Top 5 Contemporary Romances When You Need To Believe In Love Again
December 4, 2017
While contemporary romance isn't a genre I'm published in right now (I do have plans for a series, though) it's one I love whole-heartedly. But this list is done a little differently, for a big reason I'll get to in a second. That means, though, that this list has a set of criteria that are very specific.
Because this list isn't just for good contemporary romances, it's for contemporary romances to read when you're having a sh*tty day. Week. Month.
The reason for these specific criteria is because this last year, I've been dealing with a lot. I'm not talking just a lot, a lot. I'm talking about so. freaking. much. that I've spent eleven months drowning, gasping for breath. (Literally. My first meditation class, they told me to breathe deeply, and I couldn't. I literally could not take a deep breath.) To give you a brief run down of my stress this year, my warrior woman mom, who has stage 4 metastasized breast cancer, has been in the hospital twice this year--once with a diagnosis of brain tumors, once with pneumonia. On top of that, she lost all mobility in her right side, got that back, went through extensive physical therapy, only for her breathing to get so horrible she almost died from it. I'm her primary caregiver. There's been my ADD diagnosis, I battled severe depression that had me so exhausted and mentally and physically depleted, I wouldn't even get out of bed for entire days. I've spent the year working three jobs, while dealing with awful TMJ pain and a mis-aligned spine, and we're in year five of a battle with our mortgage company.
So, when I could focus on something more complicated than Cookie Jam or I Love Hue, I would read. But I wanted books that made me feel, because I was emotionally dead. I wanted books that made my heart ache, made me want to kick this depression so I could get back to writing, that made me need to write again.
These criteria are:
* Characters that I could re-read over and over and over again. Even if I knew it by heart, or just read it a week before, I'm the kind of reader who enjoys diving back into a familiar story sometimes more than trying a new book or author.
* Same heroine and hero rules as my last Top 5 List (Paranormal Romances You Should Have Read By Now) but to recap: No stupid, bitchy heroines. Clueless can be fun, snarky is awesome, but there needs to be a solid reason, and it can't be all the freaking time. She has to get over it at some point.
As for the hero, alpha is definitely a great, big HELL YES for me. Command the space, be commanding in the bedroom (or kitchen, or bathroom, or on the stairs), but he has to have a heart. Even if it's reluctantly there (cough cough, Dallas, cough). He can be an ass, even, but it needs to be for a good reason, and he needs to have a soft spot for his heroine.
* And, as always, Happily Ever After is a must. Mandatory.
Eden's note: Some of these may be a series, so I'm linking to the first book. I'll put my favorites below.
Like my last Top Five list, I'm starting this one out with my favorite. Not even my favorite book or series, but pretty much author.
You guys. If you haven't read Tessa freaking Bailey yet, stop reading this damn list and go read it now. Right now.
You can start with Protecting What's His, the first book in her Line of Duty Series, or the follow up series, Crossing the Line, or her amazing Made in Jersey series.
Or her Romancing the Clarksons series. Or the Serve series.
Seriously, READ THEM ALL.
Why am I yelling at you about this?
Because I've read every book she's written already. All of them. And I've read all of them at least twice, but some of them I've read several times this year alone.
You see, she has this ability to not just write the dirtiest, filthiest talkers out there, she does it all with a heart and humor and ability that makes you just love everything about the books. The heroines are perfect--whether or not they can't be touched without physical pain, or given up on love, or a southern thief, or the daughter of a wealthy couple, the women are all strong and capable. Completely able to stand on their own, and willing to walk away from the hottest sex with the hottest male if it's too protect them, or the knowledge they need more than what the hero is currently giving them.
And the heroes? Yeah, you'll want to keep a fan handy.
Favorite books (so far): Can I say ALL OF THEM? But since this is a top 5, mine would be Asking for Trouble, Make Me, Too Hard to Forget, Worked Up, and Baiting the Maid of Honor.
To be fair, this whole series is re-read worthy. But, as you may or may not have noticed about me already, I'm a sucker for a bad boy with a dirty mouth. Add in a giant body, scars, a painful past, and military experience?
My mother-f*cking panties will drop so fast your head will spin.
Beckett Murda is everything. He's part of a disgraced team of elite soldiers trying to clear their name. He's a giant of male with scars, a past not even his teammates know about, and he's lusting after the one woman in the world he knows he shouldn't touch (um, YES, PLEASE!)
And Kat is the epitome of what I love in a heroine. She's smart--an attorney for the Justice Department, she's feisty, she's sweet, and she knows what she wants. She's as capable of defending herself as she is healing the broken man she's not supposed to be having sex with.
I love all of her characters, but Kat and Beckett are unlike any of the other books in the series. Their sex is dirtier, the demons are darker, and the stakes are higher. But, God, she makes it work. Beckett will slay you in every possible way.
Favorites: Besides Hard to Let Go, my favorites in the series are Hard as Steel, and Hard to Hold On To.
I read my first Judith McNaught book (Almost Heaven) when my oldest daughter was tiny. And that was it for me.
And I'm actually thanking myself for making this list contemporary romance, because if it was just a general romance list, I'd never be able to narrow it down to five. I love them all too much.
This book, like all of hers, aren't the quick, easy read like the others on the list. They're sweeping, usually covering large spaces of time. But instead of that being a negative thing when my attention span is limited to that of a gnat, it just gives me more story to fall in love with.