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NPR staffers share their romance picks from the 2023 Books We Love list

ALINA SELYUKH, HOST:

Reading recommendations - we got them. NPR's Books We Love has hundreds of ideas - everything from mysteries, science fiction, nonfiction and today...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT HAD TO BE YOU")

FRANK SINATRA: (Singing) It had to be you. It had to be you.

SELYUKH: Oh, we got the love today from four of our NPR colleagues who each have a good romance novel for you to cuddle up with.

LAUREN MIGAKI, BYLINE: It's really hard not to fall for a romance novel where the main love interest is a brooding, tattooed dude who runs a flower shop. This is Lauren Migaki. I'm a senior producer at NPR and I am reviewing "Forget Me Not By" Julie Soto. Elliot Bloom - LOL - hates being a florist, but he took over the family shop when his dad died. Meanwhile, Ama Torres is a wedding planner who doesn't believe in marriage, at least not for herself. And despite working in the same industry, the two have carefully avoided each other since their disastrous breakup years ago - until, of course, they're both booked to work the same wedding. This book is a love letter to beautiful and rare flowers that'll have you running to your nearest florist or tattoo artist.

(SOUNDBITE OF BONOBO'S "COUNTERPART")

JEANINE HERBST, BYLINE: Hi, I'm Jeanine Herbst. I'm a news anchor on Newscast. And the book I'm recommending is "The Porcelain Moon" by Janie Chang. It's set against the backdrop of World War I in France and tells the story of two women - Pauline, a Chinese woman who works at her uncle's shop in Paris, but she's the poor relation, which means he controls her life. The other is Camille, a French woman born into genteel poverty in a magnificent house that's been sold off bit by bit to keep food on the table. Both women were born at a time when others decided the direction of their lives, and both take immense risks to be able to choose on their own. Pauline is running from an arranged marriage that would send her to Shanghai when she wants a life in Paris. Camille is trying to escape a violent marriage. I love Chang's richly researched historical fiction books, and this one doesn't disappoint.

RACHEL TREISMAN, BYLINE: I'm Rachel Treisman. I'm a writer and editor for Morning Edition. One book I really loved this year is "The Collected Regrets Of Clover" by Mikki Brammer. Contrary to the title, this is actually a really uplifting read.

(SOUNDBITE OF HIT CITY U.S.A. SONG, "MANY VOICES SPEAK")

TREISMAN: The main character, Clover, lives in New York City and works as a death doula. She's focused on giving people their best possible final days, often at the expense of living out her own. Clover gets a ton of useful life advice from her clients. But because she's so consumed by her job, she doesn't really get to put much of it into practice. Some new friends and a particularly feisty client help change that, bringing her both out of her shell and her apartment. Clover embarks on a cross-country road trip with the goal of reuniting long-lost lovers. And, surprisingly, at least to her, she ends up on a romantic journey of her own. To me, this book is a reminder about the importance of living life to the fullest and, in some ways, a guide to how we can try.

KALYANI SAXENA, BYLINE: Hi. I'm Kalyani Saxena. I'm an associate producer with Here and Now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ADAM BEN EZRA'S "BALAGUSTO")

SAXENA: And my book is the gothic fantasy "Starling House" by Alix E. Harrow. The book takes place in a fictional coal town called Eden, Ky., where the air is just thick with dust. It's a story about a haunted house, but also about the inevitable and inescapable pull of history. At the center of the book are two people - Opal and Arthur. They're lonely, and they're shouldering the burden of a town that really refuses to make peace with the past. And the romance that unfolds between the two of them is so lovely in its yearning, it'll make your bones ache.

SELYUKH: The book is "Starling House," and it's recommended by Kalyani Saxena. You also heard from Rachel Treisman with "The Collected Regrets Of Clover." Jeanine Herbst suggests "The Porcelain Moon." And Lauren Migaki talked about the brooding tattooed dude who runs a flower shop in "Forget Me Not." For even more ideas, you can find the full list of books we love at npr.org/bestbooks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ADAM BEN EZRA'S "BALAGUSTO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Lauren Migaki is a senior producer with NPR's education desk. She helps tell stories about teacher strikes, college access and a new high school for young men in Washington D.C. She also produces and hosts NPR's podcast about the Student Podcast Challenge.
Jeanine Herbst
Jeanine Herbst is a news anchor/reporter at NPR, where she anchors the hourly newscast/NPR One podcast, NPR's most listened-to product with nearly 30 million listeners around the world every week. She is also an adjunct professor in journalism at George Washington University.
Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.