The Best Romance Novels of All Time: The Ultimate List

Discover the best romance novels of all time in this book list. If you’re looking to find the best romance novels worth reading, you’ll want to pick one from my list of all-time favorites.

If you’re going to read a romance book, why not start with one of the very best romance novels of all time?

This list of best romance novels includes all of MY favorite romance books. If I could recommend any romance novel to you dear reader it would be one on this list.

But even if we don’t have the exact same taste in romance books, you are bound to find a great romance novel in this list.


Because all of my favorite romance books are 5 star reads and I don’t give out that rating lightly.

Each of these books are the real deal and the full package. For a book to make my list of best romance novels of all time, it has to be a 5+ star read and have:

  • fantastic writing
  • amazing character development
  • wonderful plot and story development
  • unbelievable chemistry between characters, and be a
  • one of a kind love story that gives me all the feels and then some!

Often times these are the romance books and characters that I think about for days after reading the final page. They also have the very best book boyfriends.

Many of these best romance novels are from my most favorite authors, but I love it when I find a gem from someone I have never read before!

Be sure to keep this page bookmarked because I will continually add to this list whenever I stumble upon another 5 star, must read romance.

My favorites below are in no particular order.

Download the List!

*Be sure to scroll down this entire list of best romance novels because at the bottom you have a chance to download a free printable of this entire list of titles!

Listen to the Podcast:

Episode 50: The Best Romance Novels of All Time

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Here’s to finding your next book boyfriend. Happy reading…because life is better with a love story!

*Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Best Romance Novels of All Time:

Paradise by Judith McNaught is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Judith McNaught

Second Chance Romance

Matthew Farrell is well known for his corporate take overs but he was once the boy from the opposite side of the tracks. That didn’t stop, 18 year-old Meredith Bancroft from disappearing from the country club with Matt and finding a once in a lifetime connection. Only the department store heiress ultimately betrayed him.

Now years later, Matt’s back and ready to exact some revenge on Meredith and the Bancroft empire, only to find that their past is mixed up in lies and deceit and their feelings returning with a vengeance.

This novel is hands down one of my all-time favorite romance books and one of the first that inspired my love for the genre.

A second chance romance book filled with young love, heartbreak, miscommunication and deceit that tore two lovers apart only to come face to face with their past years later. It’s definitely worthy of being named one of the best romance novels of all time!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Diana Gabaldon

Historical Romance

A former combat nurse just back from the war reunites with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone circle.

She’s thrust back in time to 1743 and a Scotland torn by war where she meets a young Highland warrior.

The relationship between Jamie and Claire is one unlike I’ve ever read.

It’s a slow burn relationship between two partners who treat themselves as equals and is one that I’ll always treasure.  

This book seriously has it all – from an intriguing story to great world building, time travel, and amazing characters. I couldn’t help but go on and read the entire series just to have more Jamie and Claire.

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Voyager is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Diana Gabaldon

Historical Romance

Claire Fraser traveled back in time and fell in love with the Scottish Highlander, Jamie Fraser. To protect her unborn child from the devastation of the battle of Culloden, she returned to her own time thinking Jamie lost in battle.

Only Claire discovers that Jamie survived and becomes torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era.

This may be my most favorite of the Outlander series. The love between Claire and Jamie is a love affair for the ages and the reunion was just as incredible as I hoped it would be and more.

Red, White & Royal Blue is one of the best romance novels of all time

Red, White & Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston

Enemies to Lovers Romance, MM Romance

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz isn’t one to hide his disdain for Prince Henry, but when photos of an altercation at a wedding are leaked to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations, he agrees to a fake friendship with the Prince as damage control.

Only the fake relationship leads to a secret relationship that could derail his mother’s re-election campaign and upend two nations.

I ADORED this book and feel that it’s deserving of all the praise.

There was so much to this story: frenemies who slowly become lovers, a frank look at American politics and a presidential race, deep, heartwarming friendships, and the personal struggles of figuring out who you really are, owning who you really are despite fear or hardship and adjusting life dreams along the way.

I honestly could go on and on about why I loved this book. Also check out my list of more books like Red, White and Royal Blue and my book review of Red, White and Royal Blue.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown
by Talia Hibbert

Opposites Attract Romance

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, things always seem to go wrong. Case in point when she accidentally hits the owner of the bed and breakfast with her car, breaking his arm.

Jacob may have turned her down for the head chef position during her interview, but with him laid up and understaffed Eve is everywhere he turns trying to help.

Eve’s chaotic nature is the complete opposite to Jacob’s need to control everything, so why is he starting to get used to her being around and liking it?

Eve and Jacob are two of the best, diverse romance book characters that I’ve read in a long time and their love story tugged on all of my heartstrings!

I seriously just loved everything about these two characters who saw the best in each other. Check out my review of Act Your Age, Eve Brown.

The Guy on the Right is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Guy on the Right
by Kate Stewart

College Romance, Opposites Attract Romance

Theodore Housman may be a former band geek but he’s now a marching band rock star and found the girl of this dreams. No way is he going to let his star football player roommate steal her away or let him underestimate the guy on the right.

This book hit so many boxes for me that it instantly became one of my favorites.

It had me sighing from the sweet romantic gestures, it had me laughing out loud with its many hilarious moments, it had me fanning myself with its hot, panty melting bedroom scenes and overall had me rooting for Laney and Theo’s HEA in this opposites attract, new friends to lovers story.

Check out my review of The Guy on the Right.

The Guy in the Middle is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Guy in the Middle
by Kate Stewart

College Romance, Sports Romance

Lance Prescott is a quiet loner and footballer at Grande U. He has everything riding on his senior season– for him and for his family. He just didn’t expect to fall for Harper, the coach’s daughter.

I still can’t stop thinking about this book, making it a sure favorite. Stewart truly slays me with her amazing writing but it was the culminating scene between Lance and Harper just tugged on all of my heart strings and is one that I’ve reread many, many times since.

This book can be read as a standalone but it also wrapped up a fantastic series with one of the best epilogues I’ve ever read. Read this book!

Check out my review of The Guy in the Middle.

Truce is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by R.L. Mathewson

Historical Romance, Enemies to Lovers Romance

Elizabeth is desperate for her independence which she can have at her next birthday when she gains ownership of her grandmother’s inheritance. Only plans change when she’s compromised by none other than her childhood nemesis Robert.

Neither can stand each other and yet the passion between them may just burn into love.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read this book. The enemies to lovers angst is just so HOT and has you wondering what will happen next between Elizabeth and Robert.

It’s definitely one of the best romance book ever written.

My Personal Bad Boy is one of the best romance novels of all time.

My Personal Bad Boy
by Bethany James

Erotic Romance

Nicole has had enough nights babysitting. She wants to experiment and gain experience and she’s looking for the person who can corrupt her.

I consider this one of the most underrated erotic romance books ever.

It’s a short, quick read and one I’ve reread many, many times. I love how it showcases Nicole exploring her sexuality and ultimately finding love.

The Notebook is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Notebook
by Nicholas Sparks

Second Chance Romance

Noah and Allie met one summer that would forever be one that neither could forget. Noah may have been from the wrong side of the tracks but that didn’t stop Allie from defying her parents and spending every moment with him. But it was ultimately their differences and circumstances beyond their control that tore them a part.

Years later after returning home from war, Noah is determined to fulfill his promise to Allie to restore and old plantation he had once hoped to make their home. When a newly engaged Allie sees Noah’s work in the paper, she goes to see the house herself and the boy she once loved.

I love how the story is told in different timelines and has the most touching ending. This is the story to read if you want to believe in the strength of love. But be forewarned that it is a book that will make you ugly cry. I actually loved the movie just as much as the book.

An Offer From a Gentleman is one of the best romance novels of all time.

An Offer From a Gentleman
by Julia Quinn

Historical Romance

Sophie Beckett never dreamed that she’d be able to sneak into Lady Bridgerton’s masquerade ball. She dances the night away with dashing Benedict Bridgerton until she has to disappear before the night is over.

Benedict can’t forget the woman he danced with that night and is determined to find her and wed her. But then he meets the maid, Sophie and begins to fall for her as well. Will he sacrifice his chance at love if he follows his heart for another?

This Cinderella-retelling is my favorite in the Bridgerton series. I love how Benedict is so torn between two woman when she’s really one in the same!

The tension of her being a maid and below his station also adds to the amazing tension and chemistry to this story. Read it then check out my list of Bridgerton books in order and my list of more books like Bridgerton.

Royally Matched is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Royally Matched
by Emma Chase

Opposites Attract Romance

Henry, Prince of Wessco is not happy with the responsibility that has just been thrust on him. Perhaps that’s why he just signed up for a reality TV dating show.

While twenty beautiful women vie for his attention, it’s the quiet girl in the corner that catches his attention.

Emma Chase is such a talented writer and I fell hard for this opposites attract story.

I loved Sarah who may be a quiet woman but she is the perfect queen for Henry. The ending to this book is one of the best royal romance books I’ve ever read.

Beautifully Cruel is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Beautifully Cruel
by J.T. Geissinger

Mafia Romance

I only knew him as the stranger who came into the diner where I worked, but the night he saved me from an attack is when I truly came to know this alpha man. I felt safe in this man’s arms, yet saving me came with a price.

Liam Black is the perfect alpha male and yet Truvy was just as enticing a character for me in this one. I loved their chemistry and couldn’t put it down. Check out my review of Beautifully Cruel.

Cruel Paradise is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Cruel Paradise
by J.T. Geissinger

Mafia Romance

Killian Black is a mob boss in Boston but who is he really? His world is turned upside down when he crosses paths with a thief who happens to be the daughter of his most deadly enemy.

This was the perfect alpha male romance. Killian Black is who all book boyfriends should be molded after. Such a well-written book with a hate to love you storyline I couldn’t stop reading. Check out my review of Cruel Paradise.

The Rivals is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Rivals
by Vi Keeland

Enemies to Lovers Romance

The Lockwood and the Sterling families have been feuding for years, and that hasn’t changed now that they are co-owners of a luxury hotel.

Weston Lockwood has never failed to push all of Sophia Sterling’s buttons and get under her skin. The trouble is, every time they fight, she somehow winds up under HIM.

I have a definite weakness for dirty talking book boyfriends and Weston Lockwood is one of THE BEST. I love enemies to lovers books and this one didn’t disappoint with its intense chemistry from the start.

The loathing between these characters just made things hotter behind closed doors. One of Keeland’s best! Check out my book review of The Rivals.

Fortuity is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Jewel E. Ann

Single Parent Romance

Gracelyn is on a self-imposed man ban having had her heart broken by three men in her life. Her heart is even more shattered with the loss of her brother and his wife die, leaving her as the guardian to her ten-year-old nephew, Gabe.

Moving into a house on the beach in San Diego, she meets her neighbor, single dad, Nathaniel who’s had his own heart broken more than once.

This was my first Jewel E. Ann book and I became instantly captivated by these characters who had been devastated by love in the past and unsure if they would ever find it again in their future.

It’s also rare to find a romance book that features a heroine in her forties (that’s not also an age gap romance) which made me love this book and the heroine even more. Read my book review of Fortuity.

Bad Boss is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Bad Boss
by Stella Rhys

Office Romance, Billionaire Romance

Julian may be a self-made billionaire but he needs sexy Sara to help close a business deal. In desperate need of a job, Sara never expected to accept the offer extended by her first and only one night stand.

There’s so much wrong with the role she’s asked to play but being around Julian feels oh so right.

Bad Boss hooked me from the very first chapter. Julian and Sara have the hottest meet cute in an elevator without even exchanging names.

Stella Rhys crushes it with this series! Read my book review of Bad Boss.

Hothead is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Stella Rhys

Fake Relationship Romance, Sports Romance

Drew is a sexy MLB star who’s worried that his job is on the chopping block because of his hothead reputation. To turn things around, he proposes a fake relationship to Evie, a girl desperate to make her ex-fiance jealous.

OMG I loved this book so much. Like, loved, loved, loved it so much that I stayed up most of the night and then disappeared from my family the next day because I had to finish it.

This was seriously the perfect romance for me. Two strong characters, a ton of heat and chemistry and a great story line without needless drama. I absolutely adored Drew and Evie in this fake relationship romance. Check out my book review of Hot Head.

Rock Bottom Girl is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Rock Bottom Girl
by Lucy Score

Small Town Romance, Fake Relationship Romance

Marley is jobless and broke so she’s moved back home into her parents house, back to the small town she wanted to leave behind. To try and get her life back on track she’s taken a temporary teaching job and is now coach of the girls soccer team.

Having no idea what she’s doing, she agrees to a fake relationship with the former bad boy from her teenage years who will teach her how to coach in exchange for her teaching him how to be in a relationship.

This romance book made my favorites list because I loved the heroine. I love romance novels with older heroines and I just loved everything about Marley’s story and where she was in life.

Besides Marley who’s just trying to find her purpose in life, you get a great fake boyfriend, hilarious banter and a fantastic story.

A great all-around book making it one of the best romance books worth reading for sure! Check out my book review of Rock Bottom Girl.

Exposed is a romance book by Kristen Callihan and considered one of the best romance novels of all time according to romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books.

by Kristen Callihan

Rock Star, Friends to Lovers Romance

Rye, the bassist for Kill John, the biggest rock band in the world, and Brenna, his publicist are like oil and water. But everything changes when he overhears something he shouldn’t: a confession made in a moment of weakness.

Now the man Brenna’s tried so hard to ignore is offering her the greatest temptation of all—him.

I love friends to lovers romance books because the history between characters often leads to some intense chemistry.

Ryland and Brenna have known each other for years but have been more like friends who antagonize each other which definitely made their moments together HOT.

Callihan’s writing is also just superb where she can have me melting one moment and crying the next. I just loved these two characters and this book!

People We Meet on Vacation is one of the best romance novels of all time according to romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books.

People We Meet on Vacation
by Emily Henry

Friends to Lovers Romance

Alex and Poppy have been the best of friends ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago. Despite being complete opposites and living far apart, every summer they have vacationed for a week together until two years ago when things were ruined.

Not having spoken since, Poppy realizes she needs to fix things and asks Alex to take one more vacation with her so that they can lay everything out on the table and make it right.

This book made me an Emily Henry fan for life. Her writing was exquisite, completely sucking me in from the start and keeping me glued to the page and these characters. I loved watching Alex and Poppy, fall for each other despite being complete opposites.

It’s books that make me FEEL that grab a spot on this list and this book made me ball my eyes out. I kept wanting to read faster to get to that fateful summer that changed things for them and yet I also wanted to slow down so this book would never end.

It was named best romance novel in the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards and is so deserving of that title!

The Dugout is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Dugout
by Meghan Quinn

College Romance, Baseball Romance

Carson is recovering from an injury that may derail his senior year season and his chances in the draft. His only hope is the baseball whisperer – a girl on campus who may know more about baseball than he does.

She may even become more than his fairy ballmother.

This baseball romance book seriously has it all. Quinn’s witty banter is spot on and had me laughing throughout plus it has the best cast of characters you can’t help but fall for. Check out my book review of The Dugout.

The Lineup is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Lineup
by Meghan Quinn

Baseball Romance

Dottie just donated an huge amount of money to my charity — The Lineup — to win a date with me but I know the truth. She’s secretly had a crush on me and now I know just want to do with that knowledge.

Jason Orson is hands down one of my all-time favorite book boyfriends if not THE favorite of all time and that is saying something!

I’ve loved all of Quinn’s baseball boys but Jason is one of my favorites. I loved his witty banter and his connection with Dottie. Check out my book review of The Lineup.

After We Fall is one of the best romance novels of all time.

After We Fall
by Melanie Harlow

Opposites Attract Romance

Margot has been hired to do PR for a family farm but runs into quite the opposition when it comes to Jack who wants nothing to do with her or her ideas. Or does he?

Oh my god, do I love this farmer! This is another romance book that I could reread time and time again.

I loved how Jack is this other person when it comes to Margot, his true self, and despite being opposites they are so perfect for one another. It tugged on all my heartstrings.

Beautiful Stranger is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Beautiful Stranger
by Christina Lauren

Erotic Romance

Sara moves to New York to escape her cheating ex and meets Max one night at a club.

One night proves not enough with her beautiful stranger and the two begin hooking up in places around the city where anyone could catch them. Only they may end up catching love if they’re not careful.

Christina Lauren slayed me with this book. I loved the entire Beautiful series but this one is my most favorite.

Max and Sara are an amazing couple. I loved how they pushed each other and yet fit each other perfectly. I never wanted this book to end.

Romancing the Duke is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Romancing the Duke
by Tessa Dare

Historical Romance

Izzy may have grown up with romantic stories of love but she’s long since given up on finding love and romance for herself. With barely a roof over her head, she learns she has inherited a dilapidated castle which happens to have a Duke already living in it.

I love historical romances featuring strong heroines and tortured heroes!

This was my first Tessa Dare book and she hooked me! I’m not sure who I loved more in this book but it was perfect all around. Check out my book review of Romancing the Duke.

Endurance is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Amy Daws

Sports Romance, Fake Relationship Romance

Tanner Harris is known as the soccer playing manwhore around London but when he gets caught with his pants down by the paparazzi he realizes he has to change his ways.

Dr. Belle Ryan can’t believe she got caught in a paparazzi picture with Tanner when she was only picking up the sod but with both of their reputations on the line, they decide to pretend that they are a couple. Funny they can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves while pretending.

Tanner Harris may be one of the most lovable book boyfriends I’ve ever read. He is just so hilarious and so endearing that I couldn’t get enough of him in this book.

This was the perfect fake dating romance with chemistry that was off the charts.

Flock is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Kate Stewart

Small Town Romance

Cecelia grew up sick. She believed in romantic love and looked for a worthy man to give her heart to. But it was the year she had to spend in Triple Falls to earn her inheritance from her absent father that she truly learned the price of her sickness.

Kate Stewart completely gripped my heart and made it have all the feels with this duet that turned into a trilogy as the Ravenhood series. Not only were these books so eloquently written, but she really made me think and question so many things.

I LOVE when an author can make me contemplate world views while also giving me an all-consuming romance. Read my book review of Flock.

Exodus is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Kate Stewart

Enemies to Lovers Romance

This is book is the continuation of Flock in this epic series. It’s time for Cecelia to face the consequences of her sickness. The impact of the year she spent in Triple Falls.

The year that changed her forever. She’s back to make peace with her fate and accept whatever ending it may be.

I could not put this book down. It made me realize that I am an addict when it comes to reading romance books that just grip you, make you feel and just squeeze the heck out of your heart.

I had such a book hangover after reading it. Kate Stewart slays again. Read my book review of Exodus.

The Finish Line is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Finish Line
by Kate Stewart

Second Chance Romance

My life has been full of secrets and lives for one purpose—revenge. To enact my revenge I had to deny my heart – until her. We exploded together but we’ve both paid the price.

I’ve given up trying to live without her so now I’m back to claim her once again and hope that my past doesn’t get us both in the end.

What was supposed to be an extended epilogue turned into a third novel which is the best gift Stewart could have given after an incredible duet.

When a book gives you characters you can’t forget and a storyline that is so amazing, it’s deserving to be called one of the best romance books ever. Check out my book review of The Finish Line.

Melt for You is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Melt for You
by J.T. Geissinger

Relationship Coach Romance

Joellen is desperate to get noticed by her boss and CEO but she just blends in with the crowd.

When she meets her new neighbor, Cameron MacGregor, a tattooed, sexy rugby captain, the playboy offers to teach her how to inspire desire and get her boss’ attention.

Hot Scotsman? Check. Perfect relationship coach romance? Check. Superb writing with amazing characters? Check.

I loved the connection between Cameron and Joellen and how he pushes her to see her for who she really is. It’s a must read!

Sustained is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Emma Chase

Slow Burn Romance

Jake loves his reputation as a cold, defense attorney so he can’t understand how he got swept up by Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews.

Seriously, how does Emma Chase do it? She writes such captivating stories with the best characters and the best book boyfriends.

This book had the perfect push-pull dynamic and slow burn romance. Sometimes kids can detract from a romance for me but this one was perfect and a wonderful guardian ward romance story.

Him is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

MM Romance, Friends to Lovers Romance

Jamie never understood why his lost his closest friend four years ago. Things may have gotten a bit hot and heavy one night at hockey camp but he’s still at a loss.

Now he’s back at hockey camp as a coach with his former friend and he’s going to get answers and maybe something more.

If there’s ever a MM romance book to read, this is it. I think it was my first and it’s still my most favorite.

This is just an incredible, friends to lovers story with amazing writing. I can’t recommend it enough.

Us is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

MM Romance, Hockey Romance

This is the continuation of Him, looking at how Jamie and Ryan can sustain their relationship during Ryan’s NHL hockey season.

I loved this book just as much as the first. I’ll always want more of Jamie and Ryan. Such an incredible book and love story.

Wrecking Ball is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Wrecking Ball
by P. Dangelico

Slow Burn Romance

Cam DeSantis’ life is a mess so she has no choice but to take the job offered by the insufferable NFL quarterback to be a nanny to his nephew.

Calvin Shaw’s only focus is to win a Super Bowl but unfortunately the woman now living in his house is proving to be quite the distraction.

I devoured this slow burn romance but the entire series captured my heart. I loved the reclusive quarterback who seemed hardened at heart only to find his match with Cam.

If slow burn romances are your jam, you’ll love this one.

Sledgehammer is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by P. Dangelico

Slow Burn Romance

Amber may have crossed the line this time having gotten arrested for almost burning her ex’s house down. Ethan can’t believe he’s had to sprung Amber from jail. He’s a lawyer for football players, not crazy actresses.

Only now she has to live under his roof and the heat between them may just burn the house down.

Another fantastic slow burn romance from Dangelico that is a must-read! Amber and Ethan may be opposites but they are exactly what the other needs.

Bulldozer is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by P. Dangelico

Slow Burn Romance

Grant Hendricks may be four time Defensive Player of the Year but a recent back injury is threatening to end his career.

Trying to get his head on straight he escapes to his teammate’s beach house only to find a woman and her son already living there.

Yes! A grumpy hero! Oh how I loved Grant and how sweet he was to Amanda’s son. The perfect slow burn, football romance that I couldn’t get enough of.

Wicked Sexy is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Wicked Sexy
by J.T. Geissinger

Romantic Suspense

When one of Connor’s private security clients is threatened by a cybercriminal, he seeks the help of Tabitha West, one of the best hackers in the world.

She turns down his offer but once she realizes the cyber criminal is someone from her past, they find themselves chasing a common enemy and falling for each other in the process.

I am in love with Tabitha West. She is such a fantastic heroine and a perfect match to Connor. I adored their steamy back and forth that created incredible tension.

I also really liked the slight suspense to this story making it one of my most favorite romance books!

The Game Plan is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Game Plan
by Kristen Callihan

Football Romance, Virgin Romance

NFL center Ethan Dexter realizes Fiona Mackenzie has never seen him as anything more than her brother-in-law’s best friend but one bet can surprisingly change that. Fi’s not sure what to make of Ethan.

If the rumors are true, he’s a virgin but the man leaves her weak at the knees.

This is one of my most favorite football romance books as well as virgin hero romance books. Ethan is one heck of a guy.

I loved how these two had to work through long distance and publicity to make it work.

Some Sort of Happy is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Some Sort of Happy
by Melanie Harlow

Contemporary Romance

Skylar Nixon is back in her hometown and she hardly recognizes her former classmate, Sebastian Pryce. The once awkward kid whom everyone picked on is now this super hot lawyer.

While Sebastian always had a crush on the former beauty queen, he knows that his OCD would be a deal breaker for her and tries to keep his distance but love has other plans.

I can’t sing Melanie Harlow’s praises enough for what she crafted in this romance book. She writes such an amazing book that gave such a real look at OCD and yet weaved in such a beautiful love story to show that love doesn’t discriminate against any mental health issue.

Skylar was such a likeable heroine but Sebastian totally steals the show in this one. I absolutely adored their trust, chemistry and happily-ever-after.

The Flatshare is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Flatshare
by Beth O’Leary

Contemporary Romance

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and Leon Twomey needs cash so their new living situation couldn’t be more perfect. The two will both share a one-bed flat where Leon sleeps during the day while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she occupies the flat at night.

With obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients and wrongly imprisoned brothers is it even possible for two people to become friends while never even seeing each other? Could they even fall in love?

This book has such a unique storyline and is one of the greatest slow burn romances that I’ve ever read.

Reading it was such a different experience from other romance books that follow a predictable plot line, where you’re not really surprised by events that happen and can already see where its going and what the characters are going to do.

I gladly just went along for the ride with this book and these amazing characters. It’s a must read! Check out my review of The Flatshare.

The Edge of Never is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Edge of Never
by J.A. Redmerski

Contemporary Romance

With only a purse, a cell phone and a small bag Camryn, boards a Greyhound bus alone without any purpose or goal but to find herself.

What she finds is a guy named Andrew Parrish, someone not so very different from her and who harbors his own dark secrets.

While Camryn vowed to never fall in love again, she can’t help but let Andrew in. But will his secrets destroy them in the end?

Can you find love on a Greyhound bus set for nowhere? This book was so completely captivating with a look at young love and the power that love has to change your life.

My heart was in my throat by the end of this book but it was so, so worth it!

Man Card is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Man Card
by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby

Enemies to Lovers Romance

Ash can’t stand her arrogant competitor Braht , the party boy who wears pretty clothes and gets on her last nerve. But one day their trash talking leads to her on her knees in front of him, in a pantry.

Braht knows one thing and that’s that Ash is meant to be his. She says we can never be a thing but I know it’s just a matter of time for me to wear her down and make her mine.

This book was such a fun, romantic comedy with all the tension of a great enemies to lovers story where as much as Ash fights her attraction, there’s no denying the chemistry she has with Braht.

It was so great reading these two spar against one another.

Egomaniac is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Vi Keeland

Opposites Attract Romance

The night Emerie met Drew, he was sneaking into her new office, only she was the actual intruder and Drew the rightful occupant. Taking pity on her, Drew agrees to let Emerie share his work space only the two couldn’t be more opposite on their outlook on love and relationships.

He’s a divorce attorney and she helps people repair their relationships. Will their differences prove too much for their growing attraction or will love rule in the end?

Nothing is hotter than a man so burned by love who is brought to his knees by a woman he can’t help but fall for. I loved the banter between these two officemates who had different points of view when it came to love and relationships.

Their story proves that you just have to find your match when it comes to living happily-ever-after. One of Keeland’s best!

Marriage for One is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Marriage for One
by Ella Maise

Marriage of Convenience Romance

The first time Rose met Jack, he proposed and she accepted. She can’t believe she accepted his marriage of convenience business arrangement but she really had no choice.

Now she’s sharing a house with a man she doesn’t know and yet she finds herself falling for him all the same.

I am an absolute fan of marriage of convenience romances with the best slow burn and Maise does it right with this one.

Rose and Jack were complete strangers and yet their interactions built to something extraordinary.

This book was totally deserving of its recognition as one of the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards Finalists for Best Romance!

Down London Road is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Down London Road
by Samantha Young

Contemporary Romance

It’s always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole.

Since her absent father and useless mother aren’t in the picture, Johanna has had to think of her brother before anything else, including the men she chooses to date. That is until she meets Cameron.

Cameron is the new bartender at the bar where she works and now he’s moved into the flat below hers. Soon he’s also moved his way into her heart.

Samantha Young is such a brilliant writer and I love the heroine she wrote in this one.

You can initially peg Johanna as a gold digger but this woman has so much strength and heart. This was just an all-around great story with characters who deserved a happy ending.

What I Did for a Duke is one of the best romance novels of all time.

What I Did for a Duke
by Julie Anne Long

Historical Romance

When the Duke of Falconbridge is crossed, he chooses to take his revenge by seducing the sister of the one who crossed him. He just didn’t anticipate falling for her, her wit and her passion.

I love it when a man in a romance book becomes totally taken with the female, especially when it’s the last thing he expected or wanted. Genevieve was such a strong heroine and I adored Alexander.

The Player and the Pixie is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Player and the Pixie
by L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid

Sports Romance, Relationship Coach Romance

Sean Cassidy may have the reputation as one of the best rugby players who has woman falling at his feet which is why Lucy Fitzpatrick is surprised to discover he’s actually complete rubbish in the sack.

It wasn’t her smartest move to fall into bed with her brother’s teammate and nemesis but now she’s agreeing to show him a thing or two to improve his skills in the bedroom.

OMG I adored this book. Sean is one of my favorite book boyfriends because there’s so much more to this man than the image he portrays on the outside.

I also loved how this book turned the tables and made the hero the one who needs a relationship coach and pointers in the bedroom. This was an amazing read!

Six of Hearts is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Six of Hearts
by L.H. Cosway

Contemporary Romance

Jay Fields is an illusionist, a trickster. He’s finally putting his plan for revenge in action and it’s all for her. He just has to keep his eye on the end game even if she tempts him at every turn.

Cosway writes the most intriguing characters and the most original stories and I love them. There was some suspense and intrigue to this captivating story that just held me from the word go.

I loved how I wasn’t sure how this one would unfold. It was fantastic and well worth a read.

Drive is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Kate Stewart

Rock Star Romance, Love Triangle Romance

Stella is driving home, listening to one playlist as she recounts the years that led up to this point and to the man she’s driving home to.

OMG Kate Stewart what are you doing to me with your amazing books?

This book seriously hooked me from the prologue and wouldn’t let go until I knew how this love triangle romance would end. It was so gripping, so moving and ah my heart had all the feels. Perfection and one of the best unputtdownable books!

Check out my book review of Drive.

Neanderthal Marries Human is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Neanderthal Marries Human
by Penny Reid

Contemporary Romance

Quinn Sullivan is ready to propose and wed Janine after just five months of dating. But Janie, much to his surprise wants the whole wedding package – the meeting of the parents, the bachelorette party, you name it.

Will Quinn make it to the wedding day or fold?

I fell for Quinn and Janie in the Neanderthal Seeks Human and this was the perfect sequel to get even more of these lovable characters.

I couldn’t get enough of Quinn’s need for control and Janie’s quirkiness plus the whole gang from the Knitting in the City series!

Love Hacked is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Love Hacked
by Penny Reid

Contemporary Romance

Sandra is a gifted psychologist but it hasn’t helped her dating life. All of her dates seem to end the same way with her acting the therapist and her date crying. Tired of the same song and dance she gives in one night with the waiter who’s always captured her eye.

Alex may be younger and less experienced than Sandra but he’s not about to let her psychoanalyze him no matter how much he comes to like her.

I love Reid’s books for her amazing storytelling and her unique characters. Alex is unlike any hero I’ve read before and I loved how he and Sandra just fit.

This isn’t your typical age gap romance but so much more.

Dating-ish is one of the best romance novels of all time.

by Penny Reid

Slow Burn Romance

Marie has given up on online dating after her latest fiasco only to discover that her date disaster is her friend’s next door neighbor. Matt is a scientist looking to collect data for his AI project and accidentally caught Marie in the crosshairs.

But perhaps the two can now work together to determine what it means to find the perfect partner.

Penny Reid is known for writing smart romance and she totally delivered in this one!

I adored Marie – the smart, investigative reporter but I adored Matt who was this wounded hero I just wanted to dive into the pages and hug. Their explorations into what people want in a partner were also so fun to read.

Sweet Addiction is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Sweet Addiction
by J. Daniels

Contemporary Romance

Dylan Sparks is attending her ex-boyfriend’s wedding when she catches the eye of the sexiest man she’s ever seen.

Next thing you know the two are hitting it in the bathroom before Dylan makes an escape. She’s all about keeping things casual but once was not enough for Reese and he’s not about to let her go.

Talk about a hot and steamy romance! I loved Reese and Dylan’s meet cute at the wedding and it just got better and better from there.

It’s refreshing to have a hero chase after a strong heroine and their chemistry was so, so hot!

Sweet Obsession is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Sweet Obsession
by J. Daniels

Contemporary Romance

Brooke Wicks loves to have a good time and when she spots Aussie Mason King across the street, she knows she has to have him. Mason wants Brooke right back but he’s not about to settle for a quick fling- the man wants it all and he wants it with Brooke.

This book was both really hot and really touching. Brooke was so shy about having anything serious with Mason but he was so sweet and unrelenting with her.

I adored these two and was rooting for their happily-ever-after from the start.

The Gravity of Us is one of the best romance novels of all time.

The Gravity of Us
by Brittainy C. Cherry

Opposites Attract Romance

Graham Russell and Lucy couldn’t be more opposite from one another. Graham is a taciturn, unfeeling author while Lucy is as carefree as they come.

When life throws them together in the most unlikely of situations, they couldn’t help but fall in love.

Cherry wowed me with this novel that tugged on all of my heartstrings and had me in tears.

The depth of emotion felt in this novel was amazing and these two will be a couple I won’t soon forget.

A Kingdom of Dreams is one of the best romance novels of all time.

A Kingdom of Dreams
by Judith McNaught

Historical Romance

Headstrong Scottish lass, Jennifer Merrick, is abducted from her convent school by The Wolf, the fierce English warrior. Though both are proud, passionate and sworn enemies, their attraction is soon undeniable.

A Kingdom of Dreams, was the first historical romance book that I can remember reading and it took my breath away.

I love headstrong heroines and Jennifer is no wallflower in this engaging story. Plus, the tension between Jennifer and Royce in this book was off the charts making it difficult to put down.

Wicked Envy is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Wicked Envy
by Sawyer Bennett

Erotic Romance

Dane, Avril and Andrew have been the best of friends since college. When Avril breaks up with her boyfriend she needs a change and asks her friends to take her to the Wicked Horse. There the lines of friendship are blurred and they are seeing each other in a whole new light.

Oh boy was this book HOT. This is my favorite of the series as I loved how this story explores what it means to move from friends to lovers within this group of friends and how that can change feelings for each person.

It’s a definite must-read.

Pillow Talk is one of the best romance novels of all time.

Pillow Talk
by Maya Banks

Erotic Romance

Zoe is in a committed relationship with her boyfriend Chase but one night they share their favorite, secret fantasies. When they set each other’s fantasy’s in motion, that’s when things heat up.

Some books you forget after awhile but I can still remember everything about this romance book. One of the first erotic romance books I ever read, it took my breath away.

How to Tame a Wild Rogue is one of the best romance novels of all time according to She Reads Romance Books. Check out the entire list of best romance books from the romance book blogger online.

How to Tame a Wild Rogue
by Julie Anne Long

Historical Romance, Fake Marriage

Daphne is found one dark night dangling out of a second story window, trying to escape an unsavory working situation when she is rescued by Lorcan St. Ledger. Trying to find shelter from a raging storm on their heels, the two find themselves at the door of the Grand Palace on the Thames where they must pose as man and wife to stay in the only room available.

Their time together sparks a flame neither anticipated and yet spells certain heartbreak for them both as Lorcan is everything she never dreamed she’d wanted, but he can never be what she needs. 

If you love a good slow burn, opposites attract romance then this is the book for you. Daphne is the type of strong heroine I adore in historical romance and Lorcan, though a man who came up from nothing, becomes the one person she can let go with and depend on.

Julie Anne Long writes such exquisite prose in which every sentence reads like a masterpiece. Plus, her beautiful descriptions build up the best tension and chemistry between her characters.

This book had the perfect amount of steam and has THE BEST proposal speech I think I’ve ever read.

Fangirl Down is one of the best romance novels of all time according to She Reads Romance Books. Check out the entire list of best romance books from the romance book blogger online.

Fangirl Down
by Tessa Bailey

Sports Romance

Wells Whitaker was once golf’s hottest rising star, but his career has taken a nosedive leaving him with only one fan who’s always believed in him. Yet when Wells quits in a blaze of glory, his fangirl finally goes home leaving him with nothing. Determined to make things right, Wells shows up at Josephine’s door with a wild proposal: be his new caddy, help him turn his game around, and split the prize money.

This book epitomizes why I read romance. It has everything that I love about the genre and I had to read it in one sitting because I completely and utterly fell in love with the main characters, the story, and just everything about it. It is perfection.

It has such a great mix of humor, steam and intriguing storyline without unnecessary dramatics. If you’re looking for a really great romcom with heart and a new book boyfriend who is one amazing dirty talker, this is the book for you and one of the best romance books of all time.

Check out my book review of Fangirl Down.

Love Theoretically is one of the best romance novels of all time according to She Reads Romance Books. Check out the entire list of best romance books from the romance book blogger online.

Love Theoretically
by Ali Hazelwood

Enemies to Lovers Romance

By day, Elsie Hannaway is an adjunct professor teaching thermodynamics in the hopes of landing tenure but to make up for her non-existent paycheck she offers her services as a fake girlfriend by night.

She can juggle both until she runs into Jack Smith, the brother of her favorite client, who is also the cold-hearted experimental physicist who ruined her mentor’s career and who rules over the physics department at MIT, standing right between Elsie and her dream job.

Hazelwood is the go-to author for romance books featuring women in STEM and this is by far her best (sorry The Love Hypothesis but you’re great too!). It’s one of the best academic rivals to lovers books because the chemistry and heat that develops between Elsie and Jack is so palpable.

But I also loved this book for its portrayal of what it means to really be your true self and believe that someone could fall in love with the real you.

Check out my book review of Love Theoretically.

Bride is one of the best romance novels of all time according to She Reads Romance Books. Check out the entire list of best romance books from the romance book blogger online.

by Ali Hazelwood

Paranormal Romance

Misery Lark, the only daughter of the most powerful Vampyre councilman, is marked as an outcast again when she agrees to marry the Alpha Lowe Moreland to uphold a historic peacekeeping alliance between the Vampyres and their mortal enemies, the Weres.

She has her own reasons to agree to this marriage of convenience and she is willing to do whatever it takes to get back what’s hers, even if it means a life alone in Were territory…alone with the wolf.

Just when I think Ali Hazelwood can’t give me yet another amazing book, she dives into paranormal romance and gives me THIS which is one of the best slow burn romances I’ve ever read!

Misery could have been this one-dimensional character but I loved all of her layers! Lowe is one of those Alpha males you totally fall for because he was a strong, capable and compassionate leader who also has a heart of gold.

Despite these two people such strong, capable people, they were also vulnerable in their feelings and the firsts they were experiencing with each other and Hazelwood wrote those moments perfectly.

Check out my book review of Bride.

Fourth Wing is one of the best romance novels of all time according to She Reads Romance Books. Check out the entire list of best romance books from the romance book blogger online.

Fourth Wing
by Rebecca Yarros

Fantasy Romance

Violet Sorrengail thought she was destined to be a Scribe which fit her frail body and her love of books and history, only her mother enters her into the Riders Quadrant, where the best of the best compete for a spot as an elite dragon rider.

No one expects her to last past the first challenge – just crossing the parapet into the Riders Quadrant – let alone last past any challenges faced by first years but Violet defies them all, including Xaden, the most ruthless wingleader.

Fourth Wing has everything I love about romantasy books– great writing, amazing characters, intriguing world-building, and tension-filled chemistry that has all the spice. Yarros does an amazing job of sucking you into this world and series and making you fall for the strong heroine and silent hero and mystery surrounding their fate.

I’m clearly not the only one who loved this book given its weeks on the New York Times bestseller lists making it one of the best romance novels of all time.

Check out my book review of Fourth Wing.

In the Likely Event is one of the best romance novels of all time according to She Reads Romance Books. Check out the entire list of best romance books from the romance book blogger online.

In the Likely Event
by Rebecca Yarros

Second Chance Romance

When Izzy Astor meets her seatmate Nate Phelan on an airplane, their connection is undeniable and their lives change forever when their plane goes down in the Missouri River. Although they are forever linked from that experience, Nate goes on to a career in the military while Izzy finds her way into politics. Despite a few chance encounters over the years, their timing never feels right.

Then comes a high-stakes reunion in Afghanistan, where Nate is tasked with protecting Izzy’s life. He’ll do anything to keep her safe. And everything to win her heart.

In the Likely Event is such an incredible slow burn romance that I could not put down. Yarros told this story from dual POVs and alternating between the present day when they were stuck to each other in Kabul and moments from the past that only strengthened the relationship that you knew was growing and growing.

I’ll be remembering this story, these characters and their love for a long time to come!

Read my book review of In the Likely Event.

Next to You is one of the best romance novels of all time according to She Reads Romance Books. Check out the entire list of best romance books from the romance book blogger online.

Next to You
by Hannah Bonam-Young

Friends to Lovers Romance

After a night out celebrating on her birthday, while in the middle of an identity crisis, Lane makes an impulsive purchase. A giant yellow forty-eight passenger school bus that she intends to make a home.

With little-to-no renovation experience, Lane enlists the help Matt, the person who’s always only been a friend to her despite their mutual attraction. But when Matt offers to help her with the bus and in the bedroom with no strings attached, Lane’s feelings evolve and she soon discovers that in order to build something new, she has to first heal her past.

This book cemented Bonam-Young as my new favorite author and Matt as one of my all-time favorite book boyfriends! The writing, the characters, the emotional arc, the spiciness and the beauty of the words shared are just amazing in this romance and I couldn’t get enough.

Check out my book review of Next to You.

From Blood and Ash is one of the best romance novels of all time according to She Reads Romance Books. Check out the entire list of best romance books from the romance book blogger online.

From Blood and Ash
by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Fantasy Romance

Poppy’s life has never been her own. As the Maiden, the future of the kingdom rests on her shoulders, and she is to remain untouched, in solitary, until the day of her Ascension. But when Hawke takes up the post as her Royal Guard, she begins to question her duty and her desire that he has awoken.

As tensions among the Desenters rise and attacks on the kingdom increase, Poppy is at risk of failing the gods, denying her destiny and possibly losing her life or her heart.

Armentrout is one of the best fantasy authors and her talent shines in From Blood and Ash and the entire From Blood and Ash series. This book is utterly captivating about a prince looking to reclaim his kingdom, a group of dissenters supporting his cause and a group of people holding secrets to who and what they really are with Poppy thrust in the middle trying to figure out fact from fiction.

But it was the exquisite slow burn romance between Poppy and Hawke is what kept me glued to the pages and made it one of the best romance novels of all time.

Check out my book review of From Blood and Ash.

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Leslie Murphy is the owner and writer of She Reads Romance Books.

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Leslie is the founder, writer, and producer of She Reads Romance Books (and the She Reads Romance Books Podcast), an online book community focused on romance books and the readers who love them because life is better with a love story.

Leslie reads 150 romance books a year and has been called a "book expert" by CNN. Reading romance is her passion and she cultivates her book lists with the best books worth reading in the genre. Leslie graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College where she honed her writing skills and also holds two Master's degrees. Join her community in the She Reads Romance Books Reader Lounge.

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7 thoughts on “The Best Romance Novels of All Time: The Ultimate List”

  1. I’ve read a handful of these. But definitely saving this lovely post for future reference so when I’m in that mood I can quickly pick one of your list 🙂

  2. I really appreciate these “best of ” lists. I have a hard time choosing books sometimes so lists like these are super helpful.

  3. How could you have forgotten Kristen Ashely’s books? Especially the Rock Chicks series… but almost all of them are so so so good…

  4. I have a question to you…
    A lot of people say some books aren’t Romance Novels, because they don’t have a happy ending.
    Some authors say they don’t write Romance Novels. Like Nicholas Sparks and Diana Gabaldon.
    How do you reconcile these ideas with the fact that you and thousands of others won’t bat an eye by naming these “Not Romance Novels!!!” as “Best Romance Novels”? Wouldn’t you agree that the “happy ending” requirement should be reconsidered and removed as part of the definition of a Romance Novel?
    I mean… Nicholas Sparks and Diana Gabaldon have received accolades for their books defined by their audience as Romance Novels. Don’t you think it is intellectually dishonest and a disservice to their audience to keep claiming they don’t write Romance Novels? Why – in your opinion – do they insist on not writing Romance, when it’s obvious that’s what they write?

  5. I have such a hard time finding fantasy/fairytale romances that are geared for adults and not YA.
    I prefer dark, fantasy, paranormal, alien and mafia, etc genres. Especially those with themes of captive, enemies to lovers, arranged, forced, etc.
    Dirty talkers make my toes curl!!!

    • Definitely search my other book lists as I have ones on fantasy romance, paranormal romance, alien romance, mafia romance, enemies to lovers, arrange marriage, dirty talkers and more!


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She Reads Romance Books helps romance book lovers find their next book boyfriend because life is better with a love story.