After almost 17 months of Covid-19, romance novels have become my favorite form of escapism.
They’re quick, lighthearted, and steamy reads with a guaranteed happy ending.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll long for the days of carefree, in-person dates with strangers—no vaccination card required.
So, if you need a break from streaming on your laptop (and the constant flow of bad news), please enjoy these romance read-a-likes for your favorite TV shows.
Note: Some of these shows were actually based on books, but I will not include those because…that would be cheating.
If you loved Bridgerton…
Read The Duke Undone by Joanna Lowell. When a young painting student trips over a handsome, naked man in the street, she covers him with a blanket, calls for help, and…paints a stunning portrait of him in vivid detail. Spoiler alert: the mystery man was the Duke of Weston, and after her scandalous painting goes viral (for Victorian London, anyway), the two begin an unlikely romance that could destroy both of their reputations.
A good read for fans of Simon and Daphne!
If you loved Normal People...
Read One Day by David Nicholls. Much like Normal People, this novel follows two people with an unexplainable connection over many years, checking in every year on the same day to follow their fights, hopes, missed opportunities and love.
A good read for those who enjoy British humor, millennial musings, and down-to-earth romance.
If you loved Tiger King…
Check out Wild on My Mind by Laurel Kerr, which also features large cats and zookeeping, although with less problematic co-stars. Bowie, a single father and zookeeper, doesn’t have time for love: he’s trying to raise his daughter and keep his zoo financially viable. But when his former classmate (and nemesis) Katie discovers a litter of endangered cougar cubs, the two must team up to save the animals.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, they don’t actually hate each other.
If you loved Schitt’s Creek…
It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey: For fans of Alexis and Mutt’s brief season-one romance. This Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom com follows a Hollywood “It Girl” who gets cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town, where she clashes with a hot, surly local who thinks she doesn’t belong.
Of course, their differences make for lots of clashes and lots of chemistry.
If you loved The Great British Baking Show…
Read this Great British Baking Romance! In Battle Royal by Lucy Parker, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on a hit baking show…until her unicorn cake exploded, and she got voted off. When she’s invited to rejoin as a judge, she reunites with the judge who voted her off last season: the handsome, talented Dominic.
This book is a delicious combo of enemies to lovers and delectable baked goods. Read with a pastry in hand!
If you’ve re-watched Fleabag three times…
Hot Under His Collar by Andie Christopher: After joining the clergy to fulfil his mother’s dying wish, Father Patrick Dooley is wondering if he chose the right path. When the beautiful Sasha teams up with him to throw a church fundraiser, the two realize they are kindred spirits despite their differences.
A satisfying read for those rooting for Fleabag and the priest.
If you can’t get enough of The Bachelor…
Insert Groom Here by K.M. Jackson: When Eve Ward is left at the altar on national television, she tries to save face by launching her own reality show to find a new groom in a month. But it’s tough to ignore the attraction between her and her producer, despite the fact that he leaked the viral video.
A fun read featuring extravagant dates, unlikely connection, and reality TV-level drama.