The Romance Trends of 2018

Posted by Marie on December 13, 2018

There's more to romance than "happily ever after." The genre is constantly changing to keep up with the times, and to keep you updated on the latest, we've taken a look at the top swoony books of 2018 to identify the biggest trends.


A funny little thing called love.
Trend #1: The romantic comedy returns.

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It's official: Rom-coms are back on the bookshelves and better than ever.

Like their leads, these lighthearted love stories are funny, sexy, and smart. Our prime examples? Two of the top romances in this year's 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards: Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient, which was inspired by Hoang's desire to write a gender-swapped Pretty Woman, and Jasmine Guillory's The Wedding Date, where one fake date turns into a real relationship.

This new generation of rom-coms isn't just about laughs or lust; these books also shine a spotlight on some of the more complex realities of modern romance. The couple in The Wedding Date navigate the nuances of interracial dating, while the heroine's Asperger's syndrome in The Kiss Quotient makes intimacy difficult.

From pectorals to pastels.
Trend #2: Romance covers get a fresh new look.

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It's not just shirtless men anymore! We're now seeing a wave of brightly packaged romance books that are a little more (ahem) commute-friendly.

These designs often feature bright and bubbly colors, fun type treatment, and charming illustrations. A huge departure from smoldering vixens and alphas with eight-packs, these romance covers (and by virtue, their contents) are more apt to attract mainstream readers as well.

And they're not all rom-coms either. The heartbreak of missed chances lingers over every page in One Day in December, while the onset of a serious illness shadows the budding romance between a graduate student and a professor in My Oxford Year.

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What's Next for Romance Fans in 2019?

Looks like rom-coms are here to stay! Among them are Helen Hoang's much anticipated sequel, The Bride Test, and the latest installments from The Wedding Date and Playbook series. Even more exciting: These new voices paved the way for other diverse debuts, including Soniah Kamal's Unmarriageable and Sonya Lalli's The Matchmaker’s List.

On that note, tying the knot seems to be the preoccupation of many upcoming romance releases. What are your predictions for 2019?

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What trends do you think romance fans will fall in love with next year? Share them with us in the comments!

Check out more recent articles:
The YA Trends of 2018
Mystery Solved: The Thriller Trends of 2018
Catch Up Now: These Big Series All Have Books Coming Out in 2019


Comments Showing 1-50 of 50 (50 new)

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message 1: by D. (new)

D. Wickles I love the romantic comedies!


message 2: by Ann (new)

Ann Danielle Steel has a book out now and another one coming


message 3: by Amber (new)

Amber the kiss quotient was pretty good.


message 4: by Akanksha (last edited Dec 16, 2018 09:57AM) (new)

Akanksha Dutta (Athena Book Briefs) The end of 2018 too brought some wonderful contemporary plays on classics, Pride by Ibi Zoboi Pride , Polite Society by Mahesh Rao Polite Society, and I see Unmarriageable by Sonia Kamal lined up for 2019, this trend should catch up I suppose.


message 5: by nitya (new)

nitya Loveeee the illustrated covers trend!

And I enjoyed the Kiss Quotient mostly but wish it handled certain plotlines differently :/ Can the romance industry actually treat sexual harassment seriously


message 6: by Eva's (new)

Eva's Book Loft I'm happy to hear about the cover changes. I'd also go for dark and mysterious illustrated covers for those kinds of books. :)


message 7: by Janice (new)

Janice Francis I'm not a big fan of the new cover trend, like the above examples. Too cartoon-like. I prefer the covers of Jill Shalvis, Jaci Burton, Robyn Carr, Lori Foster. Just a difference in taste.


message 8: by Rabid (new)

Rabid Reader I'm so thankful for the latest trend of romantic comedies, especially "The Kiss Quotient"! I've grown so tired of unrealistic unrelatable romance books containing the cliches: billionaire CEOs (come on, there are only 500 or so billionaires in the USA, 2200 in the world, much much less that are young and eligible), or ex-military special forces (seriously, are all men former Navy Seals?!?), or Cowboys, Dukes, Bikers, BDSM fiends, or women whose backbone consists of overcooked linguine (*cough*Anastasia Steele*cough*). I instead buy romance books with strong intelligent females and realistic characters that you could find in the real world. Let's have more of this please!

Now please excuse me while I catch up on Alice Clayton and Tawna Fenske outstanding hilarious RomCom books (these authors could also benefit from this new cover design trend, just saying... ;)


message 9: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Sherwood I agree. I also am not a fan of the new "cartoon" cover trend! I like the covers of Susan Mallory, Jayne Ann Krentz, Jude Deveraux, Susan M. Boyer, and Mary Alice Monroe. The only exception...Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune books...a little goofy on the covers, but I love the fun action/mystery stories 😆


message 10: by Diana (new)

Diana Pardee I like this trend, especially as a baby boomer who prefers somewhat normal looking men... no pot bellies for me though. I'd like to see more fun, realistic romance for women over 50. I plan to start a new series along those lines. Although I love stories about relationships, I'm so tired of reading about 20-30 somethings. I believe the over 50 crowd is craving some books they can relate to now.


message 11: by Ann (new)

Ann Diana wrote: "I like this trend, especially as a baby boomer who prefers somewhat normal looking men... no pot bellies for me though. I'd like to see more fun, realistic romance for women over 50. I plan to star..."

I agree 20/30 somethings is so over done! What is "norm al" I would also like to see people with disabilities in these romance novels


message 12: by Ann (last edited Dec 18, 2018 11:11AM) (new)

Ann sorry not the comedy versions


message 13: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Sherwood I also would like romances with 60-70 year old characters, who still have or want romance in their lives...with normal looking, kind, nice, wise, active (whether handicapped or not) characters with a sense of humor about life and humans....who look at life like an adventure. You need a sense of humor about aging. Aging is not for the weak of heart!


message 14: by Bebe (new)

Bebe Love everything from romcoms to erotic romance but don’t want too much ‘reality’....I get enough of that IRL. I’m a senior (65) and also not interested in characters my age...rather relive my ‘glory days’, when I didn’t have loose skin and stamina was never an issue.


message 15: by Lorna (new)

Lorna I'm a senior, but I don't mind the younger characters. I would like to see more over age forty romances as well though. I can't remember the last one I read like that. Love Rom -Coms as well, but I've never been a fan of cartoon covers. Some of the latest ones aren't so bad like Kiss Quotient or The Good Luck Charm by Helen Hunting. Please no more shirtless men!


message 16: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Rabid wrote: Tawna Fenske

I LOVE her books! I have a few more of hers on my shelf I still need to read :)


message 17: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Lorna wrote: "I'm a senior, but I don't mind the younger characters. I would like to see more over age forty romances as well though. I can't remember the last one I read like that. Love Rom -Coms as well, but I..."

Julie Hammerle just published Knocked-Up Cinderella - the main character is late 30s or close to 40 and the publishing line from Entangled plans to do characters who are all this age range or older.


message 18: by Rabid (last edited Dec 18, 2018 06:23PM) (new)

Rabid Reader @Stephanie - Thank you for the recommendation of "Knocked-Up Cinderella" as that sounds just like something I'd enjoy. Since you love Tawna Fenske, do check out books by Alice Clayton (Wallbanger series especially) and Camilla Monk (Spotless series). They both have an amazing sense of humor, so much so that I have issues reading their books late night in bed without disturbing my spouse with my disruptive laughter.


message 19: by Jessica (new)

Jessica The new cover styles remind me a lot of the "chick lit" covers of 10+ years ago. That said, I read mostly historical romance so none of these quite fit!


message 20: by K3in (new)

K3in So true!!! I for one am glad that romcoms are back. And thank god that the covers are changing too.. 😊


message 21: by Fangirl (new)

Fangirl Diana wrote: "I like this trend, especially as a baby boomer who prefers somewhat normal looking men... no pot bellies for me though. I'd like to see more fun, realistic romance for women over 50. I plan to star..."

I hear you there. Sometimes it feels like women over 50 are only good for sleuthing. ;)


message 22: by Serewyn (last edited Dec 19, 2018 03:10AM) (new)

Serewyn These 'new' covers are so boring and childish. Shirt less men covers are even more boring and totally old fashioned but.... these are not very attractive either.
Commute-friendly huh? As an adult woman I would feel awkward showing a cover that looks like a book for 14 year olds :D


message 23: by Kristi (new)

Kristi Hudecek-Ashwill I'm not too keen on the cover changes, either. Like others have mentioned, they're too cartoonish. I am the type to judge a book by its cover (sue me) and if I don't like the cover, chances are I'll pass it up. I'm not saying we need to see bare-chested guys all the time. Men can be objectified just as easily as women can. I like the covers of Sylvain Reynard's novels. Everybody has clothes on yet they speak of what's the book. :)


message 24: by Ann (new)

Ann Bebe wrote: "Love everything from romcoms to erotic romance but don’t want too much ‘reality’....I get enough of that IRL. I’m a senior (65) and also not interested in characters my age...rather relive my ‘glor..."

Good point


message 25: by Ann (new)

Ann Lorna wrote: "I'm a senior, but I don't mind the younger characters. I would like to see more over age forty romances as well though. I can't remember the last one I read like that. Love Rom -Coms as well, but I..."

Unless its a Harlequin novel:)


message 26: by Ann (new)

Ann Kristi wrote: "I'm not too keen on the cover changes, either. Like others have mentioned, they're too cartoonish. I am the type to judge a book by its cover (sue me) and if I don't like the cover, chances are I'l..."

I like the theme/plot of the book to be the thing I see on the cover of romance books. Not a guy or a silly cartoonish character


message 27: by Jules (new)

Jules Don’t forget about Penny Reid and her Winston Brothers book covers. Love them


message 28: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Rabid wrote: "@Stephanie - Thank you for the recommendation of "Knocked-Up Cinderella" as that sounds just like something I'd enjoy. Since you love Tawna Fenske, do check out books by Alice Clayton (Wallbanger s..." Thank you for the recommendations! I will look them up now :)


message 29: by Kristi (new)

Kristi Hudecek-Ashwill Ann wrote: "Kristi wrote: "I'm not too keen on the cover changes, either. Like others have mentioned, they're too cartoonish. I am the type to judge a book by its cover (sue me) and if I don't like the cover, ..."

Yes! I agree. I've run into a few novels where the people on the cover looked nothing like the description of the characters in the book. Maybe that's why the trend seems to be body shots from the neck down...?


message 30: by Lady (new)

Lady Devreux I personally write more on the erotica angle, so that is somewhat different, but several things to take note of here;
1. Yes, I fully agree, there needs to be more stories involving characters that are over the age of 40. There is of course nothing wrong with writing or reading stories about younger people, but you would think that since the majority of those of us who do actually read are above that age, there would be more stories about older people. I find it somewhat hard to believe that a size six twenty five year old would have a hard time finding herself true love!
2. Too many stories, especially the ones that end up made into movies, are centered around New York or Los Angeles, and involve a magazine. This trend is abating somewhat, but it is still been done many times, too many.
3. The new covers may appeal to some, and would be quite fitting for Young Adult/ Teen novels, but they are to me quite mawkish in nature, particularly for a novel aimed at actual adults.
4. I am not saying that we should return to the days when every cover or other featured Fabio, but covers do speak volumes about the content. When I see a story that has a cover that looks like a cartoon, I think that the content contained therein is of the same quality.
Again, just some observations from someone that writes more on the erotica angle, which is of course a bit of a world in and of itself.


message 31: by Dianne (new)

Dianne Rabid wrote: "I'm so thankful for the latest trend of romantic comedies, especially "The Kiss Quotient"! I've grown so tired of unrealistic unrelatable romance books containing the cliches: billionaire CEOs (com..."
Really agree. Billionaires just make me roll my eyes and look for something else.


message 32: by Rabid (new)

Rabid Reader Lady wrote: "1. Yes, I fully agree, there needs to be more stories involving characters that are over the age of 40. "
Yes please, let's have more of this!

Regarding your comments on covers, I just checked your book catalog... umm, yup, very descriptive cover photos depicting the content clearly indeed! I'll still have to pick up a few of your books to fully determine if the cover matches the content though. It's for science, yeah, that's it! ;^)


message 33: by Lady (new)

Lady Devreux Thank you, yes, like I stated, I do write erotica, which is like the loud cousin to "regular" romance--- but even in my covers, I prefer to feature women who look like "real women."
I think that even in regular romance, maybe other should consider placing models on the cover that are more "normal".
True, there are of course twenty five year old girls out there with a massive bosom that are magically nine stone, but most of us are not of that description. And I like to think that we do not need to be, either!
And as Dianne said, I concur fully- according to the modern trend, their must be a billionaire lurking round every corner!
Good writing, whether it is in erotica, or romance, or even in clean and wholesome romance, should be original. Hackneyed representations are just that, and are as interesting as three day old bread!


message 34: by Betty (new)

Betty Mounts I also don't care for the cartoon covers. My favorite covers are definitely old school. I took the bus to my office and read on the way. I had some interesting chats with other Romance readers that I met on the bus.


message 35: by Alison (new)

Alison Robertson I found a series - The Davaar Series - where it’s a romance, but also a thriller and with some laugh-out loud scenes! Book 1 is called “Until You” and it’s set in Scotland. The main character is witty and funny and strong (I am so tired of weak, whiny female characters that wait to be “saved”). And this book has some of the BEST sex scenes. I love the new crop of modern romances!!


message 36: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Costley I have been reading a romance series called the Davaar series by TJ Johnson. First book is called ‘Until You’. It’s a romantic thriller set in Scotland and I literally read the first book in one night. And on the subject of cover art - it is gorgeous and really represents the series - I prefer that over the more cartoony look. Just personal preference I guess 🤷🏼‍♀️ Anyway if you are after something you can really get into that doesn’t involve vampires have a look on Amazon - I promise you will love it!


message 37: by Joel (new)

Joel Hansford I predict the rise of TJ Johnson. She came into 2018 late with "Until You" and followed it up shortly with "Northern Skies". I don't know how long this series is going to run, but it's great. It's not a pulp romance novel, it's got a solid storyline and an awesome cast of characters. The Scottish setting is what really sold it for me.


message 38: by Rob (new)

Rob Kaye I love the cover of TJ Johnson's Until You. But love the story more. Could not put it down. The main character is so relatable ... i loved her. I also love that it is a series and i don't have to think about finding my next book just yet.
YAY! Check it out!


message 39: by Amber (new)

Amber Chaseling My favourite for 2018 was the debut novel 'Until You' by TJ Johnson. It had a hint of 'Outlander' romance and some suspenseful mystery. Abby, the main character, has a fabulous stubborn streak and a bit of sass. She was someone I could relate to in a genre that often has unrealistic characters. I'm really excited about what this author has to offer to the genre. Hope I see TJ Johnson on this list in 2019.


message 40: by Nicole (last edited Dec 27, 2018 07:09PM) (new)

Nicole This is pretty interesting. I'm the sort who will just buy a book that I want, regardless of what anyone has to say about the matter. But, I think it's great to know what the trends are like, which might determine the genre's output on a scale. And if I can find newly intriguing or eye-catching titles, that would be a gain too!


message 41: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Josh & Hazel is my favorite from the list, and made me laugh and smile a lot. The Wedding Date is also great. Have not gotten to the others yet but have several on my list!


message 42: by Jade (new)

Jade Baker The Davaar Series “Until You”. It has romance (with some erotic scenes), comedy and a creepy thriller element. A must read!


message 43: by Sammy (new)

Sammy I absolutely love The Davaar Series by TJ Johnson. I haven’t been able to do much reading for pleasure this year but this was a book that I could not put down and loved from cover to cover! Can not wait for more from this exciting and talented author!!!
Until You


message 44: by Gloria (new)

Gloria Salzman Anyone know someone who would like to trade flashdrive with ton of romance books for kindle? Preferably in Queen Creek ARIZONA?


message 45: by Lady (new)

Lady Devreux Wow, this has turned into a bunch of self promotional comments for this TJ Johnson.
If a person cannot manage to even write comments that are not obviously composed by the same person, I would hate to see the quality of their work.


message 46: by Ann (new)

Ann Lady I have seen it happening a lot since I joined here. I haven't verified my email so if I had other places to post things I would that were not relevant or ask a question if a subject got brought up like this one:) This isn't about one specific author either though if I understand you correctly?


message 47: by Lady (new)

Lady Devreux Yes, the discussion was about romance in general. As an author, I can tell you that promotion is difficult, but trying to hijack a discussion to "toot your own horn" is just absurd.


message 48: by Ann (new)

Ann I completely agree I hope I am not at fault here?


message 49: by Lady (new)

Lady Devreux Unless you are the person making all the comments about TJ Johnson, no, you are not at fault.


message 50: by Ann (new)

Ann that's true no not me:)


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