Beginner’s Guide to Romance Books

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Romance provides readers with entertainment, sexual empowerment, emotional fulfillment, lots of fun, and an emotionally satisfying happily ever after (or at least a happily for now). And in this day and age, who doesn't want that?

  • Ayesha at Last

    2019 by Jalaluddin, Uzma

    Lighthearted romance centering on characters who are Muslim. I love Ayesha so much--the characters really resonate. More of a holding hands romance than a bodice ripper, which is just the speed I’m looking for nowadays. Heat level: None. Recommended by Leah.

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  • The Flatshare

    2019 by O'Leary, Beth

    Watching Tiffy and Leon’s romance go from being strangers (despite the fact they share a flat--trust me, it works), to flirty friends, to more, all via notes on Post-its, was so charming. The author deftly weaves heftier topics into the story, making it all the more satisfying. Heat level: Subtle. Recommended by Allyson.

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  • The Witness

    2012 by Roberts, Nora

    Nora Roberts is my favorite and the very first romance author I read when I first moved to the United States. I was still learning English and her books were the perfect aid that I needed. She weaves simple words together, turning them into something beautiful. Her characters are three-dimensional and relatable. They have their strengths and their flaws, and their relationships are realistic (at least to me). This is my favorite book of hers to date--it has everything from suspense to action to comedy and, most important for me, strong, believable, "swoonilicious" romance! Heat level: Subtle. Recommended by Penny.

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  • The Wedding Date

    2018 by Guillory, Jasmine

    I flipped back and forth between the eBook and the audio and loved both. It's a fun story, the main character is really likable, and it reminds me of the romantic comedies I loved in the '90s and early 2000s that were reality-based escapism. I love the way the author has the characters deal with racism and classism, combining light-hearted and heavier topics. Plus, the way she writes about food will make you drool. Heat level: Warm. Library staff favorite. Recommended by Laurel.

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  • Fantasy Lover

    2002 by Kenyon, Sherrilyn

    This is the first is a long series that's a mixture of fantasy, action, romance, and myth. Each book centers on a different character. You don't need to read them in any order, but it helps to do so because the books reference other characters. Heat level: Hot. Recommended by Kassy.

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  • Proof by Seduction

    2010 by Milan, Courtney

    I like the lefty politics and class consciousness combined in a way that feels organic. Milan's books are almost all interconnected, with main characters in one book acting as side characters or having cameos in the others. She seems to be a darling of the lefty sci-fi author following on Twitter, which is how I found out about her. Heat level: Warm. Recommended by Jonathan.

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  • The Shape of You

    2018 by Beers, Georgia

    Georgia Beers is my favorite f/f (female/female) author. She writes a lot of “boss/employee” and “hate-love” romances that have solid chapstick characters (as opposed to lipstick femme characters). I find her characters very relatable, they are easy quick reads, and my heart is warmed when I read them. Most of her books take place in upstate New York. I’ve never been, but she makes Rochester sounds like some mystical place where everyone hikes in nature with their dogs and falls in love. Heat level: Warm. Recommended by Caitlin.

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  • A Princess in Theory

    2018 by Cole, Alyssa

    One of my favorite romance novels of the year. It has sizzling chemistry and a charming story that doesn't shy away from the realities of discrimination faced by black women in science. Alyssa Cole is one the best writers in the genre. She hits all the right notes to keep her readers engaged. Heat level: Warm. Recommended by Sharon and Margie.

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  • The Kiss Quotient

    2018 by Hoang, Helen

    This and Bride Test are among our favorite romances. The characters are Asian/Asian-American and one of them is on the autism spectrum. There is some serious on-page steaminess! Heat level: Hot. Recommended by Jonathan and Becca.

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  • Rebel

    2019 by Jenkins, Beverly

    I love everything Beverly Jenkins writes. She is the queen of romance and a master at celebrating the history of African Americans through stories of love, devotion, and happily-ever-afters. Heat level: Warm. Recommended by Megan.

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  • What If It's Us

    2018 by Albertalli, Becky

    Becky Albertalli is one of my favorite young adult authors for romance meets cuteness! Heat level: Subtle. Recommended by Denise.

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  • Public Relations

    2017 by Heaney, Katie

    This has some of my all-time favorite appeal factors regardless of genre: realistic "will-they-won't-they" romance, a real friendship between the main character and her bff (not just to advance the plot!), great banter between the protagonists, descriptive use of style and fashion, and coauthors who make the voice of the story particularly compelling. Heat level: Hot. Recommended by Amy.

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  • Pride and Prejudice

    2009 by Austen, Jane

    Pride and Prejudice still makes my heart flutter--excellent writing, hilarious side characters, reasonable plot development, and a great vignette of upper-class Georgian life. Plus a wedding at the end. Several wonderful movie adaptations are also in our collection. Heat level: None. Recommended by Martha.

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  • Landing

    2007 by Donoghue, Emma

    I loved this so much that I've read it twice. It has a happy ending and would make a great film if you ask me. Heat level: Warm. Recommended by Louise.

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  • The Bromance Book Club

    2019 by Adams, Lyssa Kay

    Not sure about romance? Neither was Gavin. But he will do anything for a second chance to be with his wife after she kicks him out. At a point of desperation, Gavin begrudgingly joins a group of elite Nashville men secretly reading romance novels to gain insight into their partners' wants and needs. This is a fun early introduction to romance as the protagonist is reluctant to give romance a chance. The second book in this series is due out in March 2020. Heat level: Warm. Recommended by Becca.

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  • Red, White & Royal Blue

    2019 by McQuiston, Casey

    A favorite among staff, this is a really fun enemies-to-lovers story that imagines the First Son of the United States and Britain’s Prince of Wales falling in love. Fresh, feel good, and so cute we can't stand it! Heat level: Warm. Recommended by Allyson, Caitlin M, and Becca.

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  • Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

    2014 by MacLean, Sarah

    Super-hot historical romance written by a feminist. Need I say more? Heat level: Hot. Recommended by Leah.

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  • Silver Silence: A Psy-changeling Trinity Novel

    2017 by Singh, Nalini

    Nalini Singh writes several types of romances (contemporary, paranormal, and urban fantasy). Her characters and worlds are fleshed out and wonderfully written. She creates interesting, intriguing, and unique worlds for her characters to live in. Heat level: Warm. Recommended by Penny.

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  • The Summer of Jordi Perez: (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)

    2018 by Spalding, Amy

    I used be kind of a snob about romance as a genre but then I had to read this book and I loved it. I was having a rough time personally and a book with a guaranteed happy ending was exactly what I needed. This is the book pushed me to dive into the romance deep end. Heat level: Kisses. Recommended by Becca.

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  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown

    2019 by Hibbert, Talia

    A sweet, hilarious, realistic romance that also deals skillfully with serious subjects of chronic illness. We love Red and Chloe and how their past hurts influenced but didn’t derail their new relationship. Heat level: Warm. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • Sanctuary Cove: A Cavanaugh Island Novel

    2012 by Alers, Rochelle

    Sexy and charming love story set in a Low Country locale, featuring an inherited mansion and a love life in need of a renovation. Heat level: Warm. Recommended by Megan.

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  • Love from A to Z

    2019 by Ali, S. K.

    Adorable, super-duper clean romance for the young adult audience (or for those who love to read those books). I loved the descriptions of their faith, the chemistry between the two main characters, and their desire for justice. When all else fails, love wins. Heat level: None. Recommended by Becca.

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  • Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors: A Novel

    2019 by Dev, Sonali

    This modern reworking of Jane Austen's classic novel is smart and fun. The characters felt like old friends; yet brand new at the same time. I am now a fan of all things Sonali Dev, including her Bollywood series. Recipe for Persuasion (no. 2 in the series), will be released in May. Heat level: Kisses. Recommended by Sharon

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