When I discover a romance novel I love, the first thing I do is dive into the author’s backlist. In the case of someone like Beverly Jenkins or Lisa Kleypas, that backlist can keep someone going for a good long while. For an author newer to the scene, authors like Emily Henry, it’s possible to run out of reading material within a week. Beach Read, People We Meet on Vacation, Book Lovers, and done, if you don’t delve into her YA books. Romance readers are nothing if not voracious, after all. At that point, it’s necessary to turn to a trusted source to find more authors whose work is compatible with the new fave. So I’m inviting you to put some trust in me if you’re looking for authors like Emily Henry.
Emily Henry’s work is distinctive for a few reasons. Her characters feel very lived-in to me, with relatable flaws and struggles. The premises of her books — two authors swapping genres, travel buddies to lovers, and a twist on the city girl in the small town — are enough to grab a trope lover’s attention without being so high-flying as to defy believability. Perhaps most notably, her books feature relationship arcs and character arcs for the main characters that are mostly separate from their romantic arcs. I think this adds tremendous richness to the stories. Underneath all of that, there’s a blend of heart and humor that so many of us romance readers crave. With all these elements in mind, here are ten authors like Emily Henry.
If you’re not already reading Kate Clayborn, please fix your life. For me, her books don’t have quite as many laugh-out-loud moments as Emily Henry’s. But the depth of her characters and the exploration of their relationships is unmatched. I’d recommend starting with Love Lettering, about an artsy woman and a numbers guy falling for each other. It has a friendship story that is as honestly as stirring as the romance. And the romance is heart-meltingly amazing, so that’s saying something!
When I think of Ruby Lang, I think of an author who writes romance about real grown-ups. Sometimes I want romance on the verge of fantasy, and other times I’m looking for characters who have seen some shit and still find a reason to love. It’s heartening. Ruby Lang is one of those heartening authors. Start with her Uptown Series, which follows three different couples and their various relationship and real estate conundrums in uptown Manhattan. You get the fun tropes like fake dating and second chance romance, but with that perfect balance of emotional depth and sweetness you want in Emily Henry readalikes.
Sometimes I’m frustrated with romance that moves at breakneck speed, jumping from plot point to plot point without a moment to breathe. Emily Henry’s books take their time, and so do Ashley Herring Blake’s. Her Bright Falls series, starting with Delilah Green Doesn’t Care, follows Delilah Green returning to her home town reluctantly to photograph her estranged stepsister’s wedding. Like Emily Henry, Ashley Herring Blake writes a good bristly woman. If you love Emily Henry but wish for sapphic romances that hit similar beats, here is the author for you.
When I read Lily Chu’s stellar debut, The Stand-In, I was struck by how well the story braided different relationship plots together. In it, a woman who is a dead ringer for a celebrity agrees to be the stand-in for the Chinese movie star because she needs the money to care for her mother. The web of relationships between the characters is so rich and poignant, with a beautiful romance strung through it. I know Emily Henry fans will enjoy this book and its follow-up, The Comeback.
Linda Holmes, host of NPR’s excellent Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, is an author who bridges the genres of contemporary romance and women’s fiction (a genre name I personally do not love, but that’s a post for another day). There are romances at the center of both of her books, though, as well as thoughtfully realized journeys for male and female characters. Like Emily Henry, her characters are often dealing with heavy things in their pasts. In Evvie Drake Starts Over, the titular character reckons with her husband’s sudden death while her tenant, baseball player Dean, is battling the yips. Despite that seriousness, Linda Holmes’s books are still plenty funny and flirty.
Here’s one of the absolute keywords in romance: CHEMISTRY. There’s nothing better than reading a romance and practically seeing those sparks crackle between characters, even if they are supposedly friends or even enemies. Emily Henry’s characters have undeniable chemistry, and so do N.G. Peltier’s. Start with Sweethand. It’s a slow burn enemies-to-lovers with great banter and also delicious food writing. It’s also a good pick if you like romances that take place with a secondary character’s wedding as the backdrop.
Once again, the watchword is chemistry. Like a better version of the gloriously garbage Netflix show Love is Blind, Cara Bastone can write sparkling characters who fall in love without seeing each other in person. If you love reading conversations that result in real intimacy, start with Call Me Maybe. It’s about a woman who calls for IT help and finds love on the other end of the line. Fans of Emily Henry’s banter will find lots to love in Bastone’s books. Bastone’s Love Line series is best in audio format, as it was written specifically for that. Check out her Forever Yours series if you’re more of a print person.
Uzma Jalaluddin has made a name for herself writing fresh updates on well-loved tales like Pride and Prejudice and You’ve Got Mail. Her books deliver on the humor, love, and loss that is a trademark among authors like Emily Henry. Also the secondary cast, especially in Hana Khan Carries On, is dazzling. And as you might expect from the inspirations, both that book and Ayesha at Last are for the enemies-to-lovers fans. These books also don’t shy away from tough topics like racism and Islamophobia while still maintaining a wonderful level of charm.
Among authors like Emily Henry, Roan Parrish stands out for delving deep into emotions as the source of conflict for the main couple. Take the first entry in the Small Change series, Small Change. Ginger, the female lead in that book, is lonely but determined to make it on her own. That’s a trait straight out of an Emily Henry book. Then she meets Christopher, who challenges her need to do everything alone. Getting characters over the hurdle of opening themselves to vulnerability and love is a satisfying process you’ll witness in both Emily Henry and Roan Parrish books.
Many tears are spilled over some of these Emily Henry readalikes because they navigate rocky family relationships. K.A. Tucker’s Wild series, starting with The Simple Wild, explores that very emotional space. Know going in that this book does have a plotline involving cancer. And also pranks, in case those are a dealbreaker for you. But know that if you love a grumpy man, this book has you covered. The grumpy man is Jonah, a pilot Calla meets in Alaska while she’s there reconnecting with her estranged father.
There you go! All told, the backlist of all of these authors will bring you dozens more books to make you laugh, cry, and swoon, in some order. But I know you might be looking for more. In that case, check out Tailored Book Recommendations! It’s a book subscription service that aims to find exactly what you’re looking for.