100 books like Hands Down

By Mariana Zapata,

Here are 100 books that Hands Down fans have personally recommended if you like Hands Down. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Punk 57

Amy Oliveira Author Of Love Me, Maddie Mendoza

From my list on friends-to-lovers romance.

Who am I?

I’m a complete bookworm and romance addict. I love to see the old tropes being written with a fresh feel, and I’m a true believer that romance is so hard to write because everyone knows the end, but it’s up to the writer to bring you on a worthy journey. After reading countless friends-to-lovers novels, I can say with certainty I have the list with the best books written by the contemporary romance rock stars. Let’s get to it!

Amy's book list on friends-to-lovers romance

Amy Oliveira Why did Amy love this book?

This is a pen pals turned to best friends turned to enemies turned to lovers story. And no one could write this mess better than Penelope Douglas. Punk 57 follows the friendship of two kids who only talk through letters until Misha transfers to Ryen’s school and discovers she’s nothing like in the letters. You can blame the hormones, but this book has the same amount of angst as it has of pure goodness.

By Penelope Douglas,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Punk 57 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times Bestselling Author, Penelope Douglas, comes the latest standalone love-hate romance.

We were perfect together. Until we met." MishaI can’t help but smile at the lyrics in her letter. She misses me. In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed. It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing…


Book cover of Blindsided: A Best Friends to Lovers Standalone

Amy Oliveira Author Of Love Me, Maddie Mendoza

From my list on friends-to-lovers romance.

Who am I?

I’m a complete bookworm and romance addict. I love to see the old tropes being written with a fresh feel, and I’m a true believer that romance is so hard to write because everyone knows the end, but it’s up to the writer to bring you on a worthy journey. After reading countless friends-to-lovers novels, I can say with certainty I have the list with the best books written by the contemporary romance rock stars. Let’s get to it!

Amy's book list on friends-to-lovers romance

Amy Oliveira Why did Amy love this book?

It was recently on the number one spot on Amazon, even two years after its original publication! And for a good reason. Amy Dawns gives us all the feels in this romance between a curvy, shy heroine and a sweet soccer player of a hero. Dawns plays with the lines between friendship and something more in a remarkable way. Their banter is hilarious, their chemistry is off the charts. The whole book is *chef’s kiss*.

By Amy Daws,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What happens when an almost thirty-year-old virgin agrees to let her Scottish footballer best friend give her some lessons in seduction? Lots of banter, awkwardness, jealousy, and heat. Midfielder Maclay “Mac” Logan is a loud-mouthed, tattooed ginger content with focusing on football. But when an adorable, freckled seamstress comes barreling into his life, he finds Netflix-And-Bickering with her to be his new favorite pastime. Freya Cook is used to being the invisible woman with a needle and thread, offering cheeky punchlines as she helps dress London’s finest. She’s plus-sized in body and spirit, and other than her friendship with Mac,…


Book cover of My Best Friend's Ex

Amy Oliveira Author Of Love Me, Maddie Mendoza

From my list on friends-to-lovers romance.

Who am I?

I’m a complete bookworm and romance addict. I love to see the old tropes being written with a fresh feel, and I’m a true believer that romance is so hard to write because everyone knows the end, but it’s up to the writer to bring you on a worthy journey. After reading countless friends-to-lovers novels, I can say with certainty I have the list with the best books written by the contemporary romance rock stars. Let’s get to it!

Amy's book list on friends-to-lovers romance

Amy Oliveira Why did Amy love this book?

Even though he’s her best friend’s ex, it totally makes the list because they were all childhood friends first. One of the most underrated books by Meghan Quinn, I can’t stop talking about Tucker and Emma. The reason this book is so good comes down to a simple recipe: fluffy, hilarious, and with a tortured hero who only wants to be loved. This book is a standalone but part of a wonderful series full of mouthwatering heroes.

By Meghan Quinn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Best Friend's Ex as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When I found an eviction notice taped on my apartment door, I had two options: find a comfortable cardboard box to call home, or move in with Tucker Jameson. Seeing that cardboard makes me feel itchy, I chose the latter. Which shouldn't be that big of a deal since Tucker is one of my good friends. And because he's still pining after his ex-girlfriend and I'm trying to finish my nursing degree, there is nothing to worry about in the romance department, making my last semester an easy one to conquer.Boy, was I wrong. Rules are set, dinners are made,…


Fourth and Long

By Britt Belle,

Book cover of Fourth and Long

Britt Belle Author Of The Earl Was Wrong

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Romance reader Romance writer Sports lover

Britt's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Britt's 6-year-old's favorite books.

What is my book about?

Fourth and Long is a novel written in the first person with dual POVs.

Ellie: When I meet Slater, an infamous quarterback trying to salvage his career, I know better than to form expectations. Our relationship starts out casual, but I can’t help falling for him. The problem is, that he’s leaving as soon as he signs with a new team, and I have no choice but to let him go.

Slater: I can’t risk distractions, so when I hook up with Ellie, I tell myself she’s nothing but a pretty girl. We keep it casual because as soon as the ink is dry on my new contract, I’ll be hundreds of miles away. She follows my rules and lets me go without a fight, but even though football consumes me, I can’t forget her.

Fourth and Long

By Britt Belle,

What is this book about?

Ellie
My professional life is a failure—I’ve convinced more couples to divorce than to work on their marriages. My personal life is a mess—my mother wants my attention, but not my advice, my father is pushing me to bond with his second family, and my sister, who likes to meddle in my love life, thinks I need to get laid.

When I meet Slater, an infamous quarterback trying to salvage his career, I know better than to form expectations. Our relationship starts out casual, but as our lives become more intertwined, I can’t help falling for him. Problem is, he’s…


Book cover of Wasted Words

Amy Oliveira Author Of Love Me, Maddie Mendoza

From my list on friends-to-lovers romance.

Who am I?

I’m a complete bookworm and romance addict. I love to see the old tropes being written with a fresh feel, and I’m a true believer that romance is so hard to write because everyone knows the end, but it’s up to the writer to bring you on a worthy journey. After reading countless friends-to-lovers novels, I can say with certainty I have the list with the best books written by the contemporary romance rock stars. Let’s get to it!

Amy's book list on friends-to-lovers romance

Amy Oliveira Why did Amy love this book?

This one is a retelling of the ultimate friends-to-lovers novel: Emma by Jane Austen. It will give you a contemporary feel, but Staci Hart managed to keep Emma’s soul alive in this book. Cam is sure her six-foot-six football player of best friend will never go for a girl like her. And even when things between them change, she’s not ready to see how it will work. Honestly, you’ll want to shout at Cam many times, but her frustrating moments are written so beautifully that is worth the ride. And the book is set inside the coolest bar/book store you’ll ever imagine.

By Staci Hart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Some universal truths refuse to be ignored.Peanut butter and jelly are a match made in heaven. Spaghetti and meatballs are best friends forever. And guys like Tyler Knight don’t go for girls like Cam Emerson.She knew from the second she met him that he didn’t belong on her bookshelf, the six-foot-six ex-tight end with a face so all-American, it could have sold apple pie. So she shelved him next to the supermodels and rock stars and took her place on her own shelf — the one with the flannel-clad, pasty-faced comic book nerds. Most of her boyfriends have existed between…


Book cover of Intercepted

Brooke Bentley Author Of Sideline Confidential

From my list on sports for women.

Who am I?

As a little girl I dreamed of becoming a sports reporter. I loved to write and spent most of my free time playing or watching sports. I earned an academic-athletic scholarship to Davidson College to play volleyball and went on to receive my master’s in journalism from the University of Southern California. After landing a job as media personality with the Houston Texans, I thought my career would skyrocket to national television. But I quickly learned that the world of sports journalism is anything but predictable. As I balanced motherhood and a career in sports reporting, I realized the most fascinating stories were the ones being created inside my own head.

Brooke's book list on sports for women

Brooke Bentley Why did Brooke love this book?

I was querying my manuscript to an agent, and she suggested Intercepted as a comp title.

I devoured it in two days. Marlee Harper is fresh off a breakup with a jerk NFL receiver. She’s sworn off players and the ruthless wives and girlfriends (WAGs) who surround them. Enter the team’s new star quarterback Gavin Pope, a fling from Marlee’s past who is ready to woo her.

Intercepted plays the genre of sports romance perfectly. The writing is witty. Marlee is relatable, possessing the flaws and sass that make you root for her. And the steaminess factor is high, proving that sports books can be sexy in all the right ways. 

By Alexa Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She's definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There's just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback, has Marlee in his sights.�Gavin fights to show Marlee he's nothing like her ex. But not everyone is ready to let her escape her past, and when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.�It will take a Hail Mary…


Book cover of The Hating Game

Amelia Jones Author Of The Stage Kiss

From my list on romance that give the best Mr. Darcy hand-flex vibe.

Who am I?

I exclusively read and write romance. I have since I was a teenager. If there is no love story with a happy ending, you can definitely count me out. I was first introduced to Pride and Prejudice in 11th-grade English. Maybe the first assigned book I read cover to cover and let me tell you—when Mr. Darcy expressed how ardently he admired and loved Elizabeth, I was a Darcy fangirl for life. I see Darcy everywhere. He's a romantic archetype who loves fiercely but struggles to express himself. He makes mistakes. He’s capable of changing his mind. To date, I’ve published ten romance novels across three pen names, and I have no plans to stop.

Amelia's book list on romance that give the best Mr. Darcy hand-flex vibe

Amelia Jones Why did Amelia love this book?

This book is hilarious. Like uproariously funny. The movie doesn’t even being to capture the on page wit.

The workplace romance piece sets the stage for a contentious rivalry, but little does our heroine know, her nemesis has been pining for her all along. He’s been rooting for her! He nurses her through the flu, and wouldn’t you know it—she’s been crushing on him, too.

The hero’s self-sacrifice for the heroine is all hand flex and tension, leaving the heroine to wonder why she ever hated him in the first place, if she ever even did. A new classic and a must-read.

By Sally Thorne,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Hating Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love. Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome. 2) A person's undoing 3) Joshua Templeman Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She's charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual. Trapped in a shared office together forty…


Book cover of Salt + Stilettos

Gia De Cadenet Author Of Not the Plan

From my list on helping romance lovers remember who they are.

Who am I?

As a long-time expat in France, a creative and a Black woman, I get othered and rejected a lot. I’ve had to learn how to own my story – of starting over, of building something from nothing, of remembering where I’ve been, and reminding myself of where I’m going. I had to learn to reject the labels that others want to put on me and draft my own personal hype mantra then embellish it with a little bombshell sparkle. The books I’ve chosen are meant to entertain while giving you the chance to remind yourself of who you are and who you can choose to be.  

Gia's book list on helping romance lovers remember who they are

Gia De Cadenet Why did Gia love this book?

Not just anyone can grow up dirt poor, build a successful consulting business in Miami, survive being stalked, and keep the world in the dark about their crippling anxiety.

Brett Fontaine does it without letting a lock of hair get out of place – true bombshell style. A relationship with her new client, the media-clueless cinnamon roll chef Will Te’o, is completely ill-advised. So of course, that’s exactly what happens.

I adored this book because it so easy to identify with Brett. We all want to be together on the outside and respected in our fields. But there’s still the fear that we’re whatever weaknesses we may have had in the past.

Will helps Brett see the badass inside of her. Walden-West does the same for her readers.

By Janet Walden-West,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Trading her red-dirt roots for the title of Miami’s go-to image consultant, Brett Fontaine refuses to let anything jeopardize her new life.

…Not an influential client-turned-stalker who’s up for parole…

…Not post-kidnapping panic attacks…

…And certainly not the stubborn, attention-phobic chef with the tempting tataus she’s been challenged to transform into a celeb in ninety days.

Will Te’o can almost taste the dream he sacrificed American Samoa, culture, and cherished family ties for—opening a four-star restaurant in the most cut-throat culinary location in North America.

Unfortunately, that requires navigating its equally ruthless social scene.

When his first public performance ends…


Book cover of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

Anna Paulsen Author Of The Truth About Adira

From my list on romance that stay with you long after you finish.

Who am I?

Seeing couples that are still in love after being with one another for 50+ years has always warmed my heart. Seeing my grandparents hold one another’s hands and look at each other with love always made me hopeful to find such a love. I have not been blessed to have that kind of love in my life (yet) but that does not stop me from looking for it and finding it in books. The characters in my favorite books are ones I identify with on some level. They are loyal, do not give up and they love wholeheartedly, even if they make some missteps along the way, the end destination always ends up being deeply in love. And I love cheering on characters when they deal with everyday issues and roadblocks on this journey of love. 

Anna's book list on romance that stay with you long after you finish

Anna Paulsen Why did Anna love this book?

Aiden and Vanessa’s story is another slow burn, but it does not feel slow at all. Zapata has a way of building a sensual story that makes you want more without feeling as if you are missing something. I did not think I would like slow-burn romances until I came across Zapata. I fell in love with these characters as they were becoming friends and ultimately as they fell in love with one another. I found myself smiling a lot watching the interactions between these two. It’s magic. I still think of Aiden often and wish he were my boyfriend! (That is how much I liked him).

By Mariana Zapata,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vanessa Mazur knows she's doing the right thing. She shouldn't feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary. But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she's beyond shocked. For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn't even find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He's asking for the unthinkable. What…


Book cover of The Foreign Student

Don Lee Author Of The Partition

From my list on by now-established Korean American authors.

Who am I?

A Korean American author myself, I published my first book in 2001, and in the ensuing years I’ve been heartened by the number of Korean Americans who have made a splash with their debut novels, as these five writers did. All five have ventured outside of what I’ve called the ethnic literature box, going far beyond the traditional stories expected from Asian Americans. They established a trend that is happily growing. 

Don's book list on by now-established Korean American authors

Don Lee Why did Don love this book?

In 1950s Sewanee, Chang and Katherine slowly fall in love and find that the Souths of Korea and Tennessee are not that different after all, both subject to lingering issues of class, family, race, and civil war. I love the poetic language in this novel, as well as its ambitious story and the complexity invested in every relation.

By Susan Choi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Foreign Student as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This wonderful hybrid of a novel--a love story, a war story, a novel of manners--introduces a writer of enchanting gifts, a beautiful heart wedded to a beautiful imagination. How else does Susan Choi so fully inhabit characters from disparate backgrounds, with such brilliant wit and insight? The Foreign Student stirs up great and lovely emotions."  — Francisco Goldman, author of The Ordinary Seaman

The Foreign Student is the story of a young Korean man, scarred by war, and the deeply troubled daughter of a wealthy Southern American family. In 1955, a new student arrives at a small college in the…


Book cover of The Sea of Tranquility

Iris St. Clair Author Of Louder Than Words

From my list on girl power I wish I’d read as a teenager.

Who am I?

I wrote my book and selected the five other books listed because I am passionate about women’s agency and how women may be empowered to achieve such. I started my career in a male-dominated profession and have many memories of differential treatment from my male peers. There are a few #metoo tales in there as well. I also grew up shy and studious, too timid to seek out empowerment or speak truth to power. If I could go back in time armed with these wonderful stories of girls and young women overcoming adversity, prejudice, assault, and other gender-based barriers, I think I would take that trip. 

Iris' book list on girl power I wish I’d read as a teenager

Iris St. Clair Why did Iris love this book?

Semi-spoiler alert: this book has the best ending line ever so don’t flip to the end or you’ll rob yourself of something very precious. I adore a nice ending twist and although not so much an O’Henry plot twist (love his stories) as an “aha” shift in perspective, it has stuck with me more than any other element of the story.

The book’s blurb very aptly describes The Sea of Tranquility as “... a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.” I’m a sucker for second chance stories, especially following an injustice. The beauty of this story lies not in the how the protagonist, Nastya, recovers her power by confronting and righting the injustice but in how she subtly and simultaneously learns to look forward instead of backward.

By Katja Millay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her-her identity, her spirit, her will…


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