Books! Let's get right to it!

This page mostly contains book recs that I started typing out for the Romancelandia Kickstarter updates, formatted and listed together in one place! I mostly read romance books because they're the best, but scroll down for nonfiction.

Books on this list are ones I like A LOT, often re-read, or books that had something really interesting that elevate them to "noteworthy" status. I read a lot of books, so there are 10x more that don't make the cut to this list. I read across subgenres, mostly MF, some MM and FF, but I don’t tend toward why-choose and multiples, so I apologize for the lack of examples there. My main consistent preference is for a heroine with agency and power.

Last updated: July 2024

Brand new to Romance? Here's some general info.

If you’ve never read a romance book, you might ask for just a generally “good” book. Trouble is, this genre has SUCH a spread of subgenres that are so different from each other that it’s almost impossible to define a book as universally “good”. It’s so based on tastes that we can’t give a blanket “everyone should read this” recommendation, and I’d caution you against believing anyone who claims there’s a book that IS that. I can give you books I liked and why I liked them, and if it sparks your interest, read that one, if it doesn’t, no pressure, don’t. My tastes may not be yours, and that’s fine! The great thing about the romance genre is that there is so much, you can find something you like.

The only thing that MUST be true to call it a Romance (capital R, Romance) is that there must be a happily ever after (HEA) wherein the couple or thruple or whatever must be together at the end of the book, and we, the reader, trust that they’re going to stay that way, and the relationship between the two (or however many) characters must be the A plotline of the story. There might be other stuff going on, but it all circles their relationship. Some books are in a gray area here, like, is it a fantasy book with romance in it, or a romance book in a fantasy setting? Tough to say. Some romance books have strong B plots in addition to the main relationship plot, and some don’t. And just because a book has sex in it, doesn’t make it a romance, and there are plenty of “clean/sweet” romance books with no sex, like Young Adult Romances, that are still a Romance first and foremost.

Anyway, whatever you read, check for content warnings, always. They’ll usually be in the book description or on the first few pages of the book. Some of these books have content that would make people uncomfortable or trigger something. You do you.

Shorthand Defined:
  • MF: male/female (heterosexual) pairing. MM: male/male (gay) pairing. FF: female/female (sapphic, lesbian) pairing. Other combinations of letters are common in the genre, but they’re not my preference to read, so there aren’t may on this list.
  • POV: Point of view. Single POV is just one character’s point of view, might be first or third person but you’re only in that one person’s head, and in romance it’s usually the heroine’s, as opposed to Dual POV, which switches back and forth between character POVs, usually every other chapter. I like Dual POV better usually, and on this list if I don’t specify, you can assume it’s Dual POV.
  • Hero/Heroine is a bit of an old-fashioned way to say MMC/FMC (male main character, female main character). They’re the same thing, I’m just used to saying hero and heroine and I mean no patriarchy by it, I promise. It’s just more natural to type.
  • Ao3: archive of our own, popular fanfic site
  • Knotting: It’s… -sigh- Ok, his penis is gonna have some extra features, yeah? It’ll make sense at the time.
  • Omegaverse: Look, I don’t have all day to get into it. It’s kinky and submissive and if you’re new you probably won’t start here.
  • KU: Kindle unlimited, home of lots of smut. It’s Amazon’s monthly subscription to as many books as you can read, and a lot of romance books indie-published on Amazon aren’t easily obtained from the library or bookstore, so you kinda have to read them digitally using a kindle or your phone/laptop.
  • Romance Reasons: Do the characters have to fake an engagement so one can get a promotion? That’s romance reasons. Was there a mixup that makes no logical sense but it creates golden tense plot opportunities? Romance reasons. Are they snowed-in together and stranded and have to snuggle for body heat? Forced proximity romance reasons. This might have been coined by the podcast “Fated Mates,” I’m not sure, but that podcast is great so give it a listen.

Everyone’s system may vary but here’s mine: 0 peppers is just kissing. It’s clean/sweet and safe for a middle schooler to read. 1 pepper is kissing but it’s like… hot kissing. 2 peppers is P in V without a lot of detailed description. 3 peppers involves oral sex and more descriptive text. 4 peppers involves various sex acts and kink and lots of descriptions and you’re gonna get hot and bothered. 5 peppers is rare, usually requires multiple participants or magical extra limbs and a heavy helping of kink and you’ll clutch your pearls. .5 add ons usually are there for the vibes :)

About Tropes:

Trope is king in romance. There are some setups and formulas that just hit so good every time, we keep returning to them. This is certainly a thing in other genres and media, but in romance it’s really woven into how we talk about the stories. Now, I’m not gonna sit here and define all the tropes, and for the most part they’re self explanatory (only one bed… there’s only one dang bed and accidental snuggling happens 9/10 times and it’s always amazing). Some are micro-tropes (who did this to you?) and some are macro-tropes (enemies to lovers) and you’ll figure it out. But I’ll define my favorites so you understand this list.

  • Two person love triangle: in this story, there’s one main couple, but character A has their identity hidden or mistaken at some point such that character B thinks they’re two separate people and usually falls a little in love with both of them, resulting in chaotic adorableness until they find out the truth.
  • Hidden identity: one or both characters has their identity hidden for whatever reason. Often paired with enemies-to-lovers for greatest tension and umph.
  • Mutual pining: both characters are crushing on each other for a prolonged time before it’s out in the open and acted upon. Usually a slow-burn.
  • Slow burn: no love confessions or kissing or sexy scenes for over 50% of the book, approximately.
  • There are so many more but I don’t have time, I’m sorry. Google it.
Some beginner recs:

So, I recommend you read a book that sounds compelling to you, regardless of how popular it is. But, with that said, if you’re reading this and thinking you just want to read a popular book for the cultural references and for maximum understand-the-memes-bang-for-your-buck, I’ll oblige.

“The Love Hypothesis” by Ali Hazelwood 
This book broke records and is the definition of book-tok, and it’s a solid read. Slow burn spice, so you have to be patient. Fake relationship, he’s grumpy and she’s sunshine, reylo (his name is literally Adam, just picture Adam Driver and Rey), academia setting, smart heroine, all in her point of view. It’s not one of my favorite books, but credit where credit is due, it brought a lot of people to the genre. 3.5 peppers.

The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn
Because it made it to Netflix and that’s a big deal. They’re pretty solid reads, and I’ve read them all. Traditional historical romance books published 20 years ago, with the usual Dukes and Marquesses and regency society. Lords need heirs and the marriage mart is dramatic, etc. But again, “traditional romance series structure” where each book goes through a different sibling in the Bridgerton family and their romance story, and the previous siblings feature briefly in later books. And of course, I liked the books better than the TV show, but the show was pretty good. 3 peppers.

“Ice Planet Barbarians” by Ruby Dixon
This one is in the “pure trash, but like, in a good way” category. These are smutty and pure trope and they’re not trying to pretend otherwise. They're on an ice planet. The heroes are huge barbarian aliens, and their small society is short on women, so when a dozen human women crash-land on the planet, what’s gonna happen? Fated mates. Breeding trope. They don't always speak the same language but everyone's horny all the time. I read 7 of them and then had to take a break and read something where the heroine doesn't get pregnant at the end haha. This is romance popcorn. On KU. 4 peppers.

Paranormal Romance

Vampires, werewolves, witches, shifters, etc., in mostly modern (21st century) setting, though that's not a hard rule. There might be time travel, there might be other sci-fi or magic happening, it's tough to define. But there are definitely more than humans here.

Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole
All fated mates with strong women and alpha-heroes. Start with “A Hunger Like No Other” (he’s a grumpy werewolf coming off centuries of torture at the hands of vampires, she’s a half-vampire half-valkyrie, he identifies her as his mate and basically kidnaps her but is NOT happy about his mate being a vampire. She grows a backbone and kicks ass by the end of this book. She bites him, everywhere.) Special mention to another book in this series, “Dark Needs at Night’s Edge” (she’s a ghost, he’s an insane vampire stuck in her haunted house, they can’t touch at first, it’s great mutual pining.) All books are MF except one, which is MM. 3.5-4 peppers, depending on the book.

“Slave to Sensation” by Nalini Singh 
MF. First in a long series, shifters, usually jaguars or panthers or wolves, and telepathic-mental-magicy race that isn’t supposed to feel emotions… but does because romance. She has to hide the fact that she feels emotions, which gets impossible because sexual tension, and he’s hunting a killer and needs her telepathic access to help. 3 peppers.

“Stalked by the Kraken” by Lillian Lark 
MF. Great intro to tentacles. She’s a witch, he’s a kraken shifter, he recognizes her as his fated mate but doesn’t want to scare her off, sexy bathhouse scenes abound. Sweet vibes. On KU. 4.5 peppers, but frankly I think by some standards this might be a 5.

“Ghost Walk” by Cassandra Gannon 
MF. He’s a ghost, she’s a witch, she’s the first person who can see him in like 200 years, there’s time travel involved so he doesn’t stay a ghost the whole time, don’t worry! But this book has excellent ghostyness and near fated-mates vibes and is very funny. On KU. 3 peppers.

"My Roommate is a Vampire" by Jenna Levine
MF. Homey vampire rom-com with light spice. Almost entirely single POV (hers). He's clueless about modern society and needs help. She moves in and doesn't know he's a vampire. Contemporary vampire hijinks and cute letter-writing ensue. 2.5 peppers.

Fantasy Romance

There’s magic, and it takes place in a fantasy world. The characters might have magic or just the world might, but it’s not as cut and dry as “he’s a werewolf, end of story.” There’s usually more worldbuilding involved and different stuff happening. It has a different vibe than paranormal romance, although there is some crossover. Definitions are tough.

“The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy” by Megan Bannen 
MF. I love this book. He’s basically a fantasy-zombie hunter, she’s an undertaker, he has to bring her zombie corpses, they hate each other… and then end up in a hidden-identity pen-pal letter writing situation and become anonymous close friends, aaannnnd it’s so sweet, cool worldbuilding, the hero is SO lonely grumpy and the heroine is capable and tough and it’s funny and weird and delightful. Oh, and they have to do something about all these zombies. Slow burn. 3 peppers.

“The Fae King’s Curse” by Jamie Schlosser 
MF. Slow burn, he’s 3000 and she’s 18, he’s cursed to be blind until he identifies his fated mate, which he can only do with sex, but if he’s wrong he’ll be blind forever. Same with the following 3 books, the heroines are modern earth women and the heroes are alternate dimension blind-ish virgin-hero fae kings. 3 peppers.

“Promise of Fire” by Amanda Bouchet 
MF. 3 book series, the same couple in all books, she has magic and can sense lies, he’s sort of a warlord but like, in a good way, and he kidnaps her, oh and he’s resistant to magic. He falls first, there are greek gods involved and bad regimes to overthrow, there is spice in all books. 3 peppers.

"The Sea Witch" by Rebecca F Kenney
MF. Little mermaid rewrite where the hero is the tentacled sea witch 'villain', heroine is basically Ariel, and after they make a deal and he turns her human, he has to help her navigate human society. Very spicy, excellent ocean vibes, tentacles, mutual pining. I loved this hero. I also gobbled up the two other villain/fairy tale retelling sequels. Check CWs though, there are some non-con baddie threats in this series. On KU. 4.5 peppers.

“Divine Rivals” by Rebecca Ross 
MF. Slow burn, rivals to lovers, magic typewriters! They're rival journalists, there's a fantasy war on and she writes letters to her MIA brother and therapeutically sends them via fantasy-mail-delivery-magic. Meanwhile the hero is getting them (her rival) and knows it's her, and finally responds to tell her he's not her brother so she’ll stop, but that starts them writing back and forth and becoming friends. Then it’s a hidden identity, two person love triangle, he falls first (desperately)! There's war-zone drama, and lots of cuteness. CLIFFHANGER that’s resolved in book 2, which usually infuriates me and causes me to despise an author, but for some reason with this book, it felt right for the story. 2 peppers.

Contemporary Romance

Takes place in the present day, usually no magic is involved. You can expect the characters to have cell phones and the internet. Although technically, Jane Austen wrote contemporaries because she was writing about the current society at the time, but the sub-genre term “contemporary” has come to mostly refer to the 21st century. The ones on my list are rom-coms.

"Hate Mail" by Donna Marchetti 
Two person love triangle for the win! MF, they are pen pals from fifth grade onward, but they are always mean in their letters and it's like a long-running bit. Then she's searching for him in person, and meanwhile there's a hot guy in her building who seems suspiciously amazing... you know where this is going :) It was a refreshingly different read, I loved it. 3 peppers.

"Love Lettering" by Kate Clayborn 
MF, single POV (hers), contemporary. I want to comment on this one because, hey, I'm a hand-letterer! The way the romance unfolded was very fun. They met because she sneakily predicted his previous engagement would fail, and he confronts her about it. They proceed to walk around New York City together and romance things happen. He's work-stressed and lonely, she's creatively blocked and lonely, and I loved their interactions. But I think I would have loved this book more if it wasn't my job being written about because it was distracting to keep sighing, "I do not think about serifs this much in my daily life". It's probably what actual owners of small bakeries feel when they watch or read a rom-com about a bakery-owning heroine. But the plot of the book, that was great, and I didn't see the third act twist coming (in a good way). It's a slow burn. 2.5 peppers.

"That Perfect Fit" by Lizzie Stanley 
Here's your out-there rec: This is a MF coworkers to lovers novella about a hero with a micropenis and a heroine with a shallow vagina. I know you don't need any more information than that. It's light, irreverent, and it's exactly what you think it's going to be. Major props to this author. On KU. 3 peppers.

“Eyes on Me” by Sara Cate 
MF. Borderline erotica. She's a camgirl, he's 13 years older and part-owns a sex club. They're stepsiblings, don’t get along, it’s total trash BUT… the romance reasons all added up to straight fire smut. When he first sees her camgirl account and contacts her, he uses a fake name and doesn't show his face, and that little bit of hidden identity continues throughout the story even when they're hooking up in real life, but of course that secret causes the third act breakup. But look, I was here for it. Tons of exhibitionism/voyeurism. The third act had his mental health stuff in it, but the author handled it decently. So all in all... yeah. Rec for the spice. On KU. 5 peppers.

Alien Romance

Books about aliens. Sometimes they’re in space, on another planet, or on earth, but someone here is an alien. Frequently involves fated mates, and I’ve never read one without spice.

“Choosing Theo” by Victoria Aveline.
MF. I’ve reread this multiple times. She’s abducted, escapes the abductors and ends up in this alien society where women are scarce and they’re trying to ensure the continuation of the species and the men have to go to husband school to hope to earn a wife, it’s romance reasons extreme and I am here for it. There’s this marriage process where the women are in total control and pick a dude, and she has to participate and picks him because he’s tattooed and hot, but it turns out his tattoos are scars so he and the society think he’s ugly and brutish but she’s just plain into him, and he absolutely does not believe she’d ever want him, and therefore must be a spy, and yet of course fated mates happens, and I love it. There’s a lot of worldbuilding setup in this book, but the whole series is fun alien romance fated mates good times. On KU. 3.5 peppers.

“Ice Planet Barbarians” by Ruby Dixon This one is more in the “pure trash, but like, in a good way” category. These are smutty and pure trope and they’re not trying to pretend otherwise. They're on an ice planet. The heroes are huge barbarian aliens, and their small society is short on women, so when a dozen human women crash-land on the planet, what’s gonna happen? Fated mates. Breeding trope. They don't always speak the same language but everyone's horny all the time. I read 7 of them and then had to take a break and read something where the heroine doesn't get pregnant at the end haha. This is romance popcorn. On KU. 4 peppers.

“Star Crossed” by Heather Guerre 
MF. Aphrodisiac bodily fluids in these alien heroes, insta-love, on the run. I’ll be honest, the sex gets… almost too much with the BDE because it’s literally too big and it won’t fit, buttttttt it’s a romance so. They make it fit. 3.5 peppers.

“Ruthless King” by Alison Aimes 
MF. Included on the list for  omegaverse honorable mention (extreme alpha-hero, knotting, aphrodisiac-made-her-do-it, fated mates). He’s technically an alien, mafia, known she was his since childhood but he had to rise to the top before he could keep her, she’s very mistreated by her family and society, their families are enemies, he’s trying for vengeance, check the content warnings. 3.5 peppers.

Historical Romance

Not historically accurate, just takes place in a setting in the past, but still on earth, and usually without magic, but sometimes there’s magic haha. They’re normal humans in the past. Regency England is a genre favorite, but not the only one.

“Dreaming of You” by Lisa Kleypas 
MF. Derek Craven. He was born in a gutter and rose to own a notorious gaming hell and is now wealthy and ruthless, she’s sweet and saved his life, forced proximity, this is a classic for a reason. Tough grumpy hero falls completely to shreds over how much he loves her. 3 peppers.

“Lord of Scoundrels” by Loretta Chase 
MF. Again, classic for a reason. Hero is a grump, heroine has the ultimate backbone and does NOT take his crap. First published 1995. 2.5 peppers.

“Unmasking Miss Appleby” by Emily Larkin 
MF. Mainly historical, but there’s magic in it. He’s a duke, she’s just been given the ability to shapeshift and decides to use it to shapeshift into a man and get a job as a duke’s secretary. She’s in disguise and innocent but capable, they’re investigating a mystery, she falls first, just so cute, adorable vibes, I really love this one. 3 peppers.

“The Highwayman” by Kerrigan Byrne 
MF. Long lost childhood loves, there’s a hidden identity involved, a very tragic hero, king of the underworld, someone’s trying to kill her. 3.5 peppers.

Anything by Tessa Dare  
“The Duchess Deal” He’s a battle-scarred duke who needs a wife, she’s a seamstress down on her luck, it’s beauty and the beast vibes with such fun dialogue, marriage of convenience, medium-burn with sweet spice, heartwarming, and you know I love an “ugly” hero who won’t believe she’s actually into him. 
“Romancing the Duke” He’s mostly blind, she inherits his castle, forced proximity adorableness.
“When a Scot Ties the Knot” She made up a fake fiancee who died in battle but he has the same name and comes to try to marry her to get the land, adorableness ensues.
Usually 3 peppers.

“The Raven Prince” by Elizabeth Hoyt 
MF. She’s his secretary, he’s a grump, she falls first and goes in disguise to a brothel to hook up with him. 3 peppers.

Anything by Julie Ann Long 
“Lady Derring Takes a Lover” MF. She’s a widow, she and her friend are just starting a lodging house business and they’re both very hardworking and intelligent. He’s an investigator looking into bad stuff her former husband did, so he’s investigating her. Mystery and sweetness, medium spice. 
“The Perils of Pleasure” MF. He’s falsely accused of murder and about to hang. She’s a badass and she rescues him, and they’re on the run together trying to prove his innocence and find the real killer.
3 peppers.

“The Spymaster’s Lady” by Joanna Bourne 
MF. He’s an English Spy, she’s a French spy, they’re both very deadly and good at their jobs, end up escaping captivity together and are enemies for a while and reluctant allies and there are secrets and a window of perfectly executed romance reasons hidden identity, and a twist after the first chapter that lives rent free in my head because of how good the writing is. 3 peppers.

"Bringing Down the Duke" by Evie Dunmore 
MF. Lots of feminism. She's in Oxford's brand new women's college and is in a feminist activist group, and he's a duke doing duke-related-house-of-lords-lawmaker stuff. Their political interests clash, he immediately loses his mind over how much he likes her, it was very fun and weighed heavily on the class differences and the politics, which was cool because you don't usually see the lawmaking side much in historicals. 3 peppers.

Dark Romance

These books are not for beginners, I’d suggest you have a palate for romance before trying any of these. Consent is certainly an issue in dark romances in general, but that’s kinda the idea. Red flags all over the place. A page of content warnings before the book even starts. None of these books are aspirational and we understand that. They’re books.

“Butcher and Blackbird” by Brynne Weaver 
MF. They’re both serial killers that become friends, he falls first, surprisingly the vibes in this are sweet but the setting is super dark, there are a lot of details about these two killing people. Think Dexter, but it’s both of them and it’s a slow burn romance that pays off huge on the spice scale. 4 peppers.

“Pestilence” by Laura Thalassa MF. The first in the Four Horsemen Series of 4 books, each of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse. All these heroines are strong in different ways, and all the heroes do bad things to them at first, but they’re not “men” they’re HORSEMEN of the apocalypse. They’re learning to be human. Gorgeous covers, really fun use of the 4 horsemen and the world ending. On KU. 3.5-4 peppers.

“Manacled” by Senlinyu 
MF. On AO3, fanfic, Dramione, incredibly dark, everyone is traumatized, rape on page, torture and murder, BUT if you can stand it, it’s a break-your-brain-good romance the length of 3 novels. Single POV: Hermione’s. Basically Voldemort wins the last battle, Draco is still a death eater, Hermione is imprisoned, and then the premise is “The Handmaid’s Tale” but in a dark version of the Harry Potter universe. Enemies to lovers but with twists and hidden memories and they’d do anything for each other and woof, guys, it’s a lot. Technically has a HEA (the two main characters survive and are together at the end and as happy as one can be after such a dark story) but just assume everyone else dies. 4 peppers.

MM (Gay) Romance

All these books are about a gay couple, and are mostly contemporary.

“Show Me” by Neve Wilder 
MM. Football-ish, roommates, one discovers the other films jerk off videos and offers to help him with it, romance ensues. Two sweet cinnamon rolls, low stakes, high steam. On KU. 4 peppers.

“Iced Out” by CE Ricci 
MM. Hockey rivals to lovers, they play on the same team but hate each other, then hook up on a dare, and win the next game and decide they have to keep hooking up before games to keep winning because superstitious romance reasons, it’s great. On KU. 4 peppers.

“And Like the Cycle of the Year, We Begin Again” by katherynefromphilly
MM. On AO3, fanfic, Merlin and Arthur from the BBC show “Merlin”, takes place in modern times after Merlin has waited for millennia and Arthur comes back, it’s adorable, slow burn and spicy and I’d go so far as to say it’s essential reading for anyone who loves that show and also thinks they might like a gay romance, it’s sooo cute and in my head, this is canon. 4 peppers.

“Rent: Paid in Full” by Jesse Reign 
MM. College roommates, grumpy sunshine. Hero1 is anxious, grumpy, antisocial, and has to move in with Hero2, who is a rich, bisexual, happy go lucky jerk. Hero1 hates it. Hero2 is immediately into him. One of the many things making Hero1 anxious is his money stress, so naturally richboy Hero2 offers to pay him for sex. Yep. There's banter, there's a ton of smut, there's angst and bisexual awakenings, there are great descriptions of anxiety. You'd think this power dynamic would be too unbalanced, but because Hero2 is so over the moon crazy about Hero1 and is very vocal and genuine about it, it... somehow works, romance-wise. On KU. 4.5 peppers.

“Not All Himbos Wear Capes” by C. Roshelle
MM. Irreverent, funny, somewhat satirical! Hidden identity trope to the max! Supervillain and Superhero meet on a dating app, don't recognize each other, start dating and are basically instantly in love, but don't know that they're actually enemies. The drawn-out hidden identity was perfect, no notes. Villain-Hero is a genius, grumpy, dominant, top. Hero-Hero is a himbo, huge and jacked, named "captain masculine", and is a secret sub virgin. (Yes. It’s incredible.) “Good boy”s from the villain, “Daddy”s from the hero, which I don’t usually enjoy, but damnit if the vibes in this one weren’t excellent. So sweet, so funny. On KU. 4.5 peppers.

FF (Sapphic) Romance

These books feature a lesbian couple (aka. Sapphic romance). I’m really picky when it comes to FF books for some reason, so I apologize that there aren’t many here. Neither of these books are re-reads for me, but if you’re looking for specifically FF relationships, give these a try.

“The Fiancee Farce” by Alexandra Bellefleur 
FF. Fake marriage of convenience, one heiress needs it for the inheritance reasons, one needs the cash to save the small family business, family drama, medium spice, slowish burn. 3 peppers.

"The Fae Queen's Captive" by Sierra Simone 
FF, borderline erotica, novella, kidnapping, insta-love, fae politics and aphrodisiac bodily fluids, just a very filthy quick read like tossing back a halloween jello shot. 4.5 peppers.

Romances All in the Male POV

Across subgenres, these books are all in the hero’s head, single POV. This is not the norm in romance but it’s really fun when it happens, so I felt like it deserved its own category.

“Priest” by Sierra Simone 
MF. Will make you say “what the hell is happening” because it’s whack. He’s a catholic priest and he falls in love, hard. But I know what you’re thinking and wait—somehow, he’s still a good priest because Sierra Simone is good at her job. The spice is as spicy as spicy gets for a human male. Honestly the crazy parts of this are the catholicism and how does this manage to be good when it’s so nuts? 4.5-5 peppers.

“Draco Malfoy and the Mortifying Ordeal of Being in Love” by isthisselfcare
MF. On AO3, fanfic, classic Dramione. He’s snarky and grumpy and very funny. Writing style is very fun and distinct. Slow, slow, slow burn, enemies to lovers, they’re forced to work together because he’s an auror and she’s doing some important magical-healer job and needs protecting, there’s a mystery because she won’t tell him stuff for a while, it’s a very fun read, cool exploration of the Harry Potter Universe, and there is a spicy payoff but you have to be patient. 3 peppers.

“Unhinged” by Vera Valentine 
MF. OK WAIT THOUGH, bear with me. Yes, it's the door book. Yes, she has sex with a door. But I tell you what, I had this thing sitting on my TBR for ages and when I finally bit the bullet and read it, it was better than I thought it would be. It's a crazy stupid novella, the hero is literally a sentient front door and he's in love with the woman who lives in his apartment and wants to protect her from the creepy murderous apartment superintendent. This will take you an hour to read. You'll say "oh my god, what?" out loud. You'll laugh. Why is he a door? It's explained. Romance reasons. The boxes all get checked, don't worry about it. The rarely seen “good boy” trope makes an appearance. On KU. 3 peppers. (? She has sex with a doorknob, how many chili peppers is that?)

Sweet/Clean/Closed Door Romances

These books will be 0 or 1 pepper spice, meaning the characters just kiss on page, though the kissing might vary in intensity. Sometimes it’s understood that they had sex off the page, or “closed door” “fade to black” as is the common lingo. But there’s no actual sex acts on the page.

“Hello Stranger” by Katherine Center 
MF. This is the best execution of a miscommunication I've ever read. The heroine has brain surgery and the part of her brain responsible for identifying faces is swollen and she can't see faces. Perfect time to meet the hero, whose identity she promptly gets mixed up. He's super into her. She thinks he's the jerk who lives in her building. He doesn't know. It's wonderful. This is a story where you see the third act breakup coming from a million miles away and yet you can't wait to watch it play out because it's perfect. Two person love triangle, five stars. 1 pepper.

“Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine 
Warning: May spark a lifelong love of reading in an impressionable child.
This was a book I read as a youth and I reread it last year and it’s still excellent. It’s a cinderella retelling where she’s cursed to be incapable of resisting an order, so she has to do what anyone commands her. She’s coming of age, goes on adventures in her quest to get rid of that curse, meets the prince and strikes up a friendship, eventually goes to a ball while hiding her identity and this poor prince falls in love with her again… omg, I just realized where my love of two person love triangles originated. Thanks, Ms. Levine, for this gem of a book. (And BTW, if you saw the movie, NO, you do not know this story. Couldn’t be more different.) 0 peppers.

“Play For Me” by Libby Hubscher 
MF. All in her POV. Roommate grumpy sunshine, she’s a baseball coach, he’s a pianist, both down on their luck in careers, he falls first, very sweet vibes. 1 pepper.

Timeless Fairy Tales series by KM Shea 
MF. Starting with “Beauty and the Beast”. If you like fairy tale retellings, these are my favorites. Very sweet and chaste, adorable vibes, I really love her writing style and have read almost everything she’s written. They’re on KU. 0 peppers.

“The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride” by Kristen Painter
MF, starts her very long paranormal series. Lots of different paranormal creatures living in a halloween-themed modern town. Fade to black. They’re sweet and fun romps. 1 pepper.

Oh, you want books that aren't straight fire? Like, books that'll teach you something? Alright, fine.


Note: I adore minimalism/decluttering books. If you've got a good one, please message me! (There's a good chance I've already read it, but I'll love you anyway.)

“Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder 
Classic for anyone interested in writing novels or screenplays, but it’ll also enhance your comprehension for viewing and reading as an audience member and help you understand what makes compelling stories so good.

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo 
Yeah, you’ve heard of it. It’s worth all the fuss, though. Read it and then go declutter your house!

“The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck” by Sarah Knight
No, I didn’t just want to list these books back to back, I actually like this book! It’s snarky but actually a good read if you like books about life-balance, commitments, and your overall wellbeing, stress-level, and happiness.

“Let it Go” by Peter Walsh 
Another minimalism/decluttering book, because I freaking love minimalism books. I’ve read a dozen of them, seriously. This is one of the best, because it’s not just about decluttering, it’s about downsizing, for how to handle getting rid of massive amounts of items, such as when you are forced to move to a smaller home or when your family members pass away and you have to handle their items. Excellent tips in here.

“Influence” by Robert B Cialdini 
A psychology book with lots of information on how to not get duped by scammers or people looking to take advantage of you. Studies referenced, with case studies and sales tactics and scam tactics and cult tactics.

“Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport 
If you feel like you spend too much time on screens, read this book. Has good tips and makes you more conscious of how predatory technology attempts to steal your time.

“Irresistible” by Adam Alter 
Another book to help you understand your potential behavioral addictions and how technology hogs your time and attention, but this book also has plentiful information on addiction in general, and cites science. Includes videogame addiction.

“Four Thousand Weeks” by Oliver Burkeman
It’s sort of a productivity book, but it’s really a philosophy book that goes deep into why we try to do so many things, why we think being productive is important, what actions actually make us feel fulfilled, and what make us distracted and anxious. Discusses what things matter to get done and what don't.

“Tiny Habits” by BJ Fogg 
Psychology and productivity book about habit-forming and avoiding. Actionable advice for how to begin forming any habit you want in your life.

“Actually, the Comma Goes Here” by Lucy Cripps 
It’s a grammar book! (Oh, you’re not a nerd? Ok, whatever.) It’s written in a light, conversational tone so it’s really approachable and memorable. On KU.

“All Joy and No Fun” by Jennifer Senior 
This is a parenting book that’s especially apt if you’re trying to decide whether to have kids, as I was at the time of reading. I read several pre-parenting books around that time and this was my favorite. It discusses the affect of parenting on the parents (not on the kids, like most parenting books) and cites lots of studies, case studies, and social programs.

Did you read one?

Omg, please tell me about it! Comment/message me on instagram or on the chat feature on this site, becuase it's literally better than Christmas when someone reads a book based on your reccommendation and likes it. It's better than giving me money, honestly.

If you've analysed this list and you have a book rec for me, please comment/message me with it, too! My favorite part of the Romancelandia kickstarter was that people commented with recs, and I discovered some awesome books!