With the arrival of April and the promise of a new season, there have been a lot of those typical hallmarks of spring—including those showers the old saying always foretells—which, for some of us, have actually consisted of snow rather than the usual rain). Regardless, that only means it’s the perfect weather for you to curl up under a blanket with a hot drink while enjoying the precipitation from indoors, as well as a steamy new romance novel that will certainly chase away any gloominess. (What better way to console ourselves with the fact that Sanditon Season 2 concluded, and with many exciting narrative threads left dangling at that? At least we know for certain that a third installment is well in the works!)
This month’s picks are all about matching up—whether they’re crashing a wedding or dragging a fake date to one for the sake of appearances, looking for that perfect partner matchmaking-style, or unexpectedly discovering one through a marriage of convenience, the couples in the romances below are finding love in their own unique ways, with lots of laughs, gasps, and swoons in the process.
The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa
Release Date: April 5 from Avon
Why You’ll Love It: As someone who fell head-over-heels for Mia Sosa’s The Worst Best Man, one of the things I think she absolutely excels in is bringing the necessary amounts of “com” to her rom-coms, which isn’t always the case across this particular subgenre. Maybe I was already predisposed to love The Wedding Crasher based on its ingredients, given that it takes several of my favorite tropes—fake dating and modern-day marriage of convenience—and merges them into one hilarious, engaging story, with the latter being ruined and turning into the former for one unexpected couple.
This contemporary romance novel has all of the best hijinks of a J.Lo-led big-screen vehicle, but it also has the advantage over any movie in putting us deep in the heads of both its leads — which gives us the opportunity to really get a sense of who they really are. And, as always when it comes to fake dating, there’s that perfect, indescribable moment that happens and leaves both people realizing that everything they’ve been pretending to be together could be their real-life happily-ever-after, provided they’re each willing to take the leap and make it happen.
Publisher’s Description: Just weeks away from ditching DC for greener pastures, Solange Pereira is roped into helping her wedding planner cousin on a random couple’s big day. It’s an easy gig… until she stumbles upon a situation that convinces her the pair isn’t meant to be. What’s a true-blue romantic to do? Crash the wedding, of course. And ensure the unsuspecting groom doesn’t make the biggest mistake of his life.
Dean Chapman had his future all mapped out. He was about to check off “start a family” and on track to “make partner” when his modern day marriage of convenience went up in smoke. Then he learns he might not land an assignment that could be his ticket to a promotion unless he has a significant other and, in a moment of panic, Dean claims to be in love with the woman who crashed his wedding. Oops.
Now Dean has a whole new item on his to-do list: beg Solange to be his pretend girlfriend. Solange feels a tiny bit bad about ruining Dean’s wedding, so she agrees to play along. Yet as they fake-date their way around town, what started as a performance for Dean’s colleagues turns into a connection that neither he nor Solange can deny. Their entire romance is a sham… there’s no way these polar opposites could fall in love for real, right?
To Marry and to Meddle by Martha Waters
Release Date: April 5 from Atria Books
Why You’ll Love It: Waters returns with the third installment of her Regency Vows with a romance that might just be one of her best yet. What makes the marriage of convenience trope so incredibly delicious is that it always starts as something intended to be purely a business arrangement, with no feelings involved whatsoever. That should be easy enough to maintain, right, even with the fact that the people who have entered into this agreement are spending long hours alone together in very intimate situations? Or maybe they have more of an… inconvenient awareness of exactly how attracted they are to their spouse in purely name alone?
Waters does the fantastic trick of getting her main couple, Emily and Julian, hitched almost from the jump, which then means there’s the foundation of marriage to work through that exists over everything else while they have to navigate more emotional intricacies. There’s also the way in which Waters practically wields banter as its own form of foreplay, with the slow burn romance between the leads coming from a journey of respect to friendship to, ultimately, a love for the ages.
Publisher’s Description: Lady Emily Turner has been a debutante for six seasons now and should have long settled into a suitable marriage. However, due to her father’s large debts, her only suitor is the persistent and odious owner of her father’s favorite gambling house. Meanwhile, Lord Julian Belfry, the second son of a marquess, has scandalized society as an actor and owner of a theater—the kind of establishment where men take their mistresses, but not their wives. When their lives intersect at a house party, Lord Julian hatches a plan to benefit them both.
With a marriage of convenience, Emily will use her society connections to promote the theater to a more respectable clientele and Julian will take her out from under the shadows of her father’s unsavory associates. But they soon realize they have very different plans for their marriage—Julian wants Emily to remain a society wife, while Emily discovers an interest in the theater. But when a fleeing actress, murderous kitten, and meddlesome friends enter the fray, Emily and Julian will have to confront the fact that their marriage of convenience comes with rather inconvenient feelings.
With “an arch sense of humor and a marvelously witty voice that rivals the best of the Regency authors” (Entertainment Weekly), Martha Waters crafts another fresh romantic comedy that for fans of Julia Quinn and Evie Dunmore.
The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann
Release Date: April 12 from Berkley
Why You’ll Love It: Kann’s adult debut exemplifies the name of its heroine — it’s utterly joyful, drawing on familiar concepts in its premise (My Best Friend’s Wedding, which gets namedropped in the story) while framing them from an angle that represents a positive stride forward for the genre as a whole. Unlike Julia Roberts’ character in that much-beloved rom-com, though, Joy recognizes the fact that she’s in an unenviable position — and that speaking her true feelings might throw an irretrievable wrench into her best friend Malcolm’s relationship right when it’s at its best place.
Kann has put an engaging, genuine story on the page that not only depicts variances of asexuality through characters who hold differing attitudes about it, with Joy and Malcolm exploring their very messy, very real, very human feelings, but succeeds in every way in regards to its romantic elements too. Consent-driven intimacy abounds here, and after reading this heartfelt novel, you might be wondering where you can get a Fox of your very own too.
Publisher’s Description: Joy is in love with Malcolm.
But Malcolm really likes Summer.
Summer is in love with love.
And Fox is Summer’s ex-boyfriend.
Thirty, flirty, and asexual Joy is secretly in love with her best friend Malcolm, but she’s never been brave enough to say so. When he unexpectedly announces that he’s met the love of his life—and no, it’s not Joy—she’s heartbroken. Malcolm invites her on a weekend getaway, and Joy decides it’s her last chance to show him exactly what he’s overlooking. But maybe Joy is the one missing something…or someone…and his name is Fox.
Fox sees a kindred spirit in Joy—and decides to help her. He proposes they pretend to fall for each other on the weekend trip to make Malcolm jealous. But spending time with Fox shows Joy what it’s like to not be the third wheel, and there’s no mistaking the way he makes her feel. Could Fox be the romantic partner she’s always deserved?
No Rings Attached by Rachel Lacey
Release Date: April 12 from Montlake
Why You’ll Love It: When does the fake dating trope get kicked into overdrive? When you have to bring the person posing as your significant other to an actual wedding. Although it’s an element that we’ve seen popping up in romance novels time and time again, what makes it utterly timeless (and one that will continually be reached for) are all the delightful routes that can be taken from the premise — and the romance that results when two people are forced together in a somewhat reluctant scenario for them both.
In the case of Grace and Lia, the physical attraction is there from the get-go, but they each have their own reasons for why they’re a little gunshy about pursuing anything more than that — and forget about the idea of a more serious committment! However, one thing Lacey reiterates throughout the story is that there’s only so much that physical chemistry can conquer, and that if you want to work up the nerve to pursue a deeper love, you need to be able to love yourself first and foremost, regardless of the expectations you put on yourself, or what you believe you need to be for someone else.
Publisher’s Description: Lia Harris is tired of being the odd one out. She’s never quite fit in with her uptight family, and now that her roommates have all found love, she’s starting to feel like a third wheel in her own apartment. Fed up with her mother’s constant meddling in her love life, Lia drops hints about a girlfriend she doesn’t have. But with her brother’s London nuptials approaching, she needs to find a date to save face. Lia turns to her best friend, Rosie, for help, and Rosie delivers—with the fun, gorgeous Grace Poston.
Grace loves to have a good time, hiding her insecurities behind a sunny smile. Her recent move to London has provided her with a much-needed fresh start. Grace isn’t looking for love, and she hates weddings, having weathered more than her fair share of heartache. Friendships are different, though, so for Rosie’s sake, she reluctantly agrees to pose as Lia’s adoring girlfriend for the wedding festivities.
Both Grace and Lia are prepared for an awkward weekend, complete with prying family members and a guest room with only one bed. As it turns out, they get along well—spectacularly, in fact. Before they know it, the chemistry they’re faking feels all too real. But is their wedding weekend a fleeting performance or the rehearsal for a love that’s meant to last?
What a Match by Mimi Grace
Release Date: April 13 from Mimi Grace
Why You’ll Love It: Few things are as utterly satisfying to me in a romance novel when it’s clear that the male lead has had a crush on his love interest for what might actually be forever and is just waiting for her to notice. If that premise sounds as delightful to you as it did to me, then you won’t be steered wrong by the second installment of Grace’s Lovestruck series, What a Match.
The irony is that Gwen, our lady lead who has always had a plan outlined for her life and knows exactly what she wants, finds her situation completely flip-turned on its head when she’s saddled with an unexpected roommate in the form of her bro’s friend Anthony, who winds up crashing on her couch for the foreseeable future. It doesn’t help that Anthony has something of a taciturn personality, so it’s not like he’s actually going to get around to confessing his feels right away either. We all know what they say about the best-laid plans, especially when they’re waylaid by a double-team chef’s kiss of tropes: brother’s best friend AND a little forced proximity, just for good measure.
Publisher’s Description: Sometimes what you’re looking for is right under your nose. Meticulous and driven Gwen Gilmore knows what she wants… especially in a man. She is newly single and doesn’t have time for lackluster chemistry or mixed signals. But the dating scene proves to be slow and unserious, and she realizes she may need some help.
A matchmaker, to be more specific.
Nothing will distract her from finding a man who checks all the boxes, except maybe her brother’s grumpy best friend who’s just moved into her home.
Anthony Woods has had a crush on his best friend’s sister since the day he met her, and he’s managed the unfortunate affliction by keeping his distance. However, when apartment problems have him temporarily sleeping on her couch, Gwen is suddenly closer than ever. And as much as he tries, his scowls and frowns can’t stop the sparks from flying.
As they connect and get to know each other, Gwen can’t help but notice when the perfect-on-paper boyfriend she has in mind starts to take an unexpected shape. Will she stick to the dating plan outlined by the professionals? Or admit when it comes to love, there’s no right way to fall.
Tanked by Mia Hopkins
Release Date: April 26 from Little Stone Press
Why You’ll Love It: The long-awaited third installment in Hopkins’ Eastside Brewery series is here! Angel, the youngest brother in the Rosas family, finally gets his love story in the form of a woman who completely changed his world one fateful night before disappearing altogether. When he barely makes it to his booster shot appointment on time, one look into the eyes of the masked woman sitting across from him confirms it: Deanna Delgado, for better or worse, has just walked back into his life again.
This is the first romance I’ve read in recent memory that actually tackles the situation of our ongoing pandemic, and while it would be easy to simply handwave away reality in favor of a world that has remained untouched by COVID, Hopkins thoughtfully explores how the Rosas’ growing brewery business, as well as their family and others around them, have been impacted in recent years. But that’s not to say the story lingers on those elements, either; Angel and Deanna’s love story takes center stage throughout, with the kind of legendary chemistry between them that might just scorch your e-reader if you’re not careful.
Publisher’s Description: A fighter without a purpose. A crusader with nothing to lose. Can she trust him with her heart, or is he just another lost cause?
By day, I do all the grunt work at my family’s struggling L.A. brewery. By night, I blow off steam at an underground fight club. I never thought the pandemic would bring Deanna Delgado back into my life—the woman who ghosted me three years ago after one unforgettable night. But the brewery needs a miracle to survive. And that miracle could cost me the only person who’s ever had faith in me.
My family calls me an idealistic do-gooder, but I see a better, brighter future for my community. My biggest problem? I’ve just lost the job I love. To ease my pain, I’ve hooked up with Angel Rosas, the filthy-sweet one-night stand who’s somehow dropped back into my life. There’s so much more to Angel than he lets on. Is he the man I can trust with my body and my heart? Or is he just another lost cause?
Carly Lane is an Atlanta-based writer who considers herself a lifelong Star Wars fan, newbie Trekker, diehard romance reader, nascent horror lover, and occasional live-tweeter. She is the senior TV editor at Collider, a former contributing editor for SYFY FANGRRLS, and has also written for Vulture, the Boston Globe, Nerdist, Teen Vogue, Den of Geek, The Toast, and elsewhere around the Internet.