*This post was originally written in 2017 but has been updated in 2022.
Despite my assertions that Jane Austen did not set out to write Romance, she nonetheless has had a profound impact on the genre. If focused on the romantic elements instead of themes of identity, her books can be summarized as follows:
Sense and Sensibility: Heartbroken, can she love again? Can their attraction overcome his dark secret?
Pride and Prejudice: Boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy loves girl. Alpha male, sassy heroine. Imbalance of power. Sexual tension. And if you want to add Jane and Bingley: Can she trust him and can he take what he wants? (See my post about how Jane is an unsung hero because I believe this is a very popular theme in contemporary romances even if it gets little limelight in Pride and Prejudice.)
Mansfield Park: Boy can’t see the good woman right before him and nearly falls for a wanton temptress. Unforeseen events finally unite them. The heroine has overcome a traumatic background. Girl next door.
Emma: They’ve been friends forever, can it be more? Boy next door.
Persuasion: The one that got away/never got over a bad break up and meet again/family responsibility gets in the way of true love/family demands someone rich/has fallen on hard times.
Northanger Abbey: She’s young, innocent and naive. He wasn’t looking for love but ends up as her knight in shining armor. When she rescues herself, can they have a future? Can be insta-love and sugary.
Now, let’s look at current bestsellers in the Romance genre on Amazon. (Note: I have not read these books and am not recommending them, I am only analyzing their blurbs.)
Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Unless you count his basset hound, Waylon.
Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride.
Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way…with fists and beer. Usually in that order.
Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of.
There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life.
At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.
Translation: Emma. Is there a more high-maintenance or romantic-minded woman in Austen than Emma? Knox is clearly Mr. Knightley having to convince Naomi that she has screwed up everything even with her best intentions toward Harriet, I mean Tina.
The Broken One by Brittney Sahin
Fake marry her brother’s best friend to catch a killer . . . sure, what could go wrong?
Growing up on a ranch with four older brothers, Ella Mae Hawkins is no stranger to rugged and tough men. But her heart has always belonged to the one man she can’t have.
After a secret romantic weekend three years ago with him leaves her broken-hearted, Ella Mae accepts an opportunity to go to Paris and pursue her fashion dreams. It’s supposed to be her chance to get away and start over. Instead, she’s going there with the same stubborn man who claimed he was too dangerous for her—as his fake wife.
Jesse McAdams, a former Army Ranger, has spent half his life away from his small hometown, but one thing has always remained true: one woman owns his heart. The problem? She can never know how he really feels.
But after their hot weekend in New York, it’s been harder than ever to resist the sassy, headstrong Ella Mae. Especially when they can’t share a room without arguing, which often leads to desire.
Joining the team at Falcon Falls Security was supposed to bring the redemption he needs so he can finally be the man Ella Mae deserves. Instead, the fabric of lies he’s woven over time quickly unravels, exposing his secrets, and places a target on the heads of everyone he cares about.
Despite her shock over his past, Ella Mae finds herself falling for her brother’s best friend all over again. But this time, the stakes are higher. This time she’s in danger. And the man who put her there is now her husband.
Can Jesse protect her and piece Ella’s heart back together . . . or will he shatter it for good?
Translation: Mansfield Park minus the Crawfords plus guns.
Blindsided: A Best Friend’s to Lovers Standalone by Amy Daws
What happens when an almost thirty-year-old virgin agrees to let her Scottish footballer best friend give her some lessons in seduction?
Lots of banter, awkwardness, jealousy, and heat.
Midfielder Maclay “Mac” Logan is a loud-mouthed, tattooed ginger content with focusing on football. But when an adorable, freckled seamstress comes barreling into his life, he finds Netflix-And-Bickering with her to be his new favorite pastime.
Freya Cook is used to being the invisible woman with a needle and thread, offering cheeky punchlines as she helps dress London’s finest. She’s plus-sized in body and spirit, and other than her friendship with Mac, talking to the opposite sex is one skill she never mastered.
However, after one innocent game of Never Have I Ever, Mac offers to play Love Coach for Freya.
What neither of them see coming are the feelings that develop when the clothes come off.
Now they’re both about to learn the biggest lesson of all: Don’t fall in love with your best friend.
Translation: Mansfield Park minus the Crawfords plus football and tattoos.
Put Me In Detention by Megan Quinn
“You got married on your divorce-cation?”
That would unfortunately be correct.
I was hanging with the girls, celebrating my divorce when I saw him, my crush, sitting in the corner of the bar all alone. Being single and looking for a wild night, I asked him if he wanted to join me. To my delight, he said yes.
Drinks were consumed, fun was had and then . . . one drunken conversation with a cranky gondolier in Las Vegas led to an Uber lift through a drive-thru wedding chapel with the incredibly hot, British bad boy, Pike Greyson.
On paper, it seemed like I hit the jackpot. And if I wasn’t fresh from a toxic marriage, I would have absolutely noticed the finer things about him.
But I wanted nothing to do with being married, so when I arrived back home from my eventful weekend in Vegas, the last thing I expected to see was a new doting husband already moved in.
I asked for an annulment, he pulled a Ross Geller and said no.
That’s right, he said NO! Instead, he asked for three months to prove we could be good together.
Insanity clearly knocked him in the head and the only way I could convince him to give up on our sham of a marriage was to show him just how wrong we were for each other. Only problem with that was, he saw right through my every prank, every trick, and every yearning emotion I attempted to mask.
Translation: Sense and Sensibility…the unwritten year after Marianne gets over Willoughby and before she marries Colonel Brandon.
The Words: An Enemies to Lovers Standalone Romance by Ashley Jade
He was the talented bad boy everyone wanted.
I was the irrelevant geek everyone hated.
He was the sun…drawing all of us in.
I was a black hole…taking up space.
He was destined to be a star.
I was destined to remain an insignificant no one.
Until he made me believe I was special…
And then he destroyed me.
I never thought I’d see Phoenix Walker again after he broke my heart, but fate had other plans.
One tour. Eight weeks. Forty shows.
Countless opportunities to make him pay.
The world thought he was a God…
But I knew the truth.
Translation: Pride & Prejudice plus Persuasion
The Astronaut and the Star by Jen Comfort
An out-of-this-world romantic comedy featuring an astronaut tasked with training a Hollywood actor for a space flick.
Astronaut Regina “Reggie” Hayes wants to be the first woman on the moon—it’s all she’s ever dreamed of. But after a PR disaster, Reggie is off the list for a lunar mission. To rehabilitate her reputation with NASA, she agrees to a different kind of assignment: astronaut “training” with a Hollywood action hero.
Jon Leo is a charmer. With credits that include an underperforming sitcom and a campy action flick called Space Dude, his upcoming role in a prestigious movie could prove he’s a star. But Jon isn’t just big muscles and an otherworldly smile—he’s also a total space nerd. He’s pumped about his own personal space camp…until he meets ice-cold Reggie.
Although Reggie and Jon are polar opposites, their mutual attraction is undeniable, and it only takes a few weeks in close quarters for them to give in to its magnetic force. Jon is set on convincing Reggie this is a match made in the heavens, but her future is in space, and his is among stars of the Hollywood kind. The odds of successfully launching a real relationship outside the confines of the training base are anything but optimal.
Reggie, content with keeping things casual, is forced by a sudden turn of events to confront the possibility of losing Jon forever. Now, she’ll do whatever it takes to win both the man and the moon.
Translation: Pride & Prejudice role reversal. The issue isn’t about money or class but about their aspirations and functions in society.
Damaged Grump by Nicole Snow
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Nicole Snow returns with a hysterical office romance where the grumpiest boss claims the good girl and loses his scorched heart.
Our meet cute was one big sip of ugly.
He pushed my hell-no buttons, wearing an indestructible smirk.
I offended his warped morals in front of his starry-eyed minions.
Then I got my sweet reward for doing the right thing.
I found out I’d be calling Roland Osprey “boss.”
A filthy rich tabloid king. Emphasis on filthy.
A gorgeous villain who sold his soul—if he ever had one.
A tyrant who stole my sensitive, uplifting music magazine.
Welcome to my bait and switch.
Apparently, disasters come in threes.
His perfect vests that leave me delirious.
The way he stares at my lips—painted for torment with an arsenal of lipstick.
Our shared love for sad songs that makes me cry.
So does the big fat secret assignment he drops on my head.
I hate that he has a good cause.
I wish I could hate the wicked ways he makes me feel divine.
When my guard slips, I’m in free fall.
One all-consuming kiss in an alley seals our epic mistake.
How many times can one damaged grump make me sing the blues?
How do you ever fall out of love with the bad guy?
Full-length enemies-to-lovers romance doused in biting words and sizzling slow-burn tension. The worst boss ever finds his missing piece in the woman who loathes him—and an unlikely Happily Ever After worth all the lumps to the heart.
Translation: Pride & Prejudice no cap (did I do that right? Is anyone under 25 reading this thing?)
A Not So Meet Cute by Meghan Quinn
How did you two meet?
The quintessential question asked to every couple. And the answer is usually some bubbly, lovey dovey tale of being struck in the bum by Cupid’s arrow.
My meet cute (well not so meet cute) is slightly different. I was trolling a wealthy neighborhood in Beverly Hills, searching for someone to take me as their bride, you know, to make my arch nemesis jealous who consequently just fired me.
He was stomping around the block like some sort of gorgeous ogre, mumbling about a business deal gone wrong and attempting to finagle his way out of it.
And that’s when we bumped into each other.
There were no sparks.
Not even a hint of blossoming love.
But next thing I knew, I was scarfing down free chips and guac, listening to this man lay out all of his problems which led to his big ask . . . he wanted me to be his Vivian Ward, you know, from Pretty Woman–minus the frisky behavior.
We’re talking about living in a mansion, intimate double dates, and pretending we were head over heels in love . . . and engaged. Can you imagine?
The absolute audacity.
But people do crazy things when they’re desperate. And I reeked of desperation. So, I struck up a deal.
My one big mistake, though . . . big . . . HUGE? I accidentally fell for the incomparable Huxley Cane.
Translation: Ok, this one was hard and I ultimately had to look at reviews, but it’s Pride & Prejudice. However, the heroine seems more like Caroline Bingley than Lizzy Bennet. The hero is grumpy and all about work. Enemies to lovers/opposites attracts tropes are definitely P&P inspired.
Twisted Hate by Ana Huang
He hates her…almost as much as he wants her.
Gorgeous, cocky, and fast on his way to becoming a hotshot doctor, Josh Chen has never met a woman he couldn’t charm—except for Jules f**king Ambrose.
The beautiful redhead has been a thorn in his side since they met, but she also consumes his thoughts in a way no woman ever has.
When their animosity explodes into one unforgettable night, he proposes a solution that’ll get her out of his system once and for all: an enemies with benefits arrangement with simple rules.
No strings attached.
And absolutely no falling in love.
Outgoing and ambitious, Jules Ambrose is a former party girl who’s focused on one thing: passing the attorney’s bar exam.
The last thing she needs is to get involved with a doctor who puts the SUFFER in insufferable…no matter how good-looking he is.
But the more she gets to know him, the more she realizes there’s more than meets the eye to the man she’s hated for so long.
Her best friend’s brother.
And her only salvation.
Theirs is a match made in hell, and when the demons from their past catch up with them, they’re faced with truths that could either save them …or destroy everything they’ve worked for.
Twisted Hate is a steamy enemies with benefits/enemies to lovers romance. It’s book three in the Twisted series but can be read as a standalone.
Warning: The story contains explicit content, mild violence, profanity, and topics that may be sensitive to some readers. Detailed list linked inside the book. Recommended for 18+.
Translation: P&P again. It does seem like it’s throwing in some extra tropes with the best friend’s brother but the classic enemies to lovers hate-them-so-much-I-love-them trope is P&P through and through.
The Vegas Accident by Sofia T. Summers
It’s hard to keep an accidental marriage a secret when you end up pregnant.
Yes, we were stupid in Vegas.
But the stupidity didn’t just end there.
It continued after the trip was over and Luke became my temporary roommate.
Luke… as in my brother’s best friend.
As in my new husband.
My accidental husband.
Did I say baby daddy yet?
Luke is way older than me.
Basically, he’s everything he shouldn’t be.
And I’m everything I shouldn’t be either — for example, pregnant.
Luke might be the man of my dreams.
But not every dream comes true.
Especially if it’s packaged with an accidental ring and an accidental baby.
Deliciously sinful, kindle melting hot, full-length, standalone marriage mistake romance. The hea comes packaged with heart pounding feels, off-the-charts heat, loads of emotion and lots of fun!
Translation: Sense and Sensibility where the qualities of Willoughby and Brandon are merged into one.
Out of these top 10 books with prominent Austen influence, Pride and Prejudice is the definite strong suit. Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship of sexual tension, power/money imbalance, love/hate is a classic.
In the five years since I first wrote this post, the balance of P&P inspired stories has shifted a little. I’m also seeing more of Austen’s tropes mashed up. There are fewer Persuasion inspired pieces. There was one story that I identified as Emma based whereas there were none in 2017. I wonder if that is connected to the success of the 2020 film.
I think the ones that surprised me the most are the ones that reminded me of Mansfield Park. It’s interesting how Fanny Price is probably the least liked heroine in Austendom and yet 21st century readers enjoy a heroine who has crushed on the boy next door/her best friend her whole life. Likewise, Edmund is no favorite of readers, but in the contemporary genre, it seems very forgivable for the hero to have never noticed the heroine until *important plot moment.* Perhaps the difference is not displaying their past romances on the page. Would readers like Edmund more if MP focused on the time period where Edmund kicks Mary to the curb and comes to realize his love for Fanny?
I’m very surprised there’s no Persuasion inspired stories on the list this time. Second Chances is a category of its own in Romance, I think. For first time relationships Romance seems to fall into hate/love, boy/girl next door, insta-love, love triangles, or trust issues. Second Chances can either be with the same partner after a separation that seems insurmountable or with learning to love again, although that one heavily leans on the trust issues sub-category.
Speaking of sub-categories, on Amazon you may search by Romantic hero, themes, or sub-genre. As classic as Austen is, I think we could find her fingerprints on something as obscure as Second Chances Paranormal Firefighter. Let’s see…
Dragon Protector – Second Chance Secret Pregnancy : Steamy Alpha Dragon Shifter Romance (Adams’ Claw Book 1) by Jean Stokes
❤️A firefighter dragon shifter trying to protect his town…His returning childhood sweetheart hiding a huge secret…Can they reconcile and save their small town from a scheming company?❤️
Emily is on the run. From her family, her hometown, and from her husband. Now she is finally coming back to town and has a big surprise for her old flame Luke…
Luke is a firefighting warrior dragon shifter kept busy protecting Adams’ Claw from an evil corporation. But he has no idea of the shock that is coming from his childhood sweetheart…
Unicorp is forcing everyone from their homes to collect rich natural resources and the town is on the brink of disaster…
Can Luke forgive Emily for leaving him and returning with such a huge secret?
Can they unite to fight common enemy Unicorp?
…or will they lose their one chance to have a happy family?
WARNING: The Adams’ Claw Series is addictive! Be prepared to stay up until 3am reading about steamy passion in a small Western town, a tight-knit group of smokin’ hot protective dragon shifter alphas and their feisty heroines!
Scorch (Bearpaw Ridge Firefighters Book 11 by Ophelia Sexton
Her connection to an enemy wolf shifter is forged in flame
When a plane falls from the sky and crashes on wolf shifter Ethan Jacobsen’s ranch, the NTSB investigator who arrives is smart and sassy, with curves that Ethan longs to explore. She’s a fascinating mix of contradictions. On the outside, Tamara is gutsy and in control. But on the inside, she’s vulnerable. Fragile. And hiding secrets that are tearing her apart.
Right from the start, sparks fly between them, even though she keeps him at arm’s length.
Ethan’s intrigued by her brains and beauty, and his wolf recognizes her as their fated mate. His usual easy-going demeanor gives way to fierce, primal need. Vowing to win her, he joins the crash investigation, determined to court and claim her.
Despite her best intentions, Tamara finds it impossible to resist the attraction that burns between them. And when she uncovers the cause of the deadly crash, the truth puts her in terrible danger from her former pack.
Now, it’s up to Ethan to do whatever it takes to protect his vulnerable mate and make sure they both live to see their happily-ever-after.
There you have it! All more proof that Jane is here to stay! I hope you’ve enjoyed this segment.