10 Modern Romance Novels You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

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modern romance novels

I have distinct memories of stealing romance novels from my cousin when I was younger and hiding them under my pillows or on my bookshelves behind the school books.

Over the weekends, I would wait until everyone left the house, then I’d bring them out of their hiding spots. Finally, without the fear of being caught, I would read and daydream all day long. I pictured myself as every heroine, filled with their spilled-over passion. I loved love, and I hoped that one day my life would be filled with the same kind of romance promised on those pages.

A few years back, I stopped getting as much joy out of romance novels. I took an inadvertent hiatus and didn’t even realize it until the pandemic hit and I was searching for books to keep me busy. After I exhausted all of my favorite mystery series, a friend mentioned a recent romance novel she really liked. I was wary but couldn’t pinpoint why, but I decided I could stop reading it if I got bored. Since then, I’ve never looked back.

After a while, I started to ask myself what was different about these new, modern romances I was reading. When I started to break it down, I realized that these books had real people in them (chronically ill, past trauma, different races, bigger bodies, different religions, and so much more). And on top of that, they were acting in mentally healthy ways. Now, I’m into the books that teach me that consent is hot as hell and that learning to communicate and channel your emotions in healthy ways are swoon-worthy. Here are some of my favorite modern romance reads.

Helen Hoang

1. The Kiss Quotient

Steam Factor: High

From the same author as The Bride Test, this story focuses on a different cousin in the family who falls in love with a woman who is learning how to be intimate with men.

The story focuses on first-generation young people in a Vietnamese American community in California and includes topics like legitimizing sex work. It's hot, sweet, and gets to the crux of how relationships work: communicate, communicate, communicate—especially in bed!

Talia Hibbert

2. Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Steam Factor: Moderate

The first in Talia Hibbert's series about the Brown sisters, this one focuses on Chloe. After a near death experience (kind of), computer geek Chloe decides she's got to stop playing it safe and be a bad girl for once. She enlists her tattooed, artist handyman superintendent to help and ends up learning about love.

Chloe is chronically ill, and Hibbert does an amazing job of making her a three-dimensional character. She's imperfect, sexy, and real. Honestly, I loved every book in the series and wish there were more sisters to read about.

Talia Hibbert

3. Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Steam Factor: High

Like I said, I loved all the books in this series. Act Your Age, Eve Brown focuses on the youngest of the bunch. Eve is unable to stick with one thing for too long, and her parents finally push her out of the nest to see if she can at least learn to fly. She stumbles into a new job, and after almost running over her new employer, she feels guilty enough to stick around. Sure enough, sparks fly.

Like Hibbert's other novels, these protagonists are neurodiverse, body diverse, and always super sexy. I had all my favorite passages bookmarked by the time I was done.

Jasmine Guillory

4. The Wedding Party

Steam Factor: Moderate

No modern romance novel list would be complete without Jasmine Guillory on the list. She writes about diverse people, all ambitious in their own ways. I love how much the women she writes about are so independent and brilliant in their fields—and the men are never intimidated by them.

This time, as members of Alexa's bridal party, Maddie and Theo have an accidental night of passion. Over the course of wedding planning, they decide to keep it up until their friend says "I do." But along the way, they realize they may just be perfect for each other.

Meryl Wilsner

5. Something to Talk About

Steam Factor: Low

When a picture captures Hollywood showrunner Jo on the red carpet making her assistant laugh, she finds their relationship scrutinized by the public. But she's never commented on her private life before, so she won't start now—until her assistant is accused of sleeping her way to the top.

My favorite aspect of this book is how much each character tries to be thoughtful toward the other without actually telling each other. Once they figure out that communication is key, there's no telling what they can do!

Alisha Rai

6. First Comes Like

Steam Factor: Low

I absolutely adored this book so much. When beauty expert Jia Ahmed tries to take her virtual relationship out for a whirl in the real world (with a famous Bollywood actor!), she finds out she's been humiliatingly catfished. But once he meets her, Dev Dixit can't get Jia out of his head. They make a deal to pretend to date for the sake of their careers, only to find that they might actually be in love.

This book shows that sex isn't the only way to get to know each other and normalizes the culture of dating in South Asian communities. Plus, it's still swoonworthy every step of the way.

Jack Harbon

7. Meet Cute Club

Steam Factor: Moderate

This felt so meta because it's about one character who loves romance novels (it's me!) and another one that thinks they're for grandmas (possibly my husband).

When Jordan encounters grumpy bookstore owner Rex, at first glance, they seem like complete opposites. But after Rex gets over his initial aversion to romance novels and teams up with Jordan to save his book club, sparks start to fly.

I love a good story about a misunderstanding that eventually leads to people letting down their guards and getting to know each other deeply. It's kind of like Pride and Prejudice for the modern era and with accountability to boot.

Jayci Lee

8. A Sweet Mess

Steam Factor: Low

After Aubrey and Landon have a one night stand, they think they'll never see each other again. But then Landon accidentally torpedoes Aubrey's business with a bad review and vows to make it up to her by inviting her to be on his cooking show.

Living together and cooking together, they're forced to grapple with their own triggers and decide if they should make it work.

This book, while sweet and adorable, also did an amazing job of exploring how our own mental health histories factor into how we relate to each other. It's up to us to learn how to better communicate so we can love each other in healthy ways.

Kate Clayborn

9. Love Lettering

Steam Factor: Low

Meg is the Planner of Park Slope, designing hand-lettered custom journals for the Brooklyn elite. She's also been hiding messages in her work for years until her former client Reid comes back to ask how she knew his engagement was doomed from the start.

She agrees to answer his questions if he can help her break her designer's block. Together, they read the signs in New York City, but can Meg see the signs that Reid is giving her before it's too late?

One of my favorite romance tropes are artists falling in love with scientific minds (opposites attract!). On top of that, this book deals with neurodiverse people and ways to work through past trauma to heal future relationships.

Alisha Rai

10. Girl Gone Viral

Steam Factor: Moderate

OK, I know this is my second repeat author, but I can't help myself! When I know an author who writes about the kinds of characters I love (people who go to therapy), I will read anything they've ever written.

Katrina's life blows up in a way that ends up making her feel unsafe, just like how her traumatic past makes her feel. Her incredible bodyguard, Jas, sweeps her away to a secluded retreat: his family's farm. There, they both have to learn how to open up and let each other in.

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