If you need a little love, these romance novel excerpts are the exact thing you need to ignite your passion. Romance writers have a knack for building tension and then delivering a cathartic release through their characters. If you’re a hopeless romantic you might have found yourself reading romance as a way to escape to idealized and fantastic worlds full of seduction and mystery. You’re not alone! Romance novels rake in over $1 billion dollars each year!
As you might have imagined, romance novel sales spiked to new highs during the pandemic as many of us were in lockdown. You might have picked up a romance book to feel connection and warmth when you needed it most. For those new or newish to the genre, we decided to compile a list of romance novel excerpts to help get you into some other writers and works you might not have heard of before. Enjoy some of our favorite passages below!
Check Out These Romance Novel Excerpts!
The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
Probably one of the best-known contemporary romance novels, The Notebook has been charming readers for years. Why? Take a look at this excerpt from the first chapter of the book and you will quickly understand why this novel is a favorite.
“The romantics would call this a love story, the cynics would call it a tragedy. In my mind it’s a little bit of both, and no matter how you choose to view it in the end, it does not change the fact that it involves a great deal of my life and the path I’ve chosen to follow. I have no complaints about my path and the places it has taken me; enough complaints to fill a circus tent about other things, maybe, but the path I’ve chosen has always been the right one, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
Love In the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One of the most dramatic romance novel excerpts on this list comes from Gabriel Garcia Marquez the author of Love in the Time of Cholera who wrote this epic romance that spans decades and continents. Escape to the world he created by reading the following excerpt:
“Behind her, so close to her ear that only she could hear it in the tumult, she heard his voice:
‘This is not the place for a crowned goddess.’
She turned her head and saw, a hand’s breadth from her eyes, those other glacial eyes, that livid face, those lips petrified with fear, just as she had seen them in the crowd at Midnight Mass the first time he was so close to her, but now, instead of the commotion of love, she felt the abyss of disenchantment.”
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
If you have not treated yourself to this classic romance novel about doomed romance, you have not lived! Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontë’s first and only novel really showed the author’s talent and lives on today to show readers that self-destructive love affairs are not a new invention!
“It ended. Well, we must be for ourselves in the long run; the mild and generous are only more justly selfish than the domineering; and it ended when circumstances caused each to feel that the one’s interest was not the chief consideration in the other’s thoughts. On a mellow evening in September, I was coming from the garden with a heavy basket of apples which I had been gathering. It had got dusk, and the moon looked over the high wall of the court, causing undefined shadows to lurk in the corners of the numerous projecting portions of the building.
I set my burden on the house-steps by the kitchen-door, and lingered to rest, and drew in a few more breaths of the soft, sweet air; my eyes were on the moon, and my back to the entrance, when I heard a voice behind me say ‘Nelly, is that you?’”
Indigo – Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins’ Indigo is a romantic thriller centered around Hester, an escaped slave who works to shelter those traveling on the Underground Railroad. When a fellow “conductor” arrives, he tests the limits of her patience and eventually her heart. If you have never had the pleasure of reading one of Jenkins’ romance novels, Indigo is an excellent one to start with.
“Hester was indeed shocked – both by finding him in the tub, and by the startling admission. She knew men were allowed to conduct their lives in ways far outside the strict boundaries governing female behavior, but would a woman of good reputation cavort with a man in a tub? She wondered what kind of man Galen really was and what social circles he traveled in when he was not the Black Daniel. Still standing with her back to him she said, ‘I’ll just leave the tray here by the door and return for it later.’
His soft voice stayed her. ‘Was it my imagination or did I see two settings on that tray?'”
Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters is an award-winning romance novel that will be perfect for lovers of historic fiction as this lesbian romance is a roller coaster of ride through 19th century England. The following extract is Nan King describing Kitty Butler, a woman she will eventually travel far and wide with.
“It was the hair, I think, which drew me most. If I had ever seen women with hair as short as hers, it was because they had spent time in hospital or prison; or because they were mad. They could never have looked like Kitty Butler.
Her hair fitted her head like a little cap that had been sewn, just for her, by some nimble-fingered milliner. I would say it was brown; brown, however, is too dull a word for it. It was, rather, the kind of brown you might hear sung about – a nut-brown, or a russet.
It was almost, perhaps, the colour of chocolate – but then chocolate has no lustre, and this hair shone in the blaze of the limes like taffeta. It curled at her temple, slightly, and over her ears; and when she turned her head a little to put her hat back on, I saw a strip of pale flesh at the nape of her neck where the collar ended and the hairline began that – for all the fire of the hot, hot hall – made me shiver.”
The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang tells the story of Stella who is an accomplished economist and mathematician who can’t seem to make love add up. She hires an escort, Michael, to help her on her journey. What happens next will surprise both of these likable characters.
“‘You’ve watched Pretty Woman too many times. Kissing doesn’t mean anything, and it’s always best if you’re not thinking too much in bed. Trust me,’ he said.
Her mouth thinned into a stubborn line. ‘This is too important for me not to think. I’d rather not kiss anymore if you don’t mind.’
Michael’s irritation redoubled, and he forced his hands to relax before he popped all his blood vessels. How the hell had he gotten himself into this? Ah yes, he’d been worried about his escort colleagues taking advantage of her. Stupid of him. His life was complicated enough without worrying about his clients. This was exactly why he had the one-session policy.”
The Hating Game – Sally Thorne
Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game is a refreshing rom-com about falling in love with your nemesis. The following excerpt comes from the beginning of the book. Read it and we imagine you will want to keep going to find out how this theory pans out.
I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them. I’ve had a lot of time to compare love and hate, and these are my observations.
Love and hate are visceral. Your stomach twists at the thought of that person. The heart in your chest beats heavy and bright, nearly visible through your flesh and clothes. Your appetite and sleep are shredded. Every interaction spikes your blood with a dangerous kind of adrenaline, and you’re on the brink of fight or flight. Your body is barely under your control. You’re consumed, and it scares you.
Normal People – Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney’s Normal People received a ton of buzz after the novel was adapted for television. The novel follows two students who enjoy a relationship together that will shape them for the rests of their lives. It’s an excellent meditation how every relationship we engage in leaves a lasting impact.
Multiple times he has tried writing his thoughts about Marianne down on paper in an effort to make sense of them. He’s moved by a desire to describe in words exactly how she looks and speaks. Her hair and clothing. The copy of Swann’s Way she reads at lunchtime in the school cafeteria, with a dark French painting on the cover and a mint-coloured spine. Her long fingers turning the pages.
She’s not leading the same kind of life as other people. She acts so worldly at times, making him feel ignorant, but then she can be so naive. He wants to understand how her mind works. If he silently decides not to say something when they’re talking, Marianne will ask ‘what?’ within one or two seconds. This ‘what?’ question seems to him to contain so much: not just the forensic attentiveness to his silences that allows her to ask in the first place, but a desire for total communication, a sense that anything unsaid is an unwelcome interruption between them.
He writes these things down, long run-on sentences with too many dependent clauses, sometimes connected with breathless semicolons, as if he wants to recreate a precise copy of Marianne in print, as if he can preserve her completely for future review. Then he turns a new page in the notebook so he doesn’t have to look at what he’s done.
The Proposal – Jasmine Guillory
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory imagines what happens when a big romantic gesture, a very public proposal, does not result in a happy ending. Nikole Paterson, the protagonist, is such a relatable character that we imagine other readers will enjoy connecting with.
“I’ve spent so long being afraid of love, because the last time I was in love, the man I loved only loved one part of me, but not all of me, and I thought love meant having to sacrifice a part of yourself. But then I was with you, and you loved every part of me, even the parts I don’t like. And that scared me more, because I thought there must be some trick and that I couldn’t let myself believe it or I’d fall into the trap. But finally I realized it wasn’t a trap.”
The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is a fresh retelling of Homer’s The Iliad. That might not be the most exciting premise but we assure you this novel is ridiculously readable and very entertaining.
“Our mouths opened under each other, and the warmth of his sweetened throat poured into mine. I could not think, could not do anything but drink him in, each breath as it came, the soft movements of his lips. It was a miracle.
I was trembling, afraid to put him to flight. I did not know what to do, what he would like. I kissed his neck, the span of his chest, and tasted the salt. He seemed to swell beneath my touch, to ripen. He smelled like almonds and earth. He pressed against me, crushing my lips to wine.
He went still as I took him in my hand, soft as the delicate velvet of petals. I knew Achilles’ golden skin and the curve of his neck, the crooks of his elbows. I knew how pleasure looked on him. Our bodies cupped each other like hands.”
Secrets of a Summer Night – Lisa Kleypas
Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas is the perfect book for Bridgerton lovers. The book follows Annabelle, a woman who must find a wealthy man to marry to counter her family’s dire financial situation, and Simon who becomes her unlikely lover. We think this is one of the best romance novel excerpts on this list!
“Annabelle’s eyes stung as she stared at him, while need and inexhaustible tenderness gathered like an ache in her body. ‘I realized something,’ she said huskily, ‘when I was standing outside the foundry, watching it burn and knowing you were inside.’ She swallowed hard against the thickness in her throat. ‘I would rather have died in your arms, Simon, than face a lifetime without you. All those endless years… all those winters, summers… a hundred seasons of wanting you and never having you. Growing old, while you stayed eternally young in my memories.’
She bit her lip and shook her head, while her eyes flooded. ‘I was wrong when I told you that I didn’t know where I belonged. I do. With you, Simon. Nothing matters except being with you. You’re stuck with me forever, and I’ll never listen when you tell me to go.’ She managed a tremulous smile. ‘So you may as well stop complaining and resign yourself to it.'”
Twice In A Lifetime – Clare Lydon
Twice In A Lifetime by Clare Lydon is a very sexy lesbian romance novel that finds high school sweethearts, Harriet and Sally, reunited at an airport after not seeing each other for years. All of the steamy scenes in this book are balanced by the well-rounded main characters.
“Because all of a sudden, she knew who this was. Even before she turned around, Sally knew this was not just any Harriet, but her Harriet. Because she’d never forget those hands or the way she smelled. She was still wearing the same perfume 17 years later, and every time Sally had smelled it in the intervening years, she’d always thought of her. How could she not?”
More Romance Novel Excerpts!
Rush – Maya Banks
Rush by Maya Banks is an erotic novel that explores what happens when a mutual, childhood crush turns into an adult one. The affair begins as sexual odyssey that evolves into something much deeper. Will it be betrayal or romance for Mia Crestwell and Gabe Hamilton?
“She wore a delicate chain with a diamond solitaire around her neck, and diamond studs adorned both ears. Both had been a gift from him a year earlier. For Christmas. It gave him satisfaction to see her wearing the things he’d bought for her tonight. For him, it was one more step in the inevitable direction of her being his.
She didn’t know it yet, but he’d waited long enough. He’d endured enough time of feeling like the worst sort of criminal for lusting after his best friend’s baby sister. When she’d turned twenty, it had marked a huge difference in the way he viewed her, but he’d been thirty-four and he knew she was still far too young for what he expected from her. And so he’d waited.”
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy’s classic, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, holds the promise of one of the most brilliantly written heroes of any romance novel. Though tragic, this novel is one of the most poetic and beautiful you will ever read!
“Still Tess could not be induced to remount. She did not, however, object to his keeping his gig alongside her; and in this manner, at a slow pace, they advanced towards the village of Trantridge. From time to time d’Urberville exhibited a sort of fierce distress at the sight of the tramping he had driven her to undertake by his misdemeanour.
She might in truth have safely trusted him now; but he had forfeited her confidence for the time, and she kept on the ground progressing thoughtfully, as if wondering whether it would be wiser to return home. Her resolve, however, had been taken, and it seemed vacillating even to childishness to abandon it now, unless for graver reasons. How could she face her parents, get back her box, and disconcert the whole scheme for the rehabilitation of her family on such sentimental grounds?”
A Walk to Remember – Nicholas Sparks
A Walk to Remember is another huge hit and tear-jerker from Nicholas Sparks. This romance reminds readers that love can be found in the most surprising places.
“Then, of course, there was the whole Hegbert situation, and this didn’t help her at all. Being the minister’s daughter couldn’t have been easy, but she made it seem as if it were the most natural thing in the world and that she was lucky to have been blessed in that way. That’s how she used to say it, too. ‘I’ve been so blessed to have a father like mine.’ Whenever she said it, all we could do was shake our heads and wonder what planet she actually came from.
Ross Poldark – Winston Graham
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham tells of an 18th-century, Cornish romance that begins with Ross Poldark returning to Cornwall from an American war. He then, rescues a tramp and employs her as his maid. In fits and starts the pair eventually come to respect each other before the unthinkable happens.
“He said, ‘I need a girl to work in my house. At Nampara, beyond St. Ann’s. You would get your food and better clothing than you have now. As you are under age I would pay your wages to your father.’ He added, ‘I want someone strong, for the work is hard.’
She was looking up at him with her eyes wide and a startled expression in them as if he had suggested some-thing wicked. Then the wind blew her hair over them and she blinked.
‘The house is at Nampara,’ he said. ‘But perhaps you do not wish to come.'”
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger explores free will and destiny when it comes to romance. This off-beat and touching novel will tug at your heartstrings, we’re certain!
“Is there a logic, a rule to all this coming and going, all this dislocation? Is there a way to stay put, to embrace the present with every cell? I don’t know. There are clues; as with any disease there are patterns, possibilities. Exhaustion, loud noises, stress, standing up suddenly, flashing light — any of these can trigger an episode. But: I can be reading the Sunday Times, coffee in hand and Clare dozing beside me on our bed and suddenly I’m in 1976 watching my thirteen-year-old self mow my grandparents’ lawn. Some of these episodes last only moments; it’s like listening to a car radio that’s having trouble holding on to a station.
I find myself in crowds, audiences, mobs. Just as often I am alone, in a field, house, car, on a beach, in a grammar school in the middle of the night. I fear finding myself in a prison cell, an elevator full of people, the middle of a highway. I appear from nowhere, naked. How can I explain? I have never been able to carry anything with me. No clothes, no money, no ID. Fortunately I don’t wear glasses. I spend most of my sojourns acquiring clothing and trying to hide.”
When Katie Met Cassidy – Camille Perri
When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri tells the story of Katie, a small-town girl, reeling from the breakdown of her engagement, and Cassidy, a high-powered businesswoman, living and thriving in New York’s gay scene. Fans of Nora Efron, check this gem out!
“The girl was blond-haired-blue-eyed beautiful in a way that made Cassidy feel exposed, like a spotlight had appeared overhead. They shook hands, and for a split second, Cassidy thought she noticed something in the girl’s expression change, an element of surprise. Had Cassidy’s own expression given her away?”
Call Me by Your Name – André Aciman
Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman is one of the most fully realized accounts (albeit fictional) of a queer sexual awakening. Intensely passionate, this book will transport you to Italy and make you yearn for the confusion and pain of your first love.
“I shut my eyes, say the word, and I’m back in Italy, so many years ago, walking down the tree-lined driveway, watching him step out of the cab, billowy blue shirt, wide-open collar, sunglasses, straw hat, skin everywhere. Suddenly he’s shaking my hand, handing me his backpack, removing his suitcase from the trunk of the cab, asking if my father is home.
It might have started right there and then: the shirt, the rolled-up sleeves, the rounded balls of his heels slipping in and out of his frayed espadrilles, eager to test the hot gravel path that led to our house, every stride already asking, Which way to the beach?“
Something Borrowed – Emily Giffin
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin is the perfect book for anyone who has ever felt that they did more for a friendship than they should have. Although done many times before, the love triangle this book presents feels fresh and nuanced.
“I am alone in a city of millions. I have plenty of friends, as proven by the solid turnout tonight. Friends to Rollerblade with. Friends to summer with in the Hamptons. Friends to meet on a Thursday night after work for a drink or two or three. And I have Darcy, my best friend from home, who is all of the above. But everybody knows that friends are not enough, although I often claim they are just to save face around my married and engaged girlfriends. I did not plan on being alone in my thirties, even my early thirties.
I wanted a husband by now; I wanted to be a bride in my twenties. But I have learned that you can’t just create your own timetable and will it to come true. So here I am on the brink of a new decade, realizing that being alone makes my thirties daunting, and being thirty makes me feel all the more alone.”
Beach Read – Emily Henry
Beach Read by Emily Henry is all about writers. The two main characters, both writers, challenge each other to work in a genre they’re uncomfortable with. What follows is plenty of biting banter and a summer romance.
“I have a fatal flaw.
I like to think we all do. Or at least that makes it easier for me when I’m writing—building my heroines and heroes up around this one self-sabotaging trait, hinging everything that happens to them on a specific characteristic: the thing they learned to do to protect themselves and can’t let go of, even when it stops serving them.”
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong is a deeply moving and poetic coming-of-age novel that illustrates the power in telling a story that society wants to silence. This is not a lightweight, breezy, summery read, but for those who like romance with a decent amount of substance, they will not be disappointed.
“While cleaning my closet one afternoon I found a Jolly Rancher in the pocket of an old jean jacket. It was from Trevor’s truck. He always kept them in his cup holder. I unwrapped it, held it between my fingers. The memory of our voices is inside it. ‘Tell me what you know,’ I whispered. It caught the light from the window like an ancient jewel. I went inside the closet, closed the door, sat down in the tight dark, and placed the candy, smooth and cool, in my mouth. Green Apple.
Vision in White – Nora Roberts
Vision in White by Nora Roberts finds a photographer, Mackensie Elliot, falling for an unlikely lover in an English teacher. A chance encounter might prove the romance of a lifetime if the Mac will let it!
“By the time she was eight, Mackensie Elliot had been married fourteen times. She’d married each of her three best friends—as both bride and groom—her best friend’s brother(under his protest), two dogs, three cats, and a rabbit. She’d served at countless other weddings as maid of honor, bridesmaid, groomsman, best man, and officiant. Though the dissolutions were invariably amicable, none of the marriages lasted beyond an afternoon. The transitory aspect of marriage came as no surprise to Mac, as her own parents boasted two each—so far.”
Forever . . . by Judy Blume
Forever . . . by Judy Blume is a YA novel that was first published in the seventies and yet it remains a fresh favorite for teens who love the main character Sybil Davison. It’s a classic that you should try if you missed it! Of all the romance novel excerpts on this list, Forever… proves to have one of the best book openers ever:
“Sybil Davison has a genius I.Q. and has been laid by at least six different guys. She told me herself, the last time she was visiting her cousin, Erica, who is my good friend. Erica says this is because of Sybil’s fat problem and her need to feel loved—the getting laid part, that is. The genius I.Q. is just luck or genes or something. I’m not sure that either explanation is 100 percent right but generally Erica is very good at analyzing people.”
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Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is the story of two misfit teens who are too smart to know that their romance won’t last forever but brave enough to try anyway. If you want to feel like a 16-year-old experiencing your first breakup again, this is the one for you!
“There’s not such thing as handsome princes, she told herself. There’s no such thing as happily ever after. She looked up at Park. Into his golden green eyes. You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s right now is yours. Always.”
There you go! We hope you enjoyed these romance novel excerpts and have discovered some new titles for your summer reading list. These romance novels each offer something a little different with some being lighter and others exploring heftier themes. Although each is different, they all center on romance and love. While those stories are not always pretty, the basic human need for love is mined in each of these works. Enjoy!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 Check Out These Romance Novel Excerpts!
- 1.1 The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
- 1.2 Love In the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- 1.3 Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
- 1.4 Indigo – Beverly Jenkins
- 1.5 Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
- 1.6 The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang
- 1.7 The Hating Game – Sally Thorne
- 1.8 Normal People – Sally Rooney
- 1.9 The Proposal – Jasmine Guillory
- 1.10 The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
- 1.11 Secrets of a Summer Night – Lisa Kleypas
- 1.12 Twice In A Lifetime – Clare Lydon
- 2 More Romance Novel Excerpts!
- 2.1 Rush – Maya Banks
- 2.2 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
- 2.3 A Walk to Remember – Nicholas Sparks
- 2.4 Ross Poldark – Winston Graham
- 2.5 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
- 2.6 When Katie Met Cassidy – Camille Perri
- 2.7 Call Me by Your Name – André Aciman
- 2.8 Something Borrowed – Emily Giffin
- 2.9 Beach Read – Emily Henry
- 2.10 On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
- 2.11 Vision in White – Nora Roberts
- 2.12 Forever . . . by Judy Blume
- 2.13 Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
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