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Arts & Culture

Valentine's Day book recommendations from a San Diego bookstore owner and author

Queer romance novels displayed at Meet Cute in this undated photo.
Courtesy of Robin Dayley
Queer romance novels are displayed at Meet Cute in this undated photo.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so KPBS checked in with two local romance experts about their book recommendations for the Valentine’s season.

One of those experts is Becca Title, founder and owner of Meet Cute, an independent bookstore located in North Park. The shop specializes in all things romance and represents a variety of genres, including contemporary and fantasy.

“The genre has a lot of space for a lot of kinds of stories. The only requirements are that there be a central romantic relationship and a happy ending, so I think what really makes a great romance is individual to the reader,” Title said in an interview with KPBS Midday Edition.

Named after the popular trope, Meet Cute is one of only a handful of romance-focused bookstores nationwide. It aims to highlight stories and authors often underrepresented in the genre.

Susan Lee is a San-Diego based author who’s written young adult novels “Seoulmates” and “The Name Drop.”

Lee says she's drawn by the familiarity, hopefulness and joy of the genre. But more importantly, it also makes her feel empowered and like she can challenge her place in the world.

“I would go to job interviews in executive roles in corporate America and they’d be like, ‘What are you reading?’ and I know they wanted me to say some nonfiction business book. And I would straight up tell them the romance title that I’m reading,” Lee said.

Title and Lee sat down with KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon to share their recommendations, their thoughts on how the genre has grown, and what romance personally means to them. You can find their full list of recommendations below:


  • "The Art of Scandal" by Regina Black
    "In this deeply emotional and fast-moving romance, debut author Black writes a sultry story about family, forgiveness, art, and embracing love, even when it’s inconvenient."—Library Journal, starred review
  • "Pride & Protest" by Nikki Payne
    “An entertaining and politically charged retelling of Pride and Prejudice that tackles gentrification, prejudice, and the intersections of race, class, and gender…The redevelopment plot puts a fresh twist on familiar beats and the enemies-to-lovers romance sizzles. This is good fun.”—Publishers Weekly
A stack of romance books are shown in the KPBS Midday Edition studio, Feb. 5, 2024.
Julianna Domingo
A stack of romance books are shown in the KPBS Midday Edition studio, Feb. 5, 2024.


  • "A Lady for a Duke" by Alexis Hall
    “Hall (Something Fabulous) delivers a delicious Regency romance filled with brooding, longing, and hope. (...) He explores difficult subjects with a sharpness matched only by the tenderness underpinning the relationship between Viola and Gracewood. Fans of Lisa Kleypas and anyone looking for romance centering trans characters owe it to themselves to check this out.” —Publishers Weekly
  • "The Devil in Winter" by Lisa Kleypas
    “Bestseller Kleypas's latest begins with the rake Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, striking a deal with Evangeline Jenner, the stuttering daughter of a sickly club owner whose uncle is plotting to marry her to a cousin, kill her and take her father's money. (...) The suspicious newlyweds fight growing passion and frustration while a mysterious villain makes attempts on Evie's life. Kleypas's fans will appreciate the high action and scintillating twists and trysts.” —Publishers Weekly

Fantasy and speculative

  • "That Time I Got Drunk and Yeeted a Love Potion at a Werewolf" by Kimberly Lemming
    “Lemming keeps up her winning blend of cozy fantasy and steamy romance in her fast-paced, standalone second installment to the Mead Mishaps series (after That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon)... This is lighthearted escapism at its finest.” —Publishers Weekly
  • "The Jasad Heir" by Sara Hashem
    “Hashem weaves a complex tapestry of magic, danger, and violence set against some vividly atmospheric worldbuilding in her mesmerizing debut." —Publishers Weekly


  • "How You Get The Girl" by Anita Kelly
    “Kelly’s cozy, standalone queer sports romance finds East Nashville High women’s basketball coach Julie Parker surprised by a late addition to the team—and even more shocked to discover that the new girl’s foster parent is Julie’s teen idol, former WNBA player Elle Cochrane… Julie and Elle’s exploratory slow dive into intimacy keeps the pages turning.” —Publishers Weekly
  • "Butcher & Blackbird" by Brynne Weaver
    "Brynne is a master weaver of words in this dark, decadent and delicious story of serial killers, sexy spice, and sensational fun! Butcher & Blackbird is one of my favorite reads of the year!" —RuNyx, USA Today bestselling author of the Dark Verse series