GS vs STA: Unexpected Love

A stack of books with a ladder to the top, with I had an interesting inquiry for recommendations from Jen, and I've been struggling with how to title it – it's not quite “last chance” at love, but it's more than “surprise, you have FEELINGS.” Jen writes: 

I am looking for a book I've never read and don't know exists. I am totally into the idea of lonely people finding each other. Either or both are lonely. And the writer does an excellent job of making the reader feel the loneliness and bleakness of their future.

Oh, and the romance when they find each other has to be pretty fucking hot. Any recommendations?

I asked for clarification, and queried as to whether Jen was “looking for stories wherein the heroine or hero has given up on ever finding anyone, and WHOOMP, there s/he is” and she replied, “Yes…but I would like to allow flexibility around the definition so I might have many books to look into. But, yes, essentially I would like to read about one or both parties either giving up or never having hope to begin with of having a true lifelong partnership love…but they find it.”

Well, darn. I kinda want to read that now, too. 

The first book that I thought of was my favorite of the “Immortals After Dark” series, Dark Needs at Night's Edge by Kresley Cole ( A | BN | K | S | ARe | iB ). The hero is a tortured vampire held prisoner by his brothers, and the heroine is a ghost with a fabulous sense of humor.

That might fit Jen's reading curiosity – but I know you have more suggestions. Which romances do you recommend featuring characters who suffer from bleak loneliness but then find happiness?


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Shari Slade says:

    Dude, if you like it *ahem* explicit – Deep Desires by Charlotte Stein is totally what you are looking for: two lost souls who find each other (and love) in an unexpected way. Oh and it is smoking hot, and wrecked me for days after I read it.

  2. 2
    kkw says:

    JAK has a lot of loners and spinsters who’ve given up hope anyone will ever love or understand them.  I tend to like the Amanda Quick books best, because historical is my go to, but I find all her pseudonyms pretty comparable.

  3. 3
    Shari Slade says:

    And I can’t believe I forgot Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas! Confirmed Spinster, mistaken identity, man whore…it has it all.

  4. 4
    Rhian says:

    I was just about to comment to recommend this very book! It definitely fits the bill, is wonderfully written, and sizzlingly hot.

  5. 5

    I am going to love this thread. Thank you for this rec; I’d never heard of Deep Desires, but after reading your comment, I went to Amazon, read a single review, and purchased the book. Henry James will be taking the back burner tonight, because I can’t wait to start this.

  6. 6
    Alicia says:

    Currently reading Heiress without a Cause – and it’s a spinster + confirmed bachelor = love match. Historical romance, set in London (of course), during the season.

  7. 7
    Svet_chick says:

    I don’t know if my recommendations will count, but White Eagle’s Touch by Karen Kay. The heroine doesn’t even believe in love and is engaged to be married to a man she can’t when she discovers the hero.

    I also might recommend a Young Adult novel titled Stop Me If You’re Heard This One Before by David Yoo where the hero completely gives up on having love or social life until he meets the heroine. (Its also very funny and hilarious) Romances I primarily read happen to be Harlequin Blaze.


  8. 8
    Kati says:

    I like Sweet As Sin by Inez Kelly. It’s deeply emotional, and the hero is full of solitary, authorly angst.

    I’d also recommend Butterfly Tattoo by Deirdre Knight. The heroine is somewhat agoraphobic due to a past attack. It’s in my Top 10 favorite romances of all time.

  9. 9
    Lovecow2000 says:

    Judith James’ Broken Wing.  OMG. The angst, the self-loathing, the loneliness. Wow.

  10. 10
    Shari Slade says:

    LOVED Sweet as Sin, so dark but sooooo good & it has sexy brownies!

  11. 11

    I’m scratching my head and asking myself, “Does this apply?” But the more I think about it, the more I’d include my novel Castaway Dreams on the list. The surgeon hero, Alexander Murray, thinks there’s no place for love or passion in his life. It only causes problems and complications.

    I’d also include almost every “Beauty and the Beast” novel. Isn’t the point of all of them (pretty much) that the beast learns he can have love in his life?

  12. 12
    Lissa says:

    Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer.  It’s got two people who, on the surface, seem unattractive and destined for loneliness but it ends up as a really sweet & genuine love story.  It’s one of my favorites.  Some of the supporting characters echo that theme and they end up with friends that they never thought they’d have.  It is not a steamy romance, but it will totally pull on your heartstrings!

  13. 13
    Booklight says:

    Ravished by Amanda Quick. The heroine is a spinster content with her life and her study of fossils. The hero is an honorable man who was marred by a scandal 7 years earlier. I LOVED this book because the author (and I hadn’t read this in romance before this book) gives us two characters who are content and complete in their lives and find love with each other when they never expected to find it at all. I get tired of reading about couples who aren’t whole unless they are with their soul mate. Quick writes two characters who are complete people who don’t even realize how lonely they are until they become something more together. 

  14. 14
    Laragrey says:

    I truthfully think that at least half of Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series would fit into this category, but the most recent, “Tangle of Need”, most definitely does. Even among their own Pack, Riaz and Adria are alone, and for the very social changelings, that’s a horrible feeling.

    Lisa Kleypas’ “Rainshadow Road” also has two people who can’t see much light at the end of their current tunnel—one just got dumped in favor of their sibling, the other grew up in an abusive home and doubts “real” love exists. Yet they find it anyway.

  15. 15

    I second Darlene Marshall’s shameless self-promotion. :-)

    Castaway Dreams is an amazing book, and I recommend it not only to the OP, but to pretty much everyone. I’ve already given my mother a copy (high praise, indeed), and I bored my poor husband for days by going on about how good this book is.

  16. 16
    Nancy says:

    I would suggest “England’s Perfect Hero” by Suzanne Enoch. The hero is suffering from PTSD and doesn’t think he will ever be able to function in society again, much less connect to a woman emotionally and physically. The heroine thinks love will complicate her life so she would rather marry for convenience. This is one of my all-time favorite romances. The hero’s loneliness is so real and as he slowly learns to re-connect with the people in his life, it’s beautiful.

    Another suggestion is “Halfway to Heaven” by Susan Wiggs. Both the h/h are lonely and broken people who don’t think love is a possibility for them. The heroine is a shy intellectual who prefers astronomy to social functions. She has a deformed foot which makes her clumsy and self-conscious. The hero believes he is too cynical to love someone. They form a friendship and slowly discover that a HEA could be in their future.

  17. 17
    Janestewart says:

    I was thinking of Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer.  Same as 12 Lissa.

  18. 18
    claritygolden says:

    These aren’t perfect matches but I never have anything to contribute to the questions so I’m taking advantage of this time! :)

    I just read Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare (recommended here and nearly everywhere) and while the heroine hasn’t given up on love, the hero has in a really profound way. He truly believes he is unworthy of love, and seeing his journey toward allowing himself to be loved is really moving.

    I also recently read Ride with Me by Ruthie Knox and it has a similar plot too. The heroine isn’t looking for love and doesn’t really want it, though she’s not as stridently against it as the hero. Again, it’s the guy who believes himself unworthy of love because of a mistake he made in the past. He pushes everyone away with a grumpy, selfish persona…but of course he gradually reveals himself to be sweet and sensitive. Good sexy stuff too!

    And a twist on that with the woman being damaged is a Harlequin Intrigue I picked up from the thrift store this summer: I’ll Be Watching You by Tracy Montoya. The heroine’s cop husband was brutally murdered by a serial killer a few years ago and she basically shuts off—wearing only black, abandoning a social life, etc. She doesn’t think she can or should ever love again. The hero is her husband’s former colleague who has to protect her from the serial killer when he comes back and tries to kill the heroine.

    Oh, and I read Angels Fall by Nora Roberts a while back. The hero is an odd, loner author who doesn’t have interest in relationships and the heroine is a woman who survived a horrible break in and murder at her workplace that’s left her constantly running and afraid of interacting with people. Neither “need” the other one, but they gradually realize their lives are better because of the other one. I’m usually sort of a lukewarm Roberts fan but I liked this one a lot.

  19. 19
    starropal says:

    All I can think of is older stuff, and it’s not too spicy, but for anyone who might be interested:

    Goddess of Spring, by PC Cast has the god Hades as being infinitely lonely and longing for the kind of connection humans have with each other, and being considered an outcast from the other gods because he deals with the dead.

    If you don’t mind graphic novels, Mars, by Fuyumi Soryo, are about two high school kids who eventually fall in love.  She’s a loner artist who is painfully quiet/shy (there’s a reason for this, hot button alert), he’s the school self destructive bad boy (there’s a reason for this, extreme drama angst alert). Neither of them see themselves as someone who can be loved, and they at first develop a friendship without thinking about falling in love. There’s 15 volumes, so it can get a bit soapy at times, but it’s really good if you’re looking for something angsty about people healing each other and themselves while falling in love.

    I had another one, but it completely went out of my head.

  20. 20
    starropal says:

    Angels Fall was my third!

  21. 21
    claritygolden says:

    Ah, I thought of another bleak one, though it’s light on the romance and sexy bits. Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman is about a woman who gets struck by lightning, and the resulting effects lead her into these weird relationships with others who’ve been struck, including a love interest. Again, the romance is not the main point of the story, but it is definitely a story about a woman who does not expect or think she deserves love.

  22. 22
    Todd says:

    Elizabeth Lowell’s “Love Song for a Raven” (I think I have that right) is an oldie along these lines. She’s too-tall, resigned to being men’s friend rather than love; he’s been in love with a woman who’s in love with and married to another man. I sobbed through this.

  23. 23
    Jeana Dawn says:

    I’ll second “England’s Perfect Hero” by Suzanne Enoch. The hero’s slow emergence back into society is nothing short of wonderful.  I reread this book quite often although, I never realized how much that loneliness appeals to me as a reader before going through this thread.

  24. 24
    hapax says:

    Totally off the wall, but anyone who likes these kind of stories owes it to herself to track down Theodore Sturgeon’s sf short story “A Saucer of Loneliness.”

    It’s VERY short, and there’s no sex (c’mon, it was published in the 50’s) but it is gorgeously written and will break your heart, but in a *good* way.  (While you’re at it, check out “The World Well Lost”, and ponder that THAT was also published in the Fifties!) Sturgeon wrote sad, beautiful science-fiction romance that has never been surpassed by any author, male or female, imo.

  25. 25
    HJ says:

    I also second England’s Perfect Hero.  A wonderful book.  And another in the same series by Suzanne Enoch, London’s Perfect Scoundrel, has an anti-hero who doesn’t believe in love and is rescued by the heroine from what he doesn’t even realise is loneliness.

  26. 26
    ms bookjunkie says:

    IIRC, Loretta Chase’s Not Quite A Lady falls in this category. The heroine made a Big Mistake in her teens and as a result, feels she can’t marry. (This wasn’t my first LC, but it was the one that made me want to glom her books.)

  27. 27
    Megan S. says:

    No one writes loneliness, and the excruciatingly delicious lifting of said loneliness, quite like Evangeline Collins. The hero in Seven Nights to Forever and the heroine in Her Ladyship’s Companion both begin their stories stuck in bad, abusive marriages but end up finding genuine connection, validation, and love (with people aside from their spouses) over the course of their books. I liked SNTF better than HLC, but both deal with similar themes.

  28. 28

    Oooh, I thought of another one. It’s Carolyn Jewel’s entry in the Midnight Scandals anthology. I think it’s called “One Starlit Night.” I had never read any of Carolyn Jewel’s books before, but that story turned me into an instant squeeing fangirl. As a bonus, it combines friends-to-lovers and rekindled romance. The entire anthology was good, but this entry was the standout, IMO.

  29. 29
    Booklight says:

    Although Ravished by Amanda Quick came to mind right away, I’ve struggled to come up with books that have a well developed loneliness/bleakness element which also has hotness. It isn’t romance, but Charlaine Harris’ Lily Bard series (all have Shakespeare in the title) has the elements you’re looking for. Its a complete series at 5 books. The romance doesn’t really kick off until book 2 or 3-ish, but then continues to build through the series. Lily is a woman who survived a horrific and well publicized sexual assault and has chosen to now live a very separate/anonymous life. Jack is a former cop turned private detective after an affair with another cop’s wife ends in a murder suicide. Lonely and bleak it has and the hotness is subtle but powerful. Side note: Fans of Harris’ Sookie series may have noticed some cameos from Lily and Jack now a private investigation team.

  30. 30
    laj says:

    The Lily Bard series is a good recommendation.  What about Mary Jo Putney’s The Rake?
    It is one of my favs, also recommend Jo Goodman’s All I Ever Needed, the second book in her Compass Club series.
    I also think Nora Roberts Born in Fire could be in the catagory of “surprise you have feelings.  The heroine is very cranky, I loved her and the hero is about one of the yummiest guys ever!

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