36 best contemporary romance novels of 2023, per Goodreads

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Let’s be real — a lighthearted romance book paired with a beautifully illustrated cover is a divine duo.

That said, we rounded up the 36 best contemporary romance novels, according to what Goodreads exclusively shared with the New York Post and a ‘BookTuber.’

Steph Bohrer, a 21-year-old student at Arizona State University, has more than 215,000 subscribers on YouTube where she posts videos on book recommendations, buying books and even relating Taylor Swift songs to some of her favorite paperbacks and hardcovers.

“I started my YouTube during quarantine,” Bohrer told the The Post. “I was so bored, was reading so much and had nobody to talk about my books with. So, the new thing is to film yourself talking and people received the videos well.”

She’ll typically finish a new read in two days — sometimes in one sitting if she’s “really into it.”

“When I was younger, I was so anti-reading — I thought it was boring and I hated reading books for school,” she said. “I started reading on Wattpad on my phone, and then started reading young-adult romance books and started an excessive amount. Now, I can’t imagine not reading.”

Below, find the 36 best contemporary romance novel recommendations — including much-clamored-about books and unique titles with exceptional storylines. That’s right, no more hunting down titles or falling into a what-do-I-read slump.

With each book, there’s a brief explanation to skim and shop your next five-star rating.

Best Contemporary Romance Books of 2023, per Goodreads

1. “People We Meet On Vacation” by Emily Henry

People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry

Sometimes, we need a cute vacation-themed romance to dive into. The relationship of Poppy and Alex is one of Goodreads’ most-read, and it’s about one trip away that changes everything.

“I read this book when I was in Hawaii and it’s about girl and boy best friends who go on vacation every year,” Bohrer adds. “You’re reading until you find out why they don’t talk anymore.”

2. “The Love Hypothesis” by Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

As one of our personal favorites, “The Love Hypothesis” has developed much acclaim for its professor-and-student trope, with a love for science that’s adored by academics. Not to mention, the witty banter and flirtatious scenes make this one a treat to read.

3. “The Spanish Love Deception” by Elena Armas

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

If we’re being honest, we’re in the middle of this read and are already obsessed. Not to mention, it’s one Goodreads and Bohrer recommend.

“This book is so fun and cute,” Bohrer adds. “It’s an enemies-to-lovers, wholesome read. The characters work together and she needs a date to a wedding, even though they don’t get along. The ‘fake dating’ slowly turns into a real relationship.”

4. “One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston

"One Last Stop" by Casey McQuiston

A cherished rom-com, “One Last Stop” homes in on twenty-three-year-old who’s new to NYC and sees a gorgeous girl on a subway train. It’s a unique contemporary novel that’ll have you swooning in no time.

5. “It Happened One Summer” by Tessa Bailey

"It Happened One Summer" by Tessa Bailey

Piper, who’s deemed the “wild child” who drinks a bit too much champagne, falls into the lap of a small-town boy who couldn’t be more opposite of her when she’s prompted to run her late father’s dive bar. Steamy, sexy and fun, you’ll want to soar through these pages.

6. “The Ex Hex” by Erin Sterling

"The Ex Hex" by Erin Sterling

If you’re a lover of all things spooky and romantic, pick up “The Ex Hex.” It’s a lovey-dovey tale of Vivienne Jones, who casts a spell on her horrible ex-boyfriend. And then, it’s all mystery and magic from there.

7. “The Soulmate Equation” by Christina Lauren

"The Soulmate Equation" by Christina Lauren

As a statistics nerd, protagonist Jess Davis ends up hearing about GeneticAlly, a trending DNA-based matchmaking company which, after her friend urges her, is seemingly the answer to her single-ridden life. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, especially when she’s matched with someone to a 98% accuracy.

8. “Reminders of Him” by Colleen Hoover

"Reminders of Him" by Colleen Hoover

Meet Hoover’s newest book that everyone is talking about. It’s a story about a troubled young mother who tries to reconnect with her four-year-old daughter. And, interestingly, the only person who hasn’t shut the door on her is Ledger Ward, a local bar owner who has the few remaining ties to her daughter.

9. “Seven Days In June” by Tia Williams

"Seven Days In June" by Tia Williams

“Seven Days In June” made the cut as one of Reese’s Book Club picks and a Goodreads choice. A Brooklynite single mom and bestselling erotica writer unexpectedly meets Shane at a literary event. After spending one week crazy in love, it’s a story you won’t want to skip on to discover what happens next.

10. “Act Your Age, Eve Brown” by Talia Hibbert

"Act Your Age, Eve Brown" by Talia Hibbert

Cute and fit for any romance lover, “Act Your Age, Eve Brown” surrounds Eve, a certified hot-mess and Jacob, the owner of an understaffed bed and breakfast. When Eve tries to melt Jacob’s frosty exterior of stress and closed-off-ness, it becomes impeccably good.

Best Contemporary Romance Books of 2023, per a ‘BookTuber’:

1. “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

“This is a Greek mythology retelling of the story of Achilles,” Bohrer said. “I wasn’t into Greek mythology at all but this book is so well written and it’s a romance about Patroclus and Achilles that’s accurate to the myth. It’s tragic but so good.”

2. “Ugly Love” by Colleen Hoover

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

“It’s told in a past and present perspective of why this boy Miles is so anti-love,” she said. “It shows his first relationship in the past and a girl falling in love with him in the present. It’s a great story of everything that happened in his life and what changed him.”

Plus, Colleen Hoover is her favorite author and “Ugly Love” is her favorite of her books.

3. “The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

“’The Hating Game‘ is one of my favorite books,” she said. “It’s enemies-to-lovers: the boy is grumpy and mean and the girl is all sunshine and happiness, and they just don’t get along. You see their forced proximity and how they eventually realize they have more in common than they thought.”

4. The Addicted Series Box Set by Krista Ritchie

The Addicted Series Box Set

“This is my favorite series of all time with 10 books,” she said. “There are three couples — six best friends — and they’re famous. And, it’s more than just romance because the character development is so strong.”

5. “Archer’s Voice” by Mia Sheridan

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

“This boy named Archer goes through something really traumatic to the point where he can’t speak anymore,” she said. “He meets this girl named Bree and they have some trauma they go through together. It’s a story of fate finding love after being through a lot.”

6. “A Thousand Boy Kisses” by Tillie Cole

A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole

“I can’t say anything without spoiling this book, but it’s a young-adult book about this girl who goes through something tragic, cuts off her childhood best friend and ends up figuring out the issue at hand together,” she said.

7. “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“I recently finished this book and it was amazing,” she said. “It’s the life story of one of the biggest actresses in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, and everything she goes through — love, loss, and relationships with family and friends — makes you learn so much from her story.”

8. “Confess” by Colleen Hoover

Confess by Colleen Hoover

This book is about a girl who moves to a new town, needs a job and meets a boy who was hiring — almost like fate,” she said. “They’re both hiding a lot and there’s a plot twist in there, too.”

9. “Bright Side” by Kim Holden

Bright Side by Kim Holden

“’Bright Side‘ is about a girl who is so optimistic and everyone loves her,” she said. “She meets this boy and she’s closed-off to him because he sees the ‘real’ her and she doesn’t want people to know she’s not actually happy all the time — and she has a lot of secrets.”

10. “All Your Perfects” by Colleen Hoover

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

“’All Your Perfects‘ is told from a past, present and future perspective,” she said. “It’s about a couple falling in love for the first time and then eight years into their marriage, their relationship is falling apart. So, you’re seeing them fall in love, fall out of love and their hardships with infertility.”

11. “The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

“’The Unhoneymooners‘ is about this girl and boy whose siblings are getting married — they’re the best man and maid of honor at a wedding — and they’ve never gotten along,” she said. “The bride and groom get food poisoning and they’re forced to take on their prepaid honeymoon and it’s fun seeing them spend the week together.”

12. “The Deal” by Ellie Kennedy

The Deal by Ellie Kennedy

“’The Deal‘ is a hockey romance about a super popular guy and super smart girl needing each other to cope with some trauma,” she said. “Garrett plays hockey, Hannah ends up tutoring him, and he realizes what she’s been through all along.” 

13. “November 9″ by Colleen Hoover

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

“Fallyn and Ben decide to meet up every November 9 because they live on opposite sides of the country, but they have an instant connection when they meet,” she said. “You follow every November 9 of them meeting up and how their relationship develops over that time.”

14. “Beach Read” by Emily Henry

Beach Read by Emily Henry

“’Beach Read‘ is about this girl who moves to her dad’s beach house after he passes away, after finding out what he’s been hiding for all of her life,” she said. “She’s a writer and goes there to write her book, but soon realizes her college rival — who’s also a writer — lives next door.”

15. “The Summer of Broken Rules” by K.L. Walther

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther

“’The Summer of Broken Rules takes place in Martha’s Vineyard and I loved the summer-inspired scenery,” she said. “It’s about this girl whose sister passed away, goes on a family vacation with her aunts and cousins for the first time without her sister, and she meets this boy there.”

16. “Most of All You” by Mia Sheridan

Most of All You by Mia Sheridan

“’Most of All You‘ is about a boy with a tragic past who’s hesitant about dating,” Bohrer said. “He meets this girl who’s detached from reality and has also been through a lot. And, he sees something in her that nobody else sees.”

She describes it as “two broken people finding comfort in each other.”

17. “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

“’Red White & Royal Blue‘ is about the First Son of the United States and the Prince of England,” she said. “They have a public fight and their parents make them go on ‘fake friend dates’ so the public thinks they’re civil. The character discovers more about his sexuality and it’s a great romance of two high-profile people.”

18. “It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

“This is a really popular one,” she said. “Lily meets this boy and as things go wrong, she reads diary entries from when she dated her first love. It’s an impactful story.”

19. “Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“’Daisy Jones & The Six‘ is about a girl in a band and you’re going to have to read it — it’s hard not to spoil it,” she said.

20. “The Wall of Winnipeg and Me” by Mariana Zapata

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

“This is about the assistant to an NFL football player who has worked for the athlete her whole life,” she said. “But, he’s so mean to her, she quits, and then he begs her to come back at her doorstep. She ends up having to move in with him and it’s a forced-proximity story of a developing relationship.”

21. “Hopeless” by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

“Sky has lived a sheltered life: no phone, no Internet, and no access to the outside world,” she said. “She meets this boy and they have an instant friendship. There’s an instant plot twist and everything she thought about her life is a complete lie.”

22. “Maybe Someday” by Colleen Hoover

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

“’Maybe Someday‘ is about this girl who finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her with her best friend,” she said. “She has nowhere to go so she moves in with her neighbor. The relationship theme is ‘maybe someday we can be together, but not right now,’ once a new guy comes into the picture.”

23. “The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

“In this book, the main character’s parents pressure her into starting a family of her own, but she wants to focus on her career,” she said. “She has Asperger’s, a form of Autism, so she’s not comfortable being in a relationship with someone. So, she hires a male escort to teach her about being in a relationship — and you find out why he’s escorting in the first place.”

24. “The Problem With Forever” by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

“Mallory grew up in a foster home with this boy who always protected her,” she said. “They end up getting separated and she finds the boy she grew up with in her last period class.”

25. “The Simple Wild” by K.A. Tucker

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

“The main character finds out her dad is dying and she hasn’t seen him since she was little because he lives in Alaska,” she said. “Her father owns an airline company and the girl bonds with a pilot about her dad’s sickness.”

26. “Heart Bones” by Colleen Hoover

Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover

“After her mom passed away, the main character ends up moving in with her dad, who she’s really never met,” she said. “She meets her stepsister, becomes immersed in a new friend group, and meets a boy — and there’s a plot twist that summer.”

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