I Still Think About the Steamy Sex Scenes in These 9 Romance Books

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As a contemporary romance enthusiast, I come for the sweet love story in these books β€” but sometimes, I stay for the spice. It's safe to say I love a sex scene, and while there are plenty of novels without sex that I love, and plenty of others with it that I don't, a well-placed moment of intimacy can really make a story more enjoyable. I've read a LOT of books in this genre and over the years have developed my own rubric of sorts for what I consider a good sex scene:

  • It can't come too early in the plot. Typically, I think anything earlier than 100 pages into the story is too soon. I want to feel like the characters have developed a believable emotional connection before they get intimate; otherwise, it can feel like it's just physical. I would say around the 180-230 page mark is ideal for the first sex scene.
  • It's longer than 10 pages. I don't want an explicit play-by-play of the action or dialogue; I want insight into the character's head to be deliciously drawn out for me β€” what they're thinking and how they're feeling as the action unfolds.
  • It reveals something new about a character, emotionally. Whether it's a thought or feeling that's finally voiced or a different, unexpected side of a character that's shown, I like the scene to be a revelation, a turning point in the story. I want to come away from the scene with a new level of understanding unlocked.
  • It's emotionally intense, in addition to being just physically intense. I really do come for the love story in these books, so for me, the best sex scenes are the ones that bring the feels β€” otherwise, I would just read erotica.

All that said, there are several books in particular that include sex scenes that have stayed with me. They're moments I think about long after the story is over, and I'll shamelessly admit I'll sometimes go back to reread just those parts. If you too love a bit of spice in your romance, here are the books I'd recommend.

Forever Never by Lucy Score
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Forever Never by Lucy Score

Successful artist Remi Ford may be hiding the dangerous reason she's suddenly returned home to Mackinac Island in Forever Never by Lucy Score ($16), but her childhood friend, first love, and Mackinac's current police sergeant Brick Callan is determined to find out why. Tensions come to a simmering boil as the two spend more time together on the small island and revert back to their default settings around each other: wild child Remi constantly stirring up trouble and overprotective Brick constantly feeling the need to rescue her.

Why It's Memorable: You haven't read fighting as foreplay until you've read this book. These two are constantly at each other's throats, pushing each other's buttons until the only sensible solution is to hash it out between the sheets. Add to that the fact that they've been pining after one another for 14 years and the (light BDSM) sex is guaranteed to be good. Fair warning: it's a long book and the first scene doesn't come until almost 300 pages in, but for the following almost 300 pages after that, the book could basically be considered erotica. The scene in the alley is especially memorable. Lucy Score's books are all pretty steamy, but this one is definitely her steamiest one yet.

Favorite Line: "The moan that climbed its way out of her throat was downright sinful. He wanted to hear it again and again. He wanted his touch to be the only one that could elicit that pleasure."

Spice Level: πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey
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It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

In It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey ($13), social media influencer and Hollywood socialite Piper Bellinger has a tendency to take things too far β€” which is exactly how she ends up banished to a small fishing town following one wild night. Left to fend for herself with a meager allowance from her wealthy stepdad, she's determined to prove to her family β€” and the town's hot sea captain Brendan Taggart β€” just how wrong they all were about her.

Why It's Memorable: This book blew up on BookTok this year, and for good reason. Sometimes, you just need a good, traditional alpha-male-hero-courts-reluctant-heroine storyline. Brendan is fierce in how much he wants a serious relationship with Piper that isn't just physical. Meanwhile, Piper is very much on the fence about commitment and just wants to make things about sex. That dynamic β€” her pushing him to his limits and him trying his hardest to remain a gentleman β€” makes for some steamy scenes. If you thought Champagne was a sexy drink, the first almost-sex scene will just confirm it.

Favorite Line: "'I was out in the middle of a f*cking storm thinking about you. Thinking about how pretty you look in my garden. Thinking about you waiting for me at the end of my dock, in my harbor. Standing there in the sunset so I can touch you before I even touch land.' . . . 'I thought about your mouth and your eyes and your legs and your pussy.'"

Spice Level: πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
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Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

After Chloe Brown experiences near death in Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert ($14), she decides to create a bucket list of fun, daring things that will help pull her out of her boring, sheltered life. In exchange for building his art website, she enlists her apartment building's tattooed, motorcycle-riding superintendent, Red Morgan, to help her on her mission.

Why It's Memorable: Somehow, the intimacy in this book manages to be both spicy and adorable at the same time, with Chloe's prickly temperament and Red's accommodating nature. Also, two words: camping sex.

Favorite Line: "So soft, Chloe.' He swept his thumb over her skin. 'How do you do that?' His voice cracked as if she'd ruined his life by moisturizing after she showered. He shook his head and laughed, apparently at himself. 'I want to make you cry. I bet you get like that, don't you? When it's too much. When it feels too good.'"

Spice Level: πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
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The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

In The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood ($13), Olive Smith is a biology PhD student who is on a mission to convince her best friend that she's in a relationship. Considering she's definitely single, and worried that her friend will learn the truth, Olive randomly panic-kisses the first man she comes across in the lab β€” who just so happens to be the notoriously intimidating Dr. Adam Carlsen, a professor in her department. Nobody is more surprised than Olive when Adam agrees to go along with her charade. But how long can Olive keep up the ruse of fake dating when real feelings become involved?

Why It's Memorable: OK, if it hasn't already been obvious, I love when years worth of pining finally comes to a head, and this book is an excellent example of that, along with The Hating Game (more ahead). I love how Ali Hazelwood drew this scene out deliciously, with Adam finally allowing himself to let go of his control and do all the things he's dreamed of doing with Olive. You can really tell how much pleasure he gets from bringing her pleasure.

Favorite Line: "He kisses, Olive thought, like a man starved. Like he'd been waiting all this time. Holding back. Like the possibility of the two of them doing this had occurred to him in the past, but he'd set it aside, stored it away in a deep, dark place where it had grown into something fearsome and out of control."

Spice Level: πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

Beach Read by Emily Henry
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Beach Read by Emily Henry

January Andrews may be a bestselling romance novelist in Beach Read by Emily Henry ($7), but she's currently dealing with some major writer's block. Not so fortunately for her, her temporary next door neighbor just so happens to be her nemesis, acclaimed author Augustus Everett. A little friendly competition never hurt, so the two decide to spend the summer challenging each other to take on the other's genre. Best case scenario: they each find some creative inspiration and finish their respective novels. Worst case scenario: they fall in love.

Why It's Memorable: My love for this book has been well-documented, but I can't talk about sex scenes without mentioning the first one in it. Emily Henry has this ability to document urgency through her writing, so the scene between January and Gus feels frenzied in the best way. It's also funny, which I feel like is rare. The sex scene in her sophomore novel People We Meet on Vacation has similar vibes and is also a good one!

Favorite Line: "'I've wanted you for so long,' he hissed, hands tightening on my ass.
A thrill rippled through my chest at the rasp of his voice. 'I have too,' I admitted in a hush. 'Since that night at the drive-in.'
'No,' he said firmly. 'Before that.'"

Spice Level: πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
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Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren ($10) follows up-and-coming actress Tate Jones as she embarks on her latest project, which might be her most important one yet. So when she discovers Sam Brandis is the screenwriter on her new film β€” the same Sam who broke her heart 14 years ago β€” she's forced to confront her unresolved feelings.

Why It's Memorable: It's no secret that I'm a big CLo fan, and I'll admit this is probably not the first book you'd think I'd call out for its spice considering all the other spicy books the duo has written (the Beautiful Series comes to mind), but hear me out. I think sex scenes are just so much more compelling when characters reunite after years apart. The scene when Tate and Sam finally come together is more memorable for the feelings it elicits than for the steam β€” it's angsty, explosive, and emotionally wrought. Also doesn't hurt that it takes place in a car. In my opinion, this is one of the duo's most underrated books, and I think about this particular scene all the time.

Favorite Line: "He's there, pulling my ass further down on the seat, closer to him, beneath him, and he tells me not to say a word, a f*cking word please don't say a word because I can't be in you and hearing you and feeling this."

Spice Level: πŸ”₯

Love at First by Kate Clayborn
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Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Nora Clarke and Will Sterling are new apartment neighbors in Love at First by Kate Clayborn ($10) who are equally at odds with one another as they are drawn to one another. She wants to keep her close-knit community of residents the same as its been since her childhood, while he has plans to turn his inherited apartment into a rental unit. As Nora resists change and Will pushes for it, it won't take long for them to realize that the reason they're so drawn to each other has actually been 16 years in the making.

Why It's Memorable: Will and Nora's connection is insanely romantic in a tender, quiet way. The sex scene is written from Will's point of view, and it's a testament to Kate Clayborn's poetic writing that you can just feel how Nora consumes his every thought.

Favorite Line: "But then she walked by him, her legs bare, the back of one thigh pink from where his hand had been holding her, and to him it might as well have been another command. That looked the same as having the words follow me whispered right into his ear. He'd never really thought of himself as a man who liked to be bossed around during sex, but damn if he didn't walk toward the cool, dark quiet of Nora's bedroom and want her to tell him every single thing she wanted him to do, exactly how she wanted him to do it."

Spice Level: πŸ”₯

Well Met by Jen DeLuca
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Well Met by Jen DeLuca

When Emily Parker gets roped into volunteering with her niece for the Willow Creek Renaissance Faire in Well Met by Jen DeLuca ($12), she expected to spend few weekends working the tavern in costume as a wench and avoiding real life β€” not falling for Simon Graham, the serious school teacher who transforms into a flirty pirate once in costume.

Why It's Memorable: I love how vulnerable Simon is when he and Emily finally get together. He's sweet, tender, and utterly wrecked by her and isn't afraid to show it.

Favorite Line: "'I can't get enough of your hair,' he murmured as he unlaced my bodice slowly, drawing the garment off my shoulders. . . As I did the same for him, stripping away his clothes, he kept coming back to my hair, drawing it over my shoulders, teasing my skin with the ends of it. 'The way it curls around my fingers like it's alive . . . I can't get enough of it, enough of you.'"

Spice Level: πŸ”₯

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne ($14) follows Lucy Hutton as she goes after a big promotion at the publishing company she works for. The only problem is that her nemesis, Josh Templeman, is up for the same promotion. As they spend more time together, Lucy realizes something's got to give β€” but will it be her job or her heart?

Why It's Memorable: I absolutely adore the contrast of hard and serious Josh being so tender and gentle when he's with Lucy. How he patiently waits until she's ready to open up to him emotionally just melts my heart. Honorable mention goes to Sally Thorne's second book, 99 Percent Mine, which also has a pretty memorable sex scene.

Favorite Line: "He makes words like intimacy seem inadequate. Maybe it's the way he uses his thumb to tilt my face, the other fingers splayed behind my ear, into my hair. When I try to gasp a mouthful of air, he breathes it into me. My head rolls to the side, dreamy and heavy, and he cups my jaw. I look up at him, and a starburst of emotion expands inside me. I think he sees it in my eyes, because he smiles."

Spice Level: πŸ”₯