Romance/Erotica

Beat the Heat with These 15 July Romances

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Jessica Pryde

Contributing Editor

Jessica Pryde is a member of that (some might call) rare breed that grew up in Washington, DC, but is happily enjoying the warmer weather of the desert Southwest. While she is still working on what she wants to be when she grows up, she’s enjoying dabbling in librarianship and writing all the things. She can be found drowning in her ever-growing TBR and exclaiming about romance in the Book Riot podcast (When in Romance), as well as on social media. Find her exclamations about books and pho on twitter (JessIsReading) and instagram (jess_is_reading).

It’s July, and I don’t know about you, but my only intention this month is to stay inside and read romance novels! It’s summertime in Arizona, and governing bodies actually recommend staying inside. (And it seems like places all over are experiencing the hottest summers on record! Stay hydrated!) On top of the unbearable heat we’ve also got an hour of rain a day, and does it get any better than reading to the sound of rain hitting a roof? As a bonus, my library system has finally started offering their gamified summer reading program to adults, and I am all about those badges! So yeah, this July is perfect for reading. 

Even though July is a little lighter on popular releases, there are some absolute bangers coming out this month! Sure, we’ve got those gorgeous Bridgerton special edition hardcovers that are coming out, right on the tail end of the new season’s release. (If you like collectibles and you like Julia Quinn, I would definitely have a look at those.) But the batch of books I’ve pulled together to highlight is a little bit less popular than Bridgerton. They’re all books I’ve been looking forward to since I heard about them, and can’t wait to add them to my collection! We’ve got fairy tales and new fantasy romance; we’ve got heists and retellings. There are historicals and contemporaries and long-awaited faves. There’s plenty to pick from this July, whether you’re trying to beat your friends at Adult Summer Reading or just looking for something to languish with for a while, whether by the pool or tucked in with the AC blaring.

cover of That Prince is Mine

That Prince is Mine by Jayci Lee

After Emma, a culinary instructor set on opening her own school, suffers through a series of bad first dates at the hands of her matchmaker godmother’s matchmaker rivals, she isn’t sure what might come next. But when she meets Michel, she thinks he might be exactly what she’s been looking for. What she doesn’t know is that the professor is also a prince looking to find his perfect match, instead of going along with an arranged marriage that will do nothing for him. And Emma? She might be it.

cover of Ne'er Duke Well

Ne’er Duke Well by Alexandra Vasti

An American with radical politics inheriting an English Duchy? A staid debutante who runs an erotic circulating library? A request for help finding a bride and a matchmaker who totally doesn’t want the role herself? (But maybe she does?) What more could a reader ask for?

cover of Do Me a Favor

Do Me a Favor by Cathy Yardley

Widowed Willa has moved to the Pacific Northwest to get a fresh start and pick up where she left off in her cookbook ghostwriting career. She’s supposed to be writing a sexy cookbook for a sexy chef but is kind of stuck. Then she meets her neighbor, a fun-loving, deep-voiced divorcée named Hudson, and sees a light at the end of the tunnel. He helps her open up in all kinds of ways, and the two help each other through their second round of self-discovery.

cover of Cross the Line

Cross the Line by Simone Soltani

There has been a crop of Formula 1 romances popping up recently and I’m here for it! This one introduces us to Dev, a driver who is dealing with a bit of a PR crisis right in the middle of the Monaco Grand Prix. When he runs into his best friend’s younger sister, he thinks she’s the perfect person to help get him out of it and offers her a job on the spot. Willow is totally down for it, and they are ready to work together—as long as neither of them brings up the kiss they shared months ago. 

cover of Let the Games Begin

Let the Games Begin by Rufaro Faith Mazarura

This book is bound to scratch all your Olympic Games itches! British Zimbabweans Zeke and Olivia have their own ambitions in regard to the 2024 games (fictionally set in Athens). Olivia is set to start an internship that will have her moving up the chain in the organization, while Zeke intends to prove himself the fastest man alive. When they literally run into each other at the opening ceremony, it’s the start of something beautiful—and in a community so small, they’re bound to keep running into each other.

This cover is great, but I also have to share the UK cover because LOOK AT IT.

Cover of Between Friends & Lovers

Between Friends and Lovers by Shirlene Obuobi

Actual medical doctor Shirlene Obuobi offers up her second romance featuring a fantastic Black woman with a medical degree. This time, we have Josephine, who is known on social media as Dr. Jojo. She is trying her best to live by her own recommendations, but it’s hard when all you want is your best friend who doesn’t think of you that way at all. When she meets Malcolm at said best friend’s birthday, the two have an instant connection, but there’s a lot to be said for what’s public and what’s private, and how friendship evolves into something else. 

cover of Cash Delgado is Living the Dream

Cash Delgado is Living the Dream by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Single mom Cash Delgado has a pretty solid life. She has her six-year-old kid who she loves, and a managing job at a bar where she also gets to emcee karaoke on the regular. But when her friend and former manager Inez comes back into town, Cash’s life might be turned upside down in unexpected ways.

cover of Jewel Me Twice

Jewel Me Twice by Charish Reid

There are ex-romantic partners, and there are ex-work partners…and then there are exes who were both romantic partners and heist partners! Who have to work together again to honor their mentor’s last wish! And travel the world to execute the perfect heist! Do you know how excited I—a person who doesn’t gravitate towards second-chance romances—am for this book? How much better can it get? Did I mention it was written by thee Charish Reid? 

cover of The Design of Us

The Design of Us by Sajni Patel

Since we probably shouldn’t be traveling from the mainland to Hawai’i, let’s read about people doing it instead! On a trip to Hawai’i to visit with family, Bhanu comes across the last person she’d expect to see at the hotel where she’s staying: Sunny, the grump from work who is her biggest competition. When she saves Sunny from a frustrating situation by pretending to be his girlfriend, the pair are set on a path of fake dating and meddling friends and family that changes everything about their relationship.

cover of Persuaded

Persuaded by Sally Malcolm

Sally Malcolm. Persuasion. Do you really need more than that?

Okay, so sure, you do. 

Technically, this is a bit of a cheat, because this book was released several years ago under the name Perfect Day. I don’t know if there have been any changes made to the story to update it from that time, but the cover is pretty, and we always stan a Sally Malcolm retelling. Joshua is a member of a well-off Long Island family, and once upon a time, he had a budding romance with aspiring actor Finn. But in true Persuasion fashion, he succumbs to family pressure and they don’t see each other for several years. Fast forward to now, and Finn is definitely doing better for himself, and the last thing he wants is to get back together with the man who broke his heart. But love is enduring, and these two can’t stay away from each other, no matter how hard they try. 

cover of The Next Best Fling

The Next Best Fling by Gabriella Gamez

First, there was the cover. Look at it for a second. 

Then, there was the discovery that the main character was a librarian. Always a plus!

Finally, there was the mess! (insert Marie Kondo “I love mess” GIF.) Marcela has been in love with her best friend for years. Her best friend who just got engaged. Her best friend’s brother Theo is also in love—with his brother’s fiancee. When a series of events leads people to think Marcela and Theo have hooked up, they roll with it, which leads to some…other feelings cropping up. 

cover of You Had Me at Happy Hour

You Had Me at Happy Hour by Timothy Janovsky

When a sommelier and the new mixologist pair up to build up some new promotions at their restaurant, neither of them is looking for a relationship. It’s perfectly fine, because they’re nothing alike, and they each have very different goals for themselves and their lives. But when their work relationship turns into a coworkers-with-benefits number, feelings might start to get in the way of each of their plans. 

cover of Bound to the Shadow Prince

Bound to the Shadow Prince by Ruby Dixon 

The queen of alien romance goes romantasy and your girl is here for it! In the forced proximity plot to end all forced proximity, princess Candra is locked in a tower for seven years to save her kingdom, but she’s not alone. Nemeth, whose people and hers are sworn enemies, is also locked in the tower. They don’t particularly understand each other, but they’re drawn to each other, and come to rely on each other for company and, well, other things. 

cover of The Duke at Hazard

The Duke at Hazard by KJ Charles

In this follow-up to The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting, KJ Charles takes us back to the world of lords and thieves. The Duke of Severn has lost his signet ring—or more, someone has stolen it! In order to get it back, Cassian goes on the road incognito, enlisting disgraced gentleman Daizell to help him in his quest. In true Charles fashion, shenanigans ensue!

cover of Apples Dipped in Gold

Apples Dipped in Gold by Scarlett St. Clair

Scarlett St. Clair’s second fairy tale retelling introduces us to Samara, a girl who has been brought up by three horrible brothers. When they betroth her to a handsome prince, she thinks her life has changed for the better, but she’s kidnapped by the Prince of Nightshade on the way to her new home. Lore has coveted Samara for years but hadn’t counted on loving her. What will happen now that he has her?


If you’re looking for more romance to check out, make sure to revisit the posts about books that released in June and May. And check out these 10 Steamy Beach Reads to Spice up your summer! You can also find a full list of new releases in the very cool New Release Index, carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors.