The Romance Novel Lover’s Masterlist: 200+ Books & Series
If you’re like me and just need to space out all of your heavier read with a good romance book.. this is the list you didn’t even know you needed. There are so many types of romance novels.. and I love them all! I don’t even care about the setting, from regency romances with dashing dukes to space romances set far in the future whilst fighting intergalactic wars. It could be a slow burn or fast (and somewhat smutty)… Give me something romantic!
Here are all the categories of romance novels I cover in this post:
- Classic Romance Novels
- Contemporary Romance Novels with many subsections (Non-Smutty Romance Novels, Spicy Romance Standalone Novels, Spicy Romance Book Series, Dark / Super Emotional Romance Novels, Sports Romance Books, Women In STEM Romance novels, Colleen Hoover Romances, Emily Henry Romances and Contemporary Romances I Haven’t Read Yet)
- Historical Fiction Romance Novels (With a section specifically for the Regency era romances that so many of us love!)
- Fantasy Romance Books & Series
Classic Romance Novels
It’s cliché.. but I’m going to say it anyways. Pride and Prejudice is the OG romance novel, and I don’t care who disagrees.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – An incredibly long read but worth the plunge!
- Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – Charlotte Bronte also wrote
- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen- If you loved Pride and Prejudice, you must read Mr.Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll. It’s the slightly smutty tale of their life, and it’s SO good! Other books by Jane Austen include Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion.
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas pere – Arguably one of my favorite books of all time. This is the OG star-crossed lovers’ romance.
- The Lady of The Camellias by Alexandre Dumas fils – (*The author is the son of the writer of The Count of Monte Cristo.)
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anna Bronte
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Contemporary Romance Novels
There are SO many contemporary romance novels that I think the best way to divide them up is by the type of romance. Below you’ll find sweet romances, open-door smutty romances, sports romances, women in STEM romances, and the best romances by bigger name #bookTok famous authors like Colleen Hoover.
**P.S. I’m including romance novels from the past 20 years or so here because many really great books were written before Bookstagram became a thing!
Sweet / Non-smutty Romance Books
These are closed-door romance novels that don’t go into any sexual detail. If you’re not a fan of smut, you’ll enjoy these!
- Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino
- By Any Other Name by Lauren Kate – This one is super sweet and set against an NYC backdrop which made me love it more!
- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – Crazy Rich Asians is a three-part series that inspired the hit movie ‘Crazy Rich Asians’. If you loved the movie, you’d love the book because there’s so much more detail!
- French Holiday by Sarah Ready – This was so cute and will make you want to travel to France! (I received an advanced reader copy, but it’s out
- Hello Stranger by Katherine Center – She has a few other popular books as well: The Bodyguard, and Things You Save In A Fire – but Hello Stranger has been my favorite so far.
- In the Weeds by B.K. Borison
- Moorewood Family Rules by HelenKay Dimon – I LOVED this one! It was laugh-out-loud funny at times.
- One Day In December by Josie Silver
- The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes – This is a GREAT book and I’m so excited to read her latest ‘Someone Else’s Shoes’.
- The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall – A wedding planner/bridesmaid has to make an aristocratic wedding happen.. and by happen, we mean in a big way. Love a good romantic comedy!!
- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
- Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean – Asian literature **Also available on Kindle Unlimited
- Totally Forked by Penny Reid – These are folksy romances and so cute!
Spicy Romance Standalone Novels
Basically.. the smutty stuff? This first section is for standalone novels, but you can scroll for spicy romance book series!
- Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma – Dating Dr. Dil is my favorite by Sharma, but she also has a few other books: Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance and another book: Tastes Like Shakkar: A Novel coming our August 1st, 2023)
- Every Summer After by Carley Fortune – A New York Times Bestseller
- Marriage for One by Ella Maise – **Available on Kindle Unlimited
- Paradise by Judith McNaught – Second chance romance
- Romantic Comedy: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld – A Reese’s Book Club pick – these are usually pretty good books!
- Seven Days In June by Tia Williams – BIPOC author & characters
- Ten Trends to Seduce Your Bestfriend by Penny Reid – *Also available on Kindle Unlimited!
- The Stand-In by Lily Chu
- The Words by Ashley Jade – This is what I imagine Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly’s romance would have been if they were high school sweethearts? I was obsessed with them and even wrote a blog post on a Machine Gun Kelly road trip to Cleveland, Ohio! *Also available on Kindle Unlimited
Spicy Romance Novel Book Series
Once I find an author I like, I tend to read all of the books in that series just as comfort reads. They’re easy to come back to and it’s kind of a sure thing that the book will be at least a 3-star read.
- A Not So Meet Cute by Meghan Quinn – Followed up by So Not Meant to Be and A Long Time Coming, this immensely popular series is also available on Kindle Unlimited!
- American Royals Series by Katherine McGee – There are 4 books in this series, and the last two have not yet been published. American Royals III comes out May 2nd, 2023.
- Big Bossy Mistake (Manhatten Billionaires Book #1) by Lilian Monroe – I loved all of these. Don’t ask me why – they’re just really well-written! (These are accidental pregnancy romance novels – not everyone loves them so I had to drop a note for this highly controversial trope!)
- Dreamland Billionaires Series by Lauren Asher – There are 3 books in this series, all smutty and rotating around fictional men who own a massive theme park called Dreamland. **Also available on Kindle Unlimited!
- Indigo Ridge (The Edens Book #1) by Devney Perry – A woman decides to transform her life in a small Alaskan community and falls in love. Each book is the romance of a different woman in the town of Indigo Ridge. **Also available on Kindle Unlimited
- It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey – Arguably her most successful book; however, I liked My Killer Vacation better!
- Just Between Us by Madison Wright – This one is adorable and just made me think of fall in the South. **Also available on Kindle Unlimited **I’ve read all three of her books now including her latest – Just Friends – debuting July 14th, 2023!! All of them are so stinking cute.
- Powerless (Chesnut Springs Series Book #3) by Elsie Silver – There are four books in the series, but Powerless is the best one so far! *The whole series is available on Kindle Unlimited
- Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
- The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
- The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – Over 38,000 reviews on Amazon – this romance novel was so loved they made a movie!
- Things We Never Got Over (Knoeckemout Series Book #1) by Lucy Score This book has over 120,000 reviews on Amazon! (And the next book… Things We Hide From The Light was just released! ) *This series is also available on Kindle Unlimited
- Tis The Season for Revenge by Morgan Elizabeth – Surprisingly, really good! *Also available on Kindle Unlimited
- Twisted Love Series by Ana Huang – This series is massively popular, and she’s started a new series called the Kings of Sin which I personally think is the better series! **Both series are available on Kindle Unlimited.
Dark or Super Emotional Contemporary Romance Novels
The section of romance novels you’ll need therapy after or a seriously good cry in the shower! Not all of these are dark – some are just incredibly heart-wrenching? But I felt like they needed to go in the same place because they’re not light and happy by the pool type reads.
- A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks – If you didn’t absolutely bawl your eyes out watching this movie… I don’t know what to say.
- Emergency Contact by Mary h. K. Choi – A sad girl read
- Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James – These took the Internet by storm, and I’m pretty sure you’d have to have been living under a rock not to notice these books and movies in the last 10 years!
- Gothikana by RuNyx – A dramatically gothic love story.
- Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton – Will make you need therapy, but it’s ok because who doesn’t? (The author also came out with another book that people are equally obsessed with called Does It Hurt? – Apparently, that’s a page-turner as well. **All are on Kindle Unlimited
- In Five Years: A Novel by Rebecca Serle – Probably one of the saddest books I’ve ever read …
- Only Love Can Hurt Like This by Paige Toon – The British version of America’s Colleen Hoover
- The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller (An oldie but a goodie. There’s even a Meryl Streep movie that still makes women cry everywhere!)
- The Dead Romantics by Ashely Poston
- The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave – Part thriller and part tear-jerker, this is a compelling story about how far people are willing to go for those they love.
- The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
- Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin – Romance, platonic love, and video game designers, something I never thought I’d read, but it ended up being pretty good!
**This entire section is one that, for each, you’ll need to check the trigger warnings.
Sports Romance Novels
For some reason, this became a genre, and I’m not mad about it. The stories are usually really good and somehow always leave me feeling happy and ready for my next serious read. **All of these are smutty romance books.
- Her Football Star Ex by Judy Corry – I’m a sucker for a second-chance romance!
- Icebreaker by Hannah Grace
- Right Man, Right Time by Meghann Quinn – An age-gap romance novel and one I thoroughly enjoyed. (**Also available on Kindle Unlimited.)
- The Deal (Off-Campus Book #1) by Elle Kennedy – College-age sports romances
- The Right Move (Windy City Series Book #2) by Liz Tomforde – This is one of my favorite sports romance books in a long time!!
- The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata – Zapata is the queen of slow-burn sports romances!
Women In Stem Romance Novels
Yes. This is absolutely a genre and one that’s taken the Tiktok (or should I say #BookTok world) by storm in the last few years! (These also all have some element of smut but are really good!)
- Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
- Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez – This was a GREAT book and one of the best romances I read in 2023!
- The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas – This was my favorite of Armas’s books, even though her first, The Spanish Love Deception, was also very popular!
- The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – The first in a series of three romance novels about women with autism finding love!
- The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood – (Before you turn a blind eye to the nerdy romances, just know that this one took the romance lovers’ world by storm during the Pandemic!) Ali Hazelwood’s next book, Love Theoretically – Comes out in June 2023! )
- The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren – This is one of Christina Lauren’s most popular romance novels but Something Wilder was published recently, and I’m really excited about it. (I’ll be reading in April 2023 so I’ll let you all know!)
Colleen Hoover Romance Novels
I feel like these are all over the internet, and while they are romantic.. I wouldn’t necessarily classify them as the feel-good kind? Most of these are heart-wrenching and traumatic reads.. and people are either obsessed with CoHo or can’t stand her books.
- It Ends With Us — This also has a sequel, It Starts With Us, but I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my favorite!
- Reminders of Him – *The audiobook is available with Kindle Unlimited
- Regretting You – *The audiobook is available with Kindle Unlimited
- Verity – Listed as ‘romantic suspense’ – I didn’t find this one romantic. Mostly horrific – but it’s a great read nonetheless!!
Emily Henry’s Romance Novels
Another big name in the romance novel sphere! Every book of hers that I’ve read I’ve loved and these are definitely more the slow burn types that you can take with you on vacation and really savor.
- Book Lovers – Quite literally hugged this book to my chest when I was done! It’s so good.
- Beach Read – Reading this one now so I’ll report back.
- People We Meet on Vacation – This is my upcoming pool read!
- Happy Place – Out April 25, 2023
Contemporary Romances I Haven’t Read Yet
I’m really not sure where these lay on the smutty spectrum, so I’m putting them here, and when I read them, I’ll move them to a more appropriate category!
- A Cosmic Kind of Love by Samantha Young
- Autumn Nights by Willow Aster – A single dad sports romance **Also available on Kindle Unlimited
- Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan
- Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen
- Maame: A Novel by Jessica George
- The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab
- The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
- Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo
- You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria **Also available on Kindle Unlimited
Historical Fiction Romance Books
- Bringing Down The Duke (Book # of the League of Extraordinary Women Series) by Evie Dunmore – These aren’t Regency romances, they’re somewhat feminist Victorian-era romances, and I’m in love with the whole series!
- Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Will make any rock-n-roll romantic’s heart happy.
- Heart in The Highlands by Heidi Kimball – I loved this one! Such a great second chance romance – and also a quick read.
- Hotel of Secrets by Diana Biller
- Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus – This is one of my 5-star reads for 2023!
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – There are 9 books and an amazing TV just waiting for you to binge-watch.
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – SUCH a great book, and it’s been turned into movies. Personally, I like the latest rendition with Armie Hammer.
- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks – It’s weird that that’s historical fiction now?! But it’s true! The main plot of the story takes place in the late 40s and 50s.
- The Worst Woman in London by Julia Bennet – About a woman getting divorced and remarried in Victorian-era London. GREAT book! **Also available on Kindle Unlimited
- Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – SUCH an amazing book! I think everyone should read it!
Regency Romance Novels
Obviously, these have a historical fiction component, but there’s a very specific genre of romances surrounding a gilded era of regency-era royalty in England that’s become massively popular over the last 40 years.
- Bridgertons Series by Julia Quinn – This series is so massively popular that they made a Netflix series about it and renewed it for two more seasons! Currently, there are 8 books and more on the way.
- Pheobe: A Wickedly Witty Age Gap Romance (The Bellamy Sisters Book #1) by S.M. La Violette AKA Minerva Spencer **This series is also available on Kindle Unlimited
- The Heiress Gets A Duke (The Gilded Age Heiresses Book #1) by Harper St. George
- To Have and to Hoax (The Regencyh Vows Book #1) by Martha Waters
Fantasy Romance Novels
Love fantasy romance? I have two blog posts with over 100 books for you to devour based on reading preferences!
- 110 Adult Fantasy Romance Books & Series (AKA the Smutty Stuff)
- 30+ Young Adult & New Adult Books & Series (The Sweet Stuff)
The lists above can literally go on forever. Fantasy and romance combine two of my favorite genre so I read a ton of them. Of these books and series, in the last 20 years, these are the best of the best, and I’m constantly discovering more and more!
- A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas – If you loved Twilight and all of its angsty love, ACOTAR is basically the grown-up version you didn’t know you needed!! (There are currently five books in this series, and she’s writing more!)
- Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson – A two-part duology – also available on Kindle Unlimited.
- Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross – Part historical fiction, part whimsical fairytale; super excited to read this one!
- Entreat Me by Grace Draven – A Beauty & The Beast retelling.
- Feral Sins (The Pheonix Pack Book #1) by Suzanne Wright – Wright is the OG for smutty werewolf/shifter romance novels! *The audiobook and e-books are all available on Kindle Unlimited
- Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong
- From Blood and Ash (Book #1 in the FBAA Series) by Jennifer Armentrout
- Hooked (Book #1 from the Never After Series) by Katie McIntire – Of this list, this may be the most creative series I’ve run across in a while. The author has a penchant for darkly sexy fairy tales reimagined with smokin’ hot villains. I’ve read them all. They’re delicious!
- King of Battle and Blood (Book #1 of the Adrian x Isolde Series) by Scarlett St. Clair **Available on Kindle Unlimited
- Neon Gods (Dark Olympus Book #1) by Katee Meyer
- The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy Book #1) by Nora Roberts
- Sea of Ruin by Pam Godwin
- The Wolf & The Wildflower by Ella Fields – Ella Fields is one of the most underrated fantasy romance authors! She has more fantasy books, like her xxx series, and I’ve loved them all! **Almost all of her books are available on Kindle Unlimited.
- The Atlas Six (Atlas Series Book #1) by Olivia Blake – Blake also authored Alone With You In The Ether, which many people love even more!
- Twilight by Stephanie Meyer – Still inspiring memes and Edward Cullen obsessions in 2023, even though it was published in 2005!
By the end of 2023 – I plan on this list going up to 300+ books, and I’m sure it will keep growing from there because new authors are always popping up. Don’t forget to come back and look at my updates occasionally! — @Southern.Lady.Reads