Romance Novel Recommendations

Jennifer recommends

Wondering what to load onto your kindle for that week-long vacation under swaying palm trees (or maybe you need to escape the laundry pile for just a few more hours)?  Here are some of Jennifer’s favorites:

Catherine Anderson– A prolific writer of both historical westerns and contemporaries set in rural Oregon, Anderson is the master of deeply flawed characters.  Phantom Waltz about a young woman in a wheelchair is an incredible read, as is Baby Love about a single mother with a newborn and a train hobo saving one another.

Joanna Bourne- The absolute queen of writing a French accent!  Bourne’s Regencies include intricate spy games with France, and every book is perfection.

Cora Carmack– Her new adult books about college students in Texas are poignant and perceptive.  Losing It about a college student trying to lose her virginity is a great place to start.

Emma Chase– Her Legal Briefs series about sexy lawyers is written entirely from the male point of view, a rarity in the romance world.  Readers feel as if they have actually crawled inside a guy’s mind and are privy to all his thoughts—many crude but hysterical—and feelings.

Loretta Chase– Everything Chase writes is magic, but her best is the Regency classic, Lord of Scoundrels, picked by NPR as the number one romance novel of all time.  The scene where he slowly peels her glove off in the French café will raise your temperature at least ten degrees.

Alice Clayton- Farm to table never looked as sexy (or laugh out loud fun) as it does in Clayton’s Hudson Valley series about a hot organic farmers and cheese mongers.  Start with Nuts… which is about a walnut farmer.  Geez, what did you think it was about, you dirty bird?

Alyssa Cole– The chemistry between her hero and heroine in Cole’s Civil War spy romance, An Extraordinary Union, is anything but ordinary.  Both spies for the North, he’s posing as a Confederate soldier, and she’s undercover as a slave.  Beyond the compelling tale of their mission , Cole deftly examines the affects that race and power exert on their romance.

Victoria Dahl- Author of both contemporaries and historicals, Dahl’s heroines are always perfectly imperfect.  Her Donovan Brother’s series about siblings who own a brewery is terrific, especially Bad Boys Do with several memorable, steamy scenes.  All I’m going to say is “hottub” and “mirror”.

Lauren Dane– Her small town Chase Brothers series is capped with the terrific Making Chase about a plus size heroine with an oversized heart.

Tessa Dare– If you haven’t read The Duchess Deal yet, shut your laptop right this instant and run to the bookstore or library to get this book.  It’s that good.

Alexis Daria– Her Dance Off series, inspired by Dancing with the Stars, kicks off with Daria’s RITA finalist debut novel Take the Lead. 

Jasmine Guillroy– This contemporary romance begins with a “will-you-be-my-fake-girlfriend-at-my-ex’s-wedding?” premise but moves into something much more intense and complicated with an interracial couple dealing with long distance romance. The Wedding Date is a book to root for.

Christina Lauren– Cowritten by two women, the workplace romance, Dating You Hating You, is a delicious read about that first lovely spark between the hero & heroine getting doused with swamp water when their two companies merge and they must compete for one job position.  Alternating first person POV scenes.

Lorraine Heath- Heath does both historical westerns and Regencies.  Texas Destiny about a mail order bride and a cowboy with an eyepatch will gut you.

Elizabeth Hoyt– Her Maiden Lane series is known for emotionally complex characters, earthy love scenes, and unconventional heroines.  An absolute must read.

Beverly Jenkins– Ms. Bev, known to her legion of fans as the Slayer of Words, crafts compelling romances, both historical and contemporary.   Known for her detailed historical research, she began writing groundbreaking romances featuring Black heroes and heroines back when POC where rarely seen in romances.   Indigo is a good place to start in her lengthy book list.

Lisa Kleypas– Her Hathaway series puts you in the heart of this eccentric family.  Love in the Afternoon’s letters between a dreamy animal lover and a soldier at war will squeeze your chest (in a good way), and Seduce Me at Sunrise will give you all the feels with the story of a fragile consumption patient and the taciturn gypsy who loves her from afar.  One of her contemporaries, Sugar Daddy, doesn’t introduce the hero until halfway through the book, but it absolutely works.

Julie Anne Long– Her tales about the feuding Redmond and Eversea families and their adventures in love make her readers wish they lived in picturesque Pennyroyal Green.  Never before has a vicar been as sexy as in A Notorious Countess Confesses.  And Long’s new contemporary series is just a good.  The chemistry between a sexy movie star and a wounded waitress in Hot in Hellcat Canyon was off the charts!

Courtney Milan- Although she’s recently ventured in the realm of new adult, Milan’s staple is historical romance.  Her characters are diverse and often flawed in unique ways.  Lots of heart.

Sarah MacLean– MacLean’s Regency The Rules of Scoundrels series about four co-owners of a gambling den has some deliciously tortured characters, including a mystery that is not revealed until the final book.

Kate Noble– Her Winner Takes all Series starts off with an aristocrat and his secretary switching places, and the most recent addition explored the blooming love between a shy botanist and a duty-bound physician.

Susan Elizabeth PhilipsSEP’s fans are a loyal bunch and for good reason: her complex characters are compelling, original, and easy to fall in love with.  Her Chicago Stars series will make even non-football fans clamor for more.

Julia Quinn- JQ is the titan of Regency romance.  Her Bridgerton series has sold a million zillion copies, and for good reason.  Her writing is witty, funny, and full of heart.

I recently met the wonderful JQ, and she signed my copy of her latest book.  Clearly, we are BFFs now. 

Alisha Rai– Her novels live up to her motto, “All the heat, all the heart”.  Her Forbidden Hearts series will keep you up all night, and Rai handles complicated issues like depression, loss, and isolation within her steamy tales.

Avril Tremayne-Her RITA nominated novel, The Dating Game, is a contemporary set in Sydney with sparkling dialogue, intense chemistry, and characters to fall in love with.

Kathleen E. Woodiwiss– Her books are oldies but goodies.  Considered one of the mothers of the modern day romance novel, her historical novels are long, engrossing, and although not very PC, they fit the bill as the original bodice rippers.