All romance readers have tropes that make their hearts skip a beat. Some prefer fake relationships, others enjoy second chances, and then there are those like Lucy Parker who swoon over opposites attracting. The Austen Playbook, Parker’s latest novel and the fourth entry in the London Celebrities series, pairs an optimistic actress heroine with a cynical theatre reviewer. It’s one of our must-read romances for this spring, and we know readers will finish it craving even more opposing duos. Parker stepped in to help with a list of her favorite opposites-attract romances.
My new release The Austen Playbook features one of my favorite character dynamics in romance: the sunny, optimistic heroine and the icy, cynical hero who doesn’t know what’s hit him when this beam of light and love suddenly comes into his life. It’s always incredibly fun to watch the grumpy character fall—with baffled reluctance—head-over-heels for the first time in their life. I love opposites-attract romance where each character essentially fills in the missing spaces in the other’s life and they unexpectedly find what they need in one another. My hero and heroine, Griff and Freddy, have very different personalities, but when it comes to what counts—their love for each other and for their friends and families, their commitment to what’s right and true—they share a deep, common bond, as do the characters in some of my other favorite books with this trope, below.
I adore this story, which features a free-spirited, outgoing heroine and a straight-laced, stuffed-shirt hero. The main characters have known each other for years, but never looked beneath the surface, each holding their own misconceptions about the other. They’re the last person either would have seen themselves dating, but when a spontaneous, passionate hook-up leads to an unexpected relationship, they fall hard and it’s glorious to watch.
All of the books in Laura Florand’s Chocolate series are so beautifully written; she has a knack for writing a lushly sensual narrative where you can almost hear, taste, and smell the imagery she evokes. This book is a personal favorite in the series, in which the bad boy chocolatier of Paris—known for his sinfully dark, delicious creations and his busy love life—is knocked sideways by the quiet, incredibly loyal, heart-hurt woman who appears in his salon every day.
Alyssa Cole’s writing is always brilliant—her voice is warm and witty, and her characters come alive on the page. This book is one of my favorites in the Reluctant Royals series. A New York socialite who doesn’t exactly feel her life is on track and under control meets a brooding Scottish sword-maker, and it sets the stage for a story that’s not only an emotional, all-the-feels romance but also sensitively executed, with a strong and important social and humanitarian message.
In Laura Kaye’s novella Hearts in Darkness, two strangers—a kind, empathetic accountant and a tattooed, pierced paramedic—are trapped in an elevator, and in the darkness, form an unbreakable bond. Their story continues in Love in the Light, which unflinchingly depicts the darker moments and despair, of living with depression, but ultimately offers a message of hope and the importance of love—not as a curative, but as essential support, a hand to hold, a place to fall.
This entry in Kristen Callihan’s rock star series features a hero and heroine who are both part of the backstage team for the band: The hero is their manager, and is a curmudgeonly, sleep-deprived delight, not impressed to find himself on a long-haul flight with the incurably sassy, chirpy woman who’s interviewing to take charge of their social media profile. To his extended horror, he discovers that by curling around her, he can actually get some sleep for once, and the spark is lit for two very different people to fall head over heels.
One of my favorite titles in Thea Harrison’s brilliant paranormal romance series, the Elder Races, Storm’s Heart sees a fierce, strong, no-nonsense war sentinel collide with an irreverent, happy-spirited, fashionista fae queen. The two drive each other crazy, have destinies that seem to be leading in very different directions, and come to adore one another beyond all else. It’s fast-paced, action-packed, and the romance is gorgeous.
The title is awesome, and the book is better. Jackie Lau’s writing style immediately pulls you in, layering in smart observations and tongue-in-cheek humor, and the chemistry between her couples is palpable. Grumpy Fake Boyfriend sees an introverted, scowly writer forced, against his better judgment, to do a good deed for a friend and enter into a temporary fake relationship with a beautiful, sunny extrovert, who understands him better than he thinks, knows what she wants, and is prepared to go after it.
Lucy Parker lives in the gorgeous Central Otago region of New Zealand, where she feels lucky every day to look out at mountains, lakes, and vineyards. She has a degree in Art History, loves museums and galleries, and doodles unrecognisable flowers when she has writer’s block. Her interest in romantic fiction began with a pre-teen viewing of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Firth-style), which prompted her to read the book as well, and the rest was history.