Erotic fiction gets a bad reputation, and it’s frankly unfair. Just because a work of literature can be a sexual turn-on does not inherently make it less than. Even “smutty” shouldn’t have such a negative connotation. Don’t let the bad eggs like Fifty Shades of Grey (despite its rampant popularity) keep you from the sumptuous and diverse world of romance. There are plenty of *actually* good erotic novels and romance novels out there—and some of them are so good that they’ve also made their way to your screens. I mean, did you see Bridgerton??
Maybe you’re someone who’s looking to give erotic romance novels a shot. Maybe you’ve already got a collection of paperbacks proudly displayed and are looking for some new recommendations. Whatever the case, we’ve rounded up some of the best erotic novels of all time for your ~reading pleasure~, and we’ll warn you now: They’re seriously steamy. From Regency-era romances to sexy contemporary romps, here are all the sexy books you should add to your reading list (and maybe keep from reading in public). Enjoy!!
Contemporary Erotic Novels
Praise by Sara Cate
Praise is book one in the Salacious Players’ Club series and you’re going to be hooked from the very first page. Meet Charlotte and Emerson as they start to explore a relationship where one finally gets what they’ve wanted and another discovers something about themselves that they never knew before. The title alone should give you a big hint as to what to expect.
Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren
Before they became a household name under Christina Lauren, our favorite writing duo released this story as fanfiction and readers have been obsessed ever since. Not only is it another Twilight fanfic that has surprised readers, but it might also just be Christina Lauren’s hottest book yet.
Priest by Sierra Simone
If you found yourself drooling over the Hot Priest in Fleabag, then you definitely have to pick up this title. What happens when a priest breaks his vow of celibacy? You’re going to have to read to find out.
The Mindf*ck Series by S.T. Abby
Not only did this series introduce us to one of the most incredible pen names to have ever existed (just repeat it a few times in your head), but it also give us a hot new story that will literally live up to its name. She’s a serial killer and he’s an FBI Agent who is trying to find her. Thankfully, all five books are now available in an anthology that you won’t be able to put down.
Games We Play by Dana Isaly
There’s a reason why this book became a #BookTok sensation. It’s very very steamy right off the bat, and trust—you’re going to want to read some of these scenes over and over again.
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
When a best-selling erotica writer and a reclusive, award-winning novelist cross paths at a New York City literary event, their chemistry is instantaneous…and only partially because the two had a steamy, weeklong affair 15 years earlier. Their reunion? Even hotter.
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
In The Right Swipe, two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but all over each other in the bedroom. If you’re looking for an edgy modern romance with razor-sharp dialogue, then look no further.
While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory
In While We Were Dating, an actress looking to be Hollywood’s next big star and an advertising executive with a flirty side find themselves unexpectedly falling for each other, and their romance goes waaaay beyond just physical attraction.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
This swoon-worthy romance tells the story of Stella, an economist on the spectrum and the male escort she recruits to give her some sexual experience. Though Michael the escort attempts to keep his relationship with Stella as professional as possible, it isn’t long before these two start falling for each other.
Night Shift: A Choose-Your-Own Erotic Fantasy by Joanna Angel
If you want a Choose Your Own Adventure but with ~sexploration~, then this is the book for you. Adult film actress, director, and author Joanna Angel dreamed up this witty tale of college grad Taryn, a young woman working the titular shift at a sex shop in central Florida, and her night gets as wild as you would like.
Retelling Erotic Novels
Neon Gods by Katee Robert
Let’s be honest here, Hades and Persephone are definitely having their big moment in the book world right now. And we can’t get enough of Katee Robert’s Neon Gods, which brings our favorite couple to life in a new way that will make you feel as hot as it is in the underworld.
Science Fiction Erotic Novels
Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon
Listen, you knew this one was going to be on here. Ruby Dixon’s 22-part series about blue aliens abducting women and taking them back to their planet has been a monster hit and taken the book world by storm. So much so, that the series has been recently republished with a special new cover so you don’t feel too embarrassed when you take it with you for a hot beach day.
Classic Erotic Novels
Emmanuelle by Emmanuelle Arsan
Told from the perspective of a young bisexual Frenchwoman in 1967, the (many) erotic scenes in this one seem to unfold like a hazy dream. The language is literary, but the plot is minimal, not getting in the way of the many ways Emmanuelle explores her desire with women and men everywhere from her overnight flight to a squash court to an opium den.
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Get this book ASAP if sweeping, soap-opera-style romance turns you on…or you’re wondering why this book—which was later adapted into one of the most highly rated TV miniseries of the ’80s—had your moms and grandmothers all aflutter.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
While now considered a masterpiece, this steamy love story—which revolves around an extramarital affair between an unhappy woman married to an aristocrat and a gamekeeper—was banned as pornography until 1960. Be sure to read it before it becomes a movie starring Emma Corrin.
Story of O by Pauline Réage
Published in 1954 by French author Anne Desclos under the pen name Pauline Réage, Story of O tells the story of a Parisian fashion photographer who wants nothing more than to bring sexual satisfaction to her lover, René, and phew, it is hot!!
A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter
Considered one of the sexiest books of all time, James Salter’s classic takes place in provincial France in the 1960s, following the wildly carnal love affair between a carefree Yale dropout and a young French woman.
Historical Erotic Novels
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, Alyssa Cole’s suspenseful (and suuuuper sexy novel) follows two undercover agents who share a common cause…as well as a whole lot of chemistry in the bedroom.
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
Sarah Waters’ first novel takes place in late 19th-century England, telling the story of an inexperienced young oyster girl who falls for music hall phenomenon and famed male impersonator Kitty Butler, eventually following her to London. Prepare yourself for cunnilingus euphemisms aplenty.
A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
Everything Tessa Dare writes is sexy AF, but the first book in her Spindle Cove series is supremely hot, following a wounded war hero eager to prove himself and his unexpected encounter with a strong-willed spinster.
The Last Nude by Ellis Avery
Inspired by the life of artist Tamara de Lempicka, The Last Nude takes place in 1927 Paris, following the love affair between a young Italian-American runaway named Rafaela and a wealthy aspiring painter, who convinces Rafaela to serve as her muse.
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Loosely based on the life of 16th-century aristocrat Mary Boleyn, this definitely-not-historically-accurate historical novel tells the tale of how Mary fell for King Henry VIII before his ill-fated marriage to Queen Catherine…and before he fell in love with—and murdered—her sister, Anne.
Erotic Novels With Film and TV Adaptations
Normal People by Sally Rooney
If you haven’t read the book that inspired the incredibly horny Hulu series, then you really should. Normal People follows the tumultuous romance between Connell and Marianne, two Irish students who fight, fail to communicate, and have lots of sex between their final year in secondary school and their final year at Trinity College.
Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
You’ll love this book if you loved the movie adaptation, ofc, and want to see how Aciman originally wrote that peach scene. But also, you will love it if you were ever a teenager with a massive, confusing crush on someone who would definitely leave you at the end of the summer, making every single touch of theirs intense and explosive.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This romance follows the hot-and-heavy marriage between an artist and her husband, who has a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel…which obv complicates things. If you thought the Rachel McAdams movie was hot, just wait until this one gets the HBO treatment.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Before it became a sexy historical time-travel series on Starz, Outlander was a bestselling book series by Diana Gabaldon, following the love story between a former World War II combat nurse and an 18th-century Scottish Highland warrior. There are eight books in the series, so these should keep you amused for a while.
The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
Just like Outlander, Julia Quinn’s erotic Regency romance novels were a book series before they were adapted into the Netflix smash hit Bridgerton, and if you haven’t read all eight book in the series yet, then what are you waiting for??
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