I’M TEMPTED TO TRY ADULT ROMANCE?! – The Authors Beckoning Me Over To The ‘Dark’ Side

I’m being a bit unfair with the title. Adult romance is in no way the dark side or shameful to enjoy, but I just haven’t experienced very much of it and it’s totally outside of my usual genres. Sure, I’m a sucker for romance-based fantasies, and I will always appreciate a love-based contemporary, but that doesn’t mean I’ve ever strayed completely into the romance genre.

I’ve dipped my foot into the proverbial pool, sure. I read Me Before You alongside everybody else and I’ve read maybe one sentence of Fifty Shades of Grey. But those two books don’t represent the entirety of the genre, far from it- and I don’t feel like I’ve seen anything of worth yet. However, a few books are making the rounds in the book community that I’m intrigued by and there’s nothing stopping me from waiting until pay-day and stocking up on some new reads to try.

Admittedly, my most recent completed read (Red, White & Royal Blue) is a huge part in why I’m finally truly considering adult romance. Pitched as NA, it’s the closest I’ve come to reading a ‘realistic’ (as in, set in the real world) love-story actually written for someone my age. (I’m 19). Casey McQuiston did such a good job with writing her book that now I want to explore a whole new genre that I’ve never really considered before- and here are the authors/books that I’m tempted buy.

Helen Hoang: The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test

A strong figure in the YA book community, Helen Hoang is a name I’ve been hearing over and over again. Not only are her books appearing in pretty much every single bookhaul on BookTube lately, but raving reviews are persuading me to give her books a try.

Taylor Jenkins Reid: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo skyrocketed into space with people worshipping the bisexual queen that is Evelyn. It feels like everyone in the world except me has picked this one up by now, and I really need to get round to it. Not only because I need the representation, but because it just sounds like something I’d enjoy.

Jennifer L Armentrout/J. Lynn: Wicked, Titan, With You

Technically, most of the books I want to read by Jennifer L Armentrout are all classed as NA, with only a few adult romances – but I had to feature my favourite author on this list. There’s a whole selection of her books I haven’t read purely because they aren’t YA, but that shouldn’t stop me. I’m perfectly capable of reading out of my genre and enjoying mass-market paperbacks. She’s my most-owned author and I’m ashamed of myself for not actually owning the majority of her books. I could, I just need to get off my high-horse and buy books that won’t technically suit the aesthetic of my shelves.

Sally Thorne: 99% Mine & The Hating Game

Some more tragically-famous romance novels on my list that I just haven’t got round to. I don’t own them, I’ve never seen them in a bookstore (though I’ve never been specifically looking), and honestly I don’t really know that much about them. However, from what I do know- readers I trust love these two and therefore I’m confident that I will. If I could just persuade myself to buy them. I’M SO TERRIFIED OF BUYING BOOKS THAT I MIGHT NOT LIKE. At least with YA, I’m fairly confident I’ll remotely enjoy them but if I don’t it’s a very rare occasion. If I decide to start picking up books outside my usual genres, there’s a likelihood I won’t enjoy the vast majority of them. What do you guys think? Is it worth the risk??

Colleen Hoover: It Ends With Us, Ugly Love & November 9

I know Colleen’s books aren’t super restricted to just romance, but happen to be tragic heart-breakers and I’m all here for that. I’m ready for my emotions to be ripped open because I’m in a good place right now and I can handle it. I think. I don’t know how truly sad her books are, but I’ve heard quite a lot of things. I figure Colleen might be a nice step from YA contemporary into adult books, just because I know so many YA readers love her books.

Sarah Dessen: Once and For All and Saint Anything

Soft adorable characters and gooey relationships that make me melt. I’ve heard that Sarah Dessen has a way of writing that makes you fall in love every single time you open her books, and I’m ready to be transported away. They sound like the perfect beach-reads I’ve been searching for, and I just need the sun to burst out from the clouds so I can get in the mood for a cutesy romance.

All in all, that’s 6 authors and over 10 books I really want to try. Obviously I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy them all in one go, so I have to turn to you for advice. Which books should I prioritise? I’m hoping to buy a bunch in June for my birthday AND my holiday to New York City, and I need to be prepared with a plan of what I want. I think it could be really fun to read loads of adult-romance in the first month after I officially become an adult. I’LL BE TWENTY SOON. That’s terrifying. That won’t stop me though, and I’m super-duper ready to accept adulthood whilst trying to expand my reading tastes. Now which books should I buy…?

32 thoughts on “I’M TEMPTED TO TRY ADULT ROMANCE?! – The Authors Beckoning Me Over To The ‘Dark’ Side

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  1. I loved Daisy Jones & The Six. I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as a romance. Yes there is some but not very much. I’m getting ready to read The Bride Test because I’ve heard great things. I would recommend Meet Cute by Helena Hunting. It’s really good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh I didn’t know Daisy Jones wasn’t romance-based, but that actually makes me more excited for it!! I’ll add on Helena Hunting to my list, I’ve seen a few of her books around but had completely forgotten about them. Thank you!!💕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG READ THE HATING GAME. It is my favorite romance of all time. I may own it in paperback, ebook, and audiobook… 99 Percent Mine is also great, but has a darker tone than The Hating Game.

    Also, I highly recommend Helen Hoang. The Kiss Quotient is amaaaaaazing, and I’m just starting The Bride Test.

    The world of “adult” romance can be a dark and dangerous place, especially if you’ve not really read romance as a genre before. It also depends a lot on how “steamy” or explicit you like your romances… I hate the tag “clean” romance because 1) it makes romance with sex scenes “dirty” by comparison and 2) a lot of romances tagged as “clean” tend to just be insipid and I hate them… I have a shelf on Goodreads for “closed door romances” that don’t have on-page sex scenes, if you want me to link you.

    And if you have Kindle Unlimited, The Kiss that Launched 1,000 Gifs by Sheralyn Pratt is amaaaazing (and closed-door). Also I’m having a giveaway on my blog right now for the first two books in Pippa Grant’s Bro Code series because I loved her book America’s Geekheart THAT MUCH, but her stuff is all available on KU (but definitely has on-page sex!)

    Maureen Goo does YA romance and I ADORE I Believe in a Thing Called Love. Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley falls more into the NA romance I think.

    Since you’re into fantasy, if you want to try some adult fantasy romance, The Winter King by C.L. Wilson is SO GOOD.

    And, finally, since loving Red, White and Royal Blue is what is making you want to read more romance, try Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series – adult contemporary romance with princes in disguise, mistaken identities, and the most recent book A Prince on Paper has a fake relationship with a “paparazzi prince.”

    …I clearly am very passionate about romance and romance recs, haha. I think everything I talked about here is either contemporary or that one fantasy one, but if you’re interested in historical romance I am happy to babble some more about recs!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi!! Wow!! First of all, thank you so much for this. I’ve made a note on all the books you mentioned for later research, and I’m so glad I’ve found an expert on the genre.
      I don’t mind too much on-page sex, but I don’t want it to be every other page. I want a romance to have a different storyline that drives it, rather than purely being spurred on by sexual tension between two characters. Whether that is family drama or a fantasy story line, I don’t really have a preference (or, at least, not one that I’m aware of!)
      Reluctant Royals sounds amazing, so I’ll definitely check that one out. It gives me Paper Princess vibes too, so that’s super awesome.
      I don’t have Kindle Unlimited but I doooo have a kindle so if I can get the ebook of ‘The Kiss That Launched 1000 GIFS’ I might check it out, but there’s so many on my list (and more now that you’ve suggested extras!) so I don’t know when I’ll get round to it. I’ll have to check out your giveaway when I have s moment though, I’m preparing to go out soon so I’m not really meant to be reading blog comments… but I just couldn’t resist replying to you!
      In terms of my list, I’ll definitely prioritise Helen Hoang and Sally Thorne then- thank you for reassuring me that they are good! I always worry when I hear random things that they aren’t actually enjoyable, especially when it’s the ‘big names’ promoting them due to sponsored adverts.
      Sadly, I’m not a fan of historical-fiction at AT ALL. There’s only ever been 2 exceptions to that rule, and they’ve both been fantasy based- so maybe if there’s a fantasy historical fiction romance? Like Outlander? That kind of thing I’d think I’d enjoy. For reference, the historical books I loved were Ruby Red and Wolf by Wolf. I’m also close to adding Romanov (ANASTASIA RETELLING!!) onto my list. I’m about 60% of the way through and looooving it!
      I’d love for you to babble some more!! Thank you so much for all your suggestions 💕


      1. I don’t love romance where the sex is the main storyline/plot. One of the things I LOVE about romances is when they focus on more than just the relationship between the lead characters. Alyssa Cole does an amazing job of this in her Reluctant Royals series, and A Prince on Paper is my go-to book when explaining to people that romance novels aren’t “just sex.” A Prince on Paper not only focuses on the romantic relationship between two people (which is fantastic, and their chemistry is BAM BOOM POW!), but also on the relationship between Johan and his step-father and half-sibling and how Johan deals with the death of his mother, Nya dealing with the fallout of the emotional and physical abuse the suffered at the hands of her father and finding her own way forward, a non-binary character struggling with how to let their family know about their identity (also, WTG Nya being super the most awesome best), focus on toxic and abusive relationships… Also, the sex scenes are hot and the romance between Nya and Johan is amazing – alternatingly adorable and butterflies-in-the-stomach inducing and heartbreaking, because there is nothing wrong with that and it’s also a great element of romance. 😉 (And hey, you SAID you’d love for me to babble some more, I’m taking you at your word!) My point it, there’s a lot more THERE there than “just sex” or even just the relationship between the two leads. The best romances have characters that grow and develop in a multitude of facets.

        Ooh, I have Romanov on my TBR and am excited to read it. I am ALL ABOUT retellings. 🙂 ❤ If you're into fairy tales, The 500 Kingdoms by Mercedes Lackey is really good, as well as the earlier books in her Elemental Masters series. Phoenix and Ashes is my favorite fairy tale romance retelling (based on Cinderella). It's set during WWI which is something I normally wouldn't like, but the added elemental mages aspect (plus just the REALLY GOOD STORY) make it a favorite I've reread several times. Also if you wanted to TRY straight historical romance, Eloisa James has a Fairy Tales series that are set in the Regency period – there's no magic involved, but the stories are based on fairy tales. My favorite is The Duke is Mine, which is a Princess and the Pea retelling. I didn't used to like historical romance, but Eloisa's Fairy Tales series was sort of my gateway drug, haha. A Kiss At Midnight is the first one and is a Cinderella retelling. …Um, so romance novels and fairy tales are my two big passions, LOL. I'll stop now, but you've inspired me to do a series of discussion posts on my blog about fairy tale romance retellings, so THANKS for the inspo! I might also do a favorite romance recs post (or 5…) because I had SO MUCH FUN replying to your post and talking about romance with you. 🙂 So thank you! And I hope you love it here with us on the dark side. 😉


      2. OKAY YOU’VE 100% CONVINCED ME TO PICK UP A PRINCE ON PAPER. It sounds completely like it’ll melt my stone-cold heart and I need that sometimes to be honest. Because I’ve got my own adorable relationship with my boyfriend, I get so sidetracked by romances now questioning whether they are realistic or if the characters would actually work well together. I don’t understand the mass sex craze of some romance books, where it’s just BANG BANG BANG all day long. Like.. who has the time for that?! I’m super attracted to my boyfriend but I still don’t understand how characters just end up in each other’s beds constantly. I need cute moments like them out shopping together or going on adventures together- or even struggling through tough times together. That’s what really breaks my heart when it comes to romance books because they are believable and not everything is perfect- meaning A Prince on Paper is in line with the kind of books I like when it comes to contemporary YA or romance story-lines in fantasy novels.

        You should definitely pick up Romanov as soon as possible! I’m very afraid to finish it but the writing is so lyrical and flows so well. There hasn’t been a point at all where I’m like ‘why am I reading this book’ (which has happened a lot lately). Ive not heard of 500 Kingdoms or Phoenix and Ashes but they sound right up my street. I’m such a sucker for fairytale retellings bECAUSE THEY ARE SO SWEET AND NOSTALGIC AND MAGICAL. I might be able to get into Phoenix if it’s got mage elements! I worry about the World War One setting though because I’ve tried to read a few books set in that time period and it’s just been a hard nOPE, can’t get into them.
        I’ll check out The Duke is Mine and A Kiss at Midnight for sure!! And I would really love to see a post both on your romance recommendations AND on fairytale recommendations because that would be totally amazing. I ALWAYS NEED MORE BOOKS TO ADD TO MY TBR. (I don’t but I pretend I do). It’s not like I’m drowning in the piles of books I need to read or anything… c;

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t read everything. I think there’s like three books I haven’t read yet and they were both recently released. I have loved everything I’ve read by her though! I would start with It Ends With Us if I were you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Okay!! I’ll prioritise picking that one up. I’m making an Amazon WL at the moment with my top pick for each author, and fingers crossed I’ll get lucky for my birthday in June and end up with a bunch of new adult romances to try. c:

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So out of these books – only Helen Hoang, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Sally Thorne truly classify as “romance novels” although Colleen Hoover straddles the line.They key element generally is that the romance is the main issue of the book, and that there is an HEA. The other books are more or less general fiction with a love story in it. Just not a “romance novel”. That being said, I have liked everything I’ve read by Colleen Hoover thus far – It Ends With Us has some darker plot line elements. I really loved All Your Perfects – I think its her most recent or more recent release. I haven’t read Sally Thorne yet but she is high on my TBR’s. I LOVED the Kiss Quotient. LOVED LOVED LOVED. I can’t wait to read The Bride Test. Also – I think Sarah Dessen is still considered YA – or straddling that YA/NA line? Other contemporary romance authors I think you might enjoy with slightly younger (post-college) characters are Helen Hunting and Mariana Zapata. Also people have been raving about Alyssa Cole so she is also high on my TBR’s

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh thank you for this! I had no idea that some of the books weren’t strictly romance, so thank you for the warning. I would have been super disappointed if I went in expecting it all to be romance based and for it to be driven by something else entirely. Everyone’s commenting about loving The Kiss Quotient so my mind is made up!! I’ll absolutely have to break my book-buying-ban and pick it up. It sounds super sweet, and I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on it. Do you have a review somewhere I can check out?
      I was thinking of finding a buddy for a few of these books, so maybe we can find a Sally Thorne book to read together and discuss?! That’d be super motivational and would help me expand my reading horizons in a fun engaging way, rather than just forcing myself to pick up books I’m worried I won’t enjoy. I’ve heard a little bit about Helen Hunting’s ‘Meet Cute’ so I’ll have to add that to my list for sure!! What has Mariana and Alyssa written? I recognise the names but can’t come up with any of their books…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. CAN I BE IN FOR A SALLY THORNE READ ALONG?! Because I’m always down to reread her stuff.

        And Alyssa Cole wrote that Reluctant Royals series I babbled about in both my comments, among others.

        Good call on the romance genre call-outs, Marie, and romance specifically having romance as the main plot and a Happily Every After (or at least a Happy For Now). When people call Nicholas Sparks and even Me Before You “romance,” I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying “Well actually…” Also, I read a TON of romance, but have never (and will never) read 50 Shades of Grey. It’s just not my cup of tea, and I feel like a really poor representation of the genre as a whole. So don’t let just those books color your experiences!!



        Ohh of course!! I made the connections after I had written my comment and gone back to see your reply on my comment.

        I’m now confused because I’ve read Me Before You and thought it was a romance?! I mean I guess I can see the general-fiction kinda thing but it’s all based round the love story too. I’ve only read one Nicholas Sparks book and that was years ago and I remember nothing (not even the title), just the fact that Miley Cyrus acted in the movie adaptation.


  4. I’ve definitely been curious about the Kiss Quotient and the Bride Test after seeing so much universal love for them. I read primarily fantasy and sci-fi these days, but i might sneak these in. In the genre space, I’ve been trying to work myself up to give Kushiel’s Dart a try. She’s a courtesan blessed by a god and apparently gets involved into all kinds of court politics and shenanigans, but there’s a heavy romance component. Not usually my tea, but so many people love it, I might have to check it out!

    I DEFINITELY will be checking out a new space adventure, Polaris Rising, which sounds like a fun time, but I’m glad to know going in that is as much a romance as it is lasers and space ships!


    1. Kushiel’s Dart is my boyfriend’s best friend’s favourite book. I’ve heard so much about it but when I tried picking it up in the bookstore and reading the first line (like I always do before I buy a book), it was just so pretentious and I didn’t like the voice of the narrator. He seems like a cocky know it all.

      I’ve not heard of Polaris Rising before but romance and space ships sounds amazing so I’ll add it to my TBR!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I never read romance, much less adult romance, but I adored Evelyn Hugo!

    Colleen Hoover’s books just aren’t for me, though :/


  6. Same, I feel like the romance genre has been rising to prominence recently. I don’t think I’ll read them for the foreseeable future because I like to read them only when I’m in the mood, but nevertheless I am really excited for the bride test and the hating game! I’m also being pulled to the dark side, and this is because of the diversity that has been present in the genre lately, with amazing black romance authors like Alyssa Cole & talia hibbert !!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Omg, you’re going to love It Ends With Us! It’s by far the best Colleen Hoover book (in my humble opinion)

    I’m very anxious to read Red, White and Royal Blue now 🙂


  8. I really don’t like Colleen Hoover’s books they’re often a bit emotionally abusive and manipulative. Authors I love: Alisha Rai (HIGHLY RECOMMEND), Alyssa Cole, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Roan Parrish, Avon Gale, Piper Vaughn, Talia Hibbert.


  9. Damn these post titles are getting better and better, you’re becoming a master of the eye-catching almost-clickbait that you need!

    I personally recommend The Return by Jennifer L, as it clearly has the most sexy cover art out of the lot!

    -Gallandor 😜



      Although I promise never to lie or make stuff up for my title to seem cool, I’ll always keep them honest to what my post will be about!


  10. I don’t typically read adult romance either, but I’ve heard such great things about the Hating Game and Helan Hoang’s books! Perhaps I’ll give it a try some time this year? We shall see! Haha.

    Also, I’m not positive, but I was under the impression that Saint Anything was YA? I haven’t read it yet, but that’s just what I remembered! 🙂

    Lovely post!


    1. Oh it might be!! Someone told me Saint Anything was NA so I presume it’s just on the border between YA/NA? I’ve not heard from anyone who’s read it though- I’ll have to do more research as to whether it’s an adult romance or not ^-^

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve only read a few of these ebooks and have really enjoyed them. Of all of these, The Hating Game is the one that totally melted my ice cold heart and made me fall completely in love with the characters. And I really want to read some of JLA’s adult books. I love her Lux series but I haven’t really ventured into her adult books so I definitely have to give them a try. Hopefully, we both enjoy them!


    1. The Hating Game definitely seems to be very popular!! I’ll probably get the ecopy before deciding whether to get a physical copy or not c: Maybe we could pick up a JLA NA/Adult book together?? BUDDY READ??


  12. I read a total of 5 books in this list. I am into Helen Hoang books. They’re funny, and awkward. That same goes with The Hating Game which I consider one of those books I was glad I finished til the end. Well, I read almost all of Colleen Hoover’s books..It Ends with Us is one of her books that was quite different because it deals with a difficult and serious topic I guess? And somehow personal for the author once you read the author’s note in the end.


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