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The Love After Loss Romance Genre

What is the “Love After Loss” Romance Genre?

The “Love After Loss” genre focuses on stories about either the hero or heroine who lost their first true love – usually in some kind of tragic accident or after an illness of some sort – and who is focused on healing and moving forward with their lives.

What to Expect in the “Love After Loss” Romance Genre

  • Usually the actual hero or heroine actually does not WANT to move forward and has “given up” on finding happiness again

  • Some other character – well-meaning friend, a family member, a child, etc – propels them back into the dating world

  • A lot of plot time is dedicated to working through the old relationship and setting up the new one

  • All of these novels are underpinned by serious topics – cancer, war, murder, organ donation, etc.

Love After Loss Romance Characteristics

  • Level of Angst

    On a scale of 1-10, the level of angst in this genre is quite high given the guilt being experienced by the heroine/hero. Given that it is a romance novel, we know that the heroine and hero will end up together, but there are sometimes some very emotional situations which might impact the “happy ending” which readers expect.

  • Character Development

    As with most romance novels, the level of character development depends on the writing ability of the author in developing them. However, this genre tends to focus a little more attention on the characters since we need to actively root for them to *want* to find love again, and if we are too invested in the “first true love” we might not want to buy into the new romance. So more than most romance genres, there is a bit of a tightrope which the authors in this genre need to walk in order to provide an effective story.

  • Plot Strength

    This genre is mostly set in modern times, so the plot is pretty formulaic – so for this genre the main focus of the story is often divided into two parts – the first half of the novel is spent where we learn about the old relationship and meet the people around the hero/heroine who are trying to convince him/her that it is time to move forward. Then the second half of the novel focuses on the developing relationship between the two main characters.

  • Romantic Tension

    There is quite a bit of romantic tension in this genre since while we always know how it will end, we don’t always know the path which will be taken to achieve it.

  • Level of Eros

    This genre is mixed – sometimes it focuses on “sexual healing” once the main characters get together, and this approach is not usually about hot and steamy sex scenes. The sex is usually gentle, slow and helps with the psychological and emotional recovery of the hero/heroine.
    But, then there are some writers in this genre who have extremely intense sex scenes, and a lot of focus of the story is just about forgetting the past in the pleasure of the present. These novels are usually not as well written and don’t spend as much time developing the story.

  • Prose Quality

    The prose quality in this genre is usually pretty solid since the authors are developing stories about two or three relationships in one novel.

Related Romance Subgenres



  • There really very few related subgenres since this genre is such a specific one; the one that does seem to work as a subgenre is “military romance” since a lot of the “love after loss” books focus on someone who was in the military/most someone who was serving in the military. Often people confuse this genre with the “lost love” genre, which focuses on people who fall in love, are separated by some circumstance and then find themselves back together again, or they confuse it with the “escape” romance genre, which focuses on people who are running away from bad situations/relationships and meet someone (often someone who is as damaged/fearful as they are).

“Love After Loss” Romance isn't for you if

You like light-hearted romance, mysteries, and time-travel/the supernatural.

“Love After Loss” Romance is totally for you if

You like thoughtful scenarios, seeing how relationships develop, and enjoy rooting for the underdog.

Popular “Love After Loss” Romance Books
  • 1 The Five Stages of Falling in Love (2015)

    By Rachel Higginson. Focuses on the life of a woman and her four children whose husband and father dies of cancer. She is overwhelmed until her new neighbor moves in and helps with her kids, her yard and her heart.

  • 2 The Life Intended (2014)

    By Kristen Harmel. Has a bit of a twist in that over 10 years elapse before the heroine is ready to find love again, and then another twist when her deceased husband reaches out to intervene in her planned second marriage.

  • 3 At Peace (2011)

    By Kristen Ashley. Is the story of a woman whose husband is murdered, and her journey to find love and learn to feel safe again.

  • 4 My Unexpected Forever (2013)

    By Heidi McLaughlin. Tells the story of a woman whose husband dies suddenly, leaving her alone to raise young twin daughters. NOTE: It is strongly recommended that you read Forever My Girl (2012/2014) first since that is the book where the main characters are first introduced.

  • 5 Captured (2014)

    By Jasinda and Jack Wilder. Focuses on a wife whose husband (a Marine) was killed in action. Her recovery involves another serviceman who is escaping from his demons as they both search for love.

  • 6 Butterfly Tattoo (2009)

    By Deirdre Knight. Presents the “love after loss” genre from the perspective of a hero whose partner is killed in a car accident and he is left alone to raise their young daughter who feels guilty about surviving the crash that killed her mother.

  • 7 Vital Sign (2014)

    By J. L. Mack. Is an interesting twist about a woman who enters a relationship with the recipient of her deceased husband’s heart.

  • 8 When You’re Ready (2013)

    By J. L. Berg. Is the classic tale of a woman who is not sure she wants a second chance. This novel probably stands as one of the better representations of this genre in terms of the reluctance faced by the heroine or hero, and the impact of the first love on the chance to find a new one, although there are somewhat mixed reviews about the actual quality of the writing.

  • 9 Forever Interrupted (2013)

    By Taylor Jenkins Reid. Tells the unusual story of instant attraction and sudden loss, and then the remainder of the novel focuses on the love in the relationship that was lost, the rediscovering of self and the power of female friendship. It’s a non-traditional romance novel, but one which is very fulfilling and enjoyable to read.

  • 10 One Day: A Love After Loss Romance (2016)

    By Georgia Browncoat. Is a novella which focuses on a heroine who is trying to cope with the loss of her boyfriend when she miscarries. The double loss creates additional walls for her as she starts the long journey on her path to rediscovering love.