When I find myself getting too lost in complex fantastical fictional worlds or twisted dark thrillers, I always read a romance novel right after to bring me back to reality. Romance books are arguably the easiest genre to get through, but with so many out there, it’s just as easy to get lost in the possibilities, not to mention the stigma or side-eye glance some people will give you if you’re reading a book with a shirtless man and helpless maiden on the cover.
We’re here to take the stigma away from romance books. It’s OK to read romance! Embrace the cheesiness, settle in, and take a break from reality with two characters who definitely totally met like that and of course have a perfect job and apartment. We’re kidding—the great thing about modern romance books is how much more realistic they’re getting, allowing the story to pull you in while the passion keeps you wanting to turn the pages. Whether you’re looking to pursue the genre seriously or just as a simple hobby, we promise you the romance books below are sure to captivate you. And if our stamp of approval isn’t enough, you can rest easy knowing every single book on this list came highly recommended by millions of readers on Goodreads.
Reading this book feels like warm weather and drinking a cold and refreshing cup of lemonade as the season starts to change. Seriously, it makes you feel that good. First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is America’s Golden Child, but after a public altercation with His Royal Highness Prince Henry himself, the two have to pretend to be friends to keep up a cordial image. Things don’t always go as planned of course, and the fake friendship seems to blossom into something more.
I strongly believe in reading seasonally, so that means darker books in the winter/fall and lighthearted stories in the spring/ summer. This is the exception. No matter what time of year it is, it’s sure to make you feel good. January Andrews writes romance novels, and her neighbor, Augustus Everett, writes serious literary fiction (kind of like what I’d read in the fall). When they both face a bout of serious writer’s block, they find inspiration within each other in the most unexpected ways.
Is it just me or does every great romance novel have a wedding scene in it? In the midst of Olive’s sister’s wedding where she’s forced to spend multiple days with Ethan, her sworn enemy who’s also the best man, everyone at the wedding except for these two end up getting sick. This brings about the million-dollar question: Who’s going to the already-paid-for honeymoon? The two attempt to stop hating each other long enough for a free vacation, but like any classic enemies-to-loves story goes, it’s not without a little push and shove.
Poppy and Alex have been best friends for a decade despite being complete opposites. One year, on their annual vacation, their friendship falls apart, and they haven’t spoken since. Poppy is determined to change that and reconnect with the best friend she misses so much.
Khai Diep believes he has no feelings. When it comes to emotions, he processes them differently due to his autism, which has gotten in the way of expressing certain important ones—like grief or affection. When Esme Tran leaves Ho Chi Minh City for America to meet a potential husband, Khai and Esme’s lives become intertwined in a way they both did not see coming.
Fake relationships turning into real feelings? Sign me up, please. Olive (yes, another Olive!) is a third-year Ph.D candidate who doesn’t believe in relationships. After trying to convince her best friend that she is in the dating scene, she evidently does so with a young and gorgeous professor in her program. Olive eventually comes to learn that a calculated love experiment is a lot more complicated than she thought it would be.
It's your classic enemies-to-lovers, fake-wedding-date story—but with a few twists and turns. Catalina Martín is bringing her coworker Aaron—whom she hates—to her sister’s wedding in her Spanish hometown. If you’re into a slow-burning romance, this one is definitely for you.
Tiffy and Leon share a flat and a bed—but have never met. A zany way of living together on a budget, Tiffy Moore desperately needed somewhere to live and Leon Twomey desperately needed money. Leon occupies the space while Tiffy works in the daytime and vice versa while Leon works in the night. Talk about a meet-cute, am I right?
A romance that also tugs on the heartstrings, this emotional Colleen Hoover novel revolves around mother-daughter duo Morgan and Clara. Morgan wants the best for her daughter, while Clara just doesn’t find inspiration from her mother at all. The two find solace in unexpected people after enduring a tragic accident, but it pushes the two apart. You’ll want to grab the tissues for this one.
After a close encounter with death, Chloe Brown vows to live her life to the fullest extent possible, mistakes and all. With a list full of adventures, she enlists major hottie Redford ‘Red’ Morgan to assist her. This modern-classic romance novel has it all, from killer chemistry to steamy passion.
Danika Brown will stop at nothing until she gets what she wants, and right now, she is in search of a friend-with-benefits. Enter Zafir Ansari, the security guard who saves her very publicly from a workplace fire drill. The world is rooting for them to date, and after a little convincing from Zaf’s end, she agrees to do the whole fake-relationship thing, but not without a little trick up her sleeve. This novel is oh-so-sweet and sure to have you curled up all day until you finish it.
We’d never give you a list of romance books without the classic Groundhog Day trope. You want to know what makes it even better? This one’s a holiday novel. Maelyn Jones wishes for something new, and before she knows it, she’s living the same day every day. This is a romance, remember? The loop isn’t going to end until she finds her perfect match under the mistletoe.
Bea Schumacher is a plus-sized fashion blogger whose guilty pleasure is a cheesy dating reality show called Main Squeeze. When she gets the opportunity to be the star, she vows to not catch feelings at all. Turns out, the show was a lot more serious than television depicted it to be.
Kristen Petersen is learning that she might not be able to have kids. But when she meets ultra-sweetie Josh Copeland while planning her best friend’s wedding—remember what I said about weddings?—she falls head over heels. The only thing is that Josh wants a huge family, and knowing she can never give him what he truly wants, she knows he’s better off with someone else, so she tries (emphasis on the try) to keep him at a distance.
Lydia loses the love of her life in a tragic accident, and as she attempts to reenter the world, she’s given a chance to be reunited with her lost love. But what happens when her two lives are within two completely different worlds? This romance story is sure to have you turning page after page.
Luc O'Donnell begins a fake relationship with goody-two-shoes Oliver Blackwood after Luc falls under public scrutiny while his rockstar father comes back into the spotlight. He needs to give off a nice and normal reputation, but as we all know, fake dating makes real feelings a bit complicated in the long run.
Single mother Jess Davis, a lover of all things numbers and data, finds a matchmaking service right up her alley: one that connects you with someone based on your DNA. After being connected almost perfectly to the service’s founder, Jess isn’t so sure she trusts it anymore. She already knows him, and she can’t stand him. When the company convinces her to get to know him a little better for monetary compensation, she learns that the science behind soulmates may be right after all.
A Schitt’s Creek-inspired romance, this book is about Piper Bellinger, who gets sent to work in her late father’s dive bar in Washington after too many Beverly Hill scandals. She keeps running into super-handsome sailor Brendan, who’s grumpy and doesn’t think she belongs in his small town. It’s sweet, spicy, and nearly impossible to put down.