If you like your reading steamier than a 4th of July party, romance novels are just the thing. But if you’re new to the genre, you might be wondering, who are the best romance authors? There are certainly plenty to the choose from. Bodice-ripper page-turners have been in circulation since at least the 18th century, according to the New York Pubic Library blog. And it’s interesting to note that, “Although modern romance novels have expanded to include both authors and protagonists of different genders, races, sexualities, and abilities, historically, romance novels separate themselves from other genres by being primarily written by women, for women, and about women,” NYPL reports.
This is to say that when you begin your journey into romance reading, it’s important not to overlook authors of yore. Georgette Heyer’s Georgian-era books that came out in the 1920s continue to be a genre favorite. And who can forget Jane Austen? She might not have the erotic appeal so many romance authors tackle today, but fans will tell you her work doesn’t need it. Mr. Darcy is still just as steaming fully clothed in his Regency breeches and waistcoat.
With that said, here are some other must-read romance authors.
Contemporary Romance Authors
If you want your hot and heavy books to take place in a time you can imagine, ahem now, then these are the authors to turn to.
As familiar a name to romance readers as JK Rowling is to kid lit fantasy books, Nora Roberts has 225 novels to her name. Her books are especially appreciated thanks to her never formulaic plots and use of humor.
If you’re looking for romance stories that take place in real life settings (say a small midwest town), Adriana Locke is for you. The author’s compelling, flawed but with a heart of gold characters are gaining popularity with the romance set.
Looking for a book boyfriend? Then Lauren Landish’s novels are for you. She excels at creating super sexy characters with “rock-hard abs and chiseled smiles.” Who cares if they’re only fiction?
A veteran romance writer and her books have the stereotypical look: beefcake cover with flowy calligraphy font. But don’t judge her books by their cover. She’s respected for her great character development and excellent use of drama.
Pippa Grant takes the bad boy character, makes him super hot, then has his leading lady turn him into a (still smoking) new man.
Madison Faye’s work has been called “quick and filthy” so if you’re looking for literature that’s heavy on the erotica, her stories are for you. Google “Beasting Beauty” for proof.
Regency Romance Authors
Blame it on Jane Austen, but the Regency era stands out as one of romance’s most preferred periods. Here are some authors who dabble in this period to great effect.
Heard of the blockbuster series Bridgerton? Then you know Julia Quinn. The historical romance author actually got her start writing books in med school, but eventually dropped out after her wild success. Her books are noted for celebrating female pleasure.
If you love Regency period reads, but have exhausted Jane Austen, head to your local library for some Georgette Heyer. With 26 Regency novels to choose from, you’ll have plenty of reading material.
Gabaldon falls into many categories: romance, historical fiction, fantasy, but here’s all that you need to know: she’s the woman who introduced the world to Outlander’s Jamie Fraser. Enough said.
An award-winning historical fiction writer, Tessa Dare’s books (like When a Scot Ties The Knot), might have cheeky titles, but payoff when it comes to steamy stories of the early 1800s.
Lisa Kleypas is a New York Times bestselling author thanks to her 21 novels including Regency titles such as Secrets of a Summer Night filled with witty banter between the heroine Annabelle and her swoon-worthy beau Simon.
New Romance Authors
New romance writers are always entering the genre, but it takes some great writers to rise to the top. Such is the case with these authors.
Renée Watson got her start in children’s literature with books like her Newberry Honor-winning “Piecing Me Together.” Now she has a new romance novel out that’s getting all kinds of buzz. In Revolution, Nala falls for Tye, a cute MC, at a party. But when she lies about herself to get his attention, their romance gets tangled.
L.J.Shen writes books like The Monster: A Mafia Romance and proudly states on her website: “bringing badass alphas to their knees since 2015.” If that’s not intriguing enough to pick up a copy, what is?
If you like your romance with a hefty serving of comedy, Sara Desai has you covered. Her books, two of which have earned Oprah Magazine’s Most Anticipated Romances, keep the laughs coming even as her protagonists fall in love.
Inclusive, diverse, and wildly creative, Talia Hibbert has been applauded for making her books as sexy as they are equitable.
Erotic Romance Authors
If storyline is only half as important as the sex scenes in the books you read, you might enjoy adding these authors to your list.
E L James
This is the author who brought the world 50 Shades of Grey. Need we say more?
Her writing has been called "... intensely sensual, achingly emotional” by NPR. But beyond that, her books are also known for being wickedly steamy.
If one sex scene just won’t do, turn to Grace Goodwin, whose books (like Mastered by her Mates) are packed with a enough hot alien action (yes, alien) to keep you mesmerized.
Author of the lesbian romance series, The Goode Governor, JJ Arias’ goal is to make quality hot romance for LGBT people.
You know what to do. Charge the kindle or go find your library card and get reading.