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The Biggest 2024 Romance Novel Trends

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Alison Doherty

Senior Contributor

Alison Doherty is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on the subway, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.

Romance novels have been one of the most popular genres in publishing for decades. And romance sales have only been going up in recent years. Despite this obvious popularity, romance novels are often looked down on or ignored by the rest of the bookish community. I’ve had people in real life and on the internet tell me that they “don’t count” or aren’t “real books.” And romance readers are very, very used to the majority of romance novel coverage in mainstream journalism being written by writers who obviously don’t read romance. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading (and writing for!) Book Riot so much.

Romance novels, like all genres of books, go through trend cycles for what publishers want to publish and readers want to read. However, these two categories don’t always match. Romance fans are apt to read more books a year than the average reader. Indie romance novels also continue to dominate the self-publishing space, which means authors don’t always rely on traditional publishing gatekeepers. It also means that books can follow emerging trends much quicker. Romance novels can be incredibly responsive to the times and to the desires of readers.

As a long-time romance novel fan, I like thinking about what shifts and trends are happening within the world of romance books. Last year, I predicted the top romance trends of 2023. Some I think I got right. While some didn’t really come true. And even though I did give a small side note to a rise in fantasy romance, I never saw the huge hit Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros coming. Nor could I have ever imagined the way Romantasy (a term I didn’t even know last year) would take over both the romance novel community and my own reading.

2024 Romance Trends

What are the 2024 romance trends? I’m going to try to guess again. Only time will tell if I’m right or not…because all you’re really guaranteed in romance is a happily ever after.

Romantasy! Romantasy! Romantasy!

When a friend first messaged me asking if I had read Fourth Wing, I dismissed the recommendation because I’ve never been big into adult fantasy. But when five more friends recommended it, and I saw The Ripped Bodice was hosting a midnight release party for the sequel, Iron Flame, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. And friends, I was instantly hooked…along with most of the romance readers I know.

I’ve read both books twice. And now, about 90% of what I’ve read in the last four months is Romantasy, a sub-genre in which equal footing is given in the plot to romance as it is to fantasy aspects. What’s clear is I’m not the only romance reader going through this big shift. And we want more, more, more while we wait for the third book in the Empyrean series. Sarah J. Maas and Jennifer Armentrout had already made this genre very popular. I only see this sub-genre getting bigger in both adult and young adult romances.

Paranormal Romance (Especially Vampires)

I think 2024 will be the year of the vampire in paranormal romance. In a way, this feels preordained. In the early 2000s, the dominant “chick lit” genre led directly into vampire mania of the Twilight years. And, as contemporary romcoms have been incredibly popular over the last 4-5 years, we all know what’s coming next. Ali Hazelwood has Bride. Jen Levine is following up her popular My Roommate Is a Vampire with the upcoming My Vampire Plus-One. And Katee Robert also has a new vampire-selkie romance, Blood on the Tide, which I can’t wait to read. I suspect this is just the beginning.

It’s not hard to predict that witches, fae, and ghosts will remain a popular 2024 romance trend. I also think that along with funny, comedic paranormal stories, we will see more horror-romance mashups this year, building on the trend of dark romance.

Pink Covers

The Barbie movie made pink the color of 2023. It’s no surprise book cover designers are capitalizing on this trend — especially in contemporary romance. I have already seen so many pink book covers on my social media for 2024 book releases. This Could Be Us by Kennedy Ryan, The Partner Plot by Kristina Forest, Late Bloomer by Mazey Eddings, and How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang are all pink-covered books on my TBR already for the year. And I’m definitely excited to see more pink spines on my bookshelves!

Sports Romances (Beyond Just Hockey)

Hockey romances took off in a big way in 2023. So much so that there was a BookTok controversy that ended up being covered by lots of mainstream journalism — even The New York Times. I think there will still be lots of Hockey romance novels, but other sports might move into the spotlight as well. With the Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce relationship in the spotlight, I’m expecting a resurgence of football romance novels. Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who basically invented sports romances, has a new football romance out this month called Simply the Best. Some other, more obscure sports might become more popular in romance novels. Tessa Bailey even has a golf romance coming out this year. And, if anyone can make golf sexy, it’s her.

Self-Publishing and Fan Fiction’s Influence

Traditional publishing is watching the success of self-published novels and online fanfiction with keen interest. I think traditional publishing will continue to poach the most successful indie and Internet authors…making the price of books we love go way, way up. Reylo-inspired romances will keep being popular with lots of enemies-to-lovers and opposites-attract novels. And, instead of traditional publishing setting the 2024 romance trends that trickle down, I think self-published authors and fanfiction writers will innovate and create big moves within the romance genre.

Honorable Mentions

Okay, I’m going to stop myself before I keep rambling on and on. Because, I could seriously talk about romance novels all day…and night…and through the next day. But here are a few other 2024 romance trends that I think will hold strong or grow within the next year.

  • Illustrated covers — I know a lot of us loathe these, but I don’t see them going away anytime soon. They are cheap to make and seem to appeal to a more mainstream reader market.
  • Second-chance romance — These became more popular in 2023, and I think they will keep growing in popularity this year.
  • Very spicy new adult romance novels
  • Breeding romances and Why Choose/polyamory/multiple partners
  • More dad bods and body diversity in heroes — This might be very wishful thinking, but I am here for it!

In a year, we’ll all know if I’m right or if I’m wrong. There are so many trends that have happened in the last few years that I could never have predicted. But no matter what, I’m excited to read all the wonderful romance novels 2024 has to offer.