By now you know that I love romance. It’s what I write and what I love to read. This year, I’ve been making more of an effort to read. (The Goodreads Reading Challenge tends to do that to you.) It’s meant that I’ve expanded my usual preference for Nora Roberts to include new authors like me, or simply to include new-to-me authors. It’s also meant that I’ve read great books this year. Here are six that have made me proud to write romance.
Sleepless in Manhattan
Cool, calm and competent, events planner Paige Walker loves a challenge. After a childhood spent in and out of hospitals, she’s now determined to prove herself—and where better to take the world by storm than in the exhilarating bustle of Manhattan? But when Paige is let go from the job she loves, she must face her biggest challenge of all—going it alone.
Except launching her own events company is nothing compared to hiding her outrageous crush on Jake Romano—her brother’s best friend, New York’s most in-demand date, and the only man to break her heart. When Jake offers Paige’s fledgling company a big chance, their still-sizzling chemistry starts giving her sleepless nights. But can she convince the man who trusts no one to take a chance on forever?
I read this book because Sarah Morgan and I once shared an editor. (My claim to fame.) I lost said editor last year, so reading Sarah Morgan was my attempt at staying in touch. (I do have said editor’s email, but I’m being dramatic here, okay?) But I’m so glad I read this book, regardless of my illogical reasoning. It was amazing. The friendship dynamic was enjoyable, the romance strong with off-the-charts chemistry, and the conflict emotional and tender. It’s the reason I wrote my first friends-to-lovers romance this year, and I’m leaning toward writing the brother’s best friend’s trope because of it, too.
On Second Thought
Ainsley O’Leary is so ready to get married—she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is being blindsided by a breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her older half sister, Kate, who’s struggling with a sudden loss of her own.
Kate’s always been the poised, self-assured sister, but becoming a newlywed—and a widow—in the space of four months overwhelms her. Though the sisters were never close, she starts to confide in Ainsley, especially when she learns her late husband was keeping a secret from her.
Despite the murky blended-family dynamic that’s always separated them, Ainsley’s and Kate’s heartaches bind their summer together when they come to terms with the inevitable imperfection of relationships and family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.
I’d never read a Kristan Higgins book before, but was immediately charmed into buying this book based on the first page. Kate and Ainsley, the sisters/main characters in this book, are wonderful. I loved their strength, particularly Ainsley’s, since I’d for sure thought she was a pushover because of the relationship she was in at the beginning of the book. The first-person narrative is effortless – which is saying something considering both Kate and Ainsley narrate. I LOVED the love interests in this book. And while this is more women’s fiction than romance, it’s definitely one of my top picks of 2017.
Suddenly One Summer
Divorce lawyer Victoria Slade has seen enough unhappy endings to swear off marriage forever. That doesn’t mean she’s opposed to casual dating—just not with her cocky new neighbor, who is as gorgeous and tempting as he is off-limits. But once she agrees to take on his sister’s case, she’s as determined to win as ever—even if that means teaming up with Ford…
Investigative journalist Ford Dixon is bent on finding the man who got his sister pregnant and left her high and dry. He’s willing to partner with Victoria, despite the fact that the beautiful brunette gets under his skin like no other woman. He might not be looking to settle down, but there’s no denying the scorching attraction between them. Still, the more time he spends with Victoria, the more he realizes that the one woman as skeptical about love as he is might be the only woman he could really fall for…
Julie James is the romantic comedy writer I’d love to be one day. She has a talent for writing heroes who are begrudging, but desirable, and heroines who are strong, but vulnerable. This book was easy to read, fun, flirty and sexy. It also had genuine emotion and warmth and is the perfect book to read in the summer. (But since I read it in winter, I’d say it’s the perfect book to read in any season.)
Not a Fairy Tale
And the award goes to…
Not Nina Alexander that’s for sure. With her best gracious loser face firmly in place, Hollywood’s hottest starlet is hoping to end her evening of disappointment with a graceful exit stage left. Only an unexpected proposal and an awkward wardrobe malfunction mean that this is certainly going to be a night to remember… for all the wrong reasons! So what girl would resist the gorgeous Dominic Kelly coming to her rescue?! Especially when he’s whisking her out of the paparazzi’s prying eyes on the back of his motorbike – and wearing a tux to rival James Bond!
Nina soon realises that the only way to recover from such a scandal is to toughen up and snag the role of the decade in the year’s hottest YA screen adaptation. Who better to train her than her very own professional stuntman? Getting up close and personal with Dom will take Nina well out of her comfort zone – both professionally and in her closely scrutinized private life. But this A-list couple know only too well that’s it not all happy ever afters in Hollywood…
This book was immediately a winner for me because it was written by a South African romance author. (And our first RITA-nominee!) But beside my patriotism, this book was excellent. It lured me in from the moment the heroine, Nina, doesn’t win the Oscar she was nominated for, has to deal with an unexpected proposal and a wardrobe malfunction. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she is saved by a fabulously sexy hero, Dominic, the man every woman wants, but knows she should stay away from. Phenomenal chemistry, and the ending was perfect!
Take Me, Cowboy
She’s just one of the boys, but with a new business in Copper Ridge, Anna Brown needs to change that. Her brothers bet she can’t land a date for a fancy charity event. So Anna turns to her best friend—the hottest bachelor in town—for advice.
Rancher Chase McCormack wants in on that gala. If Anna takes him, he promises to turn her into a lady. But the makeover reveals what he’s long suspected—Anna’s irresistible! Is his best friend prepared to be taken—heart, body and soul—by her very own cowboy?
This book by Maisey Yates made me want to write a sexy book. For those of you who don’t know (shame on you), I write sweet romance. So, this should tell you how much this book affected me. (I actually don’t mean this in a dirty way, but you’re probably going to think I’m lying, which is fair.) This book was a real page-turner. The chemistry was HOT, the heroine sassy and strong, and the hero sexy. And yes, fine, the sexy scenes are so gripping that I’d recommend this book solely for that reason…
The Convenient Felstone Marriage
“I have a proposal for you…”
The last place respectable governess Ianthe Holt ever expected to be proposed to was in a train carriage…by a stranger…who had just accused her of trying to trap another man into marriage!
Shipping magnate Robert Felstone may be dashing, but he’s also insufferable, impertinent–and Ianthe’s only possible savior from her uncertain fate. She’s hesitant to play the perfect Felstone wife, but Robert soon shows Ianthe there’s more to him than meets the eye, and more to marriage than vows…
Jenni is a friend of mine, so her second book’s appearance in this list is completely unbiased… Honestly though, when you read a Jenni Fletcher book, you’ll immediately pick up how smart and original her voice is. This book does the marriage of convenience trope so well, and has a relatable and spunky heroine and a dashing and brooding hero. What more could you ask for? 😉