There are always so many reasons to enjoy romance. Something that will consistently draw me into a story is characters who lead interesting lives. Naturally, there are billions of ways to lead an interesting life, and I don’t usually think someone’s job is the most important or interesting thing about them in real life. But when we’re dealing with romance characters, I’m a sucker for the ones with cool jobs.
One of my favorite characteristics in real life people is a passion for something particular. The more offbeat, the better. I will happily accept an enthusiastic account of your rock collection; not so much your investment portfolio. In real life, most of us have to have fairly mundane jobs that support our more arcane interests, but romance is another story.
Certainly I can be drawn in by a romance in which both characters are accountants. But all other things being equal, I’d rather read about, say, a lobsterman and the person who delivers their mail falling in love. These are the romances that let authors pepper in a little research and jargon. They can share a backstory of what brought characters to their avocation. And the nature of the job even does some character development.
Let’s look at a few of the coolest jobs in the romance world.
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
I’m not gifted with the right kind of patience to develop calligraphy skills. Luckily, Love Lettering is a beautiful celebration of all things hand-lettered, from invitations to shop windows in New York City. Pairing Meg, a calligrapher who hides clues in her work, with Reid, a numbers guy who spots a pattern in his own wedding invitation, it’s a gorgeous slow burn to savor.
The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite
Having done the beekeeping chores on a friend’s farm one (1) time, I’m in awe of anyone who can summon the nerve to deal with a buzzing hive on the regular. Olivia Waite’s Feminine Pursuits series is full of women with fascinating jobs, but I have a soft spot for Penelope the beekeeper and Agatha the printing business owner brought together by a rogue colony. Bonus points for an epistolary element.
A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole
Here we have a romance between a sword maker Tavish McKenzie who takes on apprentice Portia Hobbs, certified hot mess. When she discovers Tavish is the secret son of a duke, the added pressure on Tavish really turns up the heat. The Scotland backdrop makes this an incredibly fun romance in an overall delightful series.
Digging Up Love by Chandra Blumberg
Paleontologist is one of those childhood dream jobs I’m delighted to see incorporated into romance. A dinosaur bone turns up in Alisha’s grandmother’s backyard, and Quentin is on the case. Alisha is a baker, so between the food writing and the dinosaur dig, there’s a lot for readers to enjoy in and around the couple’s snappy banter.
A Duke in Disguise by Cat Sebastian
As someone interested in the history of books and printing, I do love historical romances that bring these elements into the story. This friends-to-lovers romance unites Verity, who has written an erotic novel, with Ash, who she wants to do the illustrations. Read it for the longing, the little acts of care, and some history about radical printing.
Summoning Up Love by Synithia Williams
I always want more romance with ghosts, and this one has a great ghost story without having to solve the puzzle of how ghosts and humans can achieve the ol’ HEA. This truly sparkling romance pits skeptic Vanessa against ghost hunter Dion. This romance delves into how to pursue one’s career dreams in a way that is so thoughtful and adds to the deeply satisfying nature of this book.
Natural Disaster by Erin McLellan
I credit this book, which can be described as “Twister, but gay,” with helping me understand why anyone would chase a tornado in the first place. With found family and lots of excitement, it’s a tale of a hotshot rookie teaming up with a guy who doesn’t even want to be there. The author clearly took a lot of care learning details about tornadoes, and those details come across naturally without being lectures or info dumps.
The Craft of Love by E.E. Ottoman
Here’s a romance that blooms between two people who have mutual respect for each other’s jobs. And then that respect turns to love, which I love! I’m particularly smitten by Remembrance, the quilter and embroiderer sought out by silversmith Benjamin. Throughout so much of romance history, enjoying needlework is a stand-in for docility in women. But this romance turns that notion on its head, because Remembrance can have strong political opinions while also being a skilled craftsperson.
True Crime Podcasters
Crimes of Passion by Jack Harbon
What I really enjoy about this enemies-to-lovers romance between two true crime podcasters is that it gets to the nature of what can be icky and exploitative about true crime podcasts. Calvin approaches true crime with incredible care and okay, maybe a bit of righteousness. Emery wants to roast criminals, and sure, maybe he’s a little too much sometimes. When they must work together to fulfill a dying wish, they end up bringing out the best in each other in a way I relished.
Galaxies and Oceans by N.R. Walker
My nature as an introvert with a deep sense of duty to my fellow humans might make me the ideal candidate for lighthouse keeper. So yes, please, lighthouse keeper romances! This one follows lighthouse keeper Patrick, whose solitary life is turned upside down by the stranger in town, Aubrey. Both of these men are reluctant to give their hearts away given their pasts, but they find caring souls in each other. It’s so lovely.
House Rules by Ruby Lang
There have been so many culinary romances, a.k.a. “apron tuggers,” lately, and a lot of them are baking-centric. I do love baking as much as the next person who churns out cakes for fun and watches The Great British Baking Show. But I was entranced by this second-chance romances’s depiction of Lana’s dedication to learning the art of hand-pulled noodles. If you’ve eaten hand-pulled noodles, you know how special they are. I adore the tender journey that Lana and her ex Simon take finding their way back to each other.
The Viscount Made Me Do It by Diana Quincy
It’s always fun to read about some of the past medical practices of the day, even if some of them are horrifying. Grif is a viscount on the hunt for his parents’ killers, and a tip leads him to Hanna Zaydan, London bonesetter. Because of her Arab background, many people think Hanna is a charlatan instead of a true healer. But Grif has an injury that could use Hanna’s skillful touch. After that, the two become entangled in romance and mystery, a combination I often crave.
We’ve got some YA workplace romances if that’s something you enjoy, or take a tour through some of the best under-the-radar romances. That list includes even more excellent jobs like astronaut, antarctic scientist, and lottery number caller! Romance authors have the best imaginations, I swear.