6 Steamy Books That Will Get Your Heart Racing, According To Reader Reviews

We love a sweet, heart-warming love story, but sometimes you want a little more heat in your romance novels. With readers lining up to rate books' eroticism with chili pepper emojis and the hashtag #smut ruling BookTok with a staggering 6.2 billion views, spicy romance has clearly become a major player in the publishing industry. Certain titles — we're looking at you, "Fourth Wing" — are even snowballing into international phenomena.


If you're a fan of these steamy novels, chances are good that you're constantly on the hunt for your next read. But those back-cover blurbs can only get you so far, and it's not always easy to find a novel that ticks all our spicy romance boxes of swoony, authentic, and heart-pounding. So, what's a book lover to do? When in doubt, we like to check in with other readers.

From providing character analysis to spice ratings, real-world reviews help us find all those don't-miss romances that have been flying beneath our radar. And now, we're sharing this bounty with you. So, if you're looking for a new book that's high in metaphorical chili peppers, dive into these thrilling, reader-recommended romances.


Sizzling BIPOC Romance: The Art of Scandal by Regina Black

Looking for a moving contemporary romance to swoon over? Be first in line to read Regina Black's "The Art of Scandal." While its online presence is still budding regarding Amazon and Goodreads reviews, this novel has been making waves on BookTok, with the tag #theartofscandal already amassing more than 161,000 views. It also managed to achieve a spot on Amazon's "Best Romance Books of 2023" roundup, proving that this love story has some serious chops.


Political trophy wife Rachel Abbott is playing nice with her unfaithful husband to protect his public image, but when she meets soulful artist Nathan Vasquez, sparks fly. The more they get to know each other, the harder it is for Rachel to resist the pull of attraction and keep up the illusion of her happy marriage.

"Couldn't put it down," wrote one Amazon reviewer. "This was Messy. Capital M Messy. Real Life Messy. Which means it was also beautiful and difficult and thrilling and so incredibly engaging. Rachel and Nathan are amazing and broken in so many ways. Watching their jagged edges become a little softer and fit together was wonderful."

Steamy Second Chances: Forget Me Not by Julie Soto

If you're still dreaming about the one that got away, scratch that itch with the longing, sensual vibes of second-chance romance "Forget Me Not" by Julie Soto. Wedding planner Ama Torres and broody florist Elliot Bloom were head over heels for each other until she abruptly broke it off. For two years, they've both been nursing their emotional wounds, but now, they have to put that pain aside to collaborate on a career-making event. When it turns out that their chemistry is as strong as ever, can they keep it professional, or will they give into temptation and let their love blossom again?


While "Forget Me Not" is still gaining steam online, editors were quick to spot its quality and place this title on Amazon's "Best Romance Books of 2023." It's also seeing growing popularity on Goodreads, where more than 27,000 readers have contributed to the book's 4-star rating. As one Amazon reviewer gushed over Amy and Elliot's romance, "The tension, the love, the hate, the banter, the happiness, the tears...I felt it all and loved them so much!"

Spicy Sex Lessons: Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon

From beloved romance tropes like "only one bed" to "trapped in an elevator," a plot device is just too juicy to resist sometimes. Enter the deliciously spicy premise of "Business or Pleasure" bu Rachel Lynn Solomon. After a less-than-inspiring one-night stand, ghostwriter Chandler Cohen is in no hurry to see C-list actor Finn Walsh again. But when it turns out her next project is ghostwriting his memoir, they're thrown together once more. Finn's dismayed to find out that his skills in the bedroom aren't up to par, and Chandler agrees to a shocking deal: to tutor him in the art of pleasing a woman. It's a strictly physical arrangement at first, but as Finn and Chandler get closer, will it stay that way?


"Business or Pleasure" has attracted some attention on Goodreads, where nearly 20,000 ratings have earned it a 3.8-star average so far. Amazon readers, while fewer in number, seem to like the book even more, gracing it with 4.1 stars. As one pleased Amazon reviewer wrote, "I dare you to read this without grinning the whole time. What a delight! Just pure happiness and almost zero angst, so if you need pure frothy goodness with some decent spice, this is it for you."

Feisty Fake Dating: Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma

Nisha Sharma is putting a charming, modern spin on classic rom-coms with her ongoing series of standalone romances titled "If Shakespeare Were an Auntie." Following a lineup of fun and relatable South Asian protagonists, the whole set is worth reading, but if you're new to Sharma's work, we recommend beginning with the series' first installment, "Dating Dr. Dil," which was a nominee for "Best Romance" in the 2022 Goodreads Choice Awards.


Loosely inspired by Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew," which also inspired the classic rom-com "10 Things I Hate About You," "Dating Dr. Dil" pits soulmate-seeking Kareena Mann against anti-romance cardiologist Prem Verma. After their televised debate about love goes viral and damages Prem's professional reputation, these ill-matched singletons must pretend to date to save his funding. But as sexual tension builds, both Kareena and Prem have to wonder whether they're actually as ill-matched as they seem.

So far, "Dating Dr. Dil" has garnered an average of 3.6 stars from over 54,000 Goodreads ratings and 4.1 stars from its 3,000 Amazon ratings. "Funny, witty, and gloriously spicy!" wrote one thrilled Amazon reviewer. "This quickly has secured a place amongst my favorite rom-coms of the year! Fake dating, marriage of convenience, enemies to lovers, and it even has a Taylor Swift playlist. Loved every minute of this!"


Racy Arranged Marriage: The Marriage Auction by Audrey Carlan

"What would you do for three million dollars?" asks the blurb of Audrey Carlan's book series "The Marriage Auction." Following four down-on-their-luck protagonists, we find out that $3 million may just be the price of freedom, as each woman enters the eponymous marriage auction. If they attract bidders among the wealthy and mysterious auction-goers, these women — Dakota, Savannah, Faith, and Ruby — will get their chance to earn big money by marrying men they've never even seen.


With each new installment, "The Marriage Auction" delivers four steamy love stories for the price of one. And while the first book of this forced proximity romance has barely 2,100 reviews on Amazon so far, those reviews are very positive, resulting in an enviable 4.4-star rating. Amazon's editors seem to agree, earning "The Marriage Auction" a spot among Amazon's "Best Romance Books of 2023." This series is also taking off on BookTok, with the hashtag #themarriageauction racking up more than 1.2 million views so far.

One Amazon reviewer wrote, "This series is so good. I read them all in a week, and I would reread them again, hands down. ... Full of spice and creativity as you navigate the perspectives of all of the characters, male and female."


Passionate Billionaires: Love Redesigned by Lauren Asher

Care for a dip into the ever-popular subgenre of billionaire love stories? In "Love Redesigned," readers follow interior designer Dahlia Muñoz as she reluctantly returns to her hometown after a broken engagement. While there, she's determined to avoid her wealthy childhood rival — Julian Lopez — but when he approaches her with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to renovate an old house together, these frenemies agree to a tentative truce. By the time Dahlia realizes that she's losing the fight against her attraction to Julian, they're both too invested to back out. 


With 4.3 stars from over 10,000 ratings, "Love Redesigned" has captured the hearts of readers. And if you're looking for a serious BookTok contender, get this: The hashtag #loveredesigned has an impressive 20.4 million views. Perhaps best of all, this book kicks off an entire series of standalone romances called "Lakefront Billionaires," helping you get your fix of rich book boyfriends again and again. 

"I genuinely can't recommend this book enough," swooned one Amazon reviewer. "The characters, the plot, and the setting just leave you craving more from this world and the characters. I just love this book so much and I genuinely think it's one of the best books of 2023."

How we selected products

Some show-stopping romance novels achieve such notoriety that they become hard to avoid. They're cluttering up your TikTok "For You" page, they're endlessly making the rounds among your book buddies on Goodreads, and they're dominating all the displays in your local bookstore. But once you've read these viral favorites, where can you turn to discover less obvious gems?


To build our list, our mission was to uncover critically acclaimed and reader-loved books that even experienced romance lovers may not have encountered yet. We began by perusing editor favorites on Amazon and Goodreads, looking for titles that took us by surprise and needed more love from the romance community. Next, we dove into book blurbs, ratings, BookTok trends, and those all-important reader reviews. By the time we were finished, we'd unearthed promising romances that satisfied a range of fan-favorite tropes. So, if you're desperately seeking your next steamy read, this selection should hopefully provide a good place to begin the search.