When many people think of romance novels, they automatically think of the sex that comes with them. Now, romances can be pretty steamy, but that doesn’t have to be the case. If you want romances that are on the sweeter end of the heat spectrum, it can be difficult to find them without recommendations from other readers, especially if you aren’t looking for inspirational (read, Christian) or Amish romance.
Because those are the romances I prefer to read, I decided to put together a list of recommendations from my own reading and that of other readers I trust! I highly suggest looking for content notes on some of them before reading them, but that is always my preference.
I’ve divvied up these romance recs by genre to make it easier for readers to find something they will enjoy! If you have other recs, please share them with us in the comments!
Their Troublesome Crush by Xan West
In this queer polyamorous m/f romance novella, two metamours realize they have crushes on each other while planning their shared partner’s birthday party together.
Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disabled queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, all while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.
Non-sexual kink shown on the page, but there is no sex on page.
Play It Again by Aidan Wayne
The videos are fun.
But it’s the host who has him coming back for more…
When Seattle-based blind YouTuber Dovid Rosenstein finds Sam Doyle’s Let’s Play channel, playitagainsam, he’s instantly captivated by the Irish gamer. Everything about Sam is adorable, from his accent to his personality, and Dovid can’t get enough of his content.
Dovid’s glowing shout-out on Don’t Look Now, his own successful channel, sends Sam’s subscriber numbers skyrocketing overnight. He has more comments than he can read. And while the sudden surge in popularity is anxiety inducing, Sam decides it’s only right to dedicate his next episode to Dovid…which soon leads to a heart-pounding exchange of DMs.
They may have never met in person, but Dovid’s never felt this close to anyone before. What they have feels worth exploring—no matter the distance. But is it possible to already be in love with someone who’s half a world away?
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise : all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!
This book is approximately 69,000 words
Homoromantic ace man MC in an m/m relationship
No sex on page
Soft on Soft – Mina Waheed
Contemporary romance where one homebody and one extrovert make one hell of a love story.
June Bana might post nearly daily makeup looks that gain thousands of likes but Real Life June has built a wall behind which she exists with her two cats.
But with messy feelings getting in a way of early hermit life, June begins to realize that she wants more. She wants model/actress, Sunshine Reincarnated Selena Clarke. It doesn’t hurt that Selena is amazing with cats and quiets down June’s anxiety to bearable levels.
June is given the choice of facing her anxieties about relationships to gain not only a girlfriend but also a better understanding of how far she’d go for love.
But would she take it? Would she leave her comfort zone for something softer?
Soft on Soft is a character-driven without an intense plot or conflict! For fans of something low on the angst and high on the fluff
Demisexual wlw MC in an f/f romance
No sex on page
Strike Up the Band – Sam Burns
Jake McKenna doesn’t want to be here. He doesn’t want to be on tour, he doesn’t want to be playing guitar, and he definitely doesn’t want anything to do with Brian Mulholland. He’s biding his time until the tour is over so that he can walk away from his music career for good.
Brian didn’t ask to be here. Okay, maybe he did. Fine, you know what? He wanted this. He may not like the circumstances that have landed him in his dream job, but he’s not going to let anyone ruin it for him, even if it’s the insanely hot guitarist he’s had a crush on since the first time he saw the band play. He will win over Jake McKenna if it’s the last thing he ever does.
**This book has a heat rating of ZERO**
Homoromantic ace man MC in an m/m relationship
Asexual panromantic woman author
Third in a four book series
Knit One, Girl Two – Shira Glassman
Small-batch independent yarn dyer Clara Ziegler is eager to brainstorm new color combinations–if only she could come up with ideas she likes as much as last time! When she sees Danielle Solomon’s paintings of Florida wildlife by chance at a neighborhood gallery, she finds her source of inspiration. Outspoken, passionate, and complicated, Danielle herself soon proves even more captivating than her artwork…
Fluffy Jewish f/f contemporary set in the author’s childhood home of South Florida
The Blundering Billionaire – Chace Verity
Billionaire Jayden-James Hancock has spent his life in his fashionista mother’s shadow, wondering if he’ll ever be anything more than her awkward son, but an opportunity for change arrives with a new, cute, bubbly, cappuccino-loving assistant. Tired of debt struggles, Isla Dyer spends her free time attending rallies for student loan reformation and promoting the cause on social media. Inspired by Isla’s determination, Jayden-James decides to join the movement. While changing his clothes has always been easy, changing the world–and falling in love–might be a whole different catwalk.
The Blundering Billionaire is a complete, standalone 15k story.
Available in Rogue Ever After and on its own.
My Fake Canadian Wife – M. Hollis
When Dora receives a letter from the immigration service in Canada saying she will be deported soon, as her visa is expiring, a friend suggests she marry a woman. Since she doesn’t currently have a girlfriend, faking a relationship might be her only option since she can’t muster the desire to return to school for advanced photograph studies.
Abby is a reserved librarian who seems enthusiastic about helping with the marriage plan. As the two girls get to know each other through dates in snowy Toronto and meeting Abby’s family for Christmas, Dora starts to wonder how much of this relationship they are faking and how much is real.
How to Be A Normal Person – TJ Klune
Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.
Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.
Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.
But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.
After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Asexual MC in an m/m relationship
His Perfect Partner – Priscilla Oliveras
Ad executive Tomas Garcia shouldn’t even be thinking about his daughter’s alluring dance teacher, Yazmine Fernandez. Burned by a shattering divorce, he’s laser-focused on his career and giving his young daughter, Maria, the secure home she deserves. Plus, he’s certain that with her talent, Yaz will be leaving Chicago and heading back to Broadway as soon as she can. But Yaz’s generous spirit and caring concern are sparking a desire Tomas can’t resist and doesn’t want to let go . . .
For Yaz, good-looking workaholics like Tomas simply can’t be part of her life ever again. She owes it to herself to get back her confidence and fulfill the dreams her papa could not. She’s glad to spend time with Maria and taste the family life she feels she can never have. And she’s sure that she and Tomas can keep their attraction under control because there’s so much at stake. But each unexpected intimacy, each self-revelation, makes the fire between them grow hotter with every step and every risk to their hearts . . .
Her Festive Flirtation – Therese Beharrie
The bridesmaid, the best man… A Christmas wedding they’ll never forget!A year after being jilted, Ava Keller finds herself forced back up the aisle–as bridesmaid at a beautiful Cape Town wedding. Best man–and Ava’s first crush–Noah Giles is the perfect distraction from her painful memories. But their flirtation turns serious when Ava’s feelings for him resurface! Hurt when Noah left after their kiss years before, will Ava give their chemistry a second chance?
Solstice Miracle – Alexis Daria
Two people who’ve written off love and magic find a little of both on the longest night.
After inheriting her grandmother’s house in suburban Connecticut, Rina Minkin revives her witchy improv character to help pay for necessary home repairs. When Miguel Alvarez shows up at her front door with two kids in need of a Winter Solstice miracle, even cynical Rina can’t turn them away. And the longer she spends with them, the more she wants them to stick around.
*This is a 6,500-word sweet contemporary romance short story, originally part of the Winter’s Embrace 2016 holiday romance anthology on Wattpad.
Lighting the Flames – Sarah Wendell
Genevieve and Jeremy have known each other since they were seven, and have been summertime best friends at Camp Meira, a Jewish overnight camp in the mountains. As campers, and then as staff, their friendship was a constant, something neither wanted to change, no matter how tempting those changes might be.
Then, last year, with little warning, Jeremy left camp early. After that summer, Gen left the country on a graduate fellowship.
Now, a little over a year since they were last at Meira, Gen and Jeremy are back together to help run a special Winter Camp during Hanukkah. Any water under the bridge is frozen this time of year, and with so much left unspoken and unexplained, this week may be their chance to rekindle their friendship, or turn it into something new.
Take Me Home – Hudson Lin
Melvin is old and tired and all he wants is to enjoy his weekly Sunday morning coffee at the local cafe. Most weeks he can ignore Lee and his cheerfully friendly comments. But when Lee sits down at his table one day with a pile of blue yarn and a twinkle in his eye, Melvin wonders whether his fossil of a heart can love again.
Take Me Home is a 3,300 word m/m meet cute with a grumpy grandpa, a meddling cafe owner, sweet touches, and side-by-side knitting.
Finding X – Miles Tan
Is there a science to falling in love?
Carlisle Santiago is through with men. After the devastating end of a seven-year relationship, she’s trying to put her life back together. What she doesn’t know is that she is the subject of the patient and methodical observations of blue-haired scientist Matteo Villegas, who just wants to find love himself. She must decide whether she’s ready to give love another shot or if this is doomed to be one failed experiment.
Lucky Charm – Chace Verity
In the silent film era, deaf actor Gilbert Wilton’s handsome and expressive face is all he needs to be a star. As talkies start taking over the film industry, though, Gilbert’s long-time partner and director leaves him. At the apex of heartbreak and a career going up in flames, Gilbert returns home one night to find his house being burgled–by his childhood best friend.
Even after decades apart, Quill Phillips is as untrustworthy (and attractive) as ever. When Quill offers to do anything for Gilbert in exchange for letting him go, an idea pops into the actor’s head.
It’s a petty act of revenge, but the director has a lucky charm he never shoots a movie without. With Gilbert’s intimate knowledge of the director’s home and Quill’s infiltration skills, the pair set out to steal the lucky charm–and, unintentionally, each other’s hearts.
Lucky Charm is a complete, standalone short story.
Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss – Lydia San Andres
When Lourdes Dominguez moved into Mrs. Gomez’s boarding house, she was assured that sharing a room with Marisol Pascual would suit them both–-and it did.
A Season For Wishes – Lydia San Andres
After A Summer For Scandal comes A Season For Wishes…
Alba Reyes has returned to Arroyo Blanco after six long years away—and so has Marcos Ramirez. Though the circumstances surrounding their parting were more bitter than sweet, their reunion promises to be more agreeable than they expected when a holiday game brings them together and shows them that all they’ve ever wished for is each other.
The Craft of Love – EE Ottoman
When professional respect leads to something more …
Benjamin Lewis has created a life for himself as one of the most respected silversmiths and engravers in New York City. For Benjamin, his work is his passion and he has never sought out companionship beyond the close ties of family. Stumbling across dresses sew by his late mother, however, reawakens painful memories from his past. Now he is determined to forge something beautiful from the remains of the life and identity he left behind. In the process, he discovers stunning and fiercely intelligent Miss Quincy who might just have the power to tempt him out of his quiet isolation.
Remembrance Quincy’s talent is as undeniable as her needlework is exquisite. She has made a name for herself crafting quilts and embroidery pieces for all the wealthiest ladies in the city. When soft-spoken, yet charming, Mr. Lewis comes to her with a particular project in mind she is intrigued both by his artistic design and by the man himself. He treats her like an equal, values her work and makes her smile, but Remembrance already gave her heart away once, now can she risk doing it again?
Stars in Their Eyes – Pema Donyo
This beautifully sweeping story of dueling ambitions and restless hearts in the roaring twenties will captivate fans who loved the romance of the Oscar-winning film La La Land and Paula McLain’s bestselling novel The Paris Wife.
The bohemian salons and wild cabarets of 1920s Paris are just the place for Owen Matthews to pursue his writing and make the right connections in the literary scene. But six years after leaving Los Angeles and the love of his life, he still strives for success. Penning a new screenplay for his friend’s film might just help keep the lights on a bit longer in the City of Lights.
Iris Wong is used to sacrifice and rejection as an Asian-American actress. She’s determined to take full advantage of her new leading role in a Parisian silent film—and the director’s romantic interest in her. Playing the game almost guarantees she’ll be able to break through the industry’s racism and become the silver screen star she’s dreamed of being since she earned her first nickel as a Hollywood extra.
When these two star-crossed lovers unexpectedly reunite, they get a second chance to reconcile their hearts’ desires with their dreams of fame and fortune.
Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors
fade to black sex
Talk Sweetly To Me – Courtney Milan
Nobody knows who Miss Rose Sweetly is, and she prefers it that way. She’s a shy, mathematically-minded shopkeeper’s daughter who dreams of the stars. Women like her only ever come to attention through scandal. She’ll take obscurity, thank you very much.
All of England knows who Stephen Shaughnessy is. He’s an infamous advice columnist and a known rake. When he moves into the house next door to Rose, she discovers that he’s also wickedly funny, devilishly flirtatious, and heart-stoppingly handsome. But when he takes an interest in her mathematical work, she realizes that Mr. Shaughnessy isn’t just a scandal waiting to happen. He’s waiting to happen to her…and if she’s not careful, she’ll give in to certain ruination.
Book 4.5 of a series
Contemporary Fantasy Romances
Masks Series by Amara Lynn
Avari has always been a social outcast, which is just fine by him; he has superhuman abilities and hates people. But his lab partner Chayton keeps being so friendly, and Avari can’t stop staring at his alluring smile.
When he loses control of his abilities, Avari is faced with a startling revelation about himself—one that’s both thrilling and dangerous. As Avari seeks to understand Chayton, he finds himself coming out of his shell, and his connection with Chayton grows deeper.
Meanwhile, a mysterious adversary appears who may hold answers to who Avari really is. Fueled by his curiosity, Avari continues his path of destruction—but he can’t help wonder if his secrets will tear apart his shaky new bond with Chayton.
Sensual, no sex scenes
Hearts Alight – Elliot Cooper
Dave Cunningham hates the rampant consumerism that’s come to dominate his family’s Hanukkah celebrations. But a chance to bring a bit of a holiday happiness to his long-time crush, Amit Cohen, helps put him in a more festive mood.
In the quest to craft the perfect gift, Dave tries to urge a few personal details out of stoic Amit. Unintentionally, he learns the Cohen family’s secret: Amit is a golem. But Amit has a problem that runs deeper than his magical origin, and a Hanukkah miracle might be the only thing that will keep the budding flame between him and Dave from going out.
The Harwood Spellbook Series by Stephanie Burgis
In nineteenth-century Angland, magic is reserved for gentlemen while ladies attend to the more practical business of politics. But Cassandra Harwood has never followed the rules…
Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was betrothed to the brilliant, intense love of her life.
Now Cassandra is trapped in a snowbound house party deep in the elven dales, surrounded by bickering gentleman magicians, manipulative lady politicians, her own interfering family members, and, worst of all, her infuriatingly stubborn ex-fiancé, who refuses to understand that she’s given him up for his own good.
But the greatest danger of all lies outside the manor in the falling snow, where a powerful and malevolent elf-lord lurks…and Cassandra lost all of her own magic four months ago.
To save herself, Cassandra will have to discover exactly what inner powers she still possesses – and risk everything to win a new kind of happiness.
A witty and sparkling romantic fantasy novella that opens a brand-new series for adults from the author of Kat, Incorrigible, Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets.
Volume I of The Harwood Spellbook
m/f relationship in two novels, f/f relationship in novella
The Masked Minotaur – Chace Verity
Odelia Aster runs her confectionery store with pride, even though profits are now practically non-existent. The hundred-year-old store has been in Odelia’s family from the invention of steamboats to the exile of magical creatures. She would do anything to protect her store and its famous candy geode recipe from the bandits now raiding the kingdom.
Five years ago, Odelia married a nice noblewoman to keep the shop from going under. She cares for her wife, but it’s hard to feel there is something real between them when Charlotte keeps her distance, taking naps all day and getting plastered at fancy parties. Charlotte is nothing like the alleged Masked Minotaur vanquishing the bandits across the nation. The idea of a Masked Minotaur keeping humans safe at the risk of certain punishment from the king excites Odelia in ways her wife does not.
When Odelia finds herself held up by a most unexpected bandit, she has to figure out how far she’ll go to protect her family’s legacy, even though all she wants is to be rescued by the Masked Minotaur.
The Masked Minotaur is a complete, standalone short story.
Available in steamy and sweet in the same file!
Goodreads | Amazon
My Heart is Ready – Chace Verity
The last thing Corsine ever expected to do was break into a vault and steal some rare seeds. Corsine has a secret magic known as Maje flowing through her veins, but she’s never committed a crime before, and she’s terrified of the other Majerian hoarding the seeds at Rosales. But the risk is worth it if she can successfully prove how far she’ll go for her girlfriend.
Self-proclaimed harpy king Lester loves chasing rumors, but it’s hard to fly around and gossip while molting. However, he doesn’t have time to shed quietly when his best friend Corsine is behaving suspiciously about her trip to Rosales. Plus he’s dying to impress Corsine’s (hot) fearless traveling companion.
For Corsine and Lester, uncovering truths is easy, but revealing secrets is hard when love and friendship are on the line.
My Heart Is Ready is a complete, standalone 30k novella in The Absolutes series.
Standalone m/f novella within a series
Science Fiction Romances
This is How You Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone
Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal-El Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.
Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.
Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?
Cowritten by two beloved and award-winning sci-fi writers, This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epic love story spanning time and space.
Chameleon Moon – RoAnna Sylver
The city of Parole is burning. Like Venice slips into the sea, Parole crumbles into fire.
The entire population inside has been quarantined, cut off from the rest of the world, and left to die – directly over the open flame. Eye in the Sky, a deadly and merciless police force ensures no one escapes. Ever. All that’s keeping Parole alive is faith in the midst of horrors and death, trust in the face of desperation… and their fantastic, terrifying, and beautiful superhuman abilities.
Regan, stealth and reconnaissance expert with a lizard’s scales and snake’s eyes, is haunted by ten years of anxiety, trauma and terror, and he’s finally reached his limit. His ability to disappear into thin air isn’t enough: he needs an escape, and he’ll do anything for a chance. Unluckily for him, Hans, a ghostly boy with a chilling smile, knows just the thing to get one. It starts with a little murder.
But instead of ending a man’s life, Regan starts a new one of his own. He turns away from that twisted path, and runs into Evelyn, fearless force on stage and sonic-superheroic revolutionary on the streets. Now Regan has a choice – and a chance to not only escape from Parole, but unravel the mystery deep in its burning heart. And most of all, discover the truth about their own entwining pasts.
They join forces with Evelyn’s family: the virtuosic but volatile Danae, who breathes life into machines, and her wife Rose, whose compassionate nature and power over healing vines and defensive thorns will both be vital to survive this nightmare. Then there’s Zilch, a cool and level-headed person made of other dead people, and Finn, one of Parole’s few remaining taxi drivers, who causes explosions whenever he feels anything but happy.
Separately they’d never survive, much less uncover the secret of Parole’s eternally-burning fire. Together, they have a chance. Unfortunately, Hans isn’t above playing dirty, lying, cheating, manipulating… and holding Regan’s memories hostage until he gets his way.
Parole’s a rough place to live. But they’re not dead yet. If they can survive the imminent cataclysmic disaster, they might just stay that way…
Multiple romantic relationships
Rom & Yuli – Amara Lynn
A war between angels and demons has left Earth desolate and ruined.Rom struggles to support his father and sister in the patch of wasteland they’ve claimed as home.
Feeling restless, Rom takes to exploring when he can, and is shocked when he stumbles across another survivor.
Years of isolation have left Yuli feeling despondent. That all changes when they encounter Rom, who is unlike anyone they’ve met before, a brilliant light of hope in this mostly extinguished world.
As Rom and Yuli grow closer, both gain a renewed hope for something more in this desolate land.But in this dangerous world, trust comes hard and demons are never far away.
Rom and Yuli is a 15k word post-apocalyptic urban fantasy novella featuring male and non-binary protagonists and is a loose retelling of Romeo and Juliet with a hopeful ending.