The best romance books of 2020, so far

Samantha Grindell
·19 min read
romance books lede
The best romance books of 2020. Penguin Random House/ Hachette / Sourcebooks
  • There's nothing like curling up with a sweet and steamy romance book.

  • Plenty of delightful romance books have been released in 2020, so you'll have no shortage of options when trying to pick your next tantalizing read.

  • The best romance books of 2020 include books with enemies-to-lovers plots, stories of best friends realizing they have deeper feelings for each other, and modern twists on classic novels. 

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

"Ties That Tether" by Jane Igharo

ties that tether
"Ties That Tether." Penguin Random House

Jane Igharo's "Ties That Tether" is about love and identity, and how holding onto them both isn't always as simple as it sounds.

Candian resident Azere has always intended to marry a Nigerian man. She promised her father she would when he was on his death bed, and her mother has been helping her keep her word, setting her up with men from her own culture.

But Azere can't seem to find anyone she connects with, and it's after a failed set up that she meets Rafael Castellano. He's everything she's been looking for — but he's white. Azere's feelings for Rafael force her to reckon with her feelings about herself, and she has to figure out how to feel connected to her heritage and her parents without being with a Nigerian man if she wants to make this work. 

Find out more about this book here.

"Well Played" by Jen DeLuca

well played
"Well Played." Penguin Random House

Stacey has always loved when the Renaissance Faire comes to her small town of Willow Creek. The excitement of the Faire made it easier to pass the time as she stayed home to care for her sick mother. But when two of her best friends from the Faire get engaged, she takes it as a wake-up call that she needs to get her own life in order and find love for herself by next summer.  

That love just might come in the form of Dex MacLean, her summer flame who plays in the band The Dueling Kilts at the Faire. She thinks their connection is just physical, but a sweet email makes her think of things differently. 

But when summer rolls around, Stacey is shocked to find out the messages she's been exchanging virtually weren't actually from Dex in "Well Played" by Jen DeLuca. Is it possible she's in love with a total stranger?

Find out more about this book here.

"The Roommate" by Rosie Danan

the roommate
"The Roommate." Penguin Random House

In Rosie Danan's "The Roommate," Clara Wheaton is everything a socialite should be, unlike the rest of her family. But she's willing to put her well-mannered reputation on the line when her lifelong crush invites her to stay with him for the summer. 

But when Clara arrives, she discovers she'll actually be sharing a summer sublet with Josh, a stranger who found fame in a way that could bring scandal to her family.

But it could also help Clara take control over her own sex life, and it might just lead her to a romantic climax she never expected.

Find out more about this book here.

"Snapped" by Alexa Martin

snapped
"Snapped." Penguin Random House

Elliot Reed's job is to manage the Denver Mustangs, and it's going great until quarterback Quinton Howard Jr takes a knee during the national anthem. She's assigned to handle the fall out from his protest, and the unlikely duo doesn't get off to a great start. 

When they're forced to work together, they find more common ground than they anticipated. But Elliot will be putting her career on the line if they take things to the next level in Alexa Martin's "Snapped."

Find out more about this book here.

"Simmer Down" by Sarah Smith

simmer down
"Simmer Down." Penguin Random House

An enemies-to-lover romance gets a food truck backdrop in Sarah Smith's "Simmer Down."

Nikki DiMarco is already struggling to keep up in the Maui food truck she runs with her mom, and the arrival of Callum James from England just makes things worse. When he first arrives, it seems like Callum is intentionally trying to push Nikki's buttons by parking right next to her and stealing her customers. 

They make a deal to let the winner of the Maui Food Festival keep the spot, but in the weeks leading up to the competition, Nikki starts to see Callum differently. She'll have to decide if she's willing to lay down her pride for a chance at love.

Find out more about this book here.

"Beach Read" by Emily Henry

beach read
"Beach Read." Penguin Random House

Romance author January Andrews is only spending the summer at her late father's beach house for three reasons: She needs to clean it out before she can sell it, she needs a change of scenery to get out of her months-long writer's block, and she's broke.

But when she finds out her college crush and nemesis Augustus Everett, who became a literary fiction author, lives next door and is also in a writing rut, things change. The neighbors make a deal to teach each other how to write their genres in the hopes of sparking creativity. 

As part of the experiment, January will take Augustus on romantic dates, while he'll bring her along to interview former cult members. The arrangement is just for the summer, and no one will get attached — until they do. Emily Henry's "Beach Read" is a book about love, grief, and the power of honesty.

Find out more about this book here.

"Party of Two" by Jasmine Guillory

party of two
"Party of Two." Penguin Random House

In New York Times bestseller Jasmine Guillory's latest novel "Party of Two," falling in love isn't on Olivia Monroe or Max Powell's schedule. Olivia just moved to Los Angeles to start a law firm with her best friend, while Max is a junior senator flying to Washington, DC, every week. 

Yet, when they meet in a hotel bar one night, sparks fly. Max turns out to be more than the privileged, white politician Olivia expected him to be, and Olivia's blunt honesty and patience are just what Max needs. The two start a secret romance that's everything they both didn't know they were looking for. 

But things get tricky when they take their relationship public, with reporters snooping into Olivia's past and other lawyers undermining her skills because of who she happens to be dating. The couple has to figure out how their relationship will fit with the rest of their lives, or risk losing each other for good.

Find out more about this book here.

"Queen Move" by Kennedy Ryan

queen move
"Queen Move." Amazon

Kimba Allen has never forgotten her childhood crush, Ezra Stern, even though it's been 20 years since she last saw him. 

All of her feelings for him come rushing back when they unexpectedly reconnect, even though secrets stand between them.

In award-winning author Kennedy Ryan's "Queen Move," Kimba has to decide if the first boy she ever kissed is worth fighting for. 

Find out more about this book here.

"You Had Me At Hola" by Alexis Daria

you had me at hola
"You Had Me At Hola." Harper Collins

Fans of romance books and telenovelas will love Alexis Daria's "You Had Me At Hola," which follows two costars who don't want to like each other.

Jasmine Lin Rodriguez is trying to keep a low profile after a dramatic, public breakup that happened just before she lands a starring role on a new telenovela, and her costar, Ashton Suárez, is working to make sure he doesn't get fired from this show like he did from his last.

The duo get off on the wrong foot, so they decide to rehearse in private in an attempt to reignite their sexual chemistry. Their plan works a little bit too well, sending them into a messy romance that could damage them both.

Find out more about this book here.

"The Happy Ever After Playlist" by Abby Jimenez

the happy ever after playlist
"The Happy Ever After Playlist." Hachette

Sloan Monroe feels like her life has been on pause in the two years since she lost her fiancé. Finding a sweet dog named Tucker gives her the chance to finally hit play again, but there's just one problem: Tucker's musician owner, Jason, is coming back from a tour in Australia, and he wants him back.

Sloan doesn't want to return Tucker, which leads to a text and phone call-based relationship between her and Jason. She finds herself falling for a man she only knows virtually, and the idea of meeting him in person goes from annoying to appealing. 

In Abby Jimenez's "Happy Ever After Playlist," Sloan has to figure out if she's willing to open her heart again, especially to someone with a music career that could take him anywhere. 

Find out more about this book here.

"Conventionally Yours" by Annabeth Albert

conventionally yours
"Conventionally Yours." Sourcebooks

Conrad Stewart and Alden Roth are archnemeses in the gaming world, and both of them have secret lives no one knows about.

The unlikely pair end up on a cross-country road trip together to compete at the Odyssey gaming tournament, and they're surprised to find they don't hate each other as much as they thought. 

But they're both desperate to win despite the feelings they're developing for each other. Conrad and Alden have to decide if they're willing to let love get in the way of their success in Annabeth Albert's "Conventionally Yours." 

Find out more about this book here.

"The Boyfriend Project" by Farrah Rochon

the boyfriend project
"The Boyfriend Project." Hachette

Because she's a Black woman working in STEM, Samiah Brooks has to work extra hard to be taken seriously. Years of cultivating a stoic and professional image come crashing down when her boyfriend catfishes and cheats on her with two other women, and Samiah confronts him at a restaurant in an incident that ends up going viral online.

The experience leads her to befriend the two other women involved in the scandal, and they make her feel more supported than she has in years. Her newfound confidence leads Samiah to put herself first and start designing the app she's been thinking about for years.

But then Daniel Collins gets hired at Samiah's company, and it's hard to ignore his sexy and mysterious allure. She isn't sure if she's willing to put her professional reputation on the line again, even as her feelings for Daniel build and it becomes clear he's hiding something from her in Farrah Rochon's "The Boyfriend Project."

Find out more about this book here.

"Undercover Bromance" by Lyssa Kay Adams

undercover bromance
"Undercover Bromance." Penguin Random House

Liv Papandreas is on a revenge mission. The aspiring chef was fired after reporting her celebrity boss for sexual harassment, and he ruins her reputation in the Nashville food scene.

Liv enlists backup in the form of Braden Mack, a nightclub owner and member of the Bromance Book Club with the resources to help.

Mack and the other book club members agree to help Liv, but they're also interested in helping Mack win a shot at Liv's heart.

Find out more about this book here.

"The Heir Affair" by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

the heir affair
"The Heir Affair." Grand Central Publishing

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan's sequel to "The Royal We" follows Rebecca "Bex" Porter as she adjusts to life as Prince Nicholas' wife.

The public and the royal family are angry about the couple's whirlwind romance, and Bex and Nicholas have taken to hiding until it blows over.

But an emergency forces the couple to return to the public eye, and their love is tested as family secrets and centuries of expectation confront them. 

Find out more about this book here.

"The Trouble with Hating You" by Sajni Patel

the trouble with hating you
"The Trouble with Hating You." Hachette

Liya Thakkar leaves her parents' house in a hurry when she realizes they're trying to set her up with Jay Shah. Sure, he's good looking, but Liya is happy being single and focusing on her career as a biochemical engineer. 

But it turns out Jay is the new lawyer for her company, and those good looks are harder to ignore now that she has to see him every day. Liya and Jay have an undeniable connection, but they might not be willing to explore their pasts for a chance at a future together. 

"The Trouble with Hating You" by Sajni Patel is about taking a risk on love, and everything that comes with it.

Find out more about this book here.

"The Two Lives of Lydia Bird" by Josie Silver

the two lives of lydia bird
"The Two Lives of Lydia Bird." Penguin Random House

Lydia Bird's world is turned upside down when the love of her life, Freddie, dies in a car accident. After months of mourning and wanting to go back in time, Lydia begins to move on with the help of her sister and Freddie's best friend.

But then she's given a way to go back to her old life with Freddie, a life where the tragedy never happened. Her heart is pulled in two directions as she struggles to choose between going back to the familiar and embracing the unknown, where someone new wants to love her. 

Poignant and fresh, Josie Silver's "The Two Lives of Lydia Bird" is a story of love and hope.

Find out more about this book here.

"Love Her or Lose Her" by Tessa Bailey

love her or lose her
"Love Her or Lose Her." Harper Collins

In Tessa Bailey's "Love Her or Lose Her," high-school sweethearts Rosie and Dominic Vega are in a rut after 10 years together. Dominic has changed since he went to war, but Rosie doesn't want to put her dream of opening a restaurant on hold anymore.

Rosie decides to suggest marriage boot camp to save their relationship, and she's shocked when Dom agrees. The experience starts to help them, making Rosie realize the role she played in their issues. 

But soon Rosie finds out that Dom has a secret, and it could ruin everything they've been working to fix. 

Find out more about this book here.

"If I Never Met You" by Mhairi McFarlane

if i never met you
"If I Never Met You." Harper Collins

Laurie's life isn't going the way she thought it would in "If I Never Met You" by Mhairi McFarlane. Her relationship of 10 years ends suddenly, and she soon finds out her ex's new girlfriend is pregnant. To make matters worse, her ex also works at the same law firm as her, so Laurie still has to see him every day. 

Meanwhile, Laurie's coworker Jamie is single because he doesn't think love is real, which isn't a great look for someone trying to move up the career ladder. The unlikely pair could use each other's help, as Jamie wants to impress the firm's partners with a steady girlfriend and Laurie doesn't want people looking at her with pity anymore.

Jamie and Laurie start a fake romance, sparking rumors and jealous stares throughout the office. They have their breakup planned from the beginning, but as real feelings creep in, they may not want to end things after all.

Find out more about this book here.

"The Honey-Don't List" by Christina Lauren

honey dont list
"The Honey-Don't List." Simon and Schuster

Carey Duncan and James McCann both work for Melissa and Rusty Tripp, famous home design experts. The Tripps are about to release a new show and book, which would change their careers forever. But the Tripps aren't as in love as they seem to be, and their animosity toward one another could ruin the career they've built together.

Casey and James agree to go with the Tripps on their book tour to help keep their marriage afloat, as Casey can't afford to lose her health insurance and James will get his dream job if he can make it through this trip.

The unlikely pair have to work together to help their bosses, and soon all the time they're spending together starts to feel like something more. Christina Lauren's "The Honey-Don't List" tells the story of two people who don't realize what they're building together.

Find out more about this book here.

"Inappropriate" by Vi Keeland

inappropriate
"Inappropriate." Amazon

When a private video taken of her on a vacation is leaked, Ireland Saint James gets fired from her job of nine years. Naturally, she's furious. 

In her rage, Ireland sends an email to the company's CEO, Grant Lexington, giving him a piece of her mind about the decision. To her surprise, he answers, and the duo form a rapport, with Grant even getting Ireland her job back.

But Grant wants to be more than just the company's CEO to her, even though that could put Ireland's career on the line — again.

Find out more about this book here.

"Real Men Knit" by Kwana Jackson

real men knit
"Real Men Knit." Penguin Random House

In Kwana Jackson's "Real Men Knit," Jesse Strong is known for breaking hearts. But it's his heart that severs when his adoptive mother, Mama Joy, unexpectedly passes away.

Jesse is the only one of his brothers who wants to keep Mama Joy's knitting store open. Luckily, he gets help from Kerry Fuller, a part-time staff member at Strong Knits who knows the business inside and out — and has a full-time secret crush on Jesse. 

As Kerry helps Jesse understand his mother's business, the connection between them grows, but Kerry is hesitant about letting him into her heart because of his romantic past. Jesse is determined to show Kerry this is real for him, whatever it takes.

Find out more about this book here.

"The Worst Best Man" by Mia Sosa

the worst best man
"The Worst Best Man." Harper Collins

Wedding planner Carolina Santos is still reeling from being left at the altar. It seems like her luck could be turning when she's offered a huge professional opportunity, but to make it work, she'll have to work with her ex's brother, Max Hartley, who convinced his brother to dump Lina in the first place.

Both Lina and Max are committed to putting their mutual hatred aside to make this project work, but they're surprised to discover they also share a mutual attraction. They try to ignore their feelings for each other, but fate might have something else in mind.

Find out more about this book here.

"Something to Talk About" by Meryl Wilsner

something to talk about
"Something to Talk About." Penguin Random House

Actress Jo and her assistant Emma are shocked when tabloid rumors start to swirl about them being a couple after Jo makes Emma laugh on the red carpet. 

Even though they tell the press "no comment," the paparazzi start following the duo everywhere, eager to urge the story on as Jo prepares for a new film. Jo and Emma end up spending even more time together because of the movie, and Emma discovers she understands Jo in a way few others can.

No one is more surprised than they are when they realize there might be truth to the rumors. Will they put their careers on the line for a chance at love?

Find out more about this book here.

"Alpha Night" by Nalini Singh

alpha night
"Alpha Night." Penguin Random House

Fantasy fans will love Nalini Singh's "Alpha Night." The story follows Selenka Durev, an alpha wolf, and Ethan Night, an Arrow who's only interested in saving himself.

Selenka and Ethan meet by chance, and they face the mythical experience of mating at first sight. There's no way to deny their connection, but Ethan's secrets might tear them both apart.

Find out more about this book here.

"The Marriage Game" by Sara Desai

the marriage game
"The Marriage Game." Penguin Random House

Layla Patel and Sam Mehta shouldn't be working in the same, small office above Layla's father's restaurant. But thanks to a miscommunication, they are, sending Sam's carefully controlled life into haywire.

To make things even more chaotic, Layla's father is also using the office as a date spot, sending potential suitors to meet his daughter after her life falls apart.

At first, Sam and Layla struggle to work near each other, but they might find out they're just what the other needs.

Find out more about this book here.

"Take A Hint, Dani Brown" by Talia Hibbert

take a hint dani brown
"Take A Hint, Dani Brown." Harper Collins

Danika Brown is done with romance. All she wants is a casual fling, and when Zafir Ansari storms to her rescue during a fire drill, he seems like the perfect fit.

But things get complicated when a video of his chivalry goes viral and the internet becomes obsessed with the pair. Zafir asks Dani to lean into the rumors, as the publicity could help his children's charity get the money it desperately needs. She agrees for the kids' sake — with the ulterior motive of getting steamy with Zafir in private.

Zafir isn't interested in casual, though, and the secret hopeless romantic is making Dani question everything she believed about love, even though he's got his own reasons to be guarded. In Talia Hibbert's "Take A Hint, Dani Brown," two people have to figure out if the universe really does want them to be together.

Find out more about this book here.

"Recipe for Persuasion" by Sonali Dev

recipe for persuasion
"Recipe for Persuasion." Harper Collins

Sonali Dev gives Jane Austen's "Persuasion" a modern update in "Recipe for Persuasion." It stars Chef Ashna Raje, who is struggling to keep her restaurant afloat. Getting cast on "Cooking with the Stars," a competition show that matches celebrities and chefs, seems like the perfect solution.

But Ashna is paired with soccer star Rico Silva, who happens to be her first love, making her redemption plans more complicated. Both Rico and Ashna are out to prove they're doing just fine since the breakup, though all the audience can see is connection between them.

Their on-screen chemistry causes chaos on social media, making it harder and harder for Ashna and Rico to ignore the feelings they still have for each other.

Find out more about this book here.

"Boyfriend Material" by Alexis Hall

boyfriend material
"Boyfriend Material." Amazon

Luc O'Donnell isn't supposed to be famous. It's not his fault his rock-star dad — who he's never met — is getting a second chance at his career. But his paternal connection has made him a paparazzi favorite, and a not-so-flattering photo is leading people to talk.

Enter Oliver Blackwood, a vegan lawyer who is the epitome of class. Even though they have nothing in common, Luc and Oliver make a deal to have a PR relationship, parading around town on fake dates to improve Luc's reputation.

As the fake relationship continues, Luc and Oliver's connection starts to feel more real. Their feelings for each other might be more authentic than they anticipated. 

Find out more about this book here.

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