folklore + romance novels: part one

Y’all, I haven’t had this much serotonin hanging out in my brain in MONTHS. When Taylor dropped this news last week I found out as I was walking into work so I literally walked in with my hand in front of my mouth (masked), shaking, and basically screamed at everyone once I got into the office that it was THE BEST DAY EVER. And now for one of my favorite rituals of pairing these new songs with romance novels. You might be wondering how given the intense sad vibes of this album and the answer is you’re basically going to hear about every second chance romance I’ve ever loved and see a lot of stretching. It’s a fun time. So let’s do this!

forrest background with text that read folklore + romance novels

the 1 + A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Key Lyric: And if my wishes came true, it would’ve been you

This song, although arguably a little sad, has some really fun vibes and that’s pretty much how I feel about the second chance romance in A Cowboy to Remember. It’s not super angsty and it’s got a fun premise (amnesia) and there’s a lot about family in both the song and in this book. Essentially, Evie loses her memory after the most dramatic first chapter and goes home with her childhood friend (Jesse) and her childhood sweetheart (Zach). Evie is a chef so there are some incredible scenes in the kitchen and about food. Oh, and the men are cowboys, obviously. It’s a really great book, I definitely would recommend.

cardigan + Into the Blue by Chanel Cleeton

Key Lyric: You drew stars around my scars but now I’m bleeding

“cardigan” has such a fascinating story arc and I agonized over which of my second chance favorites to stick in here. I’m sort of going to cheat and tell you three, sorry not sorry. Starting with Into the Blue by Chanel Cleeton, which I selected because “cardigan” has a real angsty vibe for me where you’re like “oh this is cute” and then suddenly you’re DROWNING in an ocean while it’s storming. So Into the Blue is one of the angstier second chance romances I’ve read and I fell in love with it. Becca and Eric were high school sweethearts and were almost definitely going to get married until Eric decided abruptly and without a conversation that he was going off to join the Air Force. Of course, a decade later, he’s back in their hometown for R&R and he maybe wants her back. I love it. The other two are Fireworks by Sarina Bowen and One Last Chance by Therese Beharrie. Beharrie’s is told in alternating timelines from their time together in the past and meeting again in the present and please don’t read the synopsis, just trust me and try it. Fireworks is about Skye coming back to the town she swore she’d never return to in order to help her sister and running right into the man she left behind. It’s real good and real angsty.

the last great american dynasty + The Prince of Broadway by Joanna Shupe

Key Lyric: She had a marvelous time ruining everything

There is no other book to really choose here than, “Fuck yeah, Florence” รก la b.inherbooks fame. Thus, The Prince of Broadway featuring Florence Greene was the clear choice for someone who embodies the to hell with society and super scandalous energy of Rebekah West Harkness because Florence is determined to open the first casino for women in NYC. She’s incredible and fierce and I love her. I also love the extremely hot scenes between Florence and Clayton… Anyway, this book fits perfectly for this prompt, but I’d love to hear of any others you think would fit!

exile + The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev

Key Lyric: You were my crown, now I’m in exile seeing you out

For me, this song is the one of the most angsty on the album. It’s also my favorite. I went through several books trying to pick one that fits the vibe the best and landed on The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev. This book about destroyed me when I read it years ago. Ria Parker is a Bollywood star, but something has gone wrong and she goes home to escape a media fire. Unfortunately for her, that puts her back in Vikram’s path. Y’all. This book is so good. It hurts me. I barely remember the plot, but I remember the pain. Other books I considered for this are The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean (which I stand by; here’s my review of the book); Rock Wedding by Nalini Singh (another book that hurt me so much, but that I really enjoyed; CW for domestic violence); and Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren (a women’s fiction with a central romance that is a second chance story).

my tears ricochet + Daring and the Duke by Sarah MacLean

Key Lyric: I didn’t have it in me to go with grace

So… Maybe this is a little too on the nose, but also the images of haunting just really give me Ewan and Grace vibes. Sarah MacLean did an incredible job with this series conclusion. I’m still thinking about it days later. But, if you’re unfamiliar, Ewan did a bad thing and that sort of sets up the series and then we get two books of knowing him as the villain. Finally, in book three, he’s back to win Grace back to his side and she’s really (trying) not to be about that life. It’s real angsty and it hurts a lot. But it’s also got some beautiful rage-y moments that I liked a lot. Here’s my review of the series if you want more thoughts.

mirrorball + Damaged Goods by Talia Hibbert

Key Lyric: and when I break it’s into a million pieces

I’m still struggling to wrap my mind around this song so it was a little challenging to pick a book to match it. I feel like this song gives me kind of “Delicate” vibes, but with more longing? I’m not really sure. Anyway, so I wound up trying to think of books where it feels precarious and I landed on Damaged Goods by Talia Hibbert because it’s one of my favorite novellas of all time. In it, Laura goes to the sea to recover/spend her pregnancy away from her abusive soon-to-be-ex husband. She reunites with her childhood friend and cinnamon roll, Samir, and they are so precious together. But something about it just feels so delicate. Anyway, I also considered Love Hard by Nalini Singh (another favorite; review here if you’re interested), Best of Luck by Kate Clayborn (something about Greer and Alex just gives me “mirrorball” vibes, idk), Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews (I can always justify thinking about Catalina and Alessandro, okay?), and Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall (just something about Luc and Oliver gives me the fragile and “hush, when no one is around my dear” vibes). What do you think?

seven + The One for You by Roni Loren

Key Lyric: I think your house is haunted, your dad is always mad and that must be why and I think you should come live with me

Okay, so this might be a stretch, but one of my favorite parts of The One for You was the sweetness of Kincaid and Ashton in the past. And Ashton’s dad was always mad and also verbally abusive and there were cute scenes where Kincaid would stay with him or he would spend a lot of time not in his own house. And also, I feel like this song fits because Kincaid really seems to spend a lot of time trying to be always happy and like the trauma of the school shooting didn’t leave some pretty major scars on her heart. I just really loved the way this series ended. Kincaid is my favorite character in the entire series. So anyway, if you want more thoughts, they’re here.

august + Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath

Key Lyric: August sipped away like a bottle of wine because you were never mine

Specifically, you would need to listen to this at the right part of the book once you got past the set up and to when there are some nights being spent with the duke. Y’all, the premise of this book is absolutely wild and I was like, “HOW IS THERE GOING TO BE AN HEA?” It follows Jane, who is married to the Marquess of Walford. Walford was paralyzed in a carriage accident he was in with Ransom, his cousin, several years ago. So Walford decides he has a brilliant plan and that Jane can just go off with Ransom for a month and get pregnant and then he’ll have an heir and Jane will have someone to dote on and to bring her joy. So, “you weren’t mine to lose” is completely Waking Up with the Duke vibes and it is absolutely incredible and so angst filled, but for a brief period this song super fits the vibe of the book.

And that is all for the first half of this post! There are eight more songs and books to go and you’ll have them very soon, I promise. (I can say that because I already wrote it.) Now, for today’s issue I want to bring to your attention, school is starting! For far too many people, this means that they are at risk. Additionally, since our schools are underfunded, teachers are often looking to buy supplies themselves. Donorschoose is one of my favorite places to go looking for ways to help, but for today, I specifically looked for places trying to teach social justice to their students and wanted to highlight these projects. If you don’t have money to spare right now (same), another option you may have is to advocate for curriculum that includes the fullness of American history (if you’re in the States) instead of the incredibly white-washed version I (and lots of us) grew up on. Just something to keep in mind!


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