If you’re like me, you don’t like fluffy fic. And if you’re like me, you also prefer your romance fiction to be on the edgier, darker, angstier side.
Well you’re in luck. These books are anything but sweet and schmoopie, and I guarantee they’ll appeal to the anti-sappy reader in you.
Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro: In this tale of a thorny affair, Quatro has figured out how to combine mesh erotic love with the spiritual. Maggie, a writer, mother, and wife who finds herself yearning for a grand passion and a better understanding of God, begins a passionate extramarital relationship with James, a poet who has many of the same unsettling questions. Maggie will find herself on the edge of desire, betrayal and faith as she tangles between her feelings for James and her deep devotion for her family. Grove Atlantic
The Long Deception by Mary McCluskey:Are our memories of youth accurate? Or do we only remember the good and filter out the bad? In McCluskey’s story, Alison Eastlake is caught between her past and present when her childhood friend Sophie commits suicide. Obligated to go back home to face the many questions that arise, Alison must also confront the attraction she still feels for Sophie’s brother Matt, which pushes her closer towards a reckless affair. Little A/Amazon Publishing
The Days When Birds Come Back by Deborah Reed: Trying her best to stay sober while putting her life back together after a painful divorce, June returns to the place where she grew up, hoping that this connection with her childhood will help heal her wounds. When she meets Jameson, a man that is perhaps as broken as she is, June must decide if she dares risk her heart one more time. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell: Don’t let the smores-by-the-campfire title fool you. Bishop Crispell’s heroine Penelope Dalton hasn’t had it easy. Although running a lovely hot chocolate cafe in the company of her mother is close to idyllic, Penelope is afraid she won’t be able to give her daughter won’t she wants the most: her biological father who is in town for only a few days, and as it happens, has no idea he has a daughter. St. Martin’s Griffin
Between Me and You by Allison Winn Scotch: A charmed marriage is interrupted by ambition and fame in this Hollywood-set novel. Ben Livingston and Tatum Connelly meet unexpectedly while struggling with their careers as a screenwriter and actor. Years of a happy marriage lead to resentment and distance when Tatum’s star rises while Ben’s slowly slumps, making their relationship teeter on the edge of separation and remembering what brought them together all those years ago. Lake Union Publishing
My Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari: Desai’s novel will surely make you ponder the question: what would I do? Simi Desai’s life is upended when her husband is diagnosed with cancer. At only thirty Simi feels she’s losing the most important thing in her life, but is in for a shock when her husband tells her he has two last wishes in his final months: first, that she’ll have his baby so that a piece of him lives on, and second, that she’ll reconcile with her old flame, who just happens to be their mutual best friend. Over the course of their last summer together, Simi’s husband is determined to prove to Simi that it’s okay to move on without him, and even find love again. Graydon House
The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce: The year is 1988, and on a run-down suburb in London there is a small music shop with records of every variety imaginable. Frank, the shop’s owner, knows exactly what music customers need as soon as they come into his store. But one day, Ilse Brauchmann enters his store and his life, and eventually asks Frank to teach her about music. Scared of any kind of connection, Frank doesn’t know whether to run or take a real risk, while Ilse is not really who she says she is. Will music bond them together, or fuel their fears instead? Random House
Say My Name by Allegra Huston: Eve has always settled for the safest option, afraid to experience the unknown. She’s married safely, has an ordinary life. But in the wake of a betrayal, she finds herself wanting more. When she one day goes antique hunting for a friend, she finds a rare instrument, carved with twining vines. This sets her on a journey, and into the path of a much younger man who happens to be the son of an old love. Eve is astounded when she finds herself deeply attracted to him, and is even more surprised when he pursues her with bold determination. But can a connection between two very different people last? And can she ever go back to she used to be? Will she even want to? Harlequin