Whether you're looking for Hallmark movie-level romance or straight up Skinemax-y lust, Valentine's Day is bound to put anyone ~in the mood~. And a good book will take fantasizing to a whole new level. I mean, epic love stories and hot-and-heavy scenes are sooo much better in words than they are on the screen, right?? A well written piece will have you swooning for someone you can't even see IRL, which is pretty much like swiping right on Tinder, only better.
Anyway, here's a list of the 22 *most* romance novels that you can cuddle up with on a rainy day because who needs a S.O. anyway? (I'm! fine!)
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
This unexpected love story between a 30-year-old woman with Asperger 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.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Uhhh, come on. Like you thought this wasn't going to be on here?! No one does young love better than Sparks, whose hits A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, and Nights in Rodanthe have also made it to the screen. But The Notebook's tale of summer romance endures beyond odds or sense and is a heart-wrenching masterpiece.
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 Camile Perri
After a broken engagement, Katie meets Cassidy, who makes her question everything she thought she knew about love, sex, and herself. A tender tale of finding yourself and trusting unexpected impulses unfolds.
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
McCullough's classic is the biggest selling book in Australian history for a reason: The epic family story set in the Australian Outback hinges on the darkly passionate love story between young Meggie Cleary and the forbidden priest Ralph.
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
The movie that changed the way you look at peaches was a novel before it made Timothée Chalamet an internet boyfriend. Reach the book for more sizzling liaisons in the idyllic Italian countryside. And, yes, 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? Yeah, noooo. She speaks to the awkward and horny teenager in all of us. Plus, this novel is regularly censored for its honest depiction of teenage sexuality—so you should definitely read it.
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 hardcore sexual scenes that are not for the faint of heart. (You've been warned!)
Between Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey
Nicole dumps her longterm 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 O.G. 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 culture. 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
Behold: A dark and sexy 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. Eek!
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
If you enjoy crying into your pillow by the end of a novel, then this one is for you, bb. It's a coming-of-age story about two teenagers who share an intense connection when meeting at a kids-with-cancer support group. Hazel Grace Lancaster, diagnosed with terminal cancer and clinically depressed, learns how to embrace the beauty of life through Augustus Waters, a carefree and kindhearted cancer survivor. I'm literally crying rn.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Ah yes, 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, it is 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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