From a romance lover’s perspective, March has actually been a fairly good month for us. On the small-screen side of things, not only did we get the return of the rom-com series that was practically tailor-made for millennials, Starstruck by and starring the hilarious comedian Rose Matafeo who is definitely One of Us), but this month also saw the premiere of Season 2 of Bridgerton, which follows a different lead pairing in Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma and tackles a variety of new tropes along the way. (Enemies to lovers? Slow burn? Sign me all the way up.)
On the movies side, it’s always a wonderful surprise when Hollywood tips its cap respectfully to the genre, and the Sandra Bullock-Channing Tatum adventure-comedy romp The Lost City delivered on both the laughs and genuine acknowledgment that romance novels a) are not only worthy of praise but also b) bring happiness to lots of readers everywhere.
Coincidentally, that’s what each of the books on this month’s list do very well themselves. From couples who try and fail at being “just friends” to the ones who initially refuse to think twice about each other in a love capacity, from magic to marquesses, from road trips to rule-breaking, here are some of the best romance novels dropping in March.
Release Date: March 1 from St. Martin’s Griffin
Why You’ll Love It: Eddings’ heartfelt debut doesn’t shy away from getting into some deep emotional subjects, and her own personal background in dentistry shines through in regards to navigating the mental and physical intensity of getting through medical school—plus it’s a refreshing change of scene to see a romance between people who want to be dentists! (All that good oral hygiene means their kissing must be absolutely fantastic, am I right?)
There are a lot of potential obstacles for our lead couple to navigate, including struggles with anxiety and questions surrounding careers and future, but Eddings’ prose will hook you from page one—even if the level of sweetness involved might be responsible for giving you a bunch of metaphorical cavities.
Publisher’s Description: Harper is anxiously awaiting placement into a top oral surgery residency program when she crashes (literally) into Dan. Harper would rather endure a Novocaine-free root canal than face any distractions, even one this adorable.
A first-year dental student with a family legacy to contend with, Dan doesn’t have the same passion for pulling teeth that Harper does. Though he finds himself falling for her, he is willing to play by Harper’s rules.
So with the greatest of intentions and the poorest of follow-throughs, the two set out to be “just friends.” But as they get to know each other better, Harper fears that trading fillings for feelings may make her lose control and can’t risk her carefully ordered life coming undone, no matter how drool-worthy Dan is.
Blood, gore, and extra-long roots? No problem. The idea of falling in love? Torture.
Release Date: March 1 from Avon (HarperCollins)
Why You’ll Love It: Bailey returns with the much-anticipated follow-up to It Happened One Summer—which gave us a new appreciation for the utter hotness of a flannel-clad fisherman. Now, beardy sea captain Brendan’s best friend Fox gets to take center stage in his own love story opposite rich girl Piper’s sister Hannah, and the two of them decide to take things at a much-different pace by comparison.
The fact that they’re both living under one roof (as a temporary arrangement) adds yet another layer to the tension-filled cake, and of course, it wouldn’t be Tessa Bailey without that requisite amount of steam between two characters who break down each other’s walls both physically and emotionally.
Publisher’s Description: King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time—in bed and out—and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.
Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.
Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?
Release Date: March 15 from Avon (HarperCollins)
Why You’ll Love It: Frankly, Sharma’s latest adult romance had me from the 10 Things I Hate About You-inspired cover, another one of my favorite Shakespeare retellings, but what this novel does so very well is take all the best parts of the Bard’s play that work and tailor it into a contemporary reinterpretation that is as compelling as it is equally timeless.
The leads are inclined to butt heads from the second they meet, with banter that makes every interaction between them carry its own spark long before they get between the covers, and it takes the kind of skill that only a fantastic romance author possesses to navigate them through loathing to loving one another. If you like your romances with a healthy side of family dynamics, not only does the book explore their journey to a HEA, but it also spends lots of time on-page with some particularly hilarious and nosy aunties (who are hopefully already orchestrating a follow-up sequel).
Publisher’s Description: Kareena Mann dreams of having a love story like her parents, but she prefers restoring her classic car to swiping right on dating apps. When her father announces he’s selling her mother’s home, Kareena makes a deal with him: he’ll gift her the house if she can get engaged in four months. Her search for her soulmate becomes impossible when her argument with Dr. Prem Verma, host of The Dr. Dil Show, goes viral. Now the only man in her life is the one she doesn’t want.
Dr. Prem Verma is dedicated to building a local community health center, but he needs to get donors with deep pockets. The Dr. Dil Show was doing just that, until his argument with Kareena went viral, and he’s left short-changed. That’s when Kareena’s meddling aunties presented him with a solution: convince Kareena he’s her soulmate and they’ll fund his clinic.
Even though they have conflicting views on love matches and arranged matches, the more time Prem spends with Kareena, the more he begins to believe she’s the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. But for Prem and Kareena to find their happily ever after, they must admit that hate has turned into fate.
Release Date: March 15 from Berkley
Why You’ll Love It: Holton’s The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels was one of my all-time favorite romance reads last year; if you’re looking for a historical romance with a magical twist, then do yourself a favor and read not only the first book in the Dangerous Damsels but this latest sequel, which returns us to a world where houses fly around like warships and women are as likely to be skilled in hand-to-hand combat as they are in their embroidery.
Adventure and romance abound in equal measure, and in The League of Gentlewomen Witches, two unlikely allies must work together in pursuit of a recently-discovered magical amulet that also happens to be in very high demand by their foes. Imagine the works of Austen with a lot more swashbuckling and you’ve only just scratched the surface of Holton’s wildly entertaining fantasy romance.
Publisher’s Description: Miss Charlotte Pettifer belongs to a secret league of women skilled in the subtle arts. That is to say—although it must never be said—witchcraft. The League of Gentlewomen Witches strives to improve the world in small ways. Using magic, they tidy, correct, and manipulate according to their notions of what is proper, entirely unlike those reprobates in the Wisteria Society.
When the long-lost amulet of Black Beryl is discovered, it is up to Charlotte, as the future leader of the League, to make sure the powerful talisman does not fall into the wrong hands. Therefore, it is most unfortunate when she crosses paths with Alex O’Riley, a pirate who is no Mr. Darcy. With all the world scrambling after the amulet, Alex and Charlotte join forces to steal it together. If only they could keep their pickpocketing hands to themselves! If Alex’s not careful, he might just steal something else—such as Charlotte’s heart.
Release Date: March 22 from Skye Kilaen
Why You’ll Love It: Road trip romances are a tried-and-true classic in the romance genre, a variation of forced proximity on wheels. Characters might be traveling on the open road, but sometimes they’ve got nothing around for miles too — which means that there are plenty of opportunities for secret feelings to come up to the surface.
Kilaen also takes it a step further with this polyamorous love story between three genuinely lovely people who are slowly trying to navigate their own varying dynamics and the way they each relate to one another, with physical and emotional space afforded to make room for each person in this new equation. The best part is there’s no danger of a love triangle situation happening here; by the end of Kilaen’s latest, everyone wins in terms of a happily-ever-after.
Publisher’s Description: Allie and Matt’s happy open relationship means they’re both free to find hookups. When Allie gets duped by a date, though, she’s found with someone else’s cheating boyfriend. Ugh!
Meeting Noelle by helping her leave the guy isn’t the night Allie expected, but after the women bond over drinks and a seriously dysfunctional tape gun, Allie’s hesitant to say goodbye. It’s weird; she doesn’t normally like-like people who aren’t Matt.
Matt’s questioning whether he’s entirely straight, and he hopes to find answers on his and Allie’s impending road trip. But he’s cool with bringing her new maybe-crush along, especially since he and Noelle keep finding things in common. And staring into each other’s eyes.
Noelle lost her demanding job right before her boyfriend cheated, and she’s looking for the next one—preferably back home. Allie’s fumbling charm and Matt’s flirtatious humor, however, make her wonder if her life compass needs fixing.
Late-night talks on Texas highways, first kisses, and hotel confessions might change a lot… if there’s a next step for Noelle that isn’t leaving.
Release Date: March 29 from Avon (HarperCollins)
Why You’ll Love It: All of Quincy’s previous novels in her Clandestine Affairs series have been phenomenal, shedding light on places and professions in historical romance that don’t always get their due. In her latest, both halves of the leading couple have their own respective secrets to keep, and are both hiding who they truly are from the rest of the world — at a cost to their own ultimate happiness.
But secrets always become harder to keep when you meet someone that you are fighting a very strong attraction to, and the compulsion to be honest starts to draw Rose and Alex in closer and closer to one another until their feelings can’t be ignored any longer. The result is a sizzling page-turner that contributes another fabulous installment to an absolutely exemplary histrom series.
Publisher’s Description: The new footman doesn’t seem to know his place…
London’s most renowned mapmaker is a woman…but nobody knows it. If anyone discovers that Rose Fleming is the power and talent behind the family business, the scandal could ruin them. Rose’s secret is tested by the arrival of a handsome new footman who shows far too much interest in his new mistress. Rose battles an intense attraction to the enigmatic servant, but maintaining a proper distance isn’t easy when you and temptation live under the same roof.
She makes him forget he has a score to settle…
Few have met the reclusive half-Arab Marquess of Brandon, who is rumored to live with a harem of beauties among his mother’s people near Jerusalem. Brandon couldn’t care less what society thinks of him, or that his fellow peers are disdainful of his common blood, but he won’t stand for being robbed. That’s why he’s disguised himself as a footman in the home of a respected mapmaker who cheated Brandon out of his land. But the nobleman’s plans for retribution are complicated by his growing attraction for the secretive lady of the house.
When Brandon uncovers the shocking truth about Rose’s role in his stolen birthright, can a love born of deception really conquer all?
Carly Lane is an Atlanta-based writer who considers herself a lifelong Star Wars fan, newbie Trekker, diehard romance reader, nascent horror lover, and occasional live-tweeter. She is the senior TV editor at Collider, a former contributing editor for SYFY FANGRRLS, and has also written for Vulture, the Boston Globe, Nerdist, Teen Vogue, Den of Geek, The Toast, and elsewhere around the Internet.