One of my favorite tropes in a romance is when everything seems to go wrong with the protagonists’ first meeting, yet still the chemistry is so undeniable they move past the bumps on the road and fight their way to their happily ever after. That is the beauty of the romance novel; it confirms again and again that there is hope and love out there for us all, no matter who we are.
Here’s a list of my favorite romances with disastrous first encounters, which only makes those endings that much more amazing.
One Day To Fall (Carina Press) by Therese Beharrie. Put two people in emotional dire straits and very short on patience in close proximity for 36 hours and you’ve got the formula for disaster. Sophia and Parker first bump into each other outside a hospital cafeteria as they are both dealing with family fallouts. Sparks fly — and not at all in the good way. Things get worse when a harried Sophia tries to escape the hospital and more family drama by unknowingly jumping into Parker’s taxi cab. These two people are hurt, but an instant and almost visceral dislike unfurls into the beginning of something amazing.
Spellbound (Carina Press) by Allie Therin is one of my favorite reads of the year. It’s a paranormal M/M romance set during prohibition (Yes! It’s awesome as it sounds). One of the heroes, Rory, is very prickly. From the moment Rory and Ace meet, Rory is determined to repel Ace’s attention at all costs. The first night they meet, Rory gets his drink on to prove a point, even though he is kind of a lightweight. And shenanigans ensue. Rory is like a very aggressive stray cat and Ace has never met a stray he didn’t want to keep. These two are delightful and that first night out is truly something the reader will remember.
Heart of the Matter (Brooklyn Girl Ink, LLC) by LaQuette. When the first meeting involves the heroine pulling a gun on the hero, you know you’re in for a wild ride. That’s exactly what Heart does when playboy Kenneth tries to interfere with her missing persons investigation. LaQuette’s books are always high on the drama and the heat, and this one delivers in spades. And honestly, if weapons are drawn at the first meeting, things can only get hotter from there. This is a fast-paced read, with LaQuette’s sultry style and badass heroines.
Stripped (Kensington) by Zoey Castille. The author’s Happy Endings series was one of my favorites of the past couple of years. Not only are the books super sexy, but they are unapologetically Latinx. This first book has particularly disastrous first and second meetings. First a laundry room mix-up results in a metallic thong in the wrong laundry basket. The next time they meet, the heroine realizes that her cute and kind of shy neighbor is none other than the male dancer about to give her and her best friends lap dances at a bachelorette party.
A Duke by Default (Avon) by Alyssa Cole is the second installment of the Reluctant Royals series. Portia (one of my favorite heroines ever) makes an impression on our hero, Tavish, by hitting him with pepper spray on their first meeting. Portia is kind of a mess, but she’s also a New York City girl, and ready for everything. Portia and Tavish’s romance is a complicated dance of two people falling for each other at the same time as they are figuring out how to be who they are meant to be as individuals. I love how Portia steps into her power by the end of the story — and all the laughs we get along the way.
Love Lettering (Kensington) by Kate Clayborn. This is one of my most anticipated books of the year, with disaster literally written all over it. The heroine Meg is a Instagram-famous calligrapher who’s been known to leave a stealthy message or two in her works of art. After first meeting a couple who’s hired her to do their wedding programs, she gets the feeling they’re not a very good match. So she leaves a clue in the program for them, as people do. Little did she know that a year later the disgruntled groom would come to her demanding she tell him how she knew his relationship was doomed.