57 Romances for Fall and Beyond | Romance Preview

The romance genre continues to be strong. LJ spoke to industry experts and looked at upcoming releases from publishers of all sizes, noting that witches, reality TV plots, and books featuring food competitions are trending upward. Contemporary-set romances featuring a wide range of lived experiences are available both as stand-alone novels or as part of continuing series, while a variety of historical settings mean that readers who want love stories set in the past will have plenty to choose from.

The past year and a half has been particularly challenging for both librarians and patrons for a variety of reasons, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic among them. But luckily, we have romance novels. As Avon’s editorial director, Erika Tsang, says, “During tough times, people gravitate toward things that make them happy, and what’s happier than reading stories where love triumphs and there’s a guaranteed happily ever after?”

The romance genre continues to be strong. We spoke to industry experts and looked at upcoming releases from publishers of all sizes, noting that witches, reality TV plots, and books featuring food competitions are trending upward. Contemporary-set romances featuring a wide range of lived experiences are available both as stand-alone novels or as part of continuing series, while a variety of historical settings mean that those who want love stories set in the past will have plenty to choose from.

A complete list of the titles referenced here is available as a downloadable spreadsheet.


Witches are the women of the hour. Lana Harper’s new series, “The Witches of Thistle Grove,” begins with Payback’s a Witch (Berkley, Oct.) and stars Emmy, a witch with weak abilities who teams up with her best friend and another witch, Talia, get back at their mutual ex—only to find herself falling for Talia. Vivienne, the witch heroine of The Ex Hex (Morrow, Oct.) by Erin Sterling (the pseudonym of YA author Rachel Hawkins), was in love with a member of her town’s founding family when they were teenagers, but when he broke her heart, she impulsively cursed him. Now they need to pair up to save the town. Jessica Clare launches a witchy rom-com series with Go Hex Yourself (Berkley, Apr. 2022) about a woman who discovers that magic is real and warlocks can be very sexy. In series starter A Letter to Three Witches (Kensington, Jan. 2022) by Elizabeth Bass, three witches’ powers go haywire, causing trouble with the Grand Council of Witches and in their relationships. Meanwhile, a witch without magic and a wolf shifter agree to be a fake couple to delay finding real mates in April Asher’s series starter, Not the Witch You Wed (St. Martin’s Griffin, Feb. 2022). The witchy fun isn’t just for contemporary fans; India Holton’s second installment in the “Dangerous Damsels” series, The League of Gentlewomen Witches (Berkley, Mar. 2022), features a secret society of women trained in witchcraft and a heroine who pairs up with pirate Alex to steal an amulet.

Even without witches, magical romance abounds. In Theresa Beharrie’s And They Lived Happily Ever After (Zebra, Nov.) a romance novelist’s dreams are magically included in her novels, but when her best friend’s brother starts showing up in her dreams, things get complicated fast. After a car accident, Brittany’s near-death experience leads to her spirit inhabiting the body of a famous socialite—and meeting the socialite’s old boyfriend—in Rachel Gibson’s Drop Dead Gorgeous (S. & S., Apr. 2022). And in Once More Upon a Time (Sourcebooks Casablanca, Oct.), Roshani Chokshi’s fairy-tale king and queen have lost their way and need to go on a magical adventure to reclaim their love for each other.


There is no denying the draw of fame and Hollywood glamour, so it’s no surprise that romances featuring celebrities and TV competitions are on the rise. In Chencia C. Higgins’s D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding (Carina Adores, Jan. 2022; see Q&A with the author below), two women who just met must plan their dream wedding to win on the show Instant I Do, but what happens when they actually reach the altar? Seressia Glass also uses a reality TV competition, Cosplay or No Way, in The Love Con (Berkley, Dec.), where a fake romantic relationship between friends Kenya and Cameron becomes real. In Nisha Sharma’s Dating Dr. Dil (Avon, Mar. 2022), TV doctor Prem’s argument with Kareena, a woman on a mission to get engaged, goes viral, ruining his plans for a community health center. Reality TV takes a paranormal twist in Forever After (City Owl, Nov.), the first in Ashley R. King’s “Vampire Reality Show” series, in which women compete for the ultimate bachelor—a vampire!

In Sara Desai’s The Singles Table (Berkley, Nov.), lawyer Zara and security specialist Jay are stuck with each other through the wedding season, so she makes a deal with him to meet his A-list clientele. K.M. Jackson’s How To Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days (Forever, Nov.) follows the ill-conceived quest of Bethany, best friend Truman at her side, to meet the star and convince him not to get married. Ashlyn Kane’s The Rock Star’s Guide to Getting Your Man (Dreamspinner, Oct.) features a musician heading back to his hometown to take a break and promptly running into his former BFF, Carter. After she’s involved in a PR disaster, an astronaut must train an actor for a space movie in Jen Comfort’s opposites-attract rom com, The Astronaut and the Star (Montlake, Feb. 2022).


A number of titles combine two trends: reality TV and food. Berkley Vice President and Editorial Director Cindy Hwang calls Amanda Elliot’s Sadie on a Plate (Berkley, Mar. 2022) “a sizzling romance inspired by Top Chef that deliciously highlights traditional Jewish cuisine through the heroine’s expert cooking.” In Jackie Lau’s Donut Fall in Love (Berkley, Oct.), actor Ryan gets tutorials from baker Lindsay for an episode of a cooking show. Love & Other Disasters (Forever, Jan. 2022) by Anita Kelly similarly focuses on a cooking show as a nonbinary participant signs up to prove their haters wrong but ends up falling in love with clumsy contestant Dahlia. Addison Fox’s The Cowboy Says Yes (Avon, Apr. 2022) details the love lost between a cowboy and his celebrity TV chef wife and their path back to each other.

Even without the television element, food competitions are big in romance. Stacey Agdern’s Love and Latkes (Tule, Oct.) features a latke competition in which the host, Batya, and competitor Abe have a shared history. Likewise, in The Bluebonnet Battle (Montlake, Mar. 2022) by Carolyn Brown, two women vie to prepare the best funeral dinners in town while trying to forget about their past. Ramón and Julieta (Berkley, Feb. 2022) by Alana Quintana Albertson finds a restaurant owner trying to save her business; her landlord is the son of the man who stole her mother’s taco recipe years ago. Another foodie romance, Julie Tieu’s The Donut Trap (Avon, Nov.) is a debut that Avon’s Tsang says “is reminiscent of the TV show Kim’s Convenience but with donuts.”


It’s always a treat to read an exciting debut and feel like you’re getting in on the ground floor with a new favorite author. There are plenty of contemporary debuts on the horizon. Gia De Cadenet’s Getting His Game Back (Dell, Jan. 2022) pairs a barbershop owner, Khalil, with tech superstar Vanessa, while Taj McCoy’s Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell (Mira, Mar. 2022) finds the plus-sized heroine falling for her contractor after a bad breakup. In Liz Bowery’s Love, Hate & Clickbait (Mira, Apr. 2022) a photograph of political consultant Thom and data analyst Clay arguing looks like they are kissing—and the photo goes viral. In a rivals-to-lovers romance, Priya and Gavin, representatives from two separate auction houses, vie for the same prestigious collection in Suleena Bibra’s Two Houses (Carina, Nov.). And in Kate Spencer’s In a New York Minute (Forever, Mar. 2022) a New York City subway encounter spins out of control on social media.

New series installments from favorite authors are always a cause for celebration. There You Are (Tule, Feb. 2022), is Ieshia Wiedlin’s first title in the “Romancing the Doctors” series; Amina and Nathan meet at a charity gala. Marcella Bell’s “Closed Circuit” series launch, The Wildest Ride (HQN, Apr. 2022) features AJ and Lilian, protagonists who are competitors on the rodeo circuit. Fans of Rebekah Weatherspoon’s “Cowboys of California” series can look forward to Thorn in the Saddle (Dafina, Oct.), the third installment starring Jesse and Lily-Grace. Where the Sun Rises (Rosewind, Feb. 2022), the second “From Kona with Love” book by Anna Gomez and Kristoffer Polaha, pairs up two strangers, Maele and Adam, who must walk down the aisle as part of a wedding party. And in Alexandria Bellefleur’s Count Your Lucky Stars (Avon, Feb. 2022), the third title in the “Written in the Stars” series, Margot offers her spare room to Olivia, her estranged best friend—and first love—who needs a place to stay.

Stand-alone novels are perfect for a happily ever after without committing to an ongoing series. In his adult debut, YA author Kosoko Jackson has two ex-boyfriends pretending to be a couple again for what was supposed to be one dinner but turns into more in I’m So (Not) Over You (Berkley, Feb. 2022). In Sharon C. Cooper’s Business Not as Usual (Berkley, Apr. 2022), venture capitalist Karter assists struggling female entrepreneurs, including Dreamy, in a book Berkley’s Hwang says “deals with income inequality, classism, sexism, and racism in the workplace.” In Denise Williams’s The Fastest Way To Fall (Berkley, Nov.), Britta falls for her fitness coach, Wes. In Verity Lowell’s Meet Me in Madrid (Carina Adores, Oct.), a blizzard strands Charlotte at the home of her grad school crush, Adrianna, while she’s visiting Spain as a museum courier. In Claire Kann’s The Romantic Agenda (Berkley, Apr. 2022), asexual Joy pretends to fall for Fox to make Malcolm jealous, but the more time she spends with Fox, the happier she is. Love at First Spite (Graydon House, Jan. 2022) by Anna E. Collins takes spite to new extremes as interior designer Dani partners with an architect, Wyatt, to build a new house that blocks the beautiful view from her ex-fiancé’s house.

Vanessa King’s A Certain Appeal (Putnam, Nov.) puts a contemporary spin on Pride and Prejudice as a failed interior designer-turned-burlesque-dancer is at odds with a well-to-do financial adviser. A data analyst’s impulsive trip has her journeying outside of her comfort zone and falling for a man on distant shores in Holly Jolly Diwali (Berkley, Oct.) by Sonya Lalli. Kensington Editorial Director Alicia Condon shares that Manic Monday, Inc. (Kensington, Oct.) portrays a woman with obsessive compulsive disorder and that author Melissa Storm blogs about how her own OCD has informed her writing.


When it comes to historicals, Regency romances remain strong, and many feature love interests fighting for just causes. The Lady Loves Danger (Zebra, Mar. 2022), the second installment in Anabelle Bryant’s “Maidens of Mayhem” series, showcases hero and heroine searching for the same missing boy. Girls Before Earls (St. Martin’s, Dec.) by Anna Bennett features a bookish young lady striving to open a school for girls and an earl who wants to enroll his niece. A daughter fighting to be free of her violent father finds her marriage prospects less than inspiring in the stand-alone Games in a Ballroom (Shadow Mountain, Mar. 2022) by Jentry Flint, so she turns to childhood friends for a bit of last-chance fun. Diana Quincy’s latest in the “Clandestine Affairs” series, The Marquess Makes His Move (Avon, Mar. 2022), showcases a marquess disguised as a footman falling for cartographer Rose. Lauren Plude, acquisitions editor at Montlake, shares that Something Fabulous (Montlake, Jan. 2022) by Alexis Hall is the house’s “first queer Regency romance, [a] banter-filled romp …about a reserved duke who’s engaged to one twin and falls head over heels for the other.”

Bridgerton fans need look no further than British debut author Lex Croucher’s Reputation (St. Martin’s Griffin, Apr. 2022), a modern take on historical romantic comedy, in which an Austen-worthy heroine is introduced to the scandalous behavior of the aristocracy. In Julie Klassen’s Shadows of Swanford Abbey (Bethany House, Dec.), a murder in a monastery-turned-hotel brings two former lovers together again.

Victorian settings and the social challenges of those times are becoming increasingly well-represented in historical romances. Mimi Matthews’s Siren of Sussex (Berkley, Jan. 2022), the first in the “Belles of London” series, has countryfied horsewoman Evelyn making a season smash with her fabulous riding skills and gorgeous outfits thanks to Ahmad, her brilliant tailor and love interest, who’s of Indian descent. The Last Season (TouchPoint, Oct.) by Jenny Judson and Danielle Mahfood centers on an heiress, Cassandra, and a stable worker, Crispin, who must overcome social class differences to remain together. On a lighter note, Manda Collins’s second installment in the “A Lady’s Guide” series, An Heiress’s Guide to Deception and Desire (Forever, Nov.), combines comedy and social justice, as Caroline, a columnist writing about “crimes against those ignored by society,” must rely on an untrustworthy lord.

Outside of UK borders, Diana Biller’s standalone, The Brightest Star in Paris (St. Martin’s Griffin, Oct.), stars a ballerina in peril who agrees to a fake relationship with Benedict for security in 1878 Paris. Heading much further west, in Francine Rivers’s The Lady’s Mine (Tyndale House, Feb. 2022) Kathryn and Matthias must work together to save a struggling mining town in the Sierra Nevada mountains in 1875. Until Leaves Fall in Paris (Revell, Feb. 2022) by Sarah Sundin focuses on a businessman sending information back to the United States and a bookshop owner hiding messages in her books for the Resistance in German-occupied France during World War II.


While the slate of upcoming releases is as exciting as it’s ever been, fans know that the genre has a number of problems, most recently and publicly reflected in the rescinding of the Vivian award for At Love’s Command by Karen Witemeyer. [For more information, see “RWA Rescinds Vivian Award” above.] The landscape into 2022 shows that readers demand better. While authors have long been writing romances that reflect a deeper consideration of lived experiences and a varied array of motiving concerns, publishers are buying more and promoting them better. There is still plenty of work that must be done, but the books of the season showcase a range of titles seeking to supply many more readers with stories to delight, resonate, and enchant. 

Eve Stano is the Collection Development and Assessment Librarian at Ball State University, Muncie, IN. She has strong interests in collection development and readers’ advisory services and has reviewed romances for LJ since November 2014. 

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