The best romance books whose authors go outside the box

Who am I?

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.

The books I picked & why

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It Ends with Us

By Colleen Hoover,

Book cover of It Ends with Us

Why 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.

The Unrequited

By Saffron A. Kent,

Book cover of The Unrequited

Why 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.

The Idea of You

By Robinne Lee,

Book cover of The Idea of You

Why 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.

Mud Vein

By Tarryn Fisher,

Book cover of Mud Vein

Why 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 TJ Klune,

Book cover of Wolfsong

Why 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.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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