I've received a few requests this week from folks who are looking for contemporary romances to read for upcoming vacations—and lucky for them, and for me, I've read several great books and novellas in a row, plus I know several books I've enjoyed that are on sale right now.

Read the last Smart Bitches, Trashy Books on recommendations for fans of 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'

You'll be making all kinds of Good Book Noise and Happy Reading Sighs—and your credit card won't burst into tears either. So here's a roundup of some terrific contemporary romances, many of which are on sale digitally and not more than $5. (Ed note: Prices are quoted at time of article, subject to change).

The Heart of Devin MacKade, Nora Roberts (Silhouette, 1996)

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This is the third in a four-book series about the MacKade brothers. This particular book is incredible because of the depth of emotion in such a short number of pages. Devin MacKade has been in love with Cassie Dolin since forever and watched silently as she married a man who abused her. Now that she's on her own, he's struggling with his feelings while he helps Cassie and her children. It's a powerful story of recovering from domestic abuse made more amazing by Roberts' hero, who is strong, fierce and surprisingly gentle. This book is on sale right now in digital format for $2.99.


onereackless One Reckless Summer, Toni Blake (Avon, 2009)

This is the first book in Toni Blake's Destiny series, all set in a small lakeside town in Ohio. I like this series because Blake blends the popular small-town contemporary setting with a lot of heat—the first encounter between the hero and heroine in this book is scorching hot. Jenny Tolliver was the perfect "good girl" growing up, and now that her marriage is over due to her cheating crap-ass ex-husband, she's returned home to start over. Meanwhile, across the lake, the town "bad boy," Mick Brody, is back as well, and he's keeping his presence in town and the reason for it a secret. I reviewed this book and gave it a B- when it was released. The cover is a bit deceptive: it looks like a breezy summer novel, but inside there are some aching personal issues to be resolved by the characters in the book. It's lovely, and it's only 99 cents in digital format.


only eyes I Only Have Eyes for You, Bella Andre (2012)

Bella Andre is a self-publishing success story in the romance world, as she was profiled last year in the Washington Post. Her new series about the Sullivan family makes for wonderful reading. I picked the fourth book in the series, I Only Have Eyes for You, as a selection for my Sizzling Book Club in March. You don't have to read every book, but it won't hurt you if you do either. I Only Have Eyes for You is about a one-night stand between Sophie Sullivan, who has kept her crush on the hero a secret for years, and Jake McCann, who thinks he is not worthy of Sophie, despite feeling all kinds of crazy attraction to her. Their one-night stand lasts more than one night, and both characters have to learn to be together openly and get to know each other now that they're not hiding anything from each other or anyone else. This book is about $5 digitally and is on sale for the time being, plus there's a paper version, which isn't often true of self-published books.


hotisalnd Hot Island Nights, (Harlequin, 2010) and Her Best Worst Mistake, (Sarah Mayberry, 2012)

These two are intertwined romances, which means they happen at the same time, and each book explores one couple. In Hot Island Nights, Elizabeth Morgan has lived her life doing what her grandparents expected of her, including accepting a proposal from a perfectly nice man named Martin. But when she learns that her family, including Martin, have kept a huge secret from her, she leaves London to head to Australia to find out the rest of the secret and to find herself. And, of course, on her first night she finds herself having a smoking-hot encounter with Nathan, which both complicates and fosters her determination to be herself.

Her Best Worst Mistake is the story of what happens to Martin, Elizabeth's fiancé, who stays behind in London and is irritated by and unwillingly attracted to Elizabeth's wild-at-heart but devoted best friend, Violet. Violet and Martin have never really liked each other, but beneath that dislike, there was some fierce attraction lurking, and when Violet and Martin are together without Elizabeth between them, things get intricate in a hurry—both physically and emotionally. There are several conversations that happen in both books, and the end result is two very satisfying romances. I loved Her Best Worst Mistake and read it in a day—a very happy, enjoyable day. It is only $2.99, and Hot Island Nights is available for $3.82 digitally.

I hope this gives you a nice collection of contemporary romance to read—and if you're looking for recommendations for other types of romances, please e-mail me at sarahATsmartbitchestrashybooksDOTcom. I'm happy to help connect readers with excellent books.

Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.