2019 was a big year for contemporary romance, but don’t let the cute covers fool you… these books definitely pack a steamy punch. If you’re looking for swoon-worthy, sweet and (sometimes) sexy reads, you’ve come to the right place. These are the best romance novels of 2019.

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Debut author Abby Jimenez knocked my socks off with this one. This was my #1 romance novel of the year, hands down. Witty, hilarious and extremely emotional, The Friend Zone is a rollercoaster ride of feelings that doesn’t disappoint. Readers will fall in love with Kristen and Josh as they navigate their friendship and try to resist the insane chemistry they have together. There is so much depth to this book, making it more than just your typical romance novel. Easily my favorite of the year, I’ve already pre-ordered the follow-up sequel, The Happy Ever After Playlist (coming March 2020). 

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Initially, I was hesitant about the setting of this one (I’ve never been to a Renassaince Fair, and this one didn’t sound like something I’d read before) but Jen DeLuca had me giggling and blushing like a schoolgirl with a crush. I was shocked this was a debut novel – the writing was extremely swoon-worthy, and I thought I might self-combust over the angst in this novel. This was a super sweet enemies-to-lovers story that has me eagerly awaiting a second novel from DeLuca.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

I loved this story! Chloe is a kick-butt female character who speaks her mind and doesn’t rely on anyone – even though she suffers from a chronic illness. Her strength and humor shine throughout the novel, making her extremely likable. Her chemistry with Red, her apartment superintendent, is off the charts – this enemies-to-lovers romance is full of steam. As Red begins to help Chloe with her list to “Get a Life,” what starts as a silly adventure turns into a very sweet, tender love story. I devoured this one in just one day – would definitely recommend.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Writing duo Christina Lauren delivered a fun enemies-to-lovers novel with their spring hit, The Unhoneymooners. Light and adorable, this one is a perfect beach read or a great palate cleanser after a heavier book. Two main characters who hate each other are forced into a vacation together where they must pretend to be newlyweds – this original storyline is something you can easily devour in one sitting. Olive and Ethan’s banter is so entertaining, and for those that prefer less steam, this would be my recommendation. 

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Here’s the premise: hot dudes reading romance novels, in order to be better communicators, better partners, better lovers. Where is this book club and how do I sign up?! The Bromance Book Club was such a breath of fresh air! If you’re looking for a unique twist on the rom-com, look no further. A romance novel from the male perspective, it was insightful and funny. All joking and sexiness aside, I thought this was a great look at some of the realities behind marriage and how much work is needed (from both sides!) to have a happy and successful relationship. 

Down Too Deep by J. Daniels

When a romance novel can pack an emotional punch and take it to another level, it elevates the story for me. This was a heartfelt, tender story about two single parents and I ate it up. When single mom Jenna steps in to help Nathan, a dad who’s been struggling to raise his daughter since the death of his wife, sparks fly. This one is incredibly steamy, but it totally worked. As Jenna and Nathan learn to deal with past demons, the idea of a future together will have the reader rapidly turning pages to see if these two have a chance at happily ever after. This is the fourth book in a series but I read it as a standalone and was completely fine.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This is an enemies-to-lovers story about the First Son of the United States falling in love with the Prince of England. I am here. for. it. I laughed, I cried, I was swooning left and right. This was McQuiston’s debut novel, but I was completely swept up in the experience of falling head over heels in love. Extremely funny with a surprising amount of depth, this was a beautiful, moving love story that stuck with me long after I finished reading.

Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker

I am such a sucker for a second-chance love story, and K.A. Tucker is a go-to romance author for me. Piper and Kyle met as camp counselors and enjoyed a sweet summer romance. Years later, they meet again and might have another shot at finding happiness. Alternating between the past and present, this story makes you feel like a teenager again, remembering how sweet it feels to find your first love.

Love on Lexington Avenue and the Central Park Pact series by Lauren Layne

When three women coincidentally meet one day in Central Park, they discover they have a connection to the same man, whose funeral they all decided to skip that day – one was his wife, one was his mistress and one was his girlfriend. None of them knew about the others, and despite the awkward first encounter, they form a quick friendship, bonding over the betrayal of a man they thought they knew and loved. There are three books in the series, each book following a different character as she attempts to move on, pick up the pieces and find love again. Books one and two are out now, and the third is coming out in January 2020. These women are so relatable and you can’t help but root for them! If you need a cute romance, look no further.

Bonus Backlist Titles

So many great titles were released in 2019, but if you’re looking for something that doesn’t have a six-month hold at the library, I have two bonus backlist suggestions – I read both of these in 2019 and loved them!

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

I’ll admit, I was reluctant to try this one based on the synopsis but it just worked. I was so emotionally invested in this story, in spite of my initial reservations. This was a gorgeous, consuming story about love. I’m not the only one who adored this book – there’s an entire Facebook group for fans of the novel. This story will give you a book hangover. Get your tissues ready. 

Pucked by Helena Hunting

I’m such a Helena Hunting fan, I’ll read anything she writes. This hockey romance is so raunchy and fun, I couldn’t get enough. If you don’t like super-steamy scenes or crude humor (think: locker room talk) then skip it. If you’re into sports romances and an unapologetic female protagonist, this one is for you!

*Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links. These picks are editorially selected, but if you purchase, She Reads may get something in return. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.