The best romance books for reading late at night

The Books I Picked & Why

Big Little Lies

By Liane Moriarty

Book cover of Big Little Lies

Why this book?

Like most talented writers, Liane Moriarty makes storytelling look easy. It’s as though she’s lounging back, sipping on a crisp white wine and, like a seasoned raconteur, tells a story while gesticulating expressively and rolling out witty commentary. I’m awestruck by her enviable grasp of language, and her evocative portrayal of human conflict within an exceedingly complex world. That she’s able to do so in a pithy, punchy, and at times humorous fashion is impressive. Her female characters are so multi-dimensional and real, I remove my writer’s hat to her. 

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By Colleen Hoover

Book cover of Verity

Why this book?

This book was a real page-turner for me. The story had a creepy element that Ms. Hoover managed to convey brilliantly, while beneath the mystery there’s believable chemistry between the male and female leading characters.

This book is a masterclass on how to layer the essential elements of good storytelling seamlessly. She’s woven a strong plot, three-dimensional characters, and a nice little twist.

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The Stopover

By T.L. Swan

Book cover of The Stopover

Why this book?

This sexy story captures the visceral connection between her leading male and female characters beautifully. I felt their chemistry from the word go. Chemistry in a romance novel is what a slightly flawed, left-of-field detective is to crime novels. At the end of the day, writing romance is all about expressing deep passion and emotion. I believe T. L. Swan achieved that very well with this story while adding enough sauciness to charm the reader.   

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The Next Wife

By Kaira Rouda

Book cover of The Next Wife

Why this book?

The grass is not always greener on the other side is the takeaway message from this novel. 

Talk about schadenfreude dripping from page to page. 

While the new wife is very easy to despise, the ex-wife comports herself with dignity when she has every right to be angry and pop Xanax like candy.  

Here we have a genuflecting husband begging to return to the marriage he destroyed. He’s had his fun and now he’s pining for the woman, who he finally realizes is his true soul mate. 

Like all good mysteries, there’s an “I didn’t see that coming” moment which in my humble opinion made this book shine. Twists are not easy to devise. As a writer, you can accidentally give the game away by offering hints that readers sniff out a mile away. Readers are an instinctive bunch. That didn’t happen in this novel, therefore kudos to the author.

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Beautiful Bastard

By Christina Lauren

Book cover of Beautiful Bastard

Why this book?

I had to mention this book because along with Sylvia Day and E.L. James, this story propelled my commercial writing career along. Before immersing myself in the contemporary romance world, I read books mainly written in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. I was new to this world with its descriptive sex scenes that bounced off the pages. 

Despite the leading man being, as the title suggests, a bastard, he redeems himself by showing a believable sensitive side. Creating a jerk is easy enough, I suppose, but creating a character who is likable and flawed at the same time takes talent. That was my takeaway as a writer from this cheeky, fun read. This book, along with 50 Shades of Grey, and The Crossfire series taught me that the sky’s the limit when writing bedroom scenes. The steamier the better. But over and above everything else, being able to express raw, believable emotion is what really draws a reader in. This novel, along with the aforementioned novels, managed to do so with great skill.

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