6 Best Underrated Romance Novels (Swoony & Funny)

Romance is one of my favorite genres to read. They’re like a warm cup of tea at the end of a long day. And these underrated romance novels are all particularly great.

They’re swoony, sweet, smutty at times, and definitely funny. So, if you’re (like me), overwhelmed by popular recs on BookTok and rarely like them, check out my romance novel recommendations.

1. You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

underrated romance novels: you deserve each other

You can pry this book from my cold, dead hands. It’s the book I would save from a fire. It’s the book I’ve probably reread more often than any other. And for a good reason. 

The premise of this story is quite unique — an engaged couple doesn’t want to be engaged anymore, but neither of them wants to back out of the wedding and get the blame for everything. So, they prank each other and try their best to get the other one to quit first. Unique, right? 

So, Naomi and Nicholas are a disaster. But once their pranking war starts, they also start sharing their true selves. No masks, no pretending. And, as you can expect, they end up falling for each other all over again. 

There’s a horrible mother-in-law, some existential crisis, and tons of swoon-worthy moments. Nicholas is what every leading man should be — human, in the first place. You won’t see six or eight-pack abs, or insane possessiveness. Instead, you’ll meet a sweet, funny man who truly cares about the people around him. And Naomi isn’t your typical klutzy heroine. She’s smart, and competent, if a little lost at the beginning of this book. 

I loved how their relationship changed, how they learned to be together, and how they still have their banter and chemistry at the end, despite no longer being enemies. The story is told from Naomi’s POV, and there isn’t a big third-act breakup, only a quick hiccup that makes sense and it gets resolved within a few pages. If you want a good romance book, this is my top choice. 

underrated romance novels: you deserve each other

2. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

underrated romance novels: get a life chloe brown

Get a Life, Chloe Brown is one of the first romance books I read once I got back into reading. And it was a great find. To this day, one of my favorite novels and favorite fictional couples. 

This is the story — Chloe Brown struggles with chronic illness (she’s in pain, all the time), which has made her quite a recluse. After a near-death experience, she decides to move out of her parent’s house and commit to a list of challenges to help her “get a life”. And who better to help her than her handsome neighbor Red? 

Chloe Brown and Red are laugh-out-loud funny and swoony. As they go through Chloe’s list, they obviously fall in love. The smut is top notch too, and the author takes great care with Chloe’s condition, and what she can do physically. 

There’s a bit of a third-act breakup (fair warning) which is based on a misunderstanding, and I didn’t like it much. But the rest of the book more than makes up for it. 

underrated romance novels

3. Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

underrated romance novels: act your age eve brown

Another one by Talia Hibbert (for a good reason!), Act Your Age, Eve Brown follows the youngest Brown sister as she struggles to find and keep a job. She’s a flighty person, and her parents finally decided to cut her off until she manages to stay in a profession for at least a year. So, Eve drives around and finds a Bed and Breakfast with a help wanted sign. There, she meets Jacob, who is her new boss. 

Jacob is on the autism spectrum (so is Eve, but she isn’t aware of it at the start of the story) and doesn’t like Eve at all, but as they work together, they end up falling in love. 

This is my favorite installment in the Brown Sisters series. The smut is so good, the romance develops slowly and so well, and the characters are very relatable. You’ll get both Eve’s and Jacob’s POV, which makes the story even better. 

I recommend reading this series in order for the best experience, but you can also read only this one if you want. Personally, I didn’t like the second installment, Take a Hint, Dani Brown. Many people love it and it’s their favorite of the series, but something about the romance didn’t work for me at all. So you can skip that one if you want to. 

underrated romance novels

4. Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

underrated romance novels: birthday girl

This is a bit of a controversial choice because of the huge age gap, but hear me out. I’m not a big fan of age-gap romances either. However, something about this just works. The characters, despite the age difference, are the perfect match for each other. 

The story is about Jordan, a nineteen-year-old girl studying to be a landscape designer. Her life has never been easy, and she always wanted a family and stability. Her boyfriend, however, is anything but stable, and when he forgets to pick her up from work on her birthday, she ends up going to the cinema and meets this older guy. She likes him immediately, and they connect over a shared love of movies from the 80s. 

That same night, she discovers that he is her boyfriend’s father. And that her boyfriend got them evicted from their shared apartment. 

Because they have no money and she wants to save up, they reluctantly move in with Pike, the boyfriend’s father (also the guy she met at the cinema). And of course, romance ensues. Not immediately, both the main characters are staying away from each other. But when Jordan’s boyfriend cheats on her, she and Pike start acting on their feelings for each other. 

The age gap is huge, but Pike and Jordan’s needs align. Both want a peaceful home life and a stable family. The author overdoes it at times by making Jordan like all the old stuff, but it works. 

Birthday Girl is definitely worth a read — so just give it a try and thank me later! (though I wouldn’t recommend any other books by this author)

underrated romance novels

5. Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

underrated romance novels: twice shy

Twice Shy is another book by Sarah Hogle (what can I say, when I find an author I like, I never let them go). It’s not as good as You Deserve Each Other (for me, at least), but it will still melt your heart. 

It follows Mabel, who daydreams a lot and has no luck in life. Her friend (not really a friend) catfished her for months, and all she wants is to leave and never come back. One day, her dream comes true when she gets an inheritance from an aunt. But the inheritance is nothing like she expected because she has to share it with Wesley, a grumpy landscape designer who used to work for her aunt. And who was also the face her friend used to catfish her. 

This story may start as enemies to lovers, but it’s incredibly sweet and moving. Both our main characters are cinnamon rolls and you will love them. 

6. Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

underrated romance novels: boyfriend material

Many people take one look at the cover and think that this is some knockoff of Red White and Royal Blue. But I promise you, it’s not. In fact, if you’re going to read one of those books, please read this one, it’s so much better. 

Our main character is Luc, the son of a famous musician, down on his luck after a breakup, and working for a nonprofit for dung beetles. When he needs a boyfriend quickly for public image purposes, one of his friends connects him with Oliver, a handsome but stuck-up barrister. Of course, they fall in love. But it’s not that easy — Luc is not trusting and isn’t used to being a good boyfriend, and Oliver struggles with perfectionism to the point of anxiety. So they have to work through a lot to be together. 

This is probably one of the funniest books I have ever read. Luc is hilarious, and his coworkers are peak comedy. 

Don’t worry, this book is also swoony and romantic, and really sweet. 

underrated romance novels

Best Underrated Romance Novels: Bottom Line

Okay, so I tend to cling to an author — but trust me, these books are pure romance gold. They feature some of the best character and relationship work I have ever read, and all of them will keep you glued to the page. They’re also brilliant to read if you’re just venturing out into the romance genre. 

Some more underrated romance novels

If you’re a lit fic reader, I think these should work for you, but just in case, I think you’ll also enjoy these books (that feature romance): 

  • Beach Read by Emily Henry
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
  • Beautiful World Where Are You by Sally Rooney
  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer

And if you’re a fantasy reader usually, you should try some of these fantasy romance books (and avoid these): 

  • Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • Dangerous Damsels Series by India Holton
  • A Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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