I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
A gorgeously written coming-of-age story, and one of my favourite books in the world. Cassandra Mortmain and her eccentric – and impoverished – family live in a crumbling castle. When a pair of wealthy American brothers appear on the scene, Cassandra’s world is tuned upside down, and what follows is totally charming, and the ultimate comfort read.
The Paper and Hearts Society – Lucy Powrie
Not just romance, but BOOKISH romance? I am totally sold. I loved Lucy Powrie’s YA debut, the story of new-in-town Tabby and the book group that she joins. Literary road trips, a Jane Austen dance party, and TWO extremely cute burgeoning romances… what more could you ask for?
Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton
I’m so behind the times that I only recently read the ‘Rebel of the Sands’ trilogy, but reading all three back-to-back in a breathless frenzy was the MOST fun. The romance is pitch-perfect, and Amani is a brilliant heroine. Thrilling, romantic, and set in a beautifully realised world of magic and adventure, I just loved it.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han
With the second instalment of the trilogy hitting Netflix, this book is hardly a secret, but its success is so well-deserved. Lara Jean and Peter K are the ultimate YA romance, and I love the sweet, thoughtful tone of these books. Completely believable, dreamily romantic… the perfect pick-me up.
One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
Hard to choose one book by Keris Stainton, but this gorgeous, sun-drenched romance is the perfect escapist read. Not only is it full of excellent Italian scenery (and the food!!!!), it handles the huge, messy issue of grief with the lightest of touches. This book is an absolute treat but it packs a huge emotional punch – just make sure you have a packet of tissues handy!
Alex in Wonderland – Simon James Green
Putting the ‘com’ in rom-com, Alex In Wonderland is a total joy, and made me laugh out loud so many times. When Alex lands a job at a run-down seaside arcade he doesn’t expect this to be the summer that will change everything. This book is so warm and so full of heart, I can’t recommend it enough.
A Company of Swans – Eva Ibbotson
My personal hero and the unbeatable queen of dreamy romance, Eva Ibbotson’s YA novels are a complete delight. My favourite book of hers changes all the time, but A Company of Swans is definitely up there. A sweet, sensitive ballerina and a runaway English heir meet in the magical setting of the Amazon… do you need to hear anything more to convince you that this book is a dream?! Ibbotson’s skill as a writer is dazzling, the characters and the locations sing, making this the ultimate warm hug of a novel.
Laura Wood is author of the Poppy Pym books, Vote For Effie, A Sky Painted Gold & Under a Dancing Star published by Scholastic. Follow Laura @lauraclarewood