2018 has really been the year of Contemporary Romance for me. I think technically paranormal is beating it numbers wise, but that’s because I keep re-reading the paranormals I discovered this year and loved. Anyway, that means I’ve already got another list of ten contemporary romance novels to escape into when the world is just a little tough to handle. So let’s jump to it.
1. Scoring Off the Fieldby Naima Simone
Allow me to begin by saying that Naima Simone’s WAGs series is flawlessly amazing and you should definitely read all three—I mean, the woman got me to read AND enjoy the baby trope in book three! Wild. But Scoring Off the Field is absolutely fantastic and in a league of it’s own. Friends to lovers with utter perfection. Tennyson and Dom have been friends since they were children in the foster care system together and other than that one time Tenny drunkenly made a pass at Dom, they’ve been just friends. But Tenny is tired of being one of the guys and Dom’s personal assistant and decides it’s time for her to finally separate herself from being Dom’s best friend and to pursue what she really wants. But when she tells Dom she’s resigning from being his personal assistant, Dom starts to wake up and realize that Tenny is not just his best friend and, in fact, he might want more from her. The angst is so good in this one. I loved it so much.
2. Rock Redemptionb y Nalini Singh
Aka, the Rock Kiss series by Nalini Singh. If you’re like, but wait, didn’t you already tell us about Rock Hard, the answer is yes, but that was to recommend the Hard Play series of which Rock Hard is a part of as well. (Speaking of Rebel Hard has now come out and it was amazing and everything and you should definitely read it, especially if you love Bollywood anything.) Anyway, Rock Redemption is actually book three of this series and you should start with book one, but I really want to talk about this controversial fave in the series (besides Rock Hard) of mine. Kit and Noah were friends, until Noah intentionally messed it up because this sweet, broken love of mine is, um, broken. The reason I call this book controversial is because Noah resists therapy even though therapy would be most helpful for him. But Kit and Noah finding their way back to one another after Noah messed it up and kind of keeps messing it up? EVERYTHING. Also, I talk about Rock Wedding, another book in the series in the Books I Love with Tropes I Hate post linked to the side, if you need to be further convinced of reading everything Nalini Singh ever writes.
3. Pretending He’s Mineby Mia Sosa
This is the second book in Sosa’s Love on Cue series and while both are good, it’s really hard for me to resist the fake dating trope in Pretending He’s Mine, especially when you combine it with a little taste of the forbidden because older brother’s best friend element and friends to lovers. But I think I already talked about Acting on Impulse anyway, so no worries! The book begins with Jordan listening to Ashley give herself an orgasm in his home and somehow letting her move in with him until she figures out something else. One of the things that I liked about this book is that the attraction between the two is discussed openly and the reasons why they can’t/shouldn’t act on it are similarly dealt with. But resisting one another proves more and more difficult as forced proximity happens and oh, man. This book is trope-tastic, but also feels so, so real.
4. The Kiss Quotientby Helen Hoang
I’m including The Kiss Quotient because I think this book is full of really wonderful things, even though it didn’t specifically appeal to me. It’s one of those where there is no discernible reason why I didn’t like it so instead of focusing on trying to figure out what didn’t work for me, I’m going to focus on why it will probably work for you. First of all, who doesn’t love a book where the woman is financially doing great? And secondly, reversed gender Pretty Woman? Like, sign me up, right? Also, Michael, our hero, is a precious bean and I love how he works with Stella to empower her. It’s a fascinating look at power dynamics because logically, you would think that Stella has all the power. She is paying Michael, after all. But that’s not how it feels and I think the subversion is truly excellent. And Stella is on the spectrum and Michael is Vietnamese American so lots of good things happening. I gave the book to one of my best friends who really enjoyed it so I’m sure you will too!
5. A Duke by Defaultby Alyssa Cole
I was just talking about this book for #RomBkLove when the topic was unlikeable heroines because in A Princess in Theory, Portia really rubbed me the wrong way. I’m a Hufflepuff and being a good friend is a really key part of my identity and something I’m clearly too sensitive about given my reaction to Portia in book one of the Reluctant Royals series. So imagine my surprise when I fell madly in love with Portia in this book. She is incredible. I love her in all of her ADHD affected glory. She is not perfect, but she tries so freaking hard to be everything for everyone else and I just want to give her the biggest hug and tell her everything is okay. Oh, and our hero, Tav is an actual sword maker and he’s pretty cool, even if he can be a little too gruff sometimes. And if you aren’t aware, Portia earns herself an apprenticeship with Tav in Scotland and basically just flips his life upside down and along the way, discovers that he’s a duke! Oops. And now I’m desperate to re-read this one so… There go my plans for the day.
6. Wanna Bet?by Talia Hibbert
Honestly, probably just read everything Talia has ever written, but this masterpiece is, currently, my favorite of hers. Jasmine is my fictional soul sister. She’s a little bit broken and instead of dealing with those jagged pieces of her pain that have left her with some issues letting people in, my precious baby focuses on other people and being what they need. And my darling Rahul is so in love with her and she’s just not really aware. And then there’s forced proximity and she just needs quality time and then there’s therapy and the angst!!! Oh man. I love this book so much. Lots of people listed this one when talking about fluffy books for #RomBkLove, but I didn’t because it made me cry. It is, however, absolutely the book you need to curl up with if you just need something to wrap you in a hug and let you know that you are worthy of love and just… SO MANY FEELS. (I thought by now I would be ready to talk about this book without rambling, but uh, clearly not.)
7. The Hook Upby Kristen Callihan
Let us all bow down to Ana Coqui whose brilliant #RomBkLove led to a one-click spree on sports romance day that introduced me to this BEAUTIFUL masterpiece by Kristen Callihan. I devoured this book and if I hadn’t let my one-click finger go too trigger happy picking up other recs, I would have the entire series binged by now, I guarantee it. Instead, I’m waiting impatiently to get paid again so I can one-click away at the rest of this series and then probably eventually, her rock star romances, which Sarah MacLean just recommended on the Fated Mates podcast. Anyway, about this book: football star and quarterback, Drew Baylor is a little startled by the immediacy of his desire for Anna Jones, who has less than no interest in entangling her life with this football star. But, you know, one night can’t hurt and the chemistry is sizzling, but can the two of them really make it work when Anna refuses the spotlight that Drew can’t help but attract? MY HEART. The angst!!! This book is amazing and perfection and is it Thursday yet? I’m really excited to pick up the next book in this series!
8. Dirtyby Kylie Scott
Speaking of rock star romances and specifically, rock star romances recommended on the last episode of the Fated Mates podcast, Dirty by Kylie Scott is amazing. This is the first book in the spinoff trilogy that Sarah or Jen actually recommended. Anyway, I listened to this on audio a few months ago and holy cow, I fell in love. Now to actually purchase the rest of the series… This book starts with our heroine running away from her wedding because she finds out her fiancé has actually been sleeping with his best man for, um, a while. She jumps the fence to the neighbors and then breaks into the home by crawling through a window and winds up in the hero’s bathtub and can’t move any more. It is, wonderful. I really enjoyed this one.
9. A Gentleman in the Streetby Alisha Rai
So, apparently I hadn’t yet included this book in these posts. Oops. A Gentleman in the Street is everything. Akira is a Queen and, also, apparently considered unlikeable as I learned on that #RomBkLove day. Y’all. Akira is a billionaire and she runs this sex club out of her house. She is confident and powerful and AMAZING. I love her so much. And Jacob? He’s a doll. He’s a writer who is tasked with taking care of his younger siblings and, um, also he and Akira used to be step siblings? Oh man. I need to re-read this. It is wildly sexy (obviously) so keep that in mind. But it is so, so wonderful.
10. True Northseries by Sarina Bowen
Okay, I’m cheating a little bit because I listed Sarina Bowen in general in the first post like this I did. However, this series is not a sports romance and that’s really all that I’d read from her when I made that post. So we’re saying this is fine. (Also, my blog, my rules, right?)
This series tackles a lot of serious topics and I think, for the most part, it tackles them well. I think the first book, Bittersweet is fantastic because it does such a wonderful job introducing a huge ensemble cast without feeling overwhelming. I think my favorite book is the second one, which is where recovering addict and convicted felon, Jude returns to his hometown and encounters his first love. His felony, by the way, is the result of a car accident that claimed the life of Sophie’s brother. This series is so wonderful and gives me all the feels. Also, it really makes me want to travel to Vermont, which is a thing I’ve never wanted to do really. But now? It’s very much on the list.
What contemporary romances have you read and loved lately? Anything I definitely need to pick up? Let me know in the comments below!