If you enjoy reading for the escapism that it offers, you likely are a fan of romance books. However, there are far too many romance books that are quick to get to the intimate details of the relationship.
This can be off-putting for a lot of romance readers. If this is something that you find with the romance genre, have you thought about indulging in a slow-burn romance book?
These books delve much deeper into the relationship between the characters that stretches far beyond the shallow level of other romance novels.
The plot is often much more nuanced and involves more action outside of the romance between the hero and heroine. Let’s take a look at 50 of the best slow-burn romance novels to add to your collection.
50 Best Slow-Burn Romance Books You Should Buy
Romance is a genre that is particularly guided by the personal tastes of the reader. There are so many different directions that the story can go that won’t necessarily appeal to people in the same way.
However, we have put together some of the best slow-burn romance novels that will appeal to a wide range of interests and tastes including some literary classics.
Mariana Zapata is the undisputed queen of ultra slow-burn romance novels. The Wall Of Winnipeg And Me is a sports romance novel where the hero is the top defensive end in the National Football Organization.
The heroine of the story is Vanessa Mazur, the long-time assistant to Aiden Graves, a football superstar. After two long years, Vanesss quits her job as his assistant and housekeeper.
However, when Aiden shows up at her house, begging her to come back. The man who never even wished her a happy birthday is now asking the unthinkable.
The book features a slow build-up to the romance, strong characters, and funny interactions. The writing is easy to read and lures you into the world of Vanessa.
- Complex characters
- Realistic setting
- Strong character development
- Natural flow
- Likable characters
- The sports theme might not be to everyone’s tastes
This slow-burn romance novel is told from the point of view of the hero rather than the heroine. This is a slightly less common format than the majority of romance novels. The fresh perspective gives the book a fresh feel.
The protagonist of this book is brooding and troubled. He wants to be with Kit Bishop more than anything, but she is the ultimate forbidden fruit.
However, there are few things in the world that are more powerful than the allure of love that shouldn’t be pursued.
In this book, Ashley Jade has mastered the art of the complicated slow-burn romance novel that affects the reader’s emotions from the very beginning.
This book is sure to have you invested in the characters and their relationships while leaving you utterly breathless.
- Male perspective
- Captivating story
- Strong female character
- Cliffhanger ending
- Strong descriptions of emotional bonds
- Complicated Hearts needs to be read first for important backstory
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne is a classic enemies-to-lovers story in a beautiful slow-burn package. The two protagonists in this story absolutely despise one another.
Working in the same office for co-CEOs, these two assistants have completely different styles that neither of them can understand.
The tension between these two opposing characters rises to a breaking point when a promotion is offered that only one of them can get.
As the passive-aggressive games between the two escalate and begin to get out of hand, Lucy realizes that perhaps what she’s feeling isn’t hate, and maybe Joshua doesn’t hate her either.
The enemies-to-lovers trope is super popular in the slow-burn romance sub-genre.
The way that Thorne shows the relationship between the two characters changing throughout the story helps the reader become incredibly invested in the outcome.
- Classic enemies-to-lovers trope
- Believable and relatable characters
- Strong character development
- Includes plenty of tender moments between protagonists
- Some readers find the main characters problematic
If you are looking for a slow-burn romance book that is guaranteed to hit you right in the feels, The Wrong Heart by Jennifer Hartmann could be the book you need to add to your reading pile.
The plot of The Wrong Heart is incredibly complex and deals with some difficult and unusual topics which help keep the slow-burn interesting throughout. The heroine, Melody, has recently lost her husband.
His heart was donated and saved the life of another man. Now, that is all that she has left of her husband and even though she knows it is wrong, she just wants to be in contact with a part of him again.
Jennifer Hartmann has firmly cemented herself as the queen of angsty, slow-burn romance novels. This book is an emotional rollercoaster that frames love in its purest light. This book does deal with heavy topics and themes.
- The complex plot maintains the slow-burn
- Touches on real-life issues
- Relatable protagonist
- A story of true, enduring love
- The book deals with heavy topics and issues that some readers may struggle with
The second entry on this list from Mariana Zapata is Kulti. This slow-burn romance novel is a huge hit with fans of Zapata’s writing. This is another sports-themed romance novel that features soccer as the sport of choice.
When Sal Casillas turns 27, the man that she idolized growing up becomes her soccer coach. She used to have posters of him on her wall and would fantasize about marrying him and having soccer superstar babies.
However, after just a week of his coaching, she can’t understand why she ever felt that way.
When Kulti shows up to a new season as a different man, however, Sal is unprepared for the man that she gets to know and the way that he makes her feel.
- A slow-burn romance with a complex plot
- Exploration of friendships and relationships
- A thrilling storyline
- Strong confession of love scene
- The relationship features a power imbalance that some readers may struggle with
The Deal by Elle Kennedy is the first book in the Off-Campus series. Hannah Wells has finally found a man that turns her on. The only problem is, she has a lot of baggage surrounding being intimate.
If she wants to be able to start a relationship with her crush, she’s going to have to take a leap outside of her comfort zone. In order to improve her confidence and her chances, she has to make a deal with the college bad boy.
The plan is clear, but soon takes an unexpected turn that leads to a wild ride and a desperate attempt to convince her that maybe her crush isn’t the man that she needs.
Elle Kennedy has a real talent for creating realistic and flawed characters that elicit various responses from readers. These aren’t characters that you are going to instantly fall in love with and remain there.
They are complex characters that have a lot of room to grow which makes them all the more interesting.
- Complex and flawed main characters
- Strong storyline and character development
- The entertaining and witty writing style
- Strong description of relationships
- Deals with difficult subject matter that some readers might find off-putting
This book is significantly different from the others that we have looked at so far. The V Girl by Mya Robarts is set in a dystopian future and focuses heavily on topics and themes that are darker than a lot of other romance novels.
The subject matter in this book might not be for everyone. Lila Velez is on a quest to lose her virginity on her own terms. It is post-apocalyptic North America and there is a war going on, therefore, finding a lover is difficult.
Lila makes a plan to make a move on her only friend. However, her plans are disrupted when she meets a brooding foreign man.
This man is irresistible to Lila and offers her an alternative to her plans, but will this just lead to further heartache? And is love even possible in a world that has forgotten what human touch is?
- A unique setting for a romance novel
- The dystopian world keeps the slow-burn interesting throughout
- The characters are actively trying to avoid romance
- Not a typical romance novel
- Features very heavy themes that can be triggering for some readers
We’re back with Mariana Zapata again, and once again she has proved why she is the undisputed leader of slow-burn romance novels. From Lukov With Love is another sports-based romance novel, this time Zapata focuses on figure skating.
Jasmine Santos has been pursuing figure skating for 17 years. After multiple broken bones and broken promises, she knows that her career is quickly coming to an end.
An offer of a lifetime comes from an arrogant individual that Jasmine knows all too well. Is she going to have to reconsider everything to make her dreams come true?
In true Zapata style, this book has an incredibly slow burn that leads to a satisfying ending for readers who are fully invested in the characters’ lives. This book is another showcase of Zapata’s talent for writing relatable characters.
- Incredibly well-written slow burn
- Avoids leaning on romance tropes which can often be detrimental to the story
- Strong character development for both main characters
- Very clever writing throughout
- The emphasis on the romance aspect comes very late in the book even for a slow burn
A slow-burn romance novel is always great when it takes place in a romantic location. Binding 13 by Chloe Walsh is set in Ireland and with a little imagination, the reader can enjoy the dialogue in this book with a smooth Irish lilt.
The hero of this book is a rising rugby star with a bright future ahead of him. His sporting career is on the verge of taking off, but the pressure and hidden injuries are beginning to get to him.
Therefore, when a mysterious and intriguing new girl starts at his school, his big-picture dreams soon zoom in on her. This girl has had it rough, but can he save her?
Chloe Walsh writes stunning young new adult fiction and her slow-burn romance writing is a great introduction to the genre. The characters are complex and relatable which makes the climax of the slow burn that little bit sweeter.
- Great character development
- Great relationship building throughout
- Breaks away from typical high school romance books
- Strong female protagonist
- At 887 pages, this is quite a long romance novel
If you are looking for a slow-burn romance book that takes a different path from more typical romance books, you have to add Verity by Colleen Hoover to your list.
This book is a bit of a departure from Hoover’s usual work, but it is definitely worth it!Lowan Ashleigh is a writer and down on her luck. Therefore, when the perfect job opportunity comes along, she grabs it with both hands.
The husband of legendary writer Verity Crawford asks her to help write the books that his injured wife is unable to finish.
When looking through Verity’s notes, Lowan stumbles across an unfinished autobiography that is filled with horrific secrets and confessions.
At first, she keeps the manuscript hidden, but as her feelings for Verity’s husband grow, she begins to think that revealing these secrets would be best for everyone.
This slow-burn romance novel is packed with dark twists and turns that definitely keep the reader invested and drawn in. If you are a fan of romance blooming in unusual places, this is the book for you.
- A plot with lots of twists and turns
- Unusual romance storyline
- Slow-burn romance and thriller mix
- Darker subject matter than many fluffier romance novels
- This book may be too dark and disturbing for some romance fans
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren is a very traditional slow-burn romance story with a typical enemies-to-lovers concept at the heart of it. If you are a hopeless romantic who is chronically unlucky in love, this is the romance for you.
The heroine of this story is the intensely unlucky Olive, whether it is work or her love life, she just can’t seem to catch a break. Her identical twin sister, however, couldn’t be more different.
She met her fiance meet-cute style, paid for her wedding with winnings from internet competitions, and is forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy.
24 hours can’t be so bad until the all-expenses-paid honeymoon to Hawaii is up for grabs and the only other person who can go is Ethan.
Putting their mutual dislike of each other aside for the sake of a free vacation, will the romantic setting lead to something magical?
Christina Lauren writes wonderfully funny and complex characters that are incredibly easy to relate to and fall in love with. This is a lighthearted, traditional, slow-burn romance novel.
- Lighthearted romance novel
- Likable and relatable characters
- Strong character development
- Realistic relationship building
- The interactions between characters can be awkward which some readers dislike
The Spanish Love Deception is Elena Armas’ debut novel, and she absolutely smashed it out of the park. This slow-burn romance novel has a classic plot that is perfect for lovers of traditional romance books.
The protagonist Catalina Martin is desperately searching for a date for her sister’s wedding. Thanks to a little white lie she told about her love life, she specifically needs an American date.
With only 4 weeks to find an appropriate date with whom to fool her family, her insufferable colleague becomes her unlikely hero. Perhaps he isn’t so bad after all.
Elena Armas comes out of the gate strong with this slow-burn romance novel based on the classic enemies-to-lovers trope. She manages to create relatable characters that readers want to root for.
- Strong story arc
- Classic enemies-to-lovers basis
- International setting
- Comforting characters
- Some readers find the start of the book slow even for a slow-burn novel
If you are a seasoned bibliophile and enjoy when art imitates life, then Book Lovers by Emily Henry is a book that you need to add to your reading list. Anyone who loves books or works in publishing is sure to enjoy this book.
The main characters are Nora Stephens, a literary agent, and Charlie Lastra, a brooding editor. During a trip with her sister, Nora keeps bumping into a man she’s met many times before.
Unfortunately, none of these times has been a meet-cute like in the books she reads. However, will they be able to unravel the stories they have written about themselves?
Emily Henry writes in such a unique style that is perfect for slow-burn romance novels. She is able to craft magical realism filled with wonderful banter and growth for her characters.
- Strong character development
- Beautifully realistic relationships
- Strong female heroine
- A strong connection with readers
- Secondary characters can feel a little 2 dimensional at times
Wolf Marked by Veronica Douglas is the first book in the Wolf Bound series. This is a slow-burn romance novel that also fits into the fantasy genre. The heroine of this story is Savannah.
She was skeptical about the existence of magic until she found herself being hunted down by a pack of werewolves. The only person who can help Savannah is the Chicago alpha, Jaxson Laurent.
Jaxson thinks that Savannah is special, but their families are sworn enemies. As the pressure of the hunt and the tension between the protagonists heats up, will this forbidden love help to save the day?
Veronica Douglas is a pseudonym used by a couple of archeologists who thrive on writing fantastical romance novels in their downtime.
- Intricate and beautiful world-building
- A strong female character with unknown power
- The strong chemistry between the protagonists
- Great slow-burn formula
- Some fantasy fans dislike the portrayal of the werewolves
Major Love is a sports-based, slow-burn romance novel by Kate Stewart. This is the second book in the Balls In Play series, but it can be enjoyed as a standalone novel.
The story is told from the male perspective which can totally change the entire feeling of a romance novel. Andy, the protagonist, is a retired baseball player turned bartender.
Having experienced crushing heartbreak recently, the last thing on his mind is embarking on a new relationship. However, when he meets April at his best friend’s engagement party, he might not have much choice in his plans changing.
As they spend more time together in the run-up to their friend’s wedding sparks fly and their connection grows stronger.
One of the things that Kate manages to do with this slow-burn romance is perfectly balance tenderness and intimacy with more heated moments and descriptions. This romance novel gives everything that you could hope for.
- Complex and well-rounded characters
- Comforting storyline and romance
- Warm male characters
- Realistic progression of relationships
- The writing often doesn’t flow like in other novels
For The Blood by Debbie Cassidy is the first book in the For The Blood series. This is a slow-burn romance book that is a combination of the Vampire Diaries and The Walking Dead for a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy romance.
Set in the midst of a typical post-apocalyptic world caused by a contagious disease that turns even the most upstanding members of society into feral beasts, this is not the most likely place to witness a romance.
Eva’s father spent years training her in survival, preparing her for a specific task. Before he died he gave her a key and instructions to take it to specific coordinates. Her father’s advice to look out for no one but herself is ringing in her ears.
But sometimes, the only way to survive is to make attachments. Debbie Cassidy creates stunning imagery of a world that is on its knees.
Among the madness of a disease and monster-ridden world, her characters are complex and layered. Above all else, she writes a wonderfully realistic portrayal of romance in adversity.
- Incredible world-building
- Strong main character and secondary characters
- Interesting slow-burn plot
- Reverse harem story
- The “bad guys” in the story are unclear for most of the story which can be distracting
Hold Me by Courtney Milan is a slow-burn romance novel that features two main characters who simultaneously know each other and don’t know each other. There is a strong enemies-to-lovers storyline in this book alongside an instant attraction arc.
Jay Na Thalang, the brooding hero, is super smart and driven. When he meets Maria, he is instantly attracted to her but knows that she is just a distraction from his goals. He attempts to keep her at arm’s length and overshoots.
Maria’s small blog has suddenly taken off and she is desperate to cling to online anonymity. She has been interacting with a commenter for months, developing a close friendship that is heating up, without so much as a photograph.
Little do they know, Jay is Maria’s commenter and perhaps they don’t dislike each other after all.
- An interesting, complex plot
- Unusual enemies-to-lovers resolution
- LGBTQ+ heroine
- Strong and diverse secondary characters
- Some readers feel that the climax isn’t as thrilling as the chase
This book does exactly what it says on the tin. Slow Burn is a slow-burn romance novel from Autumn Jones Lake. This is a story of love blossoming in the most unusual of places with the most unexpected people.
Hope is a married attorney who is forced to represent an outlaw, biker bad boy. Hope is wary of the danger that Rock brings to her calm, suburban life. She also has to deal with her instant feelings of attraction toward him.
On the other hand, Rock has never found a woman who has made him want to settle down until he met Hope. As their connection grows, Hope’s life is at risk.
Rock is determined to save her, and even after tragedy strikes, he fights to win her forgiveness and affection.
Autumn Jones Lake manages to write incredibly believable and relatable characters that are complete opposites of one another. Despite the fact that Hope is married, you can’t help but root for these two.
- Strong and complex characters
- Interesting and detailed backstory
- Humorous and witty writing
- Realistic romance
- The ending feels abrupt
The Love hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood is the perfect slow-burn romance for lovers of nerds and geeks. Olive Smith, the heroine in the story, is a third-year Ph.D. student.
She is a woman who doesn’t believe in romantic relationships that last, but her best friend does.
To get her best friend off her back, Olive needs to convince her that she is dating and well on her way to getting that fairytale happy ever after. Unfortunately, as with all good scientists, she requires more proof than just Olive’s word.
In a desperate attempt to convince her friend, Olive kisses the first man she sees. That man is none other than the laboratory hotshot. Thankfully, he agrees to continue the charade with Olive and an unexpected love blossoms.
Ali Hazelwood is brilliant at writing intelligent women in the sciences without falling into stereotypes and cliches. The relationship between the unlikely lovers is also wonderfully realistic.
- Features strong female characters
- A complex hero that breaks stereotypes
- Believable chemistry between protagonists
- Interesting twists until the end
- The imagery of the protagonist can be a bit vague for some readers
If you are looking for a pure, simple, slow-burn romance novel, Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan is just what you need in your life. This is a classic, heartwarming romance novel that really focuses on the relationship between two individuals.
Bree Prescot moves to a sleepy lakeside town in Maine in hope of finding peace and tranquility. On the first day, Bree bumps into Archer Hale, an isolated man, seldom seen in the town who is hiding his own secret agony.
No matter where Bree goes, she is chained to the memory of a horrifying night. Archer is a silent man, living in pain, but he could be the key to Bree’s freedom.
Can Bree help Archer to find his voice so he can set her free from her endless ruminations?
This is slightly different from your average romance novel, but the focus on the transformative power of love is palpable throughout the book.
- A pure romance novel
- Easy to read
- Complex characters with clear growth throughout
- Innocent and gentle storyline
- Some readers find that there are some editing issues with the writing
If you are looking for a romance book that ticks all the boxes, including a slow burn, Making Faces by Amy Harmon is the perfect book for your reading shelf.
Harmon has filled this book with all the terminology and lexicon that you would expect from a romance. The male protagonist, Ambrose, is beautiful, breathtaking, muscular, and striking.
The female protagonist, Fern, thinks that he looks like the sort of man you see on the front of romance novels, and she should know. However, she always thought that he was out of her league until he wasn’t.
This is a story of young men drafted to the war and returning shells of their former selves. Thankfully for Ambrose, despite Fern’s preoccupation with his looks, she is still infatuated with the new, broken version of him.
Amy Harmon writes a heartwarming story that centers around friendship overcoming heartache. A tale of heroism that falls outside of the usual definitions. And a beauty and the beast plot that shows us there is a little of both in all of us.
- Complex storyline throughout
- Incredible character growth and development
- Features a love that transcends appearances
- Classic romance genre descriptions and lexicon
- This is not a casual, light read
Another entry from Mariana Zapata is Luna And The Lie. As with all of Zapata’s books, this is an incredible slow-burn romance novel that is sure to be a strong addition to your current reading list.
In this story, Luna Allen has some secrets from her past that she would rather remain secret. However, she knows that if she was given the chance, she would do it all again.
Luna has three sisters that she adores, a good job, and a family that she has made up of friends. This is the way Luna assumes things were meant to work out.
However, when one of her many secrets involves her boss, things get more complicated. Perhaps some things are better kept to yourself.
This is another novel when Mariana Zapata’s incredible talent for a slow-burn relationship seeps through on each page. The storyline of this novel is so interesting that lovers of romance won’t get bored waiting for the protagonists to get together.
- Strong storyline to carry the romance
- Incredibly complex lead characters
- The author builds a sense of longing for the reader
- Follows the winning formula of all Zapata books
- For some readers, the relationship between protagonists takes too long to develop
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews is the first book in the Kate Daniels series. The story is set in the fantasy world of Kate Daniels, a down-on-her-luck mercenary.
Magic appeared in the world and turned everything on its head, but now it is fading again to the power of technology.
Kate has made her living cleaning up magical messes, but her life is flipped upside down when her guardian is killed. She embarks on a quest for justice, during which time she is drawn into the power struggle between two powerful factions.
Caught between the Masters of the Dead and the Pack, she is pressured to find the killer. However, could her guardian and these two factions all be connected to one another?
Meanwhile, there is no doubt that Kate is lonely. She is surrounded by men that she likes for different reasons, but will any of them be the one?
Ilona Andrews builds an incredible world for Kate Daniels and really enthralls the reader with her writing, making it impossible to not root for this feisty heroine.
- Strong world-building
- The strong female lead character
- Detailed main storyline
- Realistic romance expectations for the main character
- Not a lot of backstory on the world that Kate Daniels lives in
Kiss An Angel by Susan Elizabeth Philips is an incredibly intriguing slow-burn romance novel. The premise of this novel is unlike almost any other on this list and frames romance in a whole new light.
Daisy Deveraux has a decision to make. She can go to jail or she can marry the mystery man that her father has chosen for her.
She isn’t keen on the idea of arranged marriages, especially not in the modern world, but she doesn’t have much choice. Her new husband is stunningly handsome but as dull as a board.
He is completely uninterested in playing the role of the doting bridegroom. Instead, he drags her from her comfortable life to a run down traveling circus. However, he has met his match in Daisy who is all heart.
Susan Elizabeth Philips writes a stunning slow-burn romance novel. The underlying storyline is incredibly detailed and interesting and the love that blossoms between the protagonists is passionate and thrilling.
- Strong underlying storyline to carry the book
- Interesting backstory for the main character
- A multifaceted hero that is not too lovable
- Strong relationship-building
- Cultural differences in arranged marriages may make this a difficult book to read
Pride And Prejudice is a classic slow-burn romance novel that has stood the test of time. If you are a long-time fan of slow-burn romance, you will have probably already read this book.
However, if you haven’t yet, it definitely deserves a spot on your to-be-read pile. Despite first being published in the 1800s, this book is just as relevant and enjoyable to read today as it was back then.
The heroine of this story is Elizabeth Bennet, an opinionated young woman. The hero is her proud beau, Mr. Darcy. The slow-burn romance between these two opposing characters is intricate and entertaining.
There is a constant, civilized sparring between them that is a battle of wits. Austen’s writing is beautifully clever and paints this couple as flirtatious and intriguing, the perfect partnership of minds and hearts.
There is a reason that this book has gone down in history as one of the best slow-burn romance novels of all time. For some people, this is the romance novel that started all romance novels.
- Strong female characters, especially for the time period
- Respectful hero in the story
- Follows a tried and true romance formula
- Stunning lexicon from Austen
- The courtship of the characters may be a bit old-fashioned for some readers
Lothaire is the 11th book in the Immortals After Dark series from bestselling author Kresley Cole. Although this book is set so deeply into a series, it does work as a stand-alone slow-burn romance novel.
Lothaire is the Lore’s most ruthless vampire and he is plotting for the crown. However, his quest has left him on the brink of madness, until he meets Elizabeth Peirce, a unique, young soul that he captured.
Elizabeth’s soul is Lothaire’s offering in exchange for power. What Lothaire wasn’t expecting is Elizabeth’s ability to soothe his tormented mind.
In doing so, she opens him up to emotions he never knew he was capable of and certainly had never experienced before. Kresley Cole is clearly not a fan of characters being in her books just for the sake of it.
All the characters in this book have intricate backstories that influence their relationships and behavior making them much more relatable.
- Strong character building throughout
- Clear character growth during the story
- Detailed backgrounds for all major characters
- Incredible descriptions of romance and intimacy
- Some readers find the ending to be a bit cliché
Devil In Winter by Lisa Kleypas has a similar premise to Kiss An Angel by Susan Elizabeth Philips. Evangeline Jenner is desperate to escape her family.
The only solution that she can see is a marriage of convenience with the most infamous scoundrel in London. On the surface, the pairing of Evangeline and Sebastian makes no sense at all.
She is a delicate wallflower, while he is a handsome viscount. However, it soon becomes apparent that Eveline has significant hidden strength when she needs it.
Desperate to win her husband’s heart and give their marriage substance, Evie dares to strike a deal with the devil. As Evie takes steps to solidify their marriage, Sebastian is forced to risk his own life to save hers.
This is a historical slow-burn romance novel that offers readers a slow-burn from a convenient marriage to lives being risked to save one another.
- An interesting setting for a slow-burn romance
- Strong underlying storyline to support the romance
- Beautiful, romantic writing throughout
- Incredible character development
- Some readers struggle with the original dynamic of the protagonists
Transcendence by Shay Savage is a fantasy, time travel, historical romance that features a stunning slow burn. The setting of this novel is so refreshing that even if you have read a lot of romance novels, this one will feel different.
They say that men and women are from different planets in terms of communication. However, how can the obstacles of prehistoric life be overcome when one of you simply cannot comprehend language?
Ehd is a lone caveman who is strong and intelligent. Upon finding a woman in his pit trap, he is convinced that she is his mate.
Elizabeth doesn’t know where she is or how she got there, and now she is being hauled back to a cave by a caveman. Will these two opposites manage to overcome language barriers and learn to love each other when they are all they have?
Shay Savage has constructed a beautiful love story that transcends background and language. The two characters in this story couldn’t be more different and yet, they develop an unbreakable bond.
- An interesting setting for a romance novel
- Combination of fantasy, and historical fiction
- Pure hero character rather than a cliche hunk
- The sweet underlying storyline between the characters
- The book began life as a Twilight fanfic which can be off-putting for some readers
Pestilence by Laura Thalassa is a stunning fantasy romance novel with an enticing slow burn. This is the first book in the Four Horsemen series. Readers are introduced to a stunning new world through this book.
The first book in this series is about the first of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, Pestilence. He shows up in Sara Burn’s town and the only thing that she knows is that everyone she loves is marked for death.
The only way she can save them is to stop the handsome horseman. In desperation, Sara shoots him off his steed, but she soon finds out that he can’t be killed. Now, she has to face an angry horseman who takes her as his prisoner.
However, the more time they spend together, the less certain they are about their feelings for one another. Will Sara be able to sacrifice her heart to save the world?
Thalassa manages to create characters that are both loved and despised by each other and the reader at different points in the story, making for an incredibly interesting read and intriguing characters.
- Solid setting and basis for the plot
- Strong base for the rest of the series
- Interesting and complex characters
- Overall a captivating story
- The constant presence of the horse in the book can be distracting at times
Radiance by Grace Draven is the first book in the series Wraith Kings. This book centers around the relationship between Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, and Ildiko, niece of the Gauri King.
The prince in this book has no value and the heroine is of no importance. However, these two characters are brought together through the bounds of duty and politics.
These two souls are destined for each other despite themselves, can they stay together while the hostile powers of the kingdom attempt to tear them apart?
Grace Draven builds an incredibly intricate and beautiful world filled with shadows and regality. Within this stunning world, the characters are fully formed and complex.
Despite their nobility and heritage, these characters are just entwined souls desperate to be together.
- The perfect balance between fantasy and slow-burn romance
- A respectful alliance between the main characters
- Intelligent forming of characters that would translate to the real world
- Strong character development
- The book would benefit from a glossary with phonetic pronunciations
Another slow-burn romance from Laura Thalassa is Rhapsodic. This is the first novel in The Bargainer series. This is a slow-burn fantasy romance novel that takes place in an original world.
The female lead in this book is Callypso Lillis, a siren with a dilemma. Slowly creeping up her arm is a bracelet made of black beads. Each bead represents a magical IOU for the favors that she has received.
The only way to rid herself of them is through payment or death. The Bargainer or the Fae King has never asked Callypso for payment, until now. He appears, standing in her room with a twinkle in his eye.
It begins with a chaste kiss that removes a single bead. More than just rekindling an old love, the Bargainer needs Callie’s help with the evil that is threatening the underworld.
Laura Thalassa brings her wonderful talent for world-building to this stunning slow-burn romance novel.
- Strong world-building
- Complex and flawed characters
- A great introduction to the characters and their backstory
- Well-thought-out romance and intimacy
- The writing often tells rather than shows the reader things
Shatter Me is a fantasy, dystopian, science-fiction romance novel by Tahereh Mafi. When we meet Juliette, she hasn’t touched anyone for 264 days. The last time she did touch someone, she ended up being arrested for murder.
No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but as long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, they don’t really care. There are bigger issues at hand, diseases are rife, food is hard to find, the birds don’t fly, and the clouds are the wrong color.
The establishment’s way is the only way, so Juliette ends up behind bars. As people become frustrated with the status quo, a re-establishment is formed.
This Reestablishment has a different theory, that maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul Perhaps she’s just what they need. Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon or a warrior.
Tahereh Mafi’s writing creates beautiful imagery for the reader which really helps to draw you into the world that she has created for these complex and flawed characters.
- Strong world-building throughout
- Gentle, slow-burn romance to complement the plot
- An immersive experience for the reader
- Strong character development for the lead character
- The romance in the book is not passionate and all-encompassing like many romance books
Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat is the first book in the Captive Prince series. It is a slow-burn fantasy romance novel with LGBT characters. Heir to the throne of Akielos, Damen is a warrior hero to the people of the kingdom.
However, when his half brother seizes control of the kingdom, Damen is captured. His half brother sends him to be the pleasure slave of an enemy prince, Prince Laurent.
When Damen gets involved in a play for the throne, he must work with Laurent to survive and save his country. The only rule is to never, ever reveal his true identity.
The one man Damen needs is the man with more reason to hate him than any. C.S. Pacat has managed to write an incredible villain that is right at home in a slow-burn romance such as this.
The world in which the story takes place is the perfect setting for a story that is harsh, brutal, and depraved. The perfect place for this love story to unfold.
- Great world-building
- Strong character development
- Intriguing main and secondary characters
- Captivating love story
- Some of the subject matter in the book may be uncomfortable for some readers
Obsidian is the first book in the Lux series by Jennifer L Armentrout. This is a classic slow-burn romance novel that harbors an incredible, alien secret. Obsidian is a young adult novel but is a great read for anyone.
Katy, the heroine of the story, moves to West Virginia with her mother after her father’s death. She has resigned herself to a boring life in her new home, until she lays eyes on her attractive neighbor.
Unfortunately, when Daemon opens his mouth, he is irritatingly rude. As she gets to know this beautiful but infuriating man, she discovers that he has a huge, potentially dangerous secret that he is hiding.
Suddenly, Katy is no longer living a boring life in West Virginia. Instead, she is pulled into a world of alien threats with the man she doesn’t know if she loves or hates.
Jennifer L Armentrout has created a fun and entertaining story, set in a world of aliens and time-freezing power. Readers can get totally immersed in this world of adventure and love.
- Strong, complex main characters
- Intricate world-building
- Loveable hero
- Detailed romance descriptions
- Some readers find that the writing is repetitive at times
Easy is the first book in the Contours Of The Heart series by Tammara Webber. Webber is an internationally renowned writer of contemporary romance.
If you are looking for a contemporary romance novel that you can read and reread, this book is for you. The heroine of this book is Jaqueline. Jaqueline has faced horrendous encounters with men in her life.
Little does she know that someone has been watching her, and wants to get to know her. Despite all the things that Jaqueline has been through, Lucas comes sweeping in to rescue her.
However, the past that he has put behind him and the future that she is betting everything on are threatening to tear these two destined souls apart. Will they be kindred spirits or star-crossed lovers?
Tammara Webber has written two incredibly sympathetic main characters that are really easy to fall in love with. Just what you need for a contemporary romance novel.
It is important to note that this book deals with some incredibly heavy topics in quite a graphic way.
- The story flows for an easy read
- The slow-burn romance is perfectly paced throughout
- The gentle, angst-free romance between the protagonists
- Realistic portrayal of human behavior
- Deals with very heavy topics that might be upsetting for some readers, discretion is advised.
The Selection is the first novel in the series of the same name by Kiera Cass. It is a dystopian slow-burn romance novel set in North America. The continent has been ravaged by war and a financial crisis.
A man pulled together what was left to create Illea. A strict caste system has been established in Illea based on your wealth. 1s are practically royalty, while 8s are destitute. America Singer is an artist in the 5th caste.
She is not rich but she isn’t starving either. She does, however, have a secret love affair with Aspen.
America Singer is part of the selection that gives girls the chance to elevate their status and escape the life that has been set out for them.
Moving to the palace and trying to win the heart of Prince Maxon could change her life forever, but he isn’t Aspen. Will she learn to love him to win the crown?
Keira Cass writes an incredibly detailed image of a dystopian future that often doesn’t feel that far away.
The heroine that she has created is smart, complex, and learning to deal with the fact that the way we imagined our life isn’t always the way that it goes.
- Realistic dystopian setting
- Fun and relatable heroine
- Balanced slow-burn romance development
- Parallels to modern reality TV
- The main character can be a little shallow which puts some readers off
If you are looking for a slow-burn romance novel that is filled with fantasy and tension then Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder is the book for you. Yelena has a choice to make. A quick death or a slow poison?
The heroine is about to be executed for murder when she is made an offer that could save her life.
She will be allowed to live in the palace and eat high-quality meals, all for the risk of being assassinated by anyone trying to kill the commander of Ixia.
However, the chief of security slips her some butterfly dust to keep her on their side, forcing her to receive her antidote each day.
In an attempt to escape her new predicament, Yelena is forced to work with Valek, the commander’s right-hand man, and an assassin.
Can she trust him to help her or will his assassin instincts come through? More importantly, will they realize their feelings for one another?
- Strong world-building
- Easy-to-follow storyline
- Likable and complex characters
- No overly flowery language
- Some of the dialogue can be jarring for some readers
Another great option for a slow-burn fantasy romance novel is A Promise Of Fire by Amanda Bouchet. This is the first book in the Kingmaker Chronicles series. Cat Fista isn’t who she appears to be.
Disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus, no one would suspect that she is just avoiding the fate set out for her by the gods and her family. She would be happy to keep her magic a secret all her life.
However, when she locks eyes with an ambitious warlord, her dreams are shattered. Griffin knows what her powers are and kidnaps her off the street to be a weapon for his realm.
However, keeping her at his side is going to be difficult. Bouchet writes a story that is filled with tension of all kinds and builds a slow-burn romance that will leave readers wishing there were more pages.
- Strong world-building
- Plenty of tension between the two main characters
- Complex and interesting characters
- Sets up the rest of the trilogy well
- References to Hinduism in the book can be confusing in the fantasy world
Lachlain MacRieve has endured years of torture from a horde of vampires. When he discovers that a mate that has been predetermined for him is part vampire, it might prove too much to love her.
Emmaline is an ethereal being, half-valkyrie, and half-vampire. Despite his distrust, Lachlalin soon realizes that she soothes his soul.
As the two face their deepest, darkest desires together, they soon learn that perhaps they are meant to be together.
Kresley Cole has once again managed to write a stunning slow-burn romance novel that is both captivating and alluring. The imagery of the book is stunning and compliments the world-building perfectly.
- Complex and interesting characters
- Beautiful world-building
- Strong underlying storyline
- Plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested
- Some of the relationship dynamics might be off-putting for some readers
In One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy, we meet Fable, a young woman whose life can best be described as temporary.
She is looking after her brother temporarily, she’s in her job temporarily, and most of all, she’s seen as a temporary girl all the guys want to get with.
More specifically right now, Fable is the temporary girlfriend of Drew, a college football legend. He’s a sweet guy, but he has more secrets to hide than Drew does. She finds herself pulled into his fake life.
But what was meant to be temporary might become a whole lot more permanent. Murphy has created a wonderful, contemporary slow-burn romance novel that is achingly beautiful.
The characters are complex and flawed but that doesn’t lessen their love for one another, if anything, it makes it stronger.
- Strong character development
- Complex characters that are relatable
- Surprising twists and turns
- Clever, vivid writing that pulls you in
- Some older copies of this book contain typos which can be irritating to read
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is one of the most classic slow-burn romance novels in the world. If you are a long-time lover of romance novels then you are likely to have already read this book.
If not, it is definitely worth reading. Jane was orphaned as a child and felt like an outcast for the entirety of her young life.
As an adult, his courage is tested when she is employed by the brooding Edward Rochester to care for his ex-lover’s child, Adele. Jane can’t help but fall in love with this proud yet kind man.
However, is there a secret he is hiding that could cause Jane to feel exiled again?
Charlotte Bronte created a literary masterpiece with this simple, contemporary love story about a man and a woman and the healing power of love. This is Bronte’s most well-known novel and with good reason.
- Classic literature which may already be familiar
- Strong and relatable characters that are easy to fall in love with
- Well thought-out storyline to carry the slow-burn romance
- Strong, independent female protagonist
- For some readers, the book and its characters are quite dated now
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton is perhaps the most graphic of all the books mentioned so far. This is still a slow-burn romance novel but there are detailed descriptions of the intimate interactions between characters throughout the book.
The female main character, Caroline is soon acquainted with the nocturnal activities of her neighbor thanks to the paper-thin walls and his athleticism.
Unfortunately, Caroline is on a self-imposed relationship ban, she finds herself letting her fantasies run wild each night while she listens to her neighbor.
When the noise begins to get too much, she confronts her neighbor and the tension between them is palpable.
Alice Clayton has written a wonderful slow-burn romance novel that is as silly as it is sensual. This book is sure to keep you entertained from start to finish.
- Funny and entertaining writing
- Strong premise to carry the story for 384 pages
- An interesting setting for modern contemporary romance
- Lighthearted and easy read
- The characters feel a bit cliche to some readers
Another piece of literary history is Persuasion by Jane Austen. This is another slow-burn romance that you are likely to have read if you have been a fan of the genre for a while or if you studied literature at school.
Nevertheless, it is a great book to reread. Persuasion is the story of heroine Anne Elliot who is considered to be past her prime at the tender age of 26.
She had a love before that she cherished dearly, but her family convinced her to give him up. Now, that old flame is back in town and visiting mutual friends.
Although their reunion is awkward, will they see that the spark they once had is still there?
- Extremely tender storyline
- Strong character development throughout the book
- Clever and witty writing that Austen is known for
- Beautiful setting and imagery throughout
- For some readers, the writing and premise in the book are somewhat dated
Gabriel’s Inferno is the first book in the series of the same name by author Sylvian Reynard. This slow-burn romance novel follows the story of college professor Gabriel Emerson and the double life he leads.
By day, Gabriel is a Dante specialist teaching at a local college. However, by night, he devotes himself to a life of pleasure. Although this world suits him and his charms, he is haunted by his past, a feeling of being beyond redemption.
The enrollment of Julia Mitchell in his class threatens to derail his double life and his growing attraction to her causes his past and present to collide.
Reynard has written an intriguing and captivating tale that explores the passion and love that a man can have for someone as he tries to escape his personal hell.
- Written from a male perspective
- Strong character building throughout the book
- Very attractive male protagonist
- Interesting character development
- The POV switching throughout the book can be awkward and confusing for some readers
This slow-burn romance novel follows the story of Tate, a young woman who is being bullied by a former friend during high school.
The boy who used to be her best friend has taken it upon himself to humiliate, exclude, and gossip about her. The ridicule became so bad that Tate spent a year in France for respite.
Now it is senior year and Tate is back and a new woman. She is determined not to let Jared ruin this important, formative year. She is ready to fight back.
However, as they embark on their final year of high school the dynamic is about to shift again.Penelope Douglas has written incredibly relatable characters in Bully.
While it may seem like an odd title and premise for a romance novel, the writing makes the story work really well.
- Incredibly strong character development throughout the story
- Interesting and relatable setting for contemporary romance
- Complex and deep characters that are very realistic
- Clever and interesting writing style
- For some readers, the bully-to-hero development might be uncomfortable
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning is the first book in the Fever series. It is an urban fantasy slow-burn romance novel. MacKayla is a sidhe-seer who sees the Fae.
She has a simple philosophy that any day when no one is trying to kill her is a good day. Since the walls between Fae and Man came down, she hasn’t had many good days.
As MacKayla tries to unravel the mystery of her sister’s murder, her every move is shadowed by the dark and mysterious Jericho. On the other side, V’lane is closing her down looking to bestow an addiction to pleasure upon her.
- Strong world-building to support the story
- Main character and secondary characters are complex and layered
- Interesting story development throughout the story
- Interesting description of intimate scenes and moments
- For some readers, there are too many aspects of Mac that are shallow
Beard Science by Penny Reid is a story in which deals with the devil come with a price. You might get what you want, but is that always what you need?
There is only one thing Jennifer Sylvester wants, and that is to not be Tennessee’s Banana Cake Queen. She is a perpetual good girl and obedient daughter.
However, she finds she is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical ideals. In comes Cletus Winston.
Cletus is the most mysterious puzzle ever to have existed, and now he is in trouble. What is he supposed to do when he is extorted by Jennifer?
- Intriguing development of characters throughout
- Strong introduction to characters
- Interesting twists and turns throughout the story
- Not a lot of explicit romance scenes in the book
The female protagonist in this novel is Emma Woodhouse. She is a formidable woman who is captivating and vivid for readers both old and young. She is spoiled, beautiful, vain, and irresistibly witty.
In her stunning English village, Emma organizes the lives of residents in her community. She also plays matchmaker among her neighbors with stunning effect.
- A classic book from romance literature
- A strong, independent female lead
- Progressive for the time it was written in
- Entertaining main character
- Some readers struggle with the fact Emma Woodhouse is unlikable
A final entry from the queen of slow-burn romance Mariana Zapata is Lingus. Unlike other Zapata books, this romance novel is not a sports romance. Rather, this book is a contemporary romance.
Katherine Berger is a responsible girl with a big heart. She is the most loyal friend with a sharp sense of humor. The only issue is, she is hiding a big secret from her friends and family that might make them see her differently.
When she is dragged to a convention that makes her both embarrassed and nervous, the last thing she is expecting is to meet someone who makes her feel more comfortable than she thought possible. This is a story of acceptance, friendship, and love.
- Interesting and complex main character
- Incredible secondary characters that add to the story
- Interesting storyline for a contemporary romance novel
- Some of the content of the book can be problematic for some readers
To round out this list of slow-burn romance novels is another literary classic. Sense And Sensibility by Jane Austen is a book that you are likely to have heard of and if you haven’t read it you might have watched it.
Marianne Dashwood is known for wearing her heart on her sleeve. When she falls for the handsome but entirely unsuitable John Willoughby, she does not heed her sister’s warning.
As the two women embark on their journeys of love, they learn that sense must be mixed with sensibility.
- A literary classic that has stood the test of time
- Interesting and multifaceted female characters
- Classic witty and humorous Jane Austen writing
- For some romance readers, the book is too vanilla
There are plenty of slow-burn romance novels available with many more being published all the time. This article has looked at some of the most achingly good slow-burn romance novels on the market.
There has been a mixture of subgenres mentioned in this article to help provide inspiration for bibliophiles with various tastes and preferences.
How To Choose The Right Slow-Burn Romance Books?
Choose A Subgenre That You Enjoy
One of the best things about the romance genre is that there are so many subgenres that you can choose from. This also applies to slow-burn romance novels.
Some of the most popular subgenres of romance novels include science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, and sports.
All of these subgenres will have different settings for their romances, different types of characters, and vastly different plot lines.
The easiest way to decide on a subgenre of romance is to think about other types of books and movies that you enjoy. If you enjoy other fantasy books or fantasy movies, you are likely to enjoy a fantasy romance novel.
If you are interested in sports and sports moves, then a sports romance novel is likely to be up your alley.
If you are unsure, you can either begin with a contemporary romance novel and work out what you think would make it more interesting, or you can try different subgenres to see which you like best.
Choose Main Characters That You Relate To
There are few things worse than trying to read a book where the characters just aren’t relatable to you.
The main characters are present throughout the book so you don’t want to spend a significant amount of time in the company of people you don’t like.
While it isn’t always easy or possible to avoid books with characters that you can’t relate to or don’t like, there are ways to minimize the chance.
Reading the blurb on the back of the book before purchasing it can sometimes be a good indicator of whether you will relate to the characters or not.
If you want something more than the blurb to go on, you can look up some reviews of the book before you purchase it. There are many sites available online where readers can rate and review books.
These are likely to give in-depth and personal insights into whether the characters truly are relatable.
Choose A Relationship Style That You Enjoy
Another important component of a slow-burn romance novel is the type of romantic relationship that takes place in the book.
There are so many different types of relationships that can be described in romance novels that there are bound to be ones that you prefer over others.
The easiest way to settle on relationship styles that you like and would enjoy reading about is to think about what relationship styles or dynamics you don’t enjoy and wouldn’t want to read about.
This can be the quickest way to eliminate relationship styles in romance novels.
Choose A Plot That You Enjoy
The thing about slow-burn romance novels is that the romance develops very slowly and most of the romance scenes don’t appear until the last half of the book at the earliest.
Therefore, it is important to take the overall plot into consideration when looking for your next slow-burn romance novel.
Choosing a plot that you enjoy for a slow-burn romance is just like choosing a plot for any other book that you might read. The story has to grip you and be interesting in order to keep you reading before the romance starts to build.
Choosing the right plot for your slow-burn romance is very similar to choosing the right subgenre for the book. Stick to what you already know you enjoy getting a book that you will enjoy from start to finish.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Romance Book?
A romance book is defined as a piece of literature that focuses on the development of a romantic relationship between two or more characters.
Romance books are often focused on the lives of at least one member of the main relationship in the novel. A slow-burn romance is a subgenre of the romance genre.
These books specifically take a long time to build up to the romance and focus just as heavily on the rest of the plot as it does on the romance.
This is different from classic romance novels that often jump right into the romance and build from there.