04-20-19 – In Praise of a “Bad Pick” by Linda Lovely and Robin Weaver

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Get Lost in a Romantic Comedy Book

Sometimes you need to escape in a funny, light-hearted book without the angst. The world news is getting the better of your peace of mind and you don’t want any more dark, tragic reads. So, it’s time to turn to romantic comedy. The only problem is, the best romcom books can be hard to find. 

When is a romcom not a romcom? When it’s labelled as chick lit, women’s fiction or a romance novel, of course. It doesn’t really matter what category or genre it’s labelled under, in my humble opinion, if it has these essential elements:

-   At least one main character who is ‘played for laughs’ with a funny voice, witty dialogue or hilarious internal monologue
-   A central romance or love story (other stuff can also be happening)
-   A happy ever after (HEA) or happy for now (HFN) ending – ‘everybody dies’ books are not welcome here…

Wacky plot details and accidental misunderstandings are entirely optional! So without further ado, here’s a few of my favourite romcom books, or whatever you want to call them.

Marriage of Inconvenience by Penny Reid


Penny Reid has become one of my favourite romantic comedy authors over the past year or so. I stumbled across recommendations of her writing from a few sources, including the fabulous Kylie Scott, so I thought I was on a winner. This book is the last (probably?) in the outstanding Knitting in the City series. I have been hanging out to read this one, so much that I tried to pre-order it twice. Take my money, Ms Reid!

Anyhow, Marriage of Inconvenience is the story of Kat and Dan, secondary characters in some of the previous stories. Kat is a secret heiress to a big pharma company and Dan The Security Man is well, a security man! It’s an opposites attract set-up with characters from two different worlds who nonetheless have a real connection from the first time they see each other. Kat has to marry Dan to secure her company and her freedom, fighting off her terrible cousin who’s just after the family fortune. 

If you’re new to the Knitting in the City series, I recommend starting with Neanderthal Seeks Human. You’re in for a treat reading about brilliant and eccentric Janie, purveyor of useless but fascinating facts. 

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game book cover image

I read this one a few months ago and absolutely loved it. The Hating Game is the debut novel from Australian author, Sally Thorne, and she absolutely nails the enemies to lovers trope. It’s very funny, from the moment the two lead characters appear on the page, glaring at each other across the partitions in their fictional publishing office. 

The white water rafting, corporate team-building scene is particularly memorable in a cringe-worthy 'how embarrassing' way. Highly recommended! I can't wait for her next book...

Playing House by Amy Andrews


This is an unusual Aussie choice from one of my favourite authors, Amy Andrews (who I’ve shamelessly fan-girled at the Romance Writers of Australia conference more than once). 

Playing House is the latest instalment in a series of romantic comedies set in the world of Australian rugby. I absolutely adore her writing, which is both super funny and super sexy. Playing House has a wonderful blend of light-hearted humour around a virgin heroine with a Mr Darcy fixation, a one-night stand and a best friend’s brother trope, and more serious issues which totally snuck up on me -- yes, I cried when reading this one. You have been warned! 

Don’t be put off if you’re not a fan of sports-themed books or if you don’t really know anything about rugby (Who does? Not this little red hen!) because this is all about the tough guy heroes who have it all in a wordly sort of way, with fame and fortune, but who need love in their lives. The interconnected stories are great fun and easy reading, but start with Playing By Her Rules if you want to read the entire series. 

Content warning: this book contains a pregnancy loss/miscarriage that may be difficult reading for some. 

**NEWS FLASH** -- Amy Andrews has just been announced as a double RITA Award finalist! Congratulations, Amy!

Lingerie Wars by Janet Elizabeth Henderson 

An ex special forces operative, Lake Benson, buys a lingerie shop in a remote Scottish town. Because of course he does! There’s a goregeous ex-lingerie model to compete against, and tactics get dirty. I love all the wacky characters in the town who add a great fun element to this book. There are tartan undies and a hilarious fashion show attended by the whole town. 

I’m going to continue reading this whole series by New Zealander (from a Scottish background) Ms Henderson, and I’m really looking forward to it. 

Girl on a Plane by Cassandra O'Leary

Yes, I included my own book. Shameless self-promotion alert! I've been inspired by many awesome chick lit and romance writers and of course, romcom movies. There are quite a few references to these in Girl on a Plane. Careful readers will spot the When Harry Met Sally and Love Actually references, but can you spot more? 

I loved playing with the balance of humour and emotion in this book, and also the themes of travel and finding home. My Irish flight attendant character, Sinead, is played for laughs. Mostly. Aye, there's a bit of the craick. And some sexytimes. 

Romcoms to be read...

I've got a huge To Be Read list already, but let me know your romcom recommendations in the comments below!

About Cassandra O'Leary

**Winner of the global We Heart New Talent contest run by HarperCollins UK. Nominated for BEST NEW AUTHOR in AusRomToday 2016 Reader's Choice Awards for excellence in Australian romance fiction**

Cassandra O’Leary is a romance and women’s fiction author, communications specialist, avid reader, film and TV fangirl and admirer of pretty, shiny things. Her debut novel, Girl on a Plane, was published in July 2016. 

Cassandra is a mother of two gorgeous, high-energy mini ninjas and wife to a spunky superhero. Living in Melbourne, Australia, she’s also travelled the world. If you want to send her to Italy or Spain on any food or wine tasting ‘research’ trips, that would be splendiferous. 

Read more or sign-up for Cassandra's newsletter at cassandraolearyauthor.com


Judith Ashley said...

Thank you for highlighting books I'd love to read! and by authors mostly unknown to me. That's always a big Plus! Appreciate your "alert" about the pregnancy/miscarriage as that can be a challenge for some readers.

Do you know why "chick lit" is a term that is, at best, out of favor? I love enough to have reread several of Jennifer Cruise's books. Still laugh at scenes in "Welcome to Temptation" and "Bet Me" books I've read more than once.

Cassandra O'Leary said...

Thanks for commenting, Judith. I do love romcoms and I might do another recommendations blog in a while. And I thought the content warning was a good idea, because not everyone wants to read about the difficult topic of pregnancy loss.

As for the label thing, I suspect it's more publishers than readers who now dislike the 'chick lit' terminology. Maybe there was a flood of similar books a few years ago, but now some different styles are emerging in women's fiction and romance. If course some women object to being called chicks, or genres being labelled based on audience rather than content. Personally I prefer romantic comedy...

Dora Bramden said...

A good romcom can be just the thing to lift me out of misery when I'm sick. Being stuck in bed with nothing to do sucks but reading takes my mind off it and if I can have a chuckle that works magic for feeling better.

Cassandra O'Leary said...

Hi Dora, I agree that teading a romcom can lift your mood -- that's exactly what I've been looking for lately too. It doesn't mean that some serious issues can't be addressed but it's the optimistic tone that's a real pick me up.