If you want references to rebar with your romance or crown molding with your kissing, this is the list for you. While in real life, renovating a property can be extremely stressful and frustrating for couples. In fiction, it presents the perfect opportunity for two characters to fall in love. Proximity. A shared goal. A project to work on together and wittily banter about when they disagree. Additionally, the metaphorical resonance of redoing a broken down house works perfectly for characters who are also in need of a second chance, either personally or as a couple.
From inherited mansions to real estate flippers to houses blown away by hurricanes, this list covers a wide range of renovation romances filled with details about blueprints, paint colors, demolition, and cabinet choices. They also have smooching. Like so much smooching.
Read on for five happily ever afters that may or may not mention hardwood floors!
First off, I must tell you this is the beginning of a series that Tessa Bailey is planning to write called Hot & Hammered and I am endlessly delighted by this. Georgie’s family runs a successful home renovation business, but she turned down the family business to become a clown for children’s birthday parties. But when she wants her family to take her more seriously, she decides to undergo a full life makeover. This includes convincing Travis, a former baseball star, current house flipper, and her other brother’s best friend, to pretend to date her. At first, it just seems like a fun, mutually beneficial idea. She wants to shed her virginal, immature image and make her family to see her as a grown up. He wants their town to forget about his tabloid, bad boy persona. But soon the feelings that start to grow between them become very real and very hard for either character to ignore.
There is a lot going on in this renovation romance. Where to start? Darcy’s heart has always belonged to Tom. Unfortunately, Tom is her brother Jamie’s best friend. And despite over a decade of pining for him, he’s engaged to someone else. But when Darcy and Jamie inherit their grandmother’s house, Tom moves in to help with the remodel. Now they have three months living in the same home. And when Tom announces he’s newly single, Darcy doesn’t want to flub her second chance at winning his heart. With witty banter, clever internal dialogue, and eighteen years of past resentments to work through, Tom and Darcy’s romance is irresistible to read. And for the interior design fans, the clash between Darcy and Jamie’s taste is super fun to see play out on the page.
You can’t write about home renovation themed romance novels, without writing about Nora Roberts. She’s the queen of this sub-genre. And there are so many of her romance novels I could have added to this list. The Next Always is one of my favorites. It’s the first in a trilogy about three brothers restoring a haunted and historic hotel on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The first in the series features architect and generally handy guy Beckett, who’s been in love with newly widowed, mother of three Clare since they were children. The book goes into so many details about the construction process – so this really is just for the building inclined. But the romance between Beckett and Clare is also really sweet once they get over their assumptions that the other isn’t interested and actually start communicating. For more Nora Roberts renovation romances, keep reading this series and check out The Obsession, Midnight Bayou, and Tribute.
Renee moved to New Orleans to help her aunt rebuild her home after Hurricane Katrina. She also accepts a job working at a local Catholic School, which is how she meets Alex – the single father of one of her most unruly students. Things heat up between them when Alex offers to help with her aunt’s house. He is the owner of a local construction business so he knows what he’s doing. And as they get to know each other, Renee knows Alex is worthy of her love. But he remains resistant to opening himself up to a new relationship. As they work to rebuild the house, Renee is determined to convince him otherwise. There is also a very fun subplot with Alex’s mother finding love to round out this romantic and heartwarming story.
After her divorce, Grace moves into a beautiful 17th century house she inherited from her godmother. Unfortunately, it’s falling down around her and she doesn’t have the money to fix it properly. But when pregnant artist Ellie comes to stay along with Grace’s former stepdaughter, Grace is determined to keep her new home. Together they try to fix the house up themselves and raise money for other repairs through fundraising schemes. When their (sexy) Irish neighbor, Flynn, shows up offering to help, Grace doesn’t trust him. She has a hard time trusting any men since her divorce. But his kind and gentle perseverance wears down Grace’s defenses. Feelings start to bubble up between the pair, as this kooky group of characters creates a found family and tries to save the house before Grace must sell it.