Forced Proximity Romance Trope Books

One of the most entertaining rom-com novel tropes involves two main characters finding themselves in circumstances that require them to be very close to each other.

Couple hiking in isolated open area with 3 books overlaid

Sometimes, this means arriving at a hotel to find only one room with one bed. Other times, the characters are both assigned to an all-encompassing project at work, or maybe they are forced to share a car on a long road trip.

Whatever prompts the unexpected proximity, the result is usually a page-turning romance, with the characters learning that first impressions aren’t everything. Our picks for this list range from light rom-coms to deeper reads with romance as part of the main character’s plot.

The Best Forced Proximity Trope Romance Books

The Flatshare Book Cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

93% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

While roommates aren’t a concept unique to the 2010s, this decade was the rise of the sharing economy from ride-sharing to desk-sharing in coworking spots. The Flatshare takes this prevalence into a British apartment.

When night-shift worker Leon needs extra cash to help a family member, he decides to get a roommate. The problem is that he has a one-bedroom flat with just one bed. So he places an ad for someone to sleep in his bed while he’s at work. Of course, they’ll never be home simultaneously, but it’s still a crazy plan. But it’s just the affordable solution that Sophie needs after a breakup.

The Book Girls Say…

The Flatshare will make you laugh out loud as Leon and Sophie exchange notes and learn to co-habitat on opposite schedules. Under the humor, however, more serious storylines encompass other topics equally relevant to the last decade.

You can also now watch the streaming series adaptation of The Flatshare.

Lease on Love Book Cover

Book Summary

When Sadie doesn’t get the promotion she both needs and expects, she immediately adds three things to her to-do list – a drink, a one-night stand, and a new place to live. Unfortunately, she tackles these tasks in the wrong order. The drinks turn into Sadie mixing up a dating app and a roommate app. Whoops!

Jack has been dealing with the unexpected death of his parents by escaping into movies and video games alone. After hearing her story, he offers Sadie the spare bedroom in his gorgeous Brooklyn brownstone at an excellent price.

The cheap rent lets her grow her former side business as a florist into a full-time gig. But how long can these polar opposites happily coexist in one house?

The Book Girls Say…

This is a lighter pick for fans of the rom-com genre, but it still addresses some deeper issues that make for good discussion. By the time these characters gather for Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll feel a strong connection to each of them.

Paradise Problem book cover

Book Summary

Anna and West didn’t have much in common in college. He was a buttoned-up heir to a grocery chain and she was a free-spirited artist. They’re college marriage was a sham to get her access to subsidized family housing at UCLA. She thought their divorce was finalized at graduation.

Three years later, Anna is a starving artist while West is a Stanford professor. He has little interest in joining the family business, which he views as a heartless corporation, but he is interested in receiving his inheritance.

When it turns out that a clause in his grandfather’s will requires him to be happily married for five years before receiving one hundred million dollars, Liam thinks his marriage to Anna puts him in the home stretch. But now his family is pressuring him to meet his mysterious spouse. First, Liam worries about how his family will react to paint-splatter, foul-mouthed Anna. Then he begins to worry that introducing her into his toxic world of wealth will corrupt his pure-hearted fake wife.

The Book Girls Say…

If you love the fake relationship trope, be sure to check out our list of the best fake dating rom coms.

One Plus One Book Cover

Book Summary

Jess is in a terrible phase of life. Her husband disappeared, leaving not only her, but also his son Nicky behind. Plus, she’s short on cash, and her math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in the Math Olympiad in Scotland. The math contest comes with a cash prize, and it’s just what Jess needs to cover the 10% of her daughter’s tuition that isn’t covered by a scholarship.

When she gets an offer from a knight in shining armor to drive the family to the Math Olympiad, it’s the last person she expects. Geeky Ed is a tech millionaire. Jess only knows him because she cleans his house. While the last thing he needs is to be on a road trip with his house cleaner, her two quirky kids, and their flatulent dog Norman, Ed gets sucked into their story, and they all set off to Scotland.

The Book Girls Say…

One Plus One was nominated for the 2014 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction. While readers mention laughing out loud while reading this one, it also stays true to Jojo Moyes’s style of having more depth and emotion than many romance novels. You’ll feel deeply for Jess, especially if you’ve ever struggled financially. You might even need a few tissues!

The Co-op book cover

Book Summary

As teenagers, LaRynn & Deacon had a short summer fling. Almost a decade later, they’ve been reunited because their grandmothers left them with shared ownership of a dilapidated building in Santa Cruz. But there’s a complication in their plans to fix up the building. 

Deacon has the construction skills to help, but no money for materials. LaRynn has a trust fund, but she can’t access it until she marries. The duo does the only sensible thing and agrees to get married until they can finish the project and cash out a profit. They move into the building without physical walls, but plenty of emotional walls still need to be torn down.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/31/2024

Book Summary

Florence Day is a romance ghostwriter who no longer believes in romance. She has spent her career as the ghostwriter for one of the most well-known romance writers in the industry. But after a recent breakup with a man who took advantage of her trust and destroyed her self-esteem, she no longer believes in love and can’t seem to write about it either.

With a major deadline looming, her career is in serious danger. Then she gets a call from home that shifts her priorities.

She had an unusual but very happy childhood growing up in a funeral home in a small town in South Carolina. However, a controversy when she was a teen caused her to flee for college and never turn back. After the phone call, she had no choice but to return home for the first time in a decade.

On her first night back, she finds a ghost standing on the front porch of her family’s funeral home. Florence was already convinced that romance is dead… but this new housemate complicates things further.

The Book Girls Say…

Angela downloaded this audiobook on a whim last October because she saw a few recommendations for it right before boarding a cross-country flight. She knew nothing about the plot, and thank goodness, because terms like ‘paranormal romance’ and ‘ghost love story’ would have scared her away. And then she would have missed out on one of her favorite books of the year! She binged the entire book in two days, and couldn’t stop smiling the whole time.

This story is unique and will keep you on your toes. Despite the romance genre getting a bad rap for being predictable, this book is anything but that.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

The 22 Best Books of 2022

Rom-commers book cover.

Book Summary

Emma has spent her life as an aspiring (and talented) screenwriter, but a past family tragedy keeps her in Texas as a full-time caregiver. However, when the opportunity of a lifetime is presented, it may finally be her chance to pursue the career of her dreams.

Emma’s screenwriting idol, Charlie Yates, has written his first romance script – and it’s terrible. His agent wants to bring in Emma to help with the rewrite, but there are problems. Charlie is cranky, he doesn’t work with co-writers, and he doesn’t believe in love.

Can Emma convince him that romance and love exist? And, can her younger sister handle caring for their dad while she is away?

The Book Girls Say…

Like Emily Henry, Katherine Center’s books bring a page-turning mix of humor, emotion, and serious chemistry between the characters. You’ll love and hate almost every character at different points because she writes in a way that makes you care about each one. Like the rest of us, they’re flawed humans who don’t always say the right thing.

While this is a rom-com by every definition, be warned that there are also enough meaty topics to make it a stellar book club pick. The final chapters are especially lovely, with a perspective on grief that is likely to trigger some reflection.

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Summer Books to Read on the Beach in 2024

Something Wilder book cover

Book Girls’ Readers Rate This Book

94% Would Recommend to a Friend

Book Summary

Lily Wilder’s father was a notorious treasure hunter – a profession that drained their bank accounts and caused him to sell their beloved family ranch in Wyoming. Lily, however, has finally found a way to turn her father’s passion into something that pays the bills. She uses his hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of southern Utah. The last thing she expects is for Leo Grady – the man she once loved – to show up on one of her tours with his crazy crew of friends.

Leo is equally surprised to see Lily, but his feelings on the matter differ from hers. While she’d like to get him lost in the wilderness and leave him there, he’d love nothing more than to reconnect with Lily and finally make things right between them.

But when the trip deep into the isolated and dangerous mazes of Canyonlands goes terribly wrong, Lily starts to question whether her father might have been right all along – maybe there really is hidden treasure out there. But is it worth risking their lives for?

The Book Girls Say…

Something Wilder is a rom-com meets western mystery.

For another romantic comedy read that will transport you to the wild outdoors of Utah, check out On Location by Sarah Echavarre Smith, which is a steamy workplace enemies-to-lovers rom-com about a woman hired to produce a series about Utah’s national parks for an outdoor travel channel.

Paid Bridesmaid book cover

Book Summary

Rachel Vinson has created a successful but secretive business in the wedding industry. For a fee, she provides the perfect bridesmaids for any wedding. Of course, no one knows they are paid, and it’s crucial to stay undercover to avoid embarrassing the bride. While she has a full staff, Rachel heads to the highest-profile events herself, which is how she ended up at the luxe wedding of an Instagram influencer in Hawaii.

Rachel is serving as the maid of honor opposite the groom’s business partner and long-time best friend, Camden. Camden is understandably suspicious of Rachel since he’s never met her before and has been burned by people who have misled him in the past. 

As their interactions increase throughout the week, Rachel is determined to keep him at a distance, but fate continues pulling them closer together, often through near-disaster wedding moments.

The Book Girls Say…

This fake bridesmaid book is a fun twist on the fake relationship trope!

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/29/2024

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

The Best Fake Dating Books + Fake Relationship Books

When in Rome book cover

Book Summary

Amelia, aka Rae Rose, is a pop star feeling totally burnt out by years of maintaining her image for all of her adoring fans. She’s in desperate need of a break and would love to escape to Rome, as Audrey Hepburn does in her favorite film. But since she can’t discreetly get to Rome, Italy, she hops in the car and heads to Rome, Kentucky.

Noah runs his grandmother’s pie shop in Rome, and isn’t impressed when Amelia appears on his front lawn in her broken-down car. He’s the town grump, doesn’t have Wifi or a cell phone, and prioritizes privacy. But when the local B&B turns Amelia away because they don’t have any vacancies, he reluctantly agrees to let Amelia stay in his guest room.

The Book Girls Say…

This rom-com is a loose retelling of the Audrey Hepburn movie Roman Holiday, so it’s a fun treat for fans of the classic movie. It’s also a sweet closed-door book (no graphic sex scenes per reviewers).

Book Summary

Millicent never expected to be traveling to Key West with a portion of the ashes of her elderly best friend in her backpack. But before Mrs. Nash died, Millie promised that she would reunite her with the woman she loved 80 years earlier.

She also didn’t expect to be on a road trip with a cynical writer. Millie met Hollis through her ex’s MFA program and was surprised to find him also stranded at the airport due to flight cancellations. They agree to make the long drive together, getting to know each other. While Mille thought this trip was about Mrs. Nash’s love story, maybe it’s really about her own.

The Book Girls Say…

Millie and Hollis encounter entertaining oddities all along their East Coast road trip, from peculiar bed-and-breakfasts to unusual small-town festivals.

This book strikes the right balance between humor, romance, and emotions. It also includes some steamy scenes!

Also Featured on These Book Lists:

Best Beach Reads – Best 2023 Summer Books

Nora Goes Off Script book cover

Book Summary

Nora is a successful romance screenwriter, but it looks like no matter how many happily-ever-afters she has written, her own marriage is ending. When her husband leaves her with their two children, she funnels her feelings into the best script of her life. 

It’s so good that the producers who pick up the rights to make a movie want to film it on location at her 100-year-old home. And they’ve cast Leo Vance, who has been voted sexiest man alive, as her husband. Nora is surprised to feel a real connection with him, so when he offers her $1000/day to continue staying in her home for an extra week after filming ends, she agrees. The money will be a huge help, but it’s the look in his eyes that really convinces her.

The Book Girls Say…

Reviews think this book is a good fit for fans of Emily Henry. She’s one of our favorites because she’s great at weaving depth and real-life struggles into her romance novels, so we can’t wait to pick it up.

Pride, Pancakes, and Paris book cover

Book Summary

Georgia spends all her time finishing her last year of college and teaching high school Environmental Science students. When her brother’s best friend, Sawyer, offers her a free trip to a destination wedding in Paris, she would love the break from her daily life. But there’s a problem. She’d have to pretend to be Sawyer’s girlfriend…and she can’t stand him!

The Book Girls Say…

Reviewers say this is a slow-burn romance, but that you’ll be laughing all the way through and may even need some tissues.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 01/30/2024
How to Walk Away by Katherine Center book cover

Book Summary

After a tragic accident immediately after becoming engaged, Margaret is stuck in a hospital bed trying to face her new reality. Her previously perfect life is changing in every way.

When she’s assigned the toughest physical therapist at the hospital, her nurse doesn’t think it will be a good match. Margaret understands when she realizes the other therapists are smiling and encouraging and Ian is…not.

But can he still help her heal?

The Book Girls Say…

This was the first Katherine Center book that either Book Girl read, and we were instantly hooked. We appreciate that it’s so real and raw but with a satisfying romance subplot.

Kindle Unlimited as of: 05/31/2024


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