Romance Novel Month is in full swing here at Bustle, an entire 31 days dedicated to celebrating, examining, and sharing all things romance. We are bringing you the month's best romance novels, perfect beach reads, romance recommendations for classics fans, and even romance novels you won't be embarrassed to share with your mom.
When people unfamiliar with the genre hear the word "romance novel," two things generally pop into their minds: a matronly woman reading alone, and a book cover featuring a ravished looking young woman and a handsome, shirtless man holding one another. While those two things can be true about romance, those aren't the only two things true about romance. The genre is more than just beautiful men and women, graphic sexual encounters, and basic "mommy porn," so much more, which is why so many women love it.
Women (and yes, some men) flock to the romance genre not only for its inclusion of hot sex, but for its portrayal of powerful portrayal of fictional females, its moving stories of love and forgiveness, and its reliable and always happy endings. I don't know about you, but I couldn't think of a better mother-daughter book club than one that celebrates women, their strength, and and their pleasure.
And just in case you thought all romance was NSFM — Not Safe for Mothers — here are 13 romance novels you won't be embarrassed to share with your mom.
1. Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery
2. No Breaking My Heart by Kate Angell
In this fifth installment of the Barefoot Williams series, another couple finds love in the small seaside town where romance blossoms all year long. When Halo Todd, baseball legend, and Alyn Jayne meet on the set of a couple's dating show, they have to pretend to know each other despite being complete strangers. Soon, though, they realize their connection is more than just an act, and Halo sweeps Alyn off to a vacation getaway of her dreams. But is this all just a game, or are these two truly falling for each other? A sweet love story featuring fun characters, tasteful sex, and plenty of beachy romance, this is the perfect mother-daughter read to round off your summer TBR list.
3. Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen
If you and your mom rock matching tattoos and like to listen to the same kind of alt music, then Steampunk Proper Romance is the mother-daughter series for you. In the first installment, Beauty and the Clockwork Beast, Lucy Pickett arrives at Blackwell Manor to help care for her sick cousin, Kate, but it doesn't take long for her to realize there is more to the manor than she expected, including ghosts, werewolves, and vampires. The lord of the house, Miles, is hiding something, and the more Lucy tries to uncover the mystery, the more she find herself falling for the beast. In this unique story, which is described as "Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast," gothic romance and fairy tales collide to create a mysterious romance you and your mother will enjoy unraveling.
4. Just Kiss Me by Rachel Gibson
Just because you're reading a book with your mother doesn't mean it can't have a little sizzle to it. In Just Kiss Me, Vivian Leigh Rochet is living the life of her dreams, but even though she left Charleston behind for the bright lights and glamour of Hollywood, she still hasn't found true happiness. Meanwhile, Harrison Whitley-Shuler, the gorgeous boy from Vivian's past who was always too good to be hers, has found his true calling after trading in Wall Street for woodworking. When their two worlds collide, Vivian and Harrison find that, all these years later, their may still be a spark between the girl who used to scrub floors, and the boy whose parent's paid her to do it. Funny and sweet with just the right amount of steamy sex for a book you're reading with your mom, Just Kiss Me is a fun read perfect to share for the summer.
5. Falling by Jane Green
From the bestselling author of memorable romances like The Beach House and Summer Secrets comes another sweet beach read, Falling. Emma Montague thought she knew what she wanted when she left upper-class Britain for the fast-paced life of New York City, but once she lands in Manhattan and starts living her dream, she finds herself in the same kind of nightmare she tried to escape. On the move again, Emma settles in the seaside town of Westport, CT, and finally begins to feel at peace, until she's pulled into the life of Dominic, her handsome new landlord and father of a six-year-old son. What seems to be a picture-perfect life for Emma and her new love quickly unravels, and Emma must decide if she is willing to stay and fight, or if its easier to run away again. A beautiful love story about finding romance, family, and home all at once, Falling is the kind of novel you and your mom will love reading together.
6. When I Lost You by Kelly Rimmer
There's nothing quite like falling in love with someone for the first time — but what if you got a second chance? Leo and Molly were truly soulmates, but when tragedy strikes and Leo loses his memories, Molly is left trying to piece their idyllic life back together. The only problem is, their life — and their marriage — hasn't been picture perfect for a long time, and as Molly begins to fill Leo in and help him remember their love, they're both in danger of losing each other again, and this time, forever. When I Lost You is a heartbreaking novel of truth, fate, and the ultimate power of love. Read it with your mom, and you can both share a box of tissues.
7. Summer at Oyster Bay by Jenny Hale
When Emily Tate returns home to Osyter Bay, she finds comfort in the familiarity of her grandfather's farm, the warm sandy beaches of her childhood, and her loving family. It's just the break she needs from the crazy, quick world of the city she is trying to escape, but when Emily starts working at the Water's Edge Inn, she's quickly pulled into another kind of chaos, this time involving an extravagant hotel expansion, her hometown's planning committee, and the inn's handsome new owner who seems to need someone exactly like her. But when Emily learns that she may be helping destroy her childhood home, she is forced to chose between ruining her beloved bay or breaking her own heart. Before the summer is over, make sure you dive into this heartwarming romance with your mom, preferably side by side on a beach blanket.
8. Sweet Haven by Shirlee McCoy
The first in the delicious Home Sweet Home series from Shirlee McCoy, Sweet Haven introduces readers to the first Lamont sister, Adeline. An accountant who likes her quiet, peaceful life full of routine, Addie finds her world turned upside down when she is forced to run her family's chocolate store following her grandfather's injury. Not only is Addie having trouble with the family's famous fudge recipe, but she's also having trouble keeping Sinclair Jefferson, her new tenant, off her mind. A sweet opposites-attract story that will warm your heart, Sweet Haven will be the first in a new series you and your mother will love reading together.
9. The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase
From her successful architecture business to her perfect boyfriend and soon-to-be fiance Noah, Sarina's life is right on track. That is, until Noah goes abroad for work and Sarina's old flame comes back to town. When Roy, a retired Olympic swimmer and total dream boat, asks her to help him fix up his new house, the old flames seem to be reignited, and Sarina has to decide what she wants out of life, and who to spend it with. A sweet debut from a romance writer to watch, you and your mother will love arguing over Sarina's fate in The One That Got Away.
10. Anything Jane Austen
If you're going to have any kind of book club with your mom, especially a romance one, you better have at least one Jane Austen book on your reading list. Sweet love stories starring unforgettable heroines and crushworthy love interests, Austen's novels are full of fun love triangles, memorable declarations of love, and seriously kick ass heroines. Oh, and all of her romances are completely G-rated. It doesn't get much more mother-daughter friendly than that.
11. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Speaking of Jane Austen, modern Pride and Prejudice retellings like Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible make wonderful mother-daughter romance reads. In this 2016 version of Austen's classic, two sisters, Liz and Jane, are called home to care for their family in Cincinnati. Once they get home, though, their lives are consumed with more than just their bossy mother and wild sisters. It doesn't take long for a gorgeous doctor, Chip Bingley, and his neurosurgeon friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, to distract the girls from their family drama. A sweet and charming romance, Eligible is a new twist of a familiar love story you and your mother will fall for.
12. Family Tree by Susan Wiggs
Life couldn't have been more perfect for Annie Harlow, the producer of a hit cooking show, wife to a loving husband, and expectant mother. But after a tragic accident, all that changes, and Annie finds herself broken, alone, and retreating to her old family home in Vermont. Back in the world of her past, Annie finds comfort in her loving family, mystery in her grandmother's cookbook, and hope in the flicker of an old flame. A heartwarming romance about the healing power of love and family, The Family Tree is a beautiful story to share with your mom.
13. If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins
From the acclaimed author of the Blue Heron Series comes If You Only Knew, a touching story about two sisters letting go of the past and learning how to move on. For Jenny, a wedding designer, forgetting about her ex-husband becomes a nearly impossible task when his new wife wants to become her friend, and retreating to her hometown upstate seems to be the only option. There, she hopes to get lost in her sister's happy family, but for Rachel, things aren't as perfect as they seem. Struggling to deal with her husband's infidelity, Rachel grasps at her parent's perfect marriage for answers — that is, until Jenny reveals a family secret that could change everything. Funny and dramatic, romantic and inspirational, If You Only Knew will have you crying, laughing, and hugging your mom all at once.
Images: Alyssa Foote/Unsplash