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NSFW: 20+ Romance Novels To Read This Valentine’s Day, Ranked From Sweet to Spicy

written by THE EVERYMOM EDITORS

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best romance novels"
best romance novels
Graphics by: Anna Wissler
Graphics by: Anna Wissler

My friends and I have a running text chain where we exchange excerpts from ridiculously written sex scenes in novels. You know, the ones about “swollen appendages” and “bosoms that heave like cresting waves upon the shore.” There’s such a fine line between swoon and cringe. With so little time as busy moms, how can we possibly separate the romantic from the ludicrous? Luckily for you, I’ve read more than my fair share of romance novels. Call me the Siskel of sexy reading. The Bruni of bodice rippers. The Sontag of steamy stories. 

I wasn’t always a romance novel acolyte; with a degree in English lit, I mostly got my kicks from Mr. Darcy’s meaningful looks and a stray graze of the hand. But now, every time I see a colorful paperback with silhouettes of two people flirting on the cover, I immediately add it to my cart. I can fly through a romance novel in a day and feel completely sated (much like my favorite romantic heroines) by the temporary mental vacation. There’s so much comfort in a good romance novel: the familiarity of the plot, often with a new twist, the peppy dialogue, and, of course, the sweet love stories between unlikely protagonists. When done well, romance novels can be escapism at its finest.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the day of sultry romance and playful escapades, I’m sharing several of my favorite romance novels, plus some titles recommended by other Everymom editors. Plus, we’ve ranked them based on spiciness level, so you know what kind of ride you’re in for.

The Best Romance Novels To Read This Valentine’s Day

romance novels
Source: @avasol | Unsplash

Spice Level: 🌶

Ali Hazelwood
The Love Hypothesis

Spice Level: 🌶

A TikTok sensation, this book chronicles a fake relationship between two scientists. But when their romantic experiment starts to feel dangerously close to combustion, Ph.D. candidate Olive realizes it’s complicated to put your heart under a microscope.

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Kate Stayman-London
One to Watch

Spice Level: 🌶

This beautiful story follows America’s first plus-sized Bachelorette (called Main Squeeze in this novel) and her reluctant, winding journey to finding love in the public eye. The protagonist is incredibly smart and likable, and her story takes so many riveting dips and turns.

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Sophie Sullivan
Love, Naturally

Spice Level: 🌶

Presley Ayers is a city girl through and through, but she wants to surprise her outdoorsy boyfriend with a vacation to a picturesque lodge in the forest. When he dumps her instead, she’s determined to go it alone. Handsome local Beckett Keller can tell right away that she’s a fish out of water, so to speak, and has no time for it. Still, the two complete opposites can’t deny the attraction they feel for one another.

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Mia Sosa
The Wedding Crasher

Spice Level: 🌶

When Solange crashes one of her wedding planner cousin’s big events, she’s convinced the married couple-to-be isn’t a good match and makes it her mission to ensure the groom doesn’t make the biggest mistake of his life. This cute rom-com doesn’t have a ton of spice, but it’s a sweet story nonetheless.

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Emma Lord
The Getaway List

Spice Level: 🌶

Riley has spent all of her high school years trying to please her mom and losing herself along the way. The only solution she can think of to find herself again is to visit her childhood best friend, Tom, in New York for the summer. A long time ago, the duo co-authored their very own “Getaway List”—a list of all the adventures they wanted to do together. After reuniting, the two set out to check off everything on their list. But Riley quickly realizes it’s not all fun and games when her heart gets involved.

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Emily Henry
Book Lovers

Spice Level: 🌶

Emily Henry’s latest novel (she also authored the wildly popular Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation) follows literary agent Nora and her sister, Libby, as they take a summer vacation to North Carolina. But when Nora runs into Charlie, a book editor she knows from the city, their lives begin to intertwine, and the carefully-crafted stories they’ve written about themselves unravel.

Be sure to keep an eye out for Emily Henry’s new book, Funny Story, that comes out in April, 2024!

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Spice Level: 🌶🌶

Helen Hoang
The Bride Test

Spice Level: 🌶🌶

As usual, author Helen Hoang delivers a story unlike any I’ve ever read. An unexpected couple becomes entangled in a romance neither of them saw coming. Esme moves from Vietnam to meet Khai, a handsome and taciturn Vietnamese-American man with autism who has no desire for love in his life. The two couldn’t be more different in personality or the ways they express themselves, yet their passion builds in the most delicious and surprising way.

Book two of The Kiss Quotient Series, be sure to get your mitts on book one, The Kiss Quotient, and three, The Heart Principle, as well.

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Lucy Score
Things We Never Got Over

Spice Level: 🌶🌶

Bearded bad-boy barber Knox doesn’t tolerate drama. But when Naomi runs away from her wedding and her life starts to implode, the least Knox can do is help her get back on her feet. Though this book is more than 500 pages long, readers are obsessed with Knox and Naomi’s story—and you will be too!

And when you’ve flipped the last page, don’t worry. Pick up the sequel, Things We Hide from the Light, and book three, Things We Left Behind, for more spicy goodness.

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Christina Lauren
Twice in a Blue Moon

Spice Level: 🌶🌶

True to its title, this book teases a twice-in-a-lifetime encounter between Tate and Sam, who first meet as teenagers. Sam betrays Tate by revealing her deepest secret—the identity of her famous father—and they don’t speak for more than a decade. Their next encounter is years later on a movie set, where Tate is the star, and Sam is the tortured screenwriter. Their feelings for one another resurface, even through the hurt of the past. This is a sweet and unique story told with Christina Lauren’s usual sensitive dialogue and compelling characters.

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Camille Perri
When Katie Met Cassidy

Spice Level: 🌶🌶

When Katie first meets Cassidy in a conference room over legal documents, she’s put off by Cassidy’s arrogance and brashness—but she’s also intrigued. I felt the same way about Cassidy and steadily fell for their unexpected romance. Embodying that rare combination of witty, authentic dialogue and heart-racing love story, this novel is one to really savor.

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Meghan Quinn
A Not So Meet Cute

Spice Level: 🌶🌶

Billed as a modern-day Pretty Woman, this story follows Lottie as she pretends to be engaged to a wealthy man named Huxley. But what happens when the two *actually* start to fall for each other?

When you’re done, pick up the sequel that came out in December, 2023, So Not Meant to Be

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Kristin Rockaway
How to Hack a Heartbreak

Spice Level: 🌶🌶

This is the ultimate tech-related romance (a niche category I really enjoy). The author, a former computer programmer, lets us into the fast-paced world of app development. Mel creates a new dating app that uses a peer-reviewed system to identify jerks. The catch? No one knows she’s behind the viral app, least of all Alex, the man she’s been dating. Equal parts revenge and romance, this book is a fresh take on the cutthroat world of online dating.

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Sally Thorne
The Hating Game

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶

Now a movie on Hulu, this book is a classic enemies-to-lovers tale following coworkers Lucy and Joshua as they compete for the same promotion at work. As the tension builds, so do their feelings for each other—but is this just another game?

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Abby Jimenez
The Friend Zone

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶

Kristen and Josh have the ultimate meet-cute when they literally crash into each other moments before discovering their best friends are engaged to one another. This memorable first encounter grows into an intense and flirty friendship, sidelined by Kristen’s secret medical condition and their own stubborn natures. It’s engaging and completely relatable.

Be sure to check out books two and three in the series as well! The Happy Ever After Playlist and Life’s Too Short.

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Catherine Isaac
You, Me, Everything

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶

Set in a gorgeous restored castle/hotel in France, this book throws a former couple together with their young son in a summer of reconnection and rediscovery. The setting alone is worth the read, but there are many moments of genuine sweetness and romance, showing us that love lost can sometimes be rekindled.

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Jasmine Guillory
Party of Two

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶

I’d never read a political romance before this one by page-turning writer Jasmine Guillory, but her writing totally sucked me in. Lawyer Olivia and politician Max undergo a series of flirty, clandestine encounters together, culminating in an unfortunate revelation about their relationship that makes Olivia reconsider everything.

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romance novels
Source: @cottonbro | Pexels

Spice Level: 🌶🌶🌶

Evie Dunmore
Bringing Down the Duke

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶🌶

A favorite series of our CEO, Alaina, this Bridgerton-esque historical romance follows Annabelle Archer, a student tasked with recruiting men of influence to join the women’s suffrage movement in England. When she targets cocky Duke of Montgomery Sebastian Devereux, passions arise in more ways than one.

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Tessa Bailey
Hook, Line, and Sinker

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶🌶

A follow-up to It Happened One Summer, this book is about sexy fisherman Fox’s meet-cute and relationship with Hannah—even though they swear they’re just friends. Feelings begin to change when Hannah starts crashing in Fox’s guest bedroom, but Hannah has her eye on someone else. Will Fox be able to catch her, hook, line, and sinker?

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Staci Hart
Wasted Words

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶🌶

I love a good opposites-attract story, and this one certainly fits the bill. Cam is a brainy, acerbic, self-proclaimed nerd, while her roommate and best friend Tyler checks all the traditional boxes of eligibility. Their witty banter and chemistry is so enjoyable—and even more so when they finally realize they have feelings for one another.

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Lana Ferguson
The Nanny

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶🌶

Unexpectedly unemployed, Cassie Evans finds herself between a rock and a hard place. She can either find a new job fast or revisit her once-promising OnlyFans career. When she accepts a job as a live-in nanny for a single father and his adorable daughter, the middle-aged man she expected to meet is actually hunky executive chef, Aiden Reid. She quickly realizes Aiden is actually quite familiar with her… or at least the parts of her he’s seen online.

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Sally Thorne
99 Percent Mine

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶🌶

Sally Thorne is a staple of contemporary romance, and it’s not hard to see why. In this book, feisty Darcy Barrett navigates her feelings for her brother’s best friend—a man who has been off-limits her whole life.

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Sarah J. Mass
A Court of Mist and Fury

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶🌶

This is the second installment in the wildly popular fantasy series A Court of Thorns and Roses, and according to our CEO, Alaina, it’s one of the sexiest of all the ACOTAR books. The only one that gets a higher spice rating is book four, A Court of Silver Flames. While there aren’t as many steamy scenes in this book, the romantic build-up between main characters Feyre and Tamlin is why it made our list.

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Regina Black
The Art of Scandal

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶🌶

When Rachel receives a dirty text from her husband, Matt, intended for someone else, divorce is imminent. As a politician, Matt sees his claim to the White House slipping away. He makes a deal with Rachel: one million dollars for her to play the role of trophy wife. All is going according to plan until handsome, 26-year-old Nathan comes into the picture. Rachel must decide—is he worth risking it all for?

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Spice Level: 🌶🌶🌶🌶

Colleen Hoover
Ugly Love

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶🌶🌶

Few of us missed out on the Colleen Hoover craze of years past—and for good reason. CoHo’s romances have become uber-popular thanks to TikTok, and this one is especially steamy. If you haven’t gotten your hands on it yet, now’s the time. Nurse Tate Collins starts a friends-with-benefits relationship with pilot Miles Archer. But will Miles’ mysterious and painful past get in the way when Tate wants more? (Please note this book’s trigger warnings include marriage affairs, emotionally hurtful sex, and neonatal death.)

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Samantha Young
Beyond the Thistles

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶🌶🌶

A new romantic series set in the Scottish Highlands? Sign me up. Especially when the plot involves a single mother on the run and a brawny bodyguard. Perhaps the best part is that there are five books in the series, meaning we’re in for a treat time and time again.

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Rebecca Yarros
Fourth Wing

Spice Factor: 🌶🌶🌶🌶

If it feels like you’ve seen this fantasy book everywhere lately, that’s because people can’t put it down. In book one of two, we enter the world of college for dragon riders. Having a target on her back, so to speak, Violet Sorrengail catches the glaring eye of everyone, including Xaden Riorson, the most powerful wingleader. There’s a reason why romance and fantasy go hand in hand, find out why.

Fly right into book two, Iron Flame, when you’re done.

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