Romantic comedy novels (‘rom-coms’) are too often overlooked by smart women that consider themselves ‘serious’ readers. I suspect much of the blame can be assigned to book publishing’s use of terms chick-lit and women’s fiction, and the many flimsy and dare I say it, cheap, romance books marketed under those banners.
In this article, I discuss
- The merits of romance novels, particularly funny ones
- 16 of the best romantic comedy books I have read, along with several related romantic reading recommendations
- Additional romantic comedy novels that are highly recommended by other bloggers
As Anne Browning Walker explains in “Why Smart Women Read Romance Novels”
… most romances today feature strong, smart, savvy women. And smart romance characters attract smart romance readers.
We all deserve some downtime and we can all benefit from seeing relationships (particularly romantic ones) from different perspectives. Just because a story contains contemporary romance and is funny, does not preclude that book from being stimulating and even edifying reading. In my humble opinion…
“The best romance novels are smart and funny.”
Their authors understand that intellectual stimulation is the key to lasting attraction. And really, there is nothing appealing about someone that cannot appreciate the comedic moments in love and life.
There is something for everyone in this romcom book list — get a bit of intelligent romance in your reading pile!
Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.
My Top Intelligent Romantic Comedy Books
Willis has written this short novel, a novella really, so ingeniously. Each chapter begins with an often tongue in cheek description of a fad – what exactly it was, how it came about, how long it lasted and why it diminished – Hula hoops, rubix cube, quality circles, hot pants, etc. A modern romance that simmers with intelligence and the frustration of office politics. Find out more >>
I have long been a fan of Aussie author Toni Jordan’s brand of humour and original and intelligent take on contemporary women’s fiction (Addition and Fall Girl), but this is her best romance novel yet. Think Oscar Wilde’s classic The Importance of Being Earnest meets Fawlty Towers meets the Love Actually movie. Find out more >>
A key element of smart romance novels is clever writing and Allsopp’s snappy and amusing banter was a real treat. It’s intellectual without being pretentious, sassy rather than sarcastic… and, she’s made it look effortless. Classic literature, music, TV and movie (particularly romantic comedy) references are very cleverly, and frequently, woven into this modern playful homage to the rom-com. Find out more >>
Jane Riley’s debut novel should come with a warning: “This novel may elicit geeky giggles and require a tissue on standby for happy-tear dabbing at its conclusion.” Riley writes great visual comedy and her initially submissive leading man Oliver’s disarmingly honest first-person narrative charmed me. Find out more >>
If ever there was a romance novel deserving of its bestselling status it is this one. Tiffy and Leon are highly endearing leads (unusually, almost equally so), but this novel’s supporting cast are really something special too. There are laughs aplenty, but what elevates this romantic comedy to the moving and memorable category is the way it also explores very serious issues. Quirky, charming and impactful, modern romantic fiction. Find out more >>
Not your typical romcom book title is it. You know that marketing spin, “it will have you in tears of joy, sorrow and laughter”… well this time it is actually true! This little gem has gravitas. It is a kaleidoscopic and achingly real representation of life’s rollercoaster — the darkness can feel deep, but boy can that sun shine brightly too. Find out more >>
Eleanor has always been different, and so doesn’t give a toss what others think. They’re the strange ones, right? This results in many hilarious narrative asides as she navigates the world and embarks on greater human interaction. But for all the delicious awkwardness and fish-out-of-water humour to be found in this novel, it is ultimately a deeply moving character journey. Find out more >>
Germaine Johnson is socially inept (very bad at reading people) and so her routinely awkward interactions with others make for compelling reading. But, most endearing is the motley group of wonderfully patient, warm-hearted characters (and romance) that enters her life when she starts working on the Council Helpline for senior citizens, along with author Katherine Collette’s quietly quirky sense of humour. Find out more >>
If you are a dog lover and are inclined not to take yourself (or the human species in general) too seriously, then this funny contemporary romance novel is the perfect pairing for you. With light-hearted comedy and a sweet romance, this book is a charming weekend read. Find out more >>
This novel was an international bestseller for good reason… a very modern take on the classic screwball romance that tackles some tough societal issues with just the right mix of hilarity and compassion. A must-read, and one of the few in this romantic comedy reading list that I would unreservedly recommend to male readers also. Find out more >>
Publisher Orbit Books described this novel as ‘Bridget Jones meets The Big Bang Theory meets Independence Day’. I can vouch for that description being absolutely spot on. I’m probably showing my age here but I’d also throw in a vibe reminiscent of The Goonies movie too. Need I say more? This is one of the best clever chick-lit audiobooks I have listened to. Find out more >>
Who isn’t drawn to a book about people that walk to the beat of their own drum? Every one of us has at some time in our lives felt that we didn’t quite fit in with the crowd, or perhaps admired those that appeared quite happy not doing so. A romance novel that leaves you with that old-fashioned warm and fuzzy feeling… Find out more >>
Without giving too much away, there’s something special about Kate – you know that much from the book’s synopsis… It is that difference which gives this modern romance novel grit and substance, and the manner in which Jonathan and Kate respond to it (sometimes refreshingly non-PC) which makes them such endearing characters. This title gets a big tick for its realistic depiction of diversity issues. Find out more >>
Jordan has boldly presented a different slant on mental illness and poses the question, ‘At what point does uniqueness become an illness?’ At the same time, this dark exploration is wrapped up in what is essentially a very sweet love story that explores the classic questions of how much must one compromise ones individuality to form a lasting relationship. Find out more >>
McKenzie’s clever prose is a delight to read – at times whimsical and often hilariously deadpan dialogue, but always with a strong emotional connection. A romantic ‘dramedy’ for smart women, about an intelligent woman that could be accused (quite legitimately) of overthinking things. Find out more >>
Has a romance novel ever made you laugh and want to cry at the same time? This old favourite of mine will. These characters feel so alive to the reader and are so genuine and endearing because Nicholls displays a real understanding of the difference between what people say and what they mean. And trust me, this bestselling novel really is far, far better than the One Day movie. Find out more >
More Romantic Comedy Books Reviewers Recommend
“I had tears in my eyes when I turned the last pages of Someone I Used To Know, the fifteenth contemporary romance novel from bestselling author, Paige Toon.“ – Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out
“If you’re a fan of movies such as Love Actually, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day – as I am – then this is the novel for you! It’s both smart and funny, it doesn’t take itself too seriously but still manages to captivate and delight.“ – Theresa Smith Writes
“The plot of The Kiss Quotient is, in part, a twist on the classic movie, Pretty Woman (if you aren’t familiar with, watch it asap!). Though Hoang gives it her own creative flair, the novel offers the same delightful sense of unexpected romance, drama and fun.“ – Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out
“Though both romantic and funny, Last Night is much more than the romcom it’s marketed as. It’s a contemporary, captivating story exploring friendship, loss, secrets and love, told with McFarlane’s distinctive blend of insight, heart, and wit.” – Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out
“It’s a moving tribute to living and loving, in all its glory and pain. And it’s above all a testimony to the power of music as a means of communicating and bringing people together.” – Theresa Smith Writes
“The Minute I Saw You is a beautiful and emotional story about two very different people, with very different but equally tragic pasts.” – Kathryn’s Inbox
“The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent has now become my comfort blanket, the book I just want to hug and reread over and over again and I won’t ever get bored. Think the comedy of The Devils Wears Prada meets the romance of The Holiday.“ – Emma @ Never Judge a Book By Its Cover
Emma also recommends anything by romantic comedy author Lyssa Kay Adams.
In addition to seconding the inclusion of The Summer Job in this romcom books list, blogger Cathy Powell also recommends Josie Silver’s One Night on the Island, saying it is“hard to put down once started“.