We asked some of the most bookish people we know to share what they’re enjoying these days, from the latest unputdownable novel to their current movie obsession. We’re excited to hear from Kristine Swartz, Senior Editor for Berkley at Penguin Random House! Read on to hear in her own words what she’s reading and recommending right now.
My name is Kristine Swartz and I’m a senior editor at Berkley. I started out as an editorial assistant, and just hit my 10-year anniversary with the company because Penguin Random House and I are in a Committed (capital “C”) relationship. As a romance editor, I’m all about the vibes and feelings of a book — the more feelings the better! Discovering new talent and helping readers fall in love is so satisfying, and I’m thrilled to do a little more matchmaking! Here are some of my top romance recommendations with characters to swoon over.
The heroine of this story, Tara, is a bookstagrammer who is obsessed with romance novels. For her, every day is a new opportunity to find her OTP (One True Pairing in romance speak). She revisits all her ex-boyfriends to see if she should be more focused on a second-chance love story or a meet-cute, but along the way she discovers her real soulmate. Amy Lea’s series also has fabulous biracial Asian representation that I adore.
Not many romance novels cover what happens after the Happily Ever After, but Do I Know You? does. This book follows Eliza and Graham who are celebrating five years of marriage with a dreaded getaway trip. Somewhere over the course of their relationship, they’ve misplaced their spark. They realize that this vacation is the perfect time to rekindle their romance — and they do so by roleplaying as strangers who have just met!
Ashely Herring Blake has exploded onto the romcom scene with this sexy, sapphic romance. I love a single-parent romance — there’s something about seeing a main character interacting with their child that reveals a whole new tender side of them. Claire in Delilah Green Doesn’t Care is no exception to that!
Do many of us hate the NYC real estate market? Yes. But for Sadie it becomes the catalyst for romance in Lease on Love. I love a slow-burn, close quarters romance with ooey-gooey feelings at the heart of it. In this romcom, our heroine falls for her handsome, real-estate agent roommate.
I know there are a lot of Sarah J. Maas fans out there — myself included — and I really think Laurell K. Hamilton’s series are perfect for those readers. A Kiss of Shadows is the start of her Merry Gentry series about a Faerie princess hiding in plain sight as a P.I. who gets pulled back into dark and dangerous court intrigue. When I tell you this series is spicy, I mean like Hot Ones’ The Last Dab Hot Sauce spicy!!!
If you’re looking for a cozy, romantic, witchy read, this is the book for you! Imagine you’re a witch trying to blend into modern society — what better way to hide than to lean into being a “witch” on social media? This works well for Mika until it doesn’t, and suddenly she finds herself in a remote part of Britain, training three young witches, and NOT falling for the handsome, prickly, local librarian.
Likely you’ve already heard of The Kiss Quotient — and for good reason. If you haven’t already read this romance, this is your sign! Helen Hoang is one of the first authors I’ve personally read that showed neurodivergent characters falling in love. She does it with nuance, feeling, and flare. I will recommend this book anytime I get a chance!
No list would be complete without a historical romance recommendation. In The Siren of Sussex, Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome tailor. In addition to lush storytelling, this romance has a hero of Indian descent.
What are you watching?
I am a huge fan of K-dramas, which have some of the most heart-melting romances on screen. If you’re looking for a place to start exploring K-dramas, here are my current favorites.
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha is about a dentist who loves the fast-paced city life of Seoul but relocates to a seaside village for work. At first, she clashes with most of the locals, until she finds a savior/antagonist in Chief Hong, a jack-of-all-trades who is beloved by the villagers. For me, no man can hold a candle to Chief Hong.
Because This Is My First Life is one of the most realistic, heartfelt explorations of modern relationships I’ve seen in a TV series. It follows three best friends who are all looking for love and stability. The men they fall for are very different, and the types of relationships that suit them best aren’t the same. I love that none of the couple dynamics are made to seem better than the other and that the complications are grounded in real-life, day-to-day issues.
And finally, I wholeheartedly recommend Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Unlike my other recommendations, the romantic relationship is not the main plot point of this series. It’s about Woo Young-woo who is an attorney with autism. Her neurodivergence impacts her relationships with coworkers and her approach to cases, reminding us that there is always more than one approach to life. And of course, there is a delightful romantic thread running in the background of the series.
Thank you, Kristine!