The Best Romance Novels of the Year (So Far)

Posted by Hayley on July 19, 2018


We'll always have Paris, the beach, the classroom, the vampire lair…

Now that the year is more than halfway over, we decided to look back at the most beloved romances of 2018, the unforgettable tales that stayed with readers long after the last page was read.

To find the most swoon-worthy books published from January to June of this year, we focused on the books that have been added the most to Goodreads members' shelves. Then we narrowed down our list to contain only books with at least a four-star average rating.

Now let's get to the good stuff. And don't forget to add the top-rated titles that catch your eye to your Want to Read shelf.


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Who's falling for each other? An aspiring professional figure skater and the "arrogant idiot" she must partner with.

Who will likely love this? Fans of sports romances and electric chemistry on the ice rink.


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Who's falling for each other? A maid of honor and a best man who live on opposite sides of the country.

Who will likely love this? Fans of contemporary romances and no-strings-attached flings.


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Who's falling for each other? A relatively normal human woman and one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Who will likely love this? Fans of paranormal romances and finding love at the end of the world.


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Who's falling for each other? A pediatrics resident who reads a lot of books and her former best friend.

Who will likely love this? Fans of contemporary romances and readers getting it on with other readers.



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Who's falling for each other? A down-on-her-luck college student and her boyfriend's father.

Who will likely love this? Fans of new adult romances and forbidden love stories.



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Who's falling for each other? A feisty lady in need of a marriage and the bastard son of a duke.

Who will likely love this? Fans of historical romances and juicy Regency scandals.

Read MacLean's essay on how she creates her irresistible book titles.


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Who's falling for each other? A celebrity blogger and the gorgeous movie star she interviews.

Who will likely love this? Fans of contemporary romances and Hollywood fairy tales.


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Who's falling for each other? A mail-order bride with her own agenda and a town doctor living in the wilds of Wyoming.

Who will likely love this? Fans of historical romances and adventure in the Old West.



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Who's falling for each other? A hot delivery guy and a hair salon manager with an adorable dog.

Who will likely love this? Fans of contemporary romances and very good boys.

Find our interview with Anderson here.


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Who's falling for each other? An uptight soldier and the lawless, remorseless assassin he teams up with.

Who will likely love this? Fans of M/M romances and wild thrill rides.



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Who's falling for each other? An autistic math genius and the escort she hires to teach her about dating.

Who will likely love this? Fans of contemporary romances and seductive lesson plans.

Check out our interview with Hoang here.


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Who's falling for each other? A supernatural killing machine and the world's leading experts on artificial intelligence.

Who will likely love this? Fans of paranormal romances and literally risking your life.

Check out Feehan's essay on why romance novels are the perfect escape.


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Who's falling for each other? The only female physician in England and a former Scotland Yard detective.

Who will likely love this? Fans of historical romances and Regency one-night stands.


Who's falling for each other? An introverted college student and her accidental roommate, a star athlete.

Who will likely love this? Fans of friends-to-lovers romances and sexy living arrangements.




Comments Showing 1-35 of 35 (35 new)

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message 1: by MundiNova (new)

MundiNova Yes, Beverly Jenkins!

I highly recommend the documentary "Love Between the Covers" for anyone who is hesitant to read romance or already does and loves these books. Jenkins is an amazing writer, but she also shares some great ideas in the documentary. A must watch for any book lover.


message 2: by Avinash (new)

Avinash Wow, this is what passes for romance? Great.


message 3: by Alice (new)

Alice MundiNova wrote: "Yes, Beverly Jenkins!

I highly recommend the documentary "Love Between the Covers" for anyone who is hesitant to read romance or already does and loves these books. Jenkins is an amazing writer, b..."


Absolutely. It's very educational about breaking down stereotypes and stigmas and also just entertaining.


message 4: by Evette (new)

Evette Jackson Gregory wrote: "Wow, this is what passes for romance? Great."

I know. I need something a tad more romantic. Just a tad.


Kate (Feathered Turtle Press) I really wish a little bit of time and effort went into adding an LGBT section to these romance novel posts. Feature a lesbian romance once in a while. Please.

(Maybe there's another post forthcoming, but probably not.)


message 6: by Rachael (new)

Rachael What about romance for people who like clean/chaste romance? Not only explicitly religious romance or historical, but also not explicit and with solid writing and well-drawn characters. (Is this too much to ask?)


message 7: by Flávia (last edited Jul 19, 2018 06:31PM) (new)

Flávia From Lukov with Love
I loved this one :) A beautiful slow burning romance and it's not explicit!


message 8: by Lena (new)

Lena Rachael wrote: "What about romance for people who like clean/chaste romance? Not only explicitly religious romance or historical, but also not explicit and with solid writing and well-drawn characters. (Is this to..."

You should check out the work of Charlie N. Holmberg, love her work and it’s not explicit.


message 9: by Lena (new)

Lena So proud of L.J. Hayward! I’ve been a fan of hers for years.


message 10: by Bree (new)

Bree Verity This is more “the most popular romance novels” rather than the Best. Surely the Best would be based on their review average, not the number of people who want to read? What about a magnificent Indie book that didn’t have the backing of a massive trad publisher? It may only have gotten a handful of reads, but it’s just as likely to be ‘the Best’ as any of these.


message 11: by Morgan (new)

Morgan Morawski Now I remember why I don't read romance anymore.


message 12: by Jai (new)

Jai M {The Crazy Cat Lady} Just a suggestion..
In the 'Who will likely love this?' section, it would be helpful to state the type of MC, or romance, involved.
I've started so many books based on the synopsis sounding 'just my thing', only to be so frustrated by; controlling, arrogant asses, and weak, hormone-driven, 'I just can't say no, even when I hate him', so called heroines.
This totally works for some, awesome, no judgement on them.
I just don't want to read it.
It would be so helpful if romance driven books would list the style of the romance involved, and save so much frustration and angst.
I generally prefer story first, romance second in a book.
But, every now and then, a romance driven story can be a great, easy, stress relief (at least when you like, or potentially, respect the MC).


message 13: by Hannah (last edited Jul 21, 2018 07:34AM) (new)

Hannah I'm so happy to see WHERE DEATH MEETS THE DEVIL on this list, but I promise nothing bad will happen to you if you include f/f romances on your rec lists. :)

My current favorite f/f of this year is Lola Keeley's THE MUSIC AND THE MIRROR, about two cutthroat ballerinas in New York City.


message 14: by Dana Al-Basha (new)

Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا Lisa Kleypas is the best!


message 15: by Avinash (new)

Avinash Evette wrote: "Gregory wrote: "Wow, this is what passes for romance? Great."

I know. I need something a tad more romantic. Just a tad."


I'm sure we will need more than a tad bit of romance if these are the standards. These are more cliqued than a bad romance film can be. It's like two people meet, be witty, have sex, have sex, bondage, other interesting sex things, jeans, don't forget jeans, everybody is ripped and fit like Greek sculptures. Like at least pretend to be based in reality, you don't have to have great writing and all. Honestly, it is all very perverse and something teenage boys and girls will find very amusing.


message 16: by Katie Cat Books (new)

Katie Cat Books I like the format of this blog post, where it features the character personalities and the ideal fan base. Thanks!


message 17: by Ezinwanyi (new)

Ezinwanyi Chinyere MundiNova wrote: "Yes, Beverly Jenkins!

I highly recommend the documentary "Love Between the Covers" for anyone who is hesitant to read romance or already does and loves these books. Jenkins is an amazing writer, b..."


I agree with you!

I also love Mariana Zapata. The new Lisa Kleypas book didn’t connect with me. This whole new series didn’t move me at all


message 18: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Brickert Lena wrote: "Rachael wrote: "What about romance for people who like clean/chaste romance? Not only explicitly religious romance or historical, but also not explicit and with solid writing and well-drawn charact..."
Just finished a series by Aileen Adams, also clean and great plots, historical romances! Really great stories.


message 19: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Romantic suspense?


message 20: by Mazmum (new)

Mazmum What about Paranormal Romantic comedy like The Vampire Wants A Wife?


message 21: by Saundra (new)

Saundra I would like to read a romance novel whose hero is educated and artistically talented. The new anti heroes , with grungy clothes , and boxes of magnum condoms on their motorcycles , hold no fascination. Try reading Barbara Delinsky, or an early Nora Roberts . They both write beautifully and charm us with their beautiful landscapes and heroes to cherish for a lifetime.


message 22: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Lougher Bree wrote: "This is more “the most popular romance novels” rather than the Best. Surely the Best would be based on their review average, not the number of people who want to read? What about a magnificent Indi..."

As an indie writer with a few books on Goodreads, I was so happy to see you suggest indie works! We try to write books that people would enjoy if they gave them a chance, but without the backing of big publishers it's harder to get noticed. So thank you!


message 23: by Tahyun (new)

Tahyun K8 wrote: "I really wish a little bit of time and effort went into adding an LGBT section to these romance novel posts. Feature a lesbian romance once in a while. Please.

(Maybe there's another post forthcom..."


I think this is produced by data analysis so until the data matches it, I am not sure they would make *this* particular list. Perhaps a list curated by other parameters and meant to highlights lesser read books of perceived or anticipated value? I understand your frustration.


message 24: by Tahyun (new)

Tahyun Katie Cat Books wrote: "I like the format of this blog post, where it features the character personalities and the ideal fan base. Thanks!"

I also think that's a neat feature!


message 25: by Les (new)

Les Mood K8 wrote: "I really wish a little bit of time and effort went into adding an LGBT section to these romance novel posts. Feature a lesbian romance once in a while. Please.

(Maybe there's another post forthcom..."


I agree. There have been a lot of very good lesfic books come out this year that could be included. Readers should check out books by Jea Hawkens, Clare Lydon, Natalie West, Jae, et. al. Excellent writers of romance novels where the h/h just happen to both be female.


message 26: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Brickert Lynn wrote: "Romantic suspense?"

Not sure i would call them suspense, there is a bad guy, a hunt for a bad guy, etc. Try one, they are in KU if you are a member.


message 27: by Angela (new)

Angela Kocheshkova oh, that's so cool, with "Who's falling for each other?".
i wish every romance book had these so you wouldn't need to read the synopsis. it's so much easier to figure out if you're interested in a book or not and without any details

you should do similar lists for f/f and m/m romance books! please!!


Kate (Feathered Turtle Press) Tahyun wrote: "K8 wrote: "I really wish a little bit of time and effort went into adding an LGBT section to these romance novel posts. Feature a lesbian romance once in a while. Please.

(Maybe there's another po..."


I mean, this is the second romance post of the season with zero lesbian content. A minimal effort toward inclusivity would be nice.


message 29: by Ginette (new)

Ginette Evette wrote: "Gregory wrote: "Wow, this is what passes for romance? Great."

I know. I need something a tad more romantic. Just a tad."


I love anything Sandra Brown, they are all love stories with a crime in it. Check her out. Breath of Scandal, Lethal, The Crush are three of my faves!!


message 30: by Cc (new)

Cc I appreciate the time and effort you took to put this list together. People complaimg need to remember this is a voluntary endeavor and nothing is stopping them from putting thier own lists together. Just. The. Way. They. Like. Them.😜
I'm going to read a couple of the recs, because, well, they interest me, lol.


message 31: by Saundra (new)

Saundra Perhaps they are not complaining .., just adding other beloved authors.


message 32: by Danielle (new)

Danielle K8 wrote: "I really wish a little bit of time and effort went into adding an LGBT section to these romance novel posts. Feature a lesbian romance once in a while. Please.

(Maybe there's another post forthcom..."


I agree with you 100%! It's so annoying.


message 33: by Saundra (new)

Saundra Stop whining , recommend some good books to the forum, or by all means write one.There have been some great novels but it it is hard to categorize them. Where would you put Left Hand of Darkness , or The Well of Loneliness?Perhaps because so many of the love stories in the past were high dramas they would not be considered romances.As our civilization matures, I am sure LGBT novels will be as pedestrian as heterosexual romances are.. I do love them and hope you have lots of trashy summer reading ...too.


message 34: by Kate (Feathered Turtle Press) (last edited Aug 26, 2018 06:14PM) (new)

Kate (Feathered Turtle Press) Cc wrote: "I appreciate the time and effort you took to put this list together. People complaimg need to remember this is a voluntary endeavor and nothing is stopping them from putting thier own lists togethe..."

Saundra wrote: "Stop whining , recommend some good books to the forum, or by all means write one.There have been some great novels but it it is hard to categorize them. Where would you put Left Hand of Darkness , ..."

I'm so sorry for whining and complaining by asking for a bit of effort toward inclusion. Do straight women not realize how utterly catered to they with these posts? You can walk into literally any bookstore or department store and see these books whereas lesbians have to go around to specific indie publishers and dig through self-pubs on Amazon with like 10 reviews wondering if it's actually a good undiscovered book or if those are obligatory reviews from friends. And that's if we know where to look.

As for offer our own recs/making our own lists — do you folks realize how rude it is, as the catered-to party (who have generations of uncensored romance options, including an entire list, right here) to tell us to do that? Do you know how many books someone would have to go through to put together a list? On the flipside, GR could have easily put out a line on their Facebook or Twitter asking for people to volunteer what their favourite lesbian romances of the year are so far and included the top three or four.

And why do I have to wait around for a damn beach read? It's clearly not about social tolerance, as they've included m/m here and have on these lists in the past. It's just that those reads aren't about inclusion — they're for straight women who're feeling naughty.

Where would I put those books? The Left Hand of Darkness is speculative fiction and has nothing to do with lesbian romance, and The Well of Loneliness is specifically lesbian romance, so I don't know what you mean by hard to categorize. And I'm not asking for obvious classics on a thread of new romances. (Seriously can you even fathom how you'd feel in the reverse? List after list of lesbian romance. You come in and ask for inclusion, someone throws out one book which has nothing to do with you and another, an obvious one, say, Pride and Prejudice.) There's lesbian romances out there, there's just been a lack of effort to include us in these posts.

(And write one? Really? It takes an incredible amount of effort, time and practice to even put out an acceptable book, let alone a good one.)


message 35: by Saundra (new)

Saundra Good points.. i have a feeling you could do it.


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