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Ah, new love. The beginning stages of a relationship are so magical, aren’t they?! Everything is exciting and unfamiliar, and all you want to do is get to know the person you can’t stop thinking about. But the life of a relationship can’t be boiled down to just: meet, fall in love, marriage, happily ever after. The steps leading from the first encounter all the way to the ultimate declaration of commitment are not necessarily smooth and perfect, and that’s the point. The bumps in the road only enhance the overall beauty of a love story.

For example, take the story of Jos and Dusty in My Sweetest Escape by Chelsea Cameron (releasing on 1/28, OR you could win a free copy by entering our giveaway below!). This is the second book in her new series, following My Favorite Mistake. The story still follows the story of Hunter and Taylor, but their love no longer takes center stage. They live in the same house as two other couples including Renee, whose troubled little sister, Jos, is sent to live with them in an effort to get her to clean up her act.

Jos comes with a lot of emotional baggage, all tied to a recent tragedy that has caused her to abandon her former hardworking, straight-A, rigid self and into the spiraling, depressed hot mess she has become. Nobody knows what her secret is. She refuses to discuss it with anyone. She keeps everyone at a safe distance, including her strict, tough-as-nails sister. The things that keeps Jos sane is music. Another secret of hers, is that she anonymously runs a music blog, and enjoys finding new artists and reviewing new albums.

Dusty is Hunter’s friend and fellow a capella band member at UMaine. He has his own emotional baggage to deal with, but he too finds solace in music, as a musician himself, and employee at the local record store. He meets Jos and there are instant sparks between them. She’s incredibly cold to him when they first meet, and her disinterest in him is something he’s never experienced before. He’s gorgeous and talented, so he’s used to having a steady stream of admirers that pose no challenge for him.

The story of how Jos and Dusty eventually end up together is beautiful, heartbreaking, and overwhelmingly addictive. They’re a couple you want to root for, every step of the way. And since their shared love of music plays a major role in their romance, I’ve compiled a list of songs that fit every stage of a budding relationship.

This is the evolution of new love, as told through music.

1. Magical Beginnings

You meet someone new (which is hard to do as an adult) and there’s an undeniable feeling of nervousness and excitement. This isn’t just a new face. This could easily be something more. Whether you’re ready to admit it or not.

Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding

Wicked Game – James Vincent McMorrow (The original version by Chris Isaac is great, but this cover has a hauntingly beautiful quality to it.)

Until We Get There – Lucius In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel (or this instrumental version from Vitamin String Quartet is also lovely.)

2. The Fear of Falling

Falling in love is scary, especially when you realize that Oh, sh**, this person could be “the one.” You’re afraid of screwing it up, you’re afraid of getting hurt, but most of all, you’re afraid of allowing someone to see the most vulnerable part of your soul, and trusting them not to shatter it into a million pieces.

Come Pick Me Up – Ryan Adams

Say Something – A Great Big World

Somewhere Only We Know – Lily Allen (Keane is great and all, but her version is just prettier.)

Just Like Heaven – The Cure

3. First Fights

This is rough. The first fight is scary because you were already feeling vulnerable enough, but now a shift has occurred and the fear of opening up to this person is nothing compared to the fear of losing them forever. But fights are bound to happen and the only way to work out your problems is to face them head on.

Tomorrow Will Be Kinder – The Secret Sisters

It Will Rain – Bruno Mars

Never Had – Oscar Isaac

Breathe Me – Sia

Hurt – Johnny Cash (Best cover EVER)

Anything Adele

4. The Makeups

You’re no longer afraid of letting this person in. You’ve gotten a glimpse of what life would be like if you lost them and now you’re ready to drop the big “L” and never let them go. Time to celebrate!

Fix You – Coldplay

Turning Page – Sleeping At Last

God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie (Most romantic song in the history of the universe. Seriously.)

You Are the Best Thing – Ray LaMontagne

Once again, anything Adele

5. The Future Looks Bright

Not everything will be perfect and pain-free, but you’ve gotten through the first fight and your bond is stronger than ever. You aren’t afraid to say ‘I love you’ and you have no intention of letting this incredible human wonder how you feel about them ever again. I hate that most love stories end here, because this is really where the story begins. You’re in love, and the future looks bright.

King and Lionheart – Of Monsters and Men

Us – Regina Spektor

Better Together – Jack Johnson

A Wink and a Smile – Harry Connick Jr.

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers

Jos and Dusty went through each of these stages, and even though they both had to face their tragic pasts, they learned to share the burden of the sadness they’d been carrying alone. Theirs is a story that you’ll never want to end. Here’s hoping Chelsea Cameron has a third book in the works!

Giveaway Deets:

Answer this in the comment section below and you could win a FREE, SIGNED COPY of My Sweetest Escape: What’s your favorite love song of all time?

*Only entries from residents of US and Canada will be considered.

Featured image via Shutterstock