Top Five Friday: In the Mood for Love

It’s that time of year—again! Even the most hardhearted can agree that there is something timeless and instantly relatable about a good romance novel. Everyone wants to feel loved, and many of us also enjoy reading about it.  Whether you’re a hardcore romance aficionado, or just a sucker for the occasional love story, the five books below are sure to get your heart racing. There’s something for everyone in this list, so read through to learn more. You can also click on the book’s cover to read our full review!

For the foodie: 

★★★★  Olivia Dumont, a young and beautiful pastry chef, moves from New Orleans to Galveston, Texas, where she quickly lands a job at Vita e Spezie (Life and Spice), a popular family-run Italian restaurant nestled in a charming historical building. Salvatore (Sal) Angeloni, Olivia’s new boss, is grateful for the extra help in the kitchen, which he sorely needs in light of his siblings’ declining physical and mental health. Upon starting work, a string of sudden, dire events causes Olivia to grow close to the Angeloni family. She becomes especially tight with Luca, Sal’s only son, who shows up unannounced to reunite with his father after many years of separation. The connection between Olivia and Luca is undeniable, and their feelings for each other develop amidst immense family drama, as well as Olivia’s own personal hardship, which she tries very hard to conceal.

For the short-story lover:

verklempt★★★★★  In this engrossing collection of eleven short stories, author and journalist Peter Sichrovsky gives readers a handful of love stories to ponder over. His newest work, Verklempt, explores the identity of many Jewish characters, most of who are caught up in the throes of passion, attraction, disappointment, uncertainty, danger, or bewilderment. The stories are connected in a way that the same kind of overwhelming emotion is ever present throughout the stories’ pages. While the narratives all offer something different, the author’s background and heritage is a noticeable influence on his character’s identities. Issues like The Holocaust and anti-Semitism are tackled, as are current and recent political issues. In the story “Prague” a young Jewish boy’s new romance is threatened by chaos in the city, while in “The Sirens” a family is faced with the terror of staying together during an attack on their homeland. A husband tries to figure out what to do with his failing marriage in “The Love Schnorrer,” while in “The Holiday” three different families try to have an enjoyable time together on a vacation to Greece.

 

For the non-traditionalist:

stalker★★★★  Stalker, My Love by Zack Scott follows the untraditional love story of Rosalyn Ray and Rhett Calloway. In their early twenties and still living in their hometown, the motley gang—self-named REM, for Rosalyn, Elliot, and Mimi—attempt to navigate life in a stiflingly small town: Pine Bridge. Unlike most traditional love stories, this one begins with the would-be knight-in-shining-armor perched in a tree with a pair of binoculars, creepily observing his maiden fair. Clumsily, fumbling, and bumbling, Rhett is caught red-handed by Rosalyn, who promptly threatens to call the authorities on him. Meanwhile, her best friend, Elliot Venice, a newly minted deputy, and the supposed love of her life, Earl Wick, a washed up ex-high-school-baseball player, slept together, completely confounding everything the moment Rosalyn winds up a missing person. Of course, the minute she learns of her best friend’s disappearance, Elliot jumps right into action, despite the fact that her superiors caution her to wait the full 24 hours before launching an official investigation. Spurred by equal measures of love and guilt, she enlists the help of an unlikely gang of fellow officers. Through twists and turns and topsy-turvy unrealities, the truth of Rosalyn’s disappearance proves to be stranger than fiction—as does the romance that burgeons in the midst of it all.

 

For the nostalgic: 

seven★★★★  An intriguing tale that twists together the paranormal with a witty rom-com, Seven For a Secret is both a ghost story and a romantic escapade. We follow twenty-four-year-old Kate as she moves into a new apartment, celebrating the freedom she feels as the year 2000 ushers in a new millennium. She decides to take a break from her boyfriend Dexter so that she can explore more of her spontaneous side, quickly developing a crush on her attractive next-door neighbor. However, it’s not long before her plan for romance goes awry, as she learns that her building, Camden Court, was once a hotel in the roaring twenties. Now, eighty years later, Kate is confronted with the reality that many of the hotel’s past guests haunt the halls. One of these supernatural beings happens to be ninety-year-old Olive, whose life ended in Kate’s very apartment. As the narrative unfolds, we learn that Olive holds a deadly secret she’s eager to share, one that links her to a scandalous affair involving a young man named Lon, who brings a whole bout of tragedy to the situation that Kate is forced to deal with, whether she likes it or not.

 

For the thrill-seeker:

foreverPart thrilling court drama, part enthralling romance, Forever Bound by J.B. Millhollin follows the complicated story of determined defense attorney, Rosa Norway, as she attempts to juggle the murder trial of Angelo Bonaventura and her messy love life. The story begins before Angelo and Rosa cross paths, with the backstory of the murder that’s led Angelo to be tried by the Nashville District Attorney’s office. Chuck Harris, Angelo’s son-in-law, just so happens to also be his employee at Webber’s Furniture Store. Chuck has figured out a way to grift money from innocent, unsuspecting old ladies, and he’s certain that his menacing father-in-law will remain none the wiser. His assumptions prove fatal, as Angelo has him “taken care of” shortly thereafter. Fast-forward five months to when Rosa’s story begins. Rosa, in a fog post-drunken-night-out, edges her way out of an awkward situation with an ex. From that moment her feet touch the ground, she never quits running around trying to defend indefensible actions and manage multiple dalliances with lovers current and past. Among the key characters in her fascinating trials and tribulations are David, her prickly ex; Stoney, a handsome former lover and current business partner whose misdeeds land him in the worst sort of trouble; John Winstrom, another complicated lover with piercing blue eyes and a magnetic quality that keeps drawing Rosa back for more; and, of course, Angelo Bonaventura, a dangerous felon with a propensity for having bodies mysteriously pile up around him. It takes everything in Rosa’s power to maintain her composure and navigate her way through these murky waters.