Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (2010)
This is a rather captivating story written by Nicholas Sparks about a young woman who manages to escape from her abusive husband and start a new life in North Carolina. She meets a widower and falls in love with him and his two children. Of course, her deranged husband, who is also a police detective, never gives up searching for her. Good entertaining read!

If you like Nicholas Sparks, check out our list of other books you may enjoy.

Shattered by Karen Robards

Shattered by Karen Robards (2010)
A young attorney returns home to Kentucky to care for her terminally ill mother. While at work, she stumbles across a cold case which, of course, leads to danger. Throw in some romance, and this is a story that’s fun to read and hard to put down.

For other romantic suspense titles, check out our bibliography. Read an excerpt on the author's website.

Midnight

Midnight (1939)
Claudette Colbert is down on her luck. She managed to arrive in London from Monte Carlo with only an evening dress. Unable to find a job to make enough money for a room, she crashes a society party and meets John Barrymore, who turns out to be her own fairy godfather. Disturbed that his wife, Mary Astor, is more interested in a charming man about town than in himself, Barrymore hires Colbert to seduce said man away from his wife. However, a certain Paris cab driver, Don Ameche, has different plans for Colbert.

This funny and fast paced screwball comedy from the golden era of the genre has snappy dialogue and ridiculous situations. It also showcases the Colbert persona personality perfectly: when caught in a lie tell a bigger lie.

Check out the original New York Times review from 1939.

Easy A

Easy A (2010) PG-13
Don’t miss this Golden Globe-nominated performance by Emma Stone as Olive, a high school student who uses rumors to enhance her popularity, to help a friend, and to make a little money on the side. Olive’s life begins to resemble the story she is studying in class, The Scarlet Letter, and she even sews a scarlet “A” to her school outfits. This teen comedy/romance includes Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as Olive’s impossibly wonderful parents and Lisa Kudrow as a guidance counselor who has a lot to learn from Olive about how to do the right thing.

Check out reviews in TIME Magazine and Salon.com.

Christmas in Connecticut

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck), a successful food writer for Smart Housekeeping (a popular magazine such as Family Circle), writes about her idyllic life on a farm in Connecticut with her husband and baby. Her readers and her publisher, Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet) love her columns and believe them to be true.

The truth is Elizabeth is unmarried, has no child, lives in a New York City apartment, has never lived on a farm, and can't cook. Elizabeth is well paid and loves living in New York. But both her position and her lifestyle are threatened when Yardley decides it would make wonderful publicity for Elizabeth to invite Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan) into her home at Christmas. Jones is a war hero who had spent weeks at sea in a lifeboat after his ship had been sunk. To complicate matters even further, after Yardley is put on an extremely restrictive diet, he decides to invite himself to Elizabeth's farm.

How Elizabeth copes with her dilemma leads to very funny film. You'll roar with laughter at times and the romance that develops between Elizabeth and Jones is both comic and heartwarming. This is one of my favorite Christmas films.

Letters to Juliet

Letters to Juliet (2010) PG
A sweet story starring Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia) and Vanessa Redgrave, Letters to Juliet features beautiful shots of the Italian countryside. Women with romantic dilemmas write letters to Juliet and leave them in a wall in Verona. Juliet’s “secretaries” diligently answer all of the letters. When Sophie (Seyfriend) discovers a 50 year old letter from Claire (Redgrave), she embarks on a journey in search of Lorenzo and in the process she re-evaluates her life.

Visit IMDb.com for interviews with the cast and trailers and clips from the film. To learn about the real story of letters, ladies, and Verona, check out Letters to Juliet by Lise Friedman (2010).

Ghost Town

Ghost Town (2008) PG-13
This delightful romantic comedy stars Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, and Tea Leoni. A dentist named Bertram Pincus (Gervais) has zero people skills and in fact despises people so much, it is surprising he didn't choose a different career such as hermit or public executioner. And as though life isn't tough enough for Pincus, he acquires the ability to see and speak with ghosts as a result of faulty anesthetic.

The ghosts are people who had unresolved issues at the time of their deaths and they all want Pincus to help him. For a man like Pincus, this is a disaster, as he has spent most of his life avoiding the living and now he's being haunted almost nonstop. However, things get even more complicated when one of the ghosts, Frank Herlihy (Kinnear), pesters Pincus into helping him break up his widow's engagement. This is a particularly difficult task since her fiancé is handsome, fit, wealthy, and a great humanitarian, whereas Pincus is plain, plump, and spectacularly obnoxious. In addition, Pincus has offended and antagonized Gwen several times in the past.

There are a lot of laughs in this movie and it is very definite feel good romance.

Check out other reviews from The New York Times, CNN, Roger Ebert, and The Seattle Times.

A Room with a View

A Room with a View (1986) R
In this romantic tale, young Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter) takes a trip to Italy with her fretting, old-maidish cousin Charlotte (Maggie Smith). Among the interesting people Lucy meets is a middle class father (Denholm Elliott) and his introspective moody son George (Julian Sands). A picnic in the country, the heat of the day, and a kiss between Lucy and George changes Lucy forever. This is a witty and beautifully imagined filming of the E. M. Forester novel.

The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn

The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn (2010)
This one has what every good Gothic romance should. There is the handsome yet troubled count with the string of conquests behind him. There is the beguiling heroine who travels from Scotland to a remote mountaintop castle in Transylvania. There are the locals who talk about werewolves and vampires and the much hated last count. There are dark and stormy nights and hidden tunnels. This one hits all the right notes without being either too serious about it all or tongue in cheek.

Watch the book trailer and visit the author's website.

Two Weeks Notice

Two Weeks Notice (2002) PG-13
Lucy (Sandra Bullock) is a lawyer who never met a lost cause she didn’t support, most particularly the saving of her Coney Island neighborhood landmarks. When she takes a job as legal counsel to George Wade (Hugh Grant), a local developer, she soon is not only managing his divorces but choosing his ties and writing his speeches. Finally Lucy can stand it no longer and she offers her two weeks notice. Can this mismatched pair find true romance? You bet they can.

Check out other reviews by Roger Ebert, in the LA Times, and in Entertainment Weekly.

The Awful Truth

The Awful Truth (1937)
This is the movie that made Cary Grant a star. The big name at the time was his co-star, Irene Dunne. The two play a divorcing couple who fight over custody of their dog and attempt to break up any new romance the other might start. The physical comedy is perfect and the dialog witty. A classic of screwball comedy.

Check out the original 1937 New York Times review and read some background information on the film at TCM.com. Want more romantic comedies from the 1930s? Check out our list.

Emma

Emma (1996) PG and Emma (2009)
These are my two favorite movie treatments of my favorite Jane Austen novel. In the 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow version, Mr. Knightly (Jeremy Northam) is warm and charming. Paltrow is suitably strong minded yet likeable, and the supporting characters are all well done. In the 2009 miniseries, I found Emma even more likeable yet suitably wrong-headed and the other characters equally well cast. The father seems a bit too hearty, although appropriately frettish. But no Mr. Knightly can for me match Jeremy Northram’s in the 1996 version.

Spotlight: Katherine Hepburn & Spencer Tracy

Spotlight: Katherine Hepburn & Spencer TracyThe chemistry between Hepburn and Tracy delights viewers, old and new. Blue collar and blue blood ignite the screen still. These three movies stand alone and stand above the gold bar.

Adam’s Rib (1949) is courtroom comedy. It established their reputation as the wittiest, most brilliant couple on screen. It is even better in the light of some modern day duds.

Pat and Mike (1952) continues to illustrate this team in a totally different setting, on the links and off the links. They continue to complement each other like bread and butter.

Desk Set (1957) is the final movie. In their ongoing battle of the sexes, I’m happy to say, everybody wins.  I think these movies represent the best of the “oldies.”  Enjoy, my friends.

Picnic

Picnic (1955) PG
Hal Carter (William Holden) comes from nothing and seems to be headed towards nothing. He flunked out of college where he had a football scholarship and since then he has been drifting, hoping for somewhere to settle and make something of himself. Hal jumps off of the train in a small Midwestern town where his old college buddy Alan Benson’s father owns the local grain elevator.

Things are looking up for Hal until he catches the eye of not only Alan’s girlfriend Madge Owens, but Madge’s younger sister Millie and unmarried schoolteacher Rosemary. All comes to a head at the town’s end of summer Labor Day Picnic. Holden, Kim Novak, Cliff Robertson, Rosalind Russell, and Susan Strasberg provide wonderful acting in this drama from a play by William Inge.

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (2009)
A light but very entertaining book for a beach or trip read, especially if you've been or are going to Italy. Valentine, raised in a true Italian family, lives with her aging grandmother as they try to keep their family business (a high-end Italian shoe designer/ manufacturer) up and running. Love enters in for both Valentine and grandma and the ending has a twist. Chick lit, maybe, but I truly enjoyed it!

Read an excerpt and review at Bookreporter.com and visit the author's website.