Valentines Day – Love it or loathe it!

Like Brexit and Donald Trump, Valentine’s Day is one of those topics that totally divides opinion. Do you love, love, lurve it? Or utterly loathe it? I used to hate it (especially during those angsty teenage years, when the school heart-throb failed to remember my name, let alone send a card), but over time it has slowly begun to worm its way into my affections, wooing me with its flowers and overpriced dinners.

This February, though, I’ve decided to give into it completely. Passionately. Because sometimes, as a wise man (er, Justin Timberlake) once said, you can’t stop the feeling. You see, 2018 looks set to be the most romantic year of the century yet, melting even the most cynical of hearts.

To start with, we’ve got not one but two Royal weddings coming up, as Suits star Meghan Markle marries her Prince Charming in May, while Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie will walk down the aisle in October. Meanwhile, Wills and Kate seem more loved-up than ever as they prepare for the birth of their third baby.

Hollywood has also been hit by Cupid’s arrow, with a star-filled string of romances coming to a cinema near you. Hit 80s rom-com Overboard gets a gender-flipping reboot this spring, with Anna Faris taking on the Kurt Russell role, while July ends the ten-year wait for the Mamma Mia! sequel-slash-prequel (which hopefully means Pierce Brosnan’s had a while to practise his singing…).

Fashion has been getting in on the act, too, with romantic ruffles sweeping the catwalks (you can’t fail to fall for the pretty pastels at Preen). Even the queen of cool Beyoncé has embraced the Valentine’s vibe this year, releasing a limited-edition capsule collection that’s sure to let the world know you’re crazy in love.

And it doesn’t end there. Brands you might not normally associate with romance have been pulling out all the stops this month, with select branches of Greggs, Wetherspoons and Ikea – yes, you read that right – offering a special dine-in Valentine’s menu for £20 or less (though you probably won’t need the Preen gown for that). Or if you fancy a slice of l’amour in the comfort of your own home, Just Eat has teamed up with a London pizzeria to deliver Valentine’s specials topped with messages such as ‘I Love You’ and even ‘Marry Me’!

Of course, if none of that whets your appetite, you can always curl up with a gorgeously romantic read courtesy of the team at HarperImpulse. And should you need another love-fix come March, don’t forget to check out my new novel The One, which sees a bride’s world turned upside down when the one that got away returns with a bombshell…

Until then, have a very happy Valentine’s Day! xxx

Maria Realf is author of The One, published by HarperImpulse on 22 March. To pre-order a copy for just 99p, please click here.

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