Sometimes running from my problems does not involve completely escaping the current world, but instead involves escaping into a contemporary romance so I can give myself hope that even though the world seems awful, it will not stay that way. I am, once again, providing you with a mixed list of authors and books because, well, you know. Let’s get started!
Was Courtney Milan listed on my historical romance list? Yes, yes she was. She is also on this list because holy cow, her contemporary Cyclone series is THE BEST and I love it so much. You’ve heard about Hold Me in a book talk that I will leave linked to the side, so I’m going to focus on Trade Me for this.
Trade Me stars Tina Chen, a brilliant, but financially struggling college student and Blake Reynolds, a super rich, very intelligent, marvelous human college student/technology giant’s son. The two have a rocky first encounter because Blake is… Well, Blake, but Blake is having an existential life crisis (he’s going through some stuff, okay?) and he offers Tina the opportunity to trade lives. This book is AMAZING. The series is incredible and I just genuinely cannot recommend it highly enough. Just take my word for it and pick up Trade Me and check back with me when you’re finished so we can squeal about how wonderful it is together.
2. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
I have a book talk on Hate to Want You as well, so I will refer you to that and sum it up here by saying that it’s a book about a tattoo artist heroine and a business heir hero whose families have a complicated past. It’s a second chance love story that’s brilliant and emotionally perfect. It’s angsty and made me cry three times. Give it a shot.
If you enjoy erotic romance, Alisha Rai has several other books that fit into that genre, many of which I’ve enjoyed (the others I haven’t read yet). I would highly recommend Serving Pleasure though, if that’s a genre you’re interested in.
3. Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid
I adored this book and still need to continue the series, but trust me, I WILL BE DOING THIS. Once again, I have a book review for this one posted and it is linked over to the side.
As a recap, this book is hilarious, involves the sort of family dynamics that makes me love a book, any book, and the love story is A++. It’s a little hate to love, plus a lot of fun. Also, female friendship! I highly recommend it.
Fair warning, the mom is terminally ill in this book and that is very sad. Everything else is really wonderful and lovely and makes you so, so happy. Except that one of her brother’s names is Cletus and I still can’t get past that.
4. Sarina Bowen
I have devoured Sarina Bowen’s entire backlist this year, with the exception of three. I love them. The books she wrote with Elle Kennedy are special favorites, but I honestly just love them all. I can’t even decide where to start, so I guess I’ll start with where I began, which was The Year We Fell Down and then I just kept going from there. If you like hockey, you’ll love her books. If you don’t like hockey, you’ll probably still love her books. She writes such compelling characters and each story is so unique and different. I just cannot say enough good things about her. Also, while The Ivy Years series is New Adult, Brooklyn Bruisers and Him and Us are not. So there should be something for you no matter what you’re looking for, including m/m romances, which I’ve seen at least one gay man recommend to others so hopefully that means the rep is as good as it comes across to this straight woman.
5. Royally Series by Emma Chase
I adore Emma Chase’s Royally series because it’s really just the best, although I’ve not yet read the most recent, which is an issue that I will hopefully remedy soon. The first in the series was Royally Screwed, in which Prince Nicholas stumbled into the struggling pie shop that Olivia runs. Olivia is #notimpressed with Prince Nicholas and doesn’t recognize him, to the dismay of her little sister, but somehow she intrigues the Prince enough that he keeps coming around and eventually, they fall in love. I adored this book and immediately downloaded the sequel. I stayed up way too late reading both of these books and am very excited to dive into the most recent, Royally Endowed, soon!
6. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata
What do I love more than a marriage of convenience? Not a whole lot when it comes to my romance novels, so it should come as no surprise that I’m beyond obsessed with The Wall of Winnipeg and Me. Mariana Zapata wrote a gorgeously stunning novel about a marriage between football star, Aiden Graves, and his personal assistant, Vanessa Mazur, for the sake of Aiden’s immigration status. Now, mind you, Vanessa quit her job as Aiden’s personal assistant before he even asked her for this ridiculously huge favor, but when he shows up on her doorstep to convince her to do this for him, she’s obliged to listen.
This book is a slooooooooow burn and it burns so good, y’all. It’s also a story of friendship, supporting one another, and family. I loved everything about this book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Read it. Love it. Squeal about it with me.
7. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
I felt like this book was getting a little overhyped and I read it and enjoyed it immensely, but did not experience the same sort of life changing love of it that so many others have. I included it on this list though so that if you, unlike me, have not heard an absurd amount of hype, will read it and love it even more than I did.
The Hating Game is about two co-workers, Lucy and Josh, who are competing for a promotion and they hate each other. Until they don’t. Their antics are hilarious and absurd, but somehow, watching them slowly begin to fall for each other is a delight that has you rooting for them to figure it out already! If you love the hate to love trope, like I do, this book will knock your socks off.
8. Act Like It by Lucy Parker
Act Like It features one of my all-time favorite tropes: Fake Dating. I adore fake dating tropes, which typically feel like the modern day marriage of convenience trope. This one was particularly compelling, I felt, because Richard and Lainie don’t care for one another at all when they are forced together for the sake of publicity. So it combines fake dating with enemies to lovers and I was delighted the entire time.
Richard is a star who doesn’t know how to keep it together, so his public image is a disaster. Lainie just got dumped by her boyfriend, who was an idiot and a tool. She’s also a West End darling so she and Richard wind up being forced together for the good of the show. It’s a really wonderful book that I highly recommend.
9. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
So this book is written by the Fugg Girls and it’s loosely based on Prince William and Kate Middleton, but what if Kate was an American exchange student? And, uh, if that doesn’t hook you, then… Well, I really don’t know what to tell you. But I hope it does hook you because I have never wanted a sequel to anything more in my life than I do to this book. Also, allegedly it was optioned? So if that is true, WHY IS THIS NOT YET A MOVIE? Please join me in my love for this book so we can convince Hollywood that we need it to be a movie and the publishers that Heather and Jessica have to give me, er, us, a sequel.
10. Nora Roberts
I say that Sarah MacLean got me back into reading romance novels and in a way that’s true, but in a way, I never stopped because I’ve been reading Nora Roberts since well-before I should have been and haven’t really stopped. I don’t think I’ve read Ms. Roberts entire backlist and I’ve read none of her Naked in Death series (but I have the first one out from the library right now!), but I’ve read every Nora Roberts book my hometown library had to offer and most, if not all, of the ones that the Durham County library I frequent has. My favorites though are probably The Bride Quartet and the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy. I really enjoy both of those contemporaries, but there are several older ones that I really enjoyed, like The Stanislaskis. She is such a staple in the romance world that I can’t imagine not having read from her, but if you haven’t, I highly recommend.
I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting both this list and the Historical Romance list next year with a whole new set of books to rave about because I just love romance novels so much and I’m trying to read new to me authors in the upcoming months. My Kindle would sincerely appreciate it if I would hurry and do that instead of leaving the books languishing unread in my TBR collection. Let me know some of your favorites below. Who or what have I not read that you think I should? Who are your favorite contemporary romance authors?