In case you didn’t know, Taylor Swift is my favorite musician ever and there is nothing I love more than talking about her. So what better thing to do than pair the first half of her latest album (arguably her best, but I’ll throw down for Red and Speak Now too), Lover. Right now my top four songs are Cruel Summer, The Man, The Archer, and Paper Rings. Have you listened? If so, what are yours? (Oh and don’t worry, the other nine songs will be up ASAP with their book pairings!)
I Forgot That You Existed
So I really wasn’t sure where to go with this song. It’s a fun and upbeat number that presumably in the arc of a romance novel would come toward the beginning. But the majority of second chance romances are pretty angsty, so I decided this could go one of two ways and therefore I have two recommendations for you.
First up, we have my true favorite second chance romance, Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai because Livvy and Nico are basically everything. Olivia Kane and Nicholas Chandler broke up in the aftermath of family tragedy, but have gotten together every year on her birthday for an epic sex session, until this year (the tenth year). This book is angsty af, but they do both try to pretend that they’ve forgotten the other and their impact outwardly to everyone else in their lives. And for 364 days of the year. And now Nico isn’t convinced Livvy hasn’t forgotten him. Ugh. So good. *chef’s kiss* Anyway, this song doesn’t exactly fit the lighthearted atmosphere of this song, so…
My second pick is Fumbled by Alexa Martin because truly the last thing Poppy Patterson was expecting was for the father of her so and NFL star, TK Moore, to waltz back into her life while she was at work. So maybe she hadn’t totally forgotten he existed, but!! It’s truly been years since the two were together in high school and the tone of this book is much less angsty than Hate to Want You. It does, however, tackle the dangers of CTE and football and I really appreciate the authenticity Martin brings to sports romance. (If you weren’t aware, Martin is herself a wife to a (former?) NFL player.) Anyway, you can’t go wrong with either of these choices!
Okay, so again, I have issues choosing just one book, but in my defense, this song is truly top notch and I think that’s just going to be a theme. I truly cannot think of a fun rompy forbidden style romance, which is what the lyrics remind me of, unless I go with brother’s friend or friend’s brother or whatever it is. So instead of giving you a lot of detail about these books, I’m just going to be quick so I can give you more than two.
So first up we have Priest by Sierra Simone because talk about Forbidden! Poppy Danforth is new to Tyler Bell’s parish and she is ridiculously attractive to him. This is super forbidden and super steamy and I adored it. If the Catholic Church sex problems are going to get in the way of your enjoyment, that is absolutely understandable. If you can get past that? This book was really good! Then we have Sin & Ink by Naima Simone, which is super angsty because Knox and Eden used to be in-laws, until Knox’s brother died fighting (MMA, I think) and now his mom blames him for his brother’s death. But Eden and Knox’s chemistry?? Omg. Light me up, tbh. So good.
Okay, less angsty, but somehow still made me cry, we’ve got Best of Luck by Kate Clayborn, which is top notch excellence in every way. And! Alex and Greer team up for the summer so it’s really perfect. Alex puts on a front that he’s kind of this badass photographer who goes into war zones (which is true), but he’s having pretty bad panic attacks lately. And if I start talking more about this book, I’m not going to stop, so let me just say read the whole series, okay, bye! And my final recommendation is One and Only by Jenny Holiday because speaking of people grinning like the devil… Meet Cameron Mackinnen, the future brother in law of our bridezilla and the man Jane is assigned to baby sit. She wasn’t supposed to fall for him, but oh does she. This book is SO good!
And now we finally move on to one of the most overtly romantic songs on the album and I still have multiple choices for you. I’d apologize, but really, is that such a bad thing?
So, here’s the thing, I feel like this lyric works really well for basically every book in Kristen Callihan’s VIP series and here’s why. In Idol, Killian just crashes into Libby’s yard and they’re soon super into one another and it does feel like they get each other on that level where you just get why Libby’s willing to uproot her life for him. And then in Managed? First of all, Grumpy Scotty is caught totally off guard by how much and how quickly he comes to love Sophie Darling AND he literally can’t sleep without her!!!! Is there anything better? Oh dear, so many books I now feel like I need to re-read right now. Okay, and finally, Fall is book three and Jax and Stella connect so well that I really just couldn’t help but see their connection and I love how it built. There is mental health representation in each of these books and if you need CWs, feel free to reach out to me.
This song is a feminist anthem and I cannot wait for my t-shirt to be here. Anyway, who else could I choose for this song besides Akira?? Oh wait, jk, another Alisha Rai character too, Rhiannon from The Right Swipe stole my heart and I’m ready to come for people talking about how she doesn’t show enough vulnerability. Anyway, we’ll tackle these in order.
A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai is a lady billionaire who is shamed for just about everything by people in her life, from the way she dresses to her sex life, and she gives very little credence to what the world thinks of her, but she really wants Jacob Campbell to just give in to her. This book is top notch excellence and I love it and Alisha so much. Akira is just… aces, tbh.
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai follows Rhi, a dating app creator of an app I think I might be willing to use, which is a big thing, tbh. Anyway, it also follows Samson, who is my precious sweet gentle giant and in a lot of ways, I do feel like this book flips some gender scripts in who is more open emotionally and plays with that a bit. I loved the way Alisha did that.
I’m going to be good and limit this one to just one book comparison because I thought of May almost immediately. Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen is such a great book and, I think, is Sarina Bowen at her best. May walks into the house she shares with her girlfriend and finds her girlfriend with another woman. Fortunately, Alec is there to kind of help her out, but the problem with Alec is two fold. One their families aren’t necessarily overly fond of one another and two, Alec’s space he’s offering to May is above a bar and May is a recovering alcoholic. This book is truly so, so good and I just love May so much.
(Okay, kind of cheating, but also if you’re interested at all in The Diviners, this song has Evie written all over it!!)
I Think He Knows
American Fairytale by Adriana Herrera fits the vibe of this song so well, I think. It starts off with a bang (or a blow job, technically) at a charity gala and then both Milo and Thomas think that’s the end of it. Fortunately for us, that is not the case. Thomas is looking to donate money to the domestic violence shelter/agency that Milo works for and Milo is assigned to be the liaison for the project. As an aside, I desperately wish that more shelters had programming like Milo’s. I know one of the shelters in my district does things that are supposed to be fun occasionally, but I wish they could have a regular dance class like the one in this book. Anyway, the romance is great! The world building is just even better.
Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince
So this song has two layers. If you listen to the words and don’t ever learn what it’s about, it feels like an angsty high school song and if you like that level, I would really recommend Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon because that book captures Appalachia and some angst so well. (To the best of my recollection, this book ends well, but there are two girls and I really only remember the ending for one of them.) But it turns out this song is one Taylor wrote about how frustrating the political situation in America is, so what better choice here than any of the Rogue anthologies? I need to read more of them and I think this song might be what prompts me to do so.
I’m not trying to sit here and list all of my favorite friends to lovers romances, but there are just a few that really have to be mentioned. One is the super fun rom com, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren, which I absolutely adore. Josh and Hazel decide they’re going to be best friends (or more accurately, Hazel decides that and wears Josh down) and they start setting one another up on joint blind dates. And, well, things go from there. And the other is Wanna Bet? by Talia Hibbert, which is one of my absolute favorites of hers. Wanna Bet? follows Jasmine and Rahul who are friends because Jasmine refuses to mix friendship with more even though Rahul has been in love with her for years. This book is much angstier than Josh and Hazel’s, but it is SO good, y’all. Jasmine has to move in with Rahul because of flooding in her apartment (this is a shared plot point, weird) and things kind of… well, they go places. And I liked it.
Okay, so, this feels unfair to say because Sapphire Flames doesn’t come out until Tuesday, but just like… Listen to this when you finish it and then come back and tell me if it doesn’t give you Catalina and Alessandro vibes.
Let me know what you think of any of these pairings or if you have suggestions I didn’t mention!