6 Romance Book Trends BookTok Is Loving

Once upon a time, romance novels had a reputation as cheesy bodice-rippers that all featured Fabio lookalikes on their covers, but that era is long gone. In fact, it seems like we're in the middle of a romance renaissance featuring critically acclaimed and fan-favorite reads that cover a huge spectrum of plots, settings, and themes. Whether you're looking for sweet, fade-to-black love stories or steamy books that will get your heart racing, the modern romance market has you covered.


Perhaps nowhere is the popularity of the romance genre more obvious than on TikTok, where fans eagerly share their reactions, reviews, and recommendations. Of course, ask any avid romance reader, and you'll soon realize that they all have their own favorite subgenres and tropes. But as the buzz in TikTok's active #BookTok community shows, certain trends have mass appeal. From sexy athletes and contrived relationships to polyamorous romps, readers are flocking online to swoon over today's hottest romance trends.

Grumpy sunshine romances

We love an unlikely pairing, and there's nothing quite as unlikely as the match-up in your typical grumpy sunshine romance. In a clear case of opposites attracting, one partner is broody, unfriendly, introverted, and probably misunderstood. The other partner is your hallmark extrovert with a bright personality and endless enthusiasm — think major golden retriever energy. This push and pull between contrasting personalities creates instant tension and conflict, and it gives both main characters satisfying room to grow as they learn from each other. For instance, the grump may become more approachable, while the sunshiney partner may get better at looking beneath the surface and respecting boundaries.


However individual stories choose to play out this trope, grumpy sunshine romances are big winners among romance fans. On TikTok, the hashtag #grumpysunshine has more than 733 million views and over 240,000 posts, with readers happily sharing their favorite titles in the genre. If you'd like to dip a toe into this romance dynamic yourself, a few popular grumpy sunshine titles include "The Love Hypothesis" by Ali Hazelwood, "It Happened One Summer" by Tessa Bailey, and "Things We Never Got Over" by Lucy Score. And if you're looking to add multiple novels to your to-read list, here's a bonus: "Things We Never Got Over" is actually the first installment in a romance series Kindle readers are loving right now.


Reverse harem and 'why choose' romances

If you're the type who likes to have your cake and eat it too, reverse harems are the delightfully indulgent romance trope for you. Also called "why choose" romances, these tales explore the idea of polyamory by presenting the main character with multiple love interests that can be pursued simultaneously. Fun, sexy, and gluttonous, reverse harem stories have proven to be major players in the current romance scene. On TikTok, the hashtag #reverseharem boasts more than 777 million views, while the tag #whychooseromance is close behind with over 510 million views.


If you're concerned that the all-you-can-eat buffet style of reverse harems will undercut the conflict, fear not. As in real life, the road to a healthy, sustainable polyamorous relationship doesn't always run smoothly. Most why-choose protagonists will have to overcome misunderstandings, external judgment, and their own internal struggles to finally make it work with two (or more) partners.

The reverse harem trope also goes hand in hand with many dark romances, which often explore issues like morality and consent. This creates a lot of drama, but dark romances may come with lots of trigger warnings, so proceed with caution. Some books in this genre include "Faking with Benefits" by Lily Gold, "Den of Vipers" by K.A. Knight, and "Broken Bonds" by J. Bree.


Hockey romances

Why hockey? Why not? For whatever reason, the public has spoken, and hockey is the undisputed king of the sports romance genre. On TikTok, the hashtag #hockeyromance has a staggering 951 million views. And to account for instances where this might refer to anything other than romance novels, let's get more literal: The tag #hockeyromancebooks also has a huge following, with 462 million views. It seems that romance readers just can't get enough of bad boys with ice skates.


Now, you might wonder whether this popularity is such a departure from other sports romances. For context, #footballromance is trailing far behind hockey's BookTok success with only 169 million views. Maybe Tay Tay's romance with Travis Kelce will help shift that niche into more popularity, but in the meantime, football is lagging behind, while similar hashtags for basketball, soccer, and baseball have been thoroughly left in the dust.

In short, the hockey romance genre is the place to be for sweet, spicy, and sporty love stories. And "The Deal" by Elle Kennedy, "Pucked" by Helena Hunting, and "Icebreaker" by Hannah Grace are just a few of the popular books in the genre.

Fake dating romances

Seen in iconic films like "Pretty Woman" and "10 Things I Hate About You," fake dating has become a classic romance novel trope that fans forever adore. In this plot device, one or both partners enter into a relationship knowing that it isn't real. The details can vary — maybe they're dating to win a bet, improve their public image, or get their family to stop asking when they're going to settle down. The point is that the romance starts as an arrangement of convenience but soon blooms into something more — a conceit that readers gobble up over and over again, loving to watch boundaries get crossed and emotions get entangled.


So, how popular is this trope? On TikTok, the tag #fakedating has over 571 million views. To join in this love-fest, you can explore fake-dating staples like "The Spanish Love Deception" by Elena Armas, "The Kiss Quotient" by Helen Hoang, and "A Not So Meet Cute" by Meghan Quinn.

Monster romances

If you haven't given monster romances a try before, this niche may sound a little strange — and, honestly, it's probably not for everyone. Taking the idea of romantasy and turning the dial up to 11, monster romances push the normal boundary of paranormal love to its limits by pairing main characters with strange creatures and cryptids. Note that this isn't "Twilight" territory, and the monster romance genre isn't populated by the creatures you might expect. There are no vampires, werewolves, or even werebears to be found here. As one Reddit user succinctly explains, "If it can look like a human and mostly behaves human-like, then it's not monster romance (shifters, vampires, magical dudes are not monsters). Unless it's a zombie. Then it's definitely monster romance."


It's an unusual and somewhat taboo premise, which may leave some readers wondering about the growing popularity of monster romances. From demons to dragons, Bigfoot to the kraken, this genre features supernatural love interests of all shapes and sizes, which may be why the hashtag #monsterromance has proven popular on TikTok with over 364 million views.

Is this the romance book trend for you? Maybe, and maybe not. But if you're curious to find out, lovers of monster romance gravitate to titles like "The Dragon's Bride" by Katee Robert, "A Soul to Keep" by Opal Reyne, and "A Lady of Rooksgrave Manor" by Kathryn Moon.

Enemies to lovers romances

Niche genres are a lot of fun, but when it comes to BookTok audiences, no romance trope can hold a candle to readers' love for a classic enemies-to-lovers plot. The #enemiestolovers hashtag has an unbeatable 11.4 billion views on TikTok, and even the wordier, more specific tag of #enemiestoloversbooks has raked in over 382 million views.


Maybe it's because we've all felt misunderstood and vilified at some point, but romance fans seem obsessed with experiencing the journey from hatred to love in these conflict-riddled tales. Plus, enemies to lovers can encompass so many different types of stories, often overlapping with other popular subgenres. In one novel, two sports rivals may have to find a way to work together for the sake of the team. In another, a vampire and a vampire hunter may fall into a forbidden romance. Whether the story follows everyday coworkers or fantastical, fated adversaries, the allure of an enemies-to-lovers romance is rooted in the emotional payoff as they overcome prejudices to accept and cherish one another.


Because this trope is so widespread, it features many gripping and heartfelt stories to choose from. Readers of contemporary romance often enjoy "The Hating Game" by Sally Thorne, "The Unhoneymooners" by Christina Lauren, or "Red, White, and Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston. Meanwhile, enthusiasts of fantasy romances adore "The Cruel Prince" by Holly Black and "Fourth Wing" by Rebecca Yarros.