26 Best Romance Authors + Their Must Read Books
Discover the best romance authors from a variety of genres!
It’s the most wonderful feeling when you find a new to you author and end up adding their entire backlist to your To Be Read list!
As an avid romance reader, I want to ensure that you’re not missing any of the incredible romance authors out there. I’ve included both mainstream and lesser known options on this list of the best romance authors. I’m hoping to ensure that you’ll find at least one or two that are new to you!
Since our reading tastes may vary, I’m covering a few different types of romance novels. Thus, on this best romance authors post you’ll find contemporary / rom com authors, historical romance authors, and authors of extra steamy books!
I also wanted to share my favorite books by each of these best romance authors, so you have an idea where to start.
Below you’ll find a list of my picks in each category followed by details about my favorite book of theirs!
If I’ve missed any of your favorites, share them in the comments for other readers to find.
*Disclosure – I earn a small commission for any books purchased through the links below. Thank you for supporting this book blog!
Best Romance Authors: Contemporary Romance
- Denise Williams
- Sarah Adams
- Jen DeLuca
- Emily Henry
- Ali Hazelwood
- Jasmine Guillory
- Abby Jimenez
- Christina Lauren
- Melissa Ferguson
- Jenny Colgan
- Helena Hunting
- Colleen Hoover
Starting off this list of best romance authors is Denise Williams. With all the characteristic depth of her novels, How To Fail At Flirting is an incredible love story with a powerful message about how to recover from an abusive relationship.
When Naya decides it’s finally time to step out of her shell, the charming man she meets at the bar is a perfect candidate to help her check a few items off her to-do list. However, a disastrous attempt at a one-night stand instead turns into a budding, real relationship. But, she eventually discovers his career and hers may be at odds.
Naya and Jake are the epitome of a cute couple and I adored all the flirtatious texting and chatting. This is a step above the usual contemporary romance book as it dealt with standing up to an aggressor and learning to heal.
Sarah Adams writes the most charming and delightful rom-coms I’ve ever read. She has a significant backlist and they’re ALL good! 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 how head over heels in love they are 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.
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 was one of the 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. If you like this one, there are 3 more in the series that are just as wonderful!
Emily Henry popped on to the scene with her hugely popular Beach Read, but People We Meet On Vacation is my favorite. It is a fascinating love story about two friends learning to find what matters most in their lives. Best friends Poppy and Alex were polar opposites when they first met in college. However, a forced road trip to their shared hometown led them into a decades long friendship. Every year since college, they took one summer trip together. Until it all came crashing down two years ago.
The story of Alex and Poppy’s friendship is told both through their current summer trip and all their previous vacations. I adored the tension of current day and discovering their history at the same time. Although these friends had little in common, they truly brought out the best in each other and as a reader I could easily feel their connection.
The friends to lovers trope is easily one of my favorites and this whole relationship did not disappoint. They truly learned from each other and grew together as they realized what they wanted. I appreciated how real the ending felt, rather than a rushed, lucky happenstance or sudden burst of intense communication that fixes everything!
If you’re looking for strong, STEM main characters, Ali Hazelwood is your go-to author. Her novels feature women battling to hold their own in the world of science, while also showing that no one is perfect.
The Love Hypothesis is perfect for fans of enemies to lovers and fake relationship tropes! You’ll get a bit of both when Olive ends up kissing the first man she sees to appease her best friend and it turns out to be a well-known jerk. A sexy, scientific romp ensues which plays out oh so well on the pages.
It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that really plays up the enemies to lovers trope and I ate it all up! You’ve also got a celebrity / normal person matchup to really make it exciting.
Jasmine has a huge backlist of romance novels to her name. I’ve found her recent ones are more engaging, so I’d suggest starting with her latest and working your way back! But make sure you add this one to the mix!
Part of Your World is a classic trope of characters from two different social classes, trying to make their connection work. Alexis only knows the high pressure, high status life her family has dictated for her. So she’s completely taken off guard by how much she’s into Daniel and the tiny town she stumbled upon one evening.
What starts off as merely a fling quickly turns into a far deeper connection. But there’s no way their worlds can combine…
I completely fell in love with these characters and the insane electricity between them! The progression of their relationship felt so natural. Plus, Abby transforms a simple love story into this novel that touches on harder topics, like emotional and physical abuse, what chances are worth taking, and discovering the value of a simpler life.
It’s extremely hard to pick a favorite book from this writing duo. They have dozens of romance books to their name and I’ve read and loved many of them. The Soulmate Equation is a recent example of their best work. 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…
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.
Jenny may have more books to her name than any other contemporary romance author on this list! She is a very low spice romance author, so perfect if you’re looking for all the love without any steam. I’ve pretty much loved everything I’ve read, so you really can’t go wrong with anything in her backlist. You can also find all of Jenny Colgan’s books in order here!
I picked The Christmas Bookshop since it’s one of her rare standalone books. Plus, I couldn’t not include a holiday book! Carmen is NOT looking forward to spending the holidays with her ever so perfect sister and perfect little family. Unfortunately, she’s out of a job and has no other options. To bring in some much needed cash, Carmen also agrees to take on one of her sister’s clients.
So, she’ll be attempting to revamp a dusty, disorganized bookshop. After a famous author takes a special interest in the bookshop as well, Carmen starts to realize there may be hope for her to get her life back in order.
I’ll admit that friends to lovers is my favorite romance trope, so maybe it’s no surprise that this was a hit! Avery devotes all of her time to the event hotel she runs with her sisters, leaving no time to worry about a man. She’d rather hang out with her guy friends, including her roommate Declan, anyway.
After an accident occurs, Avery is forced to rely on Declan in ways she never has before. And taking care of Avery brings forth feelings Declan has pushed down for ages. If they give in to their spark, it may ruin everything they’ve built up over the years.
This was a fresh and realistic take on making the jump from friends to something more! I identified with their reluctance and the fragility of their new relationship. I also appreciated the time devoted to improving themselves and resolving their issues individually! Highly recommend for all romance lovers!
It’d be impossible to mention a best romance authors list these days without including Colleen Hoover. She sold the most books of any author in 2022, even beating out the Bible!! It Ends With Us was her most sold novel, but I haven’t read it yet so I’m picking an older favorite.
Regretting You starts off as a teen love story, but quickly morphs into something much more mature. As the adults try to handle unbelievable circumstances, the teens tackle their own issues. I don’t want to give much away, so it’s better going into this one blind.
Best Romance Authors: Historical Romance
- Julia Quinn
- Lisa Kleypas
- Martha Waters
- Tessa Dare
- Evie Dunmore
- Sarah MacLean
- Courtney Milan
First on my list of best romance authors in the historical genre is of course, Julia Quinn. 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…
The Wallflowers series consistently ranks as of one Kleypas’ best series, so I’m including Book 1 here in this post of the best romance authors. Four young women (The Wallflowers) make a pact to find themselves husbands…no matter what. First up in the series is Annabelle, who must marry a wealthy man to save her family.
Instead of an upstanding gentlemen though, she’s most heavily pursued by a brash entrepreneur who just wants her as his mistress. They dance around each other, but the passion and maybe love between them is undeniable.
I adore these historical romances that feature the currently popular cartoon covers. It’s been four years since THE BIG FIGHT and married couple, Lady Violet and Lord James haven’t spoken since. When a mistake leads Violet to worry for her husband’s safety accidentally, she’s determined to get him back. Thus begins a war of one upmanship between the two
As they start to flirt among all the theatrics, they have no choice but to acknowledge what’s between them. Or face going back to a life they lived apart.
A relationship of convenience, similar to the beginnings of Daphne and Simon, will draw you into The Duchess Deal! The Duke of Ashbury has returned from war and finds he has a new assignment – making an heir. When a seamstress literally appears in his library in a wedding gown, his problem is solved.
They agree to a facade of a marriage, in which her sole role is provide an heir. But Emma has terms of her own, that involve actually getting to know each other…
Annabelle has joined the suffragette cause and is tasked with convincing influential men to help secure their right to vote. Her assignment is the very traditional Duke of Montgomery. As sparks fly between them though, they both detest the idea of a relationship but just can’t help themselves.
A goodie two shoes girl starts breaking all the rules she’s lived by her whole life. Calpurnia starts to take her life into her own hands when she realizes she’s never going to get noticed by following society’s rules for young ladies. To guide her in this new venture, she teams up with renowned rake, Gabriel St John.
Is she brave enough to break free for good or will just a taste of freedom and pleasure be enough?
With a few historical romance series under her belt, Courtney Milan is one of the classic historical romance authors. The Duchess War kicks off the Brothers Sinister series, a group known for being left handed. Minerva is a self-appointed wallflower, purposely keeping quiet to ensure her past stays behind her.
Much to her chagrin, she catches the attention of a handsome Duke, who also happens to be hiding secrets of his own. He’s determined to uncover what this beguiling woman is hiding, but she’s more of a match than he expected.
Best Romance Authors: Spicy Reads
- Katee Roberts
- Sara Cate
- Meghan Quinn
- Tessa Bailey
- Sarah J Maas
- Ana Huang
- Elle Kennedy
I’m kicking off the best romance authors: spicy edition with a Booktok hit! This retelling that had me hooked from the first chapter! The legend of Persephone and Hades is set in a modern Olympus. I listened to this on audio, which was incredible due to the two narrators. The man in particular nailed the gravelly, rough voice of Hades.
Persephone hates her life among the Gods of Olympus, but things turn dire when her engagement to the notoriously brutal Zeus is announced without her knowledge. She flees to the only place where Zeus can’t touch her, the lower city where Hades reigns.
Hades and Persephone agree to a mutually beneficial relationship, where he very publicly seduces her and pulls her into the dark fantasies expected of his character. Their attraction is undeniable though and both realize their play-acting isn’t just for show.
This wouldn’t be a spicy best romance authors list without a billionaire popping up. Or a book showcasing the power of a man saying “Good Girl,” which I think we’re all obsessed with!
Charlie’s new boss is all sorts of wrong for her…twice her age…owner of the Salacious Players Club…and her ex’s father. She knows all this, but he wants her like she’s never been wanted before. He makes her feel treasured, valued, and worthy. Is that enough to overcome the significant obstacles facing them?
Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited)
A billionaire looking for a fiance and a woman trolling a rich neighborhood for a man to make her ex jealous. What a meet cute, right? There was nothing typical about their first date since they struck up a very business-like bargain to help each other out. But Lottie is quickly discovering Huxley is unlike any other man she’s met, in all the right ways.
This was actually included with my Prime subscription!! So you can read it for free simply for having a membership, no Kindle Unlimited needed. Meghan Quinn is known for writing tropes we all love in stories that have depth, character development and of course a lot of steam!
Schitt’s Creek fans – this book is for you! Tessa Bailey’s 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 it’s absolute finest!
Sarah J Maas
If you want your steam with a side of fantasy, I guarantee you’ll love Maas’ novels. I’ve only read the Court of Thorns and Roses series but it captivated me like nothing else I’ve read. I kept reading right through my work day to find out what happened…and then reread them all when the 4th novel came out!
The first book begins when a human girl makes a bargain with a Fae lord to become his prisoner in exchange for saving her family’s life. She is brought into their world and becomes entangled in the politics, wars, and passions within.
This is one of the most widely recommended spicy Booktok books, so I had to include Ana on my best romance authors list! It opened my eyes to the “morally grey” man and wow did I fall in love!
Ava – the best friend’s little sister. Alex – the older brother’s best friend. A classic forbidden romance with an extra dose of grumpy/sunshine! Alex is a beautiful face haunted by tragedy in his past, so he never lets anything but his gruff, ruthless side show. When he is tasked with caring for Ava, something about her slowly gets under his skin in a remarkable way.
Get ready for a steamy, mutually beneficial arrangement that will leave you breathless! When Hannah finally finds someone in college who turns her on, she’s willing to try everything to get his attention. Even if it means tutoring the cocky, annoying captain of the hockey team in exchange for a fake date.
Garrett is also willing to do anything necessary to keep his dreams of playing professional hockey alive, so he accepts the arrangement. However, a kiss that leads to wildly satisfying…so much more has him rethinking how much he wants to help Hannah seek out some other guy.
Which of these best romance authors will you try out first?
Great collection, seeing some of my fav reads am glad to have so many good recommendations added to my list <3
This is such a great list ❤️ I’d have to add Penny Reid (all-time favorite) and Chloe Liese!