Best of 2022: Romance Novels might feature spoilers for various books. Please be advised if there’s something you don’t want to know.
We like to joke that we’re romance fans first and everything else second, but it’s not even a joke at this point. Here at Marvelous Geeks, we’ll always be unabashedly pro-romance novels. And you know you’ve had a great year when the Best of 2022 Romance Novels were incredibly hard to choose.
For more end-of-the-year coverage, be sure to check out our Best of 2022: Scene-Stealers, the Best of 2022: Performances, the Best of 2022: Characters, the Best of 2022: Found Families, the Best of 2022: Romantic Relationships, and the Best of 2022: TV Episodes.
1. In The Weeds and Mixed Signals
It should be illegal to choose a favorite novel from B.K. Borison‘s Lovelight series, so we’re abiding by the rules and selecting both releases for our Best of 2022 romance novels. Just as Lovelight Farms took us by the heart last year and refused to let go, In The Weeds and Mixed Signals followed in its footsteps. Borison is a brilliant wordsmith whose means of worldbuilding are so achingly comforting there are no words for what she accomplishes. And the same can be said about both couples and the heartwarming ways in which their love stories feel like the best kind of hugs. When there’s a small town, adoring complex heroes, riveting and multifaceted heroines, plus the best tropes, there’s no denying the books will stay on the list of our all-time favorites to the end of time.
2. The Princess and The Scoundrel
If you had told us that we’d someday get a romance novel centered around Star Wars‘ Princess Leia and Han Solo, we wouldn’t have believed you. But just as Princess Leia is unsurprisingly a Best of 2022 character, The Princess and The Scoundrel had to be on our list as well. The novel takes place after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows Han and Leia after their engagement, navigating through pieces of the losses and the places they want to end up. It allows readers to see their flaws and strengths while simultaneously cementing their adoration for one another further and deepening the relationship we’d already grown to love.
3. Book Lovers
Book Lovers is Emily Henry’s most emotional novel, and that’s precisely why it works so well. Nora Stephens is a version of so many of us, and Charlie Lastra is the kind of man we all deserve. The novel is a gorgeous exploration of grief and the type of story that elder siblings will especially relate to. Henry is best at understanding the publishing industry, and how she continues to relate her novels to the stories we tell remains her specialty. Nora and Charlie’s rivals-to-lovers arc occurs so organically through the pages that you never get frustrated with their dynamic—you revel in it, bask in every word, and find yourself openly sobbing at the end when emotions come front and center.
Sarah MacLean’s Heartbreaker follows Henry Carrington, Duke of Clayborn, and Adelaide Frampton in one of the sexiest historical romance novels written. The sentiment isn’t surprising when you’ve read MacLean’s previous novels, but goodness, there’s something undeniably tender and hot about how she weaves this story together. It features the hurt/comfort trope, a man who’s so insanely besotted that, as a reader, it’s easy not only to believe but adore the book instantly. In true MacLean fashion, she takes every trope and flips it around gorgeously. The twists in Heartbreaker are not only creative but also so organically executed that it’s outright brilliant. While I wasn’t too sold on the Hell’s Belles, despite how much I adored Bombshell, Adelaide and Henry’s story took me by surprise in the best kind of chokehold.
5. When In Rome
For fans of Roman Holiday, Sarah Adams‘ When In Rome is a dazzling small-town romance that’ll make hearts soar. It’s a comforting story through every word as Adams threads humor and empathy into every line, creating an enticing longing that makes putting the book down impossible. Adams is a writer who’s undoubtedly growing better and better with every book she writes, and When In Rome is a shining paradigm of that notion. She takes a lackluster trope that I seldom enjoy (celebrity/normal person) and makes it an absolute gem to devour. Noah and Amelia are the kind of couple whose adoration for one another shines through every page. They’re going to make it because the feelings are so achingly pure it makes the story that much sweeter.
6. Two Wrongs Make A Right
Two Wrongs Make A Right is not only one of the Best of 2022 romance novels, but it’s also Chloe Liese’s most outstanding work to date. Jamie Westenberg is the type of book boyfriend you’ll think about for days on end while your heart clenches as his character traits come to life in front of you all over again. Liese crafted a hero who’s worthy of the title and so utterly kind that the thought of him alone is comforting. And Bea Wilmot is the type of brilliant heroine who’ll make so many women feel seen, appreciated, and understood. The Much Ado About Nothing retelling fits seamlessly with the character traits making it a romance that feels earned, memorable, and achingly intimate. Some novels leave a mark you can’t quite find the right words for, and this is undoubtedly one of them.
7. The Belle of Belgrave Square
Mimi Matthews‘ second installment of her Belles of London series is an utter delight. Following The Siren of Sussex with more romance, The Belle of Belgrave Square is a Victorian-era Beauty and the Beast retelling with two compelling leads, Julia Wychwood and the notorious Captain Jasper Blunt. Jasper has a mysterious past, and Julia is a bookworm with overbearing parents. The two enter a marriage of convenience, and their journey from friends to lovers is beautiful and fun. The novel is full of tropes that make historical romances such a joy to read. It also features the London season, a journey to the countryside, and a crumbling estate. It was hard for me to put this book down! –Jenna Anne
8. The Lady Tempts and Heir
Harper St. George
Harper St. George‘s The Gilded Heiresses series continues to be a gem in the historical romance world, and The Lady Temps an Heir is no exception. The novel follows Maxwell Crenshaw and Lady Helena March in their fake engagement, which leads to the kind of love neither could ever have expected. It’s full of complex characters embarking through scenarios in a believable, raw, and uniquely done manner. You believe the progress they make because of how often St. George allows them to be adults throughout the entire thing. There are no wrenches thrown in their path for the sake of drama, only courses that feel entirely understandable, which leads to their eventual happy ending.
9. Thank You For Listening
Julia Whelan’s Thank You For Listening is, first and foremost, a love letter to the audiobook community. It’s an homage not only to the romance genre but to a form of reading that some people unfortunately still frown upon even when it’s a remarkable way of consuming literature. And that alone deserves immense praise, but the author’s writing style, the love story, and how the novel comes together through a series of events are where its strengths lie. It’s one of the Best of 2022 romance novels that deserves to be on everyone’s radar whether or not contemporary romance is your cup of tea. Sewanee Chester and Brock McNight have the kind of rapport that’s so seamless to dive into, and it’s almost too much at times. There’s a genuine comfort uncovered through anonymity in a pen-pals-to-lovers relationship that makes for an undoubtedly gorgeous read.
10. By the Book
If Beauty and the Beast is one of your favorite love stories, then Jasmine Guillory’s retelling of the classic tale, By The Book, should be on your to-read list. It’s a heartwarming tale that emphasizes the importance of telling one’s story truthfully and understanding someone as they really are. In our review, we’d said: “There are no magical inanimate objects that talk, the mansion isn’t enchanted as a result of a curse, and Beau Towers most certainly isn’t a CGI beast. Instead, he’s a grump harboring years of guilt-ridden heartaches, struggling through writing his memoir. Isabelle “Izzy” Marlow is like many of us—a lover of books, working through her understanding of writer’s block in a job where she’s undervalued. The forced proximity is entirely work-related, and the progression into a relationship is deliciously sweet.”
11. The Co-Op
There will always be something perfect about the marriage of convenience trope that serendipitously guides two people toward an unyielding partnership. LaRynn Lavigne and Deacon Leeds embark on the type of second-chance romance that allows both to sincerely understand what it means to be enough for someone. There’s a gorgeous sense of complementing one another that happens so organically throughout the text that even with the disagreements and bickering, you can feel the heartaches they both carry. The construction within the story is as much a physical thing as it is an internal reawakening, making a statement about what it means to work on making partnerships better and stronger. The Co-Op is the first Tarah Dewitt book I read, and I can’t wait to read more of her work later.
12. The Hookup Plan
Every year since 2020, Farrah Rochon’s books have been on our Best of 2022 romance novels list. It’s certainly no exception this year as the final installment in her Boyfriend Project series, The Hookup Plan, brings the story to a searing and stunning conclusion. The story is as much a romance as it is a love letter to those in medicine and all they contribute to our world. As we’d said in our review: “London and Drew are sizzling as a couple, but they’re warm and gentle, too. The Hookup Plan is all about the little things like how takeout Chinese food delivered to her office and cupcake frosting kisses could make anyone’s heart flutter. It’s the story of two people seeing each other for who they truly are and accepting every part of their stubborn edges alongside the heart they wear on their sleeves.”
13. Ship Wrecked
Ship Wrecked is the conclusion to Olivia Dade’s series Spoiler Alert and let me tell you, it started with a BANG! (Literally, mid-bang right as you begin with our leads Maria and Peter on their one-night stand together!) It was the most delightful introduction, yet even with that steamy start, make no mistake, this is a slow burn. After that tantalizing beginning, the book spans six years of our leads being on a remote island with a small crew filming their scenes for a mega-successful show where they have vowed not to fall into bed with each other, even when it gets harder and harder to resist. I can go on and on about a million reasons why this book is delightful, like mentioning how the tension between Maria and Peter is delicious and fraught with sexual urges but also misunderstandings and disappointments. I could also note how bickering and humor can have you cackling in your reading nook.
However, the best thing about Ship Wrecked is reading about two fat characters falling in love—to see them as desirable human beings worthy of love, acceptance, and respect. I was a bit scared at times, following their journeys with how they move around in Hollywood as society’s (and the producer’s) expectations of them are constant and loud and very fatphobic. This book doesn’t shy away from it; rather, it provides the most amazing character who stands in the face of bigotry and defies it. I felt changed after meeting a character like Maria Ivarsson, who dared to love herself unapologetically. I know Peter Reedton was changed, too (for the better). Read this book for the delicious angst, found family tropes, lovers to co-stars to maybe friends to lovers again romance!
Oliva Dade’s Spoiler Alert series is an ode to being a fangirl, but ultimately, it’s a love letter to fat people all over. Our stories matter, we are desired, beautiful and valid, and we deserve to have our happily ever afters. –Alejandra A
14. A Day Until Forever
This year for our Best of 2022 romance novels, we’re including two novellas because we’re so in love with these stories that we’re desperate for more. Luckily for us, Erin Langston’s debut novella, A Day Until Forever, is only the beginning, and her new novel, to be released on February 28, Forever Your Rogue, is undoubtedly going to destroy us all. A Day Until Forever is the quintessential autumn adventure. The story follows a rebellious heroine and a busybody in a delicious type of forced proximity that leads them toward an intoxicating love that feels brilliantly organic and earned. Rosalie and Raymond are riveting leads, and Langston’s writing is so magical that every page is bursting with heart and soul.
15. Under One Roof
Under One Roof is Ali Hazelwood’s novella treasure and the kind of story that I’ve yet to stop thinking about. The forced proximity and enemies-to-lovers arc work in a way only Hazelwood’s mastered and then some. In our review, we’d said: A romance between an environmental engineer and a prominent oil company lawyer sounds like a match made in Heaven, but throw in the gradual progression in a span of one hundred or so pages and Demisexual male representation, and we’re completely in. The novella is a page-turner from start to finish, leading to a kind of steamy collision that’s worth every word.”
Honorable Mentions: The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews, You and I, Rewritten by Chip Pons, Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez, A Duel With The Vampire Lord by Elise Kova, and A Taste of Poison: A Snow White Retelling by Tessonja Odette, A Wicked Game by Kate Bateman