“Oh no, I’ve arrived at this well-appointed location, and alas there’s only one bed available for the two of us.” No sweeter words have ever been spoken for romance fans who adore the “there’s only one bed” trope. A pair can be at an inn with only one bed available. Or they must share a bedroom at a family gathering. Maybe some other extenuating circumstances come up. Then, someone might offer to sleep somewhere else: on the floor or in a chair or in the bathtub are all possible suggestions. They are always bad enough to make characters cave and share one bed anyway.
What is important is that the “there’s only one bed” trope gives characters the potential to navigate vulnerable space. The forced proximity trope is rife with tension. Sharing a sleeping space adds a layer of difficulty to the management of the situation. After all, even if you don’t like someone, you must trust them in order to share a bed. Listen, when your trope kryptonite is “there’s only one bed,” the minute your characters go into a room and realize there’s only one bed, you will squeal. There is no other possible response.
Even though podcast commercials and mattress stores will lead you to believe there are enough beds to go around, that is not the case here. In this trope, our characters live in a world where there’s bed scarcity.
Don’t Sleep On These Subcategories
Today, I have chosen a few of my recent favorites from historical and contemporary romance. While I am a big fan of other romance sub-genres, I was trying to construct a manageably sized list. So, tuck yourselves in and get ready for a few different scenarios. First, may I present “There’s only one bed but we’re just friends,” the fun combination of the trope and friends-to-lovers. Next, we’ve come to “Our relationship is fake and now there’s only one bed,” the trope’s interaction with fake dating. Now, we cannot miss “We are definitely enemies but there’s only one bed”: enemies-to-lovers plus the trope. Finally, we have “But I am just a bodyguard and there’s only one bed,” which is a good bodyguard romance crossover.
Now, I believe it’s time we get into the best romance books where there’s only one bed.
There’s Only One Bed, But We’re Just Friends
The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan
When the annual Wedgeford Trials come around, Chloe Fong knows it’s the right time to unveil her family’s sauce. It is 1890 England in a majority Chinese immigrant village that has been left behind by the Duke who supposedly owns the property. The Duke in question, Jeremy Wentworth, is rather guilty about the whole thing. Instead of fessing up, he chose to come to town for the trials every year for the festivities as just a regular person. But, three years ago his childhood sweetheart, Chloe, asked him to come back when he wanted to be serious, and he hasn’t returned since. Jeremy knows he has not and possibly cannot become a serious person, but he is back to court Chloe anyways. And tell her about his title. And the land he owns. It should go just fine.
Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian
Content Warnings: Attempted Suicide, Torture, Addiction, Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse
This is a friends-to-lovers queer historical romance that both masters the cottagecore aesthetic as well as providing good representations of chronic illness and addiction. Martin is Will’s oldest friend, and so when he stops replying to his letters, he knows something is wrong. Will has no choice but to kidnap Martin and take him to the countryside when he finds him sick in an attic. Even though the small cabin only has one bed, easy access to opium is far away from Will, plus he can take care of his best friend. The close quarters turn Will and Martin’s friendship into something stronger than either could have ever imagined.
That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert
Content Warnings: Unwanted Sexual Encounters, Parental Death, Ableism, Racism, Sexism, Emotional Abuse
To avoid the anxiety of interacting with her abusive ex-husband, Rae needs a fake date to go to a fantasy convention so she can accept a prestigious award. Luckily enough, she has a friend who is willing to step up and be her fake boyfriend. Zach is comfortable pretending to date Rae now that he knows how to communicate his boundaries to his friends and family. He is ready to be confidently demisexual, and even pretending to date his wonderfully funny friend in a hotel room with a single bed can no longer damage that. But, as both their feelings change, will they be able to communicate their respective boundaries and come out stronger than ever?
Our Relationship is Fake and Now There’s Only One Bed
Well Matched by Jen Deluca
Content Warning: Verbal Abuse
April’s time in Willow Creek, a town known for its romantic Renaissance Faire, appears to come to a close as her daughter nears the end of her senior year. She intends to follow her plan, fix up her house, sell it, and move to the city. When April asks her friend Mitch for help, he says yes, but only if she can pretend to be his girlfriend at a family gathering in exchange. Mitch is and has always been a confident, likable, kilt-wearing gym teacher. But now he needs his family to see him as respectable, settled, and worthy, and April’s confidence will surely aid his cause. Can the stress of his family gathering and her home reno transform their friendship into something with roots and keep April in town, or are they destined to go their separate ways?
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Content Warnings: Racism, Sexism, Death of a Parent
Becoming the voice on the mic after a decade of producing Seattle public radio always feels out of reach for Shay Goldstein. It doesn’t quell her rage that after months on the job, her infuriating colleague Dominic Yun breaks a news story live. So, when the opportunity to be on-air comes her way after a half-hearted pitch gets picked up by her boss, she is willing to give it a go, even if it means pretending to have dated and broken up with Dominic. The Ex Talk is a dating advice show from the perspective of exes, so they will have to learn a lot about each other if they want to successfully pass as a former couple. But as the show grows, so do their fuzzy feelings for one another, and it becomes harder and harder to tell if they are just lying to the world or if they are fooling themselves too.
We are Definitely Enemies, But There’s Only One Bed
Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall
Arabella and Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton are twins raised in the countryside on equal parts literature and imagination. So when Duke Valentine unromantically asks for his sister’s hand, Bonny is not surprised to find Arabella’s run off. He is extremely upset that he has been left behind, but he understands his sister better than anyone else, so Bonny knows just how to find her and what Valentine needs to do to fix it. Valentine would rather not, but his marriage to Arabella has been an understanding between their families and he cannot dishonor them by letting it go. On their trip across the countryside in search of Arabella, though, Valentine finds himself inextricably drawn to the boisterous Bonny at his side. In an anxiety-fueled series of mistaken intentions, they will traipse into the unknown — but not unwelcome — territory that is nothing like the plan their parents set out for them.
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Carolina Santos knows the truth. Getting left at the altar as a wedding planner comes in at a close second to the time she was a paralegal. So Lina’s determined to continue to grow her business as a wedding planner and forge ahead in the Washington, D.C., wedding industry, even if she has to collaborate with the best man from her wedding that never was. Max Hartley is not happy about the situation either, but he will work with his brother’s ex-fiancé to make the best brand pitch he has ever delivered. He knows Carolina hates him, but he cannot expect the onslaught of small revenge that will come his way. When their animosity burns away, the only thing that’s left is a desire that is off-limits and off the table. Or is it?
Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert
Content Warnings: Ableism, Emotional Abuse by a Parent, Homophobia, Child Abuse
Alden knows who he is supposed to be when he plays Odyssey at his local game shop. He is competitive and sharp and he has a perfectly infuriating rival, Conrad. Everyone loves the social camaraderie they feel when Conrad walks into the room, and even the fans on their YouTube channel can tell. When their team gets invited to attend a gaming tournament, they cannot say no to an opportunity that can change their lives. But when Conrad and Alden unexpectedly find themselves without the rest of their teammates on a cross-country drive, this classic set of enemies might just find something to love about the other.
I am Just a Bodyguard, But There’s Only One Bed
How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole
Welcome to a sapphic romance Anastasia retelling with a bodyguard trope at its core. Makeda has no job, no girlfriend, and no path forward. She has given everything to helping others and she simply has no remaining spoons left for herself. Working at her grandmother’s B&B is just the right place to recharge. But Beznaria is determined to let people know she has found the long-lost princess of Ibarania to restore her family’s honor. She is certain Makeda is the lost princess, and as an investigator for the World Federation of Monarchs, Bez will use all her skills to get her to claim the crown. It helps that there is a cargo ship adventure with an amazing crew, a fake relationship, and only one bed.
All the Feels by Olivia Dade
Content Warning: Mention of Past Domestic Violence
From the master of romcoms with fake properties comes an unexpected bodyguard romance between a wayward actor and his contracted minder. After 13 years as an ER therapist, Lauren is burnt out. She does not need her annoying cousin Rob to ask her to watch a hothead, Hollywood star. Alex is a professional who doesn’t need a watcher, but when Lauren is the watcher in question, he cannot resent her no-nonsense attitude and specific tee shirts for long. Alex worms his way into her heart with his endless stream of consciousness rambles, midnight walks, and unrelenting selflessness. When Alex burns down his relationship with his former showrunners, Lauren has to decide what place she has in his life. Funny, fierce, and heartbreaking all at once, it is a book that is impossible to say no to.
Saying Goodnight To Our “There’s Only One Bed” Romances
Sadly, we have reached the end of this particular list. The best romance books where there’s only one bed are just waiting for you to read them. Finding romance books based on trope descriptions is becoming easier with fan tagging.