Must read best romance books
If you’re looking for the next best romance book to add to your TBR, you’ve come to the right place. It’s only the first half of the year, but there are already dozens of romance novels that are on everyone’s radar. The new year is looking to be a promising year for debut authors. The same goes for well-established writers when it comes to this genre.
From subway meet-cutes to Regency-era drama to fake dating tropes to marriage of convenience angst, there’s something suitable for all your romance needs. A whole slew of escapist contemporary and classic-inspired stories are waiting for you to delve into their worlds. Are you as excited as everyone else to see what’s in store for this year’s best romance books? Read on down below for some book recommendations of what you should check out next.
Romance as a literary genre
Romance has always been a perennial favorite since man learned how to read and write. Epic love stories dating back to the classics of the classics — Chinese, Hindu, Greek, and other ancient mythologies. The genre itself is the broadest one in literature as it encompasses almost every book ever published. It can be a romance between humans, animals, mythical creatures, animated objects, or a cross between any mentioned and more.
Love, after all, is a universal language that transcends words and time. No matter where you are in the world, your culture has its ideas and beliefs about what love and romance mean. In literature, romance mainly pertains to romantic feelings between characters.
It may involve drama, declarations of love, intrigue, tension, intimacy, and other feelings associated with love. As a reader, it is entirely up to you if you find a book romantic, but for formal classification in literature, this genre is separated from others and defined as books about love.
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Best romance books of the year
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic hasn’t slowed down romantic literature. The genre always seems to thrive during disasters, perhaps due to some hopeful notion that love always wins despite the darkness. Whatever the reason, romance novel fans should rejoice as their favorite genre offers a wide variety of stories for this year.
Due to the worldwide impact of the coronavirus, the publishing industry was no exception for businesses that were hit hard. Some of the books listed here were published in 2020 but weren’t available in the U.S. until this year. Now, here are some of the best romance novels for this year that should be on your list without further ado.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Goodreads Rating: 4.32 Stars
Your new favorite best friends to strangers to lovers read it is here! Alex and Poppy have been best friends ever since they shared a car ride in college many years ago. For a whole decade, they planned one week of vacation together every summer.
Until two summers ago, that is, when everything changed — for the better or, the worse? They haven’t talked since. But Poppy is determined to fix everything if it means getting her best friend back.
She tries to convince Alex to take one last vacation. One tiny problem? She’s head over heels in love with him.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Goodreads Rating: 4.41 Stars
Twenty-three-year-old August is a certified cynic. She doesn’t believe in destiny and love and chocolates and HEA (happy ever after) and all that mushy stuff that happens in books and movies.
Then she meets Jane on the subway. Gorgeous, charming, mysterious Jane. But Jane isn’t just an old soul — she was time traveling from the 1970s and has been stuck in the present. Perfect for fans of time travel love stories like Jamie and Claire (Outlander) and Clare and Henry (The Time Traveler’s Wife), this contemporary LGBTQ+ story is electric.
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To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters
Goodreads Rating: 3.59
For historical romance lovers and classic fans of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, To Love and To Loathe is your next obsession. Widowed Lady Templeton, Diana, and Marquess of Willingham, Jeremy, are infamous for their frequent bickering and flirtation during events of the English high society.
One fine evening, a wager is agreed upon between the two — Jeremy will marry within the year, or Diana will pay up one hundred pounds. What started as a bet soon develops into something so much more.
She’s Too Pretty to Burn by Wendy Heard
Goodreads Rating: 3.70 Stars
We are calling all Young Adult fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars and the classic The Picture of Dorian Gray enthusiasts. This romantic thriller is right up your alley.
Artistic best friend Veronica and Nico meet the lonely, magnetic Mick, and she becomes their muse. Soon after, Veronica and Mick fall in love — not knowing their perfect summer is about to get ten shades of crazy. One fire, two murders, three drowned bodies, one suspect, and one stalker. Will they survive their summer?
Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson
Goodreads Rating: 3.79 Stars
Self-love comes first, no matter your age. This new coming-of-age YA novel is about Nala Robertson, a plus-sized girl who nabs the attention of Tye Brown, the hot MC of her cousin’s birthday.
Nala believes she can only keep Tye interested if she tells a few white lies here and there about her interests, just little things that would make her more interesting and compatible with her new crush. The problem is, she’s finding it hard to keep up with the lies as their relationship progresses. All is fair in love but staying true to who you are might be a losing battle.
Neon Gods by Katee Robert
Goodreads Rating: 4.29 Stars
Who doesn’t love a good Greek myth retelling? Unless you’re an avid fan of the original tales, retellings are a wonderful, imaginative way of telling ancient gods and creatures’ stories. This highly-anticipated retelling of star-crossed lovers Hades and Persephone will have fantasy fans on the edge of their seats.
Society darling Persephone Dimitriou dares to flee from the ultra-modern city of Olympus and her engagement to Zeus… only to end up in the forbidden undercity of his brother Hades. Sinful and sweet, this one is perfect for fans of A Touch of Darkness and Fifty Shades of Grey.
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You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
Goodreads Rating: 3.74 Stars
If you grew up watching telenovelas, this quirky, true love rom-com is for you. Jasmine Lin Rodriguez is a soap opera star, and an unfortunate breakup scandal has her face on every front page across tabloids.
Returning to her hometown in NYC, she vows to clean up her image. Being paired up with telenovela hottie Ashton Suárez derails this plan as the two starts on the wrong note. If they want their careers to continue, they have to make their chemistry believable.
Maybe a bit too believable?
Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola
Goodreads Rating: 4.10 Stars
In her debut collection, Bolu Babalola depicts beautiful love stories from the history and mythology of different cultures. These short stories are retellings of humans, mythical creatures, and magical adventures. From a high-born Nigerian goddess who longs to be truly seen to mortal women who long for companionship, this anthology is dedicated to decolonizing tropes that are dominantly Westernized to make space for the wonder in the folktales of other cultures.
A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
Goodreads Rating: 4.07 Stars
From the author of The House of the Spirits and The Japanese Lover, this epic novel centers around love so great, it spans decades and crosses continents. Amidst the Spanish Civil War, pregnant young Widow Roser finds companionship in her deceased lover’s brother, the dedicated army doctor Victor Dalmau.
To survive, the two must enter a marriage that neither of them desires. Exiled to Chile, they embark on SS Winnipeg as the rest of Europe erupts in more bloody wars. Starting over in a new country with practically a stranger spouse, the two lovers may find that home is closer than one might think.
Roommate by Sarina Bowen
Goodreads Rating: 4.14 Stars
Ever been a fan of boarding school romance? This novel is more adult than that, but it does have roommates to lovers trope. Kieran Shipley needs a roomie. He wasn’t expecting Roderick, someone from his high school and hometown that he left way back in the past, to be up for the job.
Kieran’s dilemma is he has way too many secrets to getting comfortable living with a stranger, no matter how seductive that lumberjack of a man might be. This MM romance is perfect for fans of Elle Kennedy, L.J. Shen, and Penelope Douglas.
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What is the greatest romantic book of all time?
There is no shortage of novels to choose from when it comes to the romance genre in literature. The best romance book of all time is the one you enjoy the most. It doesn’t have to be a New York Times Bestseller to be great for you. If you ask the special women in your life, their favorite romances may include some of the most popular romance novels ever written.
From enemies-to-lovers Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) to epic lovers Noah and Allie (The Notebook) to tragic lovers Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster (The Fault in Our Stars), these are only some of the most beloved couple in romantic literature. Other classics like Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby, The Princess Bride, and of course, Romeo and Juliet have also inspired thousands of romance novels in the wake of their publications.
Who are the best authors of romance books?
Much like the best romance books of all time, the best authors are also those whose writing you truly enjoy. Thousands of almost-unrecognized romance authors are brilliant but lack funding or marketing for their work to become mainstream. Some readers may say that the best romance authors are the classic ones, but that’s entirely debatable.
If sales and awards are to be the basis of greatness, the list goes on and on. Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, William Shakespeare, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Charles Dickens, Diana Gabaldon, Emily Brontë, and Margaret Mitchell are the only names.
Their books have spent many months and years on listicles of the greatest romance books of all time. Try to read one of their works and see for yourself if their impact is all that — but if not, no worries. To each their own, all that matters is you enjoy what you read.
For many, 2021 started with a semi-hopeful vibe as news of a vaccine for COVID-19 spread. People were finally starting to see the light at the end of this very long, dreary tunnel. It is a time for many to recover and pick themselves up after a full year of battling many obstacles the pandemic has thrown their way. What better way to find comfort and strength than curling up with a good book and a romantic one at that?
Romance books have always been an escape for most readers. Now, they are a source of hope as well. Love finds a way to thrive even during the most trying of times.
Share your love for romance novels by buying your family or friends one or two of your favorites as special day gifts for whatever occasion. If you find even just a sliver of comfort from the books listed here, that is already a gift in itself.