Will you scream if you hear one more reference to Romeo and Juliet on Valentine’s Day? Never fear, we have 10 other books to satisfy your cravings for romance. Even if you don’t have a date this Valentine’s Day, you can still fall in love with all of these characters (and bonus, they’ll never break up with you right before the 14th). To satisfy our united love of overdone clichés, see if you can spot all the references to Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers.
“Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell
Some may claim that the earlier “Eleanor and Park,” is Rowell’s best romance novel, but I prefer the collegiate love story of Cath, an English major, and Levi, her roommate’s best friend and former ex. As Cath transitions (somewhat) to college life and holes up in her dorm room, her twin Wren is racing off to frat parties and never wants to graduate. Without a twin to count on, Cath is forced to unwillingly expand her social circle, which, as every student knows, includes flirting and guys and writing too many essays. After Cath and Levi bond over “The Outsiders,” she has to figure out if she wants to try a new relationship or stay safely cocooned in her sheltered dorm room.
“The Royal We” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Found a really great person during your study abroad trip and trying to make it work long-distance? Well, now add in the fact that their grandmother is a queen, and your boyfriend / girlfriend / other is going to rule a country someday. This is the problem for Bex and her boyfriend (and kind prince) Nick, who have to deal with royally large expectations and some extremely cramped dorm rooms.
“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
You may have seen the 2008 movie version starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, but rest assured that the book, as usual, is so much better. When Nick and Norah meet at a punk club, they don’t know that they’re going to fall in love by sunrise (er, the light of a Pepsi machine). What our two narrators in fair New York do know, however, is that one of them needs a date and one of them is trying to heal a broken heart after being brutally dumped.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde
Screw-ups, mistaken identities and secret adoptions make the courtships in Wilde’s play torture, and not mercy. As Jack (Ernest No. 1) tries to win over Gwendolen and Algy (Ernest No. 2) tries to win over Cecily, the two friends and couples must hilariously sort out who is whom, who is proposing to whom, and who, if anyone, is really earnest.
“A Countess Below Stairs” by Eva Ibbotson
A fluffy novel in the manner of a more lighthearted Downton Abbey, Rupert and Anna are from two similar households both alike in dignity, even if Anna — Russian royalty — has hidden her title and is posing as a servant in Rupert’s estate, Mersham. As the staff and tenants of Mersham prepare for Rupert’s impending wedding to the seemingly perfect Muriel, the chemistry between Rupert and Anna becomes undeniable as the wedding approaches.
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
Her head may say “don’t date a man with a secluded attic wife,” but Jane’s heart says otherwise in Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel of romance against society’s standards. Though there’s an age gap and scandal and ruin, Brontë’s novel proves that love can bury strife.
“Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer
Bella meets Edward, he wants to drink her blood, they fall madly in love despite the, uh, literal bloodlust. No matter whether you were Team Edward or Team Jacob, Stephanie Meyer’s literary phenomenon takes “civil blood makes civil hands unclean” to a whole new level. Yes, you’re probably thinking about the creepy werewolf-baby romance, or how Edward tries to keep Bella from seeing Jacob, or maybe the whole “100 year age gap” thing. Still, I maintain that any relationship that’s worth turning into a vampire for, has to be pretty good. Plus, apparently being a vampire makes you really smart — helpful for passing that one class you can’t understand.
“The White Queen” by Philippa Gregory
Elizabeth Woodville and Edward VII weren’t supposed to marry. They weren’t supposed to even meet. But when they fall in love after Elizabeth’s husband died in battle, the fearful passage of their death-marked love endures even as the War of the Roses continues and no one in their family is safe from suspicion or treachery.
“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
If you thought Romeo and Juliet were bad, just wait. Hazel and Augustus (aka Gus) meet at a cancer support group — Hazel forced to attend by her mother, Gus to support his friend. As the two embark on a relationship, determined to enjoy each other’s company as much as possible while they can, they must deal with tragedy and loss and mortality.
“Something Borrowed” by Emily Giffin
First: cheating is bad. Next: Emily Giffin makes it read so good. Rachel White didn’t mean to start an affair with Dex, the boyfriend of her childhood best friend Darcy. But it was her birthday party, and she was the big 3-0 and lonely. As the New York summer continues, Rachel and Dex’s relationship dredges up ancient grudges and new mutinies as more and more people are caught in the social crossfire of their hidden romance.