17 Books About Food And Romance That Celebrate Both In All Their Delicious, Complicated Glory

It scarcely needs to be said that food and passion go hand-in-hand. There is something sumptuous about the act of cooking and eating — the tactile experience of hands kneading bread dough, lips smacking against a lemon cake, mouths watering at the scent of a robust tomato sauce. And authors have long taken advantage of the built-in desire surrounding food by pairing it with the equal intensity of love and romance. Classics like Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate and Joanne Harris's Chocolat (yes, the beloved cocoa-based treat sure seems to inspire a lot of very intense feelings) have been joined in recent years by modern books about food trucks, ice cream stands, and intense cooking competitions — and of course love, in all it's complicated, delicious glory.

If you love food and you love romance, you're going to want to add these 17 books about food to your reading list right away. Whether you while away the last few weeks of summer with one of these in your beach bag, or snuggle up next to a teetering stack of them with a blanket and warm drink come fall, you'll be sure to have all of your appetites fulfilled with these delectable and decadent books.

'Like Water For Chocolate' by Laura Esquivel

Amazon

Tita, the youngest daughter of the De La Garza family, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But then she falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. But only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck, and fate can unite them.

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'Chocolat' by Joanne Harris

Amazon

In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher arrives and opens up a chocolate shop. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne's uncanny perception of its buyer's private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them.

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'The Coincidence of Coconut Cake' by Amy E. Reichert

Amazon

When Lou catches her fiancé cheating, it results in a disastrous night at her restaurant, Luella's. It just so happens that this all goes down on the same evening that food critic Al is there. His scathing review sends both of them to the bar (Lou to drown her sorrows, Al to celebrate) where they meet. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love… but when their true identity are revealed, will Lou be able to forget the past?

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'The Art Of French Kissing' by Brianna R. Shrum

Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Carter Lane wants to be a chef. And now she has the chance of a lifetime: A prestigious competition in Savannah, where students compete in cooking challenges for a full-ride to culinary school. But after Reid Yamada, her unbearably cocky opponent, goes out of his way to sabotage her, Carter vows revenge, and soon they're involved in a full-fledged culinary war.

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'The Secret Ingredient of Wishes' by Susan Bishop Crispell

Amazon

Rachel Monroe has a secret: She can make wishes come true. When Rachel accidentally grants a wish, she decides it’s time to leave her past behind. Settling in Nowhere, North Carolina, Rachel is taken in by Catch, who has a secret of her own: she can bind secrets by baking them into pies. When Rachel meets Ashe, a Southern gentleman with a complicated past, she starts to believe in happily-ever-after.

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'The City Baker's Guide to Country Living' by Louise Miller

Amazon

Pastry chef Olivia Rawlings runs from a professional disaster by escaping to the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont. But the getaway turns into something more when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. And when she meets Martin McCracken, Livvy comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.

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'The Simplicity Of Cider' by Amy E. Reichert

Amazon

Fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packs up their lives and drives them across country. Chance — or fate — leads them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

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'The Way You Make Me Feel' by Maurene Goo

Amazon

When Clara Shin takes a prank too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, with her uptight classmate Rose Carver. But soon enough, she discovers that things aren't as bad as she imagined — and she just might find love, friendship, and belonging during her summer in the food trip.

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'Idlewild' by Jude Sierra

Amazon

In a last ditch effort to bring the downtown Detroit gastro pub he started with his late husband back to life, Asher Schenck hires a completely new staff. Among them is Tyler Heyward, a 23-year-old recent college graduate. As their relationship shifts from business to friendship, Tyler falls for Asher and finds himself caught between his old life and dreams for the future.

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'Luck on the Line' by Zoraida Córdova

Amazon

Despite her name, Lucky Pierce has always felt a little cursed. Refusing to settle for less or settle down, she changes jobs as often as she changes boyfriends. When her celebrity chef mother challenges her to finish something, Lucky agrees to help her launch Boston’s next hot restaurant, The Star. Even if it means working with the infuriating, egotistical, and undeniably sexy head chef.

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'Crescent' by Diana Abu-Jaber

Amazon

Thirty-nine-year-old Sirine, never married, lives with a devoted Iraqi-immigrant uncle and her adoring dog. She works as a chef in a Lebanese restaurant, her passions aroused only by the preparation of food — until she meets an unbearably handsome Arabic literature professor. As Sirine falls in love, it stirs up memories of her parents and questions about her identity as an Arab American.

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'Wesley James Ruined My Life' by Jennifer Honeybourn

Amazon

Quinn Hardwick and Wesley James were friends — until he ruined her life, that is. When Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England themed restaurant, Quinn wants to get revenge. But getting rid of Wesley isn’t easy. and when Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide whether to get even, or to just get over it.

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'The School of Essential Ingredients' by Erica Bauermeister

Amazon

The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. One by one, the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian’s food, and brought together by the power of companionship.

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'Sweet Love' by Sarah Strohmeyer

Amazon

Betty Mueller believed she did the right thing when she secretly ended her teenage daughter's crush on Michael Slayton, a wild older neighborhood heartthrob. 20 years later, her daughter Julie is divorced and raising a teenage daughter alone. Now dying and determined to make amends, Betty stages her last great feat of motherhood by reuniting the couple in a dessert class.

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'Delicious!' by Ruth Reichl

Amazon

When the iconic food magazine Delicious is shut down, the staff must pack up their lives and move on. But Billie Breslin is offered a new job: Staying behind in the magazine's deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the "Delicious Guarantee" — a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries. What she doesn't know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.

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'Stay Sweet' by Siobhan Vivian

Amazon

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery — the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade. Amelia has worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, but when Molly passes away she isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business.

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