The best books with heroines that won’t get nominated for sainthood

Who am I?

I’ve been reading romance since before dirt was old—(okay, I’m not actually that old, but some days I feel like it)—and I have a deep belief that romances can be our shining light in a sometimes very dark world. Which is why when I wrote my own stories, my very first editorial letter started out with, “Wow, you really like to torture your characters.” I wanted to create genuine characters that make mistakes, mess up, and sometimes are their own worst enemy but you still want to root for them. My list of books on Heroines That Won’t Get Nominated For Sainthood will take you on a journey far more interesting than sainthood—the human experience.

I wrote...

Mi Familia

By KC Klein,

Book cover of Mi Familia

What is my book about?

My life could be every episode of Cops. Kicked out of the trailer by my stripper mother with an angry drug dealer hot on my trail. I’m outta gas and outta money and stuck in a crap-hole bar too close to the Mexican border. Yeah, nothing could go wrong with this picture. But I’ve gotta plan—hustle money out of the losers at the pool tables or five-finger discount some fat wallets, and then back on the road before anything else in my life implodes.

Too late. Meet Jack. Designer jeans. Bulging wallet. Perfect pick-pocket material. Until I follow him into the men’s bathroom and learn he’s playing his own game. Dark, dangerous, and involved with the mob, Jack’s everything I hate...and in this family, I’m the weakness he can’t afford to have. 

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The books I picked & why

Mistress of Rome

By Kate Quinn,

Book cover of Mistress of Rome

Why did I love this book?

Mistress of Rome was the first book I ever read by Kate Quinn, but it wasn’t my last. Frankly, I fell in love with Thea, a slave in ancient Rome. Ms. Quinn never shied away from the hard stuff. The reality was Thea was a slave and, as a slave, had very limited choices in her life. Ms. Quinn crafted a novel full of rich characters who sometimes made poor choices, or had their choices made for them all the while set against the beautiful background of ancient Rome, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a novel.

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first in an unforgettable historical saga from the New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Diamond Eye.

"So gripping, your hands are glued to the book, and so vivid it burns itself into your mind's eye and stays with you long after you turn the final page."-Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author

First-century Rome: One young woman will hold the fate of an empire in her hands.

Thea, a captive from Judaea, is a clever and determined survivor hiding behind a slave's docile mask. Purchased as a toy for the spoiled heiress Lepida…

Book cover of The Bird and the Sword

Why did I love this book?

True confession, I love just about everything Amy Harmon writes, but this book blew my socks off. Not only did it stand out as unique among the typical fantasies, but it was exquisitely well written. Ms. Harmon has a way with the English language that made me fall in love with reading in a way I hadn’t in a long, long time. While it is true that the heroine was a pretty morally upright character, Ms. Harmon never comes across as preachy, and the character’s choices were well thought out.

By Amy Harmon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bird and the Sword as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive. The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would sell his soul and lose his…


By Kate L. Mary,

Book cover of Outliers

Why did I love this book?

I started reading this book on the plane on vacation, and that was it. I couldn’t put it down. I read the entire series in just a few days and still remember being impressed with how the author wasn’t afraid to break some of the typical tropes usually found in genre fiction. As an author, I believe there’s a fine line between making your characters powerless over their circumstances, perhaps even hopeless at times, but never weak. I think Ms. Mary did this exceptionally well.

By Kate L. Mary,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner in the 2018 Kindle Books Awards for Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction
B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree
Finalist in the 2018 Wishing Shelf Book Awards For Adult Fiction
Top 10 Finalist in the Author Academy Awards for Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction
Cover Finalist in the 2019 RONE Awards from InD'tale Magazine

"Fear is normal, Indra, it is what you do with that fear that determines if you are strong or weak."

In the dusty ruins of the world, three groups exist: the Sovereign, the Fortis, and the Outliers. Indra is an Outlier. Living on land that has not healed from the poison of the past, the Outliers…


By Holly S Roberts,

Book cover of Inferno

Why did I love this book?

Out of all my recommendations, this one is a true mafia romance in the Hotter Than Hell series. But make no mistake, this isn’t the typical mafia romance where the hot/rich/dangerous guy comes in and sweeps the virgin/young/beautiful girl off her feet into a glamourous life where she’s pampered, but never loses her “I’m just a down-to-earth kinda gal” personality. I’ve met Ms. Roberts personally, and know she’s worked as a sex crime detective in real life, which has enabled her to bring some of those experiences to her books. While she never shies away from the hard stuff, she also never glorifies violence, and instead focuses on the emotional aftermath of trauma and the message that love really can conquer all.

By Holly S Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An epic mafia romance not for the faint of heart. The Hotter Than Hell series crosses the line into dark romance. The books are steamy, unethical, and HOT! Written by USA TODAY Bestselling Author Holly S Roberts.

The Hotter Than Hell series is filled with violence, passion, and filthy language and is not for everyone.

The INFERNO has arrived:


Madison’s life is on the line and nothing will stop me from saving her and bringing destruction to those responsible. I’ll find her before more body parts arrive at my doorstep.


I never thought I would find myself in…

Book cover of A Court of Thorns and Roses

Why did I love this book?

I’ll be honest, because I write mainly for the young adult/new adult audience, I rarely read that many simply because I don’t want another author’s work to blend into mine. But I made the exception with A Court of Rose and Thorns. I’m a sucker for a flawed dark hero and Ms. Mass did a great job of leading me down one road, only to switch things up on me later. If you haven’t read this series, it’s a must!

By Sarah J. Maas,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked A Court of Thorns and Roses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Experience Feyre Archeron's journey all over again with the beautiful collector's edition of A Court of Thorns and Roses, the seductive first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series by Sarah J. Maas, featuring a deluxe new package, an updated map, ribbon pull, and more! When nineteen-year-old Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin-one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she…

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