No Plans on V-Day? Stay in With One of These Sexy-as-Hell Romance Novels

I’ll be real with you: consuming romantic movies/shows/books/all the things has given me with a special sense of peace during the pandemic. I just love love (sappy, but true) and love stories (yes, even majorly unrealistic and cheesy ones). I’m a romantic at heart, okay!

I know I’m not alone. Chances are you’ve already streamed Bridgerton (twice…just me?) and are making your way through the book series—Julia Quinn’s “The Duke and I” has spent the past three weeks on The New York Times’ best-seller list, just sayin’. And lucky for you, there’s a ton more 🔥sexy literature🔥 where that came from.

If you’re new to the genre, pls prepare your imagination accordingly, because it’s about to get sent into overdrive. Romance novels take all the steamy sex scenes and heart-melting moments you’ve seen in movies and turns ’em up to level 1,000. Now, if you’d be so kind as to read this next sentence in a British accent: Without further ado, I present to you the 28 hottest romance novels that’ll tickle your fancy—and who knows what else. 😉

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

From the same author who brought you the iconic-book-turned-iconic-movie Crazy Rich Asians comes another juicy tale about a young woman torn between her perfect-on-paper-fiancé and a man who makes her heart flutter. The glamorous spots (Capri, East Hamptons, etc.), drool-worthy fashion, and extravagant food are just a few of the plot-points that’ll delight allll your senses.

If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

James Baldwin’s stunning 1974 novel about how Black love and intimacy interacts with America’s racist criminal justice system inspired Barry Jenkins’ Academy Award-winning film of the same name. Set in Harlem, If Beale Street Could Talk explores the revolutionary act of loving while Black in America. I’ll admit that this book is more literary than ~steamy~ in the traditional sense, but it’s without a doubt a beautiful love story.

Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

When she was 12 years old, Azere promised her dying father that she would marry a fellow Nigerian. But to quote the Patron Saint of Real Talk Selena Gomez, the heart wants what it wants. And what Azere’s heart really wants is kinda the opposite of her family’s values, a realization that ultimately makes her question her entire identity. This one’s romantic, yes, but also thoughtful in its study of cultural assimilation and the sacrifices and tough choices that go with it.

One Hundred Love Sonnets: Cien sonetos de amor

100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda

Okayyyy, so I know this technically isn’t a romance novel, but hear me out: 100 Love Sonnets is like the non-fiction version of the books on this list. Legendary poet Pablo Neruda wrote this entire collection of love poems for his beloved wife and they are so beautiful and breathtaking, you’ll literally feel your heart fluttering at the thought of a love so deep and so pure. Fine, I’m a nerd, so what!!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre revolutionized prose fiction forever, not only because it was one of the first novels to present a first-person narrative that so intimately captures the protagonist’s experiences, but also because its protagonist challenges long-standing social norms of class, sexuality, and feminism. The basic plot is this: a teenaged governess and her much-older boss are obsessively in love. Lots of intense things happen before, after, and around this central tension, but that’s the main gist.

Bridgerton: The Duke and I

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

If Bridgerton left you craving more delicious romance, drama, and hot-hot-hot sex scenes, may I suggest going back to the original source itself: Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I. Some say Quinn’s novel is even steamier than the Netflix series, which is saying a lot because, well, have you seen Regé-Jean Page?! The Duke and I is the first book out of nine (!!!!) so suffice it to say that you’ll be set with your regency-era romance fix for a while.


The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

    This unexpected love story between a 30-year-old woman with Asperger’s syndrome and a hired male escort became a sensation in 2018, and for good reason: Hoang charms readers with a complex protagonist and inspired critics to reconsider what makes a modern romance novel. Both sweet and steamy, you won’t be disappointed by the sex scenes.


    The Notebook

    Grand Central Publishing

    The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

    Come on. Like you thought this *classique* wasn’t going to be on here?! No one does young love better than Sparks, whose mega-hits A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle, and Nights in Rodanthe also made it onto the silver screen. Even if you’ve seen the Ryan Gosling/Rachel McAdams movie, you should still pick up a copy of the book and experience Noah and Allie’s heart-wrenching summer romance all over again.


    The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

    Boy meets girl. Boy travels back in time to visit girl throughout her childhood. Boy and girl’s love story becomes the subject of a massive best-seller that highlights how far you’ll go to protect unconditional love.


    When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

    After Katie’s fiancé Paul dumps her out of nowhere, she agrees to hang out with Cassidy—and soon, she’s questioning everything she thought she knew about love, sex, and herself. It’s a tender tale about finding yourself and trusting your unexpected impulses.


    The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

    McCullough’s classic is the best-selling book in Australian history, which is—yeah, not too shabby of a title! The epic family story set in the Australian Outback hinges on the darkly passionate affair between young Meggie Cleary and the forbidden priest Ralph.


    Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

    The movie that forever changed the way you look at peaches was a novel before it made Timothée Chalamet a household internet boyfriend. Reach for the book for more sizzling liaisons in the idyllic Italian countryside. And, don’t worry, that peach scene is in the book too.


    Forever… by Judy Blume

    Will anyone ever capture the excitement of first love and the complicated feelings around losing your virginity as well as Judy Blume? Nope, the answer is nope. She speaks to the awkward and horny teenager in all of us. This novel is regularly censored for its honest depiction of teenage sexuality, which IDK…would make me want to read it even more if I were still a teen?


    Delta of Venus

    Mariner Books


    Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin

    Anaïs Nin is the undisputed godmother of erotica. This collection of short stories was written by Nin during the 1940s and published posthumously. The tales, which explore desires of all sorts, are irreverent, strange, and deeply erotic. *frantically orders book*



    Delacorte Press

    Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

    You know that show your mom, aunt, and grandma are all obsessed with? Yeah, it started as a time-traveling epic series. Gabaldon’s hit follows World War II era British nurse Claire Randall, who is catapulted back in time to 18th century Scotland. Drama and ~sensual vibes~ ensue.


    The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

    Guillory’s rom-com tells a thoroughly modern tale about romance that starts purely physical and long distance. (Been there.) You’ll root for these leads as they debate whether to keep it casual or make it really work.


    Story of O: A Novel

    Ballantine Books


    Story of O by Pauline Réage

    This shocking erotic novel explores love as an act of dominance and submission. Published first in French in 1954, Story of O portrays hard-core sexual scenes that are not for the faint of heart. (You’ve been warned!)


    Between Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey

    Nicole dumps her long-term boyfriend and falls hard for a woman. But her lingering feelings for her ex make this a compelling love triangle.


    The Innocent by Posie Graeme-Evans

    Set in 1465 London, The Innocent follows wide-eyed Anne through court intrigue and forbidden love. For fans of The Other Boleyn Girl and The Crown, this novel takes lust and jealousy to the next level.


    The Siren by Tiffany Reisz

    Reisz always packs the heat in her layered, page-turning novels and The Siren is one of her best. It’s about a notorious erotica author, Nora, falling for her alluring British editor, Zachary. Meta!


    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

    Oh hi, it’s the O.G. of romance novels. Countless film, stage, and literary adaptations have attempted to capture its magic, but Austen’s words will always take the cake.


    Me Before You

    Pamela Dorman Books


    Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

    Louisa Clark becomes the care assistant for quadriplegic Will Traynor, whose life was altered by a motorcycle accident. An unlikely pair, they become totally entangled in each other’s worlds as they try to stave off their growing feelings. (Spoiler: They fail and we’re weeping now.)


    Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

    Ah, yes. The instant classic that brought BDSM into the mainstream culture. The tale that ignited book clubs everywhere. Skeptics might roll their eyes at Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s lurve, but real ones know their tale of bondage and obsession is a high-key steam fest.


    Claiming of Sleeping Beauty

    The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure

    A dark retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale you knew as a child. Except in this erotic fantasy, the Prince wakes Sleeping Beauty with way more than a mere kiss. Notably, critics have pointed out that the medieval fantasy world depicted in this series (yep, there are four books) has a long way to go when it comes to consent.

    The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

    If you enjoy crying into your pillow by the end of a novel, this one’s for you. It’s a coming-of-age story about two teenagers who share an intense connection after meeting at a kids-with-cancer support group. Hazel Grace Lancaster, diagnosed with terminal cancer and clinically depressed, learns how to embrace the beauty of life through Augustus Waters, a carefree and kindhearted cancer survivor. No spoilers but yeah, it’s a tearjerker.

    Sense and Sensibility (Collins Classics)

    Brand: HarperPress


    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

    Another of Austen’s classics. Emphasizing sense over sensibility, this novel explores the two different approaches to love through two sisters, Elinor (who prefers common sense in any relationship) and Marianne (a lively flirt who falls too quickly). It’s Austen’s response to the over-sensitive characters displayed in literature at the time. As for the most likable of the two main sisters? That’s for the reader to decide.

    Written on the Body

    Vintage (February 1, 1994)


    Written on the Body by Jeannette Winterson

    This novel is not only beautifully written, but it’s also a perfect combo of eroticism, romance, and love’s philosophical nature. It follows a genderless narrator who begins an affair with a married woman and soon spirals into intense feelings of passion and loss.

    The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

    A hilarious depiction of the enemies-to-lovers trope, Thorne’s piece follows an intense workplace hatred between Lucy and Joshua, who soon compete for the same promotion and consequently set tensions to an all-time high. But, of course, what seems like their boiling point is just the beginning of a flourishing office romance. @ HR.

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