11 Best Romance Authors to Add to Your Bookshelf Today

If you want to read a best-selling novel, you may reach for a romance novel, and these are the best romance authors out there.

In the United States, romance novels are some of the top-selling books of all time. Readers include both men and women, and the majority of the mass-market paperback fiction sales come from romance novels.

With so many authors publishing romance works, finding the right one to start reading feels challenging. This list will help narrow down your options to some of the best. 

Best Romance Authors Ranked

Whether you are looking for ideas for your own fiction writing or simply want to read a good romance novel, the authors on this list are a great place to start. These are the best romance authors to add to your bookshelf today. 

1. Jane Austen

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

Not all the best romance authors and books fall into steamy erotica. Jane Austen is a classic writer with six major novels. Her works have also been made into major motion pictures. 

Austen’s books capture life in the British landed gentry in the late 18th century. She explored the role of women in this society and wove quite a bit of romance, without sensuality, into her plots. Austen was born in 1775 to a prominent family and received her education at Oxford. She never married nor had any children but spent her life writing.

Though most of Jane Austen’s books are well-known in literature, Pride and Prejudice is perhaps the most famous. The story follows the smart Elizabeth Bennet as she falls in love with the charming Mr. Darcy. It has been the subject of many major motion pictures and a television mini-series.

Get the book on Amazon.

Pride and Prejudice: Deluxe Edition (Illustrated) - Golden Classics
  • Austen, Jane (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 306 Pages - 05/10/2021 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

Other well-known Jane Austen books include Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Mansfield Park.

2. Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts was the first writer to enter the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. The New York Times bestselling author hails from Maryland. She tried her hand at writing for the first time while snowed in at home with her children. She married her current husband, Bruce Wilder, in 1985 and has traveled extensively.

Roberts is a prolific writer with over 220 novels to her name as of 2020. She publishes around five novels a year, and she also has several novellas to her name. Though technically romance books, they are also often placed under the suspense sub-genre. She also writes In Death books under the pseudonym J.D. Robb.

Because she has so many books to her name, determining the best one is not easy, but many suggest starting with Black Hills. The book follows Cooper Sullivan; a rancher turned NYC investigator who finds love with his childhood friend while tracking down a violent killer. 

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Black Hills
  • Roberts, Nora (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 05/25/2010 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

Other popular titles include Birthright and Tribute, and for those who don’t like suspense, Vision in White and The Next Always are both strictly romance.

3. Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins also merges romance with suspense in many of her novels. Jenkins was born in 1951 in Detroit and learned to love reading and writing from an early age. As an adult, she became a librarian, writing romance novels in her breaks. In 1994, she published her first work, Night Song.

Jenkins’ work is unique because she focuses on romances set in the 20th century but surrounding African-American culture. Her historical romance novels, thus, touch on a time period of African-American history that is often not written about. She has received many awards, including a Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award and a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for historical romance. 

Jenkins has 65 books to her name. However, her first book, Night Song, remains one of the most widely read. Readers appreciate the realistic love story between Cara and Chase as they navigate this book.

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Night Song
  • Jenkins, Beverly (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 04/28/2009 (Publication Date) - Avon (Publisher)

Other popular books include Jewel, Deadly Sexy, and Winds of Storm.

4. Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon
Diana Gabaldon

Famous for the Outlander novels, which are now a popular television series, Diana Gabaldon is a best-selling author who merges historical fiction with sci-fi adventure and quite a bit of swoon-worthy romance. Born on January 11, 1952, Gabaldon holds a doctoral degree in ecology but makes her money as an author.

Before publishing Outlander, Gabaldon worked as a comic book writer for Disney Comics. She also publishes technical articles and popular science articles, tapping into her extensive education.

Outlander looks at what happens when 20th-century nurse, Claire Randall, gets stuck in a time travel loop, ending up in the 18th-century Scottish Highlands. Once there, she falls into a daring romance with James Fraser, despite having a husband in her own timeline. 

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  • Gabaldon, Diana (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 850 Pages - 03/19/1992 (Publication Date) - Dell (Publisher)

Outlander is the first book in a romance series that Gabaldon is still writing. She also has the Lord John trilogy, which follows a secondary Outlander character, and several novellas set in the same world.

5. Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel
Danielle Steel

A list of contemporary romance writers would not be complete without discussing Danielle Steel, perhaps one of the top-selling authors of all time. With over 900 million books in publication, including over 200 books published in 43 languages. She has earned multiple awards and accolades, including the Order of Arts and Letters from the French government and the Order of the Legion d’Honneur in Paris in 2014. 

When she is not writing, Steel is active in charitable work, with two foundations she founded and runs to address mental illness and help the homeless.

Choosing the best one is not easy with so many books to her name, but Fine Things remains one of her most popular. It follows the senior VP of a department store as he travels west to start a new store and, ultimately, find love. However, when the love story takes a tragic turn due to cancer, the main character must make some poignant decisions.

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Fine Things: A Novel
  • Steel, Danielle (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 02/01/1988 (Publication Date) - Dell (Publisher)

Other popular titles include Palomino, Summer’s End, and The Gift.

6. Judith McNaught

Judith McNaught has 14 novels and two short stories to her name, with over 30 million in print. She has won the Romantic Times Award for Best New Historical Novel, and several of her books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Before starting her career as a writer, she worked in radio, movies, and finance. 

McNaught writes both contemporary romance and historical romance books. In the 1990s, she entered the romantic suspense category with her book Night Whispers. 

Whitney, My Love, which was McNaught’s first novel, regularly ranks as one of her best. It takes place in England, where the title character tries to win back her childhood crush, only to find herself bartered to a Duke she barely knows.

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Whitney, My Love (1) (The Westmoreland Dynasty Saga)
  • romance, love, desire
  • Whitney, Judith McNaught
  • McNaught, Judith (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 736 Pages - 06/01/2000 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

Other popular titles include A Kingdom of Dreams, Once and Always, and Perfect.

7. Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn
Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn is the pen name of Julie Pottinger, a writer of historical romance novels. Raised in New England, Quinn fell in love with books in middle school, even writing her first novel at that age, though that work never made it to publication. After finishing college without much direction, she started working toward med school and writing light-hearted Regency novels in her spare time. Suddenly, she found her first two novels were the subject of a bidding war, which led her to a career in writing. 

Quinn is best known for her Bridgerton series, which has become a Netflix series by the same name. Her early success as a writer caused her to drop out of medical school to write full-time. Her books are full of strong heroines, and she has a few awards from the Romance Writers of America. 

Because of the television series, The Duke and I, one of the Bridgerton novels, is her most popular work.

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Bridgerton [TV Tie-in] (Bridgertons Book 1)
  • Quinn, Julia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 12/01/2020 (Publication Date) - Avon (Publisher)

Other popular books that hit the bestsellers list include First Comes Scandal, The Other Miss Bridgerton, and The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband.

8. Julie Garwood

Called the Rembrandt of Romance Novels, Julie Garwood grew up in an Irish family living in Kansas City, Missouri, where storytelling was a way of life. 

After becoming a mother, Garwood focused on raising her kids, then decided to publish her first historical romance after her children were in school. Today, she has over 40 million copies of her books in print.

Her most popular book, For the Roses, is now a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. It follows a band of brothers raised as street urchins and their abandoned baby sister, who was raised to be a lady.

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For the Roses
  • Garwood, Julie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 576 Pages - 02/01/1996 (Publication Date) - Pocket Books (Publisher)

Garwood’s other popular titles include Come the Spring, The Clayborne Brides Trilogy, and The Bride.

If historical fiction is your preferred reading choice, why not give some of these recommendations a try?

9. Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas has an interesting history, including a stint as Miss Massachusetts In 1985. She attended Wellesley College and graduated with a degree in political science, then quickly transitioned to writing with her first novel at the age of 21. In 1998, she married and soon started a family, but she continued writing.

Kleypas has several awards to her name, including the Waldenbooks Award for sales growth, several RITA awards, and an Amazon Editor’s Top Ten Picks award. She writes both historical and contemporary romance novels.

Worth Any Price is considered one of her top works. In this book, the main character, Nick Gentry, sets out to find a runaway bride, only to find romance for himself.

Get the book on Amazon.

Worth Any Price (Bow Street, Book 3)
  • Kleypas, Lisa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 12/27/2022 (Publication Date) - Avon (Publisher)

Other popular books include Lady Sophia’s Lover, Where Dreams Begin, and Dreaming of You.

10. Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks
Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is one of the rare men on this list. He has over 105 million copies of his works sold around the world. He was born in 1965 in Omaha, Nebraska, and attended Notre Dame, graduating manga cum laude. It was during his college years that he started writing.

Sparks wrote his first novel, The Passing, between his freshman and sophomore years of college. Before writing full-time, he worked in pharmaceutical sales.

Sparks is best known for The Notebook, a book he wrote at the young age of 28. It was picked out of a slush pile and became an instant hit. The story of a life-long love between a couple who now reside in a nursing home was made into a major motion picture in 1995. 

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The Notebook
  • This Certified Refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, a minimum 90-day warranty, and may arrive in a generic box.
  • Sparks, Nicholas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 06/24/2014 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

Other titles from Sparks include Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, and Safe Haven, all of which are also motion pictures.

11. Sarah MacLean

Sarah MacLean
Sarah MacLean

Sarah MacLean is a romance novelist who has a bold take on her books. She grew up knowing she wanted to be a romance novel writer after falling in love with the genre because of reading her older sister’s collection. She started working as a literary publicist before publishing a young adult novel, her first work. 

MacLean’s books are known to be quite steamy, and they also have a strong feminist take. She also writes and speaks extensively on the merits of the genre. Her books have been translated into 25 languages, and she also writes for the Washington Post and New York Times. 

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake was her first adult romance novel, and it won USA Today’s Bestseller List status and the Romantic Times Magazine Seal of Excellence. 

Get the book on Amazon.

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, 1)
  • MacLean, Sarah (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 422 Pages - 03/30/2010 (Publication Date) - Avon (Publisher)

Other books by MacLean include Wicked and the Wallflower, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord, and The Season.

A Final Word on the Best Romance Authors

The world’s favorite romance authors can create a compelling story and weave in plenty of steamy love connections. The genre remains a popular one, as more and more people are learning to enjoy the escape that comes from a good love story. 

Whether you are in the mood for a classic, historical novel or a steamy contemporary romance, you will find something to fit your needs with one of these authors.

If you have a favorite author, it’s always good to follow them on social media to stay up to date with the new releases. Alongside the above authors, we’ve created a great list of the best authors to follow on Twitter. 

FAQs on the Best Romance Authors

Who are the best romance authors?

Based on the number of books sold, the best romance authors are:
Jane Austen
Danielle Steel
Nora Roberts

What is the best romance book?

According to GoodReads, the best love story is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks also lands on the list.

Best Authors Reading List

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.