If you’ve ever met me, you know I love romance books.
Now, I’m not talking about the bodice rippers of yore- you know, those ones with Fabio or some suitably-ripped cis-hero clutching a nubile heroine to his chest as they stand in a dramatic landscape.
I’m talking about modern romance; this is anything and everything from romantic suspense-thrillers (think Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown), to rom-coms (Christina Lauren and Lyssa Kay Adams), and even historical classics that have been picked up by Netflix (the Bridgertons by Julia Quinn is amazing. Read it).
There is such a broad range of romance beyond what most people think. If you’ve never delved into the genre for fear of book shame, or for thinking that the genre is just “trash” (ohhhh I have things to say about that!), I’ve got just the list for you. And with e-readers these days, you never have to worry about someone seeing the cover! Romance is actually one of the largest-selling genres of literature out there in modern publishing, and nowadays there is such a diverse offering to read from. There is truly something for everyone.
Here I’ve compiled a list of books I personally am excited for and am reading or want to read. There’s a little bit of everything here, so hopefully you can find something you like! I’ve also noted where you can find the books through the library, whether in person (available for pickup), on Hoopla, or on Overdrive, and if they’re available on audiobook.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
I was very pleasantly surprised by this one, and it even made me tear up at the end. Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.They’re polar opposites. In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring cottages, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block. Until, one hazy evening and too much purse wine, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras
Besides having a cover that makes me want to run away to the Keys, the book also really made me want a mojito on a beach…Sought-after social media influencer Sara Vance, in recovery from an eating disorder, is coming into her own, with a potential career expansion on the horizon. But then her unreliable boyfriend is a no-show for a Florida family vacation, and her family is full of over-achievers. So Sara recruits Luis Navarro—a firefighter paramedic and dive captain willing to play the part of her smitten fiancé . . .Luis’s big Cuban familia has been in Key West for generations, and his quiet strength feeds off the island’s laidback style. Though guarded after a deep betrayal, he’ll always help someone in need—especially a spunky beauty with a surprising knowledge of Spanish curse words. Soon, he and Sara have memorized their “how we met” story and are immersed in family dinners, bike tours, private snorkeling trips . . . sharing secrets, and slow, melting kisses. But when it’s time for Sara to return home, will their island romance last or fade with the stunning sunset?
Girls of Summer by Nancy Thayer
Nancy Thayer is also a good summer read, and this is no exception. Lisa Hudson feels more alive than she has in a long time after hiring hunky carpenter Mack Whitney to renovate her old Nantucket home. There’s no denying the spark growing between them–despite the fact that Mack is ten years her junior. But her twentysomething children, Juliet and Theo, on the island for the summer, worry that the new relationship will only lead to Lisa’s heartbreak. Yet Juliet and Theo are in for tangled love stories all their own. By August, when an impending storm threatens to shatter the peace of the golden island, everyone discovers what they can and cannot control.
Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson
Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down. Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
Salsa dancing, telenovelas, silver foxes, oh my! After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country. After his last telenovela character was killed off, telenovela hunk Ashton Suarez is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.
- Releasing August 4, and will be available through the library for pickup. Bonus: we will also be reading this in September for the Romance bookclub at NOPL!
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
I have been eagerly awaiting this sequel to “Get a Life Chloe Brown,” and am so excited to get my hands on it! Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom. When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along.
Hideaway by Nora Roberts
Pretty sure I recommend Nora to anyone just starting to get into the romance genre…she remains one of my top five favorite authors, and every book she writes is written with soul. Hideaway is no different. After a traumatic event at her family’s home in Big Sur, California, Hollywood royalty Caitlyn Sullivan finds herself betrayed and fighting for her life as a child. After she escapes, we watch her grow up and become a Hollywood star, but she’s forced to return to Big Sur later in life, and confront her demons. She’s helped by local rancher Dillon Cooper, the same boy who helped her escape the monsters in the past.
The Rakess by Scarlett Peckenham
If you’ve read an historical romance, you maybe expect the hero to be the unrepentant rake, and the heroine to be the quiet, demure, homebody…well ladies and gents Peckenham turns this trope on its head in an amazing little book. Meet the SOCIETY OF SIRENS—three radical, libertine ladies determined to weaponize their scandalous reputations to fight for justice and the love they deserve…She’s a Rakess on a quest for women’s rights…Seraphina Arden’s passions include equality, amorous affairs, and wild, wine-soaked nights. To raise funds for her cause, she’s set to publish explosive memoirs exposing the powerful man who ruined her. Her ideals are her purpose, her friends are her family, and her paramours are forbidden to linger in the morning. He’s not looking for a summer lover…Adam Anderson is a wholesome, handsome, widowed Scottish architect, with two young children, a business to protect, and an aversion to scandal. He could never, ever afford to fall for Seraphina. But her indecent proposal—one month, no strings, no future—proves too tempting for a man who strains to keep his passions buried with the losses of his past.
No Offense by Meg Cabot
I have two words: Library. Romance. That’s it, that’s all you need to know. Molly Montgomery couldn’t be more thrilled about starting her new life as head of Children’s Services at Little Bridge Island’s brand-new public library. Happy to have left her problematic ex behind on the mainland, her new life feels like heaven . . . at least until she finds a newborn baby in the library’s public restroom. Then suddenly she begins to wonder if life in Little Bridge isn’t exactly paradise. But when Sheriff John Hartwell answers Molly’s 911 call, things begin to look up. Recently divorced John Hartwell has been having trouble adjusting to single life as well as single parenthood. It doesn’t help that his teenaged daughter, Katie, hates Little Bridge Island and wants to move to the mainland to live with her mom. But something in the sympathetic, smiling eyes of Molly Montgomery gives John hope that things on Little Bridge might be looking up after all—for both himself and, maybe, Katie. But can two such different people ever find happiness together?
- Coming August 11 to the library
Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
Kwan is the genius author behind the Crazy Rich Asians series, and in Sex and Vanity he returns returns with a glittering tale of love and longing as a young woman finds herself torn between two worlds–the WASP establishment of her father’s family and George Zao, a man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.
- Coming July 14 to the library
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Last year the world fell in love with Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Is Boyfriend Material a follow-up hit for fans missing our favorite young men? Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.
Lovewrecked by Karina Halle
Karina Halle is an author I turn to whenever I want to have an adventure, and fall in love at the same time. She’s written about numerous exotic locales including Cinque Terra, Italy, New Zealand (via a VW van), sunny Spain, rainy Edinburgh, and further abroad. In Lovewrecked our heroine and hero are stranded together following a honeymoon cruise (not their own) on an island in the middle of the South Pacific. Only problem is…they can’t really stand each other. Think Gilligan’s Island with the addition of a goat named Wilson.
- Soon through the library
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
This song gets stuck in my head whenever I see this title. Is that a bad thing?…I really don’t know. Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time—threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie. With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?
One Good Earl Deserves A Lover by Sarah MacLean
Sarah MacLean is another historical author whom I’ve begun turning to when I need a really good read. This book was the first I ever read by her and OMG it has become one of my ultimate favorite romance books. And I’ve read a lot of romance. Lady Philippa Marbury is odd. The bespectacled, brilliant fourth daughter of the Marquess of Needham and Dolby cares more for books than balls, flora than fashion and science than the season. Nearly engaged to Lord Castleton, Pippa wants to explore the scandalous parts of London she’s never seen before marriage. And she knows just who to ask: the tall, charming, quick-witted bookkeeper of The Fallen Angel, London’s most notorious and coveted gaming hell, known only as Cross.Like any good scientist, Pippa’s done her research and Cross’s reputation makes him perfect for her scheme. She wants science without emotion—the experience of ruination without the repercussions of ruination. And who better to provide her with the experience than this legendary man? But when this odd, unexpected female propositions Cross, it’s more than tempting… and it will take everything he has to resist following his instincts—and giving the lady precisely what she wants. (Bonus, this is part of an amazing series!)
Blitzed by Alexa Martin
Book 3 in Martin’s Playbook series, we return to the world of Pro-football and the wives and girlfriends who support the players. (Note- you don’t have to read these in order!) According to boss babe/bar owner Brynn Larson, Maxwell Lewis is more trouble than he’s worth. She doesn’t care if he’s a football god with a rock-hard body that brings most women to their knees. After an encounter that ends poorly, she’s not interested in giving him a second chance. The last thing Brynn expects is for him to turn up at her bar months later, hat in hand. It doesn’t matter if he brings more customers to her business–she’s still not going on a date with him. Maxwell knows he made a mistake. He’d been waiting to make his move on Brynn since the day he laid eyes on her and he was finally ready to go for it until he screwed up. He wishes he could tell her the truth about what happened that night, but he just can’t. He can’t tell anyone, so he’ll make amends and hope she’ll forgive him. Brynn’s not like other women, though. Playing for the Mustangs doesn’t impress her and gifts make her scoff. Max will have to bring his A game if he hopes to win her over.
Well, that’s all this time folks! I hope you see something in this list that makes you interested in trying out a new genre! If you’re an old romance lover, then yay! Carry on! If you’re new, welcome to the dark side…we have chocolate.
I would also like to take this opportunity to plug NOPL’s Romance Bookclub, Between the Covers. It is run by myself and fellow romance-loving librarian Jen Tolley. We meet on the third Thursday of every month for laughter, baked goods, and some good discussions on gender equality, inclusion in literature, and the merits of shirtless heroes. If you’re interested, feel free to reach out for more information!