Intro to Reading Romance… It Was Not What I Expected

By Liv Serio (‘23)

A few weeks ago, I binge watched all of the Twilight movies, probably for the twentieth time. Before I could tuck in and cry over some of the worst movies, I went to the grocery store to get some snacks ( as one does) and while I was there, I saw some super cheesy romance novels. I love reading YA novels with romance in them, but I had never read a strictly romance novel. I had been wanting to start reading romance for a while, why not start with some books from the grocery store that my grandma would read? I didn’t read the blurb on the back, I just found my favorite covers and bought them. I picked up a few books at the store, a magazine with Harry Styles on the cover, and some Doritos and started my journey getting into romance.

Book #1 – Same Beach, Next Year by Dorthea Benton Frank

 I started this venture into romance with the book that I believed I would like the least. I went into this book with a lot of preconceived ideas because this novel had the most boring cover, and I thought the other novels had much more promise. Though I definitely was not the target demographic for this book, it was enjoyable, and I would give it 2.5 stars. I would recommend this if you want to hear about two middle aged white couples bickering for 300 pages, and get a few cool descriptions of Greece. I’m being too harsh, but I will say this book was enjoyable enough to keep me reading. Also, as an avid reader of WattPad and hoping for a spicy new adult romance, I went into this novel with an unrealistic expectation of the chemistry and heat this romance would have. Same Beach, Next Year by Dorthea Benton Frank is about two couples, Adam and Eliza, and Eve and Carl, who go on vacation to their Wild Dunes Condos on the same beach every year. Eve and Adam were a couple in high school and they reunited with their families on one of these trips. After that, the two couples made a yearly summer trip each year. My favorite character in the novel is Eliza. She feels the most real. Eliza is petty and submissive, but she has the most character development and she is great at the end of the novel. Eliza’s husband, Adam, was the worst character by far! He is incredibly shallow, and has no appreciation for how good he has it. When he talks about why he loves his wife, Adam only says she has “exotic beauty” and she is a good cook, and he only describes Eve’s beauty. Eve is pretty dull, but her husband Carl is so great! If you don’t want to be spoiled, you can stop reading now because I’m now going to break down the novel (with spoilers). As I described Adam, Eliza, Carl, and Eve continue to go to their condos together each year, meanwhile the tension between Adam and Eve grows. Readers also get to see each couple’s kids grow up, and the progression of the characters lives and relationships. At the climax of the book, Eliza and Carl find Adam and Eve sleeping together in Eve’s condo. Carl is incredibly upset with Eve and leaves her, while Eliza decides to go visit her family in Greece. Eliza goes to Greece because she has wanted to visit her family for years, but Adam constantly made excuses not to go. While Eliza lives her best life in Greece, Carl visits her and they spend some fun platonic time together. Carl and Eliza get a call in Greece that Adam has gone to the hospital and may die if he does not get a kidney transplant. Carl and Eliza meet Adam, Eve, their kids, and Adam’s parents at the hospital where Adam apologizes to Eliza (for once) for his cheating. Eliza realizes she loves him and doesn’t want him to die. Carl tests if he can provide Adam with the kidney transplant, and Carl does give Adam one of his kidneys. Adam survives and him and Eliza get back together. The novel closes with both families traveling to Greece. I think that the author chose this conclusion to try and give Adam a redemption arc or to show he has changed, but I didn’t like it. Adam did not really apologize to Eliza until he was on death’s door, and in the end, he didn’t do enough to win Eliza back. I also think that illness bringing two people back together is a copout. To conclude, I enjoyed this novel. Though Adam and Eve were the worst, there is some sexism and I did not like the ending, I really liked Carl and Eliza, the Greek setting was awesome, and I liked the dramatic bickering. I give this romance novel 2.5 stars. 

Book #2 – When You Wish Upon A Rogue by Anna Bennett

I thought I would enjoy this novel. It’s historical fiction, which is not usually my preference, but I loved the cover and that it is set in England. Sadly, I could not finish this novel. I really tried to get through the novel, but here’s a quick summary of the novel. The book is about a woman named Sophie. She is the head of a secret group of women called The Debutante Underground, who gather in secret to discuss a column in the newspaper called The Debutante’s Revenge. Sophie’s family is very poor, therefore she has to marry a rich man she does not love. Soon, she meets a mysterious man named Reese, the Earl of Warshire. Reese has insomnia because of a traumatic event in his past. Reese and Sophie meet and Reese finds that Sophie calms his demons enough that he can sleep. The two make a proposition to help Reese sleep. Though there are many ground rules, both of them begin to catch feelings. I only got 80 pages through the novel, but it had too many flaws for me to continue. The book had no tension, it was very slow, I did not root for Sophie, and at least once on every page, the main character used the word “belly”. For some very strange reason, I despise the word “belly” and it kind of annoys me/grosses me out. On the plus side, I did like how Sophie had a green thumb and I thought Reese was fine, but the cons outweigh the pros. I spent a MONTH on this book, and I only got through 80 pages, if you needed more evidence towards the fact that I tried to get through this and it was not great. If you like historical romance, you might love this book!

I actually had two other romances to read, but the last one wore me out! I really enjoyed this experience and I’m glad I did it! The books were not some of my favorites, but I think that I would love different types of romance novels. I’m super excited to read more romance in the future! If you want me to do a part two of this article or read different genres, shoot me an email at I hope you enjoy and happy reading! – Liv Serio       

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