Julie Murphy’s adult romance debut—the first in her new series of fairy tale retellings—is billed as an all-grown-up take on Cinderella. But even though this novel has glamour, secrets, and shoes, If The Shoe Fits is really its own story, with a goal-oriented heroine, stepsisters who aren’t actually evil, and a reality TV twist. Cindy is fresh out of college and eager to enter the world of fashion when she learns that her stepmother, a producer, needs contestants for a Bachelor-style dating show. Cindy signs on, but the experience doesn’t go as expected. As the show’s first plus-size contestant, she becomes an overnight role model to countless women and an instant fan favorite. And she didn’t account for the show’s leading man, who happens to be the charming guy she hit it off with on her flight to California.
August doesn’t believe in magic or time travel. She doesn’t even believe in love at first sight—that is, until she meets Jane, a kind-hearted, magnetic girl who takes the same subway every day. But as August learns more about her enigmatic crush, she realizes that Jane is actually displaced from the 1970s, trapped on the Q train, and unsure how any of this happened. It’s up to August to help figure out how Jane got stuck in time, while keeping her feelings at bay. Much like Red, White, and Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston’s bestselling debut, One Last Stop contains a million little love stories beyond its central romance. It’s about friends, roommates, found families, queer communities, and one prickly heroine’s slow-burning romance with her new city and her own future.
There are few worlds as sexy, warm, and feel-good as the Jasmine Guillory rom-com universe, and While We Were Dating is a lovely addition to Guillory’s Wedding Date canon. Ad executive Ben Stephens (whose brother, Theo, is a previous Guillory hero) really isn’t looking for a relationship. But when renowned actor Anna Gardiner enters his orbit, he struggles to deny their chemistry. As Anna and Ben grow closer, they find themselves jumping headfirst into a spontaneous fling-turned-publicity stunt that could become the real thing.
Although The Wedding Party and Party of Two are still the series’ standouts, Anna and Ben’s story features the same blend of banter, sexual tension, and mutual support that Guillory has perfected, and the book’s emphasis on mental health is also a poignant touch; both characters are in and often discuss therapy. There’s also a Maddie and Theo cameo, which series fans are sure to enjoy. –Lydia Wang
This article originally appeared in BUST's Summer 2021 print edition. Subscribe today!
Lydia Wang is a writer, a Pisces, and one of BUST's digital editors. Find her on Twitter or say hi: firstname.lastname@example.org.