We’ve come to the end of our second annual Grown-Up Guide to Romance Novels. Was it good for you? We want to finish strong with something that will leave you satisfied for the year ahead, so here’s our round up of favorite romance novels – some new, some old, some that are part of ongoing series, and a few one night stands. Whatever you’re into, we won’t judge!

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Rosemary

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Title: The Flatshare
Author: Beth O’Leary
Sub-Genre: Contemporary (and very British!)

Why You’ll Love It: 

This is not the sexiest sex-filled sex book of all time, I feel the need to warn you ahead of time. It is a rom-com about a girl named Tiffy who, needing a place to stay after breaking up with her emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend, enters into a deal with a stranger named Leon. Leon works nights, Tiffy works days, so the two plan to share a one-bedroom London flat at alternating times of day so they never see each other, or even meet IRL. Through a series of post-it notes left around the apartment, Tiffy and Leon get to know each other in the most intimate ways, and the resulting chemistry between them is the stuff of legend. I loved the complexities of both characters, and now I’m dying to see this as a movie starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Dev Patel.

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Title: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1)
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Series: Bromance Book Club
Sub-Genre: Contemporary

Why You’ll Love It: 

A book about a group of bros who start a romance book club to help each other save their marriages, what’s not to love? I was a little skeptical about this one, mostly because I wasn’t sure how swoony things could get between a married couple with kids. I can now confidently admit that I was WRONG. Gavin and Thea working through their issues with an assist from a Regency romance novel was way hotter than I expected it to be. Despite a few flimsy plot points, this book was sexy and hilarious. I laughed out loud at the men talking about “finding her emotional G-spot” and their own version of a Swoonworthy Score: Book Boner ratings.

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Title: Warrior’s Woman (Ly-San-Ter Family #1)
Author: Johanna Lindsey
Series: Ly-San-Ter Family
Sub-Genre: Sci-Fi

Why You’ll Love It: 

I was browsing an NPR list of must-read romances, and when I saw the glory that is this cover, then read the absolutely bat-shit crazy description, I knew I had to read this.

In the year 2139, fearless Tedra De Arr sets out to rescue her beleaguered planet Kystran from the savage rule of the evil Crad Ce Moerr. Experienced in combat but not in love, the beautiful, untouched Amazon flies with Martha, her wise-cracking, free-thinking computer, to a world where warriors reign supreme – and into the arms of the one man she can never hope to vanquish: the bronzed barbarian Challen Ly-San-Ter.

Like, WHAT? A wise-cracking computer sidekick in a book published in 1990 was enough to grab my attention, but the rest secured it. There are definitely some outdated turns of phrase, but for the most part, this book aged pretty well! Tedra is an absolute badass warrior who challenges the big, beefy Challen to a fight that she ultimately loses, which means she agrees to be his, well, claimed woman for a month and has to do whatever he wants in bed. But it’s a battle Tedra wasn’t mad about losing, if you get my drift. And Challen is surprisingly gentlemanly, given the circumstances, though this book would be VERY different if he weren’t, I suppose.

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Title: Bringing Down The Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women #1)
Author: Evie Dunmore
Series: A League of Extraordinary Women
Sub-Genre: Regency

Why You’ll Love It: 

You can read Stephanie’s full review here, so I won’t go into too much detail. But I finished this book recently and it’s quite possibly one of my favorite Regency romances ever, so I felt the need to reiterate it’s greatness here. (Stephanie’s Note: Yay!! I agree!)

Stephanie

Title: Trade Me (Cyclone #1)
Author: Courtney Milan
Series: Cyclone
Sub-Genre: Contemporary

Why You’ll Love It: 

Tina Chen is a struggling college student who just needs to get her degree so she can afford to feed herself and help her parents survive. When the millionaire playboy son of [basically someone who invented an Apple-like tech conglomerate] mouths off in class about the poor, Tina rips him a new one. But then Blake Reynolds does something Tina doesn’t expect: he apologizes and offers to trade lives so they each see how the other lives.

Y’ALL. It’s possible this book just hit me at the right moment, but it was SO DANG GOOD! Sexy, thoughtful, sweet, emotional. I even cried at some parts near the end. It went beyond the romance and made me care about these characters and their world. There are more books to come, but only one full-length sequel has been published so far, and I am ADRIFT.

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Title: Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1)
Author: Talia Hibbert
Series: The Brown Sisters
Sub-Genre: Contemporary

Why You’ll Love It: 

I’ll be honest, I didn’t exactly swoon over this book, but I recognize that, objectively, I think many other people will love it. (It was a case of too much shmoop too soon for me, but that is a very personal preference.) There were plenty of consensual, sexy moments and Red makes for quite the attractive figure, with his long red hair, motorcycle driving ways and artistic soul. Chloe has a disease that makes simply living her life very painful, so much of the story stems from her desire to push herself out of her comfort zone, which I think many of us can relate to.

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Title: Act Like It (London Celebrities #1)
Author: Lucy Parker
Series: London Celebrities
Sub-Genre: Contemporary

Why You’ll Love It: 

I love a good faux relationship, and the one between crotchety actor Richard Troy and rising theatre starlet Lainie Graham had all the right witty banter I needed and then some. I heard so many good things about this book that I held off on reading for so far too long until I had a moment where I just NEEDED something like it. And what’s even better:  there are plenty more books in this London Celebrities series to scratch your proverbial romance itch.

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Title: Would Like to Meet
Author: Rachel Winters
Sub-Genre: Contemporary

Why You’ll Love It: 

I finished this one just this week and it had me actually laughing out loud! I feel like British authors do humor in romances so much better than American authors (namely, there IS some). This book reads like a true rom-com, and not just because it references quite a few of them: Evie is an assistant to an agent and her current assignment is to get their finnicky but brilliant screenwriter to actually write his next script for a rom-com. But Ezra is a “serious” writer, and he’s got major writer’s block (and a raging case of jerkiness). So Evie ends up making a deal that she’ll do a series of actual meet-cutes for pages in an effort to show him that sometimes falling in love CAN be just like the movies. Of course things don’t go as planned, but that’s half the fun! This was such a breezy and fun read! Netflix absolutely MUST turn into a movie ASAP. 

Kandis

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Title: Tweet Cute
Author: Emma Lord
Sub-Genre: Contemporary YA

Why You’ll Love It: 

Emma Lord uses multiple classic romantic tropes, combined with the super fun concept of viral social media marketing, to give us a fresh new YA romance. Set at a private school in New York City, Pepper, the perfect student, athlete, and daughter, somehow manages to juggle her family’s corporate social media presence, while also bickering with her arch nemesis, the class clown. When Jack isn’t overshadowed by his popular twin brother, he posts snarky memes to his family’s neighborhood deli Twitter account. You’ll never guess what happens when these two businesses end up in a social media meme war. Think You’ve Got Mail for the Twitter age.

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Title: Rule Breaker (Mixed Messages #1)
Author: Lily Morton
Series: Mixed Messages
Sub-Genre: Contemporary

Why You’ll Love It: 

Who doesn’t love a hot enemies-to-lovers romance? So yeah, Dylan is Gabe’s assistant, which is maybe a little inappropriate for a fling if this were real life – but it’s not. It’s two super hot characters trading barbs until things get ridiculously steamy. I love that Dylan always lets Gabe know when he’s being a bastard, and Gabe has that damaged backstory that makes him a little easier to understand, even when you want to beat him about the head.

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Title: Forgiving
Author: LaVyrle Spencer
Sub-Genre: Historical/Western Frontier

Why You’ll Love It: 

I just don’t think we can talk romance novels without mentioning LaVyrle Spencer. Anyone who loves romances should experience the thoughtful storytelling and leisurely pace of classic LaVyrle Spencer. Her OG novels, the historical westerns and the contemporary (‘80’s) suburban Minnesota romances, are some of my all-time favorites. In Forgiving, Sarah Merrit arrives in Deadwood, Dakota Territory to use her printing press to set up the town’s first newspaper, and to track down her runaway sister. Sarah finds way more than she bargained for on the rough frontier, and in town sheriff, Noah Campbell. I love how Spencer always gives her characters room to grow and evolve and gives her relationships time to breathe. There’s no insta-love here, and things don’t always immediately wrap up in a perfect bow.

Books To Yearn For

These books aren’t out yet, but it’s only a matter of time before they’re all ours. 

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Title: Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry
Publication Date: 2020 May 19

Title: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2)
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Publication Date: 2020 March 10
Series: Bromance Book Club

Title: Girl Gone Viral (Modern Love #2)
Author: Alisha Rai
Publication Date: 2020 April 21
Series: Modern Love

Title: A Rogue of One’s Own (A League of Extraordinary Women #2)
Author: Evie Dunmore
Publication Date: 2020 September 01
Series: A League of Extraordinary Women

Title: The Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient #3)
Author: Helen Hoang
Publication Date: 2021 May 04 *cries*
Series: The Kiss Quotient


That’s a wrap on the GUGTRN Part Deux. Which romance novels do YOU recommend we read now? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments!

FTC Full Disclosure: We did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the lame cranberry ones) for writing these reviews.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.