With more than 200 books in print it can be difficult to know where to begin reading Nora Roberts. She is an iconic romance author with a number of bestsellers, so we have compiled the 15 best Nora Roberts books. If you’re looking to read Nora Roberts for the first time, or curious if you’ve already read her best books, keep reading to find out more.
Who is Nora Roberts?
First, even though you’ve likely seen her name on bookshelves everywhere, here is a bit of information about Nora Roberts.
She is a prolific American author, who also writes until the moniker of J.D. Robb. Collectively 500 million copies of her works are in print in more than 34 countries. That encompasses nearly 240 novels.
Every book of hers published since 1999 has hit the New York Times bestsellers list.
Her first book was published in 1981. Roberts never wrote until a fateful snowstorm in 1979 as a young mother pushed her to try a new creative outlet.
She still lives in the state she grew up in, Maryland, where she now owns a bookstore with her husband.
If you would like to know more about Nora Roberts and all of the books she has published you can read our dedicated article for all her books in order here. We also have a dedicated article for all her J.D. Robb books in order.
Summary of the Best Nora Roberts Books
Now let’s dive into the books. We have compiled our list of the best Nora Roberts books based on Goodreads data. All of the books on this list have more than 50,000 ratings and have an average rating of 3.94 or higher on Goodreads 5.0 starring system.
Any list of an author’s best books is bound to be relative to the reader. If you’ve read many of Roberts’s books you may have your own list of the best Nora Roberts books that looks different to our list here.
But if you’re looking for a place to start with her books, this list is perfect. It includes the first books in many of her series, as well as a few standalone options. Keep reading to find out more about the 15 best Nora Roberts books according to Goodreads users.
15. Savor the Moment
The first book on our list at #15 is the third book in Nora Roberts’s Bride Quartet series. This contemporary romance series is the only series to feature multiple times on our list. Each book in the Bride Quartet series is from the perspective of a different friend within a close-knit group and contains its own story as each friend finds love.
Savor the Moment has an average rating of 4.14 based on more than 54,000 ratings.
Wedding baker Laurel McBane is surrounded by romance working at Vows wedding planning company with her best friends Parker, Emma, and Mac. But she’s too low-key to appreciate all the luxuries that their clients seem to long for. What she does appreciate is a strong, intelligent man, a man just like Parker’s older brother Delaney, on whom she’s had a mega-crush since childhood.
But some infatuations last longer than others, and Laurel is convinced that the Ivy League lawyer is still out of her reach. Plus, Del is too protective of Laurel to ever cross the line with her — or so she thinks. When Laurel’s quicksilver moods get the better of her — leading to an angry, hot, all-together mind-blowing kiss with Del — she’ll have to quiet the doubts in her mind to turn a moment of passion into forever.
14. Dark Witch
Next up is the first book in The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy. Again each book in this series follows the perspective of a different member within its main group of characters — this time, cousins. It is a paranormal romance set in Ireland.
Dark Witch has an average rating of 3.94 based on nearly 59,000 ratings.
With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: A land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.
That land is County Mayo, Ireland. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations — and where her destiny awaits.
Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.
When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen: He’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.
Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself — and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems.
An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope — and love — alive.
13. Happy Ever After
Coming in at #13 on our list of the 15 best Nora Roberts books is another installment in the Bride Quartet series. Happy Ever After is the fourth and final book in this series. It has an average rating of 4.17 based on more than 56,000 ratings.
Childhood friends Mackensie, Parker, Laurel, and Emmaline have formed a very successful wedding-planning business together. While helping thousands of happy couples to organise the biggest day of their lives, three of the four women have all found love themselves — but workaholic Parker remains resolutely single.
Her business is her life and she devotes all her energy to it. But as she is forced to re-evaluate her friendships, Parker finds that someone is about to divert her focus…
12. Key of Light
Next is another first book in a series. Key of Light is the first book in the Key Trilogy, a paranormal romance. It also has an average rating of 4.17 but based on more than 58,000 ratings.
Malory Price’s life plan has hit a snag. She’s in danger of losing her job managing an art gallery in Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania. A welcome distraction comes in the form of an invitation to a cocktail party at Warrior’s Peak, an infamous estate overlooking the town.
But no one else she knows has been invited.
There are only two other guests: Dana Steele, a librarian; and Zoe McCourt, a single mother. On the surface, it seems the women have nothing in common, until their mysterious hosts tell them a story — and offer them a challenge.
Legend has it that the souls of three demigoddesses — one an artist, one a bard, and one a warrior — have been locked in a box that has three keys. Now it’s up to Malory and the others to find the keys. Their reward: A million dollars each.
It all seems too bizarre to be true. But none of them can ignore the financial windfall they stand to gain. And now Malory — with her soul of an artist and eye for beauty — must find her key first.
She soon discovers that whatever locked the souls away is dark, powerful, and greedy…and it doesn’t want the women to win.
11. Bed of Roses
As we near closer to the top 10 best Nora Roberts books we have another novel from the Bride Quartet series. Bed of Roses is the second book in this series. It has an average rating on Goodreads of 4.11 based on nearly 60,000 ratings.
Emmaline Grant has always loved romance, so it’s really no surprise that she has found her calling as a wedding florist. She gets to play with flowers every day and work with her three best friends in the process. She couldn’t ask for a better job.
Although men swarm around Emma, she still hasn’t found Mr. Right. And the last place she’s looking is right under her nose.
But that’s just where Jack Cooke is. He’s so close to the women of Vows that he’s practically family. Now though, the architect has begun to admit to himself that his feelings for Emma have developed into much more than friendship.
When Emma returns his passion — kiss for blistering kiss — they must trust in their history and in their hearts.
10. Sea Swept
Sliding into the top 10 books is the first novel in Nora Roberts’s Chesapeake Bay Saga: Sea Swept. This is another contemporary romance and each book features the perspective of a different brother. This book has been rated more than 68,000 times and has an average rating of 4.23.
A champion boat racer, Cameron Quinn traveled the world spending his winnings on champagne and women. But when his dying father calls him home to care for Seth, a troubled young boy not unlike Cameron once was, his life changes overnight.
After years of independence, Cameron must learn to live with his brothers again, while he struggles with cooking, cleaning, and caring for a difficult boy. Old rivalries and new resentments flare between Cameron and his brothers, but they try to put aside their differences for Seth’s sake. In the end, a social worker will decide Seth’s fate, and as tough as she is beautiful, she has the power to bring the Quinns together — or tear them apart.
9. Jewels of the Sun
Next up is Jewels of the Sun, which is the first book in the Gallaghers of Ardmore series. It is a contemporary romance with a fantastical twist. Each installment features the perspective of a different Gallagher.
Jewels of the Sun has an average rating of 4.22 based on more than 62,000 ratings.
Determined to re-evaluate her life, Jude Murray flees America to take refugee in Faerie Hill Cottage. She immerses herself in the study of Irish Folk and discovers hope for the future of the magical past.
Finally back home in Ireland after years of traveling, Aidan Gallagher possesses an uncommon understanding of his country’s haunting myths. Although his devotion lies in managing the family pub, a hint of wildness still glints in his stormy eyes — and in Jude, he sees a woman who can both soothe his heart and stir his blood. And he begins to share the legends of the land with her, while they create a passionate history of their own.
8. Dance Upon the Air
The eighth book on our list of the best Nora Roberts books is the first in the Three Sisters Island series, which is a paranormal romance. Dance Upon the Air has an average rating of 4.20 on Goodreads based on more than 67,000 ratings.
When Nell Channing arrives on charming Three Sisters Island, she believes that she’s finally found refuge from her abusive husband — and from the terrifying life she fled so desperately eight months ago.
But even in this quiet, peaceful place, Nell never feels entirely at ease. Careful to conceal her true identity, she takes a job as a cook at the local bookstore café. She also begins to explore her feelings for the island sheriff, Zack Todd.
But there is a part of herself she can never reveal to him — for she must continue to guard her secrets if she wants to keep the past at bay. One careless word, one misplaced confidence, and the new life she’s created so carefully could shatter completely.
Just as Nell starts to wonder if she’ll ever be able to break free of her fear, she realizes that the island suffers under a terrible curse. One that can only be broken by the descendants of the Three Sisters, the witches who settled the island back in 1692. And now, with the help of two other strong, gifted women — and with the nightmares of the past haunting her every step — she must find the power to save her home, her love, and herself.
7. The Obsession
The seventh book on our list is our first proper standalone novel. The Obsession is a mystery thriller with an element of romantic suspense. On Goodreads it has nearly 68,000 ratings and an average rating of 4.21.
Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.
Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her. It is a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up — especially the determined Xander Keaton.
Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession. And, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.
6. Blue Dahlia
The next book on our list is the first book in the In the Garden series. Like so many of Nora Roberts’s books, this series is a contemporary romance with a paranormal twist. Blue Dahlia has an average rating of 4.12 with nearly 70,000 ratings.
Trying to escape the ghosts of the past, young widow Stella Rothchild has moved back to her roots in southern Tennessee along with her two energetic little boys. She isn’t intimidated by Harper House — nor by its mistress.
Despite a reputation for being difficult, Roz Harper has been nothing but kind to Stella, offering her a comfortable place to live and a challenging new job as manager of the flourishing In the Garden nursery.
As Stella settles comfortably into her new life, she finds a nurturing friendship with Roz and expectant mother Hayley, and a fierce attraction to ruggedly handsome landscaper Logan Kitridge. He’s difficult but honest, brash but considerate — and undeniably sexy. And for a sensible woman like Stella, he may be just what she needs.
5. Born in Fire
Rounding out our top five best Nora Roberts books is Born in Fire. This is the first book in the Born In Trilogy, also known as the Irish Born Trilogy, which is a contemporary romance series following three sisters. Born in Fire has an average rating of 4.21 based on nearly 71,000 ratings.
Margaret Mary is a glass artist with an independent streak as fierce as her volatile temper. Hand-blowing glass is a difficult and exacting art, and while she may produce the delicate and the fragile, Maggie is a strong and opinionated woman. She is the eldest Concannon sister and a Clare woman, with all the turbulence of that fascinating west country.
One man, Dublin gallery owner Rogan Sweeney, has seen the soul in Maggie’s art, and vows to help her build a career. When he comes to Maggie’s studio, her heart is inflamed by their fierce attraction — and her scarred past is slowly healed by love.
4. The Witness
The second standalone on our list ranks fourth overall. Just like The Obsession, The Witness is a mystery thriller with a romantic suspense element. It has a 4.22 average rating based on more than 72,000 ratings.
The daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man’s seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.
Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems — and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing.
But Abigail’s reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something — and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.
3. Year One
Coming in third on our list of the best Nora Roberts books is our first and only science-fiction dystopia novel. Year One is also a romance and the first in the Chronicles of One series. It has an average rating of 4.02 on Goodreads with more than 78,000 ratings.
The sickness began on New Year’s Eve. It came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster.
Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered, law and government collapsed, and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.
Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place.
Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river — or in the ones you know and love the most.
In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, no one knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.
The end has come. The beginning comes next.
2. The Next Always
The second novel on our list of the 15 best Nora Roberts books is the first in her Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy. This series is inspired by an inn that Roberts owns and operates with her husband. The series is a contemporary romance and each installment provides the perspective of a different brother.
The Next Aways has more than 78,000 ratings on Goodreads and a 4.12 average rating.
The historic hotel in BoonsBoro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother.
Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: The girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen.
After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy and with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look…at the building and the man behind it.
With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett’s happy to give Clare a private tour — one room at a time. It’s no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something new — and opens the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next…
1. Vision in White
Finally, if you’ve been paying attention it should come as no surprise that the best Nora Roberts book according to Goodreads is Vision in White. This is the first book in the Bride Quartet series, of which every book has featured on this list. Vision in White has more than 132,000 ratings and a 4.12 average rating.
After years of throwing make-believe weddings in the backyard, flowers, photography, desserts, and details are what these women do best: A guaranteed perfect, beautiful day full of memories to last the rest of your life.
With bridal magazine covers to her credit, Mackensie “Mac” Elliot is most at home behind the camera — ready to capture the happy moments she never experienced while growing up. Her father replaced his first family with a second, and now her mother, moving on to yet another man, begs Mac for attention and money. Mac’s foundation is jostled again moments before an important wedding planning meeting when she bumps into the bride-to-be’s brother…an encounter that has them both seeing stars.
Carter Maguire is definitely not her type: He’s stable, and he’s safe. He’s even an English teacher at their high school alma mater. There’s something about him that makes Mac think a casual fling is just what she needs to take her mind off dealing with bridezillas and screening her mother’s phone calls.
But a casual fling can turn into something more when you least expect it. And with the help of her three best friends — and business partners — Mac must learn how to make her own happy memories.
15 Best Nora Roberts Books Wrap-Up
And there you have our list of the best Nora Roberts books based on data from Goodreads. Do you agree with this list? Are there any of your favorite Nora Roberts reads missing?
This list is a great starting point to introduce you to Nora Roberts’s work. On our list are many first books from some of Roberts’s many series. As mentioned previously, almost all of Roberts’s series are composed of self-contained novels that pick up the story from a different character’s perspective.
We hope you found your next great read from this list!
- Vision in White
- The Next Always
- Year One
- The Witness
- Born in Fire
- Blue Dahlia
- The Obsession
- Dance Upon the Air
- Jewels of the Sun
- Sea Swept
- Bed of Roses
- Key of Light
- Happy Ever After
- Dark Witch
- Savor the Moment
Looking for more books in order?
Check out this list of Sandra Brown books in order.