The best contemporary romance books that are a little bit extra

Who am I?

I have a little secret. I was late to the romance table. Though I grew up with a romance reading mother, my initial interests lay in the fantastical worlds of Paulo Coelho, Anne Rice, and David Gemmel. Romance seemed forbidden, and I didn’t touch the genre until my late twenties, when a nasty breakup sent my disillusioned heart looking for more. And what a revelation! Romance taught me to expect more from myself and my relationships. At the close of one creative career, it lit an unstoppable passion to become a contemporary romance author. And here I am, a decade on, writing romance and sharing my book recommendations with you!

I wrote...

Sapphires and Secrets

By Katerina Simms,

Book cover of Sapphires and Secrets

What is my book about?

Forbidden love in a town where danger lurks at every corner.

Fleeing a family who wants to destroy her, jewelry heiress Emilia Bonacci, finds herself in the small, charming, and picturesque town of Harlow, Minnesota—where a chance encounter throws her into the path of her forbidden first love…Blaine Callaghan had big dreams until he made the mistake of falling for Emilia. Her powerful connections exiled him to this small town, away from his family and future. Seeing her now unearths years of buried love and resentment, but this earth-shattering attraction is impossible to avoid. Maybe they could be together this time. Except, a host of dangerous secrets threaten to tear them apart.

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The books I picked & why

Call Me Irresistible

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips,

Book cover of Call Me Irresistible

Why did I love this book?

I’m not one to read a book twice, but this is one of those rare gems I go back to every once in a while.

Personally, I loved that the hero, Ted Beaudine, is more of an antihero in his aloofness and—kinda justified—vendetta against the heroine. Now, if an author can convince me to like a dislikable hero, I will sing about their book from the rooftops. So, here I am, singing.

Without giving too much away, Phillips does a masterful job of breathing life into her small-town Texas setting, as well as humanity into some truly surprising characters.

This is one of those books to kick back with and enjoy all the tingly good feels that will inevitably come.

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Call Me Irresistible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

R.S.V.P. to the most riotous wedding of the year ...To most people, Lucy Jorik is the luckiest girl on earth. Not only is she the daughter of a former president of the United States, she's about to marry Mr. Irresistible - Ted Beaudine - the favorite son of Wynette, Texas. The offspring of living legends, Meg Koranda is definitely not most people. She knows Lucy is making the biggest mistake of her life and she's determined to save her best friend from a mess of heartache. But even though Meg knows that breaking up the wedding is the right thing…

Lingerie Wars

By Janet Elizabeth Henderson,

Book cover of Lingerie Wars

Why did I love this book?

The first feeling that comes to mind when describing this book is fun!

From the small Scottish town to the wacky side characters, there’s just something so charming about Lingerie Wars. Oh, and the premise is gold!

Beefy Alpha hero, somehow pulled into a competition against the heroine over who can sell the most underwear?

I’m giggling as I write this. I’ve actually read the entire Invertary series, and will probably again!

By Janet Elizabeth Henderson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lingerie Wars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"With all the things going on in the world, this was just what I needed. I enjoyed this book so much. It's a laugh out loud romantic romp through a small town full of quirky characters." Amazon ★★★★★ It's going to be HOT in the Highlands this Christmas!

A former special forces officer. An ex-model. And a bet that could cost one of them their lifelong dream...

Kirsty Campbell's modeling career ended after a car crash left her scarred and gave her fiancé slash manager the chance to run off with her life savings. Silver lining? She found out he…

Kissing Tolstoy

By Penny Reid,

Book cover of Kissing Tolstoy

Why did I love this book?

I didn’t expect to like this book so much!

Caveat, I’ve studied Soviet history and my husband is Ukrainian, so when I saw Kissing Tolstoy was heavily drenched in Eastern European commentary—the hero being a Russian Literature Professor—I worried the author would miss a lot of the nuance. But she didn’t!

Now, you don’t need my background to like this book, but I did laugh out loud at some of the aptly put cultural quirks. Kissing Tolstoy is a wonderful mix of inner-city edge, meets intellectual romance.

A real treat if you’re looking for something fun and with depth!

By Penny Reid,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kissing Tolstoy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Proceeds for the month of November go to hurricane relief efforts!What do you do when you discover that your super-hot blind date from months ago is now your super-hot Russian Lit professor?You overthink everything and pray for a swift end to your misery, of course!'Kissing Tolstoy' is the first book in the Dear Professor series, is 46k words, and can be read as a standalone. A shorter version of this story (28k words) was entitled 'Nobody Looks Good in Leather Pants' and was available via Penny Reid's newsletter for free over the course of 2017.

Dance Upon the Air

By Nora Roberts,

Book cover of Dance Upon the Air

Why did I love this book?

I can’t talk about contemporary books without mentioning the genre’s Queen, Nora Roberts. She’s the first romance author I ever read, and I have to say, Dance Upon Air really touched my “90s teenager” soul. Why, you ask?

Well, there was this exceptional time when everything New Age and witchy was in, and everyone listened to Enya, and mooned over Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock in Practical Magic. Ha! Roberts’ Three Sister’s Island series is all that in book form.

Think remote island, three women in the throes of finding love and themselves, with a magical and suspense-filled witchy subplot thrown in.

By Nora Roberts,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Dance Upon the Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Nell Channing arrives on Three Sisters Island, she hopes she has finally found refuge from her abusive husband. But even in this peaceful place, she feels haunted by fear. Then she discovers the island is suffering under a terrible curse and that she must find the power to save herself. Pbk: ISBN 0749932775.

Archer's Voice

By Mia Sheridan,

Book cover of Archer's Voice

Why did I love this book?

On the New Adult side of contemporary romance, Archer’s Voice is heartfelt escapism at its best.

The heroine seeks to find a moment of peace in the quiet Lakeside town of Pelion, Maine. Both hero and heroine hold an element of innocence that leaves you wanting them to succeed, while Mia Sheridan does an impressive job of building the character arc of silent hero, Archer Hale.

And yes, I mean he’s literally silent—whilst still being a hugely intriguing and fully developed character.

This is a book for those who like wounded characters and against-the-odds battles of will.

By Mia Sheridan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Archer's Voice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Goodread's "Top Romance Novel of All Time"
A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller

I wanted to lose myself in the small town of Pelion, Maine. To forget everything I had left behind. The sound of rain. The blood. The coldness of a gun against my skin. For six months, each breath has been a reminder that I survived -- and my dad didn't. I'm almost safe again. But the moment I meet Archer Hale, my entire world tilts on its axis . . . and never rights itself again.

Until I trespass into his…

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