There are many romance novels out there. Some better than others, granted, but what makes some the best of the best?
What gives them that je ne sais quoi factor we’re all craving, some of us even trying to emulate when writing a novel ourselves?
I could go about this list in many different ways, but I’ve decided not to make this one a common, boring, cliché list. No.
This is not that kind of list; this will give you the best romance novels in different categories and the reasons why you’ll fall in love with them!
Here are the 11 best romance novels:
- Slammed by Colleen Hoover
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
- The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
- The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
- Dance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
- Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Side note: you’ll need a big box of tissues for most of these, so be sure to grab one before you dive in!
Best Romance Books Per Category
The answer is for pulling novels from specific categories is simple: there are far too many amazing books out there to choose from and if you’re mapping out a list of the best, you’re going to miss a few important ones.
Categorizing them makes sense because you’ll be able to decide for yourself which type of book you’d enjoy more.
Consequently, you’ll find the best one in each subgenre here. Once you finish it, you’ll be able to say if you enjoy that theme or not. And if not, you’re ready to jump into one of the other picks.
11 Best Romance Novels
If you’re looking for a quick read for a weekend or want to learn in order to write your own book, this list can give you some inspiration.
#1 – Slammed by Colleen Hoover
Genre: Poetry, specifically slam poetry
Romance Novel Summary: Layken, an 18-year-older student meets her new neighbour, Will. Will is 21. They have an instant connection based on their similar likes, which gives Layken hope for happier days.
Once their connection is deep within you and you love them, there’s a revelation that shocks them and us, and they can’t be together. The problem is, they really want to.
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re not reading it because you love slam poetry, don’t worry. You’ll love slam poetry once you’re finished! You may even want to try your hand at writing poetry afterward.
I had heard a few poems before but with this book, I became totally obsessed with slam poetry. It takes the novel to a higher level and forces us readers to connect with it a lot more. It becomes personal.
It’s also easy to identify ourselves with this story because it discusses topics that we’ve all had to face, including death and grief. Colleen is a brilliant writer and she just knows how to pull your strings.
Quote: “Question everything. Your love, your religion, your passion. If you don’t have questions, you’ll never find answers.”
#2 – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Romance Novel Summary: You’ll meet Cath Avery, who has a total opposite twin sister, Wren. When they both start college, Wren tells Cath she doesn’t want to be her roommate and they should live their college experience separately.
Then, one day, between her awkwardness and fan-fiction stories, she meets Levi. And then everything changes. Slowly. But it changes.
Why You’ll Love It: This is not only a young adult romance, not only about love. It’s also about making decisions at a young age and growth. The story is beautifully structured, and you won’t be able to put it down before you finish it.
Besides having a really solid love story, you’ll also have a good laugh when diving into Rowell’s world.
Quote: “In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)”
#3 – The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Genre: True Love Story
Romance Novel Summary: This is the story of Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson. It is set in North Carolina after the Second World War. Noah thinks of Allie, a girl he had met 14 years prior. And one day, she shows up in his town.
Nicholas Sparks is the master of twists and turns in love stories and this one does not disappoint. This is a book of surprises that will test Noah and Allie’s love until the end.
Why You’ll Love It: I mean, do I really need an explanation here? Everyone knows Nicholas Sparks and that his books are amazing and will leave you in tears!
If you’ve watched the movie, read the book. If you haven’t watched the movie, read the book! It’ll break your heart in the most beautiful possible way.
Quote: “Every great love starts with a great story…”
#4 – The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Genre: Modern Romance
Romance Novel Summary: Lucy Hutton is a nice, sweet girl; Joshua Templeman is her opposite: cold and grumpy. They meet when the publishing houses they work at merge. It’s hate at first sight.
But everything changes with a kiss…
Why You’ll Love It: Two opposites attract… isn’t it just brilliant when you have a love/hate relationship in one of your books?
Because this is a modern romance, the storyline is also modern, which is the reason why many, many people love this novel. It’s easy to relate with it and Lucy is like the next-door neighbor, you just adore her.
And with this title, how you could NOT want to read it?
Quote: “It’s a corporate truth universally acknowledged that workers would rather eat rat skeletons than participate in group activities.”
#5 – The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
Genre: Loss and Grief
Romance Novel Summary: Lucy is a senior in college at Columbia University when she meets Gabe, also a college senior. They meet on an ill-fated day that will shape their lives and the lives of those around them forever.
They meet throughout the years but there’s always something in between them, there’s always something preventing them from being together.
And in the end, Lucy has a very important decision to make. What will she decide to do?
Why You’ll Love It: If you’ve read and love PS: I Love You by Cecelia Ahern, this book should be next on your list.
I think it’s beautiful the way Santopolo deals with loss and grief, which are two themes so close and tangled with the subject of love.
Even though they can be difficult to approach, the message is important and not every romance needs a stereotypical happily ever after.
Quote: “Maybe it’s the act of opening yourself up, letting someone else in—or maybe it’s the act of caring so deeply about another person that it expands your heart.”
#6 – Dance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens
Genre: Fantasy Paranormal Romance
Romance Novel Summary: This is the first book in a series called “Immortals of London”. Ellie Wakefield has been saved from death by William Austen, a 300-year-old vampire.
Ellie has to learn about this new world and together they face unexpected challenges.
Why You’ll Love It:
Who doesn’t love a good-ol’ vampire story? Add to that a little old banter, and there you have it, the perfect novel!
Fantasy and romance are just like peanut butter and jelly; there’s no reason why they should go together, but they do, formidably.
This book is full of mystery and Stevens has written it in a way that you just crave for more. It’s fresh, well-detailed but very easy to read.
Quote: “I understand that this is rather a lot to take in,’ he said. ‘But I would appreciate it if you would stop referring to me as either psychotic or perverted.’ ‘Well I’d appreciate not being kidnapped and shut in this filthy hole.’ ‘Touché’.”
#7 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Genre: Feminism and Classic Literature
Romance Novel Summary: The story revolves around the Bennets, a noble family that doesn’t have a lot of money because of Mr. Bennet, the father.
It all starts when two single noblemen arrive to town and, as it is custom, meet the single women, because ain’t it universally acknowledged “that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”?
When Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet, it’s not all rainbows and flowers, but would it be a real love story if it was otherwise?
Why You’ll Love It: Classics are important for a reason, and that reason is mostly because they’ll teach you something about the past, which most often than not, still has some truth in the present day.
You’ll love Pride and Prejudice because Jane Austen wrote it for everyone to dream about it. It’s an important story that needs to be read.
Elizabeth Bennet was born way ahead of her time and she’s here to teach you a lesson in sarcasm and feminism – you just cannot not read it!
Quote: “He is a gentleman, and I am a gentleman’s daughter. So far we are equal.”
#8 – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Genre: Illness and Loss
Romance Novel Summary: Louisa Clark loses her job and desperately needs to find another one. When the opportunity of taking care of Will Traynor, a young man that is wheelchair bound, knocks on her door, she doesn’t jump of happiness.
It’s a slow start and their relationship doesn’t seem to evolve, but as any other love story, there are twists and surprises along the way for both Louisa and Will.
Why You’ll Love It: This is a story of poor meets rich, good meets bad, but not at all as you’d expect it to be.
It’s not even about these pairs at all. But you’ll connect, at first, with the main character, Louisa, because of this. She’s simple and relatable.
You’ll read it in an afternoon and you’ll still be crying months later.
Quote: “I will never, ever regret the things I’ve done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to.”
#9 – Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Genre: Historical Fiction, specifically the Civil War
Romance Novel Summary: Scarlett O’Hara has a hard task at hand: she’s fighting for her family’s plantation and for the love of her life – if that wasn’t enough, this is amid the Civil War.
In the end, will she get it all or lose everything?
Why You’ll Love It: It’s History holding hands with a love story, what more could you need?
It has the charm of the south in a very troubling period of history; it’s family and love struggles. It’s one of the most popular books ever written, and you just need to find out why!
Quote: “It was better to know the worst than to wonder.”
#10 – It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
Genre: Abusive Relationships
Romance Novel Summary: Lily is a determined, successful woman. She had a difficult life growing up, but she never stopped fighting for what she truly loved. She meets Ryle who has a no-dating rule, but they quickly become close.
She thinks he had a difficult past too, but she can’t figure out what happened exactly. When things start changing, she’s put in a place she never wanted to be back again.
“Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.”
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re looking for strong-minded, determined women, this book is for you. Lily is written in a way that you’ll be rooting for her from page 1.
It’s a book that will touch some of you deeply and will haunt you for many years after the last page was turned. A beautiful love story that has more to it.
Quote: “Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.”
#11 – Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Romance Novel Summary: Simon is 16 and very much homosexual, however, no one knows. When his secret is about to be revealed, a series of events lead him to being blackmailed.
He’ll try to navigate high school without anyone finding out his secret while not messing up his friendships nor his own life.
Why You’ll Love It: This is a fun yet serious book. The characters are well-created, and the dialogues are hilarious.
The topic is an extremely important one nowadays and the lack of novels about the LGBTQ+ community make this one a success.
The hardships of being teenager and on top of that, one with a secret, are well played in this novel and you’ll easily fall in love with Simon (and Blue).
Quote: “Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”
Romance novels are unique in many ways…
If you’re looking for a happily ever after, maybe you won’t find it in all these books.
However, aren’t stories closer to our reality a whole lot better? They allow us to think of our successes and failures and give us hope for a better future.
If you’re looking for page-turners, refer to this list. I promise you these are novels you won’t be able to put down once you’ve read the first page!