My Favorite Romance Happily Ever Afters (No Major Spoilers)

We all know that a romance novel is required to have a happily-ever-after for the couple, right? But there are those HEAs that we have to read multiple times (or is it just me?). Those HEAs that make us smile the rest of the day or just feel so happy for these imaginary people. So hopefully I’m not giving anything away by highlighting some of my favorite HEAs from modern rom-com novels. I hope you’ll add your own recommendations so I can snap them up immediately!

One Day in December by Josie Silver

One snowy December evening, Laurie looks out the window of a crowded London bus and sees the One, the most riveting main she’s ever seen. Jack looks up from the bus stop and locks eyes with a beautiful girl and freezes. Their eyes lock and they have the most intense moment of connection.  And then the bus pulls away.

Laurie spends the next year looking for him, then, surprise, she’s introduced to him as her best friend, Sarah’s, new boyfriend. Then it’s years of life apart, Jack with Sarah and a string of girlfriends, Laurie with a sexy and mostly good guy, Oscar.

Laurie and Jack get there HEA in epic, true romance style! I don’t want to give away even a little clue, as the ending is unexpected and so worth just letting it hit you. I listened to the ending five times on audiobook and read it another three times to see if it was equally riveting. I know, a bit sad, but I couldn’t get enough of the complete joy Josie Silver infused in this story and these characters.

One Day in December is also set to become a Netflix series: https://www.whats-on-netflix.com/news/one-day-in-december-netflix-series-what-we-know-so-far/

Ending: 5

Rating: 4

Steam: Low

Tropes: Love at First Sight, Forbidden Love, Love Triangle-ish, Slow Burn

Pair With: Wines that can speak to long-lost love and finding hope, such as Forlorn Hope and One Hope Wine.

Roomies by Christina Lauren

A green card marriage to a hot Irishman? Yes please. Brilliant guitarist Calvin, who’s been busking on the New York subway, gets his dream job on Broadway. And finding Calvin is a dream for the show’s director, Robert. Even with Calvin’s other-worldly talent and Juilliard training, there’s the small problem of his four-years-expired student visa. So it’s either keep busking and playing gigs at random bars or go back to Ireland for Calvin.

Enter Holland, Robert’s niece, would-be daughter, and theater employee. Holland wants to repay Robert’s kindness toward her and harbors a major crush on Calvin. So, reader, she marries him.

As they marry, move in together, and navigate the tricky green card process, they go from acquaintances to friends to lovers to—true husband and wife?  There are ups and downs, Calvin pisses me off more than a few times and Holland once or twice, but the ending—a resounding yes!

The HEA is the culmination of the fabulous character development built up through the book. The author infuses so much joy, love, and relief that I found myself smiling and feeling so genuinely happy for these imaginary people.  Another book where I listened to the end more than once and read it.

Ending: 5

Rating: 4.5

Steam: Medium

Tropes: Marriage of Convenience, Fake Relationship, Roommates, Secrets

Pair With: Wines related to Broadway. Check out this fun post from Oceano Wines: https://oceanowines.com/what-wine-pairs-with-your-favorite-movie-musical-a-guide/

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

What a unique and fun take on a modern rom-com! Florence has the unusual gift of being able to see and communicate with ghosts, plus she’s from a family of funeral home directors and is a ghost writer. When her hot and sexy editor shows up as a ghost on the funeral home’s front steps, they’re both beyond confused. He has no idea where he is or that he might be dead, and she knew he was alive just a day or two earlier.

Florence is navigating a return to her small hometown to deal with her beloved father’s death and her own demons from the past, and Benji’s just trying to figure out why he turned up as a ghost and why here.  They grow closer though they both know nothing can come of it—she’s alive and he’s dead, right? That’s why the ending is so much fun and definitely one of a kind.

Ending: 4

Rating: 4

Steam: Low

Tropes: Small Town, Opposites Attract, Slow Burn

Pair With: Ghostly wines, such as Ghost Block Estate Wines (Napa), https://ghostblockwine.com/, Ghost Hill Cellars (Willamette Valley) https://www.ghosthillcellars.com/, or Gray Ghost Vineyards (Virginia) https://grayghostvineyards.com/

The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary

Tiffy needs a cheap place to live ASAP to get out of her ex-boyfriend’s house, and everything she can afford is crawling with rats, mold, and who knows what else.  Night-shift nurse Leon needs money to help his wrongly convicted brother get out of jail, so he advertises a unique flatsharing arrangement: he’ll use the one-bedroom flat during the days, and the roommate can have it nights and weekends.

It starts innocently enough, with Tiffy and Leon leaving Post-it notes for each other about mundane things like leftover baked goods and random questions, and then getting increasingly personal. Plus they start noticing and learning so much about each other when they’ve never met (“It’s weird how easily you can get to know someone from the traces they leave behind.”).

Without giving it away, The Flat Share’s epilogue perfectly captures the personalities and the plot of this story. As I was reading it, I was smiling at how the author made it not just another HEA, but something unique to these characters and perfectly fitting the rest of the book. I’ll leave it at that!

Ending: 4

Rating: 4

Steam: Low

Tropes: Letters, Roommates, Gaslighting, Opposites Attract

Pair With: English wine, which has been growing in recent years. Check out this post from decanter.com: English wine – Decanter

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Spoiled L.A. influencer and party girl Piper goes too far this time, and her Hollywood royalty stepdad decides it’s time for some tough love. He sends Piper on a strict budget to the tiny fishing village in Washington her mother fled after Piper’s dad died at sea, and tells her to figure it out.

Gruff but all around good guy and hottie sea captain Brendan notices Piper instantly, and it doesn’t take long for sparks to fly.  I love how the characters develop in the book, and how these two opposite people really connect where it matters in love, loyalty, and seeing the best in each other.

The ending pulls their two worlds together masterfully, lets them exorcise some demons, and leaves room for some laughs too! Highly recommend.

Ending: 5

Rating: 5

Steam: Medium to High

Tropes: Opposites Attract, City Woman and Small-Town Man, Widower

Pair With: Seafaring themed wines, such as Red Schooner by Caymus ($50), Sailor’s Grave Cabernet ($40), Cedar + Salmon Red Blend ($24), The Hidden Sea Rose ($20).

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

Friendly and adorable Tucker is just the thing to pull sad Sloan out of her two-year funk of grief for her dead fiancé. But, Tucker’s a dog. A big, energetic dog who jumps through Sloan’s sunroof and barrels into her life. And his owner is nowhere to be found. So finders keepers it is!

Famous musician Jason thought he left Tucker in good hands while he toured Australia, but after listening to Sloan’s voicemails about finding his dog, he sees otherwise and wants his dog back. Then he wants Sloan too. Forever. But he just met her and is leaving in just a few weeks for an extended tour. Can their relationship handle the pressure, ungodly hours, backstabbers, and even dangers of touring?

After the required (and annoying) breakup/final obstacle, the get-back-together is perfection. Maybe it’s just the tiniest bit cliché but I don’t care. It’s so full of joy, happiness, release of tension that you have to smile.

Ending: 4

Rating: 4.5

Steam: Average

Tropes: Musician/Rock Star, Widow, Instant Attraction

Pair With: Musician wines https://www.wine.com/content/landing/musicians

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren

Romance is dead for successful romance novelist Fizzy. She’s not feeling it, has never been in love, and feels like her whole persona is a lie. For Connor, his career making nature documentaries might be dead if he can’t create a hit reality dating show for his production company.

Fizzy is perfect for the leading role, but can Connor talk her into it and meet her crazy creative demands? Can he watch her date one hot contestant after another? Can she go through with the show and the final date when she figures out where her heart is?

LOVED! This one put me back on the love side of my love-lukewarm relationship with Christina Lauren’s books. From start to finish, the characters and storyline drew me in and held on. While I am so over the romance-novelist-as-heroine trope, Fizzy was interesting and hilarious, and didn’t really fall into the stereotype.

There were a couple of annoying miscommunications, but what romance doesn’t have them? Without giving it away, just know the ending was spectacular—the outcome was predictable but the execution was magnificent.

Rating: 4.9

Steam: Average

Tropes: Proximity, Single Dad, Colleagues, Forbidden Love

Pair with: Rose in a can, to remember Fizzy’s CVS run. Options include https://archerroose.com/products/rose, https://www.drinknomikai.com/main, https://www.totalwine.com/wine/champagne-sparkling-wine/sparkling-wine/rose/underwood-rose-bubbles/p/187758375