I’ll be real with you: consuming romantic movies/shows/books/all the things has given me with a special sense of peace during the pandemic. I just love love (sappy but true) and love stories (yes, even majorly unrealistic and cheesy ones). I’m a romantic at heart, okay?
I know I’m not alone. Chances are you have already streamed Bridgerton (twice...just me?) and are making your way through the book series—Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I has spent the past three weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, just sayin’. And lucky for you, there’s a ton more 🔥sexy literature🔥 where that came from.
If you’re new to the genre, pls prepare your imagination accordingly, because it’s about to get sent into overdrive. Romance novels take all the steamy sex scenes and heart-melting moments you’ve seen in movies and turns ’em up to level 1,000. Now, if you’d be so kind as to read this next sentence in a British accent: Without further ado, I present to you the 50 hottest romance novels that’ll tickle your fancy—and who knows what else? ;)
Nora Goes Off Script, by Annabel Monaghan
A screenwriter turns her divorce story into a big movie script starring a former Sexiest Man Alive. But when filming wraps and he asks to stay with her for a week, things immediately change between them.
Better than Fiction, by Alexa Martin
Even though she thinks the movie is better than the book, Drew is stuck running her aunt's bookshop. But her encounter with a romance writer, Jasper, might be enough to change her mind.
Mad About You, by Mhairi McFarlane
After rejecting her boyfriend's proposal, a wedding photographer who doesn't believe in love moves in with a hot stranger who is a hopeless romantic.
The Dead Romantics, by Ashley Poston
A ghost writer for a romance novelist stops believing in love after a big breakup, but her ideas then change after she encounters an actual ghost who makes her rethink everything she knows about romance.
Partners in Crime, by Alisha Rai
Two exes meet up again after he was hired by her aunt to be her lawyer. But their big meeting immediately goes wrong when a group of thieves kidnap them and they now have to work together to figure out why they're being targeted and what the theives want.
Love in the Time of Serial Killers, by Alicia Thompson
A true crime addict has to return home in order after the death of her father and runs into her new neighbor who seems to have a lot of red flags. Except, he's not a serial killer. Here's actually a really nice dude that she's developing feelings for which actually may be worse.
The Fine Print, by Lauren Asher
After his grandfather's death, Rowan and his brothers to fulfill his final wishes in order to get their inheritance. For Rowan, that means returning to Dreamland and finding a way to make it better. Meanwhile, Zahra, who works at Dreamland, has a chance encounter with the billionaire, and the two work together to try to find the park's magic again.
Praise, by Sara Cate
After a big breakup, Charlie goes to meet with her ex's father to pick up a check. But when he mistakes her for someone else, it unlocks a secret desire in her that she didn't even know she had.
A Lady for a Duke, by Alexis Hall
After being presumed to be dead, Viola decides to live her life as she's always wanted to. But as she reconnects with an old friend, memories and desires flare up again in unexpected ways.
Twisted Love, by Ana Huang
After her brother goes on an overseas trip, Ava has to deal with his brooding. and super-hot best friend who also happens to be her next-door neighbor after he promised to look after her.
Delilah Green Doesn't Care, by Ashley Herring Blake
NYC photographer Delilah Green is forced back to her hometown thanks to her sister’s wedding despite her never wanting to go back in the first place. But things turn upside down after she meets local bookstore owner Claire Sutherland.
The Bromance Book Club, by Lyssa Kay Adams
After finding out that his wife has been lying to him about their sex life, a baseball player turns to a super-secret romance book club to try to find out how to save his marriage before it’s too late.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown, by Talia Hibbert
If you’re looking for a fun new series, get ready for the Brown sisters. It all starts off with Chloe who decides to finally live life to the fullest and fulfill her bucket list with the help of her bad-boy neighbor.
Seven Days in June, by Tia Williams
Two writers with a romantic past reunite at a book convention and no matter how much they try to pretend they’re over each other, they still find each other pulled back in each other’s world for better or for worse.
Set on You, by Amy Lea
In this funny rom-com that is perfect for the summer, a fitness influencer and a firefighter find out there’s more to one another than just their ultracompetitiveness when it comes to the gym they both frequent.
The Roughest Draft, by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Real-life couple Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka continue to dominate our TBR list with their first adult novel about well...a couple who writes novels together. Two former cowriters who broke up for mysterious reasons get back to try to write another big hit and they find more than just words on the page when they work together again.
How to Hack a Heartbreak, by Kristin Rockaway
Frustrated with online dating and meeting all the wrong guys on apps, Mel Strickland decides to create one of her own that calls out all the wrong guys called JerkAlert. And after it becomes a big success, she has to figure out whether or not go public about creating the app or hide her secret forever.
Funny You Should Ask, by Elissa Sussman
A journalist looking for her next big splashy story reunites with her former celebrity crush as they try to recreate the first big interview that made them both big names in their own fields ten years prior.
Boyfriend Material, by Alexis Hall
In order to help clean up his image, a bad boy socialite decides to star fake dating a good guy lawyer. But their fake dating plan becomes complicated when real feelings start to take shape.
Dating Dr. Dil, by Nisha Sharma
A young businesswoman who believes in soul mates must team up with a heart doctor who doesn’t believe and start a fake relationship so they can both get what they desperately need: money from their families.
The Spanish Love Deception, by Elena Armas
If you’re looking for a slow burn that you’ll totally be obsessed with long after you turn to the last page, this is the book for you. Aaron Blackford really is that man and you’re going to wish he was your IRL boyfriend.
Only When It’s Us, by Chloe Liese
Chloe Liese’s entire Bergman Brothers series will make you wish you can marry into this family. Their entire dynamic is fun and wild and you’re definitely going to have a favorite by the time you’re done. Luckily, there are still a few more books to come so it’s the perfect time to dive right in.
The Roommate, by Rosie Danan
Clara Wheaton basically has her entire life planned out. So when she decides to randomly move to the west coast to move in with her childhood BFF/longtime crush, everyone is surprised. But when he ditches her to go on tour, she’s surprised to find out that her new roommate has a very steamy job and it helps her figure out more about herself than she ever expected.
Beach Read, by Emily Henry
Honestly, could it be a roundup of some of the best romance books without an Emily Henry pick? Whether you’re just discovering her writing for the first time or you need a reminder to go back and reread her work, you’re in for a treat.
Read Between the Lines, by Rachel Lacey
We all need a girl’s trip to let loose sometimes. But what happens when you go to Vegas and come back married to a random stranger you just met? Well, if you’re Grace Porter, then you’d get up and move in with your new wife. Who knows what that little adventure can bring...
How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days, by K.M. Jackson
While we still might not be traveling as much as we’d like to, K.M. Jackson takes us on the road trip of a lifetime in this laugh-out-loud book with the most iconic title ever. Also, if you wouldn’t take a road trip to confess your love to Keanu after hearing that he was getting married, then I’m not sure we can be friends.
You Had Me at Hola, by Alexis Daria
Two telenovela stars have different reasons for wanting to star in this brand-new bilingual flick. But when they decide to practice their scenes offscreen, things start to heat up between them and you won’t be able to put this book down.
Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston
If you’re obsessed with the royals and are looking for a more contemporary romance, then you won’t be able to put down Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue. What happens when the prince of England and the first son of America go from enemies to lovers? You’re going to want to read to find out.
A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
Looking for a little more fantasy and magic in your life? Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches trilogy series will make you wish it was all real as a forbidden pairing forms when an ancient book is discovered and the whole world tries to seek its power. Oh, and it’s also a hot British series that you’ll want to watch ASAP.
The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
Honestly, if you haven’t picked up this iconic novel, then you better run to your nearest bookstore (or at least add it to your cart while shopping online at your fave) and get it. A reimagining of The Iliad might not be on the top of your list of must-reads, but this book proves you wrong with every turn of the page.
It Happened One Summer, by Tessa Bailey
If you’re missing the iconic Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek, then you’re in for a fun read. Inspired by one of the greatest characters on TV, find out what happens when super-rich wild child Piper has to move into a small town and figure out the true meaning of making a dollar with the help of a mega-hot fisherman.
The Love Hypothesis, by Ali Hazelwood
There’s a reason why #BookTok is absolutely obsessed with this must-read! PhD student Olive Smith suddenly finds herself in a fake relationship with one of the harshest professors on campus when she lies to her BFF about seeing someone new. But, as with any fake relationship, things get complicated really quickly and they have to figure out how long they can keep the charade up.
Sex and Vanity, by Kevin Kwan
From the same author who brought you the iconic-book-turned-iconic-movie Crazy Rich Asians comes another juicy tale about a young woman torn between her perfect-on-paper fiancé and a man who makes her heart flutter. The glamorous spots (Capri, East Hamptons, etc.), droolworthy fashion, and extravagant food are just a few of the plot points that’ll delight allll your senses.
If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin
James Baldwin’s stunning 1974 novel about how Black love and intimacy interacts with America’s racist criminal justice system inspired Barry Jenkins’ Academy Award–winning film of the same name. Set in Harlem, If Beale Street Could Talk explores the revolutionary act of loving while Black in America. I’ll admit that this book is more literary than ~steamy~ in the traditional sense, but it’s without a doubt a beautiful love story.
Ties That Tether, by Jane Igharo
When she was 12 years old, Azere promised her dying father that she would marry a fellow Nigerian. But to quote the Patron Saint of Real Talk Selena Gomez, the heart wants what it wants. And what Azere’s heart really wants is kinda the opposite of her family’s values, a realization that ultimately makes her question her entire identity. This one is romantic, yes, but also thoughtful in its study of cultural assimilation and the sacrifices and tough choices that go with it.
100 Love Sonnets, by Pablo Neruda
Okayyyy, so I know this technically isn’t a romance novel, but hear me out: 100 Love Sonnets is like the nonfiction version of the books on this list. Legendary poet Pablo Neruda wrote this entire collection of love poems for his beloved wife and they are so beautiful and breathtaking, you’ll literally feel your heart fluttering at the thought of a love so deep and so pure. Fine, I’m a nerd, so what!!
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
Jane Eyre revolutionized prose fiction forever, not only because it was one of the first novels to present a first-person narrative that so intimately captures the protagonist’s experiences but also because its protagonist challenges long-standing social norms of class, sexuality, and feminism. The basic plot is this: A teenage governess and her much older boss are obsessively in love. Lots of intense things happen before, after, and around this central tension, but that’s the main gist.
The Duke and I, by Julia Quinn
If Bridgerton left you craving more delicious romance, drama, and hot-hot-hot sex scenes, may I suggest going back to the original source itself: Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I. Some say Quinn’s novel is even steamier than the Netflix series, which is saying a lot because, well, have you seen Regé-Jean Page?! The Duke and I is the first book out of eight (!!!!) in the series, so suffice it to say that you’ll be set with your regency-era romance fix for a while.
The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang
This unexpected love story between a 30-year-old woman with Asperger’s syndrome and a hired male escort became a sensation in 2018 and for good reason: Hoang charms readers with a complex protagonist and inspired critics to reconsider what makes a modern romance novel. Both sweet and steamy, you won’t be disappointed by the sex scenes.
The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks
Come on. Like you thought this *classique* wasn’t going to be on here?! No one does young love better than Sparks, whose megahits A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, and Nights in Rodanthe also made it onto the silver screen. Even if you’ve seen the Ryan Gosling/Rachel McAdams movie, you should still pick up a copy of the book and experience Noah and Allie’s heart-wrenching summer romance all over again.
The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
Boy meets girl. Boy travels back in time to visit girl throughout her childhood. Boy and girl’s love story becomes the subject of a massive best-seller that highlights how far you’ll go to protect unconditional love.
When Katie Met Cassidy, by Camille Perri
After Katie’s fiancé Paul dumps her out of nowhere, she agrees to hang out with Cassidy—and soon, she’s questioning everything she thought she knew about love, sex, and herself. It’s a tender tale about finding yourself and trusting your unexpected impulses.
The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough
McCullough’s classic is the best-selling book in Australian history, which is—yeah, not too shabby of a title! The epic family story set in the Australian Outback hinges on the darkly passionate affair between young Meggie Cleary and the forbidden priest Ralph.
Call Me By Your Name, by André Aciman
The movie that forever changed the way you look at peaches was a novel before it made Timothée Chalamet a household internet boyfriend. Reach for the book for more sizzling liaisons in the idyllic Italian countryside. And don’t worry—that peach scene is in the book too.
Forever..., by Judy Blume
Will anyone ever capture the excitement of first love and the complicated feelings around losing your virginity as well as Judy Blume? Nope, the answer is nope. She speaks to the awkward and horny teenager in all of us. This novel is regularly censored for its honest depiction of teenage sexuality, which IDK...would make me want to read it even more if I were still a teen?
Delta of Venus, by Anaïs Nin
Anaïs Nin is the undisputed godmother of erotica. This collection of short stories was written by Nin during the 1940s and published posthumously. The tales, which explore desires of all sorts, are irreverent, strange, and deeply erotic. *frantically orders book*
Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
You know that show your mom, aunt, and grandma are all obsessed with? Yeah, it started as a time-traveling epic series. Gabaldon’s hit follows World War II era British nurse Claire Randall, who is catapulted back in time to 18th century Scotland. Drama and ~sensual vibes~ ensue.
The Wedding Date, by Jasmine Guillory
Guillory’s rom-com tells a thoroughly modern tale about romance that starts purely physical and long distance. (Been there.) You’ll root for these leads as they debate whether to keep it casual or make it really work.
Story of O, by Pauline Réage
This shocking erotic novel explores love as an act of dominance and submission. Published first in French in 1954, Story of O portrays hard-core sexual scenes that are not for the faint of heart. (You’ve been warned!)
Between Lovers, by Eric Jerome Dickey
Nicole dumps her long-term boyfriend and falls hard for a woman. But her lingering feelings for her ex make this a compelling love triangle.
The Innocent, by Posie Graeme-Evans
Set in 1465 London, The Innocent follows wide-eyed Anne through court intrigue and forbidden love. For fans of The Other Boleyn Girl and The Crown, this novel takes lust and jealousy to the next level.
The Siren, by Tiffany Reisz
Reisz always packs the heat in her layered, page-turning novels and The Siren is one of her best. It’s about a notorious erotica author, Nora, falling for her alluring British editor, Zachary. Meta!
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Oh hi, it’s the OG of romance novels. Countless film, stage, and literary adaptations have attempted to capture its magic, but Austen’s words will always take the cake.
Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
Louisa Clark becomes the care assistant for quadriplegic Will Traynor, whose life was altered by a motorcycle accident. An unlikely pair, they become totally entangled in each other’s worlds as they try to stave off their growing feelings. (Spoiler: They fail and we’re weeping now.)
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Ah, yes. The instant classic that brought BDSM into the mainstream. The tale that ignited book clubs everywhere. Skeptics might roll their eyes at Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s lurve, but real ones know their tale of bondage and obsession is a highkey steam fest.
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, by A.N. Roquelaure
A dark retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale you knew as a child. Except in this erotic fantasy, the Prince wakes Sleeping Beauty with way more than a mere kiss. Notably, critics have pointed out that the medieval fantasy world depicted in this series (yep, there are four books) has a long way to go when it comes to consent.
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
If you enjoy crying into your pillow by the end of a novel, this one’s for you. It’s a coming-of-age story about two teenagers who share an intense connection after meeting at a kids-with-cancer support group. Hazel Grace Lancaster, diagnosed with terminal cancer and clinical depression, learns how to embrace the beauty of life through Augustus Waters, a carefree and kindhearted cancer survivor. No spoilers, but yeah, it’s a tearjerker.
Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
Another of Austen’s classics. Emphasizing sense over-sensibility, this novel explores the two different approaches to love through two sisters, Elinor (who prefers common sense in any relationship) and Marianne (a lively flirt who falls too quickly). It’s Austen’s response to the over-sensitive characters displayed in literature at the time. As for the most likable of the two main sisters? That’s for the reader to decide.
Written on the Body, by Jeannette Winterson
This novel is not only beautifully written, but it’s also a perfect combo of eroticism, romance, and love’s philosophical nature. It follows a genderless narrator who begins an affair with a married woman and soon spirals into intense feelings of passion and loss.
The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne
A hilarious depiction of the enemies-to-lovers trope, Thorne’s piece follows an intense workplace hatred between Lucy and Joshua, who soon compete for the same promotion and consequently set tensions to an all-time high. But, of course, what seems like their boiling point is just the beginning of a flourishing office romance. @ HR.
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