A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month.
‘Tis the season for gifting, and I’m a big believer in rewarding myself for doing ALL THE THINGS in December. Here are a couple of romance novels I loved this month that would make perfect gifts for a friend — or yourself. Happy reading!
Denise Williams puts a modern twist on falling in love in The Fastest Way to Fall (Berkley).
After four years as an editorial assistant at a lifestyle website, Britta Colby is trying to position herself for a promotion. She and a co-worker take on the challenge of writing about two different fitness apps. Britta’s assignment is to review FitMi Fitness, a body-positive app that pairs each client with a personal trainer who supports them on their fitness journey.
Christopher “Wes” Lawson is the CEO of FitMi. He has all the professional success he ever wanted, but his private life is a bit of a mess. So he decides it’s time to get out of the office and back to what he loves most — being a personal trainer. And his first new client is Britta.
Britta doesn’t know Wes is the head of FitMi, and Wes doesn’t know Britta is the journalist writing about his app. Despite the subterfuge, the two begin flirting through their messages. Coaches and clients are never supposed to meet, but Wes goes above and beyond to help Britta in an emergency, and the virtual connection they’ve already made naturally leads to an in-person relationship. Trouble ensues, but neither is willing to walk away from what they’ve started.
This charming, sexy novel pairs two people who likely would never have connected outside of an app. Britta is a determined, relatable character who describes herself as “fun, smart…and fat” and refuses to let her weight define her. Wes is a swoon-worthy hero and Britta’s perfect match in every way. Technology might have brought them together, but their slow-burn romance feels delightfully old-fashioned.
The Donut Trap (Avon) by Julie Tieu is a sweet treat that packs an emotional punch.
Recent UCLA grad Jasmine “Jas” Tran doesn’t know what to do with her life. She’s working at her parents’ shop, Sunshine Donuts, and busily evading their questions and critiques of her friendships, love life, and career indecision. She has worked at the shop for as long as she can remember, and while she may not know what she wants for her future, she absolutely knows it doesn’t involve slinging doughnuts.
With rent on the rise and Sunshine Donuts floundering, Jas comes up with a plan that will help her parents revitalize their business — if only she could get them to listen to her. While she’s struggling to be a good daughter and figure out her own future, a chance encounter has her reconnecting with college crush Alex Lai.
Alex is cute, successful, and Chinese — and he has a similarly difficult relationship with his own mother. Alex and Jas quickly bond over their family issues and banter their way into love. Everything is looking up for Jas until an awkward dinner party threatens both a potential new career opportunity and her relationship with Alex.
Tieu takes this romcom to another level as she explores Jas’ complicated relationship with her Chinese Cambodian immigrant parents. Their interactions are emotionally charged and even painful to read at times as Jas searches for the words to make them understand the life they imagined for her isn’t the one she wants. Jas’ happiness isn’t about finding the right job or the right boyfriend — it’s about discovering her voice and, in the process, herself.
Kristina Wright lives in Virginia with her husband, their two sons, two dogs, a cat, and a parrot. She’s the digital editor of Your Teen for Parents magazine, a regular contributor at BookBub, and a lifelong romance fan. Find her on Twitter at @kristinawright or on Bookshop, where she features other book recommendations.