We're Swooning Over These 15 Underrated Romance Books
Falling in love through the pages of a book is such a beautiful thing. Flirty words, knowing stares, accidental contact, passionate kissing (*swoons into a puddle of happy tears*). Whether you love enemies to lovers tropes, fake relationships that blossom into something more, off-limits attraction, or something else, there is a modern romance book for you. And while I would read anything by Christina Lauren or the Bridgerton series over and over again, it's nice to discover some new books, too. I've rounded up the best underrated romance novels for you to fall for in the slides ahead that deserve way more attention than they've gotten. It's about to get steamy in here!
Ten Rules for Faking It
Living with anxiety is hard, but Sophie Sullivan captures the inner workings of the anxious mind perfectly in Ten Rules for Faking It. This sweet love story is about radio producer Everly Dean, who is having the worst birthday ever when she catches her boyfriend cheating on her. Mid-ranting session to her friend, Stacey the DJ, they discover the mic was unmuted during the whole exchange — and all their listeners heard her complaining about her loser ex. When her super cute, yet seemingly disinterested boss, Chris, suggests she go on a series of Bachelorette-like dates for the show, she has to figure out how to fake her way through overcoming social anxiety and pretend that she's not developing feelings for her off-limits boss at the same time.
A Taste of Sage
Things are heating up in the kitchen in A Taste of Sage by Yaffa Santos. Lumi Santana is a chef with synesthesia (she can perceive a person's emotions through their cooking). After a failed restaurant venture, she takes a sous chef position at a traditional French restaurant owned by Julien Dax, a celebrated chef known for his acid tongue and charming looks. Lumi is annoyed by Julien's smug attitude, and she can't resist tasting one of his delicious-looking creations. Unfortunately, each dish comes with a side of intense emotions and Lumi finds herself craving more and more. Will this newfound attraction last outside the kitchen, even when a personal tragedy strikes Lumi? This book is too addicting to quit!
If you are looking for a book that is more delicious than freshly baked bread, pick up Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron. Reena Manji loves baking bread (she even treats her sourdough starters like children), but she doesn't always get along with her family. So, when she learns that her handsome neighbor is working for her dad, well, she doesn't want anything to do with him. But Nadim's sweet charm, warm friendship, and willingness to job a couples' cooking competition with her threatens to ruin her resolve — especially because they have to pretend to be engaged or they'll be disqualified. This novel is funny, romantic, and so, so good.
After a painful breakup, Tiffy Moore answers an ad for a flatshare. She uses it on nights and weekends, and night shift worker Leon takes it during the day. In theory, they never have to see each other. But when they start writing little notes (reminders about garbage days, notes about leftovers), they start to become friends. However, dating someone you live with can be complicated, especially if you've never met! The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary is so cute it hurts!
In N.G. Peltier's Sweethand, Cherisse doesn't need a man, especially after that embarrassing public meltdown when she found out her music boyfriend cheated. She plans to focus on her pastry chef business, hoping her mother will leave her alone about finding a guy when Cherisse's younger sister announces she's getting married in a few months. But when she runs into the most annoying man, ever, Keiran King, she does everything she can to avoid him, even though Keiran's friend is marrying Cherisse's sister. Little does she know, Keiran has always had a secret crush on her, and one heated night in the bedroom leaves them both a little confused and hungry for more.
Steamy doesn't begin to describe Sarah Smith's Simmer Down, a book set in Hawaii that I can't believe more people aren't swooning over. When Nikki DiMarco sees another food truck in the beach spot where she parked Tiva's Filipina Kusina, she politely tells the British food truck owner, Callum James, to move. But this sexy Brit is rude and refuses to budge, leading to public spats that more and more people are coming by to see. They decide to let the upcoming Maui Food Festival determine who gets to stay in this coveted spot, but as their rivalry grows, their attraction does too. Let's just say things are more than simmering in the bedroom.
The Off Limits Rule
In The Off Limits Rule by Sarah Adams, single mom Lucy feels like she hit rock bottom when she moves in with her older brother. She is determined to get along with her brother, but she can't help feeling attracted to his flirty, non-committal best friend Cooper. He's off limits…which just makes him that much more desirable. This flirty rom com book is a must read!
Something to Talk About
When Jo is photographed making her assistant, Emma, laugh on the red carpet, they become Hollywood's newest it couple — but this rumor threatens to get in the way of Jo's new movie and Emma's promotion. Soon, paparazzi start following them outside the office, coworkers treat them differently, and an anonymous source keeps giving information to the media. Although things seem to be spiraling out of control, Jo and Emma have an undeniable chemistry. Should they see if something's there? Or would playing into the tabloids doom them before they could even begin? Meryl Wilsner's Something to Talk About is a glamorous, addicting read.
In Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu, Tina Das needs an escape from her stalled career and breakup in New York, so she decides to go on a weeklong trip to Delhi for her cousin's lavish wedding. But things at Delhi's poshest country club is not as relaxing as it sounds, with her amicably divorced parents exploring new love interests, a former fling on the guest list, a work opportunity that blends the lines of propriety, and her best friend Marianne's annoying interest in international playboys.
It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake
When a decade-long relationship with her girlfriend, Joan, ends, Noni Blake decides it's time for her to take care of herself. It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian is the feel-good story you've been missing in your life, where Noni takes a pleasure-seeking quest halfway around the world to figure out who she is and what makes her happy. Starting over as a thirty-something woman, Noni finds joy in the unknown, a string of romances, and the journey toward self-acceptance.
When a massive hurricane threatens to crash over Little Bridge Island, Bree Beckham isn't worried. She escaped her emotionally abusive ex, what's another storm? But in the midst of trying to hunker down, she realizes how many pets have been left alone on the island, and she is determined to save them. Her boss's hunky nephew, Drew Hartwell, helps her, and she struggles trying to keep her emotions in check from this notorious heartbreaker in Meg Cabot's No Judgements.
A Not So Immaculate Conception
A Not So Immaculate Conception by Crystall Estell follows the story of Lacey Winters, who had the perfect life until one toe-curling dream leaves her breathless — and pregnant. She has a foggy memory and can't remember who the charming mystery man is. Until the P.I. she hired can give her answers, she begs her co-worker Zak Cooper to pretend to be her fake husband. But a few stolen kisses later, she can't decide if she's falling for her fake beau or if she should pursue her list of potential fathers.
Fight or Flight
When an arrogant Scotsman, Caleb Scott, steals a first-class seat from Ava Breevort in Samantha Young's Fight or Flight, it's the cherry on top of an overall bad day. But somehow, their feud lights a spark, and the two end up having a steamy layover. Ava thinks she'll never see this sexy hookup again…until Caleb shows up at her door. They decide to keep up their physical connection while he's temporarily in Boston, but everything changes when he realizes his stay is becoming permanent and Ava is starting to catch real feelings for a man who doesn't seem to want an actual relationship.
Make a Scene
Mimi Grace's Make a Scene is so sweet, you won't be able to resist it! The story is about beautiful baker Retta Majors, who decides to attend her ex's wedding to her cousin — as long as she can find a handsome stud muffin to go with her. Luckily, Duncan Gilmore just opened a boxing gym next door — and he would definitely turn heads at this awkward social event. He goes along with it, deciding to be Retta's boyfriend for one weekend, but stolen kisses and charming flirting leaves them both confused on what was fake and what was real.
Nothing to Lose
In Nothing to Lose by Clare Lydon, Scarlet Williams is feeling so down after a flood wipes her basement flat, leaving her homeless. Joy Hudson, local mayor and sunshine specialist, opens her home to flood refugees, and the two women strike up a friendship despite their opposite personalities. But after the sun comes out, the two aren't ready for their connection to end — in fact, they may even take it to the next level. This heartwarming story of love and redemption will draw you in immediately.