I love romances with a strong dollop of humor, so the rise of romantic comedies over the past 18 months has been something to celebrate. Our Best Romances of 2019 list certainly includes its fair share of rom-coms, but we also have gritty romantic suspense, a rollicking royal romance, vulnerable new adult, marvelously rich historicals, and even a sci-fi crossover.
Our #1 pick of the year is Lyssa Kay Adams’ The Bromance Book Club, a laugh-out-loud but heartwarming story of a guy who turns, reluctantly, to the relationship wisdom contained in romance novels in order to rescue his marriage on the rocks. I think this is a fantastic read for longtime romance readers as well as those who simply appreciate happy endings.
Without further ado, here are 10 of the best romances of the year. To see all 20 on our list, visit our page on Amazon.com for the Best Romance Books of 2019.
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
#1 best romance of 2019
When the second baseman of Nashville’s pro baseball team realizes that his beloved, funny, soul-mate wife, Thea, has been faking orgasms throughout their marriage, he throws a hissy fit and moves out. After a month of this nonsense, his buddies decide it’s time to introduce Gavin to their super-secret book club: a book club for men who use the lessons of love from the romance novels they read to solve the relationship problems in their real lives. Funny and heartfelt, Gavin’s and Thea’s rebuilding of trust, friendship, and love had me giggling and sighing all the way through. A special shout-out to the publisher’s art department for creating the year’s best romance cover, too. The bromance book club continues in spring 2020 with Undercover Bromance.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Note to self: If getting married, don't serve seafood. After the whole wedding is brought to a vomitous halt due to bad fish, the new bride tells her twin sister Olive Torres to go on the Hawaii honeymoon in her place for various complicated reasons that do make sense. Unfortunately, the new groom tells his brother Ethan Thomas the same thing, and Olive and Ethan can't stand to be within a room of each other, much less share a honeymoon suite. But hilarious encounters with Olive's soon-to-be boss and Ethan's predatory ex-girlfriend force Olive and Ethan to fake a relationship that could, with the right amount of forgiveness and vulnerability, turn into the real thing. The writing duo known as Christina Lauren delivers a laugh-out-loud doozy of a modern romance with a thoughtful core.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Prince Henry of Great Britain and First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz always act cordial in public but chilly in private—at least until Alex does something nearly unforgivable at a royal wedding, and the two young men are sent on a publicity junket to prove to the world that they are BFFs. Dislike softens into empathy; empathy strengthens into attraction. Even as Alex's mom hits the campaign trail to be reelected as president, suddenly Harry and Alex have to hide a very different relationship: They are ferociously in love with each other. I admit, I've been giving the royal romance subgenre the side-eye for a few years, unwilling to embrace a trope that seems too similar to the tired (and outdated) billionaire-meets-poor-but-plucky-woman story line. But Red, White & Royal Blue flings itself so deeply into questions about love and identity both inside and out, while garnishing these introspective queries with great secondary characters, that it rises above a simple "royal romance" label. This novel bursts with consequence and far wider crossover appeal, making it the perfect read to savor and share.
The Wallflower Wager: Girl Meets Duke by Tessa Dare
Every year, I look forward to Tessa Dare’s newest historical romance. And every year, I grin from ear to ear as I gallop through the hilarious high jinx her mismatched couples endure. Lady Penelope Campion has been known as an eccentric ever since she smuggled a hedgehog into Almack’s. Still, her new neighbor, Gabriel Duke, never expects to encounter Penny in his bedroom in her nightgown, trying to capture an escaped parrot. Aware that Penny is unwed, Gabriel is renovating his house in the hopes of selling it to a wealthy family who dreams of marrying into the upper classes, but her menagerie (a goat, Highland cow, otter, foul-mouthed parrot, and far more) is likely to derail his plans. When Penny agrees to accept Gabriel’s help in finding new homes for her fur babies, the situations they find themselves in become more and more ridiculous—and more and more charged with their mutual attraction. A delightful romp in which opposites not only attract, they make each other (and readers) laugh.
The Friend Zone (End of the Line) by Sariah Wilson
The first in two "friend zone" books on our list (Abby Jimenez’s The Friend Zone is the second), Wilson's novel is strong on the feels and light on the sex. With a scholarship to EOL College, quarterback Logan is given his final chance to move beyond his rough past and maybe, just maybe, prove himself good enough to be part of the NFL draft. The college's highly respected football coach has plenty of rules—no alcohol, no parties, no drugs, no girlfriends or sex—but Logan is sure they won't be a problem. Then he meets Jess, the coach's daughter. She has plenty of reasons not to trust football players, but a tutoring session launches an unlikely, soul-deep friendship that both yearn to turn into something more. A marvelous read.
Fatal Reckoning by Marie Force
Book 14 in Force’s fan-favorite Fatal series (say that five times fast!) puts both readers and police lieutenant Sam Holland through the emotional wringer. When her father, Skip, dies from his injuries sustained in a never-solved shooting incident, the case becomes a homicide, and Sam is forced to step back from the investigation due to conflict of interest. The black hole of grief and her own driving need for justice start to tear Sam apart at the seams, but the truth behind her father’s killing might destroy her instead of save her. It’s not essential to read previous books in this long-running series featuring Sam Holland and her husband (and now vice president) Nick Cappuano, but why deny yourself? The only thing better than one great read is 14 of them.
Polaris Rising: A Novel (The Consortium Rebellion) by Jessie Mihalik
If you're like me, sometimes you want more romance in your sci-fi, or more sci-fi in your romance. Mihalik brings together the best of both genres as she pairs up a tough-as-nails princess with the vigilante known as the Devil of Fornax Zero. Ada has grown up among the knife-sharp words and diplomacy of the Royal Consortium, but when her father tries to force her into an arranged marriage with another Consortium family, she flees. Two years later, finally caught by mercenaries, she takes the better of two bad options by escaping with Marcus Loch, one of the galaxy's most notorious killers. To stay alive and out of the Consortium's hands, they'll have to trust each other. And neither one of them trusts easily. This action-forward and slow-burn sexy novel will have readers looking forward to reading book 2, featuring Ada's sister Bianca.
Brazen and the Beast: The Bareknuckle Bastards Book II by Sarah MacLean
When Lady Hattie Sedley finds a bound, unconscious man in her carriage just as she’s planning a late-night adventure, she’s momentarily nonplussed but quickly deals with the situation by tossing him out the door. London underworld kingpin Whit isn’t used to being shoved out of a moving carriage—and every encounter that follows with Hattie leaves him both the most off-balance and the most centered he’s ever felt in his life. Too bad that his need for revenge on the person who attacked him and his crew will destroy all of Hattie’s dreams. Funny, sizzling, and smart.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
A close brush with death forces Chloe Brown to realize that she’s been in ostrich mode for the last several years and finally needs to “get a life.” Chronic pain has narrowed Chloe’s social circle to her funny, supportive family, but a move to her own apartment will be the first step in embracing a new world-view. The apartment’s handsome handyman has tattoos and a motorcycle, knows how to go camping, and doesn’t mind (too much) helping her out of trees when she tries to rescue cats. He’s her perfect partner in crime for getting an exciting new life—but is his place in her new life temporary or something more? This rom-com with deep heart is a great match for those who enjoyed Abby Jimenez’s The Friend Zone (also on our best romances of the year list—see this page for the full 20 picks).
Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan
Danger, desire, and distrust fuel Rushdan's suspenseful romantic thriller. US agent Maddox Kinkade had to rebuild her life and her heart after a misguided decision killed the love of her life years ago. So when she discovers that not only is her dead fiancé Cole Matthews secretly alive but the target of her next op, she's torn between her professional goals and her personal desire to get Cole out of her system once and for all. Every Last Breath steers closer to hard action than to soft suspense, and the journey is an adrenaline-charged one with a satisfying finish line.
Looking for more recommendations? See all of the Amazon Books editors’ 20 favorite romances of 2019.
You might also like:
- Editors' picks: Best books of the Month
- Celebrity picks - See what your favorite authors are reading and loving
- Book award winners
Sign up for the Amazon Book Review: Best books of the month * author interviews * the reading life * and more