Mary: …wondering if you or your readers might be able to recommend some books with the ugly duckling to swan theme. You know where the heroine is gorgeous inside and just needs to build her self esteem and have a makeover to get the hot guy’s attention i.e. Laurie in Sweet Dreams. Or she’s an ordinary girl but the gorgeous guy gets to know her and thinks she’s gorgeous… i.e Zoe from Perfection (A Neighbor From Hell Series Book 2).
MichelleS: I’m in the mood for an ugly duckling story. A good one. Plain Jane meets moody but hot and troubled guy.
River: I wonder if there’s a romance book where the handsome hero makes fun of the ugly/shy/virgin heroine at first but then falls in love with her later? …I like to read books with quiet and not-so-smart heroines and handsome (could be bullies & a$$holes at first) heroes that take interest in them and fall in love with them and take care of them.
ABSOLUTELY!!! “The Ugly Duckling” trope is one of my favorites, because many of us can relate to the heroines in various ways. Whether insecurities stem from bullying as children, or rejection from family members or even a crush, that feeling can really mess with their heads. And ours…
Unrequited love or even just not feeling “good enough”, whether it be due to a “shinier” sibling or best friend, or a or derogatory comment in our developmental stages (and even today, as adults) can so often stir up that old feeling of not being “good enough” or worthy. Perhaps even shying away from attention for fear of attracting negative attention.
The trope (and term “ugly duckling) doesn’t necessarily mean physically “ugly” (gah I HATE that word – and also, I hate the word hate) but it’s about how the heroine FEELS about herself, inside and out. That’s what has me connecting so completely to the characters, and their plights. What keeps me emotionally invested. My heart aches every time I start reading one of these.
BOTH that you’ve mentioned, Mary, are two of my absolute FAVORITES in this genre (Here’s my book review of Perfection and my Book Review of Sweet Dreams), and I’m excited what else we can come up with!! 😀 So let’s make a list of more, shall we?
Maryse: I saw a reader favorite in this genre (Melt for You (Slow Burn Book 2) and it’s on sale today, and a few books immediately come to mind that are must reads! Like one on yesterday’s new release list (Cold) that totally fits this genre and I’m dying to read it!!)
Tessa: Cold: Cold series book 1. That just rings all my bells. 🙂
Tessa: The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). He was SUCH A JERK! He had her totally believing she was ugly and making her insecure. Ugh
Nicole: I thought what the heck not what I normally ready but I think I will spread my wings (2015 book challenge) book with people in High school…Anyways I am about 70% in and am absolutely floored at how good this book is. I was thinking laid back comedy I mean how serious could a high school book be? Right? Holy crap My stomach is in knots and I have turned off my kindle like 4 times in the last hour only to go back to it after I calmed down. Seriously Great book! Read it!!!!
Tessa: Read The Duff this week. If you like YA, it’s cute, funny and angsty real teenage issues.
Robyn: Yes! I just read Becoming His Mistress by A.E. Murphy and it would fit nicely in this trope. … I’m talking 5 stars! It’s called Becoming His Mistress by A E Murphy. I stayed up super late last night because I HAD to finished that book. It covered all the “feels” and then some. It was funny, sad, angsty, heartbreaking, did I say funny? When you find out what the little quotes mean at the beginning of every chapter your heart will just melt. You have to read this book!
Grey: I read fugly (The Fugly Series Book 1). This one was interesting for me. Solid 4.25. It bothered me that they didn’t describe her… And I felt like the ending was rushed a bit. But the angst and the gut check feels were on point, and I couldn’t put it down.
Maryse: DEFINITELY the perfect choice for this list! Here’s my Book Review.
Fia: I just finished Mimi jean pamfilloff’s Fugly, one of the best ride of my life, can’t put it down, definitely five stars for me, after her King series, Mimi jean is an automatic buy. Yayy me !!
Young: I just finished the sample of Fugly. OMG..MINE!!!! It sounds so fun! I love that the h is so unique and refreshing, and of course H is a giant mean A-hole The author is one of my favorites.
Cheryl: Started reading the sample of Fugly- I like that she’s not the typical beautiful h…
Maryse: One of my absolute favorites is Sweet Dreams by Kristen Ashley. This one makes SO many of my lists ’cause it ticks all of my boxes. Unrequited love, brooding alpha male who’s kind of a jerk, plus the heroine has her own physical insecurities that are totally relatable… and that she surmounts and learns to love herself. OMG LOVE LOVE LOVE this book to death!!! Here’s my 5-STAR Book Review.
JulieO: Also Heaven and Hell. One of my favorite Kristin Ashley books that it seems very few people read.
Rocky: Heaven and Hell was my first KA book and will always remain my favourite. Maryse I hope you love it as much as I did. 🙂
Lori: Heaven and Hell is one of my favs. The h, in an abusive marriage, for years thought about the H, a famous sports star, a fantasy, to escape her reality. After the death of her husband, they meet by chance, and off their story goes. Sam is awesome, super hot, protective but of course has his own issues to deal with.
Mona: Becoming His Mistress by A. E. Murphy. It was also hilarious and a great read. There is cheating (obviously by the title), but if that’s not a trigger then I highly recommend this one. The h is OCD and goes through life doing and counting in sixes and her best friend has Tourette’s.
Cindy: The Ugly Duckling: A Novel by iris johansen. One of my all time favorites
Booklady: One of my favorite ugly duckling stories is A Loving Scoundrel by Johanna Lindsay.
Colleen: My all time favorite is Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
Tabatha: I loved bet me
JulieO: What about The Wall of Winnipeg and Me ? It came to mind when I was reading all the books that were suggested.
Jana: I love this book!!! Have it sitting here next to me to read again
Maryse: EXCELLENT YES!!! I LOVED that book like crazy!!! YAY!! Here’s my 5-STAR Book Review.
Ashley: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me is one of my ALL time favorite books! I’ve read and listened to it about a dozen times! I’ve actauly been in the mood to do a relisten.
Cheryl: I think it is one of the most realistic, hate-to-love, slow-burn relationship’s that I have read. There is definitely not insta-love going on with this story.
MichelleS: Heaven, Texas (Chicago Stars Series Book 2). I read it straight through. Sigh. Loved it. Just perfect. Exactly what I needed. Good old fashioned romance, ugly duckling meets bad boy former athlete. 5 stars for me!!!
Julie: An ugly duckling story I enjoyed was Making Faces by Amy Harmon.
Maryse: Making Faces was AWESOME and one of my all-time favorites. It’s just… all-encompassing, ya know? Here’s my 5-star Book Review!
Tasha J: I agree with Making Faces being an all time favorite, I had my Mom read it right after I was done and she loved it too and went on to read the rest that I’ve got of hers.
MichelleS: Making Faces was my favorite Amy Harmon book – BY FAR! If you haven’t read it, read it. I recommended to a friend who doesn’t even read “our kind” of books and she loved it too. It’s just that good.
Leisha: I completely agree with one of the other commenters-Amy Harmon’s Making Faces is one of my favorite books and happens to be an ‘ugly duckling’ story. 😉
Heather: The Beauty Beneath <— have read everyone of DC Renee’s books and love each and every one!! This one is amazing!!
Rebecca: Love her and her books!!! 💙💙💙
Mharis: I’m a sucker for ugly duckling stories, so, I automatically added this in my TBR list!
Rachel: One of my favorite ugly duckling stories is The Princess Diaries ❤️
Mharis: I have a few ugly-duckling stories that I love… my ultimate favorite is The Do-Over by MK Schiller! I somehow relate to Laney, with wall so high it’s impenetrable.
Mharis: Another is Hey There, Delilah... (A Taboo Love series Book 1) by MD Saperstein and lastly, Melt for You (Slow Burn Book 2) by JT Geissinger.
Cheryl: Just finished Melt For You. A slow-burn, but I loved it. Scottish rugby player and quirky American. Funny, low-angst with sigh out loud moments.
R. Renee: Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, Book 1) comes to mind!
Maryse: Ahhh YES!!! OF COURSE!!!!! The whole initial intro is dedicated to how unassuming and frumpy she is… and how crazy it is that he’s so intent in her. LOVED THAT WHOLE FEEL!!! Here’s my 5-STAR Book Review.
Ashley: The Contract (The Contract Series Book 1) by Melanie Moreland!!!
Carla: The contract by Melanie Moreland (I never expected it to be so so good)
Mharis: I read almost everything from Melanie Moreland. My first book and favorite is The Contract.
Maryse: P.S. Check out another similar list on the blog (in this “feel”): Reader Question – Looking for book recommendations where the heroine goes on a weight loss journey for her second start…
➔➔➔ Looking for more of our favorite recommendations? Browse our “Ultimate Favorites Lists” here. Are you in the mood for a certain kind of story? Browse our favorite “genre/trope categories” here and our reader favorites lists too.