5 Great Modern Romances to Read If You Love Emily Henry
Now more than ever, I’m craving escapism in the shape of a holiday romance read. If you’re an Emily Henry superfan like me, you’re probably always keeping an eye out for brightly covered book designs, and titles that hint at a sun-and-sea-filled summer romance. Well, allow me to help you out — here are five great romance stories to pick up if you love Emily Henry!
1. The Long Weekend by Veronica Henry
I couldn’t help but put my all-time favorite summer romance at the top of this list. In this book, Veronica Henry (what is it about Henrys and great romance writing?) whisks us away to a gorgeous quayside hotel in Cornwall, managed by Claire Marlowe — who is, by all accounts, entirely content with her busy life running “the townhouse by the sea.” That’s until Luca, the hotel’s newly employed chef, appears on the doorstep. He’s handsome, mysterious, quiet… and about to turn Claire’s life upside down.
There’s also a parade of other guests, all coming with their own literal and metaphorical baggage — divorces, bereavements, and newly unearthed family secrets. All that’s certain is that plenty is going to unfold during this long, hot weekend away!
2. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Here’s one fresh off the printing press! Romance lovers may already be familiar with Casey McQuiston, who wrote the bestselling novel Red, White and Royal Blue. Her second novel, One Last Stop, is another LGBTQ+ romance sure to delight anyone who’s ever fallen head-over-heels for a stranger on public transport (which is all of us, right?) — or anyone who simply admires McQuiston’s amazing aptitude for creative writing.
In One Last Stop, August is a 23-year-old waitress who has just moved to New York City. She’s cynical about a lot of things — not least how she’s going to cope with her strange roommates and juggle her work at a 24-hour pancake diner with a mammoth commute. Then one day on the subway, she spots Jane: a girl who looks like a relic from a bygone era. If you love classic romance stories with a heavy dose of humor and a dash of magical realism, look no further.
3. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
I also couldn’t resist throwing in a book that employs one of my favorite romance tropes, enemies-to-lovers. In The Unhoneymooners, Olive has atrocious luck when it comes to love. To rub salt in the wound, her sister is getting married to the perfect man and has managed to get it all for free via an online contest. Perhaps worst of all, Olive will have to attend with her new brother-in-law’s best man — and her personal nemesis — Ethan.
But when the entire wedding party gets a serious case of food poisoning, it’s only Ethan and Olive left standing — with a free, all-expenses paid honeymoon suite ripe for the taking. Both begrudgingly accept the offer to attend the honeymoon in the happy couple’s place, vowing to avoid each other at all costs. And yet… well, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right?
It’s a book of two faces: whilst the first follows the classic enemies-to-lovers trope to a tee, the second half amps up the drama in surprising and unexpected ways. I won’t give too much away, but if you’re looking for a romance novel that brings lighthearted fun and suspense in equal measure, this one’s for you.
4. If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
Not every great beach read is set on holiday — and this one is a particularly worthy exception. In If I Never Met You, Laurie’s once-perfect life has gone to pie. Not only has her partner of ten years left her out of the blue, but she still has to see him at work every day… and word around the water cooler is that his new girlfriend is pregnant.
Luckily, there’s a new man in the office to turn Laurie’s head. After a chance elevator encounter, Laurie discovers that while she’s looking to recapture her status in the office, he’s looking for romance with an ulterior motive. And so begins a relationship of convenience, which both insist is completely fake… until Laurie isn’t so sure of her true feelings anymore. If you’re a fan of Richard Curtis films, this exciting and pacy office romance should tick all your boxes!
5. The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
I thought I’d round this list off with a debut novel, by advertising exec-turned-author Clare Pooley. The Washington Post described this book as a “warm hug” — and I certainly agree! I devoured this book during lockdown, and it left me with that tingly, feel-good afterglow that I’m always searching for from chick lit.
The Authenticity Project follows the lives of six people brought together by chance after stumbling upon a green notebook in a café, in which a man has written a true, authentic version of his life. It’s quirky, funny, and heartbreakingly sad, but most of all a tonic for our times. What I loved most was also how it balanced excellent character development with such an ambitious cast of characters and storylines — a tightrope walk Pooley executes masterfully.
So there we have it. I hope this list has something for all you beach-read (and Beach Read) enthusiasts out there — including and especially those who’d love to be on a beach right this very moment. Happy reading, and vacationing!
Savannah Cordova is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects self-publishing authors with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Savannah enjoys reading fiction, especially contemporary romance and lit-fic novellas, and writing short stories.
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