Amazing Romance Novels by Asian North American Writers

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Anne Mai Yee Jansen is a literature and ethnic studies professor and a lifelong story addict. She exists on a steady diet of books and hot chocolate, with a heaping side of travel whenever possible. Originally hailing from the sun and sandstone of southern California, she currently resides with her partner, offspring, and feline companion in the sleepy mountains of western North Carolina.

Summertime is on its way, and with it comes the promise of long daylight hours during which to curl up with a good book! I’ve been on a romance kick for the past six months, and some of the writers on this list are among my favorites. I feel like the romance novel scene is one of the coziest for its multi-book storyworlds that often turn new authors into familiar names, and there are so many amazing Asian North American Writers producing spicy and delectable tales of love.

This post celebrates writers on both sides of the US-Canada border to offer suggestions of recent Asian North American romance novels for your enjoyment. Whether you’re in the mood for a fake-dating setup, a romantasy tale, a YA romance, or something else entirely, there’s a book for everyone on this list.

I’m not kidding here. You want an island full of animals? Check! A Hollywood romance? Check! Wedding shenanigans? International foodie fun? Guilt and reconciliation? Triple check!

Whatever your predilection, I’ve got you covered. And through it all, you can expect some humor, some heartache, and a whole lotta romance! Yup, I’m talking sexual tension, steamy buildup, and consensual good times to be had by all in these Asian North American romance novels.

Adult Asian North American Romance

Manila Takes Manhattan by Carla de Guzman book coverManila Takes Manhattan by Carla de Guzman book cover

Manila Takes Manhattan by Carla de Guzman

What’s a little one-night stand between neighbors? Turns out, it’s a whole lotta steamy drama (in the best sense of the word) when those neighbors are a Pinoy actress and a music producer who’s recently immigrated to the US from Manila. Olivia’s working hard to carve out space for herself and other Filipina actors, so she figures a little tryst with her hot new neighbor, Mon, will be just that: a little tryst. But when it turns out Mon’s the music producer for her latest film, well, you can imagine how quickly things heat up!

Love, Lies, and Cherry Pie by Jackie Lau book coverLove, Lies, and Cherry Pie by Jackie Lau book cover

Love, Lies, and Cherry Pie by Jackie Lau

I love a good fake-dating romance, and Jackie Lau has delivered in droves with Love, Lies, and Cherry Pie. Emily Hung is 33 years old, and now that both of her younger sisters are married, her mother’s determined to set her up. Does it matter that the guy she wants Emily to date/marry is a grumpy, boring, rude engineer? Not even a little bit. Mark Chan agrees to a fake relationship to get their families off their cases…but their friends and family are hard to deceive. As the pair steps up their pretend dating, Emily starts to realize Mark’s not as obnoxious or dull as she thought he was. True to form, Lau’s latest novel manages to be both funny and steamy!

Fancy Meeting You Here by Julie Tieu book coverFancy Meeting You Here by Julie Tieu book cover

Fancy Meeting You Here by Julie Tieu

Julie Tieu’s latest romance follows two characters in the peripheries of three weddings (none of which is theirs). Elise Ngo is a florist who’s working hard to get her business off the ground, and she’s hopeful that the connections she’ll make through her friends’ weddings will lead to more clients. Of course, when she discovers that one of those friends’ brothers, Ben, is a caterer working the same wedding circuit, the comedy and sparks begin to fly. At times painfully awkward and at others times delightfully funny, the pair’s budding romance is set against the larger political backdrop of Ben’s family’s circle.

Wild Life by Opal Wei book coverWild Life by Opal Wei book cover

Wild Life by Opal Wei

Zoey Fong is trying so hard to live the life she designed for herself years ago. She’s a successful scientist trying to find a cure for a rare form of cancer her sister survived, but in the process, she’s moving further and further away from everything that brings her joy. Enter Davy Hsieh, former teen heartthrob and current recluse attempting to get an animal sanctuary up and running on his private island. They’re near-total opposites, and they’re also exactly what each other needs. Their romance catches both of them by surprise, and it’s a fun and satisfying journey for the reader.

Night for Day by Roselle Lim book coverNight for Day by Roselle Lim book cover

Night For Day by Roselle Lim

If you’re looking for a little romantasy, Roselle Lim’s latest book may be just the thing. I found myself rooting for long-time exes Camille Buhay and Ward Dunbar right from the start when they run into each other in London years after their relationship fell apart. They may have gone their separate ways, but when they both get jobs at the same company (Camille working nights, Ward working days) they decide to try again. Unfortunately for them, the gods aren’t as agreeable to this—literally. They’ve made Camille and Ward pawns in their epic game to determine whether the Eastern Faction or the Western Faction will emerge as the winner. The clever communications between the former lovers make this a fascinating and enjoyable read.

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang book coverHow to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang book cover

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

The premise of How to End a Love Story doesn’t exactly seem like the stuff of romance novels. Helen Zhang is a successful writer and a struggling human, having lived in the shadow of her older sister’s suicide since high school. When her successful YA book series is optioned for TV, she decides to participate in the adaptation process. The hitch? Grant Shepard was one of the popular football players she went to school with, but he’s also how Helen’s sister killed herself: by stepping in front of his truck. And he’s one of the lead writers in the room. Somehow, Kuang turns a story full of hard emotions into a thoughtful and believable romance (with plenty of sexy moments along the way). This one surprised me in the very best of ways.

YA Asian North American Romance

While You Were Dreaming by Alisha Rai book coverWhile You Were Dreaming by Alisha Rai book cover

While You Were Dreaming by Alisha Rai

In this YA romance, Sonia Patil may be a US citizen, but her mother and older sister, Kareena, aren’t. In the aftermath of her mother’s deportation, Sonia’s trying to take care of Kareena while hatching a plot to get her crush’s attention at comic-con. But everything goes wrong when she ends up saving him from drowning instead. She tries to keep her identity a secret as the media gains interest in the story, but everything begins to snowball and Sonia has to figure out how to navigate the situation in a way that maintains the fine balance between safety and love.

A Bahn Mi for Two by Trinity Nguyen book coverA Bahn Mi for Two by Trinity Nguyen book cover

A Báhn Mì for Two by Trinity Nguyen

Slated for release in late summer 2024, I couldn’t leave Trinity Nguyen’s novel off this list! The book takes its title from Lan’s food blog, A Bánh Mì for Two. After her father’s passing, Sài Gòn foodie Lan has stopped updating the blog, but when Vivi studies abroad in the city in an attempt to figure out why her parents left Việt Nam, their paths cross and the two women decide to help each other out. As Vivi helps Lan with her writing and Lan helps Vivi delve into her family’s history, they find more than they were looking for as they begin to fall in love.

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