[Note from Frolic: This post is brought to you by our friends at Kensington. Looking for your next book celebrating happy accidents? Look no further than RomeAntically Challenged by Marina Adair, out now!]
It’s not a secret that I delight in most romance tropes but I’ll admit that “forced proximity” will always be somewhere at the top of my extensive list. I mean Jane Austen certainly knew what she was doing when she threw Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy together during Netherfield, didn’t she? It leads to the best interactions. The sexual tension? The inescapable chemistry of the other person’s presence? The inevitable awkwardness? I could chef’s kiss the whole situation every time. Here are some of my favorite novels that contain some of the most lovable characters squished into the same space…and of course the shenanigans that follow.
ROMeANTICALLY CHALLENGED by Marina Adair
When Annie’s relationship with her fiancé falls apart, she assumes that their wedding is cancelled (rightly so). Unfortunately for her, her taste is so impeccable that her ex’s new fiance wants the same wedding. Yes, that includes Annie’s dress, venue, and perhaps most notably, old groom. Needing an escape, Annie jumps at a job opportunity in Rome. The only issue is that in this particular case, Rome is a town in Rhode Island, and not a city in Italy like Annie had initially thought. Annie is determined to make it work, though. She doesn’t even let her unexpected, and slightly unwilling, new roommate Emmitt ruin things for her (even if he is incredibly attractive, brooding, and testing her resolve to swear off men for the time being).
This book was a delight. The two main characters were entertaining, endearing, and
realistic while also being laugh out loud funny at times. Emmitt won me over almost immediately and I loved watching the side he brought out in Annie. Their relationship was incredibly touching and went to unexpected depths throughout the book. With a colorful array of side characters and a lovely setting, I was just about ready to pack my own bags for Rhode Island.
Happy Trail by Daisy Prescott
When the sullen, bearded, forest ranger, Jay Daniels, has to clear a section of the Appalachian Trail because of an oncoming storm he isn’t expecting drama. He certainly isn’t expecting Olive Perry, a sweet, but unlucky in love socialite who’s been hiking the trail on her own after a messy breakup. Neither are entirely thrilled about being snowed in together. Fortunately for them, mutual attraction and chemistry (along with cold air) won’t let them keep their space for long.
Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Appalachian Trail, Jay and Olive will both worm their completely opposite selves into your heart. This book is sweet, funny, and poignant at all the right beats. Imagine if Ron Swanson and Lorelai Gilmore got snowed in and fell in love. That’s what this book feels like.
The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
This is for all of you Outlander fans out there. If celtic lore, action, adventure, and men in kilts is your thing (like it is mine) this is the type of book you will be able to finish in one sitting. Gabby O’Callaghan is a human gifted with the ability to be able to see into both the Mortal and Faery realms. It makes her a target for many unsavory creatures. One of those creatures is Adam Black, an immortal faery who has been stripped of his powers and is utterly invisible to the human eye. When Gabby gives away seeing him in passing, Adam knows he has found the person to help him in petitioning the Faery Queen to get his powers back. To the chagrin of Gabby, who has always been taught to mistrust and dislike faeries, Adam decides that he will be sticking incredibly close to her until she agrees to help.
It was fun to watch these two have to learn to live in the same space, work together to a common goal, and most importantly, attempt to keep their emotional distance. This book was suspenseful, magical, and steamy. It had me wishing it was longer by the time I found myself coming to the end.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
It is likely no surprise that this one has made my ultimate “forced proximity” list. This story follows the lovable Olive on the Hawaiian vacation of a lifetime…with a catch or two. See, the trip was actually meant to be Olive’s twin sister, Ami’s, all inclusive honeymoon. The only issue is that after a turn with some bad food at the wedding, everyone else is sick. Everyone else but the best man, Ethan, that is. Throw in some sexual tension, a fake honeymoon, and a shared space for a dream getaway, and Ethan and Olive are forced to actually get to know each other in a way they hadn’t before.
Not only will this book make you laugh and swoon in all the right moments, the characters are also incredibly loveable. They feel real in a way that has you rooting for them from the beginning.
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
Look, even if you aren’t a historical romance person this book is absolutely worth the read. This Civil War era romance follows the journey of Elle Burns, a former slave and current spy for the Union Army. She also has a photographic memory. While undercover, Elle runs into Malcolm McCall who is also a Union spy and detective posing as a Confederate soldier. They find themselves as operatives working in the same household, one as an honored guest and one as a slave. They are both determined to complete their misssion, the only problem is it’s hard to avoid one another, and their growing attraction.
With a heart stopping storyline and some truly swoon worthy moments, this book is one that will stick with me for a long time. Elle was an incredibly refreshing and bright character who was impossible not to love. This book hits the perfect beats of steamy, heartbreaking, and incredibly humorous. Not to mention the tension between Elle and Malcolm was nothing short of delicious. I’m a simple woman and anytime there is some serious “lapel clutching” I’m hooked. Luckily for me this book was much more than that in such a good way.
Beard Necessities by Penny Reid
Billy Winston and Scarlett have been dancing around being in love with each other for more than a decade. Trauma, misunderstandings, and miscommunications keep them apart. Thankfully they have a nosey and slightly ridiculous family that is willing to take care of that for them.
Though the main trope throughout the book is “second chance romance”, Billy and Scarlett have their share of being forced into the same small space. From neighboring rooms in a vacation house, to literally being locked in a basement of an Italian museum, these two don’t get much breathing room from each other throughout the book. Thank goodness. This is the last book in the Winston Brothers series and the perfect ending to the bearded brother’s adventures.
Comment your favorite forced proximity romances below!