The Ultimate List of Slow Burn Romance Books

by Maryse on July 27, 2015 · 50 comments

in Book Recommendations

UPDATE!!! Here is another list of ➔ every blog post we tagged “slow burn” (and it’s constantly updated)!!! :D

We are SO in love with taking our time with book love, aren’t we? It’s the #1 thing so many of us love in romance novels, and come on… we know that the main couple will inevitably fall in love (no surprise there). But what makes a romance book go from “good” to being one of my absolute favorites is ALWAYS the slow burn (*if* it has one, that is). It’s simply what I (and many of us) prefer.

Ashley: I need help! I need a slow burn book. I just read Kulti, and I forgot how much I love the building of a relationship. I can’t do the insta connection now. Any recommendations?”

Lapis: What do you think about making a list of slow burn romances? I just read Kulti and I’m in crazy need of more books like that one.

Maryse: Of course I feel like telling her “Thoughtless” AND “Beautiful Disaster” AND “On The Island” AND “Love Unscripted” were all slow burns, but I have a feeling she already read ‘em. ;) So… any new (or old!!) recommendations? Must have rocked your socks off and must be slow burns… We want tummy aches and butterflies! I’m ALL ears. Or eyes.

Ashley: Maryse how did you know Those were are all on my have read list ;) . I feel like the blog could totally use a slow burn list!! I’ve read all the above mentioned…

Lori: …yes, we need a list!!

Maryse: Great idea!!

Michelle: I LOVE the slow burn!

Louise: LOVE slow burns!

Kathleen: Love a slow burn, it’s nice all of you are creating a good to be read pile for me :)

bev: I want to see slow burn, swoon, hea/hfn, & maybe a good grovel… I just love a slow burn and stories that really take the time to build the relationship.

Maryse: EXACTLY, bev. YES!!! And I love a good grovel, too. ;) LOL!!! *snort* :P

The slow burn is the quality in a love story that makes it, so that I become fully invested. Where I feel how she feels, even to the point of forgetting that I am not the heroine. I ache with her, I giggle with her, I break with her. I find my all-encompassing love and happiness with her. And it brings me back to my own big crushes, love and heartache.

Now don’t get me wrong… I’ve enjoyed plenty of insta-crush, or even insta-love books (I’ve read many like that… where mates and/or souls just know each other and it’s an instant romantic connection). I believe that truly happens in real life, too. Seeing someone from across the room, or meeting the “friend of a friend” and it just clicks… HARD. Your heart stutters, stops and speeds up… and that’s it. You’re in a “love fog”. LOVE THAT. I believe that wholeheartedly.

However… when it comes to reading a book, I need more. Much more. Since I’m not the character, and I need to be, to become fully invested in her story, I have to feel her “living” before they become “one”. See through her eyes, and feel with her emotions. And since I’m reading a love story, I need to ache, pine, and exhilarate with her… slowly. Because even if “insta-love” is real, there is always that lengthy, insecure time when everything is up in the air, and I need to live that with her.

So all that to say, when I read a potential love story, I want her (or him!) to:

  • pine for him, and live in lengthy emotional agony when he doesn’t even really notice her (like in Sweet Dreams, when not only was she not his type, he made it known, or like in Mystery Man, when she suspected she was possibly… one of many. Or like in Motorcycle Man, when she realized all he wanted her for was one night, after months of crushing on him…) eek *gasp* and grrrrrrr evil to all of these books, and OMG can KRISTEN ASHLEY do pining, being alone in love… and slow burn right, or what?
  • Or the feelings might be mutual and yet she’s still not allowed to be him for whatever reason. Like in Thoughtless… slow burn and emotional agony all the way through, or Love, In English.
  • Or I want that painful yet obligatory resistance (and I mean truly resist, for really good reasons), by either member of the potential couple. As in “Slammed“. Sure it was a quick and mutual crush, but circumstances kept them apart BIG time, and OMG THAT was a slow delightfully painful burn.
  • Or I want to immensely dislike him, ’cause he’s a total jacka$$ (like in Beautiful Disaster). He’s such an obvious cocky player, and arrogant to boot. So sure of himself, and of being able to attract her, and despite her seeing the obvious hotness in him, her own self-respect and self-preservation kept her at arms length. She didn’t want to be his next victim! Oh GAHHHHH the slow burn in this one incinerated me right up and I loved every single second of it!!!! MORE LIKE THIS!!!! LOL! :P
  • Or I want a humongous *almost love* and then a nice lengthy (within reason ;) ) breakup that I can feel and hurt along with the heroine. But I don’t want to just jump to it (either the breakup, or the get back together). Ohhhh like in Karina Halle’s Experiment in Terror Series or the Downside Ghosts Series. I wanna live it ALL. Or!!
  • I love a book where they are just friends… truly just friends and we have fun, and we enjoy it, and we see them dating others and all of the angst and pain that goes with it, and the *boom*!!!! It sneaks up on us and we didn’t even realize it… we’re in love with the best friend!

Ahhhhhhh all of those scenarios are perfect “slow burn” romance reads, for me. I love “working” for it…

Okay so this list is a “work in progress” as I know there are TONS of awesome slow-burn romance books that are missing from this list (even probably many of my own favorites that I have to backtrack on, to add here), so send me your recommendations and I’ll add them! :D

Reader Recommendations:

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons <— Amy asks: “What about The Bronze Horseman??” (Agreed! My review)

Fearless: The Complete Novel (Dartmoor Book 1) by Lauren Gilley <—Paula says: “Sort of a slow burn it covers what happened 5 years ago and also in the present – love and MC drama – so really good! Yep, the hero is Cajun and the MC go to man for getting the truth from people….it doesn’t feel like a long book as really enjoying the story and the other characters are great too…” (Agreed! My review)

After Hours by Cara McKenna <— MichelleS recommends this one for the slow burn! “Of course the cover of After Hours is amazing – but so is the slow burn in the book. So hot. Loved it. You’re gonna love it, I just know it!!!” (Agreed! My review)

Kulti by Mariana Zapata <— jen felt the burn with this one! “…what took me so long to read this??? I am swooing big time for The German. Sigh…I ca’t stop thinking about this book. a slow burn for sure,but so worth it.” and I agreed! “I AM LOVING KULTI!!! Almost halfway through the book, and I’m crushing big time and yet still… NOTHING. :D !!!! SLOW BURN is right… but it’s done SO right. Nothing is boring me here… ’cause the interactions are funny, infuriating, and so obviously NOT “obvious”… you know? No cliches or rushing in this one and I. AM. IN!!!!!!” Cheryl agrees too: “I loved Kulti!!! I love when I start reading a book and it gives you the “feel” of where you just enjoy reading it and can’t wait to see where it goes. It is definitely a slow burn.”  (Agreed! My review)

The Friend Zone (Game On Book 2) by Kristen Callihan <— Cheryl suggests this one. “Just finished The Friend Zone and I liked it more than The Hook Up. There was more angst and more of a slow burn with their friends to lovers relationship.”

Bad Romeo (The Starcrossed Series) by Leisa Rayven <— Amy was feeling the burn in this one! “Guys, I am about halfway through Bad Romeo and simply LOVING it! It’s going back and forth between the past and present (which I don’t mind when it’s done well like this is), and the anticipatory buildup to what happened before has me all anxious and bouncing my leg. And even the flashbacks for me have that slow burn We’ll see what happens with the last half, but if it continues this way then I *might* just have found me a 5 star! :D

Little Town Series by J.D. Nixon <— IsDonIsGood says: “Just finished the awesome 4th book in JD Nixon’s Blood Tears series. Really good; slow burn, to the point of ‘will they or won’t they’ being a sincere question through out.”

Emi Lost & Found Series by Lori Otto <— bev mentioned this one… “Ok, one that messed me up? Emi lost & found series. I probably read it at the very worst time. I was still in the early stages of grieving. And I pick up this book and has friends to lovers and slow burn♥. I knew it was a first book so when almost done I grabbed the other two so I could stay in this world. I started the second, hopefully, and pretty soon I’m sobbing so so hard. Can’t see the book cause of the tears hard…” (Agreed! My review – although this is just of book #1… I enjoyed #2 and #3 even more)

Radiance (Wraith Kings Book 1) by Grace Draven <— MichelleS has one!! “Bev – you said, ” I just love a slow burn and stories that really take the time to build the relationship”… well, have I got a book for you! And Michelle. And maybe Fabi, if she’s in the right mood for it. I was searching for my next good fantasy find… and this is it. Loving it so much. It’s called Radiance, Wraith Kings Book 1. Just released. Fantastic writing. She’s a human, royalty. He’s not human, and royalty. Arranged marriage. Sounds corny, I know, but somehow this author has a fresh, original, wonderful point of view and writing style. She thinks he’s hideous. He thinks she’s hideous. Funny and sweet and unbelievably good. I laughed out loud at the wedding feast! Can’t stop thinking about this book. Yay me!”

The Fever Series 6-Book Bundle: Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever, Shadowfever, Iced by Karen Marie Moning <— bev says: “…the romance is definitely a slow burn in the fever series.” and yep!! This one burnt me up nice!!! I told Linda to keep reading (when book #1 didn’t produce *ahem* sexy times). LOL :P I said: “Each book gets better and better, and book #1 was not my favorite. In fact, my least favorite. And there’s that delicious slow burn that will burn you alive in the most delicious way. Plus.. Maybe even a triangle. And some shock value to blow your mind!!!! :D” And Amy agrees: “…the Fever series has that crazy-slow burn and buildup that gets me all book-sexually frustrated…or would it be sexually-book frustrated? *pfft* I’m too mad at Barrons right now to care about linguistics. ;) I also like how nothing is being solved and wrapped up quickly so I’ll get to stay in their world that much longer. I’m reading the third book (Faefever), and I just want to tie Barrons’ sac up in a pretty little bow and hang it above the doorway so I can smack his nuts everytime I walk by!! Ooooooh!!!! He’s a-p!ssing me off!!! But I still love him. *giggle*” <— eek Tee hee! OMG YOU SLAY ME, Amy!

The Mason List by SD Hendrickson <— Speaking of Amy, here’s one that she loved! “I didn’t mind the slow build-up (love that kind of “slow burn” as Maryse calls it) but once I got to about the 50% mark, holy sh!t it was a crazy intense ride for me! As if that’s not obvious from my comments on the other page, right? ;) I absolutely loved this one.” (Agreed! My review)

Written In Red: A Novel of the Others by Anne Bishop <— bev: “The romance in WIR is a very slow burn type.”

Tall, Tatted, and Tempting (The Reed Brothers Series Book 1) by Tammy Falkner <— bev enjoyed this one! “…can not say enough how much I love the slow burn. And as Michelle S pointed out when an author takes the time to show us.”

The Unwanted Wife (The Unwanted Series) by Natasha Anders <— Jeannie suggests this one! “The Unwanted Wife is one of my favorites!”

SLOW BURN by Nicole Christie <— Leah recommends this one! “slow burn, nicole christie — The name says it all.”

The Deal (Off-Campus Book 1) by Elle Kennedy <— Kandace recommends this one! “The Deal by Elle Kennedy gave the BD butterfly feeling.” (Agreed! My review)

Making Faces by Amy Harmon <— Jennifer says: “Anything Amy Harmon” (Agreed! My review)

No Turning Back (The Kathleen Turner Series Book 1) by Tiffany Snow <— Theresa suggest this one: “Reading Tiffany Snow currently. On 5th book and still no HEA. So this is my current Slow Burn.

Never Me by Kate Stewart <— This is Yamara’s pick!

Bright Side by Kim Holden <— Sara recommends: “Bright Side and right now I’m reading the sequel “Gus” by Kim Holden”… (and Christine agrees: “I am with Sara – Bright Side and I am currently reading the sequel Gus, by Kim Holden.”)

The Year We Fell Down: A Hockey Romance (The Ivy Years Book 1) by Sarina Bowen <— another Sara recommendation! and!! “…anything by Penny Reid

Jacked (Trent Brothers Book 1) by Tina Reber <— Andrea says: “Tina Rebers recent release Jacked is slow burn and good too.”

Matched by Angela Graham and S.E. Hall <— Linda recommends it! “Matched by S. E. Hall. Such a neat spin on a romance novel. Definite slow burn!”

True Love Story by Willow Aster <— Robyn says this one! “True Love Story – Willow Aster” (Agreed! My review)

Darker Water (Once and Forever Book 1) by Lauren Stewart <— Rachel says: “Ooo, Darker Water was sort of slow and achy.”


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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Sadie Munroe July 27, 2015 at 1:52 PM

Just thought I’d sneak this in here… my NA All It Takes is a slow-burn romance (which is pretty much the only kind of romance I can write, lol).

You can find it here:

<3 Sadie

Tessa July 27, 2015 at 2:34 PM

Two PNR that I need to mention. Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series and Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniel’s series. Both are extremely slow burns.

Tessa July 27, 2015 at 2:45 PM

Sea of Tranqquility was a slow burn.

bev July 27, 2015 at 3:46 PM

Tessa, exactly what I was thinking.
Like Maryse, I’m going to have to back and think.
Strawberries for Dessert is a slow burn. The physical happens relatively quickly but it takes a while for the feelings.
Going the Distance, also. Two very reserved characters that took awhile to open up.
Without Words is one too. It really takes its time. I’d say Eyes of Silver Eyes of Gold is too. Love this one.
Master of Crows by Grace Draven. And what about E&P. Oh, and I think Deeper fits too.

Anne July 27, 2015 at 3:48 PM

Love this list and a good slow burn book.

Flowers in the Storm is an amazing example of slow burn done right as The Sweet Gum Tree too.

Anne July 27, 2015 at 3:50 PM

Seducing Mr Bridgerton by Julia Quinn too! He doesn’t even find her attractive at first!

I’ll keep thinking of more :)

Maybelis July 27, 2015 at 3:53 PM

You forgot Wait for You by Jennifer Armentrout

Alissa Glenn July 27, 2015 at 3:54 PM

Magan Vernon’s NA Romance The Only Exception!

Barnes & Noble:
Google Play:

bev July 27, 2015 at 3:59 PM

Sebastian St.Cyr series by CS Harris. Love the romance story in this.
A Place to Call Home by Deborah Smith. They meet as children, love that trope.

* high fives Anne* Flowers from the Storm.

Maryse because she does it so well I wish KA would sometimes draw it out a bit more. The books are long enough to handle it, lol.

Anne July 27, 2015 at 4:12 PM

On the Island- Tracey Garvis-Graves
Anna and the French Kiss- Stephanie Perkins
Maybe Someday- Colleen Hoover
Hopeless- Colleen Hoover
Wait for You- J.Lynn
Flat Out Love- Jessica Park
Present Perfect- Alison G. Bailey
All of Mia Sheridan’s books (love her!)
A Knight in Shining Armor- Jude Deveraux

bev July 27, 2015 at 4:37 PM

Oh, two more.
Kiss an Angel & Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She brings the grovel too.

Anne July 27, 2015 at 4:43 PM

I am having so much fun with this list!

The Man I Love- Suanne Laqueur
With a Twist- Staci Hart
I’ll Meet You There- Heather Demetrios
Brisé- Leigh Ann Lunsford
A Beautiful Kind of Love- Ellie Wade

Anne July 27, 2015 at 4:44 PM

Bev I loved Kiss an Angel! SEP is one of my faves!

Sherry D :) July 27, 2015 at 4:52 PM

Tina Reber’s other awesome book, Love Unscripted was a great slow burn :)
One of my favorites!

Grey July 27, 2015 at 5:23 PM

Making a list, checking it twice… *feeling like it’s Christmas time around here with this gift of a list*

Slow burn, how about Beautiful Player (Book 4 in the Beautiful Bastard series) by Christina Lauren. Gah, Will & Hanna… the feels…

Amy July 27, 2015 at 5:46 PM

Those are all *perfect* examples of what slow burn is in our reads. Pining, resistance, rotten circumstances…oooooooh that is FUN! The more it twists my heart and gut the better!! :D

Another kind I love (it probably falls into one of your categories up there) is when she screws up big time for whatever reason and has to really work at getting him back because now he doesn’t want her…well, he *does* want her but he won’t let himself go back to her, and we have to suffer right along with her not knowing if she will get him back in the end. LOVE that!

Maryse July 27, 2015 at 5:57 PM

Ohhh yes Amy! I want to post books like that.

Kind of like Arsen… right?

Amy July 27, 2015 at 6:19 PM

YES!!! *Exactly* like Arsen. :D Oh! Remember the wonderful agony of Sweet Thing? THAT would be another one with that kind of burn. *sigh* I loved that book!

bev July 27, 2015 at 6:24 PM

Then can we do a heroines we like post? Lol.

bev July 27, 2015 at 6:27 PM

Amy, speaking of Arsen, haven’t read it. But I’ve read a novella that I believe has a same story point. The tragedy part. But I think handled in a different way. Have you read Snow-kissed by Laura Florand?

MichelleS July 27, 2015 at 6:41 PM

Anne: do you mean Romancing Mr. bridgerton? With Colin & Penelope Featherington? My absolute fave of that whole series!!! Loved that one.

Slow burns are best. I said that about bad boys too…. Hmmm…

Amy July 27, 2015 at 6:43 PM

Bev, that one sounds super emotional from the blurb! With books like Arsen, the burn comes from the h doing something to really mess up and then she has to fully experience the consequences of her actions, and the whole time we don’t know if she is even going to win him back in the end…those kind make my tummy eat itself!

MichelleS July 27, 2015 at 6:55 PM

Who else has read Jacked? I really really liked this book & think it’s gotten passed over!!! It’s really good.

Tessa July 27, 2015 at 6:59 PM

I just finished one, I feel ridiculous. A Court of Thorns and Roses is a total slow burn. She hates all the Fae when they meet (having just killed one) and just wants to return home.

bev July 27, 2015 at 7:02 PM

Think i just remembered another. I just checked it out to do a re read of it, been years & years. The Passions of Emma by Penelope Williams.

bev July 27, 2015 at 7:07 PM

Amy, its one of those weird ticks, I like it better when the guy messes up.
I think it’s hard when I’m in the head of someone who makes alot of bad and hurtful choices. Also, sometimes it doesn’t seem like the author wants to make the h apologize or grovel or etc the way hero’s do. Though I’ve read plenty where there are no consequences for the hero too. But you know the whole have your cake and eat it to thing.

Mandy July 27, 2015 at 7:19 PM

Didn’t see anyone mention Gabriel’s inferno (if that’s the first one)…MAJOR slow burn

Linda July 27, 2015 at 8:20 PM

Loving this category!! I do love slow burn and even though I really liked Kulti their connection was too slow for me. Reads that I found perfect for me: The Offer by Karina Halle
Worth the Fall- Claudia Connor
Reed’s Reckoning- Ahren Sanders
To Professor With Love- Linda Kage
A Reason to Breathe-CP Smith
Underestimated-Jettie Woodruff
Dangerous to Know and Love-Jane Harvey Berrick
Diamond Girl-Andrea Smith
Loving Mr. Daniels-Brittainy C. Cherry
Fearless and Price of Angels-Lauren Gilley

Maryse July 27, 2015 at 8:53 PM

bev I have that one next (for next Monday).

Maryse July 27, 2015 at 8:53 PM

Oh yes Mandy!!!

Maryse July 27, 2015 at 8:54 PM

Oh wow all of you are giving me some really good ones. Okay I’ll be adding each one… YAY FOR THIS LIST!!! :D

We’re all gonna be smoldering in no time! *snort* See what I did there? :P

Anne July 27, 2015 at 8:55 PM

MichelleS yes! Its Romancing Mr Bridgerton not Seducing! Lol I guess I got carried away thinking about Colin! Its my favorite from the entire series too! :D

Anne July 27, 2015 at 9:00 PM

MichelleS who’s the author of Jacked? Couldn’t find it on GR by the name alone.

Lol Maryse! I am loving this list! Adding tons of books to my TBR pile :D

Amy July 27, 2015 at 9:06 PM

Anne, it’s by Tina Reber who wrote Love Unscripted. ;)

Anne July 27, 2015 at 9:18 PM

Thank you Amy! :)

bev July 27, 2015 at 9:21 PM

The heroines one? Nice!!

Lisa July 28, 2015 at 4:44 AM

The Pact by Katrina Halle. Super slow burn for me. About to start The Offer and hoping for similar feels.

Lisa July 28, 2015 at 4:50 AM

Oh and Maybe Someday was sweet pain slow burn. And Renee Carlinos Sweet Thing. Still think about that book sometimes and read it many many books ago.
Great list idea Maryse.

marina July 28, 2015 at 9:12 AM

Beautiful Player for sure! My fave in the series! Love this list!! Def thought of Bronze Horseman too. Cara McKenna books are all great slow burns as mentioned. Need to ponder… def will read Kulti after seeing it on this list!

Shane July 28, 2015 at 11:50 AM

Maryse, this is excellent. On the Island still my fave.
I save a few from this list, want to check them out, thank you.

Anna July 29, 2015 at 7:48 AM

Cara McKenna does some great slow burn! I loved After Hours, and also found that same tension building awesomeness in Unbound, and Hard Time. I’m excited to read other recommendations from this list. Nothing like a slow and steamy build up!

Rachael M July 31, 2015 at 1:08 PM

Must read Sweet Pea, M.B. Klein

Chelse October 29, 2015 at 7:32 PM

I loveeed the list! But I’d really appreciate it if someone could narrow the recommendation to something similar to Kulti for me? The kind where the hero acts mean to heroine then falls in love ‘slowly’ and regrets his initial behaviour? Many thanks xxx

Lisa October 30, 2015 at 1:20 AM

Chelse have you read Under Locke by same author…Marina Zapata.

Chelse October 30, 2015 at 8:04 AM

Lisa, yes I did! And I really enjoyed it too. Mariana Zapata is definitely one of my favourite authors.

Nadine January 8, 2016 at 6:11 AM

Hello. While searching for something similar to Kulti, I came upon this website and I am so glad that I did! I was wondering though, are there are any old books where the couple falls in love over time? Like Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer and Silver Lining by Maggie Osborne? Most of the recommendations here are of recent books but I suddenly feel like reading an old one. I just saw that someone recommended A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux and I’m thinking of reading that one. I would also like to say that I also love Kiss an Angel, Heaven, Texas and Romancing Mr. Bridgerton!

Maryse January 8, 2016 at 9:41 AM

Hi Nadine!!! Thank you so much for commenting and joining us. :D I have posted your recommendation request and I’ll see what I can come up with for you. :D

Hafsa April 13, 2016 at 10:19 AM

The Wall of Winnipeg is also a slowburn

Serena August 9, 2017 at 3:34 PM

Everyone needs to read ‘The Wall of Winnipeg and Me’

Sheena September 25, 2017 at 2:23 AM

I’m extremely late here but I sincerely believe this list would be incomplete without the addition of Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and The Dawn Series.

Extremely well done.

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