13 Of The Best Romance Novels That Are Actually Worth Every Second Of Your Time

There are literally thousands of romance novels published each year, so it can be a daunting task to determine which ones will keep you up all night and which ones you’ll want to hurl against the wall. Whether you’re in the mood for a vampire or a duke, a small town in America, Regency London or sometime in the future, there is definitely an excellent romance novel to suit every mood. These titles are totally worth every page-turning minute — and even the inevitable book hangover. And if you love these, there are literally thousands more great novels waiting for you.

But you have to start somewhere. So start here.

by Maya Rodale

'Romancing the Duke' by Tessa Dare

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A practically perfect Regency romance in which an impoverished but imaginative heroine fights with the dashing but damaged Duke of Rothbury over who owns a particular crumbling down castle. And, no, they cannot just share it. And, yes, this story is a sweet, funny, and totally romantic battle of wills.

'The Pirate Lord' by Sabrina Jeffries

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Because pirate romance! When British pirate Gideon Horn happens upon a boatload of women on the high seas he plans to rescue them from their dismal fate as convicts in Australia and marry them to his crew. But he doesn’t count on the young reformer with them, Miss Sara Willis, who insists on courtship and romance. Hilarious, imaginative, and with one hell of a plot twist.

'Natural Born Charmer' by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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You gotta love everything by the great Susan Elizabeth Phillips, especially when it begins with the heroine in a beaver suit by the side of the road hitching a ride from a hot football player who is so much smarter than he looks. This one is part of her amazing Chicago Stars series, and each book is so, so good.

'Three Weeks with Lady X' by Eloisa James

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Thorn Dautry, the bastard son of a duke, needs a home befitting a respectable gentleman in order to convince Laetitia Rainsford, the proper woman he wants, to wed him. But Lady Xenobia is the woman he needs; she specializes in interior redecoration and in the process of refurbishing his house they discover and explore the explosive passion between them. Spoiler alert: Passion totally trumps proper.

'Trade Me' by Courtney Milan

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Tina Chen is working hard just to get by and Blake Reynolds is a sexy billionaire who has everything. She tells him he’d never survive her life, so he dares her to trade places for a month. Soon, they’re trading so much more.

'The Wicked Wallflower' by Maya Rodale

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When Lady Emma Avery accidentally announces her betrothal to the Duke of Ashbrooke he surprises her by playing along. A sham engagement ensues which turns into a real and passionate love between the most unlikely couple. This historical romance is a mash up of modern TV and movies like The Hunger Games, Green Card, and Downton Abbey. (And, OK, you caught me: I wrote this one. But I promise it’s SUPER-GOOD… and I don’t lie.)

'Dark Lover' by J.R. Ward

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Welcome to the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood where a league of powerful vampires are in constant battle with evil creatures — in a small town in Upstate New York. In fulfilling the wish of a dying friend, Wrath, the King of the Black Dagger brotherhood, finds himself falling in love and not with the woman he’s supposed to be with. Warning: this series is incredibly addicting!

'Lord and Lady Spy' by Shana Galen

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This Regency version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith blends action, mystery, secrets and really hot sex for a fast paced and totally entertaining read. Both Lord Adrian Smythe and Lady Sophia Smythe are a perfectly respectable (OK, maybe boring) couple… until they discover that they’re both undercover spies and they must work together to solve a case. As you do.

'Roulette' by Megan Mulry

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After an unconventional upbringing Miki Durand is finally living the normal life in America she’s always craved, but when her father dies, she flies to Moscow to take care of his business empire and finds herself doing business with a sexy French playboy, Jérôme Michel de Villiers. Does she stick with her old dreams or surrender to the allure of a glamorous jet-setting life with a seriously sexy Frenchman. Tough choice, right? UGH.

'Fever Pitch' by Cullinan

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Popular high school jock Aaron Seavers doesn’t know where to go to college, doesn’t know what to study and can’t stand the pressure from his Dad. After a surprising hook up with Giles Mulder at a party, he knows where to go to school (oh, it just happens to be where Giles is going) and that he might be gay. From there he discovers his true passion, music — Glee fans this book is for you! — great friendships and a sweet romance.

'Welcome to Temptation' by Jennifer Crusie

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Sophie Dempsey and her sister roll into the town of Temptation, Ohio to film a video. But then things get complicated (read: sexy) with the hot mayor, Phinn Tucker. Then things get crazy — gossip, murder, blackmail, etc — you know, all the usual drama in a small town, contemporary romance. This is a sexy romantic comedy by one of the very best romance authors.

'It’s In His Kiss' by Julia Quinn

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The Bridgertons are perhaps the first family of Regency romance, and you can’t go wrong with any book in the series. But there is no book — or heroine — quite like Hyacinth Bridgerton. She’s a bit much but in a totally charming way. When she agrees to translate Gareth St. Clair’s mother’s diary, she inadvertently discovers some deep, dark family secrets. And of course they end up falling in love.

'Naked In Death' by J.D. Robb

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Set in New York City in the year 2058, Eve Dallas is on the hunt for a ruthless killer. One of her suspects is Roarke, an Irish Billionaire. Instincts tell her not to get involved but passion totally wins. This is the first book of an incredibly popular series Robb (aka Nora Roberts, the Queen of Romance).