The best romance novels sometimes get a bad rap as being fluffy, I’ve said it too. They take you on a love rollercoaster that’s painted as flowers and sunshine. A fluffy romance book can be a great for a beach read now and then but doesn’t always have much depth. I love being taken on a romantic storyline with a novel, but generally, I want characters to laugh, breath, face conflicts and have flaws for most of my reads. Below I’ve gathered some of the best romance novels for when you want a love story that has a bit more than flowers and candy hearts. Check it out!

7 Best Romance Novels That Prove Love Doesn’t Have To Be Sappy

On Second Thought- Kristen Higgins

Brand new off the presses, On Second Thought needs to hit your hands! The story starts off with two sisters, Ainsley and Kate who are both in solid relationships. Ainsley is so ready to get married after dating her boyfriend for over eleven years, but finds herself dumped in a terribly dramatic way. Kate is thirty-nine year old newlywed excitedly planning for kids right away, who finds herself suddenly a widow. The two sisters have never been close, but ban together as they both handle their changing situations. These characters are flawed but beautiful, and the book does a great job of blending some of the feelings of a romance novel with the drama and emotion that comes from family conflict. Don’t expect this book to be fluffy, but you will be rooting for both sisters.

Bet Me- Jennifer Cruise

Can you find true love from one dinner that starts off as a bet? Probably not, that sounds like a typical romance novel and maybe not one that should be on the list of the best non-sappy novels right? Stay with me because the main character Minerva of Bet Me doesn’t think that a fluke date with gorgeous Cal Morrissey is going to result in a fairytale ending. The two part ways after their date, but soon the two are brought together again over Chicken Marsala, a super crazy ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts and a few other ridiculously funny situations. Minerva is smart professionally but bumbles a bit socially in ways that had me laughing pretty hard through most of this book.

I’ve Got Your Number- Sophie Kinsella

Sure I could use this space to tell you just how much I love the Shopaholic series written by Sophie Kinsella, because I do. Sophie Kinsella is a smart and witty writer whose loveable characters bumble through romance and life in a way that is all of us. This is exactly why you need to also check out I’ve Got Your Number if you haven’t read it. Poppy Wyatt is set to marry her ideal man, the handsome and rich Magnus Tavish. A fluke fire drill at a hotel has her losing both her engagement ring and her cell phone. In the chaos she spots an abandoned phone and begins using it temporarily. The phone belongs to Sam Roxton, and the two quickly become tangled hilariously in each other’s lives through text messages and e-mails. Poppy is trying to juggle her wedding plans and hide her ringless finger, but in the middle of the chaos somehow plans change! If you love smart and funny novels with dash of flirting and predictableness, add this one to your list.

Me Before You- Jojo Moyes

I was hesitant to pick Me Before You up off the shelf, but let me tell you I was wrong. This book is written so smartly and takes you on quite the path that balances a few laughs with a harsh dose of reality you don’t often find in romantic stories. The book is about Lou, a girl from a stable small town who desperately needs a job and becomes a caretaker for Will, who is left paralyzed below his torso after an accident. Will is terribly depressed after his accident, and Lou makes it her mission to give him a reason to look forward to every day, all the while the relationship between the two of them grows. As someone who has friends with disabilities, I found the ending to be more macabre than it needed to be, and that it perpetuated stereotypes of people with disabilities in a negative light that didn’t need to be there. Overall the book really did make you think, laugh at times, and feel the struggles of the characters and is still worth the read.

The Sun Is Also A Star- Nicola Yoon

Natasha is a seventeen-year-old girl who wants puts her stock in facts. She finds herself in a somewhat desperate situation with her family being deported back to Jamaica far away when she suddenly meets Daniel by chance. Daniel has always been a straight-laced, rule follower. Things change when he meets Natasha. So this book does have an insta-love feel to it but that shouldn’t stop you because the whirlwind romance is not without realism. The Sun Is Also a Star deals with some heavy topics including race, fusion between cultures when they meet (Jamaican and Asian in this case), timing, and reality versus love at first site. This young adult romance hits it out of the park.

The Time Traveler’s Wife- Audrey Niffenegger

Henry and Clare have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six. They are married when Clare is twenty-one and Henry is thirty-one. In The Time Traveler’s Wife, Henry is diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder causing his genetic clock to reset and catapult him through time. Henry’s disappearance are frequent and unpredictable, but the two try to build a normal life together that any two people who love each other would- marriage, children, steady jobs and a sudden disappearance by Henry again? This is a very compelling and powerful book, and the movie was great too!

Heroes Are My Weakness- Susan Elizabeth Phillips

This one is a great pick for those who also love darker gothic novels. Soft hearted Annie is a down on her luck puppeteer who returns to her hometown broken and frustrated. Could she be more opposite from the man who lives in the large house just above her who writes chilling horror books? As winter sets in, the two are trapped with a mute girl, a widow and a small cast of townspeople. As the book continues we learn about that the two have a past, and will it affect Annie’s future?

Did you find a new book to read from this list of the best romance books that skip the sapiness? Would you add a title to this list? Tell me down below in the comments!

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