Best Romance of 2022

The best romance books of 2022 feature pitch-perfect dialogue and swoony scenes with well-executed tropes that make for engrossing and deeply satisfying reading.

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Babalola, Bolu. Honey and Spice. Morrow. ISBN 9780063141483.

This breakout debut is full of whip-smart banter and plenty of steam. Kiki dispenses empowering relationship advice on her college radio show, despite avoiding any serious relationships of her own. But then she begins fake-dating the sexy new guy on campus, Malakai, to protect her reputation and ensure her project’s success. Babalola enticingly captures Kiki’s heady romance while also showcasing the Black community she creates at her predominantly white university.

Blake, Ashley Herring. Delilah Green Doesn’t Care. Berkley. (Bright Falls, Bk. 1). ISBN 9780593336403.

In this romance full of funny, sexy, and heartfelt scenes with just enough angst and growth to make the happily-ever-after feel thoroughly earned, broke artist Delilah Green is lured back to her hometown of Bright Falls, OR, where she faces her estranged stepfamily and also finds herself drawn to single-mom Claire Sutherland. As Delilah begins to reconcile her past, she may just find love and friendship in the most unlikely of places.

Cole, Elizabeth. A Fearless Heart. SkySpark. (Secrets of the Zodiac, Bk. 9). ISBN 9781942316572.

Completely compelling, Cole’s ninth Regency spy ring romance journeys into the great gardens of England and the glittering swirl of London. The settings support a tricky case of murders by poison and put agent Gabriel Courtenay in the company of Lady Arcadia, gardener extraordinaire and creator of any number of seemingly mysterious concoctions. Cole brews her own distillation of affection in this tenderhearted story of finding self and feeling loved.

Hall, Alexis. A Lady for a Duke. Forever: Grand Central. ISBN 9781538753750.

Hall’s top-drawer talent for fashioning beguiling stories and vibrant characters is on full display in this Regency-set wonder of a book. Viola Carroll, a trans woman, seems to pay for her future by the loss of her best friend, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood. But Justin has different thoughts on the matter. Through wonderful dialogue and a tender story arc that leads readers deep into a fabulous HEA, Hall triumphs.

Henry, Emily. Book Lovers. Berkley. ISBN 9780593334836.

Literary agent Nora agrees to take a break from her hectic New York City life when her sister Libby begs her to go on a trip to small-town Sunshine Falls, NC, where Nora keeps on running into grumpy book editor Charlie, who morphs from enemy to friend to lover. Delightfully playing with romance tropes, Henry delivers an utterly engrossing and satisfying novel with bonus book recs scattered throughout, making this the perfect romance for book lovers.

MacLean, Sarah. Heartbreaker. Avon. (Hell’s Belles, Bk. 2). ISBN 9780063056787.

Instantly engaging owing to MacLean’s expert ability to craft a scene and shape character, this Victorian-set romp takes a well-matched pair, the highly skilled daughter of London’s most dreaded criminal and a crusading duke, across Britain as they fight, at first each other and then alongside each other, to bring justice to the unjust world of London’s elite. Filled with witty banter and driven by a zippy pace, it deeply delights.

Parrish, Roan. The Holiday Trap. Sourcebooks Casablanca. ISBN 9781728256276.

A house swap during the holidays leads to love as Greta, the only lesbian in her tiny hometown, escapes her overbearing family in Maine, and Truman, who just found out his boyfriend is married, leaves his heartbreak behind in New Orleans. Parrish gets the romances and family drama just right while also writing fantastic settings and interesting characters with hobbies like collecting carnivorous plants and creating bullet journals.

Rochon, Farrah. The Hookup Plan. Forever: Grand Central. (The Boyfriend Project, Bk. 3). ISBN 9781538716687.

Rochon saves the best for last in this strong trilogy closer. Pediatric surgeon resident London Kelley meets her match in her old high school rival Drew Sullivan when they reconnect at a class reunion. As they deal with challenging professions and family trauma, they agree to a physical relationship that’s full of sparks, but London begins to want more in the face of Drew’s thoughtfulness and genuine care. Protagonists to love, sexy scenes, and strong women’s friendships create a trifecta of deeply satisfying romance. 

Ryan, Kennedy. Before I Let Go. Forever: Grand Central. (Skyland, Bk. 1). ISBN 9781538706794.

Ryan writes an achingly real second-chance romance as Yasmen and Josiah find their way back to each other. After suffering through devastating losses while raising their kids and running their successful Atlanta restaurant, they divorced and moved on with their lives, but are drawn back together as they grow and rediscover love. Successfully tackling grief and mental health struggles while also creating pitch-perfect dialogue and steamy scenes, Ryan nails this series launch.

Spencer, Minerva. The Boxing Baroness. Kensington. (Wicked Women of Whitechapel, Bk. 1). ISBN 9781496738097.

Marianne Simpson is a boxer in Farnham’s Fantastical Female Fayre. She has no interest in the judgmental Duke of Staunton, until his dangerous troubles become hers. Spencer splendidly manages the slow-burn romance that unfolds between the two wonderfully matched protagonists, weaves together an increasingly treacherous imperial spy game that catches the couple in its grip, and crafts a team of fascinating, and decidedly skillful, secondary characters. The result is a captivating mix of thrilling romance and bravery.

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