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Danielle Dresser | Cinematic in Scope: Why the Rom-Com is Making a Comeback

May 13, 2019

At the KissCon Weekend Affaire last month, there was an entire panel devoted to romantic comedies, or rom-coms, delightfully called “To All the Books I’ve Loved Before,” a nod to the very successful Netflix movie based on the YA novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Tessa Bailey, Alyssa Cole, Tracey Livesay, Mia Sosa, and Sally Thorne all sat and chatted about their favorite romantic comedies – both books and movies – and what made them so special. From When Harry Met Sally to Boomerang to Bridget Jones’ Diary, these contemporary romance authors told us what makes rom-coms so enjoyable, as well as what they are looking for in new rom-coms.

Rom-coms have the perfect balance of comedy, drama, and of course, a loveable love story. If the lead characters start out hating each other or know from the time they’re in preschool it’s meant to be, rom-coms have a way of making us all smile. Some of my all-time favorite books are romantic comedies, and this spring and summer we are lucky to have a bounty of rom-coms hitting bookshelves, all that I think feel like the blueprints for movies or TV adaptations!

  • Rebekah Weatherspoon – Rafe (October 2018)

The tagline of this book says everything you need to know: “A Buff Male Nanny.” This book is low-angst, straightforward, and an all-around delight. There’s an employer-employee relationship, but it’s happening between two adults who know they’re attracted to one another and are up front about everything from the start. The heroine is an accomplished surgeon and has twin daughters. Rafe is an awesome nanny, who just so happens to be a super hot tattooed ginger who rides a motorcycle. One thing I really loved about this book is the kids act and sound LIKE KIDS – sometimes in books, children can be a tad too precocious. Also, among Rafe’s many swoonworthy moments: he watches Youtube tutorials to learn how to braid the girls’ hair… adorable (and he does a good job, too)!!

The first book in the Let’s Get Mythical series sets things up fabulously! The heroine is a real-life Cupid, even though she’s been avoiding her calling as a Descandent of Eros. Her assignd mentor is the guy she’s never gotten over, and they’re forced to work together to help couples fall in love. There’s a bit of the paranormal and fantasy mixed into this whimsical and enchanting romance, along with strong Greek mythology influences.

When I think of rom-coms, I often think of present-day set stories, but who says historicals can’t be hilarious, as well as heartwarming? The final book in her beloved Playful Brides series, Valerie Bowman takes the matchmaker to task by pairing her up wth the one man she’s never really thought of as anything than a good friend. In fact, the heroine spends a decent portion of the book going after a different duke! Throw in a misunderstanding about a love potion given to the wrong person, and you have a Love Potion No. 9-esque set up for a lovely friends-to-lovers story, set in the regency.

The entire Reluctant Royals series is begging to be brought to life, and we may get to see that at some point! The last book in the series has everything going for it – a strained homecoming for the heroine who is also shy and likes virtual games, a red-headed step-prince who’s a notorious playboy with a heart of gold, a fake engagement, an actual royal wedding, and people figuring out who they truly are… Between the hilarious missteps and hot love scenes, I’ve found the scenes of genuine connection between characters – the main couple, siblings and family, and girlfriends – to be super appealing and heartwarming.

This book starts with one of the best meet-cutes/meet-disasters I’ve ever read. The heroine is on a European vacation and wants nothing more than to have a fling with an international stranger she’ll never see again. So when she comes across a hot highlander in a kilt claiming to have traveled through time, she throws caution to the wind and kisses him. But then she realizes she’s been had, by Scotland’s biggest internet prankster! The rest of the novel deal with two self-assured adults trying to navigate a relationship they weren’t looking for and the journey to their HEA is adorable.

The set up of this novel is a little far-fetched, but it has the mother of all reasons to work – a meddling mother trying to find her stubborn son a wife. Both the heroine – a mixed-race Vietnamese woman who agrees to this plan to make a better life for her family – and the hero – a high-functioning autistic man who is convinced he’ll never be able to love – go along with his mother’s plan, expecting things to fail spectacularly. But when they start to fall for each other, their differences lead to some very comical moments, as well as some heartfelt ones. And there’s a laugh out loud worthy scene between the hero, his brother, and his cousin about the many things they DON’T teach about a woman’s body in health class!

I love movies and books based around food – Chocolat, Fried Green Tomatoes, Waitress, Like Water for Chocolate – and this novel is full of some of the most vivid descriptions of food I’ve ever read. The hero is an up-and-coming chef working hard to make ends meet to pay for his sister’s expensive brain surgery. In addition to the amazing food, PP&OF is a flipped Pride and Prejudice – the hero is more like Elizabeth Bennet and the heroine is based on Mr. Darcy. The result is a class struggle-culture clash and family drama that results with two different people falling in love. The best part – there are more Austen-inspired novels to come, following members of the same family!

Is there anything more enticing than a romance where the set up is a guy trying NOT to fall in love with his best friend’s sister? Additionally, the first book in Tessa Bailey’s new Hot and Hammered series has a “fixer-upper” theme… both house renovations and personal. The heroine feelsl like she’s never been taken seriously, which is hard to do when you’re a birthday clown (and damn good at making kids laugh, thank you very much). The hero was once major league baseball’s most promising new rookie until an injury ended his career and he’s trying to move on from his so-called glory days. Throw in a fake relationship – they both think if they pretend to be dating, she can be seen as a woman with direction in her life and he can evade tabloid rumors about his love life – and you have comedy gold.

In this delightful novel, modern dating gets turned on its head. The lead couple are both involved with dating companies: she created an app that has changed the way people find what they are looking for, be it relationships or quick hookups, and he’s the face for the website that made online dating a lucrative business. It just so happens that they had a super hot, unforgettable one night stand months ago, after which he ghosted her. They both have their reasons not to trust the other, but they also can’t quite seem to stay away… When they join forces to make viral videos to promote both of their businesses, they want to keep things professional, but they also want to relive That Night over and over again… This is a diverse romance, the side characters are just as fun as the main characters (so I need their books now, please and thank you), and the storyline feels fresh, current, and entirely original.

What are some of your favorite rom-coms, either books or movies? Any you are looking forward to reading/watching this year? Let me know in the comments!


Fresh Fiction Editorial Manager Danielle Dresser is an avid reader, lackluster-yet-mighty crafter, and accomplished TV binge-watcher. Once upon a time, she was a publisher publicist and continues to cultivate her love of books and reading by chatting with the best authors in the business. She lives in Chicagoland with her very own romance hero husband, darling daughter, and two tempestuous cats. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @dj_dresser.



RAFE by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Loose Ends #1


A Buff Male Nanny

All Dr. Sloan Copeland needed was someone to watch her kids. What
she found was the man of her dreams…

After a nasty divorce and a thousand mile move, Dr. Sloan Copeland
and her twin daughters are finally getting the hang of their new life in
Los Angeles. When their live-in nanny bails with no warning, Sloan is
left scrambling to find a competent caretaker to wrangle her smart,
sensitive girls. Nothing less will do.

Enter Rafe Whitcomb. He’s all of those things, not to mention good-
natured and one heck of a whiz in the kitchen. He’s also tall, and
handsome, and bearded, and ripped, and tatted, wrist to neck.

It doesn’t take long for the Copelands to invite Rafe into their home.
Just as quickly, both Sloan and Rafe find themselves succumbing to a
heady mutual attraction, neither of them wants to deny. With every
minute they spend under the same roof, this working mom can’t help
but wonder if Rafe can handle all her needs…

**This stand-alone romance is fluffy. So fluffy. It’s fluff. Low. Angst.
Fluff. featuring a large tatted, motorcycle riding ginger man, who bakes a mean bacon quiche and knows exactly how to wrangle clever six year olds while making their mom feel loved, loved, loved.**

Romance Contemporary [Rebekah Weatherspoon Presents, On Sale: September 26, 2018, e-Book, ISBN: 978172410650 / ]


CRAZY CUPID LOVE by Amanda Heger

Let’s Get Mythical #1

Crazy Cupid Love

When a single arrow inspires romance, can you really trust happily ever after? In this magical rom-com, the descendants of Greek mythology must learn to live and love in a mundane world where Aphrodite’s blessing can sure feel like a real pain in the quiver.

Eliza Herman (a.k.a. The World’s Worst Cupid) has spent her entire life carefully avoiding her calling as a Descendant of Eros. After all, happily-ever-afters are nothing but a myth. But when a family crisis requires her to fill in at the local Cupid-for-hire shop, Eliza finds herself enchanting couples under the watchful eye of her assigned mentor, Jake Sanders…the one man she could never get out of her head.

Before long, Eliza is rethinking her stance on romance—until things start going terribly wrong with her enchantments. Now Eliza and Jake must fight to unravel a conspiracy that could destroy thousands of relationships, including their own…and spell the end of Love itself.

No pressure, right?

Romance Paranormal [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: January 29, 2019, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492672753 / eISBN: 9781492672760]

When fantasy meets reality can true love prevail?


NO OTHER DUKE BUT YOU by Valerie Bowman

Playful Brides #11

No Other Duke But You

A lady with a love potion. A Duke who takes it by mistake. Romance and mischief ensues when plans go awry in No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman.


Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her wit and perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause…

Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville…since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her…

Delilah can’t believe she gave the potion to the wrong duke. Then again, Delilah could do a lot worse than win the hand of her handsome best friend. Could it be that the right duke has been before her eyes all along?

Romance Historical [St. Martin’s Paperbacks, On Sale: April 30, 2019, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781250121677 / eISBN: 9781250121684]

An energetic and whimsical friends-to-lovers historical romance!


A PRINCE ON PAPER by Alyssa Cole

Reluctant Royals #3

A Prince on Paper

The Reluctant Royals series returns with a good girl searching for the life that’s not too big, and not too small, and the bad boy prince who might be just right for her…

Nya Jerami fled Thesolo for the glitz and glamour of NYC but discovered that her Prince Charming only exists in her virtual dating games. When Nya returns home for a royal wedding, she accidentally finds herself up close and personal—in bed—with the real-life celebrity prince who she loves to hate.

For Johan von Braustein, the red-headed step-prince of Liechtienbourg, acting as paparazzi bait is a ruse that protects his brother—the heir to the throne—and his own heart. When a royal referendum threatens his brother’s future, a fake engagement is the perfect way to keep the cameras on him.

Nya and Johan both have good reasons to avoid love, but as desires are laid bare behind palace doors, they must decide if their fake romance will lead to a happily-ever-after.

Romance Contemporary [Avon, On Sale: April 30, 2019, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780062685582 / eISBN: 9780062685605]

Radiant, romantic, and of course, royal!



Sometimes in Love #1

Getting Hot with the Scot

Cassie Crow, a pop-culture reporter for a TV talk show, is focused on becoming a “serious” journalist. But when she stumbles into a kilted Highlander with a killer accent, Cassie decides that taking one night off from work and spending it with a sexy Scot couldn’t hurt. . .

Logan Reid has built a career on his charm, hosting a series of off-the-wall hijinks on the Web. But when the Scottish prankster meets the all-American, equal parts intelligent and irresistible Cassie, Logan realizes that one night of fun won’t be enough. Could it be that this career-focused, commitment-phobic couple is finally ready to take a chance at true and lasting love?

Romance Contemporary [St. Martin’s Paperbacks, On Sale: April 30, 2019, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781250193094 / eISBN: 9781250193100]

A super sexy, fun, and flirty debut contemporary romance!


THE BRIDE TEST by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test

From the critically acclaimed author of The Kiss Quotient comes a romantic novel about love that crosses international borders and all boundaries of the heart…

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Multicultural Asian | Romance Contemporary [Berkley, On Sale: May 7, 2019, Trade Size / e-Book, ISBN: 9780451490827 / eISBN: 9780451490834]

A fresh, cute love story

An interesting novel of self-discovery, unexpected romance, and more!



Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

· Never trust an outsider

· Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations

· And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

Multicultural Indian | Romance Contemporary [William Morrow Paperbacks, On Sale: May 7, 2019, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780062839053 / eISBN: 9780062839060]

A delicious deconstructed Pride and Prejudice for Austen Fans of all ages!

An engaging Austen-inspired story to be savored and enjoyed!


FIX HER UP by Tessa Bailey

Fix Her Up

New York Times bestseller Tessa Bailey delivers a fun, sexy romantic comedy perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne.

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)

Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite.

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…

Romance Contemporary [Avon, On Sale: June 11, 2019, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780062872838 / eISBN: 9780062872845]



Modern Love #1

The Right Swipe

Alisha Rai returns with the first book in her sizzling new Modern Love series, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

– Nude pics are by invitation only

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

– Protect your heart

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

Romance Contemporary [Avon, On Sale: July 2, 2019, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780062878090 / eISBN: 9780062877864]

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