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Looking for love? You'll find it in 2024 in these 10 romance novels


Who says romance is reserved for Valentine's Day? Love stories are a treat to be savored year-round. To give you a head start in planning your 2024 reading, here's a list of 10 excellent romance novels (I've read them all!) publishing from now into early summer.

/ Berkley

Bride by Ali Hazelwood (Feb. 6)

Bride is Ali Hazelwood as you've always known and loved her – with a paranormal twist. The story follows Misery Lark (iconic name, I know) a vampyre who is suddenly married to the ruthless, probably brutish but also kind of hot werewolf Lowe Moreland in a peacekeeping alliance. Misery must make a life in a hostile territory while trying not to make out with her new husband – who may not trust her but can't seem to keep his eyes off her.

This book is as sexy as it is fun. It's a departure from Hazelwood's more conventional contemporary romances but brings in all the staples of her best work. There's found family, a love interest that's gruff yet obsessed, and most crucially a slow burning tension that lingers in every scene like a scent you just can't shake (there's a significant amount of smelling in this book but I promise it works). Fair warning: If you're primarily a contemporary romance reader, it's worth knowing that a werewolf and vampyre hooking up is going to look pretty unconventional. You may want to brace yourself for some of the knotty, ahem, I mean naughty elements to the romance once the steam really gets going.

Perfect for: Readers who love a little interspecies romance. We know you're out there!

/ Avon

At First Spite by Oliva Dade (Feb. 13)

At First Spite is a story for all the petty readers out there. Athena Greydon moves into the narrow spite house she bought with her ex-fiancé Johnny as a last resort. When she finds out her new neighbor is Matthew – Johnny's judgemental older brother who convinced him to end the engagement – she decides it might be time for some payback. But Matthew is handsome, kind, and seems genuinely remorseful for his role in blowing up her life. And when her mental health starts to slip, he's there too.

This book, despite its playful revenge premise, has one of the most careful and serious depictions of depression and grief that I've seen in a romance novel. It's thoughtful, sobering and real. Dade reminds us that love is more than attraction and butterflies – it's showing up for someone every day even when they're at their lowest.

Perfect for: Readers who crave a story with a plus-sized heroine and understand the inherent romance of someone cleaning your glasses for you. Swoon!

/ Berkley

Sex, Lies and Sensibility by Nikki Payne (Feb. 13)

Sex, Lies, and Sensibility brings all the romance of Jane Austen's classic tale to a crumbling beach property in Maine. Nora Dash's world is turned upside down when she finds out (at her father's funeral) that she and her sister are really her dad's second secret family. Now Nora's only hope at an inheritance is schlepping off to rural Maine and restoring a dilapidated beach house her father once bought. But in order to do so, she'll have to team up with Ennis "Bear" Freeman, an Abenaki tour guide, who needs the money to protect his community's river from unscrupulous developers.

You want drama? This book gives drama. The emotional twists and turns of this story are as big a part of Nora and Bear's romance as Maine's beautiful landscape. Both characters are trying to outrun their pasts (literally – the duo are former track stars) while denying the emotional tether that grows between them. It's awkward, sweet, and very hot at the same time. And it's especially refreshing to see an interracial romance where both characters come from marginalized backgrounds (Nora is Black and Bear is Indigenous). Their identities are more than window dressing and bring a unique depth to their banter and ultimate romantic connection.

Perfect for: Readers who wish Jane Austen was just a little thirstier.

/ Avon

How to End A Love Story by Yulin Kuang (April 9)

By all marks, Helen Zhang and Grant Shepard are virtual strangers. But 13 years ago, Grant was involved in the accident that killed Helen's sister Michelle. When the two meet again, it's in a Hollywood writers room where Grant is part of the team adapting Helen's books for TV. Their interactions are charged – with the bitter resentment of past trauma and a surprising spark that it's best they pretend doesn't exist.

Whew! If that sounds like a heavy premise for a romance, you'd be right. But Yulin Kuang (who is adapting and directing Emily Henry's Beach Read for film) makes it work with a raw believability. Helen's journey in particular is wrenching – as she struggles with the expectations heaped on her as a daughter of immigrants and her growing feelings for Grant. Kuang doesn't shy away from the unpleasantness of the premise but rather weaves it into the core of what connects Helen and Grant. Their story is one of healing and forgiveness with all the ugly cracks and personal setbacks that entails. And the sheer yearning and impossibility of their situation will wreck you in the best possible way.

Perfect for: Readers who enjoy a truly stomach churning level of angst with a side dish of sexual tension.

/ Berkley

Funny Story by Emily Henry (April 23)

The book begins with Daphne, whose perfect fiancé has just dumped her for his longtime childhood friend Petra. Left with no other option, Daphne moves in with Miles, Petra's ex-boyfriend, who is in the pits of break-up misery himself. The duo decide to make the most of the summer by exploring the town together – with the added side benefit of making their exes jealous along the way. But what happens when your ex's new fiancé's ex is actually lovely and kisses like a man starved? Well, that's a funny story.

It takes very little time for most readers to get sucked into an Emily Henry novel but Funny Story is guaranteed to break records. It's Henry at her absolute best – romantic, melancholic, and so full of heart. By chapter 2, you'll be ready to throw hands for Daphne. And Miles is so magnetically charming, you'll be tongue tied in four chapters or less. That's Emily Henry's speciality – snagging you in and emotionally entangling you with the characters until you're half sick in love yourself.

Perfect for: Readers who see a disaster of a man sobbing to Bridget Jones's Diary and think "I could fix him."

/ Gallery Books
Gallery Books

The Paradise Problem by Christina Lauren (May 14)

When Anna Green and grocery-store heir Liam "West" Weston were in college they got married for some free housing and then happily went their separate ways. But five years later, Liam needs to bring his fake wife to a destination wedding to secure his inheritance. Anna agrees to tag along and pretend to be in love – for a cut of the money. After all, it's no hardship to fake a relationship with your gorgeous (legal) husband. Right? As long as they keep their emotions out of the picture, it'll be smooth sailing. Right?

The Paradise Problem is the kind of book you take on vacation and read in one singular sitting at the beach. It's a complete trope-fest in the best possible way. You're looking for fake dating? We've got it! And what about marriage of convenience? That's the fun twist! Opposites attract? Fear not, we've got that too! It's not a complete reinvention of any one of those tropes, but rather a delightful execution of a winning formula (any romance reader worth their salt knows magic happens when you combine fake dating with a destination wedding).

Perfect for: Readers who want a little flavor of Succession-esque family politics in their romance.

/ Gallery Books
Gallery Books

Birding with Benefits by Sarah T. Dubb (June 4)

Who says romance is only for bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 20-somethings? In Birding with Benefits, Celeste, a 42-year-old divorcée, ends up entangled with John, a quiet and sensitive local birder. John is in urgent need of a partner for this year's birding competition and after a comedy of errors (in which Celeste thinks John needs a fake romantic partner), the two become teammates. Celeste doesn't know the first thing about birds but as she spends hours learning from John in Arizona's gorgeous wilderness, she starts to develop a soft spot for the hobby and...her gorgeous teacher.

This romance is so soft and gentle. It's a story about two mature adults who are polar opposites and yet kindred spirits. The passion John and Celeste find for one another while cataloging Arizona's birdlife is warm and steady. And although they've got a few emotional obstacles to work through before a happy ending, it's worth tuning in to see how these birds of a feather find their way to each other.

Perfect for: Readers who like birds and have an affinity for men who work in wood shops.

/ Atria Books
Atria Books

Under Your Spell by Laura Wood (June 25)

As the daughter of a legendary rockstar (and even more legendary womanizer), Clementine Monroe wants nothing to do with musicians or their drama. But as luck would have it (or the strange Breakup Spell her sister cast) the man she just had a hot one-night stand with is actually Theo Eliott, world-famous rock star. And to make matters worse, Clemmie's new job calls for her to spend the next six weeks stuck in a house with Theo. Will the two be able to stay away from each other long enough for Theo to finish his album?

Under Your Spell is as enchanting as the name implies. It's both humorous and sweet – with a really compelling cast of characters. Clemmie is an adorably sensible disaster. She thinks she's in control but really she's a mess who would rather avoid any risk than open herself up to heartbreak. Relatable. Theo is a rockstar but really a boy obsessed. I'm afraid he doesn't know how to do anything except win hearts. And Clemmie's sisters – Lil and Serena bring a warm girl power (non-ironic) energy to the whole production. You'll be spellbound with this one.

Perfect for: Readers who may or may not have read One Direction fanfiction in their youth. No judgment!

/ St. Martin's Griffin
St. Martin's Griffin

Ne'er Duke Well by Alexandra Vasti (July 23)

In Ne'er Duke Well, Peter Kent, a reluctant and scandalous duke must find a way to rehabilitate his reputation if he wants to gain custody of his half siblings. He teams up with Lady Selina, society's most polished debutante. But Selina has a small secret – she runs an erotic library for women. And though she'd rather set Peter up with a wife of impeccable reputation and no life-ruining secrets – the sparks that fly between the two of them are undeniable.

Ne'er Duke Well is a historical romance with the energy of a Parks & Recreation episode. Like the iconic sitcom, the characters in this are all so darn loveable, you can almost see the twinkle in their eyes. There's witty banter and an endlessly supportive love interest (Peter Kent is a regency-era Ben Wyatt). And you've got this comforting feeling that even when things seem unsalvageable, everything will be okay. It's the kind of romance you want to wrap around yourself like a blanket – low conflict with maximum warm and fuzzy feelings.

Perfect for: Readers who love golden retriever heroes and enjoy romances with a focus on family.

/ Berkley

The Ornithologist's Field Guide to Love by India Holton (July 23)

The Ornithologist's Field Guide to Love follows Beth Pickering, a perfectly polite professor who must team up with her maybe villainous (definitely sexy) academic rival Devon Lockley to capture a magical bird and win the ultimate prize – tenure.

This book is so riotously clever it almost defies description. It's like an alchemy of romantic elements held in perfect harmony. India Holton infuses the story with wry wit and meta inside jokes. Every sentence is positively vibrating with the kind of charm that will have you pressing your lips together with laughter. And yet amid all the outrageous and camp fun, Holton also succeeds in building a genuine love story – between two people who have kept the world at a distance for years but somehow find a home within each other And if that doesn't sell you, then you should at least know this book has one of the funniest twists on the "one bed" trope I've read in a long time.

Perfect for: Readers who think every good romance should include at least one ridiculous bit.

Still hungry for more books? Here are three more titles I haven't read yet but am excited to tear into:

  • King of Sloth by Anna Huang (April 30)
  • Not Another Love Song by Julie Soto (July 16)
  • If I Stopped Haunting You by Colby Wilkens (Oct. 15)

Kalyani Saxena is an associate producer at Here & Now. She's a voracious romance reader in perpetual search for the perfect execution of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Corrected: June 17, 2024 at 8:38 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story misspelled author Colby Wilkens' name. It has been corrected here.
Kalyani Saxena
[Copyright 2024 NPR]