As a bookseller with a passion for love stories, you’re in a great position to tell us what the most popular romance books of 2022 have been.
Working as a bookseller for Powell’s Books has really allowed me to see what titles have been flying off of the shelves. A lot of the people on the bestsellers list have been those that are talked about on BookTok: writers like Ali Hazelwood, Emily Henry, and the big one, Colleen Hoover.
As a Black woman, I have made a point of making sure that I diversified my reading more. I currently run the ‘new and recommended Romance’ display at my job, so I want to make sure that if you walk up to those shelves, there’s a good chance that you’ll see yourself—or some important part of your identity—depicted there. I wanted more LGBTQ+ reads; more reads featuring people of color; more fun and sexy reads, just more of everything.
Let’s talk about the first book on your list of the best 2022 romance novels: The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen.
This is the first fantasy romance I’ve ever read, and whew, it will be hard to beat this one. Any book that uses You’ve Got Mail as a comp title to me needed to be in my hands yesterday. It has all of my favorite romantic tropes too: enemies to lovers, found family, a misunderstanding that threatens everything, and a tall man who has some emotional baggage that he needs to deal with promptly before he loses the only one that he’s ever loved. I finished this book and felt my heart swell. Actually, it just swelled again because I thought of the ending once more. It’s just so good.
That sounds great. What’s the next 2022 romance book you’d like to recommend?
Vanessa Jared’s Got a Man by LaQuette made me realize how I often don’t see romance novels about women in their forties, especially Black women in their forties. It also made me realize how nice it was to see two people of color fall in love too—the love interest, Michael, is Koren American—since you usually only see a person of color falling for someone who is white.
This book made me so happy. Maybe it’s because they’re older, but these two knew how to communicate and had really great boundaries that they held. Oh, and the spicy scenes were nice too!
The next book on your list of recommended 2022 romance books is Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake. Tell us about it.
This was one of my favorite books in February, and it’s still on my list of favorite romances today. I loved reading about Delilah and Claire, watching their relationship develop over Delilah’s estranged stepsister’s wedding weekend. I laughed, I cried—yes, real tears—and I swooned. While this is a gorgeous queer romance, it also brings up a lot of family issues and I think that Herring did it in a great way.
What’s the fourth 2022 romance book you’d like to recommend?
Do You Take this Man by Denise Williams is perfect. There, I said it. It’s such a sensitive look at two people who believe that they aren’t worthy of love because of past experiences finding that love with each other. The only issue? They can’t stand each other…at first. I rooted for these two, staying up until 4am to see them get together. RJ and Lear were frustrating but I wouldn’t want them any other way.
Your final recommendation is Digging Up Love by Chandra Blumberg.
This is one of my favorite books that I brought into Powell’s. I checked out a copy from my public library and asked our book-buying team to bring it in. From the way that it’s been selling, I’m not the only one who enjoyed watching the romance between a baker and a paleontologist develop. I actually found myself giggling along to their banter, which felt fresh and new. It won me over immediately. Oh, and that grand gesture that Quentin did for Alisha at the end? I died…happily.
These sound like a lot of fun. What other romance novels of note are out now? Have there been new novels from fan favorites?
But of course! Jasmine Guillory came out with Drunk on Love, and I have read and bought her entire backlist, so she’s always worth a buy. I did really enjoy Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood, although I have heard that it’s a lot like her first one, which is fine by me—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Emily Henry’s Book Lovers came out, and fans and my colleagues swarmed the shelves to get her newest title. Kwana Jackson, the author of the Real Men Knit series, officially introduced readers to Lucas Strong, one of the men who took over a knitting shop after his adoptive mother passed, in Knot Again. There are truly so many books, and so little time.
Are there any notable debuts we should be aware of?
Oh, yes, let me tell you about them! I mean, from my list alone, Delilah Green Doesn’t Care and Digging Up Love are both debuts. But others include Set On You by Amy Lea, which I hand-sold a lot of this summer. It’s so good, and you have to read it for the bathtub scene alone. The second book in that series, Exes & O’s, comes out in January, and I am very excited to read it.
Fixer Upper by Lauren Forsythe is an unique romance novel where the premise is that Aly and her friends will ‘fix up’ (change for the better) your man for you. It’s all fun and games until Aly is tasked with fixing up her former best friend, who she was in love with and has resentment towards. I adored it. Finally, I’ll talk your ear off about Lease on Love by Falon Ballard, which has really great mental health representation, and talks frankly about how healing from trauma isn’t linear.
How about upcoming titles: what’s hotly anticipated this winter?
Now that the year is almost over, I want to include some 2023 books in this list. I’m looking forward to A Guide to Being Just Friends by Sophie Sullivan; Not Here to Stay Friends by Kaitlyn Hill (Bachelor fans, this one’s for you!); The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest (also with You’ve Got Mail vibes); Reggie and Delilah’s Year of Falling by Elise Bryant, which is a young adult book, but I will literally read anything that Bryant writes; and last but certainly not least, Behind the Scenes by Karelia Stetz-Waters, who is a local Portland author. My coworker and I talked to her about how we loved her first book, Satisfaction Guaranteed for so long that she included Powell’s in her acknowledgments for her newest book. She’s probably thanking the company as a whole, but I like to think that it was meant for the two of us especially.
Part of our best books of 2022 series.
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