Read a Romance: Contemporary Romance

Contemporary romance novels are just that—romances set in the present day. The line between contemporary romance novels and women's fiction has begun to blur more and more. And you may be surprised that many books labeled "novel" are also considered to be romances.

And in fact, Jasmine Guillory's The Proposal , opens a new windowwas the first romance novel selected for Reese WItherspoon's book club, opens a new window. There was a lot of press at the time about this being the first "romance novel" selected for the list; however, Witherspoon has also highlighted One Day in December, opens a new window, which many also consider to be a romance novel.

The last few years have seen several exciting new trends:

New Look

Gone are the days of Fabio on the cover. Instead of smoldering vixens and alpha-males with eight-packs, these covers are bright with fun type and colorful illustrations—designed to attract mainstream readers. You may be reading contemporary romance and not realize it.

The Hating Game , opens a new windowDebut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love—a much beloved trope in the romance world. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand, opens a new window Writing duo Christina Lauren met while writing fan fiction, but now they are the authors of more than 15 New York Times bestsellers. Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. When a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Millie and her four best guy friends make a pact that they'll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event.

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune , opens a new windowAt the news of her mother's death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn't spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco's Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.

The Return of the Romantic Comedy

The rom-com is back, but these books shine a spotlight on the complex realities of modern romance. These books offer a little bit of escapism and create a world where everyone not only deserves but gets their Happily Ever After (HEA).

The Wedding Date , opens a new windowI love Jasmine Guillory so much I had to include her on this list twice. Her writing is contemporary and relatable, and every heroine is a woman you would actually want to be friends with. Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist. 

The Kiss Quotient , opens a new windowStella Lane might be a whiz with numbers, but after numerous romantic encounters go awry, she seeks out a professional escort to help her figure out what's happening. Don't be put off by the premise. Stella falls on the spectrum and has trouble with physical touch. Hoang delves into her characters insecurities and maintains a balance of power between her characters despite the commercial (at first) nature of their connection.

Waiting for Tom Hanks , opens a new windowNothing says rom-com quite like 1990s Tom Hanks. Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who's sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn't be less like Tom Hanks if he tried.

A Princess in Theory, opens a new window Alyssa Cole, opens a new window is a rising star in the romance world. She writes in a variety of subgenres, including historical romance. Her Reluctant Royals series brings a whole new take to a fairy tale ending. Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can't resist the chance to experience life--and love--without the burden of his crown.

Don't forget to let us know about your favorite contemporary romances in the comments. Or Get a Reading Recommendation, opens a new window from a librarian tailored to your personal interests.