Saturday, January 23, 2021

I'll Have a Steamy Romance Novel, Hold the Steam


Happy weekend, readers! Thank you so much for your feedback on my last post, discussing the Romance genre. A lot of you expressed, as I expected, varying degrees of comfort with content in Romance novels, so here are nearly all of my current favorites and recommendations in three parts: Hold the Steam, Hold Most of the Steam, and Moderate Steam is Okay for Me, Thanks.

Part One: Hold the Steam

*The characters in these books Only Kiss

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shafer and Annie Barrows

I'm only going to include one Classic (albeit a fairly recent one) on this list, because Classic Romances are almost guaranteed to be clean and we've all been talking about Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, George Elliot, Louisa May Alcott, and Elizabeth Gaskell for decades and decades.

Guernsey is an epistolary novel, told in letters between a variety of well-drawn characters. I really enjoy a story in which characters fall for each other purely for the mind and soul long before they see each other and have the chance to feel physical attraction. Our hero and heroine bond over their love of books and through the sharing of their disparate experiences of WWII as they live in the brand-new peace and try to learn, along with their communities, how to live normal lives again and let the war and its damage go. This story is an incredibly rich one, both as a Romance novel and as a Historical Fiction. 

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

 Would Like to Meet is an ode to classic Rom Coms and a hilarious deep dive into classic film Meet Cutes in all their ridiculous varieties. Our main lady works for a film agent, and must prove to a client that people really can meet and fall in love the way they do in Rom Coms in order to get him to fulfill his contract. You might think, as I did, that this reluctant screenwriter is the love interest of this story, but he is, in fact, only one leg of a surprisingly well-executed love triangle. The other leg is a widowed dad of a young, deaf girl, who plays a huge role in driving the story. I should mention that, while our main characters don't go farther than kissing, one side character is painfully and humorously scandalous.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I read this one in one evening, and I'm almost hesitant to call it a Romance novel, because our characters take an awfully long time to properly meet. Our hero's job is to monitor e-mails at his large company, and he finds himself falling for another employee over e-mails that pass between her and her best friend. Like Guernsey, this is a story in which our hero falls for his lady, not over her looks, but over her heart and soul as conveyed through writing that wasn't even directed at or tailored to him at all. I thought the story was cute, heartfelt, and thrived on the simplicity of its plot. 

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

 Sophie Kinsella is one of the first Romance authors I tried and also one of my favorites. She's British, and most of her audiobooks are narrated by Fiona Hardingham, my favorite female narrator, who's accent and lighthearted narration are simply lovely. Sophie's books never contain explicit sex scenes, and while most have a one or two fade to black scenes (including my favorite My Not So Perfect Life), this one doesn't. At least not between the hero and heroin who meet and form a friendship via texts over a discarded cell phone. Our heroine is engaged to another man for a big chunk of this book, and generally that's not something I enjoy as it usually involves a certain amount of emotional if not physical cheating, but in this case, it's handled well, and serves for a surprisingly tense plot for a Romance novel. I loved all the twists and the way everything came right in the end.


Beauty and the Clockwork Beast and The Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen

All of Nancy's books are 100% clean. Some are better than others, but these two were top-tier for me. They're steampunk retellings of Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty, respectively, adhering to only the barest bones of the original stories. Steampunk can be such a fun subgenre, and Nancy's Steampunk-Victorian world, complete with misunderstood Shifters, evil Vampires, and sassy Automatons, is my favorite Steampunk world I've discovered to date. 

*Here are a few YA titles. YA Romances are less likely to contain sexual content, but also less likely to make my favorites list. These are the ones that really stand out to me.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer

Am I even allowed to talk about YA Romance without mentioning Twilight? Also I'm so mad at this cover for being a pomegranate instead of a yellow apple (if you know, you know). Stephanie Meyer has written Twilight three times now, and each time she's improved it. This telling of the now classic/infamous story of a vampire falling for a mortal comes from Edward's perspective (which is honestly much more interesting than Bella's perspective). If you haven't read Twilight yet, you should, if only so you can know what everyone's been gushing/complaining about for all this time. The characters don't have sex until they're married (spoilers lol) in book four, and even then, Stephanie leaves out the gory details. If you don't want to read every single iteration of the first book, I'd suggest starting with Midnight Sun, then moving on to New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. Twilight was Stephanie's debut novel, and she's come a long way as an author since then.

Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Jonson

This is yet another of those books where two characters, who weren't previously attracted to each other fell in love just by communication. In this case it's through text messages. In fact, the entire story is told in text messages, which is an incredible feet, in my opinion. The two characters do know each other in person (or do they?), but for some reason, they can't seem to connect in real life. This book is adorable, and is one of those highschool stories that really transcends highschool, and just kind of speaks to the human experience. Just writing this makes me want to reread it immediately. 

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Okay wow, I sense a theme. Apparently I SUPER like books where characters talk over text or e-mail or letters and are pretty much in love already before they even meet in person. I'm sorry. I really thought this post was going to be a little bit more of a diverse list. Sigggghhh. 

Anyway, Geekerella is similar to I've Got Your Number in that there's a lot of interaction between the characters through texts, but the book isn't entirely text messages. As the title implies, this story is Cinderella but with Geeks, and instead of a ball we have a Convention. It is super geeky and adorable. Perfect for people who love Cinderella or Star Trek, but preferably both. 

Part Two: Hold Most of the Steam

*The characters in these books only get to first or second base before the scene fades to black, and the author doesn't spend a lot of pages on these scenes.

Now, when I read these books, I didn't always pay That much attention to exactly when the scene cut, and it's been a while since I read a couple of these, so I apologize in advance if I've remembered incorrectly. 


The Tourist Attraction, Mistletoe and Mr. Right, and Enjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler

The Moose Springs series by Sarah Morgenthaler is an adorable, wholesome Romance series set in the fictional tourist town of Moose Springs, Alaska. Enjoy the View only came out a couple days ago, and my copy Just came in the mail today, so I haven't read it yet, SORRY, but I feel pretty confident recommending it all the same. As someone who grew up in a tourist area of Maine, I really enjoy the setting and the ongoing tension between the locals of Moose Springs and the annoying tourists who keep their businesses afloat. These books feature quiet/grumpy, local, Alaskan males, and tourist females with the Audacity to be In The Vicinity and Attractive. If you look closely at the covers, you'll see the same cute doggo on all three. This blind border collie is shared by a couple different characters and finds a way, along with the local, eccentric moose population, to be an adorable part of each plot. 

Things you Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

As a firefighter's wife, I generally don't like to consume any fire stories because they tend to unrealistically overdramatize the life and overpresent the dangers in a way that is not healthy for me personally, but that wasn't the case with this one. As far as I can tell, this book depicts the fire life accurately, from station politics to pranks to life off-shift (both main characters are firefighters). This is also a book that presents the aftermath of sexual assault really, really well, in my opinion. It's also just funny. I laughed a Lot.

99% Mine by Sally Thorne

99% Mine flips the Brooding Hero/Sweet Heroine trope that's so common to Romance on its head and gives us a Brooding Heroine and a Sweet Hero, who I really love. I saw a lot of similarities to Jon in him and found the relational commentary super helpful in our marriage. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne is also super well-loved in the book community, but it's a very different story, so if you like one, you may or may not like the other and vice versa. I liked both, but this one markedly more. 

Part Three: Moderate Steam is Okay for Me, Thanks

*These books contain sex and don't fade to black, but still aren't super intense and the authors still don't spend a lot of pages on the steamy scenes.  


Bringing Down the Duke and A Rogue of One's Own by Evie Dunmore

Evie Dunmore's A League of Extraordinary Women series, in my opinion, stands head and shoulders above anything else available in the Historical Romance genre. Her female leads are all part of the English suffrage movement, and they way they handle their love interests in light of their convictions about women's rights, in a time and place where the laws very much didn't acknowledge women as more than property, is fascinating. Evie's books are well-researched, well-written and the kind of good that makes me want to push them on anyone and everyone who's comfortable with the content. 

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Emily Henry's writing is beautiful and almost too literary for the Romance genre, but I Adored this book. It's about two authors: one who writes Romance and one who writes Literary Fiction, who knew each other in college and reconnect on a vacation as they both struggle with their current projects. There's just so much depth to the themes in this book as each character works through what's holding them back both creatively and romantically. Very emotional. Actually not something I would think of as a beach read come to think of it...


The Bromance Book Club, Undercover Bromance, and Crazy, Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club is a hilarious series about a group of men who read and discuss Romance novels together in an attempt to gain insights into their own love lives. The first installment is about a married couple on the brink of divorce, who are saved by Romance novels, the second is about a guy who thinks he knows everything about relationships because He Reads Romance Novels, and the third, which I've just barely started, is about a guy who's been avoiding joining the club for a year despite tons of peer pressure, but he's getting Pretty Desperate to get out of the friend zone. There's also a cat cafe called Toe Beans, Adorable. **Update** I'm nearly finished Crazy, Stupid Bromance, and it's way steamier than I remembered the others being. I don't know if the series has changed or if my memory was wrong, but hey. Fair warning. 

And Everything I've Left Out

There's so much more out there including books for those in the Don't Hold Back Any Steam camp. Christina Lauren is an author duo who writes books in the light-medium steam range. Ditto Talia Hibbert. These authors aren't consistent from book to book as far as the details go, however. Sarah Maclean and Tessa Dare write excellent spicy Historical Fiction. Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen both have super spicy Hockey Romance series that I really enjoy, and the list goes on. I'm still discovering new authors, and I'm sure I'll have a whole new round of recommendations of all categories next year as well. 

And with that, dear reader, I will leave you. I hope that no matter where your boundaries and preferences are, that I've recommended something you might pick up and love. If you do, please let me know! If you've read some of these already, I'd love to hear about it! I have No Idea what I'm writing about next weekend, but I promise it won't be about Romance Novels. 

Until then, have a Lovely Week and Stay Warm!



  1. I'll have to check some of these out. I've been meaning to read Geekerella.

  2. Not sure if my other comment went through on the other post about the genre of Romance! At any rate, long story short I REALLY missed romance novels after I became a Christian because most of what I was reading really wasn't very good from a literary standpoint (there were a few that I still adore, but I would likely skip the graphic detail). I like your take on these books being potentially educational for not knowing about what can happen in the bedroom! That is a valid point! Anyway, thank you for the list (yeah new authors). My current favorites are Elizabeth Camden, Kristy Cambron, and Sarah E. Ladd. I also like Sally Britton and Esther Hatch for lighter reads (listens). I like that my son can listen along with most of these. We are listening to, "The Prince of Spies," by Elizabeth Camden the last in a trilogy where the main character is a part of the Poison Squad- a real group of test subjects who ate food laced with lots of chemicals. Very interesting and real history!