There are so many reasons people turn to romance, whether they are regular readers of the genre or not. Sometimes people turn to romance when they want angst and drama, to see the main characters being put through the wringer on the path to True Love. There’s nothing quite like getting to go through All The Emotions with your characters as you read.
But other times, you just want the equivalent of a warm hug or a soothing cup of tea in book form. It could be No Plot, Just Vibes. Or it could be all about the relationship, until Something Happens. A romance with little conflict — or if there is conflict, it’s an external one and not strife between the protagonists — and lots of joy oozing through the pages. A book with a cozy setting, whether it’s a winter village or an island getaway. Maybe even a hint of a cozy mystery — whether there’s a dead body or a tiny bit of office sabotage, it’s fun to follow the characters as they hunt down the answer to a question while also falling in love.
The range of definitions for “cozy romance” is broad, but there’s always one requirement: no matter what, the lovers get their happily ever after. So here are a few books that might appeal to anyone looking for that warm hug, mug of tea, or shy glance in book form.
(Note: as the person writing this list, note that I am going to go ahead and ignore the requirement put forth in cozy *mystery* in which explicit sex isn’t allowed. You can totally have a cozy romance that also includes very cozy sexytimes.)
The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan
This was one of my favorite books last year, and have often referred to it as a warm hug in a book. A historical romance with a touch of Persuasion in its roots, this story tells the story of Chloe and Jeremy, who are reunited after several years apart. Jeremy has returned to tell Chloe he loves her (and to reveal his ducal identity to everyone), and their lovely courtship, along with the shenanigans of the people of Wedgeford, is just a delight to read about.
Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian
If you are looking for something with a cozy mystery vibe, this holidayish novella set in the British countryside shortly after the end of World War II is definitely a good place to start. James is a country doctor with PTSD. He is happily going about his business when he is visited by spy Leo, who is undercover in James’s small English village seeking answers. The pair develop a sweet rapport, and you want to spend more time with them when it’s all over.
Frostbite by J. Emery
This cozy book is particularly cozy — there’s a cabin and a snowstorm and that’s always great, right? There’s also a vampire, who’s stuck in said cabin during said snowstorm with a vampire hunter. Well…retired. Starting now.
Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny by Rebekah Weatherspoon
This sexy romance has very little external conflict, which makes it a great cozy read. Rafe is, well, a nanny. He loves working in child care and is happy to work for busy doctor Sloan, whose two daughters are a delight and a terror all in one. The grown-ups share an attraction that’s hard to resist, and nobody ever got hurt over a little bit of hot sex. Yeah, we all know where that kind of thinking leads.
The Beautiful Things Shoppe by Philip William Stover
What happens when two very different people discover they’re renting the same antiques shop? You’d think the answer is strife, but actually, these two figure it out. Danny and Prescott have differing ideas of what belongs in the Beautiful Things Shoppe, but somehow find a way to respect each other after the scheme played on them. And when they have to work together to help their town, you know what’s gonna happen.
Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey
How can a book with a Mister Rogers–like love interest not make this list? But the whimsy actually comes from both sides of the coin in this partially epistolary romance. Teddy has just been unceremoniously dumped (when she thought she was about to be accepting a marriage proposal), and finds herself writing to the host of a local children’s television program who seems to always have the right answers for the kids who write to him. And he writes back!
Cups of You by Karmen Lee
While this is a longer book with a little more drama involved, there is a coziness to both the relationship as it builds and the whole atmosphere of the story. Amber is back in her small town to help her injured aunt and to figure out her own life, but that might be derailed by the gorgeous baker who owns the new coffee shop in town whose smiles feel like they’re just for her. The slow friendship they form is sweet, and you’re gonna want to have your own baked goods close by.
Better Than People by Roan Parrish
Jack definitely thinks animals are better than people. He has a whole pack of pets, most of whom he takes on long walks around his rural home. But when an accident leads him to be unable to complete his task, he finds Simon via an app that brings people without pets to people with them. Simon has incredible social anxiety, but the two form a bit of a rapport, and then a bond. This book might be a little angstier than some people expect when looking for cozy, but it still offers that warm hug that you can’t help but hold on much longer than you should.
The Companion by EE Ottoman
This is another postwar novella, this time set in the wilds of Upstate New York. Desirous to leave New York, Madeline takes the offer of a friend of a friend to join him at his home Upstate. The recluse could use some company, and Madeline could use a place to stay. And when she meets Audrey, Victor’s eccentric and beautiful neighbor, she isn’t sure what to think. How can the three of them share existence, or if Madeline gets her way, a future?
Ate: An Erotic Novelette by Rilzy Adams
This very short, very sexy romance is set during an evening, but it packs a fluffy punch. Tempest, in a celebratory mood, hires a private chef to help her congratulate herself for a job well done. When her best friend and dinner companion cancels, she and the chef have plenty of alone time. And while the meal might be the best she’s ever had, that’s not the only thing there to get ate, naaimean?
Morning Glory Milking Farm by CM Nascosta
Jess, I can hear you say. Isn’t this that minotaur book? Yes, yes it is. Unsure what to do with her life, Violet takes a job at Morning Glory as a milking technician. Milking what? Why, minotaurs, of course. Their semen is essential to a few pharmaceutical companies, and the gentlemen are paid very well for their samples. When Violet and one of her clients have a connection, she’s not sure what to do. But the path to happiness is surprisingly sweet (while also delightfully dirty).
Role Model by Rachel Reid
Okay, so a hockey romance featuring a protagonist who likes to curse as much as Roy Kent is probably not everyone’s idea of cozy, but there’s something not only in the sweet buildup of the relationship between a hockey player and his team’s social media and publicity manager, but also the sweet fall joys of apples and cider and pie. Harris is the Keely to Troy’s Roy, and he’s a joyful person to get to know, on top of the whole family farm thing.
Sugar Butter Flour Love by Nicole Falls
You know how the Great British Baking Show is so cozy and warm, not just because of the people but because you get to look at all that baked yummy goodness? This has both of those things in an enemies to lovers package. When high school rivals are thrown together for a new challenge on a popular baking show, they have to figure out how to get over it and work together as adults — there’s money on the line, after all. That thin line slowly begins to disappear as the two make fire in the kitchen…and maybe in other places, too.
What do you think makes a “cozy romance”? What are your favorites?