Love stories that won’t make you gag

It’s Valentine’s Day!

Hearts and sparkles and candy for everyone!

For as much as I love heart-shaped things and red things and L-O-V-E, there’s something undeniably cheesy — albeit fun — about this holiday. I have fond memories of writing out little cards for my classmates growing up, then waiting for my latest crush to declare his feelings on February 14. When the proclamation wasn’t forthcoming, I tried to tell myself there was always next year. Always the romantic!

My fiance and I will be cooking up a storm at home and avoiding the crowds tonight, and that’s just fine with me. On our first and only “engaged” Valentine’s Day, I’d rather avoid the chaos and catch up on “Downton Abbey” (though sweet Cupid, it’s been really depressing lately). We went out on Sunday for our traditional French dinner in a nearby town, and it was a sweet and personal evening!

ChocolatesAnd on this day devoted to romance, I’ve been thinking about love stories. I haven’t read enough good ones lately. I’m always seeking something sweeping in magnitude — yet grounded in reality. I want a give-and-take relationship between two people who recognize that while they could stand separately, they’re better together. I want my novels to be romantic without provoking frequent eye-rolls, and y’all know I can get down with an eye-roll. (It’s how I roll.) (And sorry for that bad pun.)

When it comes to love stories, I usually require them in my reading. An otherwise fabulous book without the emotion and drama of a blossoming romance just doesn’t hold the same appeal. There are exceptions to this, of course — and the love story itself is a delicate balancing act. It’s crucial to have things develop naturally — or for me to feel like they do, anyway.

I’m probably not making any sense. Too many contraband Valentine’s chocolates. Sugar rush!

(Only kidding. I’m still committed to healthy living, though those heart-shaped Peeps are eyeballing me.)

And so, in honor of this day of love, I present to you . . .

Meg’s Favorite Love Stories
(That Won’t Make You Gag)

The Lost Art of Keeping SecretsOkay, I’m a little biased with this one — because it’s one of my favorite books of all time. No exaggeration. In fact, if I can convince you to read one book in my years of book- and life-blogging, I hope it’s Eva Rice’s The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. It’s that good — and I’m that serious. Though the romance in Rice’s novel isn’t center-stage, it’s unforgettable . . . just like this story. In fact, I really need to pluck it back off my shelf; we’ve been separated for far too long.

I Remember YouBeyond its quaint setting in the English countryside, Harriet Evans’ I Remember You is everything I devour in a novel. Particular care is paid to the two leads: childhood best friends who grow up in one another’s pockets, but separate over the years through grief, romance and everything in between. Though it occasionally falls victim to some chick-lit cliches, it’s a sweeping tale of first love that really resonated with me — and was one I recommended for months.

Bridge of Scarlet LeavesSeparated by war, hostility and racism, Kristina McMorris’ lovebirds in Bridge of Scarlet Leaves face impossible heartache in their quest to just be together. (Makes online dating look like a cakewalk, eh?) This historical novel, set in World War II, is meticulously researched — and absolutely engrossing. Maddie and Lane make an unforgettable pairing.

The Love Goddess' Cooking SchoolWhen you pair romance with the undeniable pull of Italian cooking, you get a savory dish like Melissa Senate’s The Love Goddess’ Cooking School — and I gobbled it up. A budding romance told against the backdrop of familial love on the coast of Maine, this fun story left me with a full heart . . . and a growling stomach.

Anna and the French KissThere’s no denying the allure of Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss, a young adult novel that took the reading community by storm. With its Parisian setting, dreamy male lead and enticing will-they-or-won’t-they premise (they always start out as “just friends,” don’t they?), Perkins’ debut had one of the best finales I’ve read. I was literally swooning, if such a thing is possible, and I didn’t want it to end. If you’ve refrained from grabbing it until now, consider this your homework. Your Valentine’s Day homework.

14 thoughts on “Love stories that won’t make you gag

  1. Hi!

    The first book that came to my mind when I saw your post was The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. I actually heard of the book through your blog, so thank you for the tip!:)
    And I totally agree with you, it won’t make you gag, because it is just that good!


  2. Maybe you’re not making any sense, but I know exactly what you mean. I am a man in middle age with three adultish children and a wealth of experience but my eyes always water up during a nice romantic episode on film. I get teased for it a lot.


  3. I’ve read none of these! And no wonder because I am not much of a romantic. Maybe I was when I was younger, but 20 years of marriage and two teenagers have beaten me down! Ha ha! Unfortunately for me, I have given up alcohol for Lent, so we won’t be celebrating in our Nawrot way tonight. We had champagne on Fat Tuesday!!


  4. I’ve always told Carl he can take me out for Valentine’s Day but not ON Valentine’s Day – restaurants will be crazy tonight, so y’all are so smart to eat in.

    I haven’t read any of those books but do own a few of them.


  5. After your first review of The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, I bought the book. It was one of the first books I read in 2012 and I really loved it. So thank you for recommending it. Happiest of Valentine’s Days to you!


  6. Cooking together is such a wonderful way to spend Valentine’s Day. I’m not usually much on the romantic stories, but the ones you have here seem fantastic, especially The Love Goddess.


  7. Then lets agree that I have homework to do !!! I will add these books to my reading list, I heard about the last book in another blog so this tells me to go for it. The others seem just as interesting. Ps. It`s my first valentines being engaged too 🙂


  8. I haven’t read any of these, so thank you for suggesting them! I’ve felt a sort of blandness towards books these past few weeks (this is unacceptable!), and I’m entirely confident that a dip into one of these will fix it. Of course, I’ll be starting with The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets after your plug! 🙂


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