Feature Image Credit: @the.blonde.bookworm

During times of trouble and stress, engrossing books can be better for the soul than gooey mac and cheese (and they’re calorie-free!). The best feel-good reads provide solace, peace and much-needed endorphins to soothe us when the world feels overwhelming.

New York Times best-selling author RaeAnne Thayne could easily be called an authority on romance novel recommendations. She’s published over 60 books that follow characters finding deep and lasting love, while navigating the trials and tribulations of life. Her most recent novel, The Path to Sunshine Cove (part of the Cape Sanctuary series), came out last month.

Below, RaeAnne Thayne shares some of her favorite wholesome romance picks and stories of hope, healing and heart.

Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase

Alistair Carstairs, a younger son with expensive tastes, has six months to find a useful occupation or an heiress to wed. While helping promote a friend’s canal venture, the war hero finds a foe in practical spinster Mirabel Oldridge, who strongly opposes having a canal built through her beautiful corner of England. Rich with fabulous dialogue and fantastic characters, this historical romance has wit and heart. Ms Chase never disappoints, and this one is a favorite.

Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly

When Roxanna Drew finds herself penniless and alone after her husband’s death, she finds herself turning to Lord Winn, a man fighting his own battles in Regency England. As usual, Carla Kelly writes an emotional, tender, beautiful story about two people who somehow find each other amid difficult circumstances.

Winner Takes All by Sandra Kitt

A romantic and emotional story about dreams coming true, and the joy and challenges that can result. When Jean Travis announces the latest lottery winner on TV, she’s shocked to find it is Patrick Bennett, her teenage crush. Kitt handles difficult issues with sensitivity, wit and heart.

One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan

Grace, the perfect wife, is shocked and heartbroken when her husband announces he doesn’t want to go on their 25th anniversary trip to Paris. She decides to go alone, where she ends up befriending Audrey, a young woman escaping her own heartache. With a dusty, glorious Paris bookshop as a backdrop, this uplifting story of friendship and courage hooks readers from the very first page.

The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle

 Young widow Amanda Whittier has little interest in moving on, two years after her husband’s death. She has two young children to raise and a fixer upper on the beach of beautiful Whelk’s Island, but finds her life becoming entwined with others on the island—including the elderly Maeve Lindsay and dog trainer Paul Grant. This is a tender, emotional story of secrets, grief and second chances.

The Forever Girl by Jill Shalvis

When Maze returns to Wildstone for the wedding of her estranged BFF, she is reunited with the family of her heart, foster siblings Walker, Heather and Cat, the BFF in question. Like all of Shalvis’s work, this is an emotional, warm, funny story of family, forgiveness and friendship. Shalvis writes with humor and heart and her stories are my go-to when my own heart needs a lift.