Confession time! Once, I went on a date with this guy, and when I found out he was a software developer, I flashed my Geek Card by suggesting that he develop an app that would recommend readers romance novels based on their preferences in fanfiction and ships.
Somehow, after saying that extremely nerdy sentence out loud, he still kissed me and still asked me to go on a second date with him.
Reader, now we’re married.
Anyway, in lieu of an app, I’ve decided to start giving out recommendations on my own, beginning with this Love This? Try That! Here, I’ll be going through some of the most popular (and, shamelessly, some of my favorite) pop culture pairings and recommending some great New Adult romances for each one.
1. Love Dramione? Try Tell Me Something Good by Jamie Wesley!
Now, with JKR’s track record of late, I’ve become pretty allergic to suggesting anyone’s writing is similar to hers, but when I think of Dramione, I more think of the meticulous work of fan creators than JKR herself. Jamie Wesley’s Tell Me Something Good is a delightful confection of a romance, one that always whispered to my secretly-shipping-Dramione heart. Sure, this radio host romance isn’t very British and there isn’t a single magical wizard in sight. But who doesn’t love a good AU fic? What we really love about a ship isn’t the actors playing the characters or even the world they inhabit, but rather the essence of who those characters are and the conflict that ultimately brings them together. In Wesley’s Tell Me Something Good, the heart of that enemies-to-lovers, “uptight know-it-all with a heart of gold falls for the privileged bad boy who needs some serious perspective” angle that makes Dramione so compelling is at the center, and makes it a must read for all fans of Draco and Hermione.
2. Love Sherlock and Watson from BBC’s Sherlock? Try Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan!
I can still remember the first time I saw Johnlock fanfiction come across my tumblr feed. From the first premiere of the smash-hit BBC show, the internet has been obsessed with getting the consulting detective and his unlikely best friend and associate to kiss. In Lonely Hearts, JohnLock fans will find all of the things they love about their favorite ship in New Adult romance form: longing, pining, romantic and sexual tension, quips, and the angst! Oh, the delicious angst! I mean, the first line of the summary is, “Even hot messes need a happily ever after.” Have you ever heard anything so JohnLock in your entire life?
3. Love Mulder and Scully? Try Absolved by Marnee Blake!
Now, as a late-stage millennial, the first time I’d ever heard about Mulder and Scully was when Stephen Colbert demanded that no one would print his fanfiction of them. But, when the show returned, I did a giant binge watch and totally fell for these two, both separately as characters and as Peak Fanfiction Material. In Absolved by Marnee Blake, there’s crime fighting, personal stakes, giant conspiracies, deadly viruses, the FBI bureaucracy, and that sweet, sweet romance we all crave. If you, like Stephen Colbert, were desperate to finally see Mulder and Scully kiss, but in book form instead of fanfiction form, then Absolved is the book for you!
4. Love Captain Swan from Once Upon a Time? Try The Wild Heir by Karina Halle!
The scoundrel and the princess? Uh, yes please. It’s just that in The Wild Heir, the scoundrel turns out to be a prince, too. This delicious romance by Karina Halle is perfect for the Captain Swan fan who liked Once Upon a Time and the Captain Hook/Emma Swan dynamic, but sort of wishes that HBO had produced the series so they could finally see all of that sexual tension resolved with their own eyes. For fans of wars of wit and words, and all of the lush world-building that Once Upon a Time was known for, then The Wild Heir is perfect for you.
5. Love Reylo? Try Starflight by Melissa Landers!
In the words of the eminent Reylo and Bad Fanfiction scholar Jenny Nicholson, “Ben Solo is just, like, a mean prep school kid,” which is basically the premise of Starflight. A rich space prep school kid has to rely on the scrappy scholarship student to survive a massive conspiracy that threatens his life. The Reylo vibes are practically pouring out of every page of this book, and while it’s frequently shelved as Young Adult, the sexual tension/scenarios and character behaviors have always read as more New Adult. If this were an Ao3 story, it would definitely be tagged something like: “Enemies-to-oh-god-I’m-now-working-for-the-mean-rich-guy-from-my-school-to-whoops-he-has-amnesia-whoops-he’s-fine-again-to-reluctant-partners-in-crime-to-friends-to-lovers.” And who doesn’t love that?
6. Love Stucky (Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes) from the Marvel Movies? Try King Consort by J.R. Gray!
New Adult romance is lousy with royalty romances, and the MM market is absolutely no different! In King Consort, J.R. Gray treats us to all of the Stucky vibes by pairing a hotshot prince with a kind, heart-of-gold paparazzo. What begins as a mostly physical relationship and a one-night stand slow burns into a delightful, delicious romance that would make even the most ardent of Stucky fans blush with its romantic intensity. These guys are with each other until the end of the line.
7. Love Christian and Satine from Moulin Rouge? Try Society Girl by Alys Murray!
Toot toot! Welcome to Shameless Plug Town! Population: Me. I think it’s safe to say that most theatre kids went through a phase where Moulin Rouge was the only move they watched, and I was no different, so if you adored Moulin Rouge’s badass heroine who can’t allow herself to believe in love and its Cinnamon Roll musician Hero desperate to fall in love, then you’ll love Society Girl! And the best part is that in this story, our characters actually get their HEA!