5 Wonderful Romance Books with Themes of Positive Consent

Consent should always be respected and given freely. These 5 books portray that well.

Lifestyle Recommendations Romance Wellness
The book covers, from left to right: 'The Princess Trap' by Talia Hibbert, 'Never Loved' by Charlotte Stein, and 'Her Best Friend’s Sister' by Meghan O’Brien against a dark purple background.

Trigger Warning: The mention of consent and bodily autonomy may be triggering for some readers. Please exercise personal care when reading.

Consent is important in every type of relationship and situation, but especially in sexual situations. Everyone’s comfort and bodily autonomy should be respected more than anything else. No exceptions. That said, positive and enthusiastic consent is rarely portrayed in media. It’s becoming more prevalent, so I hope we’ll see more of it soon. But, in the meantime, here are five books that portray positive consent.

Take the Lead by Alexis Daria

Gina has never made it to the finals of The Dance Off, but with her new partner Stone, she thinks she might have a chance. Stone never wanted to join a celebrity dance show, but he needed to help his family. They are put together to produce a showmance, but the two have undeniable chemistry. As they move into the competition, they must decide if they want to pursue this love or focus on the competition.

'Take the Lead' by Alexis Daria book cover showing Gina and Stone dancing.
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Because they’re involved with reality TV, and the producer pushed them together, consent is slippery. It’s easy to get confused between reality and fiction. During a sex scene, Stone kept checking in on Gina. He asked if she was okay and wanted to continue several times, allowing her to stop without issue if she said no. This is so important because consent isn’t just a one-time answer, and people can change their minds.

The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert

Cherry Neita thinks that men are overrated and underperforming in general. But she still goes with a hot stranger for a one-night stand, not realizing this reckless, dominant man is actually a prince. Prince Ruben of Helgmøre is trying to rebuild his reputation, yet he can’t resist Cherry. But the paparazzi catch them, and Ruben asks her to be his pretend fiancée, offering her a lot of money. Cherry accepts, but she isn’t exactly happy with this — and neither is Ruben’s brother, the king.

'The Princess Trap' by Talia Hibbert book cover showing Ruben holding Cherry close inside a birdcage.
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While he may have lied about who he was — a lie of omission is still a lie — he made sure to check in with Cherry before they did anything. Before he kissed her, he made sure to get verbal confirmation that she wanted this, too. He kept asking if she wanted to keep going or if she wanted to stop. There was no pressure if she wanted to stop, even though they both knew he wanted to keep going.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Stella Lane believes math explains everything, partially due to her job creating algorithms to predict customer purchases. The job gives her lots of money, but she has no dating experience — not to mention that French kissing grosses her out. So she hires escort Michael Phan to help her practice. He can’t refuse, and he helps her check things off her list, from the vanilla to the spicy. But before long, Stella starts enjoying their sessions, and this business arrangement now makes a new, strange sense.

'The Kiss Quotient' by Helen Hoang book cover showing Stella and Michael kissing.
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Stella has all kinds of things on her checklist, and Michael doesn’t question any of them, no matter how weird they may be. He doesn’t demand any sort of justification, nor does he push her to do or try anything she might not be comfortable with. And any time she says stop, he does. He’s so perfectly in tune with her, and it’s so refreshing to see.

Her Best Friend’s Sister by Meghan O’Brien

Claire Barker has had a huge crush on the handsome Alex Williams — her best friend’s older sister — since she was twelve. Fifteen years later, her crush hasn’t faded even though Alex is often overseas for months for her fashion photography career. But Alex suddenly comes home, and after a reunion full of wine, their relationship changes. Will they get together, or will real life get in the way?

'Her Best Friend’s Sister' by Meghan O’Brien book cover showing the lower halves of two women's faces and a scenic photo of a large house.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP.ORG

O’Brien often portrays enthusiastic consent in her books, and this one was no exception. Claire and Alex both have insecurities about being good enough for each other, and this translates into their romance and sex life. But they always made sure to check in with each other at every step and valued the other’s comfort over all else.

Never Loved by Charlotte Stein

Now free from her abusive father, Beatrix Becker is free and attending her dream college. But she doesn’t know how to act like the others, from partying to holding conversations. But she meets fellow misfit, Serge Sorenson, with a harsh exterior, a street fighter who gets a huge rush from illegal street fighting. He shows her his world, but as he gets in trouble with the wrong people. He pays in blood, and Beatrix is thrown in as well.

'Never Loved' by Charlotte Stein book cover showing a man's muscular back.
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

It’s natural for Beatrix to be scared, given what Serge does and how her father treated her. He could easily hurt her, and she’s so skittish and wary. But he doesn’t want to hurt her at all, and he even gives her an out if she’s feeling uncomfortable. I think his quote below says it best:

“Or that you maybe think you can’t tell me to go in case I do something violent, even though I’ll tell you right now I’m never gonna put a foot out of place if I think for one second it makes you uncomfortable. You say the word, and I’ll take ten steps back. I’ll take a thousand steps back if that’s what it takes to keep that sweet face smiling.”

Charlotte Stein, Never Loved

I hope that more books, especially romance books, will include positive, clear, and enthusiastic consent in the future.


For an article about consent for all ages, click here.

Check out the Romance shelf on Bookstr’s Bookshop page.

FEATURED IMAGE VIA CANVA / DANIELLE TOMLINSON