Are you in the mood for some sad romance books? Do you want to cry comfortably while reading? Well, do I have the sad, sad list for you. Readers, like yourselves, come to sad romance books with the expectation that it will hurt, but they will be happy about it by the end.
Crying at books is a wonderful thing, especially at books with a Happily Ever After or Happy For Now (HEA/HFN) waiting for you at the end. There is something incredibly impressive about a romance book that can make you cry. Objectively, romance readers know that everything will work out for the main couple in the end. They are romances after all. Nevertheless, we still cry when sad romance books warrant a deluge of tears.
I think we can all agree sad romance books are incredibly cathartic. Crying is an important and undervalued emotional reaction that books and storytelling in general can help elicit. Not everyone is a media crier, but if you are, a sad book can really get you. It’s heartbreaking to watch someone else’s fictional pain and sometimes too many tears is the correct response. I am pro-crying at books and pro-books that make you cry. If you are reading a physical copy of a book, you get little tear stains on your books. You have to grab some tissues because you cannot really read the rest of the paragraph. Then you look into the void and imagine a time when you were once happy. It’s a sad vibe and a sad mood, and I am here for it.
What Makes Sad Romance Books Sad and a Romance?
Today, it’s my job to round up a list of some of the best sad romance books for your tear-filled reading experience. To make my list, the YA or adult books have to have a HEA/HFN, they have to have made me or someone I know cry, and they have to do both in one book.
Some trope features in sad romance overlap with Hurt/Comfort and angst, but the key element to me is the sadness of it all. I decided to include some books in the historical and paranormal sub-genres of romance. I sincerely hope you have a tortured time with the following books.
Sad Adult Romance Books
Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian
Content Warnings: Attempted Suicide, Torture, Addiction, Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse
Is it wrong to kidnap your closest friend from his attic hideaway in the name of good health? From Will’s perspective, the answer to that question is a firm “no.” He hadn’t heard from Martin in months and when Will finally finds him, absconding to the country is clearly his only option. In their new, cozy cottage, Will can avoid the temptation of opium while caring for his dearest friend. Some of the most heartbreaking confessions are wrapped up in this friends-to-lovers queer historical romance where Will and Martin imagine what their future might look like if they can just stay together.
Trade Me by Courtney Milan
Content Warnings: Death of a Loved One, Eating Disorder, Racism
It all started with a simple trade: Blake, the billionaire son of the founder of Cyclone Systems, will spend one month living Tina Chen’s life. Now their incomes, homes, and jobs are swapped. Before Tina was struggling to pay her rent, go to class, and have enough money left at the end of the month to help her family. Now, she is living in the nicest apartment she has ever visited and got her coursework done with plenty of time left over for a full night’s sleep. But as she begins to learn all of Blake’s secrets, she also begins to realize the ways their easy trade could, potentially, destroy her.
Silver Silence by Nalini Singh
Content Warning: Death of a Loved One
Bear den cuddles are not the only thing the bear shifters are doing to protect their new Psy den mate from assassins, but they sure do not hurt. Silver is the director of the worldwide emergency response network and must move in with the bear Changeling alpha, Valentin, if she wants to evade the threat to her life. Valentin knows Silver’s the one and is undaunted by her adherence to the Silence protocols that once forcibly kept all telepathic Psy safe from the dangers of strong emotion. With a soft but deadly community surrounding her, Silver begins to question her stance on maintaining her Silence even at the risk of her life. All I’m going to say is if memory loss plots make you cry, be ready with a box of tissues.
Then There Was You by Mona Shroff
Content Warnings: Death of a Child, Miscarriage, School Shooting, Racism
A helicopter ER medic meets the girl of his dreams during one of the worst moments of her life. There was no way Daniel could’ve asked for her number at the time, but when he happens to run into her at her part-time bartending job, he can’t help but return and get to know her more. Even as he begins to confront the loss of his child, he cannot resist her. Annika is a kindergarten teacher who supplements her income with a bartending gig as she continues to heal from her miscarriage and a bad breakup. When she meets Daniel at the bar, she can’t help but fall for him, but can they pursue a romantic relationship amidst their grief?
Summoning Up Love by Synithia Williams
Content Warning: Death of a Loved One
When Vanessa loses both her job as a news anchor and her fiancé, she decides to rest and reflect at her grandmother’s haunted beach house. Of course, she didn’t know about the haunted bit when she made her plans, but now that she is in her grandmother’s small southern town, she doesn’t plan on letting a supposed ghost get in her way. The potential fraudsters and supposed paranormal investigators are none other than Dion and his brothers. Her grandmother has recently lost her husband and so Vanessa will not stand in her way. But as the investigation continues, she comes to believe their chemistry might just be supernatural too.
Just Like This by Cole McCade
Content Warnings: Kidnapping, Parental Neglect
An art teacher and a football coach have an animosity-filled sworn enemies’ relationship that changes completely when they come together to help a student in trouble. At a small private boarding school in Massachusetts, Rian and Damon know secrets do not stay secrets for long. They believe they can get to the bottom of their student’s issues if they can just get along. When Rian’s artistic heart begins to soften toward the grumpy coach, he is only just beginning to understand that he has to relearn what he wants from a romantic partner, his life, and what he is willing to change to get it.
Book Boyfriend by Kris Ripper
Preston never thought the book that was heavily inspired by his unrequited love for his best friend Art would be the one to finally get published. Now, the New York City-based editorial assistant’s first foray into writing romance is quickly making its way to the publication date, and to make matters worse, readers love it. Art just moved back in with Preston after a bad breakup and he cannot bring himself to make a love confession, let alone admit to publishing the popular romance book about his secret feelings. Preston is convinced a grand public gesture is the way to go, but when a literary cliché turns into a real-life disaster, Preston will have to discover what he must do if he doesn’t want to lose Art for good.
Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Content Warning: Attempted Suicide, Homophobia
When Alexis goes to a strip club for her sister’s bachelorette party, she doesn’t expect to meet a stripper who steals her attention. She is floored to discover Trisha is in her freshman class and also a computer science major at her college. After failing to become a professional athlete or violinist, Alexis is not sure she is ready for more disappointment. Trisha doesn’t have much time for romance either between her academic and professional lives. However, neither Alexis nor Trisha can turn down something this precious.
YA Sad Romance Books
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Content Warning: Racism
Being a Muslim Hijabi teen girl at an American high school was hard enough before 9/11. By 2002, Shirin had become used to the snap judgments, comments, and violence that came her way. She can finally breathe when she has a chance to lose herself in her music and break dance with her brother. No one ever made her feel as safe as dance. That is until she meets Ocean, the white star basketball player who wants to know her. He baffles her at first, but Shirin cannot resist Ocean’s kind persistence, even if he is from a different world. Finding their rhythm might be harder than either Shirin or Ocean could’ve imagined.
Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith
Content Warnings: Transphobia, Suicidal Ideation, Dead Naming
Pony knows going stealth at his new high school is the best chance he has at normalcy after coming out as transgender and experiencing the backlash at his last school. Day one, he meets Georgia, a cheerleader looking for a way off the team. She wants a quiet year with no romantic entanglements to distract her. Pony and Georgia both have their reasons for wanting to avoid a new relationship, but sometimes chemistry gets in the way of a simple plan. But if they want to start dating, they will have to leave behind their goals of anonymity and forge something undeniably golden.
One For All by Lillie Lainoff
Content Warnings: Death of a Loved One, Ableism, Misogyny
In 1655 France, when the daughter of a former musketeer discovers the circumstances around her father’s murder, she vows she will avenge his death. Tania has been learning how to wield a sword her entire life even through some of her dizziest moments with POTS, a chronic illness. She is puzzled when she learns her father’s dying wish was for her to attend a finishing school in Paris. Only upon her arrival does she realize the school is specifically designed for girls like her who have been selected to become Musketeers disguised as socialites. In Paris, she finds new friends, a new love interest or two, and the truth behind her father’s death. Tania will have to take hold of her bravery, her sword, and her heart if she wants to make it through the social season in one piece.
Camp by L. C. Rosen
Content Warnings: Death of a Loved One, Homophobia, Emotional Abuse by a Parent
Randy lives for the annual musical production at Camp Outland, a place where queer teens can experience both kinds of camp at once. But to accomplish his dream he is willing to give it all up, adopt a new masc persona, Del, and try to start a relationship with his longtime crush, Hudson. You see, Hudson is known to date around the masc campers, and Randy knows fitting Hudson’s type is his best chance at love. But as the role of Del brings him closer to Hudson, Randy begins to realize the major flaw in his plan. No one can fall in love with a fake persona.
The End of The List Of Sad Romance Books: Don’t Be Sad It’s Over Be Glad it Happened
Now, I believe it is time to let the tears commence. I want these YA and Adult romance books to let you feel terribly sad and deeply in love. Luckily, my list of sad romance books is just one list of books that can make you cry. If you specifically want more queer recs, this list of LGBT books that will make you cry. So, goodbye for now, I wish you a very satisfying cry.