Spring is here and love is in the air. We’ve rounded up a list of 10 must-read romance novels coming out this season, and all you need to do is decide if you want things sweet or steamy. If you’re in the mood for something romantic and modern, Stephanie Evanovich has a novel about a quarterback and sports commentator who reunite after a painful split. If you prefer something historical, you have a choice: travel to China for a tale of the country’s first and only empress, or to England for a fresh new romance from Julia Quinn. Do you think just one love interest is too boring? Well, we’ve got a treat for you, too.
Who run the world? Girls
In this first volume in a historical fiction duology, Weina Dai Randel writes about the life of Wu Zetian, the first and only female Emperor of China. The path to greatness is rarely easy, and before she ruled China this future emperor was a concubine who went by the name of Mei. After her father died, Mei’s family lost their home and everything else they had. After being chosen as a concubine for the Emperor, she knew she could not return to a life where she has to scrape by, and decides to do whatever it takes to remain at his side. Mei is fearless when it comes to taking control of her own destiny, but nothing could’ve prepared her for the cunning and vicious nature of the Emperor’s court. Her social climb becomes even more dangerous after she falls for a man named Pheasant. Their passion ignites an affair—an act punishable by death if the Emperor were to ever learn of it. Readers anxious for the sequel thankfully don’t have long to wait; it’ll be out later this spring on April 5.
On shelves: March 1
Sweet little lies
Madame X is possessed by Caleb. He doesn’t just control her sexually—he also keeps her confined to a Manhattan condo. After meeting Logan in the first installment of Jasinda Wilder’s erotic series, X longs for a life without bondage and, perhaps, without her captor. Caleb claims to have saved her life, and X has never been in a position to refute him—she doesn’t remember the night she was attacked and left for dead. But as her memories begin to resurface, she grows determined to unravel the lies that have shaped her life and uncover who she truly is. Readers won’t be able to put down this dark and sensual novel until they’ve turned the final thrilling page.
On shelves: March 1
The stuff of legend
Tess Morgan loves mythology and frequently uses fantastic creatures from folklore and legend in her paintings. When she meets bachelor Bryce Waters at a Halloween party, she’s ecstatic to find someone who can match her interest in the subject. She’s wary, though, especially knowing that Bryce was the last person seen with a woman who has gone missing. No one knows that Tess saw the woman in a horrifying vision where she was being taken by a man with pointed teeth. Even as her feelings for him develop, Tess begins to wonder if Bryce could be connected to the woman. The search for the truth leads her to a startling discovery: The myths she loves so dearly may be real, and Tess herself may be connected to the legendary lost island of Lemuria. Dee Willson’s debut novel is perfect for romance readers who believe not only in true love but also in magic.
On shelves: March 1
Caught in between
If you think three’s a crowd, pass on this erotic anthology. However, if you think that more is merrier, you’re in for a sensual read filled with fantasies, taboos, and exhilarating encounters. Editor Matthew Bright compiled short stories from 12 different authors on all-male threesomes. The collection itself is split into three sections. The first covers tender scenes, while the second is more risqué, and the third features stories that are surreal. Publishers Weekly gave this book a starred review and named it one of the three most anticipated romance books of this spring. Needless to say, erotica fans won’t want to miss out on this one.
On shelves: March 3
Let’s take a look at the replay
Sports commentator Dani Carr isn’t one to forget a face, especially when that face belongs to Tyson Palmer. Now he’s a quarterback celebrating a huge comeback to the game, but she remembers him as the addict who pulled a use-her-and-lose-her. Sober and at the top of his game, Tyson is in the perfect place to apologize for his behavior—if only he remembered it. When Dani is hired as the team’s dedicated reporter, she has to shove her heartbreak aside and put her job first. But how can she do that when Tyson is attempting to tear down her defenses at every turn? As the warm weather hits, readers can rejoice and relax with another sweet and funny book from the Stephanie Evanovich.
On shelves: March 15
Protect what you can’t live without
Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough, is determined to make a match based on sensibility and utterly devoid of feelings. So it is just his luck that he finds himself thrown together with Lady Clarissa Lindsey, an independent and witty woman who he’s felt drawn to for years. As Edwin attempts to keep his feelings in check, he learns that Clarissa is being pursued by an extremely persistent suitor. When the courtship turns to stalking, Edwin proposes so that he can keep her safe, and promises the marriage will be in name only. Clarissa agrees to the marriage of convenience for her own safety. She trusts Edwin to protect her, and if she learns to trust her own heart, she’ll find that he isn’t the only one feeling a spark between them. Sabrina Jeffries continues her Sinful Suitors series with a tale of a heroine healing from a traumatic past, and a hero willing to do whatever it takes to protect the woman he loves.
On shelves: March 22
Bickering like an old married couple
New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn is taking readers of her Bridgerton series back in time. Set in the 18th century, this prequel series kicks off with the acquaintances-turned-lovers romance of Billie Bridgerton and George Rokesby. Billie grew up knowing that she’d probably marry a Rokesby boy. She spent her childhood tearing up the English countryside with Edward and Andrew Rokesby, and avoiding their arrogant older brother George. The two don’t actively hate each other, but they have been getting on each other’s nerves for as long as either can remember. When Edward goes missing in America, the two willingly team up and attempt to put aside their differences to help find him. Along the way, they learn that their verbal sparring might just be a cover for their true feelings.
On shelves: March 29
Alison Love’s U.S. debut is a romantic historical novel set in England during World War II. Olivia Johnson is working as the dance hostess of the Paradise Ballroom when she first meets Italian singer Antonio Trombetta. Their encounter is brief, but they will never forget the way they felt when they locked eyes. Years later, they meet again. Olivia is married and Antonio has a wife and son. Still, neither can deny the spark that still exists between them. British novelist Love crafts a tale set in a world of danger and fear, when many Italian and German immigrants were considered enemies. It’s also a world shaped by fate and filled with both romance and heartbreak. Will the two find a way to be together, or be destined to live on only in each other’s hearts? You’ll have to read to find out.
On shelves: April 19
A pirate’s life for me
Take to the high seas this spring with the second installment in Stephanie Laurens’ Adventure Quartet. Swoon-worthy Captain Robert Frobisher is ready to leave the unpredictable seas and plant some roots on land. Before he goes in search of a wife, he has one last mission to accomplish. He must discover who is behind the disappearances of a handful of adults and children in West Africa. Once he arrives, there is one obstacle in his way: Miss Aileen Hopkins. She’s in Africa on a mission of her own (rescuing her missing brother) and refuses to be deterred. Ever the diplomat, Robert joins her in hopes of protecting her and loses his heart in the process.
On shelves: April 26
A lady on the streets, but a seductress on the page
Lady Sarah Frampton has two nicknames: The first is the Watching Wallflower, which she detests, and the second is the Lady of Dubious Quality, the name she uses to write erotic novels. Her pseudonym is her best-kept secret. If anyone knew of her scandalous stories, it would ruin both her and her family. But marriage to a clergyman could help paint her as a virtuous woman, and the striking Jeremy Cleland seems like the perfect candidate. The problem? Jeremy’s father has strict morals, and he’s tasked Jeremy with uncovering the identity of the Lady of Dubious Quality. Thankfully, Jeremy doesn’t share his father’s passion for piety. He has a few improper fantasies of his own, and Sarah could unleash them all. “Read it without delay,” Kirkus of Eva Leigh’s latest. We have to agree.
On shelves: April 26