Valerie Berrios

A romantic to the core, Valerie devours feel-good, character-driven love stories and cozy mysteries. She’ll also spend her daily train commute listening to a heart-stopping thriller, an engrossing memoir, or self dev for advice on relationships, parenting, and generally being a better human.

Listen to These Love Stories

When your superpower is research

I absolutely adored this charming story about a suburban librarian named Claire who, despite being jilted at the altar, decides to use her honeymoon trip to explore a big city famous for its arts culture, historic sites...and undercover magical community (!). Claire, whose Texas-tinged voice is narrated wonderfully by Karissa Vacker, gets tangled up with wizards who take her on an unintentional journey of intrigue, self-discovery, and potential romance. She learns first-hand how power—including supernatural powers—can corrupt, but when used wisely can also restore one’s confidence and ability to help the commonwealth. The many nods to book lovers was an extra treat.

More than human

You don’t need to be a sci-fi fan to get swept up by Alyssa Cole’s fun, twisty rom-com with a strong and diverse cast of narrators, including Regina Hall, Feodor Chin, and Mindy Kaling. But The A.I Who Loved Me has a thrilling, futuristic plot that certainly helps bump this listen into best-romance-of-2019 territory! I especially enjoyed the intermingling of Hall’s solo narration with scripted audio chapters—complete with dramatic sound design—that made for a standout audio experience. Trinity Jordan is a badass heroine who has a crush on her new neighbor, Li Wei, but she soon discovers he’s not quite what he seems. Even then, she can’t help but fall for his charmingly robotic demeanor and powerful desire to keep her safe. Who knew A.I.s could be this sexy?

Sweet and sexy for the win

Be still my heart. This was exactly the feel-good story I needed in the midst of everyday stresses. Tall, dark, and handsome Reid and oh-so-sensible Willow are just friends—and neighbors—despite the fact that their insane chemistry is palpable to everyone but them. Leave it to the heroine’s matchmaker family business to get the ball rolling on their romance, in an unexpected way. The fabulous writing duo of Corinne Michaels and Melanie Harlow, plus the magic of Andy Arndt’s honey-tinged narration paired with Jason Clarke’s deep and brooding voice, deliver a realistic portrayal of this couple’s insecurities, obstinacies, and deepest desires. If you’re not swooning by the end of this listen, you may have to check your pulse.

Not all heroines wear capes

The high-school sweethearts trope, in which the couple at first glance seems totally mismatched, is one I find irresistible in my romance listens. Add in a strong female lead and an adorable love child to tug at the heartstrings, and this mama is all in. In Ghosted, J.M. Darhower does a wonderful job weaving together a story within a story that will resonate with anyone who has ever believed in loving someone enough to set them free. The dual narration from Maxine Mitchell and Joe Arden is seamless and captures the couple’s pleasures and pain, including the hero’s struggles with sobriety, beautifully and believably.

Tortured souls seek their happily ever after

When a Jersey girl with a Disney princess’s name travels to rural Ireland to learn the truth about her past, she unexpectedly meets her prince. But Aurora and Malachy have just 24 hours of passion before they must say good-bye, bound only by a promise scribbled on a napkin that they’d reunite permanently if fate ever brought them back together—no seeking each other out allowed. Then reality, as it does, intervenes—along with myriad secrets that threaten their union. Get ready. This steamy listen, elevated by a stellar cast that includes Joe Arden and Shane East, had me chuckling, in a fit of frustration, tearing up, and even cringing at some hilarious asides. It’s a roller-coaster ride of emotions that is totally worthwhile.

A modern girl versus traditional love

I’m a sucker for girl-meets-boy tales with a multicultural twist. Having come from a large, loving, and at-times overbearing family of Puerto Ricans and Hondurans, I can relate a bit to the heroine’s predicament in The Matchmaker’s List of balancing cultural norms with her own progressive, feminist values. In this romantic comedy, Sonya Lalli captures elements of her own Indian heritage when telling the story of Raina skirting, with mixed success, her grandmother’s attempts to set her up with a nice Indian boy. I'm eager to listen to the hilarity that inevitably ensues—and to find out if Raina eventually meets her match.

Love finds you when you least expect it

When I need a pick-me-up listen, I’m often drawn to second-chance romances. The struggle to find love again after devastating heartbreak is just so universal, and the glimmers of hope that in time present themselves are utterly comforting. So when I read the description for Vi Keeland’s All Grown Up, about a 35+ divorcée tiptoeing back into dating after a 20-year relationship gone sour—and her insecurity about testing the waters with a man a decade-and-change younger (who, by the way, used to babysit her adult son)—I grabbed my earbuds and settled right in. Spoiler alert: I was not disappointed. The cover art suggests a whole lot of sexy—and let’s be honest, when Sebastian York and Andi Arndt team up, you know steamy is part of the package—but this is actually a slow-burn romance, set in the beachside village of Montauk, New York, with heart-tugging sweetness aplenty. Count this as one satisfying remedy for the blahs.

A Few of Valerie's Favorites

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