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Romance is never one-dimensional in real life. It can be complicated and impetuous, slow and unexpected, untimely and inconvenient—a long, bumpy, beautiful road to true love and happiness. So why should it be any different in books? We’ve rounded up our favorite slow-burn romances for you to binge, whether for a beach read or to cozy up with on a cold winter’s eve.
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Braden Carmichael always gets what he wants. So, when he meets Jocelyn, he assumes this time’s no different. Sure, she has a past, but doesn’t everyone? Once she finally gives in, however, he realizes that he wants much more than he originally desired. A tragic past meets intense attraction in this quick read.
Wait for It by Mariana Zapata
Diana has her whole world shaken when her brother dies, giving her sole custody of his two young sons. She absolutely adores Josh & Lou, but being thrust into a world of motherhood was never part of her plan. She immediately takes on the responsibility, moves into a house, and tries to raise the boys as her brother would have. But what she never expected was her next-door neighbor, Dallas, an older man who is quietly living his life. He rarely shows emotions, but he’s Diana’s rock. While trying to juggle her new role as mother and business owner, Dallas steps up to the plate and becomes everything she needs, even though they settled on friendship. Slowly this romance begins to burn, and you can’t help but love the anticipation of the two coming together.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
With nowhere to go, Jacob Janowski joins a traveling circus, taking care of the show animals. When he bonds with a beautiful rising star woman (whose not entirely available) and a stubborn elephant, Jacob learns that his new job will bring all kinds of unexpected love into his life.
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
Sydney is thriving in college: she has a steady job, is in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her. However, Sydney finds herself captivated by her mysterious and attractive, neighbor, Ridge. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either. They soon find themselves needing their passionate friendship in more ways than one.
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
Cassie, a female firefighter, moves to Boston at the request of her very sick mother. Realizing that her job is extremely different than the one she left behind in Texas, she knows she has to prove herself in a male-dominated field. Throw in some serious chemistry with one of the rookies on her squad and it sounds like this will have some sizzling romance, too. This one will go a bit deeper than your average romance and have you thinking about it long after you’re done reading.
The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
Dev Deshpande is good at creating love stories on television, but not so good at making them come true in his own life. When Charlie Winshaw is cast as the bachelor looking for love on Ever After, he is quick to disappoint by appearing awkward and disinterested on camera. Dev tries his best to mentor Charlie and get him to open up to the ladies that are vying for his heart. However, the more they talk, the more it seems that the true chemistry is between the two of them, off-camera. With this new development, will the show go on as planned or will there be a secret reveal that nobody was expecting?
The Brutal Truth by Lee Winter
The truth always comes out, whether we want it to or not. When Australian crime reporter Maddie Grey ends upon a work trip with her boss that she has a crush on, things might unexpectedly heat up down under. Elena Bartell is brilliant and fierce, and believes that the world would be a much simpler place if everyone told the whole truth. So, Elena and Maddie make a bet that at first seems harmless. They can’t lie to each other. Easy enough, right? Well, when the bet starts to backfire, Elena might not be ready for the whole truth like she thought she was. Secrets come out, and these two women will never be the same again.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Chloe speaks her mind and doesn’t rely on anyone. 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.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
In her follow up to her charming debut Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston spins a new kind of love story. Another romantic comedy about queer characters, One Last Stop focuses on a pessimistic 23-year-old who just moved to New York City and falls hard for a woman she spots on her subway commute. The only issue is that it turns out the woman is lost in time from the 1970s. McQuiston sets in motion a dazzling romance, filled with plenty of humor and heart.
Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words by Annika Sharma
Kiran is the good daughter, the one who picked up the pieces when her sister disobeyed the family and brought shame upon their name. Kiran would not make the same mistakes. Nash never had a family, his parents were absent from his life growing up and now he turns away from love and family. But what happens when they stop listening to other people’s wants and traditions for them, and Kiran and Nash follow their hearts?
Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
Hana is a part-time waitress at her mother’s halal restaurant, Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, in a close-knit Toronto neighborhood. Her dream, though, is to tell stories over the radio. She’s so close to accomplishing her goals, all she has to do is outshine the other intern and she has a chance at getting the job. In the meantime, she puts all her dreams and ideas into her podcast, where she connects with one of her listeners. Yet, everything changes when a rival restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open, threatening her mother’s restaurant. After she learns a long-buried family secret and a hate-motivated attack unravels their neighborhood, Hana’s life grows more complicated by the day. Not to mention her growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant, who might not be a complete stranger after all.
Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle
Maybell Parish, a born dreamer, is excited for the opportunities that await her at her late Great Aunt’s estate. However, when she arrives, it’s more like a nightmare. She has to share the property with grouchy but handsome groundskeeper Wesley Koehler. As Maybell tries to compromise the future of the estate with Wesley, she discovers that underneath all the scowls lies something sweet.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Stella Lane has been in a long-term relationship with math because numbers make sense. She also has Aspergers, and making relationships – human relationships – can be a challenge. So, when she hires Michael Phan to provide a little education in that arena, she comes to realize that dating might just add up after all.