Crash Landing on You is a Korean drama available on Netflix that is taking marathon watchers by surprise. It’s 16 episodes that are roughly an hour and a half each. That’s like 16 mini-movies to make up one story. And this story needs at least that many to explore the characters and complexity involved in their stories. The premise: a successful woman from a wealthy family in South Korea, Yoon Se-ri, accidentally finds her way into North Korea where she falls in love with an officer in the army, Ri Jeong-hyeok, who is trying to return her safely home without getting caught by the authorities.
The thing that’s amazing about this show is that it is bonkers over the top. In the first episode the heroine gets caught paragliding in a tornado, escapes being shot at and running unharmed through minefields. The hero steps on a landmine and makes it out unscathed. Then, of course, the heroine winds up right outside his front door after he’s spent the entirety of the first episode searching the woods and the demilitarized zone for her. And this is all in the first episode! It reminded me of the willing suspension of disbelief I so enjoy in my favorite romance novels.
Bonkers plots are some of the best parts of romance novels. Heroine gets caught paragliding in a tornado and lands unharmed in another country? Sure. Hero steps on a landmine but doesn’t blow up? Of course. These books also have some over-the-top plot points but as long as two people end up in love, I can buy anything destiny throws at me. Serendipity? I am 100% here for it.
Lies by Kylie Scott
Betty is ready to break things off with Thom because he’s too boring and too predictable. Just as she’s moving out of their shared condo, it explodes. And then she’s kidnapped. The kidnappers are asking her information about Thom and it doesn’t make any sense because he’s a nobody…right? Thom busts down the door (metaphorically) and his secret life is revealed—as much as he’s willing to tell Betty, anyway. Now he has to keep her safe from these people who exploded his life, and their shared house. Can their relationship be rebuilt from the rubble and the lies?
Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night by Kresley Cole
Immortal creatures meets the Amazing Race in the fourth book of the Immortals After Dark series. Bowen MacRieve, a werewolf from the Lykae clan, thinks he’s already found and lost his true love and isn’t interested in reawakening that part of himself. But when Mariketa the Awaited, a witch who hasn’t quite tamed her power, crosses his path, something is awakened in him and he’s determined to keep her safe throughout this competition. Mari is temporarily stripped of her powers and needs Bowen’s help, much to her chagrin. They form a testy alliance that romps through jungles in search of the prize, and love is what finds them in the end.
Ri Jeong-hyeok’s devoted protection of Yoon Se-ri is a major part of his swoon factor. He protects her physically, with his body, and there’s no greater act of love. In these books, the female character is the bodyguard and I swooned just as much.
Sexy/Dangerous by Beverly Jenkins
Maxine (Max), a former Marine special ops turned bodyguard, has been assigned to protect Dr. Adam Gary after he’s been kidnapped. He didn’t agree to a woman bodyguard and is terse and gruff with Max. (Just like Jeong-hyoek is with Se-ri. Love a grumpy hero.) Their forced proximity has them learning more about each other and warming up. Enter the bad guy: exploding car chases, gunfights, and even a rocket launcher. Just like in all good romances, these two save each other.
Bodyguard to the Billionaire by Nana Malone
Theo’s been hired to impersonate a billionaire. Easy money. But when the real billionaire goes missing, Zia, a bodyguard at Royal Elite, is hired and Theo doesn’t reveal that he’s the body double. Zia is smart and has quite a mouth on her, so Theo’s secret can’t stay that way for long. He tells himself his secret being revealed is no big deal because he’s absolutely not falling in love with her. Spoiler alert: he falls in love with her.
Part of what kept me one with the couch and glued to the screen was the rollercoaster of emotions this series took me on. These are two people from opposite worlds and it doesn’t make sense for them to fall in love; by all accounts they shouldn’t fall in love. But as we all know and cannot get enough of, destiny cannot be stopped by the 38th parallel or people’s differences. Silly humans.
American Love Story by Adriana Herrera
Patrice Denis is a Haitian born professor and activist and Easton Archer is the assistant DA from a wealthy family that is not pleased he’s taken up public service. Completely different worlds. Should definitely avoid each other. But neither can forget the hot nights they shared together the summer before. Both are men who know their own minds and are not willing to give up on their goals, especially when the personal is political. There’s not an easy answer to many of the problems presented in this novel, but love finds a way.
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Get the tissues ready because the last third of this book made me cry the same way the last three episodes of CLOY did. Well, more than the last three if I’m being honest. Khai Diep doesn’t do feelings. Never has. And he’s fine with that and fine with his life. So when his mom brings home a Esme Tran from Vietnam to be his bride, his world is more than flipped, he feels like he’s living in the upside down. Esme is determined to seduce Khai, to make a better life for herself, but he’s not responding to any of her carefully planned attacks and many of them backfire. So she decides to make the best of the rest of her time here. Meanwhile Khai, with the help of his brother, discovers he’s not a robot. He has to make Esme understand that he feels and feels deeply for her, but so much damage has already been done by his coldness.
A man who can both win a fist fight and would never push me beyond what makes me comfortable is exactly the kind of man Andie J. Christopher calls a stern brunch daddy. Give me a cinnamon roll hero who feels all his feelings big and just wants his love to be happy.
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Samson Lima is an ex-professional football player. He’s big and strong and as gentle as a teddy bear, especially when it comes to Rhiannon Hunter the creator of the Swype dating app. She’s hard as nails and prickly enough for both of them. The thing about Samson is he keeps showing up and being handsome, just like Jeong-hyeok. Plus, he hugs her better than her favorite sweatshirt and is so warm.
A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert
Ruth Kabbah has a new neighbor. A new hot, ex-military, steel smithing neighbor who likes to feed her and fix her problems without her asking. She didn’t ask, thank you very much. But his lasagna is delicious and he keeps smiling at her and being patient with her and reading the comics she gives him.
At first, I was frustrated that this show didn’t give me more kissing or sexy times. I need more kissing! Then I remembered the pining I love in YA romances for that first kiss, the stomach drop at the first hand brush, and it made Crash Landing on You even sweeter in my mind.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
Desi Lee has a plan for everything. It’s how she’s student body president, an honor student, and varsity soccer star. So why wouldn’t a plan work for getting a boyfriend? Desi uses a reliable source for her plan, one where the girl always gets the guy in 10 episodes or less: K-dramas. Lucas Drakos gets the full force of Desi’s “K-drama’s steps to true love” plan and, just like on TV, shenanigans ensue.
Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter
Maddie and Logan are stranded in the Alaskan wilderness. More than that, there’s an assassin they must escape. Logan has wronged Maddie in the past and she can’t trust him and most definitely isn’t talking to him. That makes saving him from the murderer and the wild a little more difficult.