People often relegate romances to summer beach reads. But there are plenty of romance novels with school settings to get you excited about fall too! There’s just one problem. It seems like 99.9% of these back-to-school romances rely on a somewhat problematic trope: student/teacher relationships.
I’m not (ever) trying to yuck anyone’s yum when it comes to romance novels. I understand the appeal of reading about the taboo and slightly dangerous. And I 100% don’t think reading about teachers and students is going to make romance readers do anything inappropriate in their real lives. Also when I was a student I certainly had crushes on teachers. I think a lot of us did, and that is probably where this trope comes from.
But then I became a teacher.
And I can’t imagine crossing this line. Ever. Even when I’ve had students who are older than me or my age, it feels unthinkable and wrong. As a student, it sounded forbidden, mature, and so sexy. But as a teacher it feels completely unromantic. And unless it’s written very very well, I can’t get beyond my own bias to enjoy this trope.
Fear not, though. There are some books where teacher characters get to be romantic and sexy, without having relationships with their students. This list pulls together five back-to-school romances, without teacher/student relationships. Because, from preschool teachers to college professors, educators deserve love stories too!
Teach Me by Olivia Dade
If you read romance for the bulging biceps and perfect, smooth skin of the lead characters, this book is not for you. Rose is fat. Martin is short. They are both over forty and are overworked, stressed out high school teachers. Rose is known as a bit of an ice queen at school. And she doesn’t warm to Martin, when a vengeful principal takes her favorite class away and gives it to Martin, the new teacher. But Martin is a cinnamon role of a character, with self-confidence issues that will melt your heart. Luckily, they begin to melt Rose’s heart as well. And this enemies to lovers, workplace romance starts to sizzle. I love how real the characters feel and their genuine interactions with each other. You can tell both really care about being good teachers – which makes this book even more heartwarming to read!
Stripped by Zoey Castile
Robin Flores is a fifth-grade teacher living in Astoria and nothing in her life is going according to plan. She’s burnt out at work, constantly running late, and has pretty much no social life. To make things worse, her best friend just got engaged and instead of feeling happy for her, Robin just feels jealous and left behind. Robin starts getting distracted from these woes when a laundry mishap leads to a flirtation with her very handsome neighbor, Zac. But when he is the stripper at her friend’s bachelorette party, she’s not sure if he’s relationship material? Falling in love with a stripper was never a part of Robin’s plan. And she’s worried what her old-fashioned family will think. But it might be unavoidable. This hilarious romance borders on insta-love. But I’m okay with it, in part because it’s so funny to watch Robin go back and forth debating what she wants. Also the stripping scenes are so steamy.
Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
This Pride and Prejudice retelling turns the Lizzy Bennet character into Ayesha, a young Muslim woman living in Canada. She’s starting her first year as a substitute teacher, to pay her uncle back for her expensive education. But in her heart, she wants to be a poet and pushes the boundaries of what a girl in her community should aspire to. Khalid takes on the role of Mr. Darcy, with his stickler desires to follow Muslim traditions. When the two meet, the friction between them turns into fireworks. The romance is so easy to swoon over, and the #ownvoices portrayal of this religious and social community makes a great backdrop for an updated take of the Austen classic. As a nice bonus, the scenes where Ayesha is adjusting to the hard life of a substitute teacher are funny and so accurate. Kids can be brutal. But at least Ayesha had Khalid to daydream about.
Loving the Secret Billionaire by Adriana Anders
This romantic novella has a silly title, but a loveable teacher heroine that it’s impossible not to root for. There is a lot going on in this skinny book! Veronica is a preschool teacher running for city council to raise funding for educational programs. While campaigning, she meets Zach – a younger, blind man who rarely leaves his house. Zach also happens to be a secret tech billionaire. Their attraction is instantaneous, and their romance is very sweet. And the social justice themes in this book shine through, without being preachy or overpowering. Even if you are tired of the billionaire trope, Anders handles it uniquely in this fast burn, inclusive romance. And I’m pro any book that gives a teacher a delightful happy ending!
Not Another Family Wedding by Jackie Lau
Natalie Chin-Williams is a pessimistic college professor. You would be too if you spent all your time studying climate change and trying to lecture apathetic college students about the end of the world. She doesn’t believe a long-term relationship is for her. Especially, because she doesn’t want children. When her much younger sister decides to get married, she convinces her friend Connor to go as her date so people won’t feel sorry for her. But some unexpected kisses and Connor’s support during the revelation of a painful family secret, make Natalie start to want more with Connor. The only problem is that she’s sure he wants a family someday. Being a teacher, doesn’t play a major role in the plot of this family wedding farce. But her job definitely influences her perspectives on life and romance.