Blog – Posted on Tuesday, Nov 03
The 60 Best Romance Novels to Sweep You Off Your Feet
Romance is a perennial favorite for readers everywhere, and it isn’t hard to see why. A good love story has drama, intrigue, laughs, and, if you’re lucky, a little heat; while the very best romance novels can feel just like falling in love — intimate and personal, yet huge and life-changing all at once.
We’ve compiled a list of our all-time favorite romance novels, from historical regency romance to contemporary novels tackling love in the digital age. So whether you’re searching for a how-to guide or cautionary tale (and there are plenty of those), you’re hungry to read the next rom-com blockbuster before it hits Netflix, or you just want to lose yourself in timeless romance tropes, we’ve got you covered! 💘
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1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Though Jane Eyre might be ‘poor, obscure, plain and little’, her love story is anything but. One of the authoritative classics of the genre, Jane Eyre’s enduring popularity is testament to the power of its central romance. Jane, a destitute young orphan, arrives at the home of the mysterious Mr Rochester in search of employment, but finds far more than she bargained for. The naïve and uncertain Jane is magnetically drawn to her brooding employer, but will the twisted secrets lying at the heart of Thornfield Hall undermine their budding relationship? Written at a time when most romantic heroines were preternaturally pretty, the headstrong, wilful, yet utterly average Jane is a subversive breath of fresh air — or should we say Eyre?
2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
A sprawling epic that takes readers across continents in the name of love, Anna Karenina is one of the longest books on this list, coming to an intimidating 800+ pages. But those who persevere with this colossus of a novel are richly rewarded. In what is considered by many to be the best romance novel of all time (and, we think, one of the best books to read in a lifetime), Tolstoy tells the story of an extramarital affair and its fallout in Imperial Russian society. When Anna runs away with the handsome Count Vronsky, excitement gives way to paranoia, isolation, and regret, as we witness the unravelling of their relationship, and of Anna herself. As much a cautionary tale as it is a romance novel, Anna Karenina is a richly imagined portrait of both the agonies and ecstasies of love.
3. Love in the Time of Cholera (Oprah's Book Club) by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
Florentino Ariza has been waiting for 50 years for his true love to return. That’s not to say he’s been bored: he’s passed the time by having no fewer than 622 love affairs, which he has painstakingly recorded in his notebooks. Despite his dalliances and the passing of decades, when the man who married his childhood sweetheart dies, a now elderly Florentino seizes the opportunity to declare his love once more. An astonishing exploration of devotion and reunions, and the unrealistic expectations we place on those we love, Love in the Time of Cholera doesn’t just ask whether the hero will get the girl — it asks whether he should. They don’t just hand out the Nobel Prize for Literature to anyone, so it’s safe to say we’re in good hands with Gabriel Garcia Márquez.
4. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
This classic fish-out-of-water tale follows Margaret, a nineteen-year-old girl whose life is turned upside down when her family relocates from a sleepy village to Darkshire — a rough and restless industrial town in the north of England. Margaret finds a new calling, advocating for the poor and disenfranchised, but it brings her into direct conflict with imposing mill owner John Thornton. Can the two find any common ground, or will misunderstanding keep them at odds? Heart-warming and ahead of its time, North and South isn’t just a beautiful romance, it also has a lot to say on politics, gender, and religion, so one for the history buffs, too!
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
It is a truth universally acknowledged that any list of the best romance novels must be in want of at least one Jane Austen title (we’ve gone for three!). And Pride and Prejudice is by far the English humorist’s most famous story. It’s a tale as old as time: boy meets girl; boy and girl bicker and declare their contempt for one another; boy and girl realise over time that there is, in fact, more to one another than meets the eye — but has this realisation come too late? It might now be a rom-com trope, but Pride and Prejudice is one of the oldest and greatest examples of the thin line between love and hate. Elizabeth and Darcy’s romance is as honest as it is unexpected, and Austen’s characters are so vividly realised and so utterly believable that you’ll be gasping, cringing, and crying along with them.
6. Emma by Jane Austen
Austen once set out in a letter the perfect subject for a novel — “Three or four families in a country village” — and the description fits Emma well. The glue that holds these families together (and our beloved heroine) is Emma Woodhouse. Clever, rich, beautiful, and utterly deluded, she’s determined to meddle with the hearts of her neighbours, but sees no need to find a husband herself. The novel bends narration through the distorting lens of our protagonist, making for a genius coming-of-age story and a work of comic brilliance. No matter who plays them, in what adaptation, her characters never fail to be laugh-out-loud funny!
7. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
The third and final instalment in our ode to romance titan Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility is a novel of lies, secrets, and seduction. Following two sisters — one wild and impulsive, the other quiet and sensible — it brilliantly portrays a world of money and status, gossip and innuendo, where rigid social convention governs the impulses of the heart. Through their parallel experiences of love and heartbreak, will these two young women learn to strike a balance between wearing your heart on your sleeve and concealing your true feelings?
8. Maurice by E.M. Forster
The brave and passionate tale of a young man’s sexual awakening, this intensely personal novel was written by Forster in 1914, when homosexual relationships were not only stigmatised, but illegal. Languishing in a drawer for fifty-seven years, Maurice was published after the author’s death, and quickly celebrated as a powerful, moving, beautifully-written love story. It chronicles the experiences of a privileged but modest young man, who comes up against unrequited love, heartbreak, and society politics on his journey to self-discovery. If you’re scouring this list for brilliant LGBT books, look no further!
9. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
As Goldman himself writes in the introduction, “dollars to donuts you’ve seen the movie”. But if you haven’t read the book that inspired the cult hit, you’ve missed a trick. A spoof fairy tale, a sharp satire, and a rocket-powered fantasy, all brilliantly disguised as a love story — there’s absolutely nothing fluffy about The Princess Bride. In fact, though there’s plenty to giggle about in the story of Buttercup and Prince Humperdink, you might also call this novel a tightly-plotted thriller. So if you’re of a nervous disposition, maybe stick to fairy tales meant for kids.
10. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Reading Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles is an affecting experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. Its heroine, Tess Durbyfield, is so beautifully and sympathetically drawn that you cannot help but feel crushed as the world conspires against her; betrayed by men who exploit her, a society that casts her out, and by the callousness of her religion. As the seasons change, and Tess changes with them, it’s clear that she identifies most with the natural world — and it is here that the intensity of Hardy’s imagination comes into its own. His lush and evocative descriptions, metaphors, and parallels make this tragic romance novel a poetic masterpiece.
11. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The first and only novel by an elusive icon, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights plunges headfirst into an exploration of the violence of doomed romance. Amid the bleak and feral atmosphere of the Yorkshire moors, the novel revolves obsessively around the tempestuous course of Cathy and Heathcliff’s self-destructive love affair. A gothic novel of intense passion, betrayal, and bitter vengeance — underpinned by the quiet beauty of Brontë’s lyricism — Wuthering Heights is an iconoclastic masterpiece that has inspired film-makers, novelists, poets, and song-writers for generations.
12. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
The quintessential love story that has spawned countless retellings and inspired who knows how many writers, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet — the story of two star-crossed lovers from rival houses — wrote many of the rules of tragic romance. From iconic scenes like the balcony soliloquy, to legendary one-liners (“A plague o’ both your houses”, anyone?), and the ending that defined the romantic tragedy genre, any aspiring romance connoisseur should get this one under their belt.
13. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
A dark, twisted tale told almost exclusively as a flashback, Rebecca follows the nameless protagonist and her speedy marriage to a mysterious but charming stranger, Maxim de Winter, whom she meets on a business excursion. Things quickly become unsettling, as the protagonist learns of the troubling questions surrounding Maxim’s previous wife, Rebecca, whose spectre haunts their relationship. As Maxim’s carefully curated image — and their relationship — unravels further, the protagonist falls deeper into the shadow of Rebecca’s legacy. If you’re one who enjoys indulging in dark romance plots with thriller or mystery elements, du Maurier’s novel may be one for you.
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14. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Spoiled Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara only ever had to worry about her love life, until poverty threatened to wipe out her family’s plantation. Doing everything she can to save their fortunes, Scarlett embarks on a series of unexpected adventures, traversing burning cities and bandit-filled forests. Despite her new priorities, Scarlett quickly finds that she cannot leave affairs of the heart behind completely, as she is torn between her beloved Ashley and the dashing but dangerous Rhett. A controversial presentation of Civil-War era America, Gone With the Wind explores the complexities of both romantic and platonic love. If you’ve seen the incomparable Vivien Leigh bring her to life on screen, it’s time to meet Scarlett on the page.
15. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
The Thorn Birds explores the tangled web of three generations of one Australian Outback family, carefully tracking their loves and losses over the course of 50 years. The emotional heart of the novel lies in the illicit relationship between Meggie, the daughter of the family, and Ralph, a priest in the local parish. Their attraction is dangerous, forbidden — and difficult to resist. Will they ever be together, or will the seemingly insurmountable obstacles between them keep them apart? This sweeping panorama of life in a rural sheep station from 1915 to 1969 is an Aussie cultural mainstay — it’s the best-selling book in Australian history!
16. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
The story of Noah and Allie is captured in three intertwined snap-shots: their teens, their early thirties, and old age. As our mysterious, elderly narrator unpacks these nesting dolls, we gradually learn about the love affair between our protagonists. The universe appears to have conspired to keep these childhood sweethearts apart: with meddling families, possessive fiancés, and World War II thrown into the mix, will they ever find their way back together? Some might dismiss it as chick-lit, but The Notebook is a guaranteed tear-jerker — every time. Who would have thought the words "if you’re a bird, I’m a bird" could pack such an emotional punch?
17. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
Popular and outgoing class president Landon doesn’t think he has much in common with the preacher’s daughter Jamie, until circumstance forces them together. A last-ditch effort to get a date to the high school dance leads to an unexpected romance in A Walk to Remember, Nicholas Sparks’ follow-up to smash hit The Notebook. As Landon and Jamie slowly find common ground, and an appreciation for one another, A Walk to Remember proves that love can be found in surprising places. It’s a charming and sweet read, but, be warned — it’s another Sparks tear-jerker. How does he always get us?
18. Indigo by Beverly Jenkins
A member of a wealthy, free Black family, Galen Vachon has a lot to lose when he decides to become a member of the Underground railroad network, and join the effort to free enslaved Southerners. His risky lifestyle catches up with him when, attacked and injured, he is forced to seek sanctuary in the basement of a stranger. That stranger is Hester Wyatt, a former slave. Despite agreeing to nurse Galen back to health, their clashing personalities lead Hester to wonder whether she can keep her promise — not to mention the hostile forces that have started to come looking for him. Equal parts history and romance, this novel from NAACP nominee Beverly Jenkins will keep you on the edge of your seat.
19. Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
If you’re a die-hard fan of the television phenomenon Poldark, you’ll be delighted to hear that there are twelve (yes, twelve) novels to consume. A rich Cornish broth of love, rivalry, and discontent, Graham’s novels conjure up the lashing rains, the wild winds, and the crashing seas of 18th century Cornwall as his plots roar along the coastline. If you start with book one (a sensible choice) you’ll meet Ross Poldark as he returns from war in America. A Mr Darcy-come-Robin Hood hero, he rescues an urchin girl from a brawl and employs her as his maid — an act which will alter the course of his life for the next twelve books. Did I mention there are twelve?
20. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The best historical romance novels must all make great TV, because here’s another one that inspired a super sexy series. Before it became an epic costume drama, Gabaldon’s time-travelling novel introduced us to former British combat nurse, Claire Randall, and her roguish young love interest, Scotts warrior Jamie Fraser. There’s only one thing keeping this gorgeous couple apart…several centuries. On a trip to the Highlands with her husband Frank, Claire tumbles back in time to 1743, and finds herself caught between two very different lives, and two very different men. If you’re looking for a best-selling romance novel that’s got it all — passion, intrigue, danger, and time travel — Outlander is your one!
21. A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
A recent release that’s already considered vintage Allende, A Long Petal of the Sea is suffused with a vibrant sense of time and place as it traces its story through forty years of authoritarian rule in Spain. Allende’s novel begins when pregnant widow, Roser, and her brother-in-law, Victor, flee fascist Spain aboard a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda. Arriving in Chile, they immediately embroil themselves in a tangled web of characters connected by love and tragedy. A Long Petal of the Sea is a masterful historical romance novel, tinged with Allende’s hallmark magical realism. Don’t sleep on this one!
22. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
Living a quiet life and working in her family’s seafood restaurant in late 19th century England, Nan King is happy just the way she is — that is until Kitty Butler, a male impersonator and performer, whirls into her line of sight. Enchanted by her performances, Nan finally manages to meet Kitty and ends up becoming her dresser. The two head for big cities that Nan has never even dreamed of — and a passionate romance unfurls backstage that rivals the action onstage. For fans of historical fiction and lesbian romance, this rollercoaster of a novel will take you on exhilarating ride, filled with titillating insight into the raunchy underbelly of 1890s England and the thrill of forbidden love.
23. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Beginning during WWI and spanning three generations, Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong is an epic novel about the power of war to strip everything from you, whether that be home, family, dignity — or love. With a few key couples dominating the pages in the style of Anna Karenina, we see the action through their eyes and feel their struggle to maintain hope after endless sacrifices. For those inspired by stories of love in the time of war, Birdsong evokes classics like War and Peace, wrapping wartime drama in a healthy coating of romance, intrigue, and sacrifices for the greater good.
24. Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
A long, hot Italian summer provides the backdrop to an equally steamy romance in Call Me by Your Name, the story of a young man’s romance with his family’s lodger. As tender and heartfelt as it is intense and passionate, Elio and Oliver’s love affair begins awkwardly, slowly, and tacitly, before building to unprecedented heights as the summer draws to a close. A modern classic of LGBT+ literature, this exploration of first love and sexual awakening is vividly realised, and astonishingly honest. The second you’re through reading, you’re sure to be clamouring for more. Luckily for you, Aciman released a sequel last year — so you won’t have to say goodbye to Elio and Oliver just yet.
25. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
When Henry and Clare bump into one another at the local library, it’s a classic meet-cute. Except, it’s not. Because Clare and Henry have met each other before — in fact, she’s known him her whole life. As it turns out, Henry’s a time traveler, and Clare is his future wife. A rare genetic condition causes Henry to jump uncontrollably along the timeline of Clare’s life. They decide to give things a shot after their ‘first meeting’, but, despite their deep love for one another, they face lots of challenges along the way; after all, it’s hard to keep up a relationship when one party is constantly dropping in and out of reality. Niffenegger’s touching novel is sure to pull at your heartstrings, as she leads us to consider how free will and destiny combine to determine who we end up loving.
26. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Stella loves logic. The problem is, love isn’t logical. A highflying mathematician, she’s never put much thought into finding a romantic partner. But when she decides it’s finally time to settle down, Stella comes up with a characteristically pragmatic plan: she’ll hire someone to teach her how to do it. Enter Michael, a handsome escort, who usually doesn’t do repeat customers. When he agrees to give Stella lessons in love, he finds himself drawn deeper into her life; suddenly, Stella isn’t the only one who’s learning. A charming and affectionate portrayal of the love life of a neurodivergent woman, The Kiss Quotient is a breath of fresh air — we doubt you’ll have read a romance quite like this before.
27. When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri
When Katie Met Cassidy is every inch the classic Nora Efron-style rom-com, with one simple difference — both our protagonists are women. Katie is a small town girl, reeling from the breakdown of her engagement. Cassidy is a high powered businesswoman, living and thriving in New York’s gay scene. A chance meeting is enough to cement their fate, and the two women are drawn uncontrollably to one another. Joyous, hilarious, and deeply sexy, Perri’s novel is not just an exploration of sexuality and gender nonconformity, but a sparkling subversion of the romantic comedy form.
28. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Will Traynor is living a lonely life. Recently left quadriplegic by a motorcycle accident, his formerly fast-paced life has ground to a halt. Enter Lou; bubbly, funny sunshine in human form. Will’s mother has hired her to help care for Will, in the hopes of lifting his perpetually dour mood, but the intrusion is not a welcome one — at least at first. Over time, the two come to understand one another a little better, though Will remains insistent on keeping Lou at arm’s length, while she struggles to understand what he’s so afraid of. Will she be able to break down his walls? You’ll shed a tear or two, but you won’t be able to resist falling in love with Me Before You.
29. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Emily Giffin’s best-selling romance novel is for every woman that’s been the sidekick in a lopsided friendship. In this story, it’s Rachel White: hard-working attorney, consummate good girl, and diligent maid of honour to her dazzling best friend Darcy — who happens to be marrying the man that Rachel is in love with. Yeah, that wasn’t part of the plan. (Well, she did set them up, but what are best friends for?) Things start to spiral out of control when Rachel drunkenly confesses her feelings to Darcy’s fiancé, and is both delighted and devastated to hear he feels the same way. It might be a classic romance trope, but this knotty love triangle will have you on the edge of your seat to the very end.
30. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Probably the best romance novel of 2019, Casey McQuiston’s queer, royal love story didn’t just take the New York Times bestseller list by storm, it broke the internet. A kaleidoscope of popular influences, dripping in internet lingo, Ariana Grande references, and memes aplenty, Red, White & Royal Blue is the book we were screaming for. It’s set in an alternate reality where in 2016, a Democrat became the first female president of the US, and follows First Son Alex — a twenty-something, biracial, modern-day Kennedy. The action begins at a royal wedding, when Alex is told to play nice with his childhood nemesis, the Prince of Wales. As the famous pair fake a bromance for the cameras, behind the scenes… well, you know where this is going.
31. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Lucy Hutton doesn’t dislike Joshua Templeman. She doesn’t reluctantly tolerate him. She hates him. And she has to sit across from his joyless, infuriatingly handsome face every day. To be fair to Joshua, the feeling’s mutual. Lucy’s a people pleaser — the kind who wears yellow to work — and she pushes all his buttons. Now they’re up for the same promotion, and this bitter workplace rivalry is about to reach boiling point. But when tensions run high, you know what they say: there’s a thin line between love and hate. Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game is an unmissable treat for anyone who loves a rom-com about that undeniable spark between nemeses.
32. Normal People by Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney was recognised as both a gifted writer and a perceptive and nuanced observer, when she released her debut novel Conversations With Friends. In Normal People, she captures the zeitgeist with the same subtlety and skill. It’s an intimate love story of deceptive simplicity: Marianne and Connell are two mismatched young people —unlikely friends, unlikely lovers — who share a profound understanding. However, as their small town lives in rural Ireland are eclipsed by the heady and confusing world of student Dublin, the ways in which they mould each other reveal a universal truth about the lasting impact that one person can have on another. Dripping with longing and regret, and steered by two deeply vulnerable characters, this novel remains immensely readable — one of the best romance novels of the 21st century.
33. Beach Read by Emily Henry
Henry’s smart and steamy page-turner, Beach Read, gave us all a sizzling slice of the summer romance we missed out on in 2020. In an effort to crack a crippling case of writer’s block, January, a hopeless romantic, and Gus, who thinks happy endings are for fairy tales, don’t swap numbers, but genres. Before the summer is out, January must write the next great work of literary fiction, while Gus has to pen a bestselling romance novel. Two writers, two beach huts, and plenty of whipcrack banter — let’s hope Henry is an author with a soft spot for happily-ever-after.
34. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
Everything in Lily’s life seems to be falling into place. She’s got a new place in Boston, her own business, and she’s convinced gorgeous neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid to break his “no-dating” rule. Her old life in small-town Maine certainly seems a long way behind her. But as questions about her new relationship, and Ryle’s stubborn aversion to dating, begin to overwhelm her, Lily can’t help but wonder about Atlas Corrigan — her first love, and a link to the world she left behind. So when Atlas appears in Boston, everything she has with Ryle is suddenly thrown into question. This unforgettable tale is as heartbreaking as it is thrilling; prepare yourself for a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
35. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
A New York Times bestselling romance novel and a favorite among book clubs and celebrity book-lovers alike, The Proposal is a fun and flirty novel about a second chance at love. Guillory kicks off with a man on one knee; it’s not the usual way to start a love story, but this proposal isn’t followed by happily ever after. When Nik’s boyfriend asks her to spend the rest of her life with him, saying no isn’t the hard part (the guy can’t even spell her name right!) — it’s doing it in front of a stadium full of disappointed baseball fans. Luckily, handsome doctor Carlos is there to sweep her away from the frenzy and into an epic rebound of food, fun, and fantastic sex. But how serious can their glorified hookups get before someone slams on the brakes?
36. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Part tragic romance, part coming-of-age, part war trauma — Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a heart-wrenching, expansive look at a lot of hard truths. Little Dog, a Vietnamese refugee in the U.S. and protagonist of this semi-autobiographical novel, tries to find solace in the small comforts of his life in the working class town of Hartford, Connecticut but realizes that he wants to grow beyond his current horizons. The reader follows Little Dog as he chases the American Dream, pursues a growing romance with a farm boy who’s struggling with his family’s homophobia, and questions how to be happy in the shadow of grief and trauma. A raw, poetic, and dark experience, if you enjoy a large helping of hardship and identity crises with your romance, this might be your cup of tea.
37. Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Go to jail or marry the mystery man her father has set her up with — headstrong Daisy Devreaux chooses the latter. Her new husband, Alex Markov, is a deadpan grade-A jerk who seems to have no patience for Daisy’s bourgeois tastes and flights of fancy. But as they work on restoring a rundown traveling circus, their growing influence on each other becomes impossible to ignore. Fans of stubborn romantic leads (à la Annie and Frank from Annie Get Your Gun), quirky settings, and the time-tested city-girl-in-the-country trope may find a winner in Kiss An Angel.
38. Vision in White by Nora Roberts
Mackensie Elliott is head of her own wedding planning business and firmly believes she’s better at capturing other people’s special days than she would be at experiencing her own. But when Mackensie hits it off with the seemingly humdrum Carter Maguire, a high school English teacher who’s definitely not her type, her friends encourage her to make the first move. What begins as a casual fling becomes something more, and Mackensie has to ask herself if she’s willing to step out from behind her cool and collected facade and seize her own happiness. Readers looking for a tentative slow burn and a strong female lead will find a perfect match in Roberts’ charming Vision in White.
Young Adult Romance
39. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
It’s faced more than its fair share of backlash, derision, and parody, but it’s impossible to deny that few books have influenced the cultural zeitgeist as much as Twilight. It’s the book that led a generation of teenage girls to genuinely debate whether vampires or werewolves were hotter, and that launched an entire renaissance of paranormal romance books. No matter what the critics say, it’s the definitive high school romance turned struggle against a vampiric death cult — so why not revisit Twilight mania, and see what all the hype was about? Oh, and P.S., we’re totally team Edward.
40. Forever . . . by Judy Blume
‘Sybil Davison has a genius IQ and has been laid by at least six different guys’. So begins Judy Blume’s Forever… Is it any wonder that this YA book has been a favorite under-the-covers read ever since its release in the 70’s? This refreshingly honest presentation of teenage sexuality was deeply controversial because of its raunchy subject matter — it’s even been banned from several libraries — but it remains a classic. Katherine and Michael’s high school romance is a charming coming-of-age story that’s sure to have you laughing and cringing in equal parts.
41. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Imagine if all your high school crushes suddenly knew every embarrassing thought you’ve ever had about them. That’s what happens to Lara Jean, a sixteen-year-old girl whose life is turned upside down when letters she’s written to all the boys she’s ever loved — letters that the recipients were never supposed to see — are sent. Naturally, the fallout is chaotic. Jenny Han’s sugary sweet novel not only spent 40 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, it was also adapted into a blockbusting movie. If there’s one thing you should take away from this one, it’s to keep your top secret love letters under lock and key.
42. The Selection by Kiera Cass
Fans of dystopian novels (think The Hunger Games) will find a lot to love in The Selection, the first in Kiera Cass’ Selection series. After being selected to compete for the heart of a Prince, America is forced to leave behind her home and the boy she secretly loves but cannot be with. What she doesn’t expect is to start falling for the handsome prince. With a Netflix adaptation in the works, now’s your chance to get ahead of the hype and join this YA series’ cult following before it’s cool.
43. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
An internet phenomenon that has a special place in the hearts of superfans everywhere, Rainbow Rowell’s young adult romance is as charming as it is candid. Cath is a fanfiction-writing, premiere-attending, card-carrying fangirl. Her twin sister Wren used to be the same, But now they’re in college, Wren has lost interest in geeky pursuits — she’s far too busy partying, making friends, and being cool. She’s also lost interest in Cath. Without her sister for the first time, Cath is forced to navigate the confusion and loneliness of being a freshman all alone. Will the cute guy in her creative writing class be a welcome distraction? How about her new roommate’s friendly ex-boyfriend...?
44. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Another Rainbow Rowell novel met with critical acclaim, Eleanor & Park is an urgent, breathless, gut-punch of a love story about two teen misfits and one life-changing school year. It’s 1986 when Eleanor arrives in her new town, all chaotic red hair and mismatched clothes. She takes a seat on the school bus and finds herself next to Park — quiet, understated, and impossibly cool. Carefully yet wholeheartedly, over late night phone calls and countless mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. It’s that pure, fear-laced, heartbreaking kind of love you only experience when you’re sixteen — and trust us, your heart will melt.
45. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
When Anna’s father ships her off to boarding school in Paris, she’s less than thrilled to be leaving behind her friends in Atlanta — especially that cute guy she works with at the multiplex. But all is forgiven (and cute coworkers forgotten) when she meets Etienne St. Clair. He’s charming, smart, gorgeous...and tragically taken. But hearts have a way of coming together in the City of Love. So if Anna plays her cards right, her senior year might just end with the perfect first kiss. Relive the flutters of first love in Perkins’ wonderfully cheesy tale of crushes, complications, and croissants.
46. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
It’s 1987 and a hot summer’s day in El Paso, Texas, when Ari and Dante meet at a swimming pool. On the face of things, they have nothing in common. Ari is guarded, angry, and struggling to feel like he belongs. Dante is an open-hearted know-it-all, still figuring out who he is. But, as they spend the summer learning about each other, and discovering themselves, a friendship floods the lives of these two loners like a golden light. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a tender and lyrical reminder that love in all its many forms should be open, deep, and without shame.
47. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
High school junior Simon has a lot on his mind; but when a stray email falls into the wrong hands and he’s blackmailed by class clown Martin, he’s forced to play along — or he’ll be outed as gay, along with his increasingly flirtatious pen pal. As his friend group starts to fray and the situation becomes increasingly tenuous, Simon will have to keep up with the pace of change, or risk the life he knows crashing down around his ears. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a gay romance filled with warm fuzzies, dry humor, and supportive friendships. Albertalli’s feel-good novel is still able, however, to flirt with some bigger questions about homophobia and the experience of being a closeted teen in the American South.
48. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
In this romantic retelling of a perennial Classics favorite, Homer’s Iliad, Madeline Miller casts Patroclus as the awkward but lovable ancient Grecian nerd to Achilles’ jock. As the unlikely duo fight in battle, quarrel, and form a bond that grows deeper every day, their conflicting beliefs about the Trojan War threaten to tear them apart. Miller, a classics teacher herself, takes up Homer’s thread of lyrical prose while adding her own unique style and story elements. If you’re partial to Rick Riordan (who, incidentally, gave this book a glowing review!) and his ancient mythology series, but wished they had a more mature and romantic tone, look no further than The Song of Achilles.
49. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto is trying to recover from a family tragedy, supported by his friends and his girlfriend Genevieve. But when Aaron starts spending his time almost exclusively with new boy Thomas, he quickly comes to a number of realizations that he’s not altogether thrilled with. At the same time, a slot opens up for a memory-alteration procedure at the Leteo Institute, and Aaron has the choice of wiping the things he’d rather not dwell on out of his head forever. A grittier take on young adult romance, More Happy Than Not goes deep into themes of depression, homophobia, and suicide, while exploring the scientific possibilities of the not-too-distant future.
50. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
For three years, Hazel’s life has been nothing but terminal. Diagnosed with incurable cancer at the age of thirteen, she’s never had the chance to experience the thrilling awkwardness of being a teenager. In an attempt to find kids who understand, Hazel’s mother forces her to attend a truly miserable cancer support group. Enter: Augustus Waters. A charming, and unremarkably handsome amputee with an alarming optimism for life, Gus is a much-needed plot twist in the story of Hazel Grace. Bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is a witty tour de force about the thrilling and tragic business of being alive, and a heartbreaking (but never depressing) story about a love that lasts ‘forever, within the numbered days.’
51. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
When Sophia Stanton-Lacy is dropped on her aunt’s doorstep by her diplomat father, she’s not quite what any of her extended family were expecting. Self-assured, confident, and more than a touch rebellious, the beautiful and charismatic Sophy sweeps through London like a breath of fresh air. In the opinion of her stern cousin Charles, however, that fresh air feels more like a hurricane. This witty, sophisticated tale of societal intrigue and domestic dramas has a lot to offer Austen fans, and Heyer’s pacy comedy-of-manners is served with a generous helping of heart-stopping romance.
52. Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas
Annabelle needs a rich husband, and fast. Her family are in dire financial straits, and she must use every tool at her disposal to save them. There’s one major issue, however — her most tenacious suitor, entrepreneur Simon Hunt, has no interest in marrying her. As Annabelle struggles to resist his advances and keep her head in the game, Simon finds the chase even more exciting. This steamy regency romance is the first book in Kleypas’ mega-popular Wallflowers series, so once you’ve devoured this one (and we bet you will) there’s plenty left to enjoy.
53. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
A devilishly debonair womanizer is suddenly interred in an insane asylum, having suffered a stroke. The sheltered and naïve Maddy, fascinated by his scandalous reputation, is tasked with his care. Despite her Quaker upbringing and the brutality of their surroundings, the unlikely pair find themselves swept up in a passionate and intense love affair. As she grows closer to the Duke of Jervaux, Maddy begins to realise his playboy facade conceals hidden depths. New York Times bestseller Kinsale reminds us there’s often much more than meets the eye in this gripping, steamy, and desire-drenched novel.
54. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
Lord of Scoundrels may be the third in its series, but we can’t resist including it on this list. One of the most well-known and well received historical romance novels of all time, this regency read has had readers seriously hot under the starched collar for 25 years. When the independent and beautiful Jessica Trent rolls into town to save her brother from the influence of the caddish Sebastian, the two engage in a fierce battle of wits. When the tension between them reaches fever pitch, they’re caught in a compromising situation at a society party. Will Sebastian do what’s right to save Jessica’s reputation, or is he really as unscrupulous as she always suspected?
55. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
You’ve probably already read Fifty Shades — it was the biggest selling book of the 2010’s, after all. But if the pop culture phenomenon somehow passed you by, it’s never too late to give this kinky thriller a try. The story of hunky, troubled billionaire Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, a naïve student who (quite literally) falls headfirst into his life, started out as self-published Twilight fanfiction. Who could have imagined that this steamier-than-a-sauna novel would go on to sell over 125 million copies!
56. Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin
If there’s one thing more exciting than erotic fiction, it’s vintage erotic fiction. If you’re looking for retro erotica with a disarming feminist twist, look no further than Delta of Venus, a collection of 15 short stories written by Anais Nin in the 1940s. In sexy bitesize chunks, Nin regales us with stories of torrid love affairs and passionate trysts, told in what Nin herself refers to as ‘women's language, seeing sexual experience from a woman's point of view’. It’s as gorgeous as it was groundbreaking.
57. Twice In A Lifetime by Clare Lydon
Would you take a second chance at first love? This is the dilemma that Sally and Harriet face in Twice in a Lifetime. Teenage sweethearts, they broke up when Harriet moved away to college, breaking Sally’s heart. But a chance luggage mix-up at the airport brings them crashing back together. The sexual tension is heavy — but the emotional baggage is, too. Is it worth another shot? Scorching sex scenes are balanced out by genuine warmth and deeply likeable main characters in this LGBTQ+ erotic novel.
58. Rush by Maya Banks
Forbidden desire takes center stage in Rush, the first book in bestselling author Maya Banks’ Breathless trilogy, which follows the exploits of three very handsome, very successful, and very debauched business partners. Rush focuses on Gabe, who finds himself in a tight spot when he lays eyes on his best friend’s younger sister for the first time in several years. The attraction is instant. But will he get what he wants, or will outside forces intervene? Raunchy and compulsively readable, you’ll be rushing (pun intended) to find out what happens next in this erotic page-turner.
59. Bared to You by Sylvia Day
Another self-publishing success story in the vein of Fifty Shades of Grey, Sylvia Day’s Bared to You boasts a similarly devoted fan base — and a similarly intense love story. It’s often heartwarming, and always hot, but Bared to You is much more than just titillating. The story of Eva, a sexual assault survivor navigating her way to a healthy romantic life is surprisingly heartfelt. You’ll find you can’t help but root for our heroine as she finds love with the charismatic and equally complicated Gideon.
60. On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Scotland’s answer to Fifty Shades of Grey, this erotic romance novel is much more than just “innocent young graduate meets gorgeous billionaire and dot, dot, dot”. Jocelyn and Braden — the innocent young graduate and gorgeous billionaire, respectively — are exquisitely written characters, engaged in a captivating and bittersweet love story. They meet when Jocelyn moves to Edinburgh and takes up an apartment in a building owned by Braden. He immediately feels an intense attraction, but, knowing Jocelyn’s past has left her guarded, Braden proposes a ‘no-strings-attached’ arrangement. Witty dialogue and steamy sex scenes ensue, but how long can the fun last before they want more than just mind-blowing passion?
Developed a taste for fiery love stories? Why not check out our guide to New Adult books and their sleek, steamy collegiate romances?