Way back in the day, I did a ‘Top Ten Favourite Romances‘, and I would stand by the recommendations in that post. But reading it again led me to take a different direction with this post. These are favourite couples, and although most of them are all successful romances, some of them do not have the healthiest, most long-lasting relationships, but they’re favourite couples for what the characters learn about themselves and the world!
Adult Favourite Couples
1. Nicholas and Julia in The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway
This is a romantic adventure with a lot of time travel and thanks to that it takes a long time for these two long-separated would-be lovers to be reunited, but once they do it feels so right and I loved seeing them together, even as the world hovers on the brink of possible destruction. What’s also interesting is that Nicholas has lived in present-day America, so when he returns to Regency England, he brings modern mores back with him!
2, Celia and Marco in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Another romantic adventure set in the glittering, fantastic world of the Night Circus, this is a slow burn as rivals turn to lovers, and the inevitability of their developing feelings, and the impending doom, becomes clear.
3. Tiffy and Leon in The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
This is a romance, so of course they’re a great couple, but what I particularly liked about flatsharers Tiffy and Leon was how supportive they are of each other throughout. This makes their romance have a depth and realism that not every love story has.
4. Barry and Morris (and Carmel) in Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo
Antiguan gentleman Barry has been secretly having an affair with his best friend Morris for decades, and finally Morris has given him an ultimatium. This book charts the history and future of their relationship, but also the life of Barry’s wife, Carmel, whose fortune has been just as intertwined. Seeing them both make changes after so many years together was fascinating and life-affirming!
5. Margot and Will (and Blossom) in Rescue Me by Sarra Manning
Woman meets dog meets man, and there is so much to work out to get it right. It takes a long, long time for Margot and Will to admit they want to be in a proper relationship with each other, not just co-pawrents of a needy Staffie. They have to work through so much past trauma and be brave enough to be together, and it is so powerful.
6. Abigail and Miles in Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer
This is my favorite of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances that I’ve read so far. Although Miss Wendover and Mr Calverleigh act like a bickering couple from the very start, it takes so long for their feelings to be confessed, and in the meantime, they have another relationship to disrupt – if Miles will only agree! The dynamic is just wonderful.
7. Mattie and Tom in A Winter Kiss on Rochester Mews by Annie Darling
Although the entire ‘Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts’ series is fab, Mattie and Tom were my favourite couple, going from enemies to friends back to enemies and finally to lovers. They’re the only couple in the series who have a history before the book starts, and this means that it’s all the more intriguing how little they know each other and how far they have to go.
Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
YA Favourite Couples
1. Lexi and Aidan in Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt
Starting off with a properly cute, romantic couple! In Unconventional, set at a series of conventions run by Lexi and her father, she meets Aidan, a new author. They have several awkward further meetings, and eventually that awkwardness turns into LURVE. As it should.
2. Tuesday and Jackson Griffith in My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend by Eleanor Wood
Tuesday, a blogger, is invited into the world of troubled rockstar Jackson Griffith, but it’s not as glamorous and romantic as she expected…this is a case of a relationship teaching both characters a lesson!
Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
3. Nina and Jamie in Love Song by Sophia Bennett
Another properly romantic one – this was my second favourite book read in 2016. The story of Nina, an aspiring photographer who gets the opportunity to go on tour with the hottest boyband in the world, was unputdownable. The romance is a slow-burn, like all the best, and I could honestly drop everything and read it again right now.
Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
4. Steffi and Rhys in A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
This is the cutest book I have ever read for a book club, honestly, although it covers a lot of serious stuff, the central couple themselves are sweetness personified. We found it unanimously adorable as well as really informative about selective mutism and deafness.
5. Sam and Hannah in Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
This book is hilarious and delightful and pretty much everything goes wrong on the path to love, which makes it even more joyously funny.
6. Mary/Persephone and Felix in Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett
Clever but naive Mary, who becomes a pre-Raphaelite muse in order to escape the tedious life of a servant, but discovers that the artists are largely broke, selfish self-promoters, and have no idea what it’s like for girls. Will Felix come through in the end and redeem himself? I’ll leave that to you to find out.
7. Starr and Chris from The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
As anyone who’s read this will know, Starr is an extremely awesome young woman, and Chris doesn’t stand in the way of that, though he has to learn some (often very funny) lessons along the way.
8. Susan and McGraw from Giant Days by John Allison et al
One of the most entertainingly antagonistic couples in fiction, they’re determined to hate each other at the start of this series set at Sheffield University, but happily it doesn’t last, though the antagonism lives on!
9. Jo and Jake in Split by a Kiss by Luisa Plaja
Okay, I’ll be upfront in this one. Jo is kissed by Jake and splits into two versions of herself in separate timelines, one who pushes him away and another who becomes his girlfriend. Things don’t go smoothly for either version of Jo, and Jake is not a good boyfriend – but their relationship teaches her an important lesson.
11. Beth and Alice in The Space Between by Meg Grehan
This is a slow-burn, but not all that slow as it’s a novel in verse! This beautiful story is about Beth, who has locked herself away from the world to try to get better. Her mental health gets worse and she can’t even leave the house when she first meets Alice. But Alice is willing to come in. It’s a story about patience and care and gentle, understanding love.
12. Camille and Ada in Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn
Camille and Ada are professional rebels living shortly after the French Revolution. Camille is the leader of their gang, orphaned, headstrong, determined to leave no-one behind. Ada is her bookish, scientist girlfriend, who has mixed feelings about her own family and Camille’s choices. They both struggle with their roles in the group, what they mean to each other, and the life and death risks they keep on taking. It’s a fascinating relationship, and I enjoyed how it developed in Monstrous Design, the second in the trilogy.
And that’s it for now! I’ve tried to focus on UKYA in this list, but a couple of other things have snuck in. Have you read any of these books? Would they make it onto your list?