Your 20s are a time of self-discovery, growth, and, of course, romance.
Whether you’re looking for a sweet escape from the daily grind or seeking to explore the complexities of love and relationships, there’s a romance novel out there for you.
In this blog, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best romance novels to dive into during your 20s.
These books offer a mix of passion, drama, and heartwarming moments that will tug at your heartstrings and make you believe in love all over again.
Best Romance Novels To Read in Your 20s
1. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
This beloved classic is set in the English countryside and revolves around the intelligent and spirited Elizabeth Bennet, one of five sisters whose mother is intent on finding them suitable husbands.
The narrative explores themes of love, reputation, and class as Elizabeth encounters the wealthy and aloof Mr. Darcy, leading to a profound examination of pride, prejudice, and the transformative power of love.
2. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
This novel, considered ahead of its time due to its exploration of a woman’s autonomy, follows the life of Jane Eyre, an orphaned girl who grows up to become a governess.
At Thornfield Hall, she meets the enigmatic Mr. Rochester, and a complex romance ensues. The book is celebrated for its depth, strong character development, and its stance on social criticism and morality.
3. “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë
This intense and passionate novel tells the story of the ill-fated lovers Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. Set in the moorlands of England, the novel explores themes of revenge, jealousy, and the destructive nature of love. Its Gothic elements and complex narrative structure have made it a classic of English literature.
4. “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks
This contemporary romance novel tells the poignant story of Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson, who fall in love one summer but are separated by social differences and the onset of World War II. Years later, they reunite under complex circumstances. The novel explores the enduring power of love and the idea of soulmates.
5. “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon
This novel combines elements of historical fiction, romance, and fantasy. It follows Claire Randall, a World War II nurse who inadvertently travels back in time to 18th-century Scotland. There, she meets and falls in love with the dashing Highland warrior Jamie Fraser. The book is known for its rich historical detail and complex characters.
6. “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes
A contemporary romance and emotional journey, this book tells the story of Louisa Clark, who takes a job as a caretaker for Will Traynor, a wealthy young man left paralyzed from an accident. What starts as a professional relationship evolves into a deep bond that challenges both their perspectives on life and love.
7. “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger
This novel is a unique love story that explores the relationship between Clare, an artist, and Henry, a librarian with a rare genetic disorder that causes him to involuntarily time travel. The narrative delves into the effects of time travel on their relationship and the challenges they face.
8. “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell
Set in the 1980s, this young adult novel follows the story of two misfit teenagers, Eleanor and Park, who develop a deep bond over comic books and mixtapes. It’s a story about first love, the struggles of teenage life, and the power of connection in the face of adversity.
9. “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion
This novel features Don Tillman, a genetics professor with social challenges, who creates a questionnaire to find the perfect wife. His life takes an unexpected turn when he meets Rosie Jarman, who is everything he’s not looking for, leading to a charming and unconventional romantic story.
10. “One Day” by David Nicholls
The book follows Dexter and Emma, who spend the night together after their college graduation and then meet on the same day (July 15th) over the next 20 years. The novel explores their evolving relationship, the choices they make, and how they navigate the different paths their lives take.
11. “P.S. I Love You” by Cecelia Ahern
This emotionally charged novel revolves around Holly, who is grieving the loss of her husband, Gerry. She discovers that he has left her a series of letters to help her cope with her grief, each signed ‘P.S. I Love You.’ It’s a story about mourning, healing, and moving on.
12. “Brida” by Paulo Coelho
This novel tells the story of Brida, a young Irish girl on a quest for knowledge and self-discovery. She explores various paths of spirituality and magic, seeking her destiny and understanding of the world. Along the way, she learns about love and the balance between destiny and choice.
13. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
This deeply moving young adult novel centers on Hazel Grace Lancaster, a smart and witty teenager with cancer, and Augustus Waters, a charming boy she meets in a cancer support group. Their relationship blooms as they bond over literature and their experiences, leading to a poignant and heartfelt journey that explores themes of love, loss, and the human experience in the face of mortality.
14. “A Walk to Remember” by Nicholas Sparks
Set in a small town in North Carolina, this novel tells the story of Landon Carter and Jamie Sullivan. Landon, a typical high school rebel, finds his life taking an unexpected turn when he falls in love with Jamie, a kind-hearted minister’s daughter.
Their love story is tender and inspiring, highlighting themes of redemption, first love, and the power of faith and transformation.
15. “The Bride Test” by Helen Hoang
This contemporary romance novel features Khai Diep, a Vietnamese-American man with autism who avoids relationships, believing he is incapable of love. His mother, determined to find him a bride, brings Esme Tran, a mixed-race woman from Vietnam, to the United States.
The book delves into themes of cultural differences, personal growth, and the diverse expressions of love.
16. “Call Me By Your Name” by André Aciman
Set in the Italian Riviera, this novel explores the intense and complicated relationship between Elio Perlman, a 17-year-old Italian-American boy, and Oliver, a 24-year-old American scholar visiting Elio’s family for the summer.
The book is a profound exploration of desire, the nature of love and longing, and the process of self-discovery.
17. “Beautiful Disaster” by Jamie McGuire
This New Adult romance novel revolves around Abby Abernathy, a good girl with a dark past, and Travis Maddox, a charming bad boy and underground fighter.
Their relationship starts as a bet but soon evolves into an intense and tumultuous affair, pushing both characters to confront their personal demons and past traumas.
18. “Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston
This LGBTQ+ romance novel features Alex Claremont-Diaz, the First Son of the United States, and Henry, the Prince of Wales. After a public altercation forces them into a fake friendship, their relationship blossoms into a secret romance.
The story is a witty and heartwarming exploration of identity, love, and duty in the public eye.
19. “Beach Read” by Emily Henry
This charming romantic story follows two authors, January Andrews, a romance writer, and Augustus Everett, a literary fiction writer, who end up as neighbors.
Challenged by writer’s block, they decide to swap genres for the summer. The novel is a light-hearted exploration of love, healing, and the joy of writing.
20. “Normal People” by Sally Rooney
This modern romance novel explores the complex relationship between Marianne and Connell, two individuals from different backgrounds who weave in and out of each other’s lives from high school through college.
The book delves into themes of intimacy, power dynamics, and the impact of social and family pressures on personal relationships.
21. “The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne
This enemies-to-lovers office romance centers on Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, two executive assistants forced into a rivalry by their merging companies.
Their dynamic takes a turn as they compete for a promotion, leading to a charming and witty exploration of love, ambition, and the thin line between love and hate.
22. “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel García Márquez
Set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in a Caribbean port city, this magical realism novel tells the epic love story of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza.
Spanning over 50 years, it’s a meditation on the nature of love in all its forms—youthful, unrequited, passionate, and enduring.
23. “The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang
This refreshing and steamy love story features Stella Lane, a brilliant econometrician with Asperger’s who hires an escort, Michael Phan, to teach her about relationships and intimacy.
The book challenges traditional romance norms and delves into themes of love, acceptance, and the nuances of personal connections.
24. “It Ends with Us” by Colleen Hoover
This powerful and emotional romance novel tells the story of Lily Bloom and Ryle Kincaid. Lily, who grew up in an abusive home, finds herself facing difficult choices when her new relationship with neurosurgeon Ryle starts mirroring the past she’s tried to leave behind. The story explores the complexities of love, resilience, and the courage it takes to make hard decisions.
25. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern
This novel is set in a mysterious traveling circus that only appears at night. The story centers around Celia and Marco, two young illusionists who have been trained since childhood to compete in a magical duel by their mercurial instructors.
As they fall deeply in love, their intricate performances weave a magical spell around the circus’s visitors and performers, leading to a fateful climax.
26. “Ugly Love” by Colleen Hoover
This novel tells the story of Tate Collins and airline pilot Miles Archer. Their relationship begins with no expectations. As Tate uncovers the heartbreak in Miles’s past, the narrative delves deeply into themes of love, healing, and the complexities of human relationships, presenting a raw and emotional portrayal of love in its many forms.
27. “Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins
Set in Paris, this young adult romance follows Anna Oliphant, an American girl sent to a boarding school in France. There, she meets Étienne St. Clair, a charming boy with a complicated love life. The story charmingly captures the excitement and confusion of young love and the discovery of self amidst the backdrop of the beautiful city of Paris.
28. “Attachments” by Rainbow Rowell
This romantic comedy is set in 1999 and follows Lincoln, an IT guy who falls for Beth, a movie critic, through reading her email conversations with a friend. The novel cleverly explores the themes of love, destiny, and the ethical dilemmas posed by Lincoln’s unique situation in a humorous and heartwarming way.
29. “The Sun Is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon
This young adult romance novel centers on Natasha, a Jamaican-American girl trying to prevent her family’s deportation, and Daniel, a Korean-American boy struggling with his family’s expectations. Their chance encounter in New York City leads to a whirlwind romance that explores themes of fate, destiny, and the interconnectedness of human lives.
30. “The Selection” by Kiera Cass
This dystopian young adult series is set in a future world where thirty-five girls are selected to compete for the heart of Prince Maxon and the title of princess. The story follows America Singer, who reluctantly enters the competition and finds herself torn between her home life and the allure of the palace.
31. “The Light We Lost” by Jill Santopolo
This novel is a moving love story about Lucy and Gabe, who meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Spanning 13 years, their story navigates the choices and sacrifices that come with following their dreams and being in love.
32. “The Flatshare” by Beth O’Leary
This charming romantic comedy revolves around Tiffy and Leon who share a flat but have never met, as one works days and the other nights. They communicate through notes, leading to an unconventional and heartwarming romance that explores the complexities of relationships and personal growth.
33. “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli
This young adult novel focuses on Simon Spier, a high school student who has not yet come out as gay. When an email falls into the wrong hands, Simon must step out of his comfort zone to navigate his sexuality and pursue a budding romance with an anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online.
34. “Something Borrowed” by Emily Giffin
This novel explores the complex relationship between Rachel, a perpetually good girl, and Darcy, her best friend who always seems to overshadow her. When Rachel confesses her feelings for Darcy’s fiancé, it leads to a tumultuous series of events that test the bounds of friendship and love.
35. “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer
This young adult fantasy romance is the first in a series about Bella Swan, a teenager who falls in love with a vampire, Edward Cullen. Their unorthodox romance is filled with danger and desire, set against the backdrop of the rainy town of Forks, Washington.
36. “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James
This erotic romance novel explores the relationship between Anastasia Steele, a college graduate, and Christian Grey, a young business magnate with a penchant for BDSM. The story delves into themes of desire, consent, and the complexities of a dominant-submissive relationship.
37. “The Summer I Turned Pretty” by Jenny Han
This is a coming-of-age romance series centered around Isabel “Belly” Conklin, who spends every summer at the beach house of her mother’s best friend. The series chronicles her evolving relationships with the two sons of the family, Conrad and Jeremiah, capturing the essence of summer love, growing up, and the complexities of adolescent relationships.
38. “After” by Anna Todd
This New Adult romance novel follows Tessa Young, a dedicated student, dutiful daughter, and loyal girlfriend to her high school sweetheart as she enters her first semester of college. Her guarded world opens up when she meets Hardin Scott, a mysterious and brooding rebel who challenges her beliefs and introduces her to a world of unpredictability and intense passion.
39. “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller
This novel is a reimagining of the Greek myth of Achilles and Patroclus. It’s a tale of love and war, told from Patroclus’ point of view, depicting their deep bond from childhood through the events of the Trojan War. The book is praised for its lyrical prose and fresh perspective on the ancient story.
40. “Verity” by Colleen Hoover
This gripping romantic thriller revolves around Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling writer, who is hired to complete the remaining books in a successful series by the injured author Verity Crawford. As Lowen sifts through Verity’s notes, she uncovers a chilling autobiography revealing disturbing truths about Verity’s family, drawing Lowen into a complex web of intrigue and romance.
41. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
Set in Nazi Germany, this novel follows Liesel Meminger, a young girl who finds solace in stealing books and sharing them with others. Narrated by Death, the story captures the resilience of the human spirit in a time of war and the power of words and love in the midst of devastation.
42. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
This historical novel is composed of letters and telegrams sent to and from Juliet Ashton, a writer, and the residents of Guernsey Island. The story, set in the aftermath of World War II, explores the islanders’ experiences during the German occupation and features a heartwarming romance.
43. “The Bridgerton Series” by Julia Quinn
Set in the Regency era, this series follows the Bridgerton family, focusing on each of the eight siblings’ romantic adventures. The novels are known for their wit, spirited dialogue, strong characters, and blend of romance and humor.
44. “Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan
This contemporary romantic comedy explores the life of Rachel Chu, an American-born Chinese economics professor, who travels to Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young.
Unbeknownst to her, Nicholas is from one of the country’s wealthiest families.
The novel delves into the clash of traditional values, opulent lifestyles, and Rachel’s attempt to navigate the complex social dynamics of Asia’s elite.
45. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
This coming-of-age novel is presented through a series of letters written by Charlie, a shy and introspective teenager, to an anonymous friend. The book explores themes of adolescence, including introversion, sexuality, drug use, and mental health, as Charlie experiences the highs and lows of his freshman year of high school.
46. “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini
This novel tells the story of Mariam and Laila, two women from different generations brought together by war in Kabul, Afghanistan. It explores the strength and resilience of women under the Taliban regime and the power of love and friendship in the face of overwhelming adversity.
47. “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era, this classic novel follows the life of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled daughter of a plantation owner, and her tumultuous love affair with Rhett Butler. The novel explores themes of love, war, and survival.
48. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han
This young adult romance series starts with Lara Jean Covey, a high school junior who writes secret love letters to her crushes but never intends to send them. When the letters are accidentally mailed out, her love life goes from imaginary to out of control as she navigates the complications that follow.