But you will also, we hope, discover many more romance authors who will be new to you and to the readers who come to you for recommendations. Happy reading! Please do let us know your thoughts on this retrospective gathering of the best titles in the ever-flourishing world of romantic fiction. The Accidental Bride , by Christina Skye. Jilly loves being a chef, but the stress is killing her. Accidentally Yours , by Susan Mallery.
Adieu, My Love , by Lynn M. An Affair Downstairs , by Sherri Browning. In the exceptional second novel in her Edwardian Thornbrook Park series, Browning focuses on Lady Alice Emerson, who is determined to turn away all proper suitors and pursue a potentially scandalous dalliance. New York City, Witty dialogue, slapstick situations, and a spunky heroine confirm that Turano is one of the funniest voices in the inspirational genre.
Food writer Agnes Crandall could use some help after bashing a would-be dognapper over the head with a frying pan, and Shane just may be her man in this southern-flavored, Mob-oriented romantic comedy. Always Look Twice , by Geralyn Dawson. Animal Magnetism , by Jill Shalvis. Barely a Lady , by Eileen Dreyer. Linz creates a heroine who looks and acts like a real woman, plus-size model Leena Riley, who returns to her hometown, Rock Creek, in this affectionate and funny tale of self-image issues and love.
Billionaires Prefer Blondes , by Suzanne Enoch.
A member of the rescue operation Unholy Trinity in Virginia, Rafe is drawn to enigmatic Elena, the new horse trainer in this terrifically suspenseful tale about the secrets of horseracing and romance. Blue Moon Bay , by Lisa Wingate. The Bridegroom , by Linda Lael Miller. Brown-Eyed Girl , by Lisa Kleypas. Caged in Winter , by Brighton Walsh.
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Calamity Jayne Rides Again. Chances , by Pamela Nowak. Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage , by Kieran Kramer. How can Jilly run a respectable bookshop if her neighbor, a Royal Navy captain, keeps throwing wild parties?
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The Counterfeit Bride , by Nancy J. Graves launches a new series with this charming, emotionally rich novel about the return to Rainbow Valley, Texas, of champion bull rider Luke Dawson and Shannon North, who left her big-city career to run a no-kill animal shelter.
Dearest Rogue , by Elizabeth Hoyt. Lady Phoebe Batten understands why her brother hired Captain James Trevillion to be her bodyguard, but his monitoring of her every move is infuriating. Hoyt writes with particular force and flair in this truly swoonworthy love story. Dogs and Goddesses , by Jennifer Crusie and others. Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart, and Lani Diane Rich collaborate in a splendidly original and sublimely funny tale of three friends and dog lovers who acquire unusual powers and confront a very cranky, 4,year-old Mesopotamian goddess.
Down River , by Karen Harper. Dream Eyes , by Jayne Ann Krentz. Gwen knows Evelyn was murdered because Evelyn told Gwen so herself. Now Gwen needs an expert paranormal investigator, and Judson Coppersmith fits the bill. Witty and imaginative Krentz creates a perfect fusion of suspense and romance. Evening Stars , by Susan Mallery.
Everything but a Groom , by Holly Jacobs. For Better, for Worse , by Elizabeth Jeffrey. After army captain John dies in WWI, his widow, pregnant Stella, a commoner, is overwhelmed by her Machiavellian in-laws and the grandeur of their estate. For King and Country , by Kate Sedley.
Forever and a Day , by Delilah Marvelle. In the first title in her new Rumor series, an incisive tale of social divides set in lower-class New York City, circa , Marvelle brings together down-to-earth Georgia and a Good Samaritan afflicted with amnesia who turns out to be a duke. Hell for Leather , by Julie Ann Walker. Walker supercharges her Black Knights series about a Chicago special-ops group working undercover as bikers with this high-action, hilarious, sexy military romance about imperiled bar owner Delilah and Black Knight Mac. Romance superstar Phillips creates a tartly humorous and very sexy variation on the gothic novel, in which quirky Annie Hewitt returns to Peregrin Island to search for her desperately needed inheritance, only to run into Theo Harp, who once tried to kill her.
Hot Flash , by Kathy Carmichael. Hot Point , by M.
How to Handle a Cowboy , by Joanne Kennedy. How to Marry a Duke , by Vicky Dreiling. An enchanting Regency romance debut involving a rake and a matchmaker, a tricky dilemma, and witty repartee. Jilted , by Rachael Johns. Laced with Magic , by Barbara Bretton. The Lady of the Storm , by Kathryne Kennedy. After Marisol ends up in rehab not for substance abuse but for a shopping addiction and her trust fund is put on hold, she becomes a nanny and comes to the rescue of a former NFL star who is the father of rambunctious kids.
The Lone Texan , by Jodi Thomas. Having become a doctor, Sage returns home to Galveston only to run into Drummond, the bane of her existence and now a Texas Ranger. Thomas concludes her Whispering Mountain historical romantic-suspense series with another fast-paced and colorful tale.
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The Lord of Illusion , by Kathryne Kennedy. In her superb third fantasy-steeped romantic-suspense novel in the Elven Lords series, Kennedy follows outcast Drystan as he searches for the rainbow-eyed girl of his visions and finds enslaved Camille. Lord Perfect , by Loretta Chase. Love Letters from a Duke , by Elizabeth Boyle. The Marrying Season , by Candace Camp. After praying to St. Will this merely be a marriage of propriety? Wherever fearless suffragist Arabella Beckett goes, trouble follows. Never Romance a Rake , by Liz Carlyle. Carlyle brings her Neville family trilogy to a splendid conclusion with the captivating story of a tormented rake and a delightfully unconventional heroine in this luscious and funny historical romance.
The Night Is Mine , by M. Buchman sends chef and helicopter pilot Captain Emily Beale on special assignment to the White House in this hard-to-put-down tale of nonstop action, a surprise villain, and forbidden love. Once a Thief , by Suzann Ledbetter. Only Mine , by Susan Mallery. The Pelican Bride , by Beth White. Practice Makes Perfect , by Julie James. The Prayer Box , by Lisa Wingate.
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Rainshadow Road , by Lisa Kleypas. Kleypas begins a new trilogy with this emotionally riveting, lightly paranormal tale about romance-leery glass artist Lucy and Sam, who is not now nor ever will be interested in a long-term relationship. River Road , by Jayne Ann Krentz. Rough and Ready , by Sandra Hill. Hill continues her fantastic saga of time-traveling Norsemen and bawdy women in this wildly inventive tale of a rampaging eleventh-century evildoer, a heroic U. Navy SEAL, and the gal who wins his heart. Say Yes to the Marquess , by Tessa Dare.
Secrets of a Scandalous Bride , by Sophia Nash. Shadow Touch , by Marjorie M. Sixteen Brides , by Stephanie Grace Whitson. Sizzle and Burn , by Jayne Ann Krentz. Raine hears voices, and private investigator Zack sees visions as Krentz continues her addictively readable Arcane Society series, deftly fusing paranormal-flavored suspense with sexy romance. So Enchanting , by Connie Brockway. RITA Award—winning Brockway excels in a Victorian-era tale of a scandal-plagued widow, a young woman with strange powers, and a suspect lord in this sexy and bewitching battle of wits and wiles.
Soul Song , by Marjorie M. Steamed , by Katie MacAlister. Captain Octavia Pye is surprised to find Dr. Jack Fletcher aboard her airship, and he is astonished to find himself in a parallel universe as the always-inventive MacAlister fashions a highly entertaining steampunk fantasy romance. Straight from the Hip , by Susan Mallery.
Tempting , by Susan Mallery. Mallery continues her popular Buchanan family series with the story of feisty Dani, whose search for her father leads her to presidential candidate Mark Canfield, much to the glee of a rapacious media thrilled with the discovery of a secret love child. This Heart of Mine , by Brenda Novak. In this second-chance contemporary romance, Novak sensitively explores redemption, forgiveness, and the healing power of love.
Carlyle is at her luscious best in this dark, sensual, and richly emotional Regency romance about two complex individuals who are given another chance at love. Clair, who thinks Thorn could use some serious sprucing up, too. Through Waters Deep , by Sarah Sundin. Adams and Cathy Clamp. This popular duo launches a new paranormal series with an imaginative, sexy, and suspenseful tale featuring tough Kate, a world-traveling courier in danger of being forced into becoming a vampire queen, and Tom, a heroic werewolf firefighter.
Trouble in High Heels , by Christina Dodd. The Ugly Duchess , by Eloisa James. James expertly infuses her latest fairy-tale love story with humor and sensuality as wealthy Theodora Saxby, certain that with her looks only a fortune hunter will marry her, is forced to reconsider her best friend, the Earl of Islay. An Unlikely Suitor , by Nancy Moser. Virgin River , by Robyn Carr. Carr launches a new, edgy contemporary series set in rural California, focusing here on Melinda, a nurse and midwife seeking peace and quiet and finding that while there is much to embrace in Virgin River, life is as precarious as anywhere else.
A Wedding in Springtime , by Amanda Forester. Like most people who considered themselves serious readers, she said, she had been prejudiced against the genre and dismissed it as badly-written mush. And, like most people who consider themselves serious readers, she was wrong. But it was well written and the dialogue skipped along and the female protagonist was interesting and funny and, more importantly, it was the first thing with a plot that I had seen through to the end in months. So I downloaded the next book in the series, and then the next. Five years later, I have romance novels.
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Popular romance tropes of forced proximity or marriages of convenience or extremely overbearingly alpha men can make sense in a historical setting but are frankly baffling in modern-day San Francisco. Women who have political and economic agency of their own should not marry men they just met, no matter how unrealistically sculpted their abs. My most comforting stories — and this is comfort food in its purest form, nourishing but unchallenging — are set in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in England, usually involving the British aristocracy.
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This is in direct conflict to everything I care about in real life but that is the appeal of romance novels. They do not concern real life. They are not, except for specific and very narrow examples, concerned with politics or the fact that their self-made men, who return from years overseas, have been plundering colonised cultures in order to show their father, who believed they spent too much time a-whoring, that they are not a useless fribble after all. The father, naturally, shuns them for engaging in trade. The female characters in these stories are interesting and smart.
The writing is good. The male character may be a chauvinist on page one but is reformed by the end. The setting is historical but the sensibilities are not: homophobia, racism, and old-fashioned beliefs in the superiority of penetrative sex are all absent. Bodice-rippers may have launched the modern romance genre but they no longer define it. The number and variety of stories is infinite. There are historicals, contemporaries, paranormals, and erotica. The majority still depict white, monogamous, heterosexual pairings but the number of LGBT, polyamorous, and non-white stories and authors is large and growing.
Every category sprouts a dozen sub-categories, allowing readers to narrow in on exactly the story they want to read. The blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books provides weekly recommendations to people who write in with a genre and a trope. Snowed in plus second chance? Simply Unforgettable by Mary Balogh.
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