Off the Shelf: Romance, revisited

If you are looking to expand your reading horizons, why not try some romance?

Romance is built around a central characteristic; it’s a love story that ends happily. Exactly how the author interprets that brings to life tales for a wide range of tastes that can be broken down into many sub-genres or categories.

Romance novels generally take place in a contemporary or historical setting. Historical romance can be specific to a time and place like World War II Paris or 17th century Scottish Highlands.

Contemporary contains just as much variety. Check out “The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang for a contemporary read, described by the publisher as a heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Or if you’re looking for a good summer read, pick up “Beach Read” by Emily Henry: “A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.” (from the publisher).

If you’ve already read Helen Hoang or Emily Henry try a lesser known gem with a “Pride and Prejudice” vibe: “Ayesha At Last” by Uzma Jalaluddin. It’s set in the Muslim community of Toronto where sparks fly between the modern Ayesha and her conservative new neighbor.

Or check out “Boyfriend Material” by Alexis Hall. This LGBTQ+ title includes the classic “opposites attract” theme and plenty of humor. It takes place in England and focuses on the emotional aspects of relationships.

How about falling in love at the office, on a pirate ship or on the set of a telenovela show? “You Had Me at Hola” by Alexis Daria follows a soap opera star making the jump to mainstream TV. Her co-star has his career on the line too and the only thing that could derail them both is their inconvenient attraction to each other. This book also features an ensemble cast of Latinx family members and a peek at life on the set of a TV show.

Range of steaminess is another element to consider in romance novels. Erotic romance has plenty of steamy details along with the love story. In gentle romance, most physical affection takes place behind closed doors, where you’re aware that things have happened but not in detail.

Beth O’Leary is a master of this. Her books fall on the dividing line between romance and women’s fiction. “The Flatshare” is a sweet slow burn about two people sharing an apartment; one works nights and the other days, so they never see each other and communicate solely through notes … at first.

For more …

There are many types of romance novels. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s a book for you!

Find it at, call 360-683-1161 or email to The Sequim Library is at 630 N. Sequim Ave.

Liz Duval is a Customer Service Specialist with the North Olympic Library System.