Book Corner: Quirky Romances for Valentine’s Day

Confession: the cynic in me had originally planned to write about love gone awry. Think “Verity,” by Colleen Hoover, or “The Girl on the Train,” by Paula Hawkins. I was going to call it “Tainted Love.” Clever, right? I’ve never been much of a romance reader. Certainly not bodice rippers or books with “tame” and “Duke” in the same title. But I actually have read and enjoyed some romance books in my life. Here are a few funny romances to warm the cockles of anyone’s heart. Even mine.

A Proposal They Can't Refuse, opens a new window by Natalie Caña
Kamilah Vega and Liam Kane are on the same mission: to win the Fall Foodie Tour and save their families’ businesses from collapsing in the midst of gentrification. And both have stubborn grandfathers with the same ulterior motives: to see them both married. Neither Kamilah’s abuelo nor Liam’s Granda will let them enter the competition until they agree to marry each other. If they refuse, their grandfathers will sell the building that houses both businesses. But Kamilah and Liam can’t stand each other, so they fake an engagement until they get what they want.

The Heart Principle, opens a new window by Helen Hoang
When violinist Anna Sun finds sudden fame after a YouTube video goes viral, she becomes overwhelmed by the pressure and begins to suffer from burnout. On paper, her answer is to do some soul-searching by eliminating the stress from her life and experimenting with being herself. Really, this means Anna is going to pursue a series of one-night stands with bad boys. When she tries this with the tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep, it fails. But they keep trying, and soon it feels like they’re in an actual relationship. Now Anna must choose between meeting others’ expectations and finding happiness on her own terms.

Lunar Love, opens a new window by Lauren Kung Jessen
Olivia Huang Christenson is excited to take over her grandmother’s matchmaking business, until she learns a new dating app has pilfered her grandmother’s traditional Chinese zodiac approach and twisted it into “animal attraction.” Finding out that handsome bachelor Bennett O’Brien is behind the app, Olivia is furious and worried about her family’s legacy. As the two businesses square off, Bennett and Liv make a deal: they’ll find a match for each other, and whoever falls in love loses.

Honey Girl, opens a new window by Morgan Rogers
Grace Porter thought she’d be more excited to receive her Ph.D. in astronomy and head to Vegas on a girls’ trip to celebrate. She did not think she’d spontaneously, drunkenly marry a woman whose name she doesn’t know while in Vegas. But she did, and now she’s back to being crushed by her parents’ high expectations. Fleeing her Portland home, Grace heads to New York to spend the summer with Yuki, the wife she doesn’t know. Yuki is creative and beautiful, and Grace falls in love hard while ignoring the pressure from her family. Reality catches up with Grace, though, and she must face what she’s been running from all along.

Dating Dr. Dil, opens a new window by Nisha Sharma
In this reimagining of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” Kareena dreams of the perfect love story--just like her parents’--and decides at age 30 that it’s time to start dating. When her widowed father announces he’s retiring and selling their home after her sister’s engagement party, Kareena strikes a bargain. If she can find her soulmate by the date of the party, her father will give her the house. When she meets Prem, their first encounter is not great, and their second is worse after they debate about love while on air, and it goes viral. The only way Prem can restore his reputation as a heart-health expert and keep from losing funding for his community center is to date Kareena. Despite their differences, Prem decides Kareena’s not so bad, and their meeting starts to feel like fate.

Tracy McPeck is the adult services coordinator at Central Rappahannock Regional Library. This column first appeared in the Free Lance-Star newspaper.