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Here’s a comprehensive list of the best contemporary romance novels I’ve read in 2019 and 2020 (so far). Take it from me – you won’t be able to put them down!
Besides travel, books (particularly contemporary romance novels) and TV shows are my favourite things. I guess they provide a different form of escapism and I also always tend to read more when on holidays. So today I thought I’d share my favourite modern romance novels and hope you find a new book or two to add to your list. I also wanted to note that I’ve shared photos from some of my favourite #bookstagram accounts as well if you’re looking for even more inspiration.
My Favourite Contemporary Romance Novels
This is one of the best contemporary romance novels I’ve read so far this year. The Flatshare follows Tiffy and Leon, two strangers who share a bed in his London flat, although they’ve never officially met (he works night shifts). It’s told from both their perspectives as they become friends through handwritten notes they leave for each other. I found this book to be delightful in every way. From the interesting supporting characters to Tiffy and Leon’s blossoming relationship to the more serious aspect of her manipulative ex-boyfriend, I absolutely love The Flatshare. I also really like Beth O’Leary’s storytelling ability and you may just find another book of hers below 😏.
My Favourite Half-Night Stand
I am the biggest Christina Lauren fangirl (their writing style is unrivalled in my opinion), so be warned that they make this contemporary romance novels list on more than one occasion. Okay, back to My Favourite Half-Night Stand. Millie is a professor at UC Santa Barbara with four close guy friends. However, one night Millie and one of the guys, Reid have a half-night stand but decide to then keep things platonic. In the meantime, Reid strikes up a digital friendship with (unbeknownst to him) Millie’s online dating persona, Catherine. The chemistry between Millie and Reid will have you instantly hooked. I think My Favourite Half-Night Stand is both funny and charming and I couldn’t recommend it more.
The Kiss Quotient
The Kiss Quotient is a (steamy) breath of fresh air when it comes to contemporary romance novels. It’s about Stella, an analytic woman with Asperger’s who hires an escort (Michael) to basically teach her how to date. As you can imagine, they develop more than professional feelings for each other along the way. The Kiss Quotient is well-written with likeable characters, an engaging plot and just the right amount of steam. In fact, it’s so good I read it in two days. Just like with The Flatshare, Helen Hoang’s second novel also makes this list.
Full disclosure: I received an advanced copy of Our Stop through NetGalley. The book is told from both Nadia and Daniel’s perspectives. Daniel admires Nadia from afar until he decides to write her a message via the newspaper’s Missed Connections section. This is followed by messages back and forth and many will-they-won’t-they moments. The near-misses definitely keep you captivated and if you’re anything like me you won’t want to put the book down until they finally meet. The author, Laura Jane Williams has a new romance novel being released this year and I hope it’s just as engaging as Our Stop.
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
Okay, onto my second favourite of Christina Lauren’s many contemporary romance novels: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. Josh and Hazel are friends and complete opposites – Josh is mellow while Hazel is the “quirky girl” with zero filter. Their guide to not dating basically means setting each other up on terrible blind dates, until they realise that maybe the old adage that opposites attract might actually be true. Fast-paced with a little drop of sexiness, it helped that I found both characters extremely likeable (in fact, Hazel is hilarious).
The Bride Test
The second Helen Hoang book on this modern romance novels list, The Bride Test follows Khai, a Vietnamese-American with autism. While in Vietnam, his meddling mum meets Esme and invites her to the States to live with her son over the summer, in the hopes they fall madly in love and get married. I found it to be just as un-put-downable as The Kiss Quotient, with just as many sexy and cringe-worthy scenes.
For more book recommendations, check out this post
One Day in December
One Day in December is such a delightful debut novel from Josie Silver. As the story goes, one day in December Laurie looks out her grimy London bus window and locks eyes on Jack. She spends a year looking out for him, only to find him to be her best friend Sarah’s new boyfriend. The story that follows features friendship, heartbreak and serendipitous moments. It will also happily transport you to London. If you need more convincing, it was a Reese’s Book Club pick and we all know she selects the best contemporary romance novels.
The Best Friend Problem
I received an advanced copy of The Best Friend Problem and went on to read it in less than 24 hours on my trip to Bali last year – that’s how good it is. The two main characters, Finn and Pru, are best friends. After one night of passion, Pru becomes pregnant and the book consequently follows the pair as they navigate their new relationship (steamy scenes included). I really like Mariah Ankenman’s writing style and that there wasn’t an overwhelming number of supporting characters. Basically, if you love modern romance novels I highly recommend reading The Best Friend Problem. I also just saw the author released a new book earlier this year called The Best Man Problem. This has now made its way to the top of my need-to-read contemporary romance novels list 💁♀️.
Love and Other Words
I promise this is the last Christina Lauren book on this contemporary romance novels list, but I couldn’t not include Love and Other Words. While the two novels mentioned above are quite witty and light, this book is as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. Macy is a pediatrics resident engaged to an older guy when she runs into her first love, Elliot. The book is told in alternating Then and Now timelines, where us, the readers, learn why Macy hasn’t spoken to Elliot in a decade. With equal parts of love and loss, this book is beautiful. It also comes highly recommended on Goodreads, if you don’t want to take just my word for it.
The Royal We
The Royal We is a little bit Kate and Wills and a little bit Megs and Harry. It follows Bex, an American exchange student who meets the future king of England, Nick while studying abroad. Along with the usual romance, The Royal We also features a troublesome brother, a jealous twin sister and a dash of backstabbing. What more could you want? The sequel is actually being released in 2020, so place this at the top of your must-read contemporary romance novels list.
One Week ‘Til Christmas
One Week ‘Til Christmas is another book I received through NetGalley and it was absolutely delightful. My only honest complaint was that it was too short and I wanted more! Isobel is a Melbourne-based travel writer (I KNOW) visiting London the week before Christmas when she interviews Tom, an actor who volunteers to show her London’s best Christmas attractions (shameless plug). Missen’s writing is atmospheric and it will instantly transport you to London at Christmastime (also known as the city’s most magical time of the year). It also helped that the characters were extremely likeable. This is such an underrated book that I felt it needed to be shared with the world.
The Switch by Beth O’Leary was just released, but I received an advanced copy through NetGalley. Another reviewer said this book felt like a warm hug and I couldn’t agree more. The Switch is about two Eileen Cottons – Leena, a 20-something struggling in London after the death of her sister, and Eileen, her 79-year-old grandma. When Leena is told to take a two-month sabbatical from work, she moves into her grandma’s house in the Yorkshire Dales while Eileen moves into her Shoreditch apartment. Delightfully told from both perspectives, I found the angle of Eileen looking for love in her later years refreshing. I also enjoyed the engaging mix of characters involved. Focusing on the importance of family, friends and community, The Switch is the definition of heartwarming.
The Hating Game
The Hating Game is the debut novel of Australian author, Sally Thorne. Lucy and Josh are assistants/enemies stuck in a shared office playing a never-ending game of one-upmanship. But after one unexpected kiss, it turns out that maybe they don’t hate each other after all. If you’re anything like me, you will breeze through this book in one weekend. Thorne followed this with 99 Percent Mine, which was good but not as good in my opinion.
Does this list include any contemporary romance novels you haven’t heard of before?
I hope you find a modern romance or two to add to your Want to Read list. Mine on Goodreads is out of control. In saying that though, if you have any recommendations please let me know below 😉. You can also find me on Goodreads and Instagram. I’ve been doing quick book reviews in my Stories this year if you’d like to follow along.