Celebrity romances are my personal problematic fave among romance sub-genres. It’s incredibly obvious that most celebrities are wildly overpaid, often thrust into the spotlight through nepotism, and frequently abusive of the power and influence they wield. And yet: charisma. Have you ever encountered a celebrity in the wild trying to keep a low profile? Some of them simply can’t. And reading about a person with that kind of light choosing to shine it on a regular person is so compelling. There’s a reason the Cinderella story is one that comes up again and again in cultures around the world throughout history. People love feeling seen by someone deemed special by broader society. It’s as simple as that.
Fun fact: one of the places I reliably see celebrities, weirdly enough, is at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. Lots of people in show business are knitters and crocheters because there can be big stretches of downtime on a set, and knitting is a great way to fill that time. Plus this particular festival is an easy day trip from star-studded Manhattan. People sometimes call this festival “knitter prom” because attendees enjoy showing off their finest handmade garments to an appreciative audience. And even with the droves of people eager for attention, the celebrities still jump out. Charisma is real.
Furthermore, if you love pop culture in general, celebrity romances are incredibly fun. In romances, I love wholly invented pop culture, but I also enjoy thinly veiled pop culture, which several of these novels traffic in. To keep this list a manageable size, I’ve chosen show business celebrities only. Royal romances and sports romances are also certainly celebrity romances. Today is for the Hollywood heartthrobs and the stars of the musical firmament.
If the Boot Fits by Rebekah Weatherspoon
The Cowboys of California trilogy is an absolute gem in the fairy tale retelling sub-genre, and you should read all three. This fresh Cinderella story is my personal favorite in the series. Amanda, a Hollywood personal assistant, accidentally takes her one-night-stand Sam’s swag bag with her after Oscar night. And she has to give it back because it has his Oscar in it! When the two reunite at Sam’s family ranch, they find out sparks are still flying. This book is delicious.
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
Just thinking about this book makes me know it’s time for a reread. The thinly veiled pop culture phenomenon in this novel is Game of Thrones, and the invented pop culture standing in for it is a prestige show based on the Aenead, which I am begging to come to fruition. This book follows a star of the show falling for a fan and cosplayer after a photo of her goes viral. What they don’t realize is that they already know each other, but only through the anonymity of online fandom. When worlds collide, will it be a disastrous inferno or a blaze of glory? Lucky for us this is a romance, so we know it’s going to end well!
All the Right Notes by Dominic Lim
Lots of celebrity romances have a whirlwind vibe, which is great, but if you’re looking for something more slow-burn, here’s your book. Quito and Emmett first met in the college choir. They had a moment back then, but have lost touch. Now Emmett’s a movie star, and Quito’s still struggling to make his Broadway dreams a reality. When Emmett agrees to attend a charity performance Quito is involved in, they finally have their second chance. This one is for the theater kids, and is great on audio!
Funny Guy by Emma Barry
This one’s for the friends-to-lovers fans! Sam’s on a popular sketch comedy show, and his pop star ex has just roasted him with her latest hit “Lost Boy.” He retreats to the apartment of his longtime bestie Bree to lick his wounds. Bree’s been pining for him all this time, and maybe the timing is finally right for the two of them to make a real go of it, if he can stop being such a mess. If you have tolerance for a guy who is frankly a bit of a whiny drama queen (but in a fun way?), this book is a blast.
The Stand-In by Lily Chu
This is a fantastic audiobook with narration by Broadway star Philippa Soo, if you enjoy listening to books. In it, Gracie agrees to be the stand-in for Fangli, a megastar to whom she bears an uncanny resemblance. She has to pretend to be a part of a power couple with another star of Chinese cinema, Sam Yao. While the brewing romance between Gracie and Sam is indeed delightful, the evolving friendships and family relationships in this book are what truly set it apart.
A New York Kind of Love by Synithia Williams
Synithia Williams is one of the best in the game in writing characters you feel like you know. Faith doesn’t actually care about meeting Hollywood star Irvin Freeman, but she still entered the contest for a weekend with him in Manhattan. And won. Imagine her surprise when he’s a genuinely good guy. Imagine his surprise when she isn’t falling all over him! With the pressures they are individually bearing, they have to figure out if this genuine connection is something they’re ready to fight for.
Come As You Are by Jess K Hardy
If you’re eager to read about fully grown-up people finding love, here’s your chance! Ex-grunge rocker Matthew has done a bit of a 180, devoting himself to the sober living home he runs. That home is moving onto the same mountain as Ashley’s struggling ski hill. She doesn’t want a distraction; she’s trying to keep her business afloat. And he spends so much energy helping others get back on track that he’s neglecting his own heart. But they are drawn to each other, and you’ll laugh and possibly cry along with their journey to love.
While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
Why are there so few romances between a female celebrity and a regular dude? I mean, I know why. Among its many biases, romance on the whole skews toward stories of everyday women with impossibly hot guys. It’s not great, and I’m glad Jasmine Guillory has provided some counter-programming. This story pairs an ad exec named Ben who’s landed a huge campaign with movie star Anna. And then the two have to figure out how to mix business and pleasure without blowing up everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Perfect Rhythm by Jae
Let’s hear it for romances that explore asexuality! This deeply, deeply romantic story traces the blossoming relationship between burnt-out pop star Leontyne Blake and Holly, a nurse in Leontyne’s small hometown. Holly is unimpressed by Leontyne’s fame, but she is impressed by everything else about her. Holly’s figuring out how to navigate relationships as an ace person while Leontyne tries to figure out what she wants from life. This book does contain a sex scene, but the book gives you notice so you can skip it if you’d rather.
Oxford Star by Laura Bradbury
I love the premise of this book: a mega-pop star named Jack takes time off from stardom to finally study his lifelong interest in astronomy. At Oxford. I might say it’s a ridiculous premise except Rivers Cuomo from Weezer basically did the same thing but with Harvard! Back to Jack: at Oxford, he comes face-to-face with Lucy, whom he betrayed before he got famous. She’s extremely not interested in seeing him again, but you know fate is pushing the two of them together. Read this one for a dude who is SO head over heels for his love.
For Her Consideration by Amy Spalding
If you love L.A., this sapphic romance will delight you with its lived-in feel and deep affection for Southern California. This novel pairs Nina, an assistant at a talent agency, with starlet Ari, who works with Nina’s boss. Nina is not living her dream, and Ari begins to push her in that direction. Ari is also a huge flirt, which is one of my favorite traits in a romance character. If you love a romance with a good friend group, you’ll enjoy getting to know Nina’s brunch crowd.
If you, like me, have a weakness for celebrity romances, we’ve rounded up a bunch: