). What she didn’t foresee? That being the first plus-size woman on a hit reality show would turn her into a body positivity icon for women across the country. In time, she realises that while she didn’t go on the show for love, it might not be off the table—and that if the shoe doesn’t fit, you can always design your own.
The second Bachelor-inspired title on this list, The Charm Offensive is a heartwarming tale of what happens when reality TV and romance go off-script in all the best ways. An eternal believer in fairytales, Dev Deshpande is the most successful producer in the history of the long-running reality dating show Ever After. Despite the catastrophe that is his own love life, he never fails when it comes to crafting the perfect script. That is, until the show casts the disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star. The total opposite of Ever After’s typical Prince Charming, Charlie doesn’t believe in true love, only signed up to score some much-needed good PR, and is an anxious mess trying to date twenty women on-screen. As Dev does his job to get Charlie to connect with the contestants, the pair begin opening up to each other, and Charlie soon realises their chemistry is more real than anything he shares with any of the women on the show.
Renowned for being a sexy, cavalier flirt, king crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation for being a guaranteed good time—which is exactly how he likes it. Enter: Hannah Bellinger. Unfussed by his charisma and looks, the pair ‘click’ and become good, fast friends. Soon enough, Hannah is crashing in Fox’s guest room during a work trip while holding a torch for her colleague. Naturally, Fox is just the casanova to help her snare her co-worker’s gaze, yet the more time they spend together, the more the lines of friendly and flirty continue to cross. At the same time, Hannah refuses to be yet another one of Fox’s quick conquests. Little does she know, the last thing Fox wants is to help her flirt with another guy, and is hoping that if he can show her he’s all in—maybe she’ll pick him instead?