I have never been a fan of books with G-rated love scenes. Call me weird, but I like my fictional lovemaking to have some heft. I want chapters of passion and heat. I want adorably stilted dialogue because the characters are driving each other wild with their teasing and touching. And most of all, I want the act to mean something to the characters involved. I want to feel the emotions right along with them as I read.
Which is why I compiled this list of excellent romances with meaningful love scenes. The next time you want to be equal parts flustered and moved while reading, pick up one of these books.
The Only Question That Matters by JL Peridot
In this sci-fi romance, newly divorced Sofia is aboard a spaceship headed to a new planet for a fresh start. The day before the ship docks at her destination, she works up the nerve to hit on Alexei, the handsome stranger in her fitness class. Flirting turns to dinner and a hot one night stand. What’s supposed to be a few hours of meaningless, enjoyable sex turns into so much more.
Why it rocks: We’ve all read light-hearted romances where a one night stand turns into epic love. The Only Question That Matters is different because it operates under a limited time frame, yet Sofia and Alexei still manage to have a steamy and meaningful interaction that lasts long after they bid each other good-bye. They make every moment count, savoring the pleasure and emotion they bring out in one another. It leaves a lasting impression. Being with Alexei helps Sofia reclaim her sexual confidence after years of an unhappy marriage. For Alexei, being with Sofia sparks a passion within him unlike anything he’s experienced.
Hot snippet of substance: When Alexei urges Sofia to slow down during their night of passion. She’s understandably worked up — she’s got a dashing, well-built man to ravage after all. But suave and smooth Alexei reminds her that they have all night. And then he proceeds to show lucky Sofia all the fun you can have when you take your time.
Burn For You by Avery Kingston
Burn For You is the third book of the Chasing Fire series centering around friends-with-benefits-turned-committed-couple Scott and Tori. One of the most compelling aspects of this book and this series is the disability representation. Scott is an amputee war vet and Tori is blind. But their differing abilities don’t affect their sexy times one bit. These two enjoy some of the hottest sex I’ve ever read.
Why it rocks: Scott and Tori sometimes have to make accommodations and adjustments in their sexy sessions, but it’s always off the charts. It shows that hot sex is possible for absolutely anyone. Disability isn’t a limit in the bedroom; it’s simply a factor to consider.
Hot snippet of substance: After Tori has a stressful day, Scott decides to pamper her in a very, very dirty way. He does some of her favorite things: edging her while she’s gagged and tied up with earbuds in to maximize this erotic sensory deprivation. But her safety remains paramount. Scott comes up with an easy hand signal for her to make when she wants to stop. He also checks in with Tori periodically, making sure she’s okay and can verbalize her needs. This scene is fifty percent “aww,” fifty percent “hot damn.”
Saving Suzy by Stefanie Simpson
This fem-dom romance is not only hot but also empowering. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of romances on my bookshelf and e-reader where the dude takes control, and they are super, duper hot. But it’s also refreshing to see a lady calling the shots with a sexy, burly man at her mercy. That’s exactly what happens in Saving Suzy. Main character Suzy enters into a relationship with her boss Nathan, and it doesn’t disappoint in the heat department. There are steamy scenes a-plenty. And as a bonus, there are no imbalances of power or unhealthy relationship dynamics to make you squeamish, like in other romances with a sub-dom plot. Instead the relationship between Suzy and Nathan is rooted in mutual respect and equality from the get-go.
Why it rocks: As the dom, Suzy teaches Nathan, her sub, about consent, boundaries, and how empowering being submissive is. Every action taken in a sub-dom relationship is done within the boundaries set by the sub. It drives home the crucial message that the power ultimately lies with the sub because they’re the one allowing it all to happen.
Hot snippet of substance: Suzy invites Nathan to her apartment to see if he has what it takes to be her sub. She orders him to keep his hands on the couch, he dutifully obeys and is treated to some mind-blowing oral. Suzy proposes they stop there, but Nathan wants to make sure his future dom is properly satisfied, so he asks sweetly and demurely for a turn to pleasure her. Hottt.
Vice by Rosanna Leo
Kate is an anti-gambling advocate protesting the opening of Liam’s new Las Vegas casino Vice. But hate turns to heat quickly in this enemies-to-lovers romance. Liam can’t get over the fiery tenacity of the sexy woman hell-bent on ruining him. And Kate can’t seem to shake Liam’s good looks, confidence and underlying sweetness. When the two finally stop fighting and let their guards down in an unexpected vulnerable moment, they both realize they have more in common than they first thought. They bond while opening up about past personal traumas and act on their their mutual attraction. Plenty of steamy scenes follow.
Why it rocks: Vice shows that hot sex doesn’t magically solve everything, which is a unique direction for a romance book to take. Even though Kate and Liam are dynamite in bed, sex becomes a crutch for them. It’s a distraction that isolates them from the real world, preventing them from addressing their individual problems — and that’s not healthy. Eventually they figure it out (HEAs are a must in romance after all), but it’s enlightening to read a romance that isn’t shy about showing the consequences of unchecked physicality.
Hot snippet of substance: When Kate tries to get Liam to talk about their unhealthy routine of near-constant sex, he declines in favor of more sex on pretty much every surface of their hotel room — and a few other places.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Pretty much every romance fan has read The Kiss Quotient, and for good reason. It’s a love story featuring unique characters but with universal themes. You may not be a brilliant econometrician on the autism spectrum like Stella, but I bet you know exactly what it feels like to be an outsider at some point in your life, wishing you could fit in with everyone else. You may not be a biracial male escort, but I bet you know what it’s like to work a job you dislike to pay the bills. Stella hires Michael to teach her how to get better at relationships and sex. What results are some steamy scenes and a love story that will give you warm and fuzzies for days.
Why it rocks: Because of the way sex is handled: openly, honestly and without shame. Michael realizes just how nervous Stella is due to her inexperience, so he prioritizes her comfort every single time they are together. He takes it slow, picking up on her body language and always communicating clearly. He doesn’t do a single thing she isn’t ready for, and that sets her at ease. The results? Stella realizes that with the right person, sex can be mind-blowing.
Hot snippet of substance: The epic oral sex scene. Believe me when I say it’s one of the best oral scenes I’ve ever read in any romance. Stella hasn’t had the pleasure of cunnilingus being performed on her, and Michael is the perfect guy to show her. He takes things slow, reads her cues and responds accordingly. The results are explosive.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
In this hate-to-love office romance, Lucy and Josh are competing for a promotion at their book publisher employer. But all that bickering and angry tension take a toll, and they end up sharing an unexpected elevator kiss one day. From that point on, they struggle to figure out if they’re just enemies who shared an uncharacteristic moment of lust or if they’re destined for something more — with plenty of sexy timeouts to relieve the tension.
Why it rocks: It’s an engaging, thoughtful take on that old saying, “There’s a thin line between love and hate.” The book doesn’t take the easy way out by making everything magically work out just because Josh and Lucy are attracted to one another. They spend a good chunk of the book unpacking their history, their feelings and what exactly went wrong to turn them against each other from the get-go. The fact that there are just as many scenes of conflict as there are of affection illustrates the intriguing similarity between hate and love: both emotions are essentially raw passion at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Hot snippet of substance: The entire love scene. Yes, I’m cheating a bit by including the whole thing since it stretches across a couple chapters, but every bit of it is worthy of a mention. Everything from Josh’s heroic stamina to the adorable way he and Lucy banter while doing the deed to the earth-shattering climax is worth raving about. Seriously, this love scene is a nuclear bomb mixed with a supernova dipped in a lightning storm.