Fall in love with these romantic light novels
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When you think of light novel genres, you probably think of fantasy and isekai stories. Maybe some supernatural or mysterious title pops up here and there. Light romantic novels, on the other hand, might not immediately spring to mind. But if you stop to think about it, romance permeates many light-hearted storylines. Sometimes it stays in the background, but often times it’s a major subplot. After all, while the mention of Sword art online makes many readers of light novels wince, we can’t argue that Kirito and Asuna’s relationship isn’t a major part of the show.
That said, it’s rare for light romantic novels to focus solely on romance. They usually fall into other genres as well, especially fantasy. Fantasy, and its subgenres like the ubiquitous isekai, is currently the most popular light novel genre. There is no escaping it. But as the North American manga market – of which light novels is a part – continues to grow, we can expect to see more titles translated into English. And with this continued expansion, we can hope for more variety, even in genres that seem crowded and exhausted like isekai, as you will soon see.
Start with these romantic light novels
Toradora by Yuyuko Takemiya
Toradora is one of the best completed light romance novels. Romance readers will immediately cling to classic tropes. The taiga is the quintessence of the small but the fierce. Ryuji looks like a delinquent but has a gentle heart. Taiga loves Ryuji’s best friend. Ryuji has a crush on Taiga’s best friend. The two decide to help each other out, but love likes to surprise everyone.
I’m in love with the wicked one by Inori
One great thing about the modern light novel market is the number of them that feature weird romances – more specifically, yuri. Made I’m in love with the wicked one fall into the isekai genre? Yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Overworked office worker reincarnates in her favorite dating sim as a heroine. But instead of pursuing one of the game’s original male love interests, she chooses to romanticize the villain.
Chivalry of a failed knight by Riku Misora
In an alternate Earth, people called Blazers have supernatural abilities, including the ability to manifest weapons as an extension of their soul. Ikki comes from the distinguished Kurogane family. Too bad he is considered low-ranking and weak. In contrast, European Princess Stella is widely regarded as a prodigy. When Stella transfers to Ikki’s school, she is named as his new roommate. Of course, this leads Ikki to walk into her new roommate while she gets changed. Enraged, Stella challenges him to a duel on the condition that the loser does whatever the winner wants. The result seems obvious, but Ikki wins. And to his credit, he just wants them to be roommates who get along.
Empire of the Tear by Nozomu Mochitsuki
Rather than an isekai story, Empire of the Tear is a story of reincarnation. Mia was the spoiled princess of an empire that had undergone a revolution. Since she represented everything the uprising hated, she had a bad end by the guillotine. But Mia gets a second chance and wakes up to find herself a preteen again. Armed with knowledge of what will happen to her in the future, she now strives to avoid that fate – by strengthening existing alliances, forging new relationships, and not being a terrible person in general. The young romance here is charming because instead of chasing a perfect prince, Mia chooses to cultivate a relationship with the neglected second prince from another realm.
Nameless memory by Kuji Furumiya
One of the first fantasy novels to come to mind, Nameless memory follows a cursed prince who seeks help from a powerful witch. One can expect the romance that develops from this premise. The mystery that attaches to the witch? Less then.
spice and wolf by Isuna Hasekura
Alright, buckle up for a slow burn. And when I say slow burn, I mean slow burn. Kraft Lawrence is a traveling merchant who dreams of opening his own store. Holo is the wolf deity he finds sleeping in his cart. Together, they travel the world! We’ve read romances between vampires and humans, but it’s a romance between a human and a true goddess – and all the complications that kind of relationship entails.
Full of metal panic by Shoji Gatou
We see all kinds of cute encounters in love stories. This cute encounter involves a young man from a private military organization and the ordinary young woman he is tasked with protecting. Well, regular in the sense that Kaname is beautiful enough that everyone admires her, but also outspoken enough that no one wants to date her. She is less average in the sense that she unconsciously has technologically advanced knowledge. Hence the reason why Sosuke was protecting her. What makes this bodyguard romance is that Sousuke protects Kaname from organizations that want her for their own interests, but Kaname protects Sousuke from the harsh high school world, which he obviously has no experience with.
The emperor’s maid of honor is wanted as a wife by Kanata Satsuki
Our heroine was once known as Qatora, an imperial knight who died saving a nobleman. You would think that would be the end, but she reincarnates as Lyse, the daughter of a poor baron from a neighboring country. Now she serves as maid of honor in the royal palace of this country. But fate often throws life into chaos. In this case, Lyse is chosen to assist the visiting emperor – the very emperor she served in her previous life, in fact. And to complicate matters even further, one of the Imperial Knights present recognizes her and wants to take her home.
The Werewolf Count and the Tailor Trickster by Yuruka Morisaki and Tsukito
Ebel is a count with a problem. He’s a werewolf and would love some clothes to wear after transforming into human form. This leads him to the Rock store. Rock, alias Roxy, dresses as a man to survive and does not know what to do with this count who decides to woo him. As with most books with genderbending premises, there are some questionable elements here, but The Werewolf Count and the Tailor Trickster does cool stuff with LGBTQ themes that you don’t normally see in light novels.
The achievements of the duke’s daughter by Reia and Hazuki Futaba
In this isekai romance light novel, an office lady dies and is reincarnated as Iris, the villain of the dating sim she was playing. Worse yet, she is embodied at the precise moment when Iris’ fiancÃ© rejects her in favor of the original heroine of the dating simulator. Through quick thinking, she manages to avoid Iris’s initial fate – being sent to a convent – and returns to her native stronghold. There, she uses knowledge from her previous life to effect positive change, which of course puts her at odds with her ex-fiancÃ©. So where is the romance, you ask? Do not worry. He’s not the ex-fiancÃ©. However, it could be with a young man who works for Iris and is more than he claims to be.
As I mentioned, you will find a lot of whimsy with your romance, but even within the genre there are many different approaches and premises. If you want to explore more light novels – romantic light novels or otherwise – here is a list of the best light novels and another of new light novels (and manga) to pick up.