The best romance books whose authors go outside the box

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who values telling difficult stories that don’t always cohere to the idea of the “light, fluffy” romance. I write about social issues, grief, trauma, and do my utmost to research whatever topics my characters endure in order to do justice to readers who share these experiences. Having suffered a major trauma myself (my eldest daughter passed away at the age of ten), I’m very interested in stories that deal with characters overcoming tremendous obstacles in order to reach their happily ever afters. I love writing (and reading) stories that go outside the box, that give the reader something more than what they were expecting, couched in solid writing, and possessing all the feels.


I wrote...

Full Tilt

By Emma Scott,

Book cover of Full Tilt

What is my book about?

From USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Emma Scott... "I would love you forever if I only had the chance..."

She’s a rock star teetering on the edge of alcoholic oblivion. He’s her limo driver with a life-changing secret. Neither of them expected the deep connection they feel, or how that connection can grow so fast from friendship into something more. Something deep and pure and life-changing. Something as fragile as glass that they both know will shatter in the end no matter how hard they try to hold on to it.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of It Ends with Us

Emma Scott Why did I love this book?

It’s difficult to discuss this book without revealing certain plot points, but I will say it’s a prime example of what I love and respect in a romance novel: characters enduring and then persevering through trauma. We are taken from Lily’s first doubts and fears about her new love, through a complex and escalating set of circumstances. Hoover guides us through her heroine’s emotions—all her pain and fear, her love and joy, her doubt and self-loathing—with precise, engaging prose. It’s an expertly mapped, masterful journey from A to Z, with no aspect left untouched, until finally, Lily comes to an ultimate conclusion that somehow made me cheer in triumph and cry for her loss at the exact same time.

By Colleen Hoover,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked It Ends with Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town where she grew up-she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. And when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life seems too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn't hurt. Lily can't get…


Book cover of The Unrequited

Emma Scott Why did I love this book?

This novel is a taboo, student-teacher, forbidden love read, but those are tag words only. I’m a little obsessed with it because the writing. This book is alive. It's electric. The words jump off the page and sink claws into your skin. The author, at the end, laments that she's not poet enough to write her hero’s poems. I beg to differ. This entire book is a poem if you go by my preferred definition, which is a string of words meant to evoke. That's all this book does. Evokes, stirs, and is unapologetic in its heroine, Layla. She is no blushing rose, but a tornado of unapologetic desire, and who defies genre tropes. Her character renders this book more than a romance novel, but a force of nature.

By Saffron A. Kent,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Layla Robinson is not crazy. She is suffering from unrequited love. But it's time to move on. No more stalking, no more obsessive calling.


What she needs is a distraction. The blue-eyed guy she keeps seeing around campus could be a great one--only he is the new poetry professor--the married poetry professor.


Thomas Abrams is a stereotypical artist--rude, arrogant, and broody--but his glares and taunts don't scare Layla. She might be bad at poetry, but she is good at reading between the lines. Beneath his prickly façade, Thomas is lonely, and Layla wants to know why. Obsessively.


Sometimes you do…


Book cover of The Idea of You

Emma Scott Why did I love this book?

I will never write an age-gap, rock star romance because the perfect one has already been written. The Idea of You is lush, elegant, and decadent; like a ten-course meal you don’t want to stop eating. But it’s the ending that pushes this book out of the norm, fearlessly and honestly. You close the last page having to pay the bill for that lavish meal but fully satisfied, because good things can’t last forever. I believe what serves the story should always come first and admire an author who bucks convention and keeps to her convictions. This novel is a shining example of just that.

By Robinne Lee,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Idea of You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Solene Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favourite boy band, she doesP so reluctantly and at her ex-husband's request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things. What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as…


Book cover of Mud Vein

Emma Scott Why did I love this book?

I could actually list all of Fisher’s romances or her newer psychological thrillers under this banner of writing that is outside the box. She has taken the idea of “writing fearlessly” and run with it. Lives by it. There is nothing typical about Mud Vein, with prose that feels like mild electric shocks to the brain one minute and brings you to tears the next. It reads as though Fisher doesn’t waste time questioning herself or second-guessing her words—they’re alive and vibrant, and that’s highly aspirational. I have "write fearlessly" literally tattooed on my body, so I take it seriously. ;) 

By Tarryn Fisher,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mud Vein as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When reclusive novelist Senna Richards wakes up on her thirty-third birthday, everything has changed. Caged behind an electrical fence, locked in a house in the middle of the snow, Senna is left to decode the clues to find out why she was taken. If she wants her freedom, she has to take a close look at her past. But, her past has a heartbeat…and her kidnapper is nowhere to be found. With her survival hanging by a thread, Senna soon realizes this is a game. A dangerous one. Only the truth can set her free.


Book cover of Wolfsong

Emma Scott Why did I love this book?

Shifter romances aren’t new, but this heart-wrenching story about a boy and his adoptive “pack” sets the standard. The prose reads like a simple, placid little pond and then you jump in and realize it's miles deep. Klune does what my hero, Stephen King, is so darn good at and what I aspire to do in my own paranormal novels: he imbues the story with characters that live and breathe and feel like real people. This makes the supernatural aspects of the plot feel authentic and keeps you absorbed from page one to the end.

By TJ Klune,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ox Matheson was twelve when his father taught him a lesson: Ox wasn't worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.

Ox was sixteen when the energetic Bennett family moved in next door, harbouring a secret that would change him forever. For the family are shapeshifters, who can transform into wolves at will. Drawn to their magic, loyalty and enduring friendships, Ox feels a gulf between this extraordinary new world and the quiet life he's known. He also finds an ally in Joe, the youngest Bennett boy. Joe is charming and handsome, but haunted by scars he…


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The Circus Infinite

By Khan Wong,

Book cover of The Circus Infinite

Khan Wong Author Of The Circus Infinite

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Creative expression has been one of my most cherished values since childhood. I've always had a creative hobby of some kind since I was a kid. Not sure how that happened – my parents were tolerant of my interests at best. I made my day job career in the arts, fostering the creativity of community members and supporting the work of artists. Art (in the general sense of all forms of creative expression) is, to me, a defining characteristic of humanity, it makes life worth living, and the way it’s devalued under Capitalism both saddens and inspires me as a creator myself. I’m a writer of speculative fiction and I write about creative people.

Khan's book list on how art is more than art

What is my book about?

Hunted by those who want to study his gravity powers, Jes makes his way to the best place for a mixed-species fugitive to blend in: the pleasure moon where everyone just wants to be lost in the party. It doesn’t take long for him to catch the attention of the crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job, and when the boss gets wind of the bounty on Jes’ head, he makes an offer: do anything and everything asked of him or face vivisection.

With no other options, Jes fulfills the requests: espionage, torture, demolition. But when the boss sets the circus up to take the fall for his about-to-get-busted narcotics operation, Jes and his friends decide to bring the mobster down. And if Jes can also avoid going back to being the prize subject of a scientist who can’t wait to dissect him? Even better.

The Circus Infinite

By Khan Wong,

What is this book about?

Hunted by those who want to study his gravity powers, Jes makes his way to the best place for a mixed-species fugitive to blend in: the pleasure moon where everyone just wants to be lost in the party. It doesn't take long for him to catch the attention of the crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job, and when the boss gets wind of the bounty on Jes' head, he makes an offer: do anything and everything asked of him or face vivisection.

With no other options, Jes fulfills the requests: espionage, torture, demolition. But…


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