It was pretty hard for me to narrow down a short enough list of romance book recommendations as we head into Valentine’s Day season. Here’s your reminder that Valentine’s Day is less than a month away…since time is as meaningless in 2021 as it was in 2020, apparently.
I’ve been on a romance book kick the last couple of years, and you’ll find ten of my favorites on this list. There’s something for any kind of romance reader—whether you’re reading for the first time, like your steam “closed door” (off the page), or would prefer the door thrown wide open (on the page).
I do include content warnings with most snippets below, so bear that in mind if you’re someone that doesn’t want to know any details about books you read, before you venture further into this romance book recommendation list!
1. Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
This book is pretty spicy (rated M for the very descriptive nature of the steamy scenes, although there aren’t a large number of them. It was an 8/10 on my eggplant steam scale). But it has so much to love: extremely rich characters, chronic illness representation, normalization of therapy, fantastic dialogue, and my favorite trope: enemies to lovers.
CW (content warning) for an abusive relationship (in someone’s past).
2. The Switch by Beth O’Leary
Looking for a romance read that’s super PG and incredibly cute? Look no further. This dual point of view novel following Lena and her grandmother Eileen as they each find the love they need in different places. Best described as quaint, it also deals with family, grief, and loss for a well-rounded, delightful read. 2/10 eggplants.
CW for depression, panic attack on page, and loss of a sibling/ child to cancer.
3. Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Alex—whose mother is President of the U.S.—is the most charismatic and hilarious character I’ve ever read in a book. He causes a minor international incident at a Royal Wedding with Prince Henry, his dreamboat rival/ sworn enemy. Their PR teams come up with a plan: staging a best friendship that soon becomes anything but staged.
I loved every second of this book and just finished my second read through. Laugh-out-loud funny with the absolute best banter, you’ll find total hilarity here. This book is an absolute delight and I recommend it to every romance reader I know. I’d rate it R-M for some pretty steamy scenes (7/10 eggplants).
CW for outing and implied sexual assault (not in detail).
4. Well Met by Jen DeLuca
Enemies to lovers with a backdrop of a Renaissance faire—what’s not to love? Well, I was skeptical of Well Met and took forever to pick it up. But once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. You’ll be swept into this story world and its light, slow-burn romance. Rated PG-13 for some mildly steamy scenes that aren’t overly descriptive (3.5/10 eggplants).
5. Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
This book heavily deals with anxiety in a beautiful way and has some of the best banter and dialogue I’ve read. The characters are hilarious and full of depth and sass, and the plot is rich. Very open-door romance that’s also extremely sex positive—it’s right up there at 8/10 eggplants as well.
CW for anxiety/ panic attacks on page.
6. The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
The Ex Talk is my first romance read of 2021 and I’m certain it will stay towards the top of my romance book recommendations for the year. Rachel Lynn Solomon is one of my favorite authors. The Ex Talk is yet another enemies-to-lovers book (yes, I have a type) with absolutely delightful banter that centers around the world of public radio. You get to know the characters very intimately and the handling of grief is really relatable. Rated R for some open-door scenes or 5.5/10 eggplants. You can grab a copy starting Jan. 26!
CW for mention of depression and grief/ death of a parent.
7. A Princess In Theory by Alyssa Cole
Fans of historical fiction or historical romance will enjoy this one. Ledi is a princess, but she doesn’t know it. And she doesn’t believe it when she starts receiving emails from Prince Thaibso, thinking instead that it’s one of those steal-your-money email schemes. I look forward to reading more in this series and didn’t want this book to end. Rated R-M and 8/10 eggplants for some pretty steamy scenes, though there aren’t many.
8. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Author duo Christina Lauren’s books are loved by many romance readers, for good reason. Hazel is a spunky, quirky character with no filter who I’d love to have for a best friend. Josh’s character is quieter but equally best-friend-worthy. You’ll enjoy watching their friendship develop as they go on dates that definitely aren’t with each other. Pretty PG-13 and a 3/10 eggplants, this is another romance book recommendation for folks that prefer the closed-door style of romance.
9. Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
Fix Her Up is a fake dating romance that has mixed reviews, but I was a fan. Georgie is the town clown (literally) and no one takes her seriously. She’s pined after Travis—her brother’s best friend—for years, but he’s always seen her as off limits. Travis was major league baseball’s stud rookie, but now he’s grappling with a career-ending injury and flipping houses to stay busy. Georgie’s scheme to fake-date would help them both break out of the images people have assigned to them. You’ll just have to give it a read to determine how “fake” their relationship truly is. In between PG-13 and R at 5/10 eggplants—there aren’t many steamy scenes, but buckle up for the ones that are there.
10. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Last but most certainly not least is another fake dating scheme by one of my favorite romance authors, Jasmine Guillory. The characters in The Wedding Date and their lives felt really real to me, and I loved all the food descriptions included throughout their dates. Coming in at a solid 3/10 eggplants, this book is pretty PG-13 and quite fun!
Bonus romance book recommendations: On my TBR this February
Spoiler: I’m still reading romance books all the time! This February, I have several on my TBR (to be read) list. I’m hoping to finally pick up Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese. I’ve heard nothing but fabulous things about this frenemies-to-lovers, slow-burn romance. I’ve also had Intercepted by Alexa Martin on my list for ages and I’m ready to finally go for it.
I’m notorious for not sticking to my lists and mood reading instead, so we’ll see what I get to—but I’m excited to keep reading romance as we head into February!
Have a romance book you think should’ve made this list of romance book recommendations? Drop your suggestions in the comments below!