If you missed the announcement, #FallInLoveBingo is back! And I’m so excited to be here today to give you some recommendations for many of the prompts. I’m going to do my absolute best to choose books with fewer than 10,000 ratings on Goodreads so that I’m not just defaulting to my favorites that you’ve probably already read. (Which also means if you see me at the end of some of these sections mentioning an extra book, it’s because I really loved it but it’s more popular than the parameter I arbitrarily set for myself.) So let us get started!
Prompt: Lights, Camera, Action!
I’ve attempted to provide several different types of vibes here, though honestly, my recommendations post for this specific prompt could be like at least fifty books long because I love fake dating (which, as I mentioned in the announcement post is a way to interpret this prompt) and I also tend to like reality television and actor based romances. A Beastly Kind of Earl by Mia Vincy involves quite a lot of acting actually, despite being a historical romance. Essentially the plot is that the female love interest is pretending to be her sister and the man that she has “married” is pretending not to know that she’s pretending to be her sister. It’s quite involved and yet, rather enchanting. How to Fake It in Hollywood by Ava Wilder is super angsty (CN for alcohol use/abuse and grief) and it is honestly super well done. This combines fake dating plus celebrities, which I tend to love, with a side helping of mess so it was virtually made for me. (Also, it would work for Messy!) I would definitely recommend and you can find more thoughts in my ARC Review here. American Royalty by Tracey Livesay is a book about an American rapper and skin care creator who finds herself reluctantly falling for an English Royal. There are different kinds of turning it on for the camera explored in this book and I largely enjoyed it. You can find my review here. The Lady Tempts an Heir is another historical romance where these two are faking a relationship until, oops, they accidentally caught feelings. It was really great and I’ve enjoyed the entire series that is out thus far. Finally, The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea is genuinely one of my favorite books of the year. I would definitely say it’s more of a women’s fiction novel with a heavy romance plot (with an HEA), but mostly it’s about a woman who agrees to pretend to be another woman’s bridesmaid and everything about it is just stunning. I love this book so much. Additional quick shout outs to Focused by Karla Sorensen and Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly also feel necessary, but they are a bit more popular than the recommendations I’m trying to throw your way!
Prompt: Memorable Kiss
I think we’re all just going to have to stumble upon this one because my mind is blank. The good news is that I think, in general, three months of reading means you will hopefully stumble across a book that could work for this! I guess you could argue that The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood has a memorable kiss, but, um, it’s definitely one of the more popular books so I’m not really giving you a great recommendation there.
In regards to the interpretation that is the most straightforward, you can use literally any book that you own. If you’re looking for books that fit “Mine” by Taylor Swift vibes, I’ve already mentioned The Spire in my TBR and Announcement post, but for real, Erin is 100% “a flight risk with a fear of falling.” (Content Note here for surviving child sexual abuse) Another truly fantastic book that I feel like really gets at “braced myself for the goodbye cause that’s all I’ve ever known” is Bend Toward the Sun by Jen Devon. That book and my emotions?? Shattered. I also think you could argue that Forbidden by Karla Sorensen works for the idea of “you made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter” though not in an exact match. More in that the way that Isobel reacts to Aiden feels so out of character for herself and I think that’s sort of the vibe of that line. In a different sort of vibe, I would also argue that Dizzy by Cate C. Wells works for this really well. Fay Lee is very much a flight risk and she does seem terrified of developing real feelings for Dizzy. Finally, I would recommend Seducing His Secret Wife by Robin Covington because again the female main character is 100% a flight risk with a fear of falling. (And also, even though it’s too popular to qualify for this, All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata is a recent favorite that would definitely qualify! I also really liked the audiobook.)
All of these recommendations are Aarya’s because if you ask me to think whimsy, I will provide you with a blank stare apparently. I am looking forward to reading Half a Soul though, it’s been on my TBR for quite some time. And I really loved The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen (the audiobook is great in that one too!). I’ve been on the fence about The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, but perhaps I should really move it up my list?
Prompt: Black Love
If you haven’t seen me gushing over You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty then I clearly need to step it up because I loved this book so much. It’s so messy and realistically, I should have put it there. I mean, maybe you’ll just see it twice, because if there is any book that I want more people to read that I’ve read this year, it’s probably this one. The writing is just so stunning. I’m obsessed. The audiobook is also excellent in every way. Here’s my review. Just for Tonight by Rilzy Adams is an erotic novella type situation and it’s written by Rilzy so it’s spicy and delightful. Summoning Up Love by Synithia Williams is arguably my favorite category romance of the year (another prompt this one could fulfill!) because it’s so unusual and fun. This kicks off a series about a trio of brothers in the ghost fighting business and it was really good. His to Defend by Sharon C. Cooper is another solid hit in the romantic suspense department from Cooper and I really enjoyed it (and this could also fulfill category romance). I have ARC Reviews of His to Defend here and Summoning Up Love here. Finally, I have A Delicate Affair by Lindsay Evans, which was such a great historical romance in the Decades collection. This one is set in the 1900s, I believe, and it was just so great. I definitely recommend!
Prompt: Queer YA
It would be a lot easier to find YA books with fewer than 10,000 reviews if I actually read YA on a regular basis. Genuinely, the only three I could come up with that I’ve read and fit the fewer than 10,000 ratings requirement I created are Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens, Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert, and The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding. Given the sheer amount of Queer YA on my TBR, one might think I would have read a greater amount. That said, Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens is really one of my favorite books about friendship that I’ve ever read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I believe I have an ARC review from back when I was a new blogger.
Okay, so admittedly, I haven’t read the last two books you see above, but Nick referred to Witchful Thinking as cute and whimsical (so another prompt you could fulfill!) and Aarya, Melinda, and Suzanne all gave The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches five stars and seemed to really love it. Since I trust them and their taste implicitly, I think it’s fair to go ahead and include them here. Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher (ARC Review) is probably my favorite of the witchy genre of books that we’re seeing a resurgence of right now (plus Payback’s a Witch but it has more than 10,000 ratings) so I definitely recommend it. Wild is the Witch is great if you’re here for some Pacific Northwest vibes and a hate to love romance between new adults (ARC Review). Then there is Witch Please, which I think is good, especially if Ann Aguirre’s writing style tends to work for you.
Prompt: Break in Case of Emergency
You’re very much on your own for this one, but just a quick reminder that what we’re getting at is this is a book you’ve stashed away for “the right time” or when you really need it. Let this be the sign you need to go ahead and read it!
Prompt: Animal Companion
I have ARC reviews of For You & No One Else by Roni Loren (here) and Bend Toward the Sun by Jen Devon (here), though I’m not sure I touched on the animal companions much in either review. In For You and No One Else, the main characters adopt an animal each toward the beginning of the book and they take care of them and the animals get to interact. It is really lovely. (Also, I really enjoyed that audiobook!) In Bend Toward the Sun, Rowan is basically like, “Y’all are going to need some sheep and farm animals,” and makes it happen, so I decided to stretch this slightly and count them as animal companions. In The Magnolia Chronicles, Mags has a dog named Gronk and he’s precious and a good judge of character. Also, I’ve got a review of The Magnolia Chronicles in my Contemporary Faves Project because I’m obsessed with Kate Canterbary. Then we have Seat Mate by Cara Bastone, an Audible Original, wherein the animal companions come into the story later so I’m not going to really explain how here. And in A Walk in the Park, Rebekah Weatherspoon said, “What if two people go to adopt the same dog and both refuse to back off so they agree to share the dog?” And she wrote a really fun story with a real cute puppy. It was a good time.
I suspect this prompt is fairly easy, especially if you’re a regular reader of historical romance so I’ve only included three books I’ve read recently that I remember having particularly stand out dance scenes at these balls. I do have ARC Reviews for both A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting (here) and A Lady for a Duke (here) and I would definitely recommend checking them out because while I think both have their audiences, I think they are not necessarily built for mass appeal based largely on pacing in each case. Then there is A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy, which was a really delightful time with these two silly humans being determined to not fall for the other and failing. It was great. (Do check content warnings, there are reasons for their determination.)
So the prompts in row 3 are all designed to be easy and also personal for you, with the exception of Audiobook or Graphic Novel. I don’t frequently pick up graphic novels, but I generally love audiobooks. I have noted when I particularly enjoyed the audiobook throughout these recommendations in the hopes that you may find something to enjoy that way. Otherwise, here is a link to the Swoon Awards from this year so you can see the audiobook winners and maybe one of those may appeal! (Personally, I think consuming Reel by Kennedy Ryan in legitimately any format is a brilliant plan, but you do you.) Anyway, aside from that, the Row 3 prompts are Reread, HEA, Recommended to You, and Impulse Buy/Borrow.
In the time since I started this post, You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty has surpassed 10,000 ratings, which is honestly just rude. So here’s a quick reminder that it is a brilliant book and it’s so, so messy and therefore perfect for this prompt. Now, moving on to books that are messy, but do not have 10,000 ratings… My favorite books generally involve some amount of mess. I reviewed both Fake It Till You Bake It and After Hours on Milagro Street in the same ARC review post, so you can check that out for more information. But there are a couple of literal messes in the kitchen in Fake It Till You Bake It, plus the messiness of living your life on national television and turning down a proposal. After Hours on Milagro Street also has some literal messes, but it was also this book where the family dynamics just got messy at times and may have culminated in me crying so hard I was starting to worry myself. The Return of the Duke by Lorraine Heath is another book I read as an ARC recently and I definitely think it qualifies as messy because it is two people with interesting entanglements trying to take down a plot to have the Queen assassinated. My favorite of these five though, should come as no surprise considering I’ve read Boss in the Bedsheets once a month three months in a row. My love of Zelda and Ash is at this point unparalleled, though truly all three Santilian triplets have books that would satisfy this prompt (and they are all three fantastic!!). And then we have Compromised into a Scandalous Marriage (another ARC) and y’all, that brother!!! I’m still mad. Anyway, this one is very much external mess and it was definitely quite the messy situation. I really enjoyed it and hope that you will as well if you pick it up.
My main recommendation for this prompt would be The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller because this book is absolutely fantastic and I think everyone should read and love it. I have an ARC review if you haven’t heard me or someone else rave about it and want more information, but the super short version of the plot is that Alva has bought a house with a ghost and Sam is only too happy to try and figure out what is really going on. Since it seems like Gothic is partially (mostly?) about vibes, allow me to also suggest that The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham would work for this prompt. Now, apparently The Duke I Tempted is not universally loved, but it is absolutely my favorite thing she has written and I adored it tremendously. It is quite angsty and very delicious, but please read other peoples reviews before committing to it because I don’t want you to hate it and blame me. My third recommendation for this prompt is going to be A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong, which is absolutely brilliant. I have an ARC review of this one as well, but the short version is that this is a book with time travel and ghosts and a mystery to solve. The romance is excellent, the vibes are top notch, and basically everything about this one is great. There are additional books in the series and they would also count! As for books that I’ve not read but keep looking at, A Lesson in Thorns by Sierra Simone screams gothic vibes to me. Also, the cover is fantastic.
I’m maybe not the best person to ask for novella recommendations, but here are five that I’ve personally loved. Damaged Goods is actually one of my favorites that I’m revisiting for my Contemporary Romance Favorites project. Sing Anyway was my introduction to Anita Kelly and I loved this karaoke inspired situation here. Supplicant and A Duke Worth Falling For are both from the Naughty Brits anthology that I really loved. And Tommy Cabot Was Here by Cat Sebastian was in the He’s Comes Undone anthology and I loved it.
Prompt: Autumn Leaves Falling Down
This prompt is a nod to Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” but mostly it is just a really great Fall prompt and each of these books mentions leaves, whether they be crunchy, changing colors, or just when paired with the overall tone of the book give off Fall vibes. They are all contemporary romances because that is really what I read the most frequently, so apologies if you want a different subgenre… Anyway, enjoy!
Prompt: Second Chance
I love that I really used to think second chance romances were among my least favorite tropes because nowadays, I really like the angst that tends to accompany second chance romances and really appreciate them. I think I have ARC Reviews of most of these books. You can find the one for The Shaadi Set Up here (I believe I’ve also talked about how this book gave me serious Taylor Swift vibes as well somewhere…), A Reunion of Rivals here, and Hate Crush here. A Rogue to Remember is an adventure/spy historical romance and it was a delight. And A Touch of Stone and Snow is an absolutely brilliant fantasy romance that I cannot recommend highly enough.
Okay, real quick, please ignore that I’ve already used For You & No One Else in these recommendations because it’s also perfect for this prompt. There is a lot of attraction to the male main character’s tattoos and it provides for several excellent scenes. Otherwise, Hate to Want You, Small Change, and Sin & Ink rate pretty high on the angst scale in my mind and then For You & No One Else, and then Kiss Hard. And I really loved all of them. Hate to Want You is an all time favorite.
Prompt: Back to School
Grumpy Jake and Stripped both follow elementary school teachers. Grumpy Jake specifically is a romance between a teacher and one of the student’s fathers. It’s fun and cute and I really enjoyed it. Stripped is about a hot mess who gets her neighbor’s laundry basket one day and he’s a stripper and this causes them to connect. This book stressed me out so much at the beginning because of her hot mess-ness and me being convinced she was going to be fired. But I wound up really enjoying it so, so much! Teach Me follows two high school teachers who fall in love and it’s probably my favorite Olivia Dade novel. It is so, so good. Then we have Getting Schooled and How Not to Fall, which both essentially follow a student falling for their TA in college. There’s nuance in each and they are both so good. How Not to Fall is a part of a duet though, so the HEA is not at the end of book one. There are so, so many romances you could choose for this prompt, but these are five of my favorites with less than 10,000 ratings.
It’s extremely obvious from these recommendations that Harlequin Desire is my preferred line, huh? But I have included a couple of other lines in recommendations for other prompts! Naima Simone and Reese Ryan are my two recommendations for authors where you can pick up virtually any category and have a good time from them. I think they are both so skilled in this format (and in general). Jessica Lemmon knocked my socks off though with Second Chance Love Song. I loved it so much!! And then the Tiffany Reisz trilogy has always gets lots of love. I think I preferred Her Naughty Holiday to the Halloween one and I still need to read the Christmas one. And then I enjoyed both books out from Robin Covington! (There’s a content note that may be relevant for you that appears at the beginning…)
Prompt: Published Before 2010
On the one hand, this also seems like something you can so easily find on your own and on the other hand, I know how stressful it is when you’re just looking for something in a category this broad and aren’t sure what to go for. So I thought I would try and provide you with a favorite of mine in as many subgenres as I can for options you might want to consider. First, both Angels’ Blood and Slave to Sensation are pre-2010 books so they’re great options in the paranormal subgenre. For historical romance, I would recommend a number of popular romances like Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, Gentle Rogue by Joanna Lindsey, The Viscount who Loved Me by Julia Quinn, and Indigo by Beverly Jenkins. As for romantic suspense, I truly adore the Troubleshooters books by Suzanne Brockman but my favorites are Gone Too Far, Breaking Point, and All Through the Night. Nora Roberts’ Vision in White and Bed of Roses are my two favorite contemporaries that I’ve read published before 2010. Well, and Taming Natasha, which might be my favorite Nora Roberts. (Also, I think that it was originally published as a Category Romance so there’s another prompt you could knock off!) I wouldn’t say I’m the best at reading older romance novels and I’m not necessarily trying to fix that, but there are many that I would still like to get to. Unfortunately, coming up with less popular books from before 2010 wasn’t really a thing I was capable of so you’ve maybe read all of these. I’m happy to help you scour if you need something else!
Okay, so… Here is where I completely throw out all of those rules that I mentioned because when it comes to monsters, I am not your girl. I haven’t yet ventured into some of the more intense monster books so if that is what you’re here for, allow me to direct you to Jacque who is great for recommendations and would have some monster books that I think you’ll definitely enjoy! I’m going to be recommending more… traditional? monster books. Deal with the Demon by Chace Verity was a fun novella with really excellent character building in such a short amount of time. Also, I’m so impressed by how this novella length story caused such tension in me. I was so anxious! Then we’ve got Binding Shadows by Jasmine Silvera, which was a really incredible paranormal world situation with a shifter who absolutely does not want to be a shifter and a witch who isn’t free to be a witch. Or you could go with Talia Hibbert’s brilliant Mating the Huntress, which is about a werewolf hunter falling for a werewolf. (Real quick popular books you could use, Ice Planet Barbarians, Slave to Sensation (or you could start with Silver Silence) or Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh.)
I hope you got a recommendation or two out of this, but feel free to share your recommendations with me as well! I hope if you’re participating in #FallInLoveBingo, your reading is amazing!