Books·Valentine's Day

14 books about love for Valentine's Day

Celebrate love — or getting over it — by reading one of these great books.

It's Valentine's Day! Celebrate love — or getting over it — by reading one of these great books.

Missed Connections by Brian Francis

White man with white hair, beard and black glasses in maroon blazer. Illustrated book cover of a white piece of paper and a blue pen.
Missed Connections is a book by Brian Francis. (McClelland & Stewart)

Brian Francis puts his acerbic wit to work in this collection of essays, in which he responds to a series of letters sent to him in the early 1990s. The 13 letters were responses to his personal ad, placed in a local newspaper at the age of 21, when Francis was in the closet and looking for love. Thirty years later, Francis has unearthed these unanswered letters and crafted responses that are at times light-hearted, but also serious, exploring subjects like male body image, desire and the cost of secrecy.

Francis is the author of novels FruitNatural Order and Break in Case of Emergency. He is a writer and columnist for The Next Chapter on CBC Radio and lives in Toronto.

Brian Francis talks to Shelagh Rogers about his book, Missed Connections.

    Heartbreak For Hire by Sonia Hartl

    Heartbreak for Hire is a novel by Sonia Hartl. (Gallery Books, A. Hartl)

    The novel Heartbreak For Hire follows Brinkley Saunders, a rising star who dropped out of grad school and supposedly works as an administrative assistant at an insurance agency. In reality, she works at Heartbreak for Hire, a secret service that provides revenge for jilted lovers, frenemies and anyone else who needs to break a heart. It's not academia, but it helps Brinkley save for her dream of opening an art gallery. When the agency hires male heartbreakers, she's not sure if she's doing the right thing anymore, especially when she's paid to break the heart of her new coworker Mark.

    Sonia Hartl is the author of YA novels The Lost Girls, Not Your #Lovestory and Have a Little Faith in Me. She lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., with her husband and two daughters. 

    Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

    On the left is a green book cover that has a drawing of a house, and a woman at the top of the house, and a man at the bottom of the house. They are looking at each other. There is white and pink text overlay that is the book's title and author's name. On the right is an author headshot of a woman wearing a straw hat and glasses and smiling at the camera.
    Accidentally Engaged is a novel by Farah Heron. (, Forever)

    In Accidentally EngagedReena Manji refuses to be attracted to the man her parents have set her up with — the charming and attractive Nadim. But when Reena gets the opportunity to enter a cooking competition, she will do anything to win — including pretending to be engaged to Nadim.

    Farah Heron is a writer from Toronto. She is also the author of the romantic comedy The Chai Factor and the YA novel Tahira in Bloom.

    Farah Heron on what inspired her romantic comedy The Chai Factor and how diversity has changed the romance genre.

    Duke, Actually: A Novel by Jenny Holiday

    Duke, Actually is a novel by Jenny Holiday. (Avon, Kate Stasyna)

    In Duke Actually, the sequel to A Princess for Christmas, Maximillian von Hansburg, Baron of Laudon and heir to the Duke of Aquilla, is having a not-so-merry Christmas. He's been dumped by a princess, he's unemployed and his controlling father flies him to New York to meet a woman he has no interest in marrying. Instead he meets newly single, no-nonsense Dani Martinez and is determined to befriend her before their best friends marry in the wedding of the century.

    Jenny Holiday grew up in Minnesota but now lives in London, Ont. She's been nominated for the Romance Writers of America RITA Award and is a USA Today bestselling author. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, the Washington Post and NPR.

    The Red Palace by June Hur

    The Red Palace is a YA novel by June Hur. (Feiwel & Friends, Julie Anna Tang)

    Set in Korea's royal court of the 18th century, June Hur's The Red Palace is a murder mystery laced with bits of romance. The novel follows Hyeon, the illegitimate daughter of a concubine, who works hard to earn a position as a nurse at the palace. When four women are suddenly killed and her mentor is accused of the crimes, Hyeon teams up with a young police inspector to find the true killer.

    June Hur is a Toronto-based writer, originally from South Korea. She's also the author of The Silence of Bones and The Forest of Stolen Girls.

    Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin 

    Hana Khan Carries On is a novel by Uzma Jalaluddin. (HarperCollins, Andrea Stenson)

    Hana is an aspiring radio host who is working at her family's halal restaurant. When her aunt and a cousin come to town, and a rival restaurant opens in their neighbourhood, Hana's life is upended and family secrets are revealed. Fighting for her family is a big battle, one that will put all of Hana's skills to the test. It's a battle that gets more complicated by Hana's growing attraction to the rival restaurant's owner, Aydin.

    Jalaluddin is a teacher, parenting columnist and author based in Ontario. She is also the author of the novel Ayesha At Last.

    Uzma Jalaluddin talks to Shelagh Rogers about her latest romantic comedy novel, Hana Khan Carries On.

    The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

    The Holiday Swap is written by Karma Brown and Marissa Stapley, who go by the pen name Maggie Knox. (Viking, Jenna Davis,

    In The Holiday Swap, Charlie Goodwin loses her ability to taste and smell after she suffers a head injury on set — two important senses for a celebrity baking judge. Back home, Charlie's identical twin sister Cass is overwhelmed running the family bakery and avoiding her ex-boyfriend. Charlie and Cass agree to switch places, days before Christmas, to help each other out. But the plan is complicated by two charming men, firefighter Jake Greenman and physician assistant Miguel Rodriguez.

    Maggie Knox is the pseudonym of Canadian writing duo Karma Brown and Marissa Stapley. Brown's bestselling books include Recipe for a Perfect Wife and The 4% Fix, while Stapley's known for romantic novels like Mating for Life and Things to Do When It's RainingThe Holiday Swap is their first collaboration.

    Maggie Knox (Karma Brown & Marissa Stapley) on their romantic comedy, The Holiday Swap.

    A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli

    A book cover of a cartoon man dipping a woman in a sari with fireworks and a cityscape in the background.
    A Holly Jolly Diwali is a book by Sonya Lalli. (Berkley, Ming Joanis/A Nerd's World)

    A Holly Jolly Diwali is about Niki Randhawa, a data analyst who is all about being practical. She's got a stable job, only dates guys who look good on paper and lives near her parents in case they need her. When Niki is suddenly laid off, she eschews her practical ways and spontaneously books a flight to her friend's wedding in Mumbai. There, she flirts with a London musician named Sameer Mukherji, who helps her get in touch with her creativity and her Indian roots. But when Niki gets a job offer back home, she must figure out what kind of life she wants to live. 

    Sonya Lalli is a Punjabi and Bengali romance fiction author based in Vancouver. She's written three other novels: Serena Singh Flips the Script, Grown-Up Pose and The Matchmaker's List. Her books have been spotlighted in publications including Entertainment Weekly, NPR, the Washington Post, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail.

    Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau

    Illustrated book cover of Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau with a man and woman standing; the man is holding donuts. Portrait of the author.
    Donut Fall in Love is a book by Jackie Lau. (J. Mitchell, Berkley)

    Donut Fall in Love follows actor Ryan Kwok, who is back in Toronto after promoting his latest movie, a rom-com that's being slammed by critics. The sudden death of his mother prompts Ryan to take his first break in years and spend more time with his family — though his father would rather troll him on Twitter than meet for dim sum. Ryan's fate takes a turn when he knocks over a bunch of specialty donuts by an innovative baker named Lindsay McLeod. When he signs up for a celebrity episode of a baking show, he enlists Lindsay to help him prepare.

    Jackie Lau is a Toronto-based author of over a dozen romantic comedies, including the Holidays with the Wongs series and the There's Only One Bed at Christmas novella anthology. She went to school for engineering and worked as a geophysicist before writing romance novels. 

    A Boring Wife Settles the Score by Marie-Renée Lavoie, translated by Arielle Aaronson

    A Boring Wife Settles the Score is a novel written by Marie-Renée Lavoie, pictured, and translated by Arielle Aaronson. (Martine Doyon, House of Anansi Press)

    A Boring Wife Settles the Score is a sequel to the funny and heartfelt novel Autopsy of a Boring Wife. In A Boring Wife Settles the ScoreDiane is putting her life back together again. She has a new job at a daycare and, with encouragement from her best friend Claudine, has resolved to find romance once again.

    Marie-Renée Lavoie is the author of three other books, including Mister Roger and Me (La petite et le vieux in French), which won Radio-Canada's Le combat national des livres in 2012. Lavoie lives in Montreal.

    Arielle Aaronson is a translator from Montreal.

    The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon

    The Dating Playbook is a book by Farrah Rochon (Forever, Tamara Roybiskie)

    In The Dating Playbook, the second book in The Boyfriend Project series, personal trainer Taylor Powell needs to make fast money to pay off her overdue bills and rent. Enter Jamar Dixon, a former football player who wants to go back to the NFL. He asks her to train him in secret — but when they're exposed, the public assumes they're dating and their plans go awry. 

    Farrah Rochon is the author of The Boyfriend Project, which was listed as a best book of the year by NPR, Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed and other outlets. She hails from a small town near New Orleans. 

    Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

    Honey Girl is a novel by Morgan Rogers. (Park Row Books,

    Honey Girl follows straight-laced Grace Porter, a newly graduated PhD student and the daughter of an ex-military father. Grace celebrates her astronomy degree in Las Vegas, and is shocked the next morning when she realizes she's married to a woman whose name she can't remember. Feeling the weight of her family's expectations, Grace flees to New York City for the summer to get to know her new wife, Yuki Yamamoto. 

    Morgan Rogers is a writer and author based in Baltimore. Honey Girl is her debut novel.

    Playing the Palace by Paul Rudnick

    Playing the Palace is a novel by New York writer Paul Rudnick. (Berkley)

    Heartbroken Carter Ogden is sure he'll never find love — that is, until a chance meeting with England's Prince Edgar at his boss's soirée. The chemistry is so hot it ignites a media firestorm on both sides of the Atlantic. But can a romance between the crown prince and "that guy from New York" survive the tabloids and the Queen's disapproval?

    Paul Rudnick is a playwright and author, whose books include Social Disease and I'll Take It. He lives in New York and is a regular contributor to The New Yorker.

    The Knockout Rule by Kelly Siskind 

    The Knockout Hire is a book by Kelly Siskind. (Kelly Siskind,

    The Knockout Rule follows Isla Slade, a physiotherapist who helps athletes recover from injuries. As the daughter of a boxer, Isla's one rule is that she won't treat boxers; she's not interested in reliving the bloody noses, cracked ribs and hospital visits again. But when her dad begs her to take on boxer Brick Kramarov, Isla reluctantly agrees to work with him and his manager Preston ahead of a big Las Vegas fight. Preston woos Isla, but she finds out that Brick has been coaching him and falling in love with her all along. Isla must decide if it's worth loving a boxer again.

    Kelly Siskind is an author living in northern Ontario. Her other novels include Chasing Crazy and New Orleans Rush.

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