So You Want to Read a (Historical, Contemporary, New Adult, Paranormal) Romance …

Alternatively: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

This recommendations list is gleaned from at least 80 authors and over 500 books.

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

Looking for something specific? Here’s a list of authors I’ve read enough to see thematic consistencies and it’s hard to go wrong with these writers:

Tessa Dare – FUN, bring your willing suspension of disbelief, on double-secret probation right now
Laura Florand – contemporary romances set in France, great intensity
Carla Kelly – lovely Regency romances, often military-themed
Lisa Kleypas  – the gold standard, also writes contemporaries
Julie Anne Long – extremely clever and funny
Courtney Milan – The very best currently publishing, one for the pantheon.
Julia Quinn – An excellent place to launch your reading. Start with The Bridgertons.

I lovehate Jennifer Ashley’s sincere romance mired in tortured heroes and overwrought plotting.

This list is an edited version of my Complete Reading List by Author. Reviewed books are linked.

Mallory, a frequent commenter, asked me to make a personal Top 5 list. I tried. I couldn’t do it.


  1. Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous – historical
  2. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date  – new adult novella
  3. Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrelshistorical
  4. Gabaldon, Diana Outlanderhistorical
  5. Heyer, Georgette Venetia (Dameral/Venetia) – historical
  6. Jenkins, Beverly Indigo  – historical
  7. Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm old school, historical
  8. Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of Youhistorical
  9. Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter  – historical
  10. Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke – historical
  11. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter – historical novella
  12. Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal  – historical
  13. Montgomery, L.M. The Blue Castle – historical now, but not when published
  14. Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton  Bridgerton Book 4 – historical
  15. Thorne, Sally The Hating Game – contemporary


  1. Balogh, Mary Only Enchanting  historical
  2. Dare, Tessa A Week to Be Wicked –  historical
  3. Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch –  contemporary
  4. Kelly, Carla The Lady’s Companion – historical
  5. Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin –  historical
  6. Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night –  – Wallflowers Book 1 – historical
  7. Kleypas, Lisa Tempt Me at Twilight  – Hathaways Book 3 – historical
  8. Kleypas, Lisa Love in the Afternoon  – Hathaways Book 5 – historical
  9. Milan, Courtney Unraveled –  historical
  10. Quinn, Julia It’s in His Kiss –  Bridgerton Book 7 historical
  11. Zapata, Mariana Kulti (Reiner “Rey”/Sal) – contemporary sports romance


  1. Baker, Jo Longbourn – historical, P&P related
  2. Bowen, Sarina The Year We Fell Down –  new adult
  3. Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon – historical
  4. Callihan, Kristen The Game Plan – new adult
  5. Carter, DL Ridiculous – historical
  6. Chase, Loretta Dukes Prefer Blondes –  historical
  7. Crusie, Jennifer Bet Me – contemporary
  8. Dare, Tessa Any Duchess Will Do – historical
  9. Dare, Tessa The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright historical novella
  10. Duran, Meredith Fool Me Twice – historical
  11. Duran, Meredith Your Wicked Heart – historical novella
  12. Florand, Laura The Chocolate Kiss –  contemporary
  13. Guhrke, Laura Lee And Then He Kissed Her – historical
  14. Kelly, Carla Marrying the Captain historical
  15. Kelly, Carla Libby’s London Merchant  historical
  16. Kleypas, Lisa Mine till Midnight – Hathaways Book 1 historical
  17. Lauren, Christina Wicked Sexy Liar – contemporary
  18. Linden, Caroline One Night in London – historical
  19. Long, Julie Anne Like No Other Lover – historical
  20. Long, Julie Anne A Notorious Countess Confesses –  historical
  21. MacLean, Sarah One Good Earl Deserves a Lover – historical
  22. Milan, Courtney This Wicked Gift –  historical, novella
  23. Milan, Courtney The Countess Conspiracy – historical
  24. Milan, Courtney The Duchess War –  historical
  25. Parker, Lucy Act Like It – contemporary
  26. Parker, Lucy Pretty Face – contemporary
  27. Phillips, Susan Elizabeth Natural Born Charmer – contemporary
  28. Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman –  Bridgerton Book 3 historical
  29. Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human – contemporary
  30. Richland, Anna His Road Home – contemporary novella
  31. Thomas, Sherry The Luckiest Lady in London –  historical
  32. Willig, Lauren The Secret History of the Pink Carnation -historical

If you insist on wading into ridiculousness to try a paranormal romance, I would suggest can gesture halfheartedly in the direction of these two books:

    1. Cole, Kresley Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night
    2. Cole, Kresley Dark Desires After Dusk 

My romance spirit guide, Malin, has a Top 100 Romances List with more recommendations.


Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 thoughts on “So You Want to Read a (Historical, Contemporary, New Adult, Paranormal) Romance …

  1. Sarah January 30, 2014 at 9:56 pm Reply

    THANK YOU! Having devoured Tessa Dare’s entire collection several (-cough- at least three times each book) times over, I was floundering and had no idea what to read next that could possible delight me as much. So thank you for this list and your reviews

  2. Mrs. Julien January 31, 2014 at 4:11 pm Reply

    If you didn’t re-read it -cough- times, how good a romance novel can it be? I hope you find something else you like on the list. Milan is a goddess, Long is very clever, and Kleypas is fantastic with a massive back catalogue.

  3. […] Sarina Bowen, Penny Reid, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips have the dubious distinction of being both on this list AND my recommendations list. […]

  4. […] A complete summary of Lisa Kleypas’s catalogue, with recommendations (two classics and one of my personal favourites), can be found here. Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list. […]

  5. […] Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful, or my  streamlined recommendations list. […]

  6. […] reading list of books sorted by author and Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful, or on my  streamlined recommendations list to which I will be adding Pretty Face soon after clicking […]

  7. […] Sarina Bowen’s Catalogue gives an overview of her published works . Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list. […]

  8. […] reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list. I have a list of LGBTQ romances, […]

  9. Mallory May 11, 2017 at 3:08 am Reply

    What is the criteria for a story to be CLASSIC?

    • Prolixity Julien May 11, 2017 at 3:40 pm Reply

      One that is…

      – generally considered so in the genre or could be described as canon, such as The Devil in Winter and Lord of Scoundrels
      – something I think is so good it transcends the genre, such as The Suffragette Scandal By Courtney Milan
      – just a romance that I think is spectacularly good example of the genre, such as The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: