18 Best Erotic Novels That Will Heat Things Up

Ready to heat things up? Get ready to dive into the best erotic novels that will get your heart racing, from Fifty Shades to Bridgerton.

Steamy erotic stories have been at the top of many people’s reading lists over the past few years, and there’s no sign of the saucy love story trend ending any time soon. Whether you’re looking for a romantic story that doesn’t spare the sex scene details or a BDSM-themed novel, you’ll find that romance novels often aren’t what they used to be–and you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for, whether you’re searching on Amazon or in the romance novel section of your local bookstore.

Whether you’re looking for something like Fifty Shades of Grey or searching for the best romance authors who specialize in historical fiction, we’ve got you covered. Keep scrolling to look at the romance authors’ best sellers we’ve compiled below.

Here Are The Best Erotic Novels Ranked

1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

E L James
E L James

Fifty Shades of Grey is the novel that got many readers interested in erotic fiction. Made into a major motion picture, Fifty Shades of Grey details the story of Ana and Christian and goes into the sordid details of the BDSM-themed love story.

Fifty Shades is the first book in the series of novels that chronicles the story of Ana and Christian. In total, the series has sold more than 125 million copies around the world. The story initially got its start as Twilight fan fiction and then became a stand-alone series.

“Men aren’t really complicated, Ana, honey. They are very simple, literal creatures. They usually mean what they say. And we spend hours trying to analyze what they’ve said – when really it’s obvious. If I were you, I’d take him literally. That might help.”

E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey
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02/19/2024 06:11 am GMT

2. Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Sylvia Day
Sylvia Day

The first book in Sylvia Day’s Crossfire Saga, Bared to You, tells the story of Gideon Cross and Eva Tramell, two survivors of abuse who find love and safety in one another’s arms. Readers love how Day fully develops the characters instead of focusing on their love story’s salacious aspects.

From their first kiss to their growing love for one another, readers enjoy watching the pair develop both as a couple and as individuals. While it takes time for Gideon to admit how he feels about Eva, it’s clear that the pair are on their way to a lifelong affair. If you like reading romance books, you might want to check out our round-up of the best books by Sylvia Day.

“I waited a beat for the man to move out of my way and when he didn’t, I arched my neck back to allow my line of sight to rise. The custom three-piece suit hit more than a few of my hot buttons, but it was the tall, powerfully lean body inside it that made it sensational. Still, as impressive as all that magnificent maleness was, it wasn’t until I reached the man’s face that I went down for the count.”

Sylvia Day, Bared to You
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3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon
Diana Gabaldon

Number 1 New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon is widely known for her Outlander series, which details the story of nurse Claire Randall, a time traveler who finds herself tangled in romances that span centuries. Gabaldon has said that there will be ten books in the series, and the ninth book was released in 2021.

Around the world, the Outlander series has sold more than 25 million copies. The Outlander story is familiar to many, as it’s been turned into a TV series, musical, and graphic novel. Readers are looking forward to the series’s final installment to be released in the coming years.

“Heart thumping, she took one more glance at the Reverend Sykes and saw to her horror that she’d disturbed the dust on the shelf—-there was a clear track pointing to the oxblood–leather spine. She darted back to the main counter, seized the feather duster kept under it, and had the entire section flicked over in a matter of moments.”

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
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02/19/2024 02:07 pm GMT

4. Delta of Venus by Anais Nin

Anais Nin
Anais Nin

Delta of Venus is a collection of fifteen short stories released in 1977. The stories were initially written for a private collector in the 1940s. The tale follows the story of Elena and Lawrence as they fall in love in Paris. The stories chronicling their romance were made into a major motion picture released in 1995 in the United States.

When originally commissioned to write the stories, Nin was asked to leave flowery language behind and instead focus on the sexual aspect of the story. However, many critics agree that she managed to create a literary masterpiece that met the commissioner’s requests.

“The most haunting woman is the one we cannot find in the crowded café when we are looking for her, the one that we must hunt for, and seek out through the disguises of her stories.”

Anais Nin, Delta of Venus
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5. Bridgerton: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn
Julia Quinn

Many readers first got to know Julia Quinn after exploring the hit Netflix series based on her books, beginning with Bridgerton: The Duke and I. While the series undoubtedly focuses on romance, readers and viewers love how Quinn focuses heavily on family.

The series follows the love lives of the eight Bridgerton siblings as they work to navigate their way through life, love, and loyalty. In the first book of the series, readers watch as the protagonist, Daphne, falls in love with the Duke. Their courtship constantly leaves readers wondering what will happen next, and it’s tough not to root for their love story to continue after the final page.

“Any number of retorts danced on Billie’s tongue, but she reminded herself that George Rokesby was the only human being in sight, and if she wished to touch her feet to the ground before May Day she was going to have to be nice to him.”

Julia Quinn, Because of Miss Bridgerton
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02/19/2024 05:32 am GMT

6. A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught

The Bestselling historical fiction novel A Kingdom of Dreams is set in the 1500s. Readers follow Scottish protagonist Jennifer Merrick, who works to untangle her relationship with her captor and husband, Royce Westmoreland. Over time, Jennifer must decide whether her loyalty lies with her husband’s family or her blood family.

The book is known for what literary critics refer to as “black moments.” These are times when the situation between two love interests becomes so dire that it can be impossible for readers to figure out how the story could ever work out. McNaught excellently carries readers through impossible situations between Jennifer and Royce, leaving them rooting for love without being sure of the outcome.

“But he knew instinctively what he suggested was impossible. She’d been through so much, and held her tears back for so long, that Royce doubted that anything could force her to shed them.”

Judith McNaught, A Kingdom of Dreams
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02/19/2024 06:17 am GMT

7. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient is a modern romance that follows the story of Stella, an autistic woman who is navigating the ups and downs of love and life. Readers get to watch her fall in love with Michael while she learns how to live as an independent, successful woman. Hoang’s first novel, the story, is somewhat autobiographical, as the author was diagnosed with autism a few years before writing the book.

Stella is nervous to tell Michael about her autism diagnosis and keeps it to herself at the start of their romance for fear that he’ll no longer be attracted to her. Throughout the story, readers don’t just follow the story of Stella and Michael falling in love, they also learn how Stella begins to love herself and recognize that she’s worthy of the romance Michael offers.

“If you can’t stand being with a woman who’s more successful than you, then leave her alone. She’s better off without you. If you actually love her, then know the value of that love and make it a promise. That is the only thing she needs from you.”

Helen Hoang, The Kiss Quotient
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02/19/2024 05:37 pm GMT

8. Follow Me Darkly by Helen Hardt

Follow Me Darkly is a modern-day romance story that follows the story of Braeden and Skye. Self-made billionaire Braeden is surprised when winning over Skye doesn’t come as easily as his normal conquests. Once Skye finally decides to give Braeden a chance, he’s surprised that he’s still interested, despite the end of the chase.

Braeden feels that there’s something else behind Skye’s high-powered persona, and he’s determined to get to know the real her. There are three books in the series, allowing readers to follow the story of the fated pair repeatedly.

“Maybe it’s because I haven’t had sex since Aretha and I parted ways. Maybe it’s because I haven’t visited my club in New York for awhile. Or maybe I’m just sick and tired of all the fakeness in the world, and I detest my part in it.”

Helen Hardt, Follow Me Darkly
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02/19/2024 06:12 am GMT

9. And Playing the Role of Herself by K.E. Lane

And Playing the Role of Herself follows the story of two women, Caidence and Robyn, as they fall in love on a Hollywood set. Caidence is interested in Robyn at first, but after learning that the actress is unavailable, decides to back off.

Over time, Caidence learns that Robyn is also interested and must decide whether it’s worth risking their friendship for a shot at romance. The book has won several awards, including a Goldie from the Golden Crown Literary Society.

“Indeed, I loved those eyebrows. They ranked right up there with intense, piercing brown eyes; silky, dark hair; a wide, full mouth; angular face; endless legs; beautiful hands; smooth, tan skin; tall, graceful body; the tiny cleft in her chin; and the mole on the side of her neck, just below her ear, that you could see when she casually pushed her hair back.”

K.E. Lane, And Playing the Role of Herself
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02/19/2024 05:58 pm GMT

10. Rush by Maya Banks

Rush is a part of the Breathless Trilogy, which follows the love story of Mia and Gabe. Many readers find that Rush is similar to Fifty Shades of Grey, with BDSM themes and topics of control and power.

Throughout the novels, readers see how Gabe opens his heart to love when it comes to Mia, as he decides that being in control at all times isn’t necessary when he’s with a woman he loves. Gabe wants to share Mia with other men to prove that he doesn’t have feelings for her, but when a situation goes awry, the pair are forced to work together as a team to protect Mia’s reputation.

“Was he demanding? Hell yes, but he wasn’t selfish. He took. He was ruthless in his demands. But he gave her back so much. Not just materially but emotionally, though he’d likely deny he did any such thing.”

Maya Banks, Rush
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02/19/2024 06:01 pm GMT

11. Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning

Backstage Pass follows psychologist Myrna Evans as she goes on tour with a band to study the behavior of groupies, trying to understand why so many young women fall so hard for men in rock bands. Surprisingly, she finds herself falling for one of the band members who has been struggling with creative block for months.

As Myrna gets to know the guitarist, he can suddenly write music again. He’s found his muse and doesn’t want to let her go. As an expert in attraction and relationships, Myrna finds it impossible to believe that he’s interested in more than a quick fling on tour, but he realizes he wants to stay with Myrna long-term. Readers get to watch the ups and downs of their love story on the road as they fight to figure out whether they have a connection that can stand the test of time. For more, check out our list of authors like Olivia Cunning.

“His gaze drifted up her legs and body, his face slowly tilting into view. He had features a sculptor would love: a strong jaw, pointed chin, high cheekbones. Would it be presumptuous of her to examine the contours of his face with her fingertips? Her lips? She forced her attention to her hand, which gripped his well-muscled upper arm.”

Olivia Cunning, Backstage Pass
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02/19/2024 06:02 pm GMT

12. Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

Tessa Dare
Tessa Dare

Romancing the Duke allows readers to follow the story of Isolde, an heiress whose late father has given her a castle. Many do not realize that despite a beautiful castle, Isolde has been left with nothing and is working to figure out how to make her way through life without the fortune she thought she would receive after her father passed away. 

She’s been looking for romance her entire life, but without luck at 26, she’s never been kissed. Isolde is forced to begin a quest for love so that she’s able to keep her castle. She finds a duke who has been rendered blind due to an accident and decides that she’s going to make him his. Readers love watching to see whether she can get the duke to fall in love with her heart, even when she can’t rely on her beauty.

“Any self-respecting rake had two kinds of women in his life: those he took to bed at night and those who made him a pancake in the morning. If he suddenly wanted both from the same woman, it was a warning flag. One big and red enough for even a blind man to see.”

Tessa Dare, Romancing the Duke
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02/19/2024 06:32 pm GMT

13. Night Shift by Joanna Angel

Night Shift allows readers to go on a choose-your-own-adventure reading experience, deciding how the main character should interact with all of the intense and interesting characters she meets while working as a sex shop cashier in Florida. Readers can go back and choose different options, creating a new story each time they engage with the book.

In addition to the excitement of deciding how the protagonist will go about her day, readers also enjoy watching her go from a timid young woman to an empowered powerhouse who isn’t afraid to tell anyone what she wants.

“This had to be the most colorful pile of debauchery I had ever seen. But then again, I’ve only been working here for a week. It’s my sixth ‘day’ working as a cashier at Dreamz, an adult video and novelty shop located inside of a strip mall on highway 19 in Pasco County, Florida.”

Joanna Angel, Night Shift
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02/18/2024 09:22 am GMT

14. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice

Anne Rice
Anne Rice

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty is part of a four-story series written by author Anne Rice under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure. The series follows the story of Sleeping Beauty as she’s awoken from her 100-year sleep by sex with a prince. He takes her to his kingdom, where she has BDSM-themed sexual experiences. The story plays on many similar themes to Fifty Shades and explores bisexuality.

“It seems an insult to the night to speak of purpose and intent, when this common moment is so brimming full of blessed design tranquility. All things follow their course.”

Anne Rice, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
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02/19/2024 06:31 am GMT

15. Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

No one is truly sure who wrote Gabriel’s Inferno, a Canadian erotic novel that was published as written by Sylvian Reynard, a pseudonym for an unknown author. The book follows the story of Gabriel Emerson, a professor. Much like Fifty Shades of Grey, Gabriel’s Inferno started as Twilight fan fiction.

The series follows Gabriel as he falls in love with Julianne. The female protagonist has a difficult past that makes it hard for her to see her self-worth, and Gabriel is struggling with demons that make it feel selfish to claim Julia as his own. Readers root for the two to overcome personal obstacles and find love together.

“You aren’t cold. You’ve just retreated a little and been shy, and that’s okay. If I were a fairy godmother, I would give you your heart’s desire in an instant. And I would wipe away your tears and tell you not to cry.”

Sylvain Reynard, Gabriel’s Inferno
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02/19/2024 06:21 am GMT

16. Surrender by Melody Anne

Melody Anne
Melody Anne

In Surrender, Rafe and Arianna are both looking for romance. Rafe is used to getting what he wants, and Arianna is looking for something with no strings attached following a difficult time in her personal life. Arianna tends to lose herself in relationships, and she’s determined to keep her feelings for Rafe at bay as she works to be enough on her own finally. Arianna has to decide whether Rafe is what she needs or if he’s just another man who will take her to her lowest point.

“Plus, if someone is doing community service for a pat on the back, they’re wasting their time. Giving of yourself or your money is meaningless if you’re only doing it because you want to be seen or praised.”

Melody Anne, Surrender
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02/19/2024 06:26 am GMT

17. The Last Nude by Ellis Avery

Ellis Avery
Ellis Avery

The Last Nude is set in Paris in the 1920s, allowing readers to transport themselves to a time of fanciness and debauchery. The story is told from two perspectives: that of the model and that of the painter.

Rafaela is a 17-year-old runaway who is working to figure out what she wants to do with her life when she meets Tamara. The book has received high praise for portraying a realistic lesbian romance as the two fall in love, and readers get to see each side of the story, one page at a time. Want to read more romance books? Discover our list of best gay romance novels.

“My lucky dress, inspired by Theresa’s Chanel confection, was cut from a sky-blue blend of raw silk and linen that caught the light like sequins when I went outside. It fit like a coat of paint. If I wanted a change from baguette and cheese at home, I could wear that dress to a cafe and, every time, someone–though rarely anyone I liked–would take me to a restaurant.”

Ellis Avery, The Last Nude
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18. The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

The Spanish Love Deception is a modern-day love story beloved by critics and readers. The novel follows the story of Lina and Aaron and starts as many real-life love stories do: with the two main characters struggling to get along due to their clashing personalities. Lina is a happy-go-lucky person who can’t get a good read on Aaron.

He seems indifferent to her, which is unusual in her life, given her positivity and welcoming spirit. Eventually, Aaron asks Lina to go on a date to a wedding with him, and Lena is shocked as she still doesn’t realize he is interested. Readers get to watch the unlikely pair learn each other’s personalities (and enjoy a tense airport pickup scene that reveals whether the two will work out).

“My gaze trailed up powerful shoulders and a strong neck, reaching the straight line of his jaw. His lips formed a flat line, just like I had known they would. My eyes traveled further up then, reaching his blue ones–blue that reminded me of the depths of the ocean, where everything was cold and deadly–and finding them on me.”

Elena Armas, The Spanish Love Deception
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02/18/2024 09:26 am GMT

How I Chose the Best Erotic Novels

I initiated my search on Goodreads, plunging into the realm of top-rated erotic novels and absorbing the candid feedback from readers. To further refine my selection, I scoured bestseller lists to pinpoint which erotic tales truly captivated a vast audience. Wanting to capture the full spectrum of the genre, I reached out to literary critics, members of book clubs focused on erotic fiction, and devoted fans of the genre for their treasured recommendations.

It was important to showcase novels that represented a range of styles, themes, and narratives, all while maintaining the sensuality and allure that defines erotic literature. While the prose’s sensuality, character depth, and plot development were my primary focus, I also incorporated sales figures to identify which novels had the strongest appeal. After amalgamating all these insights, I’ve curated a list that, I believe, encapsulates the best the erotic literature world has to offer.

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best classic literature books!


  • Amanda has an M.S.Ed degree from the University of Pennsylvania in School and Mental Health Counseling and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She has experience writing magazine articles, newspaper articles, SEO-friendly web copy, and blog posts.