I’m glad everyone is really getting to find out how much of a Taylor Swift fangirl I am and I’m so thrilled to be back providing you with the second half of 1989 paired with romance novels that I’ve loved. Let’s just jump right in!
“Wildest Dreams” + Bountiful by Sarina Bowen.
“Wildest Dreams” is probably my favorite song on 1989 and I just absolutely adore it. For some reason though, it was the one I struggled with the most to select a book for! I think the mood of “Wildest Dreams” is this idea of someone kind of haunting you and that your memories of are positive but bittersweet. So I went with Bountiful by Sarina Bowen as my primary choice, but I do have another that I’ll talk about momentarily. Bountiful begins with Zara running a bar and having a series of hook ups with the same guy. She never exchanges contact information with him and she doesn’t catch his last name. When Dave leaves town to go back to work as a hockey player for the Brooklyn Bruisers, he doesn’t know that he’s not only leaving behind Zara, but also an unborn child. Dave has very fond memories of his time in Vermont and eventually he returns. Despite the fact that Zara has been left with this child, she doesn’t hold any resentment toward Dave so the romance, at least in that transition part, feels like it fits the vibes of the song. My second selection is Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan. Now, it’s important that you know before picking up Long Shot that it deals with domestic violence happening on page and it is difficult to read. But there’s this wistful connection between August and Iris as they keep running into one another and having really great and meaningful connections before returning to their own lives. While I would absolutely recommend it, I also recognize that this book is incredibly difficult to read so take care if you pick it up!
“How You Get the Girl” + Block Shot by Kennedy Ryan
“I want you for worse or for better, I would wait forever and ever” are the lyrics I picked out here. As for the way the lyrics apply to Block Shot? That’s easy. Jared is attached to few things in life. He’s pretty mercenary. But for Banner? Y’all, that man would do anything. This is my favorite of Kennedy’s Hoops series and I can’t help but feel like it shouldn’t be, but Kennedy writes books the way Shonda Rhimes does her tv shows and my morals turn real grey. I highly recommend. For less cheating-esque situations, let’s talk about Scoring Off the Field by Naima Simone and Managed by Kristen Callihan. Scoring Off the Field is one of the best friends to lovers books ever written. Managed is about the biggest grump, Scottie, and him discovering he can actually sleep with Sophie beside him and y’all. Delightful. Anyway, both of these books have the scene where the hero has to kind of grovel because he was too dumb to make sure his heroine knew that she was everything. Thus, the song works for them too!
“This Love” + American Love Story by Adriana Herrera
The lyrics I picked out for this song are “this love is a life back from the dead, these hands had to let it go free, and this love came back to me.” I chose American Love Story to go with this because there’s this sense of longing in the song, of wanting this love to come back to you that I feel like encapsulates a lot of how Patrice and Easton’s relationship works. They come together and then Patrice dances back because vulnerability is hard and so is being essentially the face of the Black Lives Matter movement in Cornell and trying to date the acting District Attorney while police are pulling Black men over for no reason. But they always come back together because ultimately, they are good together. I really love this book even though it was not infrequently incredibly challenging to read (Easton and I are both prosecutors of domestic violence crimes and every time he talked about work I was like I’M TRYING TO LEAVE THAT THERE). I also though picked out two others because of course I did. So my other two are Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole, because second chance romance? Yes? Maybe? It counts. And then also Wanna Bet? because of the bleak moment with Jasmine and Rahul. That book is another essentially perfect friends to lovers. Dani and I read it as part of our When Old Meets New challenge so if you want more thoughts, you can totally have them!
“I Know Places” + Take the Lead by Alexis Daria
I tossed out several ideas for books that would match with this song, which is really about hiding a relationship from paparazzi because “baby I know places we won’t be found and they’ll be chasing their tails trying to track us down.” So I was like, clearly a celebrity romance. And I kind of think Take the Lead by Alexis Daria and Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh fit the song equally well. Take the Lead was Daria’s debut and it was a magnificent one. It follows Gina, a professional dancer on what is essentially Dancing with the Stars, and Stone Nielson, the celebrity from a reality tv show set in Alaska who hates it. Gina is determined to be a consummate professional because as a Latina she’s subject to fierce scrutiny and over-sexualization anyway. But there’s something about Stone that makes keeping things professional a wee bit challenging. And then you have Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh about Molly and Fox. Molly, due to some events in her past is extremely uncomfortable with the paparazzi and Fox is a rock star so… Difficulties. The book is absolutely marvelous.
“Clean” + Damaged Goods by Talia Hibbert
The lyrics I selected for this song are “rain came pouring down, when I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe.” Damaged Goods is probably my favorite novella of all time. It follows Laura as she travels to a coastal town she used to go to all the time as a child. She didn’t really anticipate that she would be going back there pregnant after leaving her abusive husband, but alas. Upon her return, she encounters Samir and y’all. The blessings. I love Samir. Anyway, what better song for Laura than “Clean”? Leave that trash man in the past! If you would like other options, I also wrote down, The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Loren (CW for aftermath of a school shooting) and Luck of the Draw by Kate Clayborn, which might still be on sale for the kindle version!
“Wonderland” + Idol by Kristen Callihan
I have somehow managed to give a song from 1989 to each song in this series by Callihan, so if you didn’t already know I love it, I guess now you do? First, the key lyric I pulled out is “we found wonderland you can I got lost in it and we pretended it could last forever.” So, Idol is about Killian, lead singer of a rock band who drunkenly crashes into Libby’s yard, and Libby, who is a phenomenal singer too scared to take a risk. Although they start out in a contentious relationship, they do fall together fairly quickly and then they have to hold their relationship up to reality. It’s a really great book and introduction to the series.
“You Are in Love” + 40-Love by Olivia Dade
“And for once, you let go, of your fears and your ghosts” is the perfect line for Tess and her journey of falling in love with Lucas. 40-Love has the best meet cute in the world, which is Tess losing her top in the ocean and plastering herself to Lucas’s back because there are children coming and they cannot see her. Lucas is a bit of a flirt, which makes Tess wary, especially considering the fact that she’s a lot older than he is. I really love this book and would highly recommend!
“New Romantics” + The Right Swipe
I just feel like Rhiannon really embodies “cause baby I could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me” energy. The Right Swipe follows entrepreneur badass, Rhiannon, as she tries to expand her empire by buying another company. Standing in her way, sort of, is her one night stand who ghosted, Samson. Samson is a really, really fantastic hero and I love him a whole bunch. He’s dealing with grief and also trying to convince the NFL to take concussions seriously. Rhiannon is the type of unlikeable that has a lot of people mad, but I think she’s absolutely incredible and will fight those people. She’s prickly and has zero desire to be vulnerable and she’s a total boss. This book made me cry in the Chicago O’Hare Airport last year. I loved it a lot and I hope you will too.
And that wraps up 1989 + Romance Novels! I hope you enjoyed. As always, please share with me your thoughts about my selections and what books you would have chosen. Also, what’s your favorite song on 1989 and where does it rank on your list of Taylor Swift albums? Please, please don’t forget to double check your registration and request a mail in ballot if you can/want to!