There’s not much I love more than a good slow burn romance. All my favorite tropes (usually) enjoy some form of a slow-burn… friends-to-lovers, workplace romances, enemies-to-lovers, forbidden romances, forced proximities, etc. But the ones I really adore are the ones that make my soul ache. A “slow burn” doesn’t mean that it just took them awhile to get together – that’s just a chunky book. A “slow burn” means their feelings, their passionate, their emotions, simmered in the background of the whole story.
[ Check out other slow burn romance’s I’ve enjoyed! ]
Some of my fave Slow Burn Reads…
Rock Hard by Nalini Singh
In Rock Hard by Nalini Singh, T-Rex and Charlie-Mouse … jk, Gabriel and Charlotte… have an incredible connection. This is one of my all-time favorite, favorite, favorite books. I’ve read it so many times, I’ve completely lost count ? We’re well into the teens now. Gabriel Bishop is an ex-Rugby player, now a CEO of Charlotte’s company, and she’s his secretary. But she’s also extremely fragile after enduring horrific abuse.
This book has set the bar for office romances everywhere, and I haven’t found one that matches it yet. Their connection was such a slow-burn, and I loved seeing the fiery intelligence in every page as Gabriel recognizes he has his work cut out for him with Charlotte. (Review)
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
I really loved this book ? The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez follows Josh and Kristen as they first meet… and don’t like each other much. Is this a theme with me?? I guess I do have a book-type ?? But anyways… they have to find a way to get along, as best man and maid of honor for their respective best friends’ wedding. One thing leads to another, and Josh is lending out his carpenter skills to Kristen’s small business (out of her garage).
And then they become really good friends. I have to admit, I fell in love with their friendship. But there was always that caution whenever they even considered crossing that line into lovers. Their work entanglements (loose as they were), and their amazing friendship that neither wanted to ruin. Such a slow burn! This book gets deep and made me sob, and it was incredible! (My Review)
Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews
Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews – This is one of my favorite series in all of existence. Ignore the cover – which is awful – and it’s one of the most well-done sci-fi/urban fantasy EVER.
This magical world is amazing, especially while the romance simmers in the background of the magical mystery, the slow burn is incredible, oh my gosh! We start off with the dangerously powerful Mad Rogan kidnapping Nevada Baylor (PI), so she doesn’t like him much. But they ultimately have to work together to find a rioting pyromaniac. Forced proximity romances are some of my ultimate faves, and this book certainly sets the bar. (Fiercest Females in Urban Fantasy)
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and Kate’s own life is relentless. It just never ends! She drags herself (often scratched and bloody) home and out again, and it’s an amazing story, one of my absolute favorites. Kate Daniels herself is whit-sharp intelligent, a complete badass, and is at heart, a survivor. But she’s also got too big of a heart to put her survival above the lives of others if she can help them, which she proves again and again over the course of the series.
Did I mention this has an epic hate-to-love slow burn romance that plays around in the background of all the mysteries and sword-fighting? Mmm. Curran and Kate’s relationship is absolutely one of the first reasons this series is so incredible. It doesn’t have the senseless drama and angst you’d expect of a series of this length. It’s truly perfect. (My Review)
King Hall by Scarlett Dawn
King Hall by Scarlett Dawn is one of my favorite books for friendship, found family, and a spicy, spicy slow burn paranormal romance that just explodes! Paranormal New Adult at it’s best, that’s for sure!
This book follows four new-adult-aged kiddos as they train to step into their positions of royalty within the larger mystical community. Each trains to head a faction: elemental, mage, vampire, and shifter. They quickly become fast friends, and is truly one of the best friendship books I’ve ever read. And despite the fact that relations between factions are relatively forbidden, the vampire and shifter start to get rather close :) I can’t recommend this one enough and I could talk about it forever so I’m going to stop ? (Fiercest Females in Urban Fantasy)
Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata
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This one was such a surprise to me when I read it!! Dear Aaron kept me up until 4 a.m. before I finally had to give up and get some shut-eye, it was so immersive. The first half is all of their emailed and IM’d correspondence between Ruby, who signs up to write pen pal letters to a soldier abroad, and Aaron, the soldier who receives the letters. I LOVED reading these messages, they gave a clear idea of the characters before you even get to the second half, where there are actual dialogue and storytelling.
Ms. Zapata did an excellent job in this department because you could see the hesitation and the uncertainty and feelings that were caught even just in the messaging parts, even before we got to the friends-to-lovers meetup in the second half. They’re just so cute! It’s kept me up past 4am both times, and also made me cry at their first meeting, too :) (My Review)
The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata
[ Kindle Unlimited Read ]
One of the books that immediately popped into my head for this list was The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata. It’s one of my favorite books I’ve discovered in 2020, and Aiden Graves could possibly maybe be … one of my fave book boyfriends of the year! For sure ?
This one follows Vanessa, Aiden’s personal assistant to his celebrity football player. She manages his house, communication, meals, and anything he needs, and has for a few years, while managing her own graphic design business on the side, saving money towards doing her dream full time. This book is an epic slow burn (on heretofore unknown levels!! ???), friends-to-lovers, a marriage of convenience, roommates story! I love it with my whole heart ? (My Review)
Marriage for One by Ella Maise
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One of my favorite reads of the year was Marriage for One by Ella Maise, and I just read it this month! You *KNOW* I love my slow burn romances!! This is one of my favorites ever, I think! Rose and Jack definitely reached that point, where they found a truce and became a TEAM, the two of them against the world. There’s not much that I love more than this journey.
Mariana Zapata may be hailed as the Queen of Slow Burn Romance… but I have to say, with this installment, she has some intense competition :) Marriage for One is a gorgeous, sweet, and passionate love story that I’m already itching to pick up again. I’m so head-over-heels in love with both Rose AND Jack, and the two of them together are enough to make my heart explode out of my chest. Check out my review here for more reasons to pick this one up!
Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy was one of my favorite reads of 2019, and is available on Kindle Unlimited! This book… was so absolutely enthralling. Not only was the plot engaging, but there was an enemies-to-lovers and friends-to-lovers bit thrown in! Luke and Keaton are enemies in real-life (as well as dorm-neighbors), but on the internet they’re friends who heavily flirt.
But this book was no fluff piece – it had a surprising amount of substance and depth for a new adult romance. This book just teems with life through the two characters: Luke, who is a bossy-ass in bed, but who struggles through life by the tips of his fingers, and Keaton, who was so adorably nerdy, and wore his heart on his sleeve, even for a rich legacy kid. He had amazing animal facts, too! (My Review)
Shortcake by Lucy Watson
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In Shortcake, Emmy, the live-in caretaker, and Ben, the grandson, are named as equal beneficiaries in Rose’s will. In order for either Ben or Emmy to get access to their inheritance from Rose, they have to become roommates and fix up the house together for three months.
This is a hate-to-love romance, and it’s not a weak one. Ben genuinely despises Emmy, thinking she’s just after Rose’s money. They butt heads all the time, but can be gentle to each other when the situation calls – when Emmy has an anxiety attack, or when Ben becomes ill – only to go back to manning their individual metaphorical battle-heads. For three months, Ben and Emmy are stuck in forced proximity and a fake-relationship built on a game of “chicken”… and somehow, eventually, that hatred starts to slowly drop away. It allowed for real, actual relationship growth as the characters got to know each other and I loved actually watching it all happen ? The slow-burn was absolutely perfect ✨ (My Review)
Kulti by Mariana Zapata
[ Kindle Unlimited Read ]
Kulti by the slow-burn queen is another that I’ve already read twice this year! A dislike-to-friends-to-lovers mentor story that is just so lovely, that it really encapsulates why Mariana Zapata is the head of her field in slow-burn romances.
It’s just so immersive and feels quick, even if the romance is anything but. I loved their friendship, and not to mention unrequited love?! I literally (accidentally!) stayed up until 6:15am reading this one. That sets a record for me *EEP* This book is hard to fully reflect on, because there’s no *clear* reason this one was so amazing. The characters were just incredible! Kulti, himself, was such an emotionally removed human, who was almost puppy-like in his friendship with Sal… okay maybe I do know why I love this one :) There’s nothing like a stone-cold man brought low by his affection for his girl <3 But Sal, herself, was also such a standout character!! Gah, just read it, okay??
Other posts you may enjoy…
What are some of your favorite slow-burn romances? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!