See 12 of our favorite romance books we read in 2023

Before we move into 2024, I wanted to share some of the best romance books I read in 2023.

The Duchess Effect by Tracey Livesay. Image Courtesy: Avon
The Duchess Effect by Tracey Livesay. Image Courtesy: Avon /

Coming up with a TBR list can be daunting, especially for a romance reader. There are just so many choices and that's why I broke things down by the publisher.

However, sometimes you don't have enough from one publisher to make up an entire list so in honor of that, I wanted to share some of my other favorites I read this year. Whether they are traditionally published, indie, or self-pub, there are so many great ones.

All in all, I think that's the beauty of reading throughout the year. You discover new authors, get titles from your favorites, or even, find some authors you don't like. Either way, that's just the joy of being a reader.

With that being said, I'm including 12 of my favorite books I've read in 2023 that haven't appeared on my Sourcebooks, Bloom Books, or Berkley list.

See some of the best romance books we've read in 2023.

The Duchess Effect
The Duchess Effect by Tracey Livesay. Image Courtesy: Avon /

1. The Duchess Effect by Tracey Livesay

If there's one author who can make me love a royalty romance, it's Tracey Livesay. Ever since I picked up my first book by her, she captivated me. This book is the sequel to American Royalty and follows the relationship between Jameson and Duchess. While the two had some ups and down in book 1, it only gets more dramatic in the follow-up.

Regardless, this book felt fresh and fun at the same time. It didn't feel like a rehash of the first book and there were stakes. Honestly, if you haven't picked up this one from Tracey Livesay yet, then what are you doing?! She's great so do it!

2. Forget Me Not by Julie Soto

Forget Me Not by Julie Soto had to be my biggest surprise of the year. This is a second-chance romance between a wedding planner and a florist. Ama and Elliot were lovers or friends-with-benefits or something in the past yet we see their relationship in two different timelines. That was such a genius writing style and something I haven't found since.

If you haven't picked up Forget Me Not yet, then you are missing out because this book had a wedding, a second-chance romance, and plenty of great micro-tropes to make you fall in love with these two and their relationship. Just talking about it again makes me want to reread it.

3. Looking by Katrina Jackson

For the sake of this list, I'm going to be including some backlist titles and one of those is Looking by Katrina Jackson. Originally released on her Patreon, she ended up releasing this for everyone as it was just too good.

This story follows Darren and Nadia who are married yet are thinking about adding a third into their marriage. From there, we watch as Darren ends up meeting someone and the different trials and tribulations that go along with that. This book is both incredibly mature in content and in the way the relationship is handled. If you haven't picked up a book from Katrina Jackson yet, this is the one.

The Boyfriend Candidate by Ashley Winstead. Image Courtesy of Graydon House. /

4. The Boyfriend Candidate by Ashley Winstead

Moving back to the 2023 releases, The Boyfriend Candidate was one of my favorite romances for multiple reasons. First of all, Ashley Winstead just captivates me with how she writes such a compelling plot with a swoony romance. Plus I think we were all rooting for Alexis to get into a great relationship.

This is about Alexis who ends up having to fake-date Logan, a hot guy she met at a bar that is running for Governor of Texas. Winstead skillfully intermingles the politics with the romance without sacrificing either and I just loved watching Alexis come out of her shell. I feel like this book really flew under the radar so if you haven't picked it up yet, you should.

5. Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan

Keeping political romances, I'd be remiss to not mention Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan. If you haven't picked up a Kennedy Ryan book, just go to the bookstore, find one, and thank me later. Kennedy Ryan continues to astound me with just how great she is as a writer. She's one of those authors who manages to break your heart and stitch it back together all on the same page.

Enough gushing about Kennedy Ryan, Queen Move is a romance between Kimba and Ezra who were born on the same day yet never got their chance. Many years down the road, it finally feels like their chance yet things keep popping up as life does. However, as with most Kennedy Ryan's books, it is a journey to get that HEA but we do eventually get there.

6. Again by J.L. Seegars

Next up is another author who will just hit you with emotions and love all at once which is J.L. Seegars. I decided to pick up Again before picking up her longer titles and this one was a masterpiece of a romance.

Again is a second-chance romance between Amina and Jax who are seeing each other after a divorce and dealing with some struggles in their marriage. Of course, Jax wants to win her back, and from there, it's another chance at love for the two. This book is so achingly romantic and is honestly one of those books I haven't stopped thinking about after reading.

7. Kulti by Mariana Zapata

Moving onto an older title, Kulti by Mariana Zapata ended up being one of my favorite reads of the year. This book was originally published in 2015 and I finally picked it up this year. Kulti follows a romance between a women's soccer player and her coach. Sal has been Reiner Kulti's biggest fan since his career began and it's essentially their slow-burn romance.

This book has a slight fanficish feel to it but not in a bad way. It's clear why Sal loved Kulti so much and why the two seemed to have such a tumultuous relationship when the story began. I cried at the end which doesn't happen often. This is easily one of my favorite Mariana Zapata reads!

8. Not Here to Stay Friends by Kaitlyn Hill

Next up on my list is a YA romance book which is Not Here to Stay Friends by Kaitlyn Hill. The book starts off with Sloane going to visit her best friend in LA but she ends up getting cast in a new reality dating show. While the show is going okay, it's clear Sloane and her best friend, Liam have feelings for each other as it's their romance.

This one is so cute and is another highly underrated book. Even if you don't read YA, I still think you'll enjoy this one as Kaitlyn Hill has an amazing writing style. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book she's coming out with in 2024.

9. Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

An incredibly hyped book I read in 2023 was Seven Days in June by Tia Williams. If you believe the hype on any book, make it this one. Seven Days in June is a romance between Shane and Eva who have a "relationship" as kids yet they meet again as adults. Of course, we find out the two have been secretly writing about each other.

From there, the two end up reconnecting but we see why things fell apart when they were teens and how they're healing from that as adults. Whether you're scared of the hype or just haven't picked up a book from Tia Williams yet, this one is dynamic.

10. The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren

Everyone has different feelings about Christina Lauren and they're vastly popular due to that. One book of theirs that I devoured this year was The True Love Experiment. This is the second book in the DNADuo series and we're getting Fizzy's story. Fizzy is Jess's best friend from the first book and she's a beloved romance author.

Trying to cash in on that, Connor approaches her about doing a reality dating show, and from there, the fun begins. As you might imagine, sparks fly. This book is equal parts funny, emotional, and romantic while also being a love letter to romance novels.

11. Lease on Love by Falon Ballard

The next book is another backlist title and that's Lease on Love by Falon Ballard. This is an author I've been thinking about since its release and I finally read it this year. This book follows Sadie who after getting fired from her job, moves into a new apartment. Her roommate Jack is an adorable nerd with a few secrets.

Honestly, this book was just so good as it focused a lot on Sadie's growth as a character, Jack working through his own struggles, and the adorable romance in the meantime. If you haven't read this author or this book yet, you need to bring this one with you into 2024.

12. That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Human by Kimberley Lemming

The final romance book making the cut for 2023 is That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Human by Kimberley Lemming. This series is one of my favorites and such a comfort read for me. Since it's the 3rd book in a series, I don't want to give away too many details. However, it's an incredibly fun fantasy romance featuring human women and the shifters they end up with.

Those are just some of my favorite romance reads from 2023. While most of them are new releases, some were backlist. Considering that I've read over 300 books this year, it was somewhat hard to narrow down but these were some I know I'm going to read again.

What were some of your favorite romance reads from 2023? Let us know in the comments!

Next. Berkley 2023 . See the best romance books published by Berkley in 2023. dark