I am an avid reader. Typicall
y, I read about a book a day, and the majority of these books are romance novels. Over time I have become super picky about the sex scenes in books. I want them hot, and I want them varied.
In my opinion, the best literary sex scenes tend to happen between characters that put each other’s pleasure first, and where consent is enthusiastic and repeated throughout the process. Which is why the majority of the novels on this list were written within the past 10 years. There’s no sexual slavery like in Anne Rice’s
Sleeping Beauty series, and rape isn’t so ubiquitous that it’s practically a secondary character, like in the Outlander series. Instead, the hottest sex happens between two (or more) willing participants with the singular purpose of taking and receiving pleasure in cooperation with each other. Unlike in real life, the best sex scenes in books include everyone getting their cookies, and often the female/non-male character gets theirs first.
Not that I don’t like a bit of the forbidden, it just has to be consensual. For example, there’s more than one scene on this list involving members of the clergy, and I don’t know if that’s just because I am turned on by the idea of defiling a holy man, but judging by the sheer popularity of these novels, there’s a good chance that you are, too.
This list comprises the best explicit sex scenes that I have read in the past several years. And as a sex-positive pansexual woman who can’t get enough of these books, trust me, you’ll want to one-click and read the whole thing.
Fair warning: most of these are romances, so you know that the couple will get a happily ever after, but the scenes themselves may have some spoilers. (No plot points revealed that you couldn’t find in the blurb on the back cover, but you’ve been warned nonetheless.) We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 Neon Gods by Katee Robert
Oh my goodness this book.
by Katee Robert reframes the gods of Olympus as a sort of modern feudal system, instead of actual deities. This book is the story of Hades and Persephone, and I think it lit my kindle on fire? It has some kinky stuff in its pages, including light BDSM, public sex, and a whole lot of dirty talk. Also, you should read it just because Hades is an absolute SIMP for Persephone, and it really warmed my jaded heart. Neon Gods
Also, definitely don’t listen to the audio through your air pods while at the dentist’s office, because the sex scenes come at you pretty quickly. It was a scramble to hit “pause” while getting my root canal. Pretty sure my dentist heard about Persephone getting railed in the sex room through my over-loud headphones. (Maybe he learned something?)
2 Rafe by Rebekah Weatherspoon
I would read cereal boxes if Rebekah Weatherspoon was writing them. Her books are sexy, funny, and always a little wild. Rafe is about a buff ginger nanny and his hot-as-heck boss, a Black doctor who has been burned by relationships in the past. They’re one of my favorite couples in all of romancelandia. And the sex? It’s so much hotter because of how long it takes them to get there. (Nearly 70% into the book before the action happens, and it’s worth the wait.)
If you like books with cinnamon bun heroes that get really into their, um, food? This is going to be the book for you. On one page, he’s lovingly taking care of his charges, on the next, he’s taking care of their mother’s needs. All of them.
3 She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
If you were ever interested in a quasi-retelling of the Mulan story, but a whole lot more intense than the Disney version and 20 times more sapphic,
by Shelley Parker Chan is your jam. She Who Became the Sun She Who Became the Sun is a sweeping, bold fantasy that sails you away in its sparse, syncretic style. It also has lesbian fisting. The sex isn’t abundant, but it is extremely explicit and hot. It’s the kind of lesbian sex that makes you feel the tenderness and heat through your whole body. 4 The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan by Rosie Danan is the first of the books on this list that feature clergy, and it’s so hot. Our main characters are a bisexual former porn star turned sex education mogul and a hotter-than-sin rabbi at the local reform congregation. He invites her to give a series of lectures on intimacy at his synagogue, and then they make their own The Intimacy Experiment curriculum together.
There are several extremely hot scenes in this book. The first is when they watch one of Naomi’s instructional videos together. One in which she’s demonstrating a masturbation technique. And it definitely turns both of them on, though they only kiss in that instance. But the next intimately sexual scene? Yeah, there’s more than kissing.
It’s deeply loving in a way that feels new because a woman who truly owns her sexuality is involved in it, and for the first time in a long time, is tentative about it. There’s a “cuddle incident” that will punch you straight in the feels.
5 Trading Teams by Romeo Alexander
You know, as a queer person, for a long time I simply would not read coming out romances. They’ve
been done. But by Romeo Alexander was recommended by a friend, so I picked it up. I was not disappointed. Plus, it explores a trope I love: college jock falling for his tutor. Trading Teams
Neither of the young men have had same-sex intercourse before, so the attempts in the beginning are understandably bumbling. It’s the sheer desire in the words that make them as scorching as they are. This is a fantastic intro to MLM (men loving men) romance if you’ve never previously read the genre. The fact that it was written by a man makes it all the more genuine. (Oddly, many in the category are written by straight cis women.)
6 Dating-ish by Penny Reid
This whole series is freaking adorable and well-written.
once again has a sexy nerd hero. Matt is a scientist, and Marie is looking for something a bit more unconventional than regular dating. But once she gets to know Matt, she can’t get him out of her mind. Dating-ish by Penny Reid
One scene is particularly hot because it takes place in the VIP area of a nightclub right above the dance floor where the couple just danced to “Careless Whisper.” Have you ever been so hot for someone that you truly just cannot wait to get their clothes off? This book will instantly transport you back to that moment in your life.
7 Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole
If you’ve read any of Alyssa Cole’s books, you know how sexually intense they can get with just a few paragraphs. And yet, there’s a playfulness to her prose that is suffused with such joy, it’s lovely to read.
is a sweet and sexy second-chance romance between security expert Likotsi and her erstwhile love Fabiola. Once Ghosted, Twice Shy
There are WLW books that are soft and sweet, and there are WLW books that have you reaching in your bedside table for your battery-operated friend, and this one is somehow both. Likotsi struggles with vulnerability, and the way she casts aside the trappings of her occupation to be in the moment, feeling and real with Fabiola, makes the intimacy feel seamless to the story.
8 Priest by Sierra Simone
I don’t know what it says about me, but
is one of the hottest books I’ve ever read. Although, I did feel a bit guilty reading it on my sofa, beneath the Madonna and child artwork that my husband has collected since his confirmation. Priest by Sierra Simone
The guilt was short-lived. This book is about a newly-ordained priest and a very sexy woman. She is unashamed of her lusts, but worries that she should be. Who better to counsel her than a priest? Unfortunately for her, that priest is unholy sexy and not immune to temptation. So much so that he takes her right there in the church, on the altar, before the empty pews in the light of the stained glass windows.
9 Happy Endings by Thien-Kim Lam
I am both sex and sex-toy positive, and Thien-Kim Lam makes a sex toy mogul her heroine in
and it’s just as saucy, sexy, and hilarious as you’d imagine. The story centers on Trixie, a first-generation Vietnamese American, and Andre, a handsome Black chef from NOLA. This book will make you hungry for food, and, well, other things. One of the hottest scenes in the book takes place when Trixie is trying a new toy that, let’s say, is more male anatomy-centered than female anatomy-centered, and things escalate exactly how you’d want them to. Heck, it might even give you some ideas in the bedroom. Happy Endings, 10 Not Quite Human by Kaye Draper
finally, a killer paranormal romance with an intersex protagonist. Sam is part shifter, and part human, and hunts others that are often just like them. They have intact male and female anatomy, and they join a hunter’s guild that turns into so much more. It’s a short read, and definitely one of those where you’ll sit down “just to read a few pages” and three hours later you realize you haven’t moved, and the book is done.
Obviously, the sex is going to feel and read differently than you’re probably used to, and that’s honestly a part of what makes it sexy. Author Kaye Draper doesn’t fetishize or tokenize her character’s gender identity, anatomy, or sexual needs; she makes it clear that it is just that — sex. Very hot, very intense, sex.
11 Starting From Scratch by Jay Northcote
The whole Housemates series by Jay Northcote is hot, but none more than
Starting From Scratch. Ben has just graduated university, and he’s living with friends, and working hard. He’s also transgender. But now, while on testosterone and fresh off top surgery, he’s ready to explore his sexuality. Enter Sid, a very handsome guy ready to rock Ben’s world.
Are you warm? Because I think I’m having a hot flash. Or, I just reread
Starting From Scratch for this roundup. This book has the feeling of chewing too much cinnamon gum while riding a motorcycle in the jungle. It gets to all of your senses and takes them on a journey. Two men in total honest exploration of one another’s bodies without fear or shame is stunningly erotic. 12 Night’s Reckoning by Elizabeth Hunter
Did you think I would not have a vampire novel on this list?
by Elizabeth Hunter isn’t really a romance; it’s a vampire adventure mystery interwoven with one of the deepest, most satisfying romantic relationships you’ll ever read. Hunter writes the characters with such exquisite longing and soul-deep desperation that you feel it in your chest as you lose yourself to the pages. Night’s Reckoning Night’s Reckoning is an important installation in the Elemental Legacy arc, and when the two main characters, Ben and Tenzin, finally come together, it’s with the power of a sexual supernova. Yes, there’s biting and blood, but there’s also adoration, need, and magic. The tension between the two characters has been building to this moment for what feels like forever. Ben is unsure about what life as an immortal will be like, and Tenzin is centuries old but experiencing things in a way she hasn’t before. When they join, it’s so explosiveit might actually melt your Kindle. This story is part of Romper & Fatherly ’s Sex Issue, The Moms & Dads Are Horny . Because it’s Valentine’s Day, and parents deserve good sex, too. What Parents Are Talking About — Delivered Straight To Your Inbox