The romance genre spans so widely—from romantic comedies to dark fantasy, and from modern sizzlers to historical-set adventures—that picking the Best Romances of 2020 So Far is a challenge. A fun, completely enjoyable challenge!
The romance genre continues to evolve—and thank goodness for that. Strong heroines now know their value without needing someone else to tell them they are valuable. Heroes are emotionally more vulnerable, with few relying on the tiresome excuse that “my heart was broken once so I can never love again, boo-hoo.” Other women are friends, not competition. And women love women, and men love men, and we all love love.
I could go on and on about how elated I am by how love stories have changed not just in the last 10 years but the last two years—and, ahem!, about how Hollywood needs to catch up—but I know everyone just wants to find out what book to read next. So here are six of the Amazon Books editors’ favorite romance reads published between January and June 2020.
The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
The author of last year’s heart-wrenching and yet joyful The Friend Zone wows readers again with a tender and unexpected romance. After a loose dog jumps through the sun roof of Sloan’s car, she spends weeks trying to contact its owner before deciding the dog is now hers. Then Jason returns from two weeks off the grid to discover a strange woman has claimed his beloved dog. As Sloan and Jason first work out ownership and then work out that they like each other, other pressures in their lives force them to reconsider what’s truly important. Jimenez rocks her fans with The Happy Ever Playlist—the perfect romantic read for summertime or any time.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
After her last “relationship,” university professor Danika Brown asks the universe for a no-strings-attached bed buddy—and for real this time, as the last one got too clingy. While Dani has a bit of a thing for security guard Zaf, he’s not quite what she has in mind. And while he admits attraction to her, he’s pretty sure she’s not into guys, especially after she fails his “What do you think of Idris Elba?” test—not to mention that Zaf’s definitely not into one-time things. But when Zaf rescues her from a broken elevator during a poison gas drill, Dani awakens to the fact that the universe is throwing her a pretty big hint as to whom she should be paying attention to. With her spot-on observations of modern love and all the complications that genuine relationships bring, Hibbert is one of the funniest romance writers in the field today. I can’t wait to read Eve Brown’s story next in Act Your Age, Eve Brown.
We also asked Talia Hibbert what to read this summer. See what she recommends.
Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James
In her new historical romance set among the Wildes of Lindow Castle, James focuses not on one of the “real” family members but on stepdaughter Viola, who is socially different from the exuberant Wildes. Devin, Duke of Wynter, initially disregards shy Viola as a potential wife, but when she stands up to him—and stands up for herself—he reconsiders, recognizing that just because she’s shy, it doesn’t mean she’s not spirited. But while Devin has changed his mind about whether they should marry, Viola has not… and so begins a smart, sizzling, and funny courtship that will deliver happy sighs from readers.
Defending Zara by Susan Stoker
Stoker’s popular Mountain Mercenaries series features private soldiers who make it their mission to save women and children from peril. When an ambush in a Peru barrio uncovers shocking corruption within the government’s forces, it also brings Hunter “Meat” Snow in contact with Zara, an American who was deposited in the barrio at age 10 after her parents were murdered, and who has been living hand-to-mouth there for the past 15 years. Zara also works with a small group of women in the barrio who put their lives on the line to help keep children safe from gangsters who prey on them. Lots of action along with tender emotion give Stoker’s romantic suspense novel a gravity beyond most others in this genre, while she unapologetically showcases the power of strong, resilient women.
A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane
Readers who enjoyed Amanda Bouchet’s Breath of Fire, Ilona Andrews' fantasy adventures, or Meljean Brook's Iron Seas novels will discover much to love in Vane’s new gritty, dark fantasy romance. In A Heart of Blood and Ashes, the stakes are big, as the fate of kingdoms are at risk. But the smaller stakes—the hearts of barbarian warrior Maddek and his avowed enemy, the royal Yvenne—are even more compelling. Vivid action scenes pair with harrowing emotional vulnerability to launch a new, addictive series.
Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert
Conrad and Alden barely tolerate each other during their weekly group game nights. Conrad is charming but hides how poor he is behind wisecracks and smiles. While tactically gifted at gaming, Alden is painfully socially awkward and has recently disappointed his parents by not getting accepted into medical school. So when they’re given the chance to take a cross-country road trip to compete in an Odyssey gaming tournament, both are sure it’s a bad idea to spend that much time together, even though both are desperate to play the game they love on a national stage. But road trips have a way of breaking down barriers, and Conrad and Alden slowly, sweetly discover who the other really is beneath the façade. A delightful nerdy romance.
Looking for more? Visit the Best Romances of 2020 So Far to see all 20 books on our list, which includes new stories by Nalini Singh, Rebecca Zanetti, Jasmine Guillory, and Corinne Michaels.
Romantic comedies, dark fantasy, modern sizzlers, and historical-set adventures are among the must-read romances of the year.