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The 30 best non-cringy romance books to add to your reading list now

best romance books 2023
30 best non-cringy romance books to read right nowAmazon

We don't know about you but sometimes there's nothing better than cosying up with a big mug of tea and the latest rom-com novel. And before you groan at the idea of cringy romantic books about love, the last few years has seen a serious revamp of the genre with plenty of non-cringy romance novels. Whether you want a story of forbidden love to read poolside, or fancy a story of enemies to lovers on your commute, we've got you covered on the love front.

We've put together 30 non-cringy, alternative suggestions to read if you're feeling like you need a little bit of romance in your life.

Talking at Night by Claire Daverely

Will and Rosie meet when they're teenagers and are opposite in every way. Will is Rosie's twin brother's closest friend, and so Will and Rosie keep their relationship a secret, with late night phone calls and secretive strolls. But one day tragedy happens, and their future together is shattered. And yet, over the years they find themselves constantly drawn back to each other, can they ever find a way to make it work?

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Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

Caleb Azumah Nelson's debut novel tells the story of two young Black British people who fall in love after meeting in a pub in South East London. They have a lot in common, they both had scholarships to private schools, where they didn't fit in, and now both are artists. They seem destined to have crossed paths and fallen into a deep love. However, these two can also be torn apart by fear and violence.

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Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Calling all historical romance fiction fans, this needs to be on your TBR list. Evangeline Fox has always believed in a happy after, but her dreams are crushed when she discovers the love of her life is marrying someone else. So, she makes a deal with the Prince of Hearts, in order to stop the wedding and heal her heart. The Prince requests three kisses from Evangeline to be given at the time of his choosing. But after her first kiss, Evangeline soon discovered there's a price to be paid when making a deal with the devil.

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Wild Things by Laura Kay

El is stuck in a dead-end job, in love with her best friend Ray and in desperate need of a change. So when the opportunity for herself, Ray, and their two best friends Will and Jamie to move into a house in the middle of the English countryside, she jumps at the chance. But how exactly is El going to cope living in such close proximity to the love of her life, without giving the secret away?

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One Day by David Nicholls

Loved the Netflix series? Now read the book it was based on and be prepared to cry all over again as you see Dexter and Emma fall in love over a 20 year period, checking in with their lives on the same day - 15 July - every year to see how their relationship has progressed. Warning: you'll probably cry more than in the series.

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Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

TV writer Sally is sick of her ‘average-looking’ male friends dating successful, famous women. It never happens the other way around, right? That is until pop star Noah takes an interest in Sally. If you’ve dreamed about marrying a celebrity this one is for you.

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Happy By Place by Emily Henry

Harriet and Wyn are the perfect couple. They’re spending their holiday with their best friends in a dreamy cottage. The problem? Harriet and Wyn actually broke up six months ago, but don’t want to let their friends dow. How hard can it be to fake a relationship for a week?

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The No-Show by Beth O'Leary

From the author of The Flat Share comes the story of triple-timing man, with three women expecting the same date on Valentine's Day. Except none of the women can actually find their date - the elusive Joseph Carter. It's a tear-jerker of a novel, full of heartbreak and moments of joy.

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The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

Told in three parts and set over the course of one day, The Three of Us confronts a problem no one wants to deal with. What happens when your husband and best friend love you, but hate each other? This is a story full of humour, intrigue and betrayal.

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The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

If you're a fan of the "fake boyfriend" trope then you need to be reading The Spanish Love Deception. Catalina Martín is in desperate need of a date for her sister's wedding, especially as her ex-boyfriend and his new fiancée will be there too. You'd think that when the gorgeous Aaron offers to accompany her, Catalina would jump at the chance. Except, Catalina finds Aaron insufferable. At least, she does for now.

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Gwen & Art Are Not In Love by Lex Croucher

Set in Camelot, where Gwen and Arthur are betrothed. However, Gwen is fantasising about the kingdom’s only female knight, and Art is far more interested in kissing boys. When they discover each other’s secrets, they hatch a mutually beneficial plan.

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Thirty Things I Love About Myself by Radhika Sanghani

Thirty Things I Love About Myself is a slightly different kind of romance novel, as, as the title suggests, its all about the discovery of self-love and accepting who you really are. On the night of her 30th birthday Nina Mistry finds herself accidentally in a jail cell. Taking inspiration from an abandoned self-help book in the cell, can Nina find 30 things she loves about herself?

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The Happy Couple by Naoise Dolan

From the author of Exciting Times comes a spin on the traditional marriage story. Luke and Celine are in love and ready to say “I do”. However, their friends and family have securest that could cause chaos in the run-up to the wedding. Will the happy couple make it down the aisle?

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Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

A complicated love story between young artist Cleo who is losing her grip on New York, and Frank, who is 20 years older and offers the success and security Cleo can only dream of. Their romance is turbulent, chaotic and ultimately reshapes the lives of everyone around them.

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Only Love Can Hurt Like This by Paige Toon

A love story set on a farm? Count us in. After discovering her fiancé is in love with someone else, Wren travels to Indiana to get over her heartbreak. There, she meets recently widowed Anders, and realises love may not be over after all.

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Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

From the author of Crazy Rich Asians, comes another hilarious and romantic novel largely set in the glamorous island of Capri. Lucie Churchill falls head over heels for a man named George whilst attending a wedding in Italy. But her pride stops her from fully committing to George. Years later, when she's holidaying in the Hamptons with her fiancé, George unexpectedly appears. Will Lucie follow her heart or her head?

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Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

Exciting Times is a love triangle unlike any other. 22-year-old Ava is teaching in Hong Kong and finds herself drawn to emotionally unavailable banker Julian, who lets her move into his spare room. But then she meets Edith whilst Julian is out of town. Edith actually listens to her when she talks, and the pair form a close bond. Who will Ava choose?

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The Course Of Love by Alain De Botton

Edinburgh-based couple Rabih and Kirsten fall in love, get married and have children. Although nothing is ever as simple as that, is it? A frank look at a relationship without the rose tinted glasses, and what it actually means to live happily ever after.

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12 non-cringy books about love to add to your reading list
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Landline by Rainbow Rowell

This quirky novel from bestselling author Rainbow Rowell sees Georgie McCool looking for a second chance with her husband. A magic telephone may not be the time machine she was hoping for, but it’s all she’s got, and she’s hoping that by calling the past she might get a chance to save her future.

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12 books to read this Valentine's Day that won't make you cringe
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Call Me by your Name by Andre Aciman

Call Me By Your Name took cinema-goers by storm, and if you loved the film - a gorgeous tale of first love set in sumptuous northern Italy - then this book will keep you going until summer returns.

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12 books to read this Valentine's Day that won't make you cringe
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Just Kids by Patti Smith

A beautifully written memoir of an unconventional romance between two era-defining artists - Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe – that’s also a love letter to 1970s New York and its sense of endless possibility.

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12 books to read this Valentine's Day that won't make you cringe
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Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

If you’ve read Dolly’s column or listened to her podcast The High Low, you’ll know how well-informed she is about the terrors and (limited) triumphs of dating in your early twenties. This hilarious memoir covers falling in love, finding a job, getting drunk, being dumped, and the friends who stand by you along the way. Buy two copies of this and wrap up your spare for Galantine’s Day.

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12 books to read this Valentine's Day that won't make you cringe
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If I Was your Girl by Meredith Russo

At Amanda's old school, she used to be called Andrew. Now she has a new group of girlfriends, a new crush and a new challenge: after years of bullying and rejection, can she open herself up to being loved for who she is? This all-American teen romance will melt your heart and give you hope.

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12 books to read this Valentine's Day that won't make you cringe
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Bad Romance by Emily Hill

Pick up this dark and hilarious collection of short stories from dating columnist Emily Hill and you’ll realise that when it comes to Bad Romance, you could have it so much worse. From wedding day revenge, to the danger of befriending strangers in London, these stories are as full of wit as they are of warnings.

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12 books to read this Valentine's Day that won't make you cringe
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The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, edited by Hope Nicholson

Margaret Atwood is one of the geek girls who contributed to this brilliantly varied anthology of prose, comics and illustrated tales about the lives and loves of gamers, sci-fi fans and industry insiders.

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12 books to read this Valentine's Day that won't make you cringe
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Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

A powerful coming-of-age tale about a young woman with a big character. Beautiful, funny and bright, Molly realises at a young age that she will have to be tough to stay true to herself. It’s 1950s America and Molly is gay and poor, with a disapproving adoptive mother. But she finds love, and friends, on her journey as she fights for acceptance and her right to happiness.

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12 books to read this Valentine's Day that won't make you cringe
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Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

A quiet, meditative book about finding love and companionship in later life. Addie and Louis are neighbours in a small town, both living alone after losing their partners; one day, Addie approaches Louis to ask him to consider sharing her bed and keeping her company at night. As their friendship grows, they reflect on their families, their mistakes and successes, and contemplate the future.

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12 books to read this Valentine's Day that won't make you cringe
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All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

An imaginative tale of an ordinary man surrounded by unusual superheroes, on a quest to win back the love of his life. With its unique premise and quirky cast of characters (including the Perfectionist, the Ear, the Spooner and the Impossible Man), you’ll speed through this adorable book in an afternoon.

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12 books to read this Valentine's Day that won't make you cringe
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The One by John Marrs

This dark, funny thriller asks: what would you do if there was a DNA test that would find your one true love? Would you take it and discover your soulmate? As we follow the journeys of five people who have taken the test, it seems that a happy ever after might be possible. But the problem is, even soulmates have secrets, and some of them might be deadly.

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12 books to read this Valentine's Day that won't make you cringe
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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

A sparkling, funny contemporary romance. Dimple is driven and determined; her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and not let an I.I.H. (Ideal Indian Husband), picked out by her parents, get in her way. She’s amazed when they agree for her to go to a coding convention, but little does she know they’re hoping to set her up with Rishi, also attending, who is a hopeless romantic and happy to follow in his parents’ footsteps.

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
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