I recently did a post listing all of the things I love in romance novels and one of those things was longing.
Give me all the heart-aching romance. I am so here for it.
In my recent BookTube video, I gave five recommendations of books that were filled with swoon-worthy longing and I figured I’d do an accompanying blog post as well:
Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers #1) by Penny Reid
This was the book that inspired this entire list. After finishing it, I sat back and really thought about what made me adore this book so much, and I ultimately came to the conclusion that it was the longing that our hero, Duane, had for our heroine, Jessica.
In this small town romance that follows the Winston Brothers, you meet Jessica when she’s dressed up as a “sexy Gandolf” – a statement she is making about all the sexy Halloween costumes available for females. Jessica has been in love with Duane’s twin brother Beau, who is his complete opposite aside from identical looks.
Duane, however, has been in love with Jessica since they were kids. Even though he is pretty stoic on the outside – to the point where Jessica thinks he’s mean compared to his brother who is super sweet – he’s been carrying a torch for her forever.
It’s that attraction to her that he has kept under wraps for so long that introduces such great longing in this book.
Brooklynaire (Brooklyn #1) by Sarina Bowen
This book is actually Book 4 in the Brooklyn Bruisers series, but for some reason on Goodreads it is listed as Book 1 in the Brooklyn series. Either way it can be read as a standalone.
Similar to Truth or Beard, our hero, Nate, has been singularly attracted to his assistant, Rebecca, for years – since before his tech company (similar to Apple) became hugely successful. Because of this and because he doesn’t want to potentially ruin their professional relationship, he moves her to Brooklyn to manage the business of the hockey team he just purchased.
Nate is somewhat socially awkward as a total techy, so he isn’t your typical rich dude in romance novels, which is refreshing. And it’s honestly his adoration of Rebecca and her complete cluelessness about it that is so beautiful in this book.
Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis
Forbidden romance is one of the best sources of longing in novels. And what is more heartwrenching than two young adults with Cystic Fibrosis who are not allowed within 6 feet of each other? Imagine being in love with someone you can never touch without risking your life or theirs?
Keep in mind that this story, though a work of fiction, is factual (I’ve seen reviews from people with CF), so this might not be your go-to if you are looking for a traditional happy ending.
Rule (Marked Men #1) by Jay Crownover
This book flips the longing switch a little bit here. Typically I prefer the hero to be the one who has been pining, but in this one it is our heroine, Shaw, who has been in love with her deceased best friend’s twin brother, Rule.
As is fairly consistent with this type of novel with pining/longing, Rule has no idea that Shaw has feelings for him. Mostly because he thinks that she and his brother were together (they weren’t) and because they are so different. Or at least he thinks they are.
Shaw is in college and comes from a very wealthy family who dictates everything she does down to what she wears whereas Rule is a tattoo artist with tons of piercings, tattoos, and ever-changing crazy hair. What he doesn’t realize is that she admires him for that – and many other things.
It’s so satisfying when he finally becomes attracted to her and notices her.
White Knight by CD Reiss
Ughhhhh… just thinking about this book gives me butterflies.
This is another forbidden romance, but the twist is that it follows two separate timelines: when the hero and heroine are young adults and fall in love… and where they end up after they are torn apart.
Most of the longing takes place when they are young adults – she is rich and her parents forbid her to see the hero (who does not meet their high standards). When they are torn apart, he takes it upon himself to become worthy of her.
When they are older, their roles are reversed, but the chemistry is still there.
If you love longing and forbidden, second chance romance, you will love this one.