When Readers Take Denver (RTD) returns for its second annual gathering (April 18 to 21; Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center), attendees will have to adjust to its new scale. “The first year, we had about 1,000 people,” says writer Lisa Renee Jones, who founded the romance-focused book festival. “This year, we’re going to have 3,500.” Part of the reason for the explosive growth? Bookworms are in love with love: While print book sales were down in the first half of 2023, according to Publishers Weekly, sales of romance novels grew by 34.6 percent, making the category the fastest-growing adult fiction genre in the country. These authors—all of whom you’ll find at RTD—have helped set the mood in Colorado.

Rebecca Yarros' Fourth Wing
Courtesy of Red Tower Books

Rebecca Yarros

Home Base: Colorado Springs
Must-Read Work: Fourth Wing
Subgenre: Romantasy
Plot Synopsis: Violet, the bookish daughter of a warrior-general mother, must use her wits to survive at an elite military college for dragon riders—and to decide which of her classmates she fancies most.
Read If: Your turn-ons include love triangles, mythological beasts, and political intrigue

Kristen Ashley's Lady Luck
Courtesy of Hachette Book Group Inc.

Kristen Ashley

Home Base: Phoenix, Arizona
Must-Read Work: The Colorado Mountain Series
Subgenre: Contemporary Romance
Plot Synopsis: Ashley may live in Phoenix, but she started her writing career in Denver. This series is set in the fictional Colorado towns of Gnaw Bone, Carnal, and Chantelle, where the lives of eight men intertwine as they each seek another chance at love.
Read If: You crave mountain men with broken hearts in need of mending

Helen Hardt's Craving
Courtesy of Waterhouse Press

Helen Hardt

Home Base: Denver
Must-Read Work: The Steel Brothers Saga
Subgenre: Dark Romance
Plot Synopsis: This sprawling 30-book series begins with the aptly titled Craving. After being left at the altar, Jade Roberts escapes to a Western Slope ranch only to fall for a man who has never healed from some truly disturbing childhood trauma.
Read If: Trigger warnings won’t stop you from turning to page one

Meghan Quinn's A Long Time Coming
Courtesy of Sourcebooks/Bloom Books

Meghan Quinn

Home Base: Colorado Springs
Must-Read Work: A Long Time Coming
Subgenre: Rom-Com
Plot Synopsis: When he’s asked to be his female best friend’s man of honor, billionaire Breaker Cane does the thinkable and falls for her. Now he just has to outmaneuver the groom’s mother-in-law—not to mention the groom.
Read If: Witty banter gets you hot and bothered (and you don’t believe “humble billionaire” is an oxymoron)

This article was originally published in 5280 April 2024.
Nicholas Hunt
Nicholas Hunt
Nicholas writes and edits the Compass, Adventure, and Culture sections of 5280 and writes for 5280.com.