Romance Fiction is booming as a billion-dollar industry that outperforms other book genres, and it doesn’t show any sign of slowing.
The industry is about a third larger than the inspirational book industry, and about the size of the mystery novel genre and science fiction/fantasy genre markets combined. Romance is BIG business (and not just during February).
Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: (1) a central love story and (2) an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. Writers might include subplots, but the love story is the main focus, and the lovers who risk and struggle for each other are rewarded somehow.
To give you some new story ideas, our Librarians offer up suggestions for love and romance (or romance-adjacent) novels available at the Libraries. Check out titles for contemporary, historical, paranormal, and erotic romance.
These novels are set from 1950 to the present and focus primarily on the romantic relationship. The subgenre can include romantic suspense, mystery or thrillers, LGBT+ stories, and Christian romance among others.
The Best Man (Blue Heron Bk 1) by Kristan Higgins
After being left at the altar years ago, Faith is ready to return to her family’s winery, but when she finds herself drawn to local police chief Levi, she cannot forget the role he played in breaking up her wedding. Also an eBook and eAudiobook.
Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
Returning to town two years after marrying a man of whom her family disapproves, rebellious heiress Haven Travis is determined to never again fall for the wrong man, until she meets Hardy Cates, a sexy Texan who is an enemy of her family. Also an Audiobook/CD and eBook.
Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
When Valentine Roncalli discovers a long lost shoe design, a family secret unravels that helps her take control of the company from a conniving relative, but first she seeks the counsel, and more, of her ex-fiancée, Bret Fitzpatrick, to help re-boot the business while she pursues a hot romance with a handsome Italian from her past. Also an Audiobook/CD.
Burning Lamp (Dreamlight Trilogy Bk 2) by Amanda Quick
A second entry in a trilogy that began with Fired Up finds hallucination-prone crime lord Griffin Winters believing he has been struck with the Winters Curse and engaging in a dangerous psychic experiment with the mysterious Adelaide Pyne, who holds Nicholas Winters’s missing lamp.
Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
The story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a male summer guest at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Winner of the Lambda Award. Also an eAudiobook, on DVD, and in Spanish.
The First Love by Beverly Lewis
In the summer of 1951, Amish woman Maggie Esh is struggling with a debilitating illness and few future prospects. When revival meetings come to the area, Maggie attends out of curiosity, and the words of the evangelist begin to stir something deep inside her. Also in Large Print, Audiobook/CD, and eAudiobook.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Not for the squeamish or faint of heart, this brilliantly daring novel is shocking and delightful. Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same. Available only as an eAudiobook.
Less: A Novel by Andrew Sean Greer
Receiving an invitation to his ex-boyfriend’s wedding, Arthur, a failed novelist on the eve of his 50th birthday, embarks on an international journey that finds him falling in love, risking his life, reinventing himself and making connections with the past. Also as Audiobook/CD and eBook.
River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz
Returning 13 years after an embarrassing incident from her teens to the hometown of her beloved late aunt, forensic genealogist Lucy Sheridan makes shocking discoveries about her aunt’s death, the disappearance of a cold-blooded local and an attractive former cop. Also in Large Print, Audiobook/CD, eAudiobook.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
A socially awkward genetics professor who has never been on a second date sets out to find the perfect wife, but instead finds Rosie Jarman, a fiercely independent barmaid who is on a quest to find her biological father. Also in Large Print, eBook, and Audiobook/CD.
Rumor Has It (Animal Magnetism Series) by Jill Shalvis
When Special Ops soldier Griffin Reid returns to his hometown of Sunshine, Idaho, to recover from an injury, sparks fly between him and teacher Kate Evans, who he remembers only as his little sister’s friend. Also as an eAudiobook.
Stars of Fortune (Guardians Trilogy Bk 1) by Nora Roberts
Centuries after guardian stars tied to the powers of fire, ice, and water fall to earth and place the fates of worlds in the hands of their finders, reclusive artist Sasha Riggs is drawn by vivid dreams to a Greek island to search for the fire star and passion. Also in Large Print, Audiobook/CD, and eBook.
This group of romance novels are set prior to 1950. If you like historical fiction, this might be the subgenre for you.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
Shocking her blueblood political family by volunteering for the war effort in 1939 London, socialite Mary teaches evacuated and marginalized children and bonds with her employer, Tom, before their romance is challenged by a painful love triangle and the grueling realities of the war. Also in Large Print and Audiobook/CD.
The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith
In occupied 1945 Venice, a fisherman rescues a Jewish woman on the run from the Wehrmact SS and chooses to protect her from the Nazis, a decision that leads them into a turbulent love affair marked by beauty and danger. Also in Large Print, eBook, and Audiobook/CD.
Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Sent to medieval Cambridge in order to exonerate a group of Jewish prisoners with financial ties to King Henry I, University of Salerno medical examiner Adelia discovers that the killer may be a former crusader. Also in Large Print.
Why Kill the Innocent (Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery Series) by C.S. Harris
When a beautiful young musician with ties to Princess Charlotte is found dead in a snowdrift, Sebastian St. Cyr finds himself pulled into a maze of treachery as he untangles the secrets of her world. Also as an eBook and Audiobook/CD.
The eclectic paranormal romance sub-genre includes fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements that are central to the plot. You will also find sub-subgenres like “space romance” here.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Discovering a magical manuscript in Oxford’s library, scholar Diana Bishop, a descendant of witches who has rejected her heritage, inadvertently unleashes a fantastical underworld of daemons, witches, and vampires whose activities center around an enchanted treasure. Also Audiobook/CD, Playaway, and eBook.
The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
A little girl who is detained by the military, restrained in a wheelchair and goes to school while heavily guarded doesn’t truly understand why she is special until it is up to her to save the world. Also DVD, eBook, Audiobook/CD, eAudiobook.
Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
Madeleine Maxwell, new recruit to St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, discovers that the society members travel through time to thwart time-traveling terrorists and investigate major historical events. Also an eBook.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Joining the crew of the aging Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that has seen better days, loner Rosemary Harper must unexpectedly risk her life when they are offered the job of a lifetime, which teaches her valuable lessons about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t the worst thing in the universe. Also an eBook.
Moon Called (Mercy Thompson Series) by Patricia Briggs
While trying to live a so-called normal existence, mechanic Mercy Thompson, a shapeshifter raised by werewolves, gets into trouble with the gremlins, witches, and vampires with whom she deals on a daily basis. Also an eBook.
So Long and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams
Further adventures of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and the all new voidoid gang upon returning to Earth after eight years of crazed wanderings around the galaxy in this science fiction spoof which continues The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. Also Audiobook/CD, eBook, and eAudiobook.
Spirit Bound: A Sea Haven Novel by Christine Feehan
Rising artist Judith Henderson, an ethereal beauty with a mysterious past, becomes the obsession of two men — deadly undercover agent Stefan Prakenskii and a criminal mastermind — who long to possess her. Also in Large Print.
It’s just like it sounds: novels with strong, often explicit, sexual interaction that is inherent to the story, character growth and relationship development. Erotic romance may contain elements of other subgenres.
Call of Crows Series by Shelly Laurenston
“Vikings, rockin’ women and a little mythology. Laurenston has taken Norse mythology and created a modern world of epic female warriors who battle jerks and Hell’s carrion alike.” Various formats.
Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day
The Crossfire series follows the emotional and romantic journey taken by Gideon Cross and Eva Tramell. Various formats.
Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James
Hailed as “being in a class by itself,” the Fifty Shades Trilogy will “obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.” Various formats.
What are some of your favorite romance – or romance-adjacent – novels?
Share with us in the comments. Happy reading!