Love is in the air, especially online where there are numerous sites that offer salacious, sweet and a few unsavoury tales that seem familiar — a sort of Mills & Boon poor-cousin feast. There are stories about rich men and their personal assistants, knights and damsels in distress, emperors and witches, and much stranger tales of surrogates falling in love with the father of the baby, and women falling for the “alpha” in torrid werewolf romances.
If you are wondering where to find such a bounty, www.wattpad.com is the place to start. There’s something for everyone — YA blossoming love, LGBTQIA+ romance, plenty of manga passion, POC love stories, sci-fi romcoms …
Though some of it might not be well edited, well plotted or in the best taste, people have been lapping it up these past few years. In the midst of our terrible troubles we have craved happy endings, and romance has maintained its spot as one of the highest-selling genres in both print and e-books.
Most prolific are the historical bodice rippers. Ever since Netflix aired Bridgerton, people have been clamouring for more and more sexy lords, dukes, princesses and duchesses doing the dirty. The TV show is based on a series of novels by Julia Quinn, and even though the entire series has already been out for many years, book 2, Bridgerton: The Viscount Who Loved Me, will be re-released in March when the second series is released on Netflix. There are plenty of similar titles available — look out for The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews, In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh, and The Last Dance of the Debutante by Julia Kelly.
For more of a meaty read on love, Monica Ali’s Love Marriage will be out in March. Her book Brick Lane was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2003. Love Marriage is just as powerfully written but at its heart it is a story with a simple premise: Yasmin is about to marry fellow doctor Joe, but as the wedding day draws closer the two families clash and secrets and betrayals are revealed. Yasmin is forced to ask herself what she really wants in a relationship and what a “love marriage” actually means.
There’s plenty of good solid nonfiction coming out this year about the nature and nurture of love. Emotions guru Brené Brown always brings it, and she does again with her new book Atlas of the Heart (out now). It’s sort of a reference book where she researches and explores 87 emotions and experiences that define us. By doing this she gives the reader ways to communicate what they are feeling and why, and therefore how understanding these emotions will help build relationships.
Why We Love: The New Science Behind Our Closest Relationships by evolutionary anthropologist Dr Anna Machin is a meticulous look into the science of love — from polyamory to our love of pets, Kardashians, football teams and smartphones.
Wired for Love: A Neuroscientist’s Journey Through Romance, Loss and the Essence of Human Connection by Stephanie Cacioppo will only be out in May. It’s about what happens in our brains when we are in love — answering big questions such as lust vs love, if love makes us smarter, whether there is such a thing as “the one” and why people struggle to maintain relationships. Sounds like a doozy.