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8 Late Bloomer Romances to Remind You Love Takes Its Time

You are not “late” in love, but you might be behind in reading these romances.

late bloomer romance books

Odds are you’ve probably been asked one or more of the following questions by friends, family, and probably even new acquaintances trying to get to know you: “At what age did you have your first kiss?” “What was the worst date you’ve ever been on?” “How long was your longest relationship?”

And if you consider yourself a “late bloomer,” this is the moment you must decide whether you’re going to use your phenomenal storytelling abilities to describe the awkward tension of an awful first date with someone who couldn’t carry a conversation to save their life, express the intense butterflies you felt when sharing your first kiss with a partner you dated on and off again for months, or whether you’re going to tell them the truth: you have never been in a romantic relationship, been on a single date, had your first kiss or held hands with anyone you found attractive. 

Many people, unfortunately, feel pressured to lie about their lack of romantic experience because others make it known explicitly or implicitly that they “should’ve” reached certain romantic milestones within their teenage years. The message becomes exceedingly clear: don’t date too many people during high school or else you’ll get a reputation, but also make sure to have some romantic relationship knowledge or you’ll be seen as an outcast—as someone unattractive, uninteresting and undesirable. 

But the reality is that one correct, perfectly planned timeline for everyone doesn’t exist. Life simply doesn’t work that way, and there might be a multitude of different reasons why someone has held off on exploring the realm of romance. Among many other reasons, they might have grown up in a culture that taught them to wait until they were older to date, or they might be someone learning to cope with social anxiety or a person who is just starting to explore their sexual identity outside of a heteronormative worldview. 

Or maybe it’s someone who just wanted to take the necessary time to learn about the way they handle conflict and ensure they respected and loved themselves before allowing others the privilege of being in their lives. Regardless of the case, relationships are challenging enough to navigate without the added shame associated with being “late” to your own life. 

Here is a list of “late bloomer” romances that prove that love will arrive when—and if—it’s meant to.

The Wrong Mr. Right

The Wrong Mr. Right

By Stephanie Archer

Hannah’s 30th birthday is right around the corner, and she’s not at all content with her life. She owns a struggling bookstore that isn’t breaking even, and the only dreamy men she fantasizes about are her fictional book boyfriends. One man she knows can help her break out of her shell is the confident, charismatic and handsome local surfer, Wyatt Rhodes. 

She persuades Wyatt that, in exchange for managing his social media presence, he will act as her relationship coach. Wyatt isn’t looking for anything long-term, even though he has a long list of takers, but when Hannah starts wanting to practice what she’s learned while on a date with another man, Wyatt starts to wonder if he should be helping Hannah fall for someone else. At some moments sweet, at other times scorching, this romance is about learning not to fear the process of falling in love and how to accept and feel comfortable in your skin.      



By Rainbow Rowell

Enthusiastic fangirl Cath Avery grew up adoring all things Simon Snow. She and her twin sister Wren would reread the popular series, dress up as their favorite characters and chat on Simon Snow forums with other fans, but now that they’re headed off to college, Wren no longer identifies with the fangirl lifestyle and wants to party and meet cute boys. Cath, on the other hand—not so much. 

Rather than going out drinking, Cath prefers the safety of her room, where she can write Simon Snow fan fiction and enjoy chatting with others by using her anonymous pen name, “Magicath.” Through her captivating stories, she gains popularity within the fan community, while in real life, she struggles to make connections, let alone find a romantic partner. But with the help of her extroverted college roommate, Reagan, and Reagan’s welcoming friend, Levi, Cath is challenged to start engaging with the world outside the confines of her laptop, and slowly finds herself falling in love.   

The Mismatch: A Novel

The Mismatch: A Novel

By Sara Jafari

Recently graduated from university, 21-year-old Soraya Nazari decides she wants to get her first kiss over with. A daughter of Iranian immigrants who now live in England, Soraya grew up with conservative parents whose strict rules she tried her best to adhere to growing up. Yet the older she becomes, the more she finds herself questioning her parents’ warnings—especially when it comes to love and relationships. 

Looking for some freedom and fun, Soraya believes Magnus, a British young man with a vastly different background than her family, will act as a sufficient distraction to keep her mind off of her tumultuous family dynamics spurred by her eldest sister’s estrangement and her parent’s marriage problems. However, what was once a lighthearted relationship used to forget about life’s stressors suddenly becomes more serious and has her wondering if she can maintain a relationship with her family while loving someone they would never approve of. This coming-of-age romance discusses the tenuous balance between family expectations and self-acceptance that will deeply resonate with children of first-generation immigrants.

Better Than People: A Novel (Garnet Run Book 1)

Better Than People: A Novel (Garnet Run Book 1)

By Roan Parrish

After a bad fall leads to a broken leg, Jack Matheson is forced to install the PetShare app to find someone willing to walk his animals. Lucky for him, Simon Burke loves animals—actually, he tends to prefer dogs and cats’ company over having to talk to people due to his crippling anxiety—and is more than happy to walk Jack’s animals for the time being, despite the grumpiness of their owner. 

This adorable and gentle slow-burn romance depicts how people can eventually learn to trust others and break down the walls created by past traumas to experience meaningful relationships.     

adult virgins anonymous, a late bloomer romance

Adult Virgins Anonymous

By Amber Crewe

Kate Mundy feels like her life is quickly unraveling as she nears turning 30. She’s lost her job, and her close friends are distant since they’re all busy living their picture-perfect lives with their loving spouses. Meanwhile, Kate has never been on a date. 

Living with severe OCD and anxiety, Freddie Weir is at a similar stage in life. The little social energy Freddie has is saved for comic book signings and for dealing with his nosy flatmate Damien, which leaves Freddie with no desire to attempt asking a woman out. 

But loneliness prompts them both to attend a self-help group for adult virgins to find some camaraderie and much-needed support. The two meet and realize that their inexperience in the romance department might not be the most interesting thing about them—and that they may have a bunch of other things in common. This wholesome romance has a diverse cast of unforgettable characters and is a beautiful homage to those who have ever felt “behind” in life.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

By Malinda Lo

Set in San Francisco in 1954, this National Book Award-winner centers around 17-year-old Lily Hu as she begins exploring her sexual identity amid the Red Scare paranoia that threatens to deport her family. 

After her classmate, Kathleen Miller, offers to take Lily to a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club, Lily is introduced to a community of women who love unabashedly, and encourage her to do the same. This moving historical YA romance discusses the complexity of intersectional identities while presenting a tender story that brilliantly captures the thrill and trepidation of falling in love for the first time.  

Better Than the Movies

Better Than the Movies

By Lynn Painter

A love letter to rom-coms, and for those who can’t get enough of them, Better Than the Movies follows hopeless romantic high school senior Liz Buxbaum. Liz has dreamed of her happily-ever-after ever since she was a little girl, when she was first introduced to classic rom-com movies by her mother. Even after her mother passed, Liz remained fond of these stories, hoping one day to meet the love of her life. The truth is, she’s been holding out hope that her longtime crush, Michael, who had moved away, would somehow find his way back into her life. 

So, when Michael does move back, Liz knows fate must have something to do with it and swears that this time, she won’t miss out on making an impression. She’s prepared to take drastic measures, even if it means befriending her incredibly annoying—at most times insufferable—childhood neighbor, Wes Bennet, who is close to Michael and may be able to help Liz get her crush’s attention in time for prom. However, the more time she spends around Wes, the more she can’t help but admit that she has misjudged his true character and may have to reconsider what she thought she had learned about love and soulmates from her favorite movies. 

Imperfect Chemistry: A Nerdy Romantic Comedy (Imperfect Series Book 1)

Imperfect Chemistry: A Nerdy Romantic Comedy (Imperfect Series Book 1)

By Mary Frame

Undoubtedly intelligent, at the young age of 20, Lucy London has successfully acquired a PhD in microbiology. However, when it comes to the inner workings of people’s emotions, Lucy finds herself at a complete loss. She tends to be a little too honest and struggles to empathize with others’ problems. Needless to say, she has, on more than one occasion, accidentally hurt people’s feelings. But when she is given a grant to investigate emotion as a pathogen, she determines that she must brainstorm how to understand people because, if not, she will miss out on an amazing research opportunity and lose her place at her university.  

One person who appears interesting and worth studying is her neighbor, Jensen Walker, who, despite being initially hesitant, agrees to help her. Yet, what Lucy hadn’t hypothesized was the strong feelings that would slowly grow between them. This exceptionally cute and hilarious romance will have readers gushing as they witness two characters who learn to accept each other’s quirks and peculiarities, and also grow from each other’s guidance.