I’ve read about 60 books in 2022, and all but perhaps ten of them were romance (and of those ten, several included romance). And yet, I wonder: who am I to determine the best romance novels of 2022? Well, qualified or not, here I am doing just that. So let me tell you a bit about my reading habits: I mostly read contemporary romance, and I mostly read traditionally published. I do not think either of these things is better than the alternative(s)! But the fact is, when one reads about a book per week, there are simply thousands of books that there isn’t enough time for, so I hope you’ll forgive any omissions.
I’ve made every effort to be inclusive of books I might not normally gravitate toward; I asked for input from the other Book Riot romance readers, and have spent the last two months of the year frantically reading every title they suggested. Indeed, I have read every book that made the top ten, and most of the books that earned a mention (the exceptions, in the “Other Rioters Recommend” section, simply had too long a wait at my library, and I did at least read excerpts of those).
No best of list can possibly cover all of the books that deserve placement, nor is there an agreed-upon definition of “best.” But for what it’s worth, these are the ten best romance novels of 2022, according to me. In alphabetical order by book title.
The Best Romance Novels of 2022
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Literary agent Nora finds herself working closely with editor Charlie on her client’s new book, while on vacation in Sunshine Falls, South Caroline, with her little sister Libby. Nora doesn’t want to be there, or to be working with Charlie, but she’ll do almost anything for her clients and absolutely anything for Libby, who she’s taken care of since their mom died. The banter and longing between Nora and Charlie makes this book absolutely unputdownable, and I don’t even want to tell you how many times I’ve picked it back up. (It’s at least six.)
By the Book by Jasmine Guillory
In this loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Isabelle is 25 and still an assistant, desperate to be an editor. Beau is supposed to be writing his memoir, but he’s been holed up in Santa Barbara for a year and won’t talk to anyone. So Izzy shows up at his door and offers her help — and he says she can stay. Their working relationship is charming and feels so real, as she coaxes his story out of him and they both fall totally in love. If you like the sex to stay behind closed doors, this is the one for you.
Dating Dr. Dill by Nisha Sharma
Kareena wants a love match, but the only way she can keep her late mother’s house is if she gets engaged ASAP. Prem is a heart doctor who doesn’t believe in love, but needs investors for his new clinic. They have a fight during his show that puts his funding in danger, so he agrees to play the part of her fiancé to get them both the cash they need. Fake dating is so common that it often feels silly or forced, but this book never felt anything but real — and it handles grief nicely, too. Who can resist a Taming of the Shrew retelling?
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston
Florence is a ghostwriter who can talk to ghosts. She writes romance novels for a famous (and retired) author, but she is late delivering the last book on the contract because she no longer believes in love. Then her editor leaves, and her replacement, Ben, gives Florence 24 hours to turn in the manuscript. But Florence’s father dies suddenly and she goes home, where she runs into the last ghost she expected: Ben, who has been hit by a car. I never expected to love a ghost romance this much. (And I promise, they do end up together, as impossible as that seems.)
D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins
I was surprised to fall this hard for a reality show romance, especially a wedding reality show! D’Vaughn and Kris are paired up on the show Instant I Do, where they have six weeks to complete a series of wedding planning tasks with their families, who they have to convince that their engagement is real. Of course, they fall in love for real, forcing them to decide whether to take the prize money or say “I do.”
Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman
I love a dual timeline book, and this one takes us back and forth between Chani’s legendary interview with actor Gabe, which launched both of their careers and prompted a lot of rumors about whether they hooked up, and ten years later, when Chani is asked to interview him again and all of their feelings from the first time bubble up to the surface. It includes the article she wrote the first time and an assortment of the internet speculation surrounding it.
Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly
Two reality show romances? Yes, really! In this one, it’s cooking show rivals. Dahlia needs the prize money, and London wants to get out of their father’s control and start their own company. Their friendship blossoms after Dahlia gets off to a bad start on the show, falling flat on her face. Their mutual attraction proves unstoppable, but they have the teensy problem of being competitors, not to mention leading very separate lives off the show.
To Catch a Raven by Beverly Jenkins
Con woman Raven Moreau comes from a long line of con artists with a family plan. Braxton and his father are thrown together with the Moreaux when a Pinkerton convinces (read: blackmails) them to pull off a heist, stealing a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence back from a crooked congressman, with Raven and Braxton posing as husband-wife servants. Their attraction is instant, but they both swear there’s no love match. As always, Ms. Bev’s historicals are a history lesson and a lesson in love.
Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Meteorologist Ari and sports reporter Russell team up to get their bosses, weather legend Torrance and her ex-husband, news director Seth, to stop fighting and get back together. Of course, Ari and Russell fall in love. I love that both hero and heroine are Jewish, and Russell is fat and was a teen parent. The personal complications in this book just feel real, plus there’s a million weather puns.
You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Ezemi
Artist Feyi wants to start living again, after five years of grieving her dead fiancé. She begins dating and agrees to take a trip to the Caribbean with a guy who seems perfect — but once they’re there, she finds herself drawn to his father, a chef who is also grieving a lost love. This novel doesn’t shy away from its exploration of grief and queerness, while not skimping on the romance.
Honorable Mentions (More of the Best Romance Novels)
By Any Other Name by Lauren Kate
Romance editor Lanie has the career opportunity of a lifetime: to work with legendary author Noa Callaway. Noa has writer’s block and Lanie has to help her through it…but there’s more about Noa that Lanie doesn’t know, and it’s not just that he’s actually Noah. They both have some pressing life issues to get past if they want to be together.
I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson
Kian, who is totally over his ex, Hudson, agrees to meet with him for what he hopes will be an apology. Instead, he finds himself pretending to still be Hudson’s boyfriend, at first for a family dinner and then for a week in Georgia for a family wedding.
In A New York Minute by Kate Spencer
Franny is laid off and, as if that isn’t bad enough, her dress rips open on the subway, baring her entire backside. A handsome stranger gives her his jacket and she makes it home, only to find out that someone posted a video of their meeting and the entire internet ships them. Hayes, a.k.a. the handsome stranger, is starting his own business and hires Franny to design his offices.
Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez
When ER doctor Alexis drives off the road to avoid hitting an animal, she is rescued by local Daniel. After a steamy night together, she goes back to the city where she is going through an ugly divorce and dealing with her parents’ stressful expectations for her life and career — but she keeps finding herself back in Daniel’s small town, where she gets to be who she wants to be.
The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian
Highwayman Rob blackmailed Marian, the Duchess of Clare, and their letters back and forth got rather flirtatious…right up until she kidnapped him and left him tied up and unable to help his dearest friend hold up her husband. In the robbery, Marian is forced to shoot her husband, and finds herself with only one person to turn to: Rob.
Queerly Beloved by (Book Rioter!) Susie Dumond
Amy is a lesbian working at a conservative bakery in 2012 Oklahoma, and she is fired after being accidentally outed. She finds work as a bridesmaid for hire, helping other (straight) couples have their perfect day while dating engineer Charley. But Amy still can’t be herself out loud, and it’s putting a strain on her personal life — with Charley, with her closest friends, and with her family.
Other Rioters Recommend (Even More Best of)
Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander
Simone is happy to be a test cook for The Discerning Chef, writing about the best bread and pastry recipes. When her boss demands that she pivot to video, and the kitchen manager is replaced by sunshine-y Ray, Simone has to miserably attempt to keep her job while in over her head. But Ray is growing on her…
The Romantic Agenda by Claire Kann
Joy has been in love with her best friend Malcolm for years, and he has always put her first — to the detriment of his romantic relationships. But now he wants her to come on a trip with him and his new girlfriend, Summer, and distract Summer’s friend Fox. Joy and Fox agree that they will spend time together, but with the express purpose of making Malcolm and Summer see what they’re missing. Except…there might be something there for Joy and Fox.
The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen
In a world with magic, demigods, and zombies, Mercy is an undertaker and Hart is a marshal who brings in bodies. Mercy is stretched thin with obligations, and Hart is lonely. So he pens a letter, addressed simply to “a friend,” and expects nothing in return. To his surprise, he gets a letter back. And so he and Mercy fall in love on paper while despising each other in person.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
Mika Moon is a real witch pretending to be a fake witch. It’s not safe for real witches to make themselves known, but witchcore is all the rage on social media, so Mika pretends to do magic on her popular account. Then she gets a message from someone who needs a magical tutor for three young witches, and she agrees. But the attractive librarian who lives there doesn’t approve of this plan.
And there you have it! Twenty amazing romance novels from 2022. Looking for more great romance? Check our other romance lists. Looking for the best of another genre? Check out the best LGBTQ+ books of 2022, the best SFF books of 2022, and the best historical fiction of 2022.