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20 Best Slow Burn Romance Books To Savor in 2023

Savor One Of The Best Slow Burn Romance Books

If you love a slow buildup of tension, lots of time spent getting to know another person, and dozens of longing glances, these slow burn romance books are for you!

You won’t find characters jumping into bed or insta-love here! This slow burn romance books list is all about the leadup to a perfectly sweet (and often steamy) payoff!

The beauty in the best slow burn romance books is that they can showcase a variety of romance tropes! You can have the buildup of enemies realizing hate has turned to love. Or maybe there are childhood friends who give in to passion years later. 

As always, let me know in the comments if you have any favorite slow burn romance books that I missed!


I earn a small commission for any items purchased through the links below at no extra cost to you! Please consider using Bookshop.org if you pick one of these best slow burn romance books support indie bookstores! 


Best Slow Burn Romance Books




love wager

The Love Wager

by Lynn Painter

After an embarrassing one-night stand, Hallie decides it’s finally time to get her life on track and start acting like an adult. So, she joins an app looking for a respectable man to date. Of course, she matches with none other than Jack, the guy she just slept with.

They both agree they’re much better off as friends, and then competitors when they make a bet to see who can find true love first! As they start scheduling dates at the same restaurant and hanging out afterward when they inevitably go wrong, they sense something shifting in their friends-only relationship. Amazon Bookshop.org





emma of 83rd

Emma of 83rd Street

by Audrey Bellezza & Emily Harding

This was one of my favorite books of 2023! It shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s a retelling of the original queen of romance – Jane Austen. Emma is already my favorite Jane Austen novel, but this fresh and updated retelling was an absolute delight.

Emma goes from regency England to upper class Manhattan in current day. She’s a somewhat adrift rich girl who’s always meddling with her friends and family, but fails to see the love of her life right in front of her nose.  This retelling is pitch perfect – keeping enough of the original story of the novel but seamlessly weaving it into the world we all recognize. Amazon | Bookshop.org






to sir with love

To Sir, With Love

by Lauren Layne

You’ve Got Mail fans will love this slow burn romance!! There’s a similar small business vs big corporation as well as a hidden identity element! Gracie is struggling to keep her family’s small business alive when she’s approached by a big firm with a buyout offer that she patently refuses.

The company representative keeps popping up and over time she realizes he’s not as hard to hate as she would like. Meanwhile though, she’s essentially given her heart to this mysterious online stranger with whom she shares her deepest thoughts and feelings.

Amazon | Bookshop.org
















lifes too short

Life’s Too Short

By Abby Jimenez

Vanessa has a successful business showcasing her travels on Instagram. She makes sure she enjoys every moment of her life, even when her sister abandons her daughter, leaving Vanessa to pick up the pieces once again. When her ridiculously hot next door neighbor steps in to help, she can’t help imagining a future life with a husband and kids, something that is never a guarantee.

This is emotional and bold and full of learning to live life to the fullest. Incredible. It’s easily my favorite of Abby’s books.

Amazon | Bookshop.org







the cheat sheet

The Cheat Sheet

by Sarah Adams

This is not only a fantastic addition to my friends to lovers books, but also an amazing audiobook option! The male narrator’s voice is…so sexy. Anyway!

Bree and Nathan live insanely different lives – he’s an NFL quarterback, she’s barely making ends meet as a dance studio owner. But their friendship is rock solid. At least, except for the fact that they’re hiding the fact that they’re head over heels in love with each other. 

Neither is willing to admit it and risk their friendship. However, when a publicity opportunity to fake date arises, they both want to take the chance to see if this could let them admit their true feelings.

Amazon | Bookshop.org | Libro.fm (Audiobook)









well met

Well Met

by Jen DeLuca

A renaissance faire, a bookstore, a slow burn romance! What more could you want?? This book easily jumped to the top of my list of the best contemporary romance novels. It’s one of my best novels of 2020 and also of all-time!

Emily reluctantly agrees to volunteer at a local renaissance faire and has no idea why one of the organizers, Simon, seems to hate her. The two constantly clash during prep for the event. However when the Faire starts, their new identities indulge in an unexpected flirtation. 

Amazon | Bookshop.org







soulmate equation

The Soulmate Equation

by Christina Lauren

This author/best friends duo is back on their game with The Soulmate Equation! I simply adored this nerdy take on matchmaking and couldn’t get enough of the love story between the two characters.

DNADuo is a groundbreaking service that matches individuals based on their DNA. At the helm is brooding, devastatingly handsome River Pena who’s commitment to this project spans decades. On a whim, single mom Jess submits her data as part of their pre-launch testing. Neither of them expects an off-the-charts result to pop up…

Amazon | Bookshop.org






The Flatshare

by Beth O’Leary

Tiffy and Leon are strangers who agree to share an apartment since their respective job hours mean they won’t be there at the same time. Once Tiffy moves in, they start leaving each other notes to communicate about the necessities: garbage day, leftovers, etc. Soon though, the notes become longer and more personal. Is it possible to become friends with or maybe even start falling for someone you’ve never met?

Amazon | Bookshop.org






happiness for beginners

Happiness For Beginners

by Katherine Center

A mid-thirties, recently divorced woman takes her brother’s ridiculous advice and signs up for a wilderness survival course. It’s even worse than Helen expected, especially when her brother’s awful best friend shows up. Between the mosquitos, freak blizzard, and blisters, she’s also forced to deal with Jake nonstop.

Over the course of their training, Helen and Jake start to find something they were looking for, that has nothing to do with making their way out of the woods.

Amazon | Bookshop.org






meet me in the margins

Meet Me In The Margins

by Melissa Ferguson

This is one of those slow burn romance books where you’re not even entirely sure who you’re rooting for the entire time! This is the epitome of a book about books! Claire works at a stodgy publishing house where nonfiction and literary fiction are considered the only books worth reading. 🙄 Buttttt she’s working on writing a romance manuscript 😍

After a mishap forces her to hide her pages in a secret room, she comes back and finds a mysterious editor has written critical notes all through the margins! The gall of this person!! So begins a back and forth exchange that becomes more and more personal, but full of mystery! Who is this talented, funny, and charming editor??

I read this book so fast! It kept me engaged and delighted from the first page to the last.

Amazon | Bookshop.org






eight perfect hours

Eight Perfect Hours

by Lia Louis

This unique addition to slow burn romance books list actually takes place throughout the year. Noelle gets stranded on a highway during a blizzard and ends up spending hours and hours with a stranger. Over the course of the next year, they flit in and out of each other’s lives by chance.

This was a fun, fateful romance – I loved seeing how Noelle and Sam kept meeting and rooting for them to get together! A great option for anyone who wants a cozy cover but prefers their stories to play out over a period of time.

Amazon Bookshop.org







fastest way to fall

The Fastest Way To Fall

By Denise Williams

I made my husband get the Authentic Books box for me for Christmas when I saw this book was going to be included! I adored Denise Williams, How To Fail At Flirting, so I had high expectations. And it lived up to them!!

Britta is a journalist who takes on an assignment to review a new fitness app. When she’s connected with a coach, they both quickly realize there’s more going on than just health advice. 

Wes is one of the app’s owners and decides to take on a client to reconnect with why he started the app way back when. He knows he’s crossing a line with his trainee, but he’s willing to take the risk to pursue this woman he might be falling for.

Amazon | Bookshop.org






sunrise by the sea

Sunrise By The Sea

by Jenny Colgan

An under-the-radar delightful addition to Jenny Colgan’s catalog! This story is the third one to take place on Mount Polbearne so I loved seeing plenty of familiar faces pop in and out.

Marisa is one of the newest residents of the little island, using the remote location to retreat into her grief after losing her beloved grandfather. But the solace and quiet are wildly interrupted by the piano teacher next door. The bear of a man speaks little English and she cannot overcome crippling anxiety. As Marisa slowly works through her grief and anxiety, she finds herself pulled into the affairs of the island and the man next door.

Amazon | Bookshop.org






it happened one summer

It Happened One Summer

by Tessa Bailey

Schitt’s Creek fans – this book is for you! Tessa Bailey’s latest steamy novel is loosely based on the popular TV series. A Hollywood darling is cut off from her family’s wealth and essentially banished to a small beach town. She’s forced to run her late father’s dive bar in the hopes she’ll learn some responsibility, but immediately gets into a spat with a local sea captain.

This opposites attract romance promises all the sexual tension and steamy scenes that Tessa Bailey is amazing at writing! A slow burn romance book at its absolute finest!

 Amazon Bookshop.org




Save these slow burn romance books for later!






Historical Romance Slow Burn Romance Books



viscount who loved me

The Viscount Who Loved Me

by Julia Quinn

You can’t have a historical romance book list without the Bridgertons! This series is truly phenomenal so thankfully there is a slow burn romance that fits perfectly here!

Anthony is seeking out a wife who will serve as a viscountess and mother to his children, but nothing more. He knows he’s destined to follow in his deceased father’s footsteps, so he wants nothing to do with an actual love match.

His sights are set on the diamond of the season, Edwina, but in order to win her hand he must first get past her older sister Kate. Since Kate’s opinion of him is atrociously low, they butt heads constantly. But both can’t deny there is a fiery spark beneath their arguments…

Amazon | Bookshop.org






the making of a highlander

The Making of a Highlander

by Elisa Braden

Two strong personalities who both need something from each other clash over and over in this Scottish romp! Englishman John Huxley is being pressured on all sides to settle down, but he’s wary of every woman sent his way. Fiery Scottswoman Annie finds herself in need of lessons to help win over a Lord to save her friend.

When John is challenged to win the Highland Games, he enlists Annie’s help in return for teaching her how to be an English lady. Neither of them are willing participants, but at some point will their hostility turn into something else?






Ravishing The Heiress

by Sherry Thomas

It all starts with a marriage of convenience. Millicent gets a title and Earl Fitzhugh receives a much needed infusion of money. Since Millicent is quite young, they agree to wait eight years to consummate their marriage – solely to produce an heir. After that, they will live separate lives. Doesn’t this just sound like the perfect setting for slow burn romance books!?

Eight years is quite a long time, though. Millicent and the Earl spend those long hours getting to know each other and developing a friendship. Everything is leading up until that fateful night, when they will confront what’s been building all this time!






Young Adult Slow Burn Romance Books




today tonight tomorrow

Today, Tonight, Tomorrow

by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Two teens who competed against each other their entire high school career end up teaming up in the senior scavenger hunt. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair are known enemies – always fighting for top grades, school elections, and ultimately valedictorian. However, they’re forced to get to know each other when a group of classmates team up to take them down.

This novel was so cute! I loved the banter between Rowan and Neil and how their feelings changed as they got to know more about each others’ lives.

Amazon | Bookshop.org





one true loves

One True Loves

by Elise Bryant

One True Loves takes the slow burn romance books idea and compresses it down into the length of a Mediterranean Cruise. Lenore and Alex are recently graduated teens on the verge of college, but their outlook couldn’t be more different. Lenore is headed to NYU – full of creativity but not exactly certain what that looks like. Alex meanwhile has the next 10 years of his life mapped out.

As they visit gorgeous destinations over the course of the cruise, these two couldn’t be more different young adults are forced to explore if they actually enjoy spending time together.

Amazon | Bookshop.org





to all the boys

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

by Jenny Han

It doesn’t get much better for slow burn romance books than this YA fake dating novel! Lara Jean prefers to write letters to her boy crushes rather than actually share her feelings.

Her worst nightmare comes true when the five letters she’s written over the years are delivered. Since her older sister, Margot, is at college and her younger sister Kitty, needs to be mothered, she’s on her own dealing with the fallout.

She ends up teaming up with Peter to create a fake relationship that will help out them both. Naturally, real, confusing feelings start to develop so she must step away from her romance books and face a real potential relationship.

Amazon | Bookshop.org



Which of these slow burn romance books catch your attention?


    1. I checked out this recommendation and thoroughly enjoyed it <3 .. beautifully written so far with the vivid emotions and touching detail! Thanks

  1. Hi Rachelle,

    For some reason I never got a notification from your response here! Yeah, Starry Eyed at Sophista has been such an intriguing read .. its kind of a different flavor reading the story as it develops and the author promised HEA so will definitely keep me going <3

    Am subscribed to your newsletter, loved your annual challenge and would definitely have Sophista ( https://amayramiddha.com/sophista ) as my Jan selection for the recent collection of chapters to binge read!!

    Happy reading

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