2021’s Must-Read Romance Novels According to Romance Authors

A collage of the covers included in this article

Looking for your next romance read? Let the experts help you out! Romance authors are also voracious romance readers, and they know the genre inside and out. I always trust their recommendations, which is why I asked 10 of them to share the one romance novel they’re most excited to read in 2021. Check out their picks and share your 2021 romance TBR in the comments!

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

“I loved Helen Hoang’s previous books for their sensitively drawn, diverse, and complex characters. I had been hoping that Michael’s cousin, Quan, would get his own love story and when I saw he would be the hero of her third novel, The Heart Principle, I immediately added it to my summer TBR. The Heart Principle has everything I love in a romance: enemies to lovers, secret crushes, a love triangle, a playboy hero who needs to be redeemed, and a kick-ass heroine who knows martial arts. I’m looking forward to diving into what promises to be a delicious read!” —Sara Desai, author of The Dating Plan

The Hellion’s Waltz by Olivia Waite

“I am eagerly awaiting The Hellion’s Waltz by Olivia Waite. Historical heist f/f romance? Yes, please. One woman working a con, and the other hellbent on stopping her? Put it in my veins! Maddie is a silk-weaver and union agitator with very good reasons to do bad things, such as defending the livelihoods and safety of her fellow weavers. Sophie has personally experienced the devastating consequences of being the victim of a con, and she won’t allow it to happen to someone else. But nothing complicates a caper quite like unexpected romance…” —Erica Ridley, author of The Duke Heist

Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev

“I’ll basically read anything Sonali Dev writes. I’ll also basically read everything with an Austen theme. This is a book written by Sonali Dev with an Austen theme so consider me very, very sold. It’s actually the third in a series of Austen-inspired novels (but they all stand-alone so dive in freely or, y’know, read the other two while you’re waiting for this one). I think what I really love about the whole series is that, for me, they capture the essence of the source material, rather than the trappings. We think of Austen as a historical writer but she was just writing about the time she lived in—and Sonali Dev makes the heart of those familiar narratives fresh, romantic, and resonant to a modern audience.” —Alexis Hall, author of Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

“Olive, the heroine of The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, is one of the most compelling, relatable, and endearing heroines I have read in years. She is perfectly paired with a grumpy (but secretly golden-hearted) hero, Dr. Adam Carlsen, who is just as helpless as we are to resist Olive’s charms. The story revolves around one of my favorite tropes, fake dating to real love. Hazelwood has a deft sense of humor and obviously relishes every second of the myriad scenarios that force these opposites into an attraction that neither can deny.” —Elizabeth Everett, author of A Lady’s Formula for Love

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

“Okay, look. Talia Hibbert. I could end this right here because those two words say EVERYTHING! But I’ll go on. I’ve been positively desperate for Act Your Age, Eve Brown, the youngest Brown sister’s book. Desperate, I tell you! Sunshine-y, whirlwind Eve meets uptight, in-control Jacob, and I’m so here for this opposites-attract, chaotic, ish-hits-the-fan, delicious rom-com feast to my senses. Enemies to lovers? Yes. Forced proximity? Yes, oh yes. Sexy banter and sexier times? Yes, yes, and yes. And all of this courtesy of the amazing Talia Hibbert and her snarky, hilarious, gorgeous voice? Yes, yes, and let the church say amen—I’m so in!” —Naima Simone, author of Back in the Texan’s Bed and The Road to Rose Bend

An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler by Vanessa Riley

“This is the second book in Riley’s Rogues and Remarkable Women series, and it promises to be just as delicious as the first, A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby. We were introduced to the heroine, Jemina St. Maur, in the previous book and I cannot wait to find out her story. Riley is a master at weaving fascinating historical details with swoon-worthy romance. If you enjoyed Bridgerton on Netflix (and let’s face it, who didn’t?), then Riley’s books are a must-read!” —Joanna Shupe, author of The Devil of Downtown and The Heiress Hunt

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai

“All the books in Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series have fresh premises and vivid characters, but I have been looking forward to the third installment, First Comes Like, the most. The blurb promises a make-up influencer(!), a Bollywood superstar, as well as catfishing, fake dating, and run-ins with paparazzi. Honestly, it’s like the book was made for me. On top of the super fun story, I know I can count on Rai to deliver deep emotional intimacy between her realistic characters. Plus, have you seen that cover? I can’t wait for February 16!” —Farah Heron, author of Accidentally Engaged

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

“One of the books on my 2021 list of must-reads (which, honestly, includes everything else mentioned in this article) is Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop. Her debut, Red, White, and Royal Blue, is one of my favorite books of the last decade, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting Casey’s sophomore release [Read, stalking her Twitter feed for details]. And, when I learned it was a sapphic rom-com, with magic and time travel? Well, be still my beating heart! Casey’s writing is touching, hilarious, and eerily prescient. I cannot wait to be seduced by her again.” —Xio Axelrod, author of The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes

You’ve Got Plaid by Eliza Knight

“I’m most looking forward to You’ve Got Plaid, a historical romance by Eliza Knight, set in Scotland just after the Battle of Culloden. Fiona and Brogan are Jacobite rebels on the losing side of the war, with all the delicious tension of a slow-burn romance. I’m a history buff and my favorite books are those which capture the mood of the past as well as the details, and Knight layers all of that in with a deft hand. The stakes are high, and I can’t wait to see what happens.” —Jennet Alexander, author of I Kissed a Girl

Reel by Kennedy Ryan

“Kennedy Ryan writes epic, gritty-but-glamorous romances with cinematic main characters and poetic prose. Her books stay branded on my heart long after I put them down, and I know her spring release, Reel, will be no different. Seeing Ryan write Black love in Hollywood with her trademark perceptiveness, incisive wit, and bone-deep understanding of romance will be the highlight of my year. Best of all, she says there’ll be music—so perhaps we’ll enjoy the author’s lyrical talents again, too.” —Talia Hibbert, author of Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows.

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