15 slow burn romance books you won't be able to put down

Our selection of the best slow burn romance books includes modern literature, classic novels, cult bestsellers and everything in between

Covers of slow burn romance books
(Image credit: Publishers)

These alternative slow burn romance books chosen by w&h might not be the first ones that spring to mind when you think about the genre, but once you pick them up, you won't be able to put them down.

What makes a slow-burn romance? Do the characters start out hating one another? Are they separated by distance or society? Perhaps it’s just shyness? Romantic fiction where love takes time to blossom is a favorite for many of us: we love the build-up and the eventual satisfaction when the couple finally get together. 

In recent years, novelists have honed in on this and the slow burn romance has become a sub-genre of its own, with writers like Mariana Zapata and Beth O’Leary becoming bestsellers. But we know that some of the best slow burn romance books have been around for years, even centuries. They won’t be labeled as such, but if you’re a fan of the slow burn genre, you will find something to like here. Even if you're not a fan of the sub-genre, many of these picks are among the best romance books and the best books of all time.

The best slow burn romance books

Our picks range from modern literature to classic novels, but all of them have at least two lovers whose romance is taking some time to get started. Here they are in alphabetical order.

Contributing Lifestyle Editor

Anna is an award-winning journalist with over 20 years experience as a writer and editor. The former Associate Editor of Stylist Magazine, Anna has also written for Elle, The Guardian, British Vogue and the New Statesman. 

A self-confessed bibliophile, Anna has hosted live literature events and workshops and is also the host of new author recommendations podcast @readlikeapod.