Move over, wine and cheese! It is time to pair crafts with romance novels where those crafts play a role.
If you’re into knitting you are in luck: knitting is a popular craft in contemporary romance and their genre cousins cosy mysteries. For the most part the books lean cosy and cuddly and pair perfectly with a soft yarn and a nice cup of tea.
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis
Maddie comes to Lucky Harbor to take over an inherited inn. She’s lost her job and left an abusive ex and needs to start over. She isn’t planning on falling for the hot contractor, Jax, that she hires to help remodel the inn. Maddie learns to knit as a way to help deal with her stress. Maddie’s knitting skills improve as the story progresses and serves as an allegory for her self improvement process.
The Knitting in the City series by Penny Reid
This series follows seven friends, part of a knitting group, through trials and triumphs. Come for the knitting, stay for the ladies supporting each other. Crochet makes cameo appearances.
The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber
I’m pretty sure Debbie Macomber invented the craft and romance crossover book. These sweet and cosy romances close the bedroom door but keep the happy endings.
The Vampire Knitting Club by Nancy Warren
Yeah, you read that right. This is a cosy paranormal mystery with romantic elements. The heroine (who does NOT knit!) inherits her Granny’s yarn shop and takes over the business. Except that her Granny is actually undead, and someone has murdered her. Witches, vampires, venial real estate investors, a grumpy employee… This book is crazypants in the best kind of way.
If dyeing yarn is your game there might be less choices in the genre, but you’re not left out after all. This book puts a smile on my face and that might be the best compliment I’ve got for a book.
Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman
This is a knitting and yarn dying themed cosy f/f romance. Clara is an indie yarn dyer who is struggling to find inspiration. She finds a muse (and love!) with Danielle who paints native Florida wildlife. Super cute, sweet romance with Jewish, lesbian, fat, and Bi rep. Delightful.
For a happy… crocheter. I have a theory that the main reason there are more books about knitters than crocheters have to do with spelling and keyboard ergonomics. Don’t cite me on this. It is a British book so have some tea, and maybe some scones and settle in for a wonderful ride.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Two strangers are in a bind. Tiffy needs an affordable apartment and Leon is short on cash. He works nights so they make a deal. They share the apartment (including the ONE BED) and arrange it so their paths never cross. This book is a slow burn epistolary romance. Tiffy is an editor for a needlecraft book publisher and much of her work life revolves on keeping a finicky celebrity crochet author happy and on time. There’s also a lot of baked goods and I just really came to love how their relationship built over time without them coming face to face.
If you like to stab things over and over, you might be an embroiderer. The old cliché of being bad at embroidery as a way to show a protagonist is not like other girls is a sad worn out trope. Embroidery is an art requiring skill and talent. I hope to see a generation of new romance novels celebrating this age old tradition.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
Science and art dance together in this f/f historical. While Lucy translates an astronomy text, Charlotte struggles to see the artistry in her beautiful embroidery work. Ultimately she finds her muse in Lucy and her work, and begins to see that craft and art are not mutually exclusive. I think her struggle to define her work as art is one that many of us who work in a traditionally devalued (feminine) medium would find familiar.
Garment Sewists and Designers – historical romance is absolutely full of seamstresses, almost as many seamstresses marrying dukes as fine ladies being bad embroiderers. Look for plucky heroines who are determined to make it in a hard world full on their own skills and fortitude.
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Emma is a seamstress who got stiffed when the Duke’s wedding was cancelled. So she shows up on this doorstep in the dress. He ends up offering her a deal – to marry him and give him an heir. The hero is dark and brooding, but he never crosses the line into mean or exhausting. Sadly Emma doesn’t do a ton of sewing once the story gets going but I do love a heroine who comes in with a power move and doesn’t back down.
The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie
Daisy Chance has a dream and she is determined to let nothing get in her way. She’s going to become the finest seamstress in London and she’s not going to let charming Irishman Patrick Flynn distract her. Daisy’s book is the last in a quartet and while her development as a creator is part of the first three books I do think the book would stand alone without difficulty. However, I love the series and would absolutely recommend reading them all.
Duchess by Design by Maya Rodale
A duke comes looking for a wealthy bride and mistakes a seamstress for an heiress. This gilded age book set in Manhattan tackles class conflict and mistaken identity. My favorite parts were when the heroine absolutely schools the hero on the realities of her world.
For the Multicraftual reader this book has it all. There isn’t a textile art the heroine doesn’t employ to fulfil her mission.
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
This YA fantasy title is Mulan meets textile arts and my only problem is that the next book won’t be released until July. Maia disguises herself as a boy when her ill father is called to compete to become the emperor’s tailor. She finds an unlikely ally in the emperor’s magician and they struggle to perform Herculean tasks to earn her place and her family’s safety. Maia sews, knits, and embroiders her way through the story and it is her skills that save the day.
Whether you’re taking a break from your hand work to read, listening as you work, or if you’ve mastered reading as you stitch I urge all of you to get your craft on and keep reading.