There are few things I love more than a story that can rip my heart out and stomp on it a few times. Whether that be in book or movie form, I always seek out ugly cry stories. Granted I have to be in the mood for it, but I crave this feeling. Does that make me a masochist? I think it’s so impressive when an author can draw out that much emotion from me about fictional characters and situations. The harder the author crushes my heart, the better!
A few years ago we did one of these top tens and we thought it was time to talk about more books that are ready to rip your heart out. Check out our first Ugly Cry top ten here. This was a little hard to keep to a top ten so we have 11 books to talk about (had to give you a bonus!) Also, just know that as much as we tried to put these in some sort of order, they are all going to break your heart just the same. So the number they are on this list is kind of irrelevant. If you’re ready to be gutted and destroyed… keep on reading! Pick up any of these (or the ones from the previous top ten). And have your box of tissues handy when starting them. Maybe also make sure you have some emotional support ready because you will probably need it. Let’s get started!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Wait. What do you mean Evelyn Hugo is a bonus!? Well, you may already know that this is one of my all time favorite books. Evelyn Hugo is one of my all time favorite fictional characters. I recommend this always. I almost felt redundant adding it here because this book has a chance of making an appearance in a lot of different types of lists so I wanted to make sure I talked about the ones that may not appear as often elsewhere. BUT, I had to make sure I gave this book a not because… it destroyed me. In all the best of ways.
HEA? This is a women’s fiction / historical fiction novel. Not a romance, although romance features throughout the book. And ultimately, there is no HEA.
by Kim Holden
Bright Side #1
When I picked up this book, I did it with the knowledge that it would devastate me. That’s exactly why people recommended it to me. I didn’t read it as soon as it came out and I went into it a bit hesitant already because of the hype. Let me assure you, this was one of my ugliest cries. Kim Holden didn’t care one bit for what was happening to my heart. And I loved every second of it. It was beautifully done! And that’s all I’ll say because I don’t want to ruin the book for you. Just experience it.
HEA? I think it’s just the honest thing to tell you you won’t find an HEA so try and look at this not as a romance and more as a new adult women’s fiction novel. Is that a thing?
The Sweet Gum Tree
by Katherine Allred
I read this book a few years ago and it had been on my TBR for a few years before that. I had seen good reviews for it but honestly I kept putting off reading it because it had an awful cover (it’s since been redone). This is a second chance romance and a story that spans 26 years. We start out meeting the main couple when they were just kids and the friendship and connection that bonds them. Then life throws everything it can at them until they finally come back together all this time later. Sounds simple, right? There’s nothing simple about this romance and it’s one of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching romances you’ll read. But one you won’t want to miss.
HEA? Rest assured you’ll find a happily ever after here!
A Thousand Boy Kisses
by Tillie Cole
This book was insane. I cried ALL the tears reading this. Tillie Cole gleefully plucked at your heartstrings untill you were broken down shell of a reader. Well kind of. Although I had a few issues with some aspects of this book, it was a bittersweet love story and a must read if you enjoy the experience of having your heart pulled out through your eyeballs.
HEA? ….. In a way? [but not really]
by Madeline Sheehan
Here’s the thing with this book. I clearly knew before starting this wouldn’t have an HEA. See, this book is about the father of the heroine in the first book of this series. Her mom was never in the picture. So you know going into it that this romance ends tragically somehow. That didn’t stop me from reading it. And it didn’t stop me from making this one of the most broken but memorable rides I’d been on. Preacher is now an old man, dying of cancer, and is time for him to tell his daughter the story about her mom. The reason why she never knew him to find love with another woman. And it makes me sad thinking about this book again. Life and circumstances were just not kind to these two people but their love wasn’t any less strong because of that. And you may think why couldn’t things have turned out differently? They could’ve! It’s so unfair. Am I making any sense? No, I know I’m not. If you’re ready for a grittier book than most on this list, this is the one for you. If you’re a Sons of Anarchy fan, this is the book for you. And this can be read as a standalone since we are going back in time.
HEA? I answered that already.
It Ends with Us
by Colleen Hoover
This may be the most thought provoking book on this list. It breaks your heart while making you question your own decisions in the circumstances this book presents. That’s a testament to how well the author crafted this story because I went into it knowing the main subject matter (domestic violence) and having my own very strong opinions about where I stand and what my reactions would be if I ever found myself in this situation. Yet, this book made me understand the other side of the coin. It’s one of my favorite Hoover books because it left me raw.
HEA? Yes, you’ll find one here. Even though this is a book that straddles the contemporary romance and women’s fiction line quite a bit.
by Shay Savage
I put off reading this book for a long time because I had been told it was a tearjerker. But a time travel caveman romance? There’s only so long I can put destiny on hold. Have you ever cried because a scene was so breathtaking and beautiful and touching and happy and sad and ALL THE EMOTIONS? That’s what happened here. And I highly recommend giving this book a try, it’s a truly unique and wonderful read.
HEA? You betcha!
All Your Perfects
by Colleen Hoover
Two Colleen Hoover books in one list? Why, yes. I couldn’t pick just one! I have a weird relationship with books by this author because generally they don’t ALL work for me. When it comes to her writing real subjects with real adults, I think she excels. That emotion when she digs deep into human interactions is what I think she does best. And making the reader connect to it. This book explores a troubled marriage and one issue that is a heavy emotional subject for many people. It showed this as the toll it takes on an individual as well as the relationship. There’s a lot of happy, but a lot more sad. The balance in which this book delivers both of those is so perfectly done to keep you from breaking down while reading it. It keeps you with hope. And as much as it tore me to pieces, it also built me back up.
HEA? Has Colleen ever done a book that doesn’t have on in some way? This is definitely another one that straddles that contemporary romance and women’s fiction line.
by J.R. Ward
Black Dagger Brotherhood #13
To say this book devastated me is a huge understatement. J.R. Ward grabbed my heart, ripped it out my chest and then did a tap dance. Deep breathing exercises and lots of chocolate were needed before I could function like a normal human being again. But I loved it. The Shadows is a controversial book, Ward did some things that not every one who follows this series liked. I can see why. This book isn’t the romance you are expecting. But, it’s still beautiful and any book that gets me to well up just thinking about it deserves a spot on this list.
HEA? … yes and no.
What the Wind Knows
by Amy Harmon
Time travel romance with the beautiful backdrop of the early 1920s in Scotland? Yes, please! With Amy Harmon’s beautiful and lyrical writing on top of that? OMG!! Amy Harmon is definitely one of my favorite authors and I could’ve also mentioned at least 4 other of her books off the top of my head on this list that devastated me before building me back up. This being the most recent. There’s something magical about this story and the way the time travel and cycle of life is depicted. And the romance filled me with joy. It’s understatedly beautiful.
HEA? Don’t worry, I don’t think Amy Harmon has ever left us hanging without one and this is not where she starts! At least you know that going into her books. *fingers crossed that continues to be the case*
Next Year in Havana
by Chanel Cleeton
Chanel Cleeton is another one of those authors that could’ve made multiple appearances on this list. Her books, whether she’s writing straight romance or in this case historical fiction with a heavy side dose of romance, are always full of emotion. Emotions can be messy and she’s had me reaching for the tissue box on multiple occasions. But never one quite like this one. NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA is full of heart and you can feel that whether she’s walking you through mid-1950s Havana or seeing the same place through today’s eyes. The dual timelines give you completely different emotions, both will reach deep into your heart and stomp on it a few times. You’ll be wrecked in the best of ways and maybe even take a few days to recover.
HEA? Like I said, this is not necessarily a romance although it does have a romance and an HEA to satisfy the romance readers.
What are your favorite tearjerkers?
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