The best feel-good romance novels for when the world is a dumpster-fire

Who am I?

I was a romance reader long before becoming an author. 89 published books later, including 2 New York Times and 9 USA Today bestsellers, I feel justified in claiming some knowledge on the subject. I believe you must be a book lover, an avid reader, to be a successful writer. That said, everyone has diverse tastes, and I think taste and what a person needs in a book, changes with time and circumstances. Luckily there have never been more books available. You just have to find them. Whether you read my recommendations and said, “Yes!” or “Hell, no!”, I hope you're one step closer to your next best read.


I wrote...

Between a Rock and a Hard Cowboy

By Cat Johnson,

Book cover of Between a Rock and a Hard Cowboy

What is my book about?

Opposites combust between a small-town Army veteran cowboy and a grumpy city girl hacker with an attitude as big as New York when a Christmas blizzard traps them together with a mysterious century-old family secret that could cost his family everything.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Inheritance Games

By Jennifer Lynn Barnes,

Book cover of The Inheritance Games

Why this book?

A monstrously large mansion full of mysteries and puzzles to be solved. A large cast of vivid, diverse characters, including four rich hot brothers. A rags-to-riches story with a likable kick-butt heroine. And a twisting turning plot that kept me guessing to the end. Those are just some of the reasons I loved this book, besides the masterful writing. 

Fun fact—I’ve seen the author of this book speak at writers’ conferences and she was such a compelling speaker that I checked out her book. But I bought her book (all three in the series actually and I have her next one on preorder for next year) because it has everything I love in an escapist read. 

The Inheritance Games

By Jennifer Lynn Barnes,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Inheritance Games as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1.5 MILLION COPIES SOLD OF THE #1 BESTSELLING SERIES!

Don't miss this New York Times bestselling "impossible to put down" (Buzzfeed) novel with deadly stakes, thrilling twists, and juicy secrets -- perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and Knives Out.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why -- or even who Tobias Hawthorne is.

To receive her inheritance, Avery must…


Maggie Moves On

By Lucy Score,

Book cover of Maggie Moves On

Why this book?

Did you ever read a book so immersive that you were sad when it was over because it felt as if you were saying goodbye forever to your new best friends? That’s how I felt at the final page of Maggie Moves On

With a reluctant down-on-love heroine and a hot hero who falls hard and fast and refuses to give up on her, the romance was both steamy and swoon-worthy. Add in the laugh-out-loud moments with a comical but ill-trained dog, an old house under renovation and full of secrets, a small town, and a large cast of characters and this book hit all my hot buttons.

Maggie Moves On

By Lucy Score,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Maggie Moves On as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Can these opposites turn up the heat… without burning down the house?

House-flipping sensation and YouTube star Maggie Nichols can’t wait to dig into her next challenge. Arriving in tiny Kinship, Idaho, with only a cot and a coffeemaker, Maggie is prepared to restore a crumbling Victorian mansion in four months or less. She has her to-do lists, her blueprints, and her team. What she doesn’t have is time for sexy, laid-back landscaper Silas Wright.

The man takes flirtation to a whole new level. And he does it shirtless…sometimes pants-less. He and his service school-dropout dog are impressively persistent. But…


Hook, Line, and Sinker

By Tessa Bailey,

Book cover of Hook, Line, and Sinker

Why this book?

I’ll admit that I picked up Tessa Bailey’s books strictly because of the reader raves all over TikTok. I read her It Happened One Summer first, and then immediately put Hook, Line, and Sinker on my wish list and I have to say, I loved the second book even more than the first, and that was a high bar to beat.

A riches-to-rags story about two sisters forced to move from their luxurious lives in LA to a much more sparce existence in a small fishing village populated with sexy crab fishermen, it’s part Schitt’s Creek and part Deadliest Catch—a testament to the fact this toe-tingling romance was conceived and written during the pandemic when the author was admittedly binging both shows on TV.

Hook, Line, and Sinker

By Tessa Bailey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hook, Line, and Sinker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


AN INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES AND #1 USA TODAY BESTSELLER

In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man...

King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he's a guaranteed good time-in bed and out-and that's exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She's immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his... personality And wants to be friends Bizarre.…


Big Pickle

By JJ Knight,

Book cover of Big Pickle

Why this book?

The hero, who is a really big ‘dill’ (see what I did there? LOL) is the heir to a deli dynasty famous for their pickles. The heroine is an overworked deli manager tested by her new employee (who she doesn’t realize is actually the big boss undercover). It’s a comedy of errors punctuated by steamy moments. Don’t think too hard about it. Big Pickle is a pure escapist romp.

Big Pickle

By JJ Knight,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Big Pickle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Top 100 Book on Amazon!
I've got a picklish problem.
I own a family deli. All my brothers do.

But even though I'm the oldest and most experienced Pickle, my restaurant is the one that's failing.

I hightail it to Texas to see what the hell is going on at Austin Pickle, only to find a sassy little spitfire named Nova Strong in charge.

She’s amazing. She's funny. She runs our deli like she owns it.

But despite the way we nearly melt the permafrost in the industrial freezer, I have to control myself. Nova thinks I'm a new…


Hosed

By Pippa Grant, Lili Valente,

Book cover of Hosed

Why this book?

This is the book, and the fictional small town, that first inspired me to write my own small town Rom Com series and I have never looked back.

A hot firefighter who has a comically ill-behaved racoon as his pet, the small town of Happy Cat centered around the town’s sex-toy factory, and a heroine confounded by both the factory and the town as she struggles to save them both—with the help of the hot fireman, of course. Laugh-out-loud moments, steamy moments, tender moments, and more dildos than any book should contain—Hosed is what a feel-good romance should be.

Hosed

By Pippa Grant, Lili Valente,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hosed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The world’s sexiest firefighter is about to get a second chance with the virgin next door…

He’s bossy, arrogant, and so ridiculously hot he should come with a warning label and a pair of flame retardant coveralls.

He’s also the boy who broke my heart when we were in high school.

I want to move in next door to Ryan O’Dell the way I want to be the virgin gamer geek suddenly in charge of running my sister’s sex toy factory. Too bad both are written in my stars.

Yeah, I’m the world’s oldest virgin code-writing nerd.

And he’s the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in romantic love, film, and London?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about romantic love, film, and London.

Romantic Love Explore 510 books about romantic love
Film Explore 148 books about film
London Explore 524 books about London

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like When You Reach Me, Caraval, and The Westing Game if you like this list.