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: Part 1

By K.C. Klein,

Book cover of Mi Familia: Part 1

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. 

The books I picked & why

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Mistress of Rome

By Kate Quinn,

Book cover of Mistress of Rome

Why 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.

The Bird and the Sword

By Amy Harmon,

Book cover of The Bird and the Sword

Why 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 Kate L. Mary,

Book cover of Outliers

Why 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.

Inferno: Desert Mafia

By Holly S. Roberts,

Book cover of Inferno: Desert Mafia

Why 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.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

By Sarah J. Maas,

Book cover of A Court of Thorns and Roses

Why 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!

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in curses, saints, and Rome?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about curses, saints, and Rome.

Curses Explore 47 books about curses
Saints Explore 14 books about saints
Rome Explore 204 books about Rome

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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