I know I’m so incredibly late on this and I’d make an excuse, but tbh, I don’t have one. These posts are a lot of work because I am the Queen of Over Thinking everything and really want the books I choose to be perfect for the song lyrics. I finally told myself to stop being so dramatic and just write the dang thing, so here is my best shot at pairing the first 10 songs from Midnights (3 a.m. edition, obvs) with romance novels. I’ve tried to keep them limited to books I’ve read recently because otherwise I just wind up repeating books, so here’s hoping they’re mostly books you’ve not seen before (but some re-reads I know I’ve used before landed here too). Also, since I guess I probably should mention it, Midnights and the lyrics belong to my beloved Taylor Swift.
Key Lyric: “I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say / No deal, the 1950s shit they want from me/ I just wanna stay in that lavender haze”
Okay, hear me out. Counterfeit Courtship is very much dealing with the fact that this show and the producers need Tyrone to embody some “family friendly” ideals, but he’s quite lucky that Kiera agrees to be his partner in this endeavor because she’s certainly got him in a place where he’d like to be in a lavender haze with her and ignore everything else. Now, they are pretending for quite some time that they don’t want to jump one another’s bones and it’s just for the “act” but, we all know.
Then Stars Collide by Rachel Lacey is admittedly not the most perfect book for this, but I can’t fully explain why it both works and doesn’t work without spoiling things. But I really wanted to use a sapphic book here and there’s something about Vermont and the emotionality of this book that makes me feel like it still works even if it’s not the most perfect match.
Then finally, we have Jana Goes Wild by Farah Heron and if you’ve read the book, you’re probably like, “Lavender Haze???” And my answer is yes because wow, that whole book is about breaking down expectations put on Jana in a way that I love, appreciate, and am convinced Taylor Swift would love too. Can I just know Taylor so I can recommend books to her? I really feel like I could curate her such a great selection. Anyways, time for the next song!
Key Lyrics: When the morning came we were cleaning incense off your vinyl shelf ‘Cause we lost track of time again Laughing with my feet in your lap Like you were my closest friend
For me, it’s the way “Maroon” is about how good and fun and almost easy a relationship feels before it ends. Now, because both For Her Consideration and Home Field Advantage are romances, they both wind up with characters who have their HEA (or HFN). But both books do such a genuinely fantastic job establishing the relationship between the women in the first place in a way that makes it feel real and engaging and wonderful. So when the third act interupts the perfection, I felt for these women and wanted them back together with a sort of desperation. And luckily for me, romances guarantee that.
Key Lyric: Everybody is a sexy baby, and I’m a monster on the hill
Anti Hero is such a great song to dance to and have a great time with without thinking too much about the lyrics or the music video. But when you actually stop to think about and process the words, wow does it hit different. I actually love so many books where I think the characters feel like monsters on the hill because this is the type of character that I really love to read about. But I forced myself to choose only three here and they’re mostly ones I haven’t gotten to scream about anywhere else.
First up, I picked Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater, where I think both of our main characters embody this a little bit. Dora had half of her soul taken from her and while it doesn’t bother her so much that she doesn’t really fit in well to society, she knows that she’s on the outside of things. But she’s trying to fit in for the sake of her cousin. Ellias also doesn’t really fit in with society, but he doesn’t actually care about that. But there is something about the two of these lovely characters together that just really work with the vibe of the song for me.
Second, I chose, Lease on Love because Sadie Green embodies the line, “I’m the problem, it’s me” better than most characters I’ve read from. Sadie truly believes that she is toxic and it’s just genuinely so heartbreaking. I love her so much and I just want to give her a hug. Fortunately, she works through a lot of that in Lease on Love, but I mean, Sadie also could use some therapy if we’re honest.
Finally, I picked For the Love of April French by Penny Aimes because April really seems to feel like she’s not enough, that she’s maybe a problem. A little bit of monster on the hill vibes. Now as far as the book overall, it’s like if Taylor played Anti-Hero as a sad song, which she could do really easily, I’m sure. So don’t go into this one expecting a light-hearted take on what it’s like to feel like you’re always this outsider looking in. This one will break your heart and you’ll thank it for it.
Snow on the Beach
Key Lyric: Life is emotionally abusive / And time can’t stop me quite like you did
There are probably so many more books that I could have inserted here, but these are the two that came to me the quickest. Girls Like Girls by Hayley Kiyoko… Y’all. Life is emotionally abusive hits so hard when you think about this book. Our main character’s mom died so she’s living with her dad whom she hasn’t seen since he left when she was like three or something. It’s 2006ish and the world is homophobic and loud about it (still is, but in a different way) and of course, our MC is gay. But when she meets Sonya? Well, let’s just say that the two of them have this really, really lovely connection, but the world keeps being a shitty place. I really loved this book, even though the writing style kept me a bit removed from it at the same time. Definitely recommend though! And then we have Heartless by Elsie Silver, where the world has been rough in such a different way. Cade is a single dad because the mom of his kid just sort of flaked. She wasn’t really interested in being a mom. Cade is dealing the best he can with everything going on and he’s fortunate when Willa shows up to be his nanny. Willa is a queen, y’all. I love her so much. I love everything about this book, actually. Just a fantastic time. Highly recommend.
You’re On Your Own Kid
Key Lyric: I didn’t choose this town
I dream of getting out
There’s just one who could make me stay
All my days
I’m not sure I can articulate why I instinctively put these three books here with this song. “You’re on Your Own Kid” is a song that I take steps toward really grasping only to wind up feeling like I’m reaching at straws. I get it and I don’t all at the same time. But let me attempt to articulate why, for me, these three books fit.
So, in Pas de Don’t by Chloe Angyal, Heather’s fiancé turns out to be a cheating asshole. So, she manages to finagle things so that she winds up with a solo position in Sydney, many hours away from him. I’m taking the “I dream of getting out” quite literally because Heather is desparate to get away from NYC. But there also is a real vibe of Heather leaning on herself and on Carly (her bestie WHO IS THE STAR OF THE SEQUEL THAT WAS JUST ANNOUNCED AND I AM THRIVING), which fits with the actual name of the song, so… It fits? I think.
Then we have The House on Mulberry Street by Jeannie Chin, which I think really fits because it’s literally about a pining hero who has to move out of his home that he shares with Elizabeth because if he doesn’t, he’s never going to move on from her. So that’s the romance aspect of this. Plus, you have Elizabeth who feels very much “on your own kid” vibes because she’s not so good at leaning on her parents, though she does lean on Graham pretty well. Anyway, obviously they have an HEA and it’s wonderful and amazing and you should definitely read this book.
Finally, there is Far Cry by Kate Canterbary, which features Brooke and… y’all. My sweet darling. She’s so tough on the outside and she’s so good at looking like she has it all pulled together. But my darling girl is actually very soft and needs a lot of looking after. So is this the best song for her? Honestly, I don’t know, but if there’s ever been a character who best embodies taking “You’re on your own” too far, I think it might be Brooke.
Key Lyric: He was sunshine, I was midnight RAIN
So the overall vibe of “Midnight Rain” makes you wind up feeling like maybe Taylor Swift should have a therapist. I mean, tbh, a lot of her music makes me feel that way, which is why I find it so relatable. Like I too am prone to melodramatic moods where I compare myself to midnight rain and act like I want pain in my relationships and not just good times and good vibes. And then I realize that is my anxiety and I accidentally forgot to take my Lexapro. I mean, only sometimes, but you get what I mean. There’s an element to this song that makes me feel like the character Taylor is writing about here (because no, I don’t think this song is fully autobiographical. Taylor just writes some solid metaphors) is going through some things and doesn’t quite know how to get out of their own way. But maybe they’re trying? Or maybe they aren’t. It depends on the moment.
And after that rambling paragraph that really doesn’t accurately portray what was in my head, let’s just dive into why that sense of messiness fits Something Wild and Wonderful. Essentially, this book is about Alexei who has been disowned by his parents for being gay and is walking the PCT to try and work through some of these feelings. Now, wanting to disappear into the wilderness to walk a couple thousand miles for me, but Anita Kelly delivers on making you feel Alexei’s emotions, including the part of him that is getting a lot of satisfaction out of this project. Anyway, Alexei encounters Ben (or, more specifically, he saves Ben from being bit by a snake-which, for the record, is a large piece of why there is absolutely no way disappearing into the wilderness is my vibe) and Ben is sunshine personified. Now, in all actuality, Ben is dealing with a lot of things too. He has this real sense of inadequacy that is just truly not deserved because Ben is great. He’s a great friend, he’s a great sibling, a great son, a great employee, etc. But anyway, the two of them are sort of sunshine and midnight rain vibes, but actually, they both should probably be in therapy and they both have a lot to work through. But I feel like this song pairs well with all that they’re dealing with and I also love them a whole bunch.
Then we have Midnight Duet, which takes two very different brands of mess and puts them together and wow, what a wild and very fun ride. This is a Phantom of the Opera retelling and it’s a great time, but absolutely ridiculous. Over the top metaphors? These characters are both right there with you. I’m fairly certain they would love for “Midnight Rain” to be paired with them because they both sort of live for the drama, though only one of them really is living for the pain. (And it’s not like Erika means to be, she just can’t quite figure out how to get out of the situations she’s found herself in.) Again, I definitely recommend, but only if you’re ready for the level of extra to be found in this book!
Key Lyric: Can I ask you a question?
These two books were chosen for fairly different reasons. I picked Verity and the Forbidden Suitor because it feels like it captures the vibe of the title of the song quite well. Verity challenges and pushes back a lot with her questions to her suitor’s insistence that they can never be because of their differing positions in society. There’s a lot of, “But you want me so why does that matter?” like questions going on.
Then, in A Little Too Wild, the relationship between our main characters starts as a one night stand, even though they have a good bit of history. And it sort of feels like the two of them begin to question why they’re limiting themselves to one night, so then it’s more than one night, and then it’s but why can’t we be more than friends with benefits, etc. It’s not exactly the same as the questions being posed in the song, but I do think there’s something about the way the song is about a pretty intense connection that wasn’t explored that works for this book.
Key Lyrics: You did some bad things, but I’m the worst of them
Sometimes I wonder which one will be your last lie
They say looks can kill and I might try
Alright listen, this set of books each fit this song in similar but different ways. First, Never Ever Getting Back Together literally involves one of the main characters going on a Bachelor-esque reality TV show to expose her ex-boyfriend as a horrendously awful douche bag on an international scale. She’s literally on her Vigilante Shit, if you don’t mind me saying so. Also, I loved this book. Highly recommend. Then, Heartbreaker and really, each of the Hell’s Belles novels are going to embody this song because it’s a group of four women who are all trying to take down horrible men to make the world a better place. Honestly, these women are doing the Lord’s work, even if it is in a fictional version of history. Then finally, Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade is a quieter type of Vigilante Shit. My beloved Maria knows that the producers on this Game of Thrones-esque television show did not cast two fat characters for innocent reasons. So she brilliantly plans how to counteract them at every opportunity when they try and undermine her and even the plot of the show. She’s a brilliant *mastermind* if I do so myself and I adore her.
Key Lyric: Baby love, I think I’ve been a little too kind
Didn’t notice you walking all over my peace of mind
In the shoes I gave you as a present
Puttin’ someone first only works when you’re in their top five
And by the way, I’m going out tonight
What do all four of these books have in common? They’re four of my absolute favorite marriage/relationship in trouble romances! Again and Love’s Truth are actually both post-divorce and Fearless is essentially post breakup, but each of these books is brilliant at taking a book from “I’ve had enough” to having one another actually back in the “penthouse of [characters] heart.” So I’m a huge fan. I love each of them and cannot recommend enough.
Key Lyric: Oh no, I’m falling in love, oh no I’m falling in love again
Tbh, Float Plan could find its way over to “Snow on the Beach” just as easily because wow, was life emotionally abusive for Anna. Her fiancé died of suicide pretty recently and she decides that she’s going to just go for it on their boat. Her deceased fiancé’s mom is also sort of a trash human, but that’s neither here nor there. What does matter is that she and Keane have this pretty intense connection a little more quickly than Anna is necessarily ready for, so I think “Labyrinth” fits as well. Then moving to In a Jam, my darling Shay gets left at the alter and winds up moving to her deceased aunt’s tulip farm trying to get her life back on track. She has no intentions of falling in love, whether that be with her neighbor and former best friend, Noah, or his extremely precocious niece. I loved this one. And then finally, Believe in Me by Alexandria House is a situation where Renee’s ex-husband was a cheating asshole and Lorenzo just sort of swoops in and she’s like, “This is moving so fast,” but also, hello!!! And thus, “Labyrinth” for each of these books.
Closing Thoughts on Pt. One
This is where I leave you, until next week, with Part Two, but in the meantime, please tell me your favorite pairing so far and what books you would slot into these spots. Or, if you don’t feel like telling me that, tell me your favorite song from Midnights!