The best, most romantic books of 2021

From romance novels to collections of love poetry, here's our edit of the best romantic books about love, the perfect gift for any book-loving romantic.

19/11/2021
3 minutes to read
Covers of Pride and Prejudice, Alex and Eliza and Miss you against a pink background

Is your other half or secret crush a book lover? Or are you just looking for your next big love story? We’ve curated an edit of the best romantic books to help out. From classic romance novels and contemporary love stories to beautiful anthologies of love poetry, these are the most romantic books to fall in love with.

The Winter of Second Chances

by Jenny Bayliss

Book cover for The Winter of Second Chances

Annie Sharpe has two fabulous grown-up sons and runs a successful restaurant with her handsome husband Max. But when there is one indiscretion too many, she decides she must escape her family life. So, Annie starts a new life as the caretaker of Saltwater Nook, a crumbling but charming beach house on the Kent coast. 

She reopens the village's seafront café, and embraces the traditions and eccentricities of her new home, while battling the owner's rugged but unreasonable nephew. Meanwhile, Max is intent on winning her back. Will she succumb to giving her first love a second chance, or step into the joys and uncertainties of a new life?

Devotion

by Hannah Kent

Book cover for Devotion

This much-anticipated novel from the author of Burial Rites is set in Prussia, 1836. Teenage Hanne is a child of nature, but feels the pressure of domestic womanhood closing in on her. She yearns for the outdoors and shies away from friendship, until she meets kindred soul Thea. Hanne's family are Old Lutherans, granted passage to Australia which is their passport to freedom. On the long and dangerous ocean journey, Hanne and Thea's growing bond is put to the test.

Carry On

by Rainbow Rowell

Book cover for Carry On

Loved by young adults and older ones alike, Carry On is a ghost tale, a romance, a mystery and a melodrama. Simon Snow is in his final year at the Watford School of Magicks, and he's finding it hard to relax: his girlfriend has dumped him, his best friend is annoying and he's worried about his vanished roommate and nemesis. Not to mention the resident ghosts and vampires. . .

The Redemption of Philip Thane

by Lisa Berne

Book cover for The Redemption of Philip Thane

Meet Philip Thane: an unrepentant rogue and a scoundrel. He never wanted to come to little Whittlesey to make a speech, and he certainly didn't want to be stuck in a loop, living the same day over and over again. He takes the chance though to get close to Miss Margaret Allen, who is in town to research a book. Philip is astonished to find she can resist his charms. Maybe, just maybe, it's time for Philip to take a good look at himself and win her heart the right way. A must for fans of Bridgerton.

Last Summer in the City

by Gianfranco Calligarich

Book cover for Last Summer in the City

Back in the late sixties, Leo Gazzara left Milan and his family and shifted to Rome for work. Soon he finds himself unemployed and in a haze of romantic liaisons and alcohol. The night he turns thirty, Leo meets fragile Arianna, and they drive the streets in his Alfa Romeo, then escape to the sea together. This intense love story is a newly found classic of Italian writing, with echoes of The Great Gatsby.

How to Love a Jamaican

by Alexia Arthurs

Book cover for How to Love a Jamaican

Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret – Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection of short stories, How to Love a Jamaican, about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City and Midwestern university towns, these eleven stories form a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life.

Noughts & Crosses

by Malorie Blackman

Book cover for Noughts & Crosses

In the award-winning Noughts and Crosses sequence, of which this book is the first, Malorie Blackman creates a dystopian world in which the white Noughts are treated as an inferior race, while the black Crosses are born into privilege and perceived as superior in every sense.

It follows Sephy and Callum, who, despite the friendship they have shared since they were children, are fated to be bitter enemies. Sephy is a Cross, dark-skinned, beautiful and the daughter of a powerful politician, while Callum is a Nought, white and poor, existing to serve Crosses and nothing more.

But against all odds, star-crossed lovers Sephy and Callum choose each other, and this powerful story, which reverses the traditional racial stereotypes we see in our own world, follows the trials of their relationship.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown

by Talia Hibbert

Book cover for Act Your Age, Eve Brown

In the gorgeously witty conclusion of the Brown Sisters series, the flightiest of the sisters explodes into the life of a tight-lipped B&B owner, who quite literally falls for her. Self-discovery and romantic comedy combine in this irresistible novel.

Symptoms of a Heartbreak

by Sona Charaipotra

Book cover for Symptoms of a Heartbreak

Indian-American Saira discovers the true fragility of the human heart, in this medical rom-com, rollercoaster of a novel. Saira is a 16-year-old genius, who starts an internship at her mother's hospital. Despite the stress of battling to be taken seriously by her peers, she can't help but fall head over heels for a cancer patient on her ward. 

Alexa, what is there to know about love?

by Brian Bilston

Book cover for Alexa, what is there to know about love?

If you’re looking for books about love for the poetry lover in your life, look no further than Brian Bilston’s poetry collection, Alexa, what is there to know about love? Full of poems about love in all its forms, from romantic love to familial love and even love on the internet, this is the perfect, witty gift book for Valentine’s Day. 

The Other Bennet Sister

by Janice Hadlow

Book cover for The Other Bennet Sister

In Jane Austen’s classic romantic novel Pride and Prejudice, Mary is the plain, pious, overlooked middle sister. But in The Other Bennet Sister, Janice Hadlow shines a light on Mary. She’s an introvert in a family of extroverts, a disappointment to her mother and with little in common with her sisters. As she watches her sisters marry, it seems Mary is destined to be single forever. But will Mary find there is hope for her after all? This life-affirming, uplifting story of a woman finding her place in the world is a wonderfully warm and witty homage to Jane Austen.

Love is For Losers

by Wibke Brueggemann

Book cover for Love is For Losers

This laugh-out-loud YA romantic novel is a life-affirming story of love and loss. As far as Phoebe is concerned, love should be avoided at all costs. She’s seen her friend Polly fall head over heels and forget about her friends, become obsessed with sex and talk constantly about the guy in question, and Phoebe definitely isn’t going to make the same mistake. But then she meets Emma . . . 

The Butterfly Room

by Lucinda Riley

Book cover for The Butterfly Room

Lucinda Riley's spellbinding multi-generational romance novel has been nominated for the Romantic Thriller Award at the 2020 Romantic Novel Awards.

Posy Montague is approaching her seventieth birthday and still lives in her beautiful family home, Admiral House, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood. But the house is crumbling around her, and the time has come to sell it. Then her first love, who broke her heart fifty years ago, comes back into her life. And he is hiding a devastating secret . . .

The Man Who Didn't Call

by Rosie Walsh

Book cover for The Man Who Didn't Call

The million-copy bestselling romantic novel The Man Who Didn't Call is the love story you won't want to miss.

Imagine you meet the man of your dreams, spend a magical week together and fall head over heels in love. You're sure he feels the same, but then he leaves for a long-booked holiday – and never calls. Your friends tell you to forget him, but you're sure something's wrong. And maybe it is. Maybe he found out the truth . . .

Miss You

by Kate Eberlen

Book cover for Miss You

Perfect for fans of One Day, Miss You is the story of Tess and Gus, who are meant to be. They just haven’t met properly yet . . . Both on holiday in Florence, their paths cross for just one day. Over the next sixteen years, life and chance keeps them apart, but will fate eventually bring them together?

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Book cover for Pride and Prejudice

Probably Jane Austen’s best-loved and most romantic novel, this witty satirical look at society has a love story at its heart that has been charming readers for over 200 years. Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennett is determined to marry for love, not money, but will she and Mr. Darcy be able to put aside their judgements of each other and realise they are the perfect match?

The Spanish Promise

by Karen Swan

Book cover for The Spanish Promise

This sizzling novel set in sunny Madrid is full of secrets and romance. When one of Spain's richest men leaves his fortune to a woman his family has never heard of, they're shocked and confused. Charlotte Fairfax is recruited to travel to Madrid to investigate, and though it's only a week before her wedding, she's sure she'll have time. But things aren't as straightforward as they seem, and as Charlotte digs into the family's history she discovers a dark secret of two people torn apart by conflict.

Wuthering Heights

by Emily Bronte

Book cover for Wuthering Heights

A dark, haunting tale of passionate and destructive love, Wuthering Heights is one of the great romantic novels of the nineteenth century. Cathy and Heathcliff form an intense bond, but despite their love Cathy marries a rich suitor. But neither can forget the other, and while Cathy becomes increasingly unhappy, Heathcliff is driven by a lust for revenge that will echo through generations.

Call Me By Your Name

by Andre Aciman

Book cover for Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name is a coming of age story and a novel about the power of first love. In 1980s Italy, seventeen year old Elio’s quiet summer is turned upside down with the arrival of his father’s postdoc student Oliver. Aciman writes beautifully and powerfully on love found and lost.

Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

Book cover for Jane Eyre

When orphan Jane Eyre takes a position as governess at Thornfield Hall, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with the brooding master of the house. An enduring love story and undisputed classic, Jane Eyre is full of passion, mystery, tragedy, and a strong-willed and beloved heroine.

Alex and Eliza

by Melissa de la Cruz

Book cover for Alex and Eliza

This YA romantic novel is based on the story that inspired the acclaimed musical Hamilton. The Schulyers, one of the country’s founding families, are preparing for their grand ball, and Eliza can barely hide her excitement when she hears of the arrival of General George Washington’s right-hand man. When they meet, an epic love story begins.

Our Souls at Night

by Kent Haruf

Book cover for Our Souls at Night

Kent Haruf’s final novel is a beautiful and affecting love story which warms the heart. Addie Moore and Louis Waters have been neighbours for years, now both widowed and living alone. One evening Addie pays Louis a visit, and slowly happiness seeps back into their lives.

The Notebook

by Nicholas Sparks

Book cover for The Notebook

Adapted into the hugely popular film starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to shed a tear at the ending of Nicholas Sparks’ first novel. This is one of the most-loved romance novels in recent history and is a love story you won't forget. 


In this special Valentine's Day Book Break, Emma helps you find your perfect book match:

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