Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you’re all spending it with loved ones, whether that be a romantic partner, friend, or family. If you’re not, it’s the perfect time to cuddle up with a good book. I don’t read a ton of romance, so I decided to make a list of books that aren’t about the romance, but have great relationships that are semi-central to the plot. If just the idea of romance is driving you insane, I wrote about books on divorce earlier this year.
by Stephen King
This book is an old one but it’s most certainly a good one. King expanded outside of the realm of pure horror in this time travel fiction book where the protagonist goes back in time to save JFK. It’s action packed, had a great message, and honestly is one of my favorite books of all time. There’s also a really cute romance that is FAR from the center of the novel, but is still cuteeeeee and added to my love of the book for sure.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Yet another one of my favorite books of all times! This book’s romance story entwined itself throughout the entire book but was not at the very center of the plot. Evelyn had to find her own way without the love of her life, but we still knew the love of her life existed! Bonus points to this book because it’s a bisexual love story that doesn’t make apologies for it being a bisexual love story. And it totally took me by surprise!
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman
I loved this book so much! Eleanor is a quirky, maybe autistic-coded character (I don’t think we ever get a diagnosis in the book) who does her own thing and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She behaves in eccentric ways that keep her on the outskirts at work, and she’s never really had a friend before in her life. Then comes along Raymond, a man who actually wants to get to know her and put effort into their relationship. It’s super cute and I loved reading from Eleanor’s perspective.
They Both Die At The End
by Adam Silvera
Yes I know that you’ve probably already read this. Everyone’s already read this! But I read it pretty recently and I don’t read that much romance (like I said) and this is one of the cutest books I’ve ever read. Unconventional because they both die at the end, Silvera still manages to fabricate a world where we have hope for these characters the entire time. It’s similar to Every Day by David Leviathan in that it seems inherently doomed and yet we still want it so badly. It creates this intense tension between the reader and the characters even though we already know how it ends.
by Torrey Peters
Is this a love story? I don’t really know. I think there’s so much love in this story, both for other people and for a style of life, and so I think it counts. There’s a love triangle type thing that’s not really a love triangle and flashbacks to a much more pure romance. This book also creates this tension with the reader where you want something that you know is impossible, but you want it so badly that you feel like your hope alone should force it to be true. This book is undeniably fucked up at times, especially in regard to Reese’s relationship with men, so major trigger warnings going in, but it was also one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read and I loved the unconventional love story between Reese and Amy that persisted despite everything.