I have the softest spot for romance novels. There’s an inexplicable sense of comfort in reading stories where two people fall in love, overcome obstacles, and ultimately, find a safe haven in each other. Especially in a world that is increasingly difficult, uncertain, and unwelcoming.
As a perpetually stressed-out reader, I believe that it is important to hold tightly onto the things that spark joy, hope, and comfort. For me, that’s romance books with dimensional characters who look like me and share similar experiences as me. With that, I sincerely hope that you find that little unique spark in this widely diverse list of Asian romance books as well.
Trouble brews for Reena Manji upon the unexpected arrival of her new neighbor, a handsome Muslim bachelor handpicked by her meddling parents. Quickly falling into an unlikely friendship, things take a turn for the interesting when Reena and Nadim decide to fake an engagement so that they can compete in a couples-only video cooking contest.
Filled with sourdough bread, craft beer, and family drama, readers ought to prepare their hearts and their stomachs for this deliciously enticing romance.
Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions
Convinced that falling in love is merely a chemical reaction, Kaya Rubio decides to use science and evidence-based methodology to find a suitable partner in time for her cousin's wedding. But she just might be forced to suspend all logic once a cute, easygoing café owner enters the experiment.
For fans of The Love Hypothesis, this nerdy romance novel offers a data-driven STEM protagonist, chaotic dates, and off-the-charts chemistry.
Empire of Sand
When the Ambhan Empire's religious order discovers Mehr and the forbidden power flowing through her half-Amrithi blood, she is taken away and magically bound to Amun, an Amrithi slave. Faced with terrible odds, they must carve a path for their survival together.
For readers in search of romance in fantastical settings, this Mughal India-inspired debut tells an engrossing, heart-wrenching tale about resilience, resistance, and freely given love.
Ghost of a Feeling
In this medical romance, an aspiring doctor's suicide attempt was thwarted by the ghost of a young man who haunts the building. Except the ghost in question is a living guy named Nathan Morales. However, the harder he falls for her, the harder it becomes to maintain the ruse.
Personally, this is my favorite romance novel with Filipino leading characters! While bravely tackling mental health struggles, the story remains hopeful and moving.
I Love You So Mochi
On a quest for reconnection and self-discovery, Kimi Nakamura travels to Japan to visit her estranged grandparents for the first time. But when she meets a cute guy in a mochi mascot costume, Kimi’s impulsive trip quickly becomes more than what she bargained for.
Delightfully hilarious and endearing, this YA contemporary novel is sure to satisfy any reader’s craving for a feel-good, lighthearted romance. With gorgeous writing and scenic descriptions of Kyoto, it also offers an effective cure in relieving travel itches.
Keeping Miss Kalila
Thirty-one-year-old schoolteacher Kalila Rayos is doing just fine, especially with a job that she adores and her first baby on the way. However, Kalila’s life is suddenly upended upon the reappearance of her ex-boyfriend and first love. Especially when he asks if they could try again.
Following a strong, independent protagonist and a dreamboat of a love interest, this book offers a wonderful second chance romance that’s bound to leave readers with all the fuzzy, warm feelings.
Love from A to Z
Zayneb is an angry, outspoken girl with a school suspension to boot. Adam is a gentle-mannered boy with a diagnosis that he’s keeping from his father. Both traveling to Qatar for spring break, both hiding their real thoughts in their journals, and both totally unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.
Told in alternating perspectives via diary entries, Love from A to Z offers a moving tale about two Muslim teens meeting on a plane and eventually falling in love – all the while delving into the seriousness of Islamophobia, justice, and grief.
Radha & Jai's Recipe for Romance
For romance fans who enjoy their love stories with a side of food, dance, and family drama, this YA contemporary novel follows Radha and Jai – two exceptional talents who reluctantly team up to win a regional dance competition. As they work on their choreography, both teens must also gather the strength to finally confront their fears on and off stage.
The Secret of a Heart Note
In this romantic coming-of-age story, sometimes love is right under your nose. Especially for teen aroma expert Mimosa, whose unique talent lies in mixing love elixirs and matchmaking. And something definitely seems to be in the air upon meeting the school soccer star.
Steeped in magic and hope, this book offers a beautifully evocative perspective on the mysteries and eccentricities of love.
Seven Tears at High Tide
When Kevin Luong saves a mysterious boy from drowning and receives a bizarre profession of love in return, his wish for a summer of love and happiness is granted in the most unexpected way.
Perfect for readers who prefer romance with a paranormal twist, this book offers a modern fairytale that’s set by the sea.