This week, I’m ignoring everyone’s suggestions for a topic and going with the opposites attract trope!
(Or, more generally, an unlikely couple.)
Okay, so it’s a bit of a cliched trope, sure, I’ll give you that. But like most “cliched” tropes, when it’s either done well or done differently (i.e. not white and cishet), it can be very very good.
So, here are five of my absolute favourites.
Falling for a Rake
He’s the most notorious rake in England. She’s a Perfect Lady. Neither are what they seem.
Lady Emily can’t afford a scandal. Her sister’s debut is just weeks away and she has her pteridology group to safeguard. It’s bad enough to be stuck in a hole overnight with Lord Markshall, and worse to have kissed him. Marriage is unthinkable. But newspaper hearsay on their “frolics and fernication” after a fern hunting accident puts everything she’s worked for in jeopardy.
Lord Markshall’s whole political career is based on manipulation and disguise. Lady Emily’s polite insults are just the thing to prove to himself, and everyone else, that he’s still an unworthy rake. He wants her desperately, but even a fake engagement is too good for him.
With Emily’s sister’s debut and a major political vote coming up, their reputations–good and bad–have never been more critical. The newspaper gossip is edging toward the truth, threatening to incinerate everything they hold dear. Can they understand, accept, and love each other, before it’s too late?
Last month, I had never read a book by Eve Pendle, then I went and read both of her books in about a day, so. That’s how you know this one’s good. It’s the perfect kind of slowburn for a historical romance, and the characters are both amazing.
The Secret of a Heart Note
An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs
Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.
At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.
You might know Stacey Lee more for her historical fiction (which you should absolutely go read right now), but actually the first of hers I read was this one, a quietly magical YA contemporary. Featuring a wonderful opposites attract romance and a really unique magic system.
The great outdoors isn’t so great for Sydney It-Girl Lien Hong. It’s too dark, too quiet, and there are spiders in the toilet of the cabin she is sharing with friends on the way to a New South Wales music festival. To make matters worse, she’s been separated from her companions and taken a bad fall. With a storm approaching, her rescue comes in the form of a striking wilderness ranger named Claudia Sokolov, whose isolated cabin, soulful voice and collection of guitars bely a complicated history. While they wait out the weather, the women find an undeniable connection—one that puts them both on new trajectories that last long after the storm has cleared.
Pene Henson is one of my favourite romance authors, so I’ll always be trying to rec her to someone somewhere at any given moment. Storm Season is like the “snowed into a cabin with a stranger” trope, but it’s actually a cabin in a forest in the middle of a storm (the principle is the same). And it’s brilliant.
The Pursuit Of…
What do a Black American soldier, invalided out at Yorktown, and a white British officer who deserted his post have in common? Quite a bit, actually.
• They attempted to kill each other the first time they met.
• They’re liable to try again at some point in the five-hundred mile journey that they’re inexplicably sharing.
• They are not falling in love with each other.
• They are not falling in love with each other.
• They are… Oh, no.
The Pursuit Of… is about a love affair between two men and the Declaration of Independence. It’s a novella of around 38,000 words.
Yeah, you knew it was coming, a Courtney Milan book. And only Courtney Milan can effectively develop a romance across less than 40k words, and make the Declaration of Independence romantic. She’s truly magical.
Seventeen-year-old Lauren Lennox is a city girl at heart. Being born and raised in Los Angeles, California by her movie star mom and ex-child-star father sounds like an ideal childhood, but with a mother who’s always busy and a father who suffers from alcoholism, Lauren’s already parentless childhood and her resulting rebellious streak are made worse when her mother passes away and she’s left alone with her father, who doesn’t care how little school she attends, how much alcohol she drinks, or how many girls she sleeps with.
When she puts too many toes out of line and a judge deems her father unfit to be her guardian, shes shipped across the country to the rural mountains of northern Georgia, where a personal friend of the judge lives with his wife and two kids on a farm. David Marshall is a professional counselor known for “reforming unruly youth’, and as part of David’s program, Lauren will be required to work with farm animals, go to church once a week, attend counseling sessions with David, and go to a new school, all for seven months until her graduation. So naturally, her plan is simple: to have her best friend come pick her up two months early on the day she turns eighteen, and to be as difficult as possible in the meantime.
Her plan doesn’t account for David Marshall’s daughter.
To be honest, this is my favourite Siera Maley book. No one writes f/f YA contemporary like she does. And with the best characters (and tropes!) as well.
Are your faves on here? If not, what are they?