The best romance novels in which the heroine saves herself

Who am I?

I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered romance. How many times had I turned up my nose at those ridiculous books with half-naked men on the cover? Countless. Little did I know the absolute joy those books held inside. I love to read and write romance, especially stories with strong heroines and deliciously squishy-inside heroes. Not to mention all the amazing queer stories out there proving that love is love. These aren’t your grandmother’s bodice-rippers (I mean, they are a little bit, but only in the best ways). The genre is constantly growing, and I’m always eager to find new converts like me!


I wrote...

Marked for Each Other: The Princess and The Barbarian

By Melissa McTernan, Melissa McTernan,

Book cover of Marked for Each Other: The Princess and The Barbarian

What is my book about?

Some say she's cursed. Others say she's chosen. Only one can say she's his.

Odessa is tired of being the cursed princess. Locked away for most of her life and shunned by her people, she longs for a life of her own. When she meets a handsome stranger at the edge of the sacred wood, she sees her chance for freedom. Alaric, a member of the Clan of the Wolf, wants nothing more than to be a better man than his father was. He knows the woman with the marked face was chosen by his goddess and with her, he has a way to save his people. Marked for Each Other is a grown-up fairy tale for every little girl that longed for the princess to bust out of her tower.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Bombshell

Melissa McTernan Why did I love this book?

This book is a kick to the face of the patriarchy and I loved it. Bombshell is not your typical historical romance filled with wallflowers, ballrooms, and handsome rakes. Instead it is centered around a girl gang of four amazing women and their unique talents, taking down the privileged men of the ton. The book opens with a bar fight and the whole story ramps up from there. Bombshell is book one in the Hell’s Belles series, and it focuses on Sesily Talbot, the “bombshell” of the group. Sesily uses what the good lord gave her to help her friends stop the bad guys. The fact that Caleb Calhoun adores her for it is what makes this a great romance. In the end, it’s unclear who saves who, but Sesily definitely does her share of the fighting (much to Caleb’s chagrin). It’s delightful.

By Sarah MacLean,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean returns with a blazingly sexy, unapologetically feminist new series, Hell's Belles, beginning with a bold, bombshell of a heroine, able to dispose of a scoundrel-or seduce one-in a single night.

After years of living as London's brightest scandal, Lady Sesily Talbot has embraced the reputation and the freedom that comes with the title. No one looks twice when she lures a gentleman into the dark gardens beyond a Mayfair ballroom...and no one realizes those trysts are not what they seem.

No one, that is, but Caleb Calhoun, who has spent years trying not…


Book cover of The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes

Melissa McTernan Why did I love this book?

Looking for another historical romance that flies in the face of tradition? The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes begins with the title character murdering her husband, the duke. Right from the start Marian takes her destiny into her own hands. Needing a little help from the highwayman, Rob, doesn’t make Marian weak. In fact it’s her strength (and prickliness) that Rob loves the most. Watching these two learn to lean on each other is perfection. This book is number two in a duology. It can be read as a stand-alone but the story makes a bit more sense if you read The Queer Principles of Kit Webb first.

By Cat Sebastian,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cat Sebastian returns to Georgian London with a stunning tale of a reluctant criminal and the thief who cannot help but love her.


Marian Hayes, the Duchess of Clare, just shot her husband. Of course, the evil, murderous man deserved what was coming to him, but now she must flee to the countryside. Unfortunately, the only person she can ask for help is the charismatic criminal who is blackmailing her—and who she may have left tied up a few hours before…

A highwayman, con artist, and all-around cheerful villain, Rob Brooks is no stranger to the wrong side of the…


Book cover of Long Shot

Melissa McTernan Why did I love this book?

If you like your romance with a side of drama and angst, then Long Shot is for you, my friend. This one is a contemporary sports romance but there is nothing light and fluffy about it. For most of this book, Iris is in and out of an abusive relationship (big content warnings for domestic violence and sexual assault). Our sweet, lovable hero, August supports Iris the best he can from afar but he is not the one to swoop in and save her. And let me tell you, I really wanted him to swoop! Kennedy Ryan puts the reader through the wringer with this one and by the end I was craving a white knight on a white horse kind of moment. But in the end, it’s Iris who saves the day, and it’s so damn satisfying. 

By Kennedy Ryan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Long Shot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a Top 30 Amazon Bestseller!A FORBIDDEN LOVE SET IN THE EXPLOSIVE WORLD OF THE NBA...Think you know what it's like being a baller's girl?You don't.My fairy tale is upside down.A happily never after.I kissed the prince and he turned into a fraud.I was a fool, and his love - fool's gold.Now there's a new player in the game, August West.One of the NBA's brightest stars.Fine. Forbidden.He wants me. I want him.But my past, my fraudulent prince, just won't let me go*Contains domestic/sexual abuse not involving the hero. Read reviews for guidance.


Book cover of A Heart Of Blood And Ashes

Melissa McTernan Why did I love this book?

You didn’t think I forgot you fantasy lovers, did you? A Heart of Blood and Ashes is a high fantasy with romance at its center. I adore this book because our heroine, Yvenne is not your typical fantasy female lead. She’s not amazing with a sword. She doesn’t have magical talents. She’s not a secretly trained assassin. Nope. Yvenne is physically weak, with injuries that make it difficult to move, but she is also hell-bent on doing anything to survive. Including marrying her enemy. My favorite scene is when our big, strong hero Maddek, needs to use Yvenne’s vision to help him shoot his arrow. It is the perfect combination of Maddek’s brute strength and Yvenne’s exceptional sight. And also the perfect metaphor for a great romance novel relationship!

By Milla Vane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Heart Of Blood And Ashes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil—until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.
 
Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it…


Book cover of A Court of Silver Flames

Melissa McTernan Why did I love this book?

I would classify this book as mainly fantasy, but it has a strong romantic subplot, so I’m counting it for this list! It is book 5 in the ACOTAR series and while it is told from a new character's POV it would definitely help in understanding the world to start at the beginning (you won’t regret it). Nesta, our heroine, starts this book broken and alone. She has pushed away everyone who loves her. Nesta’s character arc in this book is one of the best I’ve ever read. It is slow and painful, but watching her overcome her past trauma and emerge triumphant is amazing. In the end, Nesta saves herself by finally accepting help from her friends and family and especially the sexy warrior who loves her, Cassian. It would be a mistake to think a heroine needs to stand alone to save herself. Sometimes real strength means knowing when to lean on others. This book is fantasy romance perfection.

By Sarah J. Maas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Court of Silver Flames as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE LATEST BOOK IN THE #1 BESTSELLING SERIES 'With bits of Buffy, Game Of Thrones and Outlander, this is a glorious series of total joy' STYLIST ___________________________ Sarah J. Maas's sexy, richly imagined A Court of Thorns and Roses series continues with the journey of Feyre's fiery sister, Nesta... Nesta Archeron has always been prickly - proud, swift to anger and slow to forgive. And since the war - since being made High Fae against her will - she's struggled to forget the horrors she endured and find a place for herself within the strange and deadly Night Court. The…


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Off Season

By Randy Kraft,

Book cover of Off Season

Randy Kraft Author Of Off Season

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Introspective Observant Bookish Friendly

Randy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When Sharon's ex-husband, Red, invites her to join him for a winter retreat, she agrees. After all, they've moved past what ails them, and they get on well. She will be on sabbatical fine-tuning a PhD dissertation, and he needs a respite from an illness. Why not enjoy the charms of a southern California beach town off-season?

Soothed by sea breezes, they become fascinated with their mysterious landlord and her late artist partner, Red is befriended by a flirty neighbor and her surfer husband, and Sharon shares her literary passions with a sexy retiree. When the winds of the pandemic blow, they have to confront their past within a daunting future.

Is off-season an opportunity for renewal or a glimpse of what might have been?

Off Season

By Randy Kraft,

What is this book about?

When Sharon's ex-husband, Red, invites her to join him for a winter retreat, she agrees. After all, they've moved past what ails them, she will be on sabbatical fine tuning a PhD dissertation, and he needs a respite from an illness. Why not enjoy the charms of a southern California beach town off season? On the other hand, what else might he have in mind and what will she face if she lets her guard down? Soothed by sea breezes and ocean views, they become fascinated with their mysterious landlord and her late partner, a Fauvist painter. Then, Red is…


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