In 2016, I really tried to expand my reading horizons. While I normally stuck to very specific types of romance in 2015, I tried to think outside the box. I read many different tropes and genres within the romance category, including some I’d never before tried. Some of these books did it for me, others didn’t. It’s all about trying new things, right? Anyway, here, in literally no order whatsoever, are the best of the best.
Genre: new adult romance, friends to lovers
You should know: love triangle
Longtime friends Isla and Colby have had feelings for each other for years, yet remained firmly in the friendzone. Circumstance leaves them stranded together in a storm, and enough drinks break down their barriers. Can they get over their fears and make something real?
Genre: new adult romance, rockstar romance
You should know: Beryl is kind of a creeper
After finishing college, twenty-something Beryl feels stuck in her small town. She heads off to New York City to work for a family friend and is given a job house sitting for a famous musician.
Genre: new adult romance, skater girl/preppy boy
You should know: heartbreaking side plot
Graphic designer Cat never does relationships until she meets a drop dead gorgeous guy on the beach. The all-American Huck couldn’t be further from her type, but they’re great together. Too bad Cat is so closed off and unwilling to trust him.
Genre: new adult romance, erotica, travel romance
You should know: Mia is really frustrating
Mia is dumped by her fiance mere days before their wedding, but is given the opportunity to take the already booked honeymoon by herself. Prepared to hate it, Mia is surprised to find she’s enjoying herself once she meets Lucas.
Genre: new adult, college romance, rebel girl/nice guy
You should know: it’s one of those “let’s pretend to be dating so my parents don’t find out about my weird real boyfriend” books
Rebellious Max needs to find a good guy to play her boyfriend while her parents are in town, because they certainly won’t approve of Mace and his neck tattoos. Cade is getting his MFA in theatre, so he’s just the guy for the job. What happens when it turns into more than acting?
Roommates (Book 1)
Genre: new adult romance, stepbrother romance
You should know: a lot of internal dialogue
Back in high school, quirky Jenny always had a crush on popular Ethan. Then their parents got married and things just got confusing. Now, years later, Jenny goes to stay with Ethan for a weekend as she auditions for a play in New York, and sparks fly.
My Best Friend’s Brother (Book 2)
Genre: new adult romance, college romance, friends to lovers
You should know: the title is misleading – they two MC’s are also best friends
Feelings that have been kept secret for years come to the forefront as Shane helps his longtime friend Andi out of an abusive relationship. Can their fledgling relationship survive criticism from the third Musketeer, Shane’s sister and Andi’s best friend, Izzy?
Genre: childhood friends, forbidden romance
You should know: this is about a seminary student (almost priest) and a stripper
After his best friend Mikey dies, Thorn joins a seminary and vows to take care of Mikey’s little sister, Rose. Rose and Thorn grow apart, only to be thrown back together as Thorn is called to Rose’s side in the hospital. Now Thorn must choose – what’s more important, Rose or his vows?
Genre: erotica, stepbrother romance, romantic suspense
You should know: some really, really explicit scenes (this goes for anything by BB)
Laney dreams of working for the FBI someday, so she can’t turn down the opportunity to work for Easton, her new stepbrother, an ex-FBI agent and current private detective. Mystery looms in the background as a killer from Easton’s past threatens the budding romance between the stepsiblings.
Genre: new adult romance, older brother’s best friend
You should know: widowed heroine, previous drama between MCs
Estelle and her older brother’s best friend Oliver have danced around each other for years, even hooking up a couple times over the years, but they never ended up together. Not until tragedy wrecks Estelle’s life and she moves in with her brother, putting Oliver front and center in her life again.
Genre: romantic comedy
You should know: Emily literally stalks Sebastian
Emily and Sebastian meet at a dart bar, and Emily knows he’s the one she’s destined to be with. Too bad he doesn’t realize it. But that’s okay, because Emily doesn’t give up easily.
Genre: new adult romance, college romance
You should know: heroine is basically a horny, female Sheldon Cooper
Young genius Lucy needs to get some hands-on research into emotion, so she enlists the help of her cute neighbor, Jensen. What starts out as purely scientific quickly turns romantic as Lucy and Jensen realize their attraction.
Genre: new adult romance, Hollywood romance
You should know: really, really, really, reeeaaaalllllyyyy slow burn
College student Jessica was supposed to be studying abroad, but her doctor recommended that she not travel due to a sudden bout of mono. Jessica’s agent aunt comes to the rescue, offering a job as a personal assistant to one of Hollywood’s hottest actors. Jack may put up an asshole front, but he turns out to be really sweet. Jessica starts to fall for him, but can she handle watching him do love scenes with other women?
Genre: young adult romance, stepbrother romance
You should know: Chloe is almost raped at the beginning of the book (not by Landon)
Teenage Chloe heads down to Florida to meet her new step family. While she’s had a traumatic several months at home, she finds that she’s able to relax around her new stepbrother, Landon. Soon, their forbidden attraction is blossoming into something more.
Genre: new adult romance, reality show romance
You should know: Maddie is the most frustrating MC you’ll ever read
Classically trained musician Maddie is drafted into joining her friend’s rock band as they audition on The Sound, a reality show similar to The Voice. The one rule is not to fall for singer Jared, America’s favorite bad boy. Maddie breaks the rule, but nobody can find out.
Genre: new adult romance, childhood friends
You should know: this book will stick with you forever
Childhood friends Annabel and Kennedy reconnect after years apart on a road trip to a music festival. Throughout their trip, they make a deal that Kennedy can dare Annabel to do any seven things if he will apply to seven writing internships. The dares get progressively steamier as a romantic spark ignites between them.
Genre: new adult romance
You should know: you’ll still be crying months later
The tenth book in the Addicted/Calloway Sisters timeline follows the three main pairings – Lily & Lo, Rose & Connor, and Daisy & Ryke – as they travel through life, start families, and experience heartbreak. You’ll cry.
Off the Hook (book 1)
Genre: sports romance, reunited lovers
You should know: the MCs used to be married
Hardworking Kate takes a job revamping a fishing resort that turns out to be owned by her ex-husband. Pro baseball player Liam knows that he made a mistake when he left Kate all those years ago, and fully intends to make up for it.
Lured In (book 2)
Genre: friends to lovers
You should know: both MCs have fairly traumatic pasts
Despite her paralyzing fear of water, Jessie has worked at a fishing resort for years. Finally ready to move on with her life, she asks her friend Finn to help her get over her fear. Slowly but surely, a sweet, natural relationship builds.