With actual travel being extremely limited during the pandemic, filling up your itinerary with a bit of armchair travel instead is an easy (and cheaper) replacement. Using the powers of imagination (*cue Spongebob gif*), readers can easily take a handful of journeys before the month ends. From India to Ireland and then around the States, these romance books for travelers will help keep your wanderlust at bay for a little while longer.
A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev (Mumbai, India)
Ugh, Dev is truly a gifted writer when it comes to creating a sense of place. Though this is fourth in her Bollywood series, it’s my favorite given its Rapunzel-inspired plot set in Mumbai, and it certainly highlights the class differences in India’s largest city. Looking back at the book now, it reminds me a lot of Crazy Rich Asians (though much darker in subject matter) where you can indulge in the lifestyles of the wealthy and yet also identify with the hero’s outsider perspective.
Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras (Key West, Florida)
I lived in Florida for over two decades and, admittedly, I took my close proximity to Key West for granted. I was able to return to the area last January and escape the New England winter. There really is something so relaxing about the sun and the sand, and Island Affair nails the balance of napping by the water with the vibrancy of all the amazing food and people. When I met my boyfriend’s parents for the first time, I came bearing a homemade Key lime pie.
Knit Tight by Annabeth Albert (Portland, Oregon)
For a long time, my experience with Portland was the show Portlandia. I’m not disputing the “keep Portland weird” vibes, but there’s also a feel of community support, especially when it comes to niche businesses. This entire series is set in Portland and has a focus on heroes who are shop owners or work locally at small businesses. It speaks to all the ways we’re trying to support independently owned business in this weird time. Knit Tight is a particularly cozy entry into the Portland Heat series and features details of knitting nerdery and delicious cups of coffee.
Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik (Space)
Ejecting ourselves into space right now sounds ideal. If you’re currently in the camp of Earth being garbage and just feeling utterly helpless, a galactic setting might be the best option. Polaris Rising gives you brand new planets to explore without worrying up having to stop your reading to go down a Wikipedia rabbit hole.
Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci (Rome, Italy)
Right now it’s impossible to know when Italy will be open for safe travel, and I’ve been wanting to go for years. It also doesn’t help that any chance my boyfriend gets, he waxes poetic about how everything is just different over there. He says, and I quote, “even the eggs taste better.” This romance is an old favorite of mine, mainly because I’m a Clayton fangirl, but I also loved the perspective of a woman both falling in love with a person who appreciates her and a place that speaks to her own passions.
Whiteout by Adriana Anders (Antarctica)
While I am fascinated by Antarctica and isolation and stories of people versus the elements, I don’t think I’d ever really want to go to Antarctica. Whiteout is a perfect way to experience the vast, icy landscape without worrying about frostbite. It’s not the most relaxing way to armchair travel, given that the environment can kill you, but still a unique location to explore…you know, from beneath many cozy blankets.
The Write Escape by Charish Reid (Tully Cross, Ireland)
If you every fantasized about vacationing in a quaint Irish village, The Write Escape speaks very much to those travel daydreams. The heroine’s wedding has been called off, but she still wants to make the very best of her honeymoon plans. Those plans include a cute cottage in the “sleepy little village” of Tully Cross. What they didn’t include was meeting a hunky literature professor in the cottage next door.
Which romance novels get you in the mood to armchair travel? What about other genres? We want to hear your suggestions on social media!