The best novels about mental health in relationships

Why am I passionate about this?

I write romance novels that are as much about the characters learning to love themselves as they are about people falling in love with each other. While most of my books are romantic comedies, that doesn’t stop my characters from facing some of the darkest parts of themselves and coming out on the other side feeling sure of their own worth. I often explore mental health topics, and I love to see other romance authors de-stigmatizing things like therapy, medication, and reaching out for support. The romance novels I’ve included below cover a wide range of subjects, but they all handle mental health with care, respect, and hope.


I wrote...

This Used to Be Easier

By Katia Rose,

Book cover of This Used to Be Easier

What is my book about?

After a last-minute internship cancellation sets all her plans on fire, Meg Doyle is stuck spending the summer after college in her tiny hometown. It’s anything but a triumphant return. Her city friends won’t stop reminding her what she’s missing, her mom won’t stop researching lesbian slang terms to seem more ‘relatable,’ and around every corner in the town of Chapel Creek, there’s Connie Shipley.

The girl Meg used to know better than anyone in the world. The girl she spent countless nights huddled under the blankets with for sleepovers. The girl who leaned in and kissed her four summers before. The girl who hasn’t spoken to her since—which makes it very inconvenient that Meg’s heart still stops every time she sees her.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Living

Katia Rose Why did I love this book?

Living has all the best ingredients for an epic slow-burn romance: a shocking first encounter, two very different heroines from completely different worlds, a beautiful friendship that unfolds with care and heartwarming tenderness, and a simmering layer of tense attraction that will keep you turning the pages as fast you can to see the burn finally burst into flames. It’s also a story that handles the topics of grief and depression with respect and a poignancy that makes this story difficult to forget. I love romances that focus on the growth of the individual characters as much as the development of their relationship with each other, and Living does a beautiful job at balancing both.

By Lise Gold,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During her morning exercise, yoga instructor Cam Saunders finds herself rescuing a young woman who has walked into the sea, seemingly intent on taking her own life. When the woman in question turns out to be a famous actress, Cam promises to keep her secret safe.

Six months later, America’s sweetheart Ella Temperley is working hard to get her life back on track, grieving the loss of her twin sister and fighting a deep depression. Despite her fame, she feels alone in the world and keeps thinking of the woman she owes her life to.

After Ella shows up in…


Book cover of Behind the Bars

Katia Rose Why did I love this book?

Brittainy Cherry’s work never fails to sweep me off my feet and pull me in with its lyricism, grace, and depth. She’s truly a poet, and this story about two musicians as in love with their craft as they are with each other brings out some of her most stunning writing yet. Behind the Bars takes us on a journey through the hero and heroine’s childhoods all the way up to their reunion as adults. Along the way, they face some dark moments and deal with topics including bullying, loss, grief, and dysfunctional family relationships. These moments are real and raw, and instead of sensationalizing or romanticizing them, Brittainy Cherry uses them to show that life can be beautiful and ugly all at once, and that we can always reach out and find the help we need to let a little more beautiful in.

By Brittainy C. Cherry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When I first met Jasmine Greene, she came in as raindrops. I was the awkward musician, and she was the high school queen. The only things we had in common were our music and our loneliness. Something in her eyes told me her smile wasn’t always the truth. Something in her voice gave me a hope I always wished to find. And in a flash, she was gone. Years later, she was standing in front of me on a street in New Orleans. She was different, but so was I. Life made us colder. Harder. Isolated. Caged. Even though we…


Book cover of Some Sort of Happy

Katia Rose Why did I love this book?

While the conversation around mental health still has a long way to go to be totally free of stigma, men’s mental health is especially in need of being more openly discussed without shame. When I read Some Sort of Happy, I was thrilled and grateful to find it features a hero struggling with anxiety and an OCD diagnosis. There is a lot of room for the romance genre to step up and show that the stereotypical view of what a ‘strong’ man looks like doesn’t line up with reality and that there are so many ways to be valid and worthy of love. Melanie Harlow does an amazing job at that in Some Sort of Happy, and she instantly became one of my favourite authors after I read this book.

By Melanie Harlow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I almost didn’t believe it was him. In high school, Sebastian Pryce had been an aloof outsider who kept to himself. But now, ten years, later he’s back and unusually attractive. With muscle in all the right places and hands that know exactly what they’re doing, Sebastian is everything I didn’t know I needed. And while he isn’t exactly friendly, he has a magnetism that draws me in. He pulls away, afraid he’ll break me. Until the night I demanded more—and he gave it. (Hard and deep. Twice.) Were we just two lost, lonely people seeking solace? Or could a…


Book cover of The Stars and the Blackness Between Them

Katia Rose Why did I love this book?

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is truly a work of art. Junauda Petrus’s prose is stunning, and the story is crafted with a vivid beauty that makes both heroine’s voices come alive and breathe their words out of the pages. At its heart, this is the story of two young girls who try to find themselves and end up finding each other along the way. It’s also a gorgeous celebration of the cultures of Trinidad and Black America, as well as an exploration of grief and the way our physical health and that of the people we love can intertwine with our mental wellbeing. The story has not left my head since I read it, and it’s not an experience to be missed.  

By Junauda Petrus,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Stars and the Blackness Between Them as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A Coretta Scott King Honor Book

Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus's bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.

Port of Spain, Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she's going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor's daughter. Audre's grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets…


Book cover of Weightless

Katia Rose Why did I love this book?

No other author captures the joy, longing, confusion, love, and heartbreak of the first few years of adulthood the way Kandi Steiner does. They don’t call her the Queen of Angst for nothing, and in Weightless, she showcases some of her best new adult romance skills to craft a story about stumbling your way into being a grown-up while learning to love yourself as you fall in love with someone else. The heroine of Weightless also struggles with body image issues, and Kandi Steiner doesn’t shy away from exploring the harsh realities of the way society and even the people we trust can reinforce our deepest insecurities. This was one of the first romance novels I read, and it led me to an enduring love for and appreciation of Kandi Steiner’s work.

By Kandi Steiner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I remember the lights.

I remember I wanted to photograph them, the way the red and blue splashed across his cold, emotionless face. But I knew even if my feet could move from the place where they had cemented themselves to the ground and I could run for my camera, I wouldn’t be able to capture that moment.

I had trusted him, I had loved him, and even though my body had changed that summer, he’d made sure to help me hold on to who I was inside, regardless of how the exterior altered.

But then everything changed.

He stole…


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Conditions are Different After Dark

By Owen W. Knight,

Book cover of Conditions are Different After Dark

Owen W. Knight Author Of The Visitors

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Visionary Compassionate Imaginative Conspiracist Apophenia (or apophenic)

Owen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In 1662, a man is wrongly executed for signing the death warrant of Charles I. Awaiting execution, he asks to speak with a priest, to whom he declares a curse on the village that betrayed him. The priest responds with a counter-curse, leaving just one option to nullify it.

Over four centuries later, Faith and James move to the country to start a new life and a family. They discover their village lives under the curse uttered by the hanged man. Could their arrival be connected? They fear their choice of new home is no coincidence. Unexplained events hint at threats or warnings to leave. They become convinced the village remains cursed despite their friends’ denials. Who can they trust, and who are potential enemies?

Conditions are Different After Dark

By Owen W. Knight,

What is this book about?

In 1660, a man is wrongly executed for signing the death warrant of Charles I. While awaiting execution, he asks to speak with a priest, to whom he declares a curse on the village that betrayed him. The priest responds with a counter-curse, leaving just one option to nullify it.
Over four centuries later, Faith and James move to the country to start a new life and a family. They learn that their village lives under the curse uttered by the hanged man. Could their arrival be connected?
Faith and James fear that their choice of a new home is…


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