Hi romance friends!
It’s November and the season of gratitude, so I thought I’d take this month to introduce you to some of my romance community friends, who have very pro-romance sites or platforms and who love the genre as deeply as I do, and have them share some of their favorite titles from 2016. We’re starting with Contemporary titles and here are some great rec’s:
***PJ Ausdenmore is a great and long-time friend of romance at The Romance Dish. Some PJ faves:
Set in Paris, CHASE ME showcases Laura Florand’s exceptional talent in a novel I could not put down. Filled with humor, passion, suspense, tenderness, action, banter, strength, and resilience - not only of the characters but of the city of Paris itself – this is a story that put Laura Florand on my auto-buy list and sent CHASE ME straight to my keeper shelf.
HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON marks award-winning historical romance author Julie Anne Long’s debut in contemporary romance. This extraordinarily talented wordsmith doesn’t miss a beat, bringing readers a hero and heroine we can cheer for, quirky secondary characters, laugh-out-loud humor, heart-tugging emotion, and exquisite writing in a sigh-worthy story that stayed with me long after I turned the final page.
Laura Trentham is quickly becoming one of my go-to contemporary romance authors and THEN HE KISSED ME, the second book in her Cottonbloom series, is one of my favorite stories of 2016. I've fallen in love with the citizens of Cottonbloom, a divided town that straddles the state line between Mississippi and Louisiana, especially Tally, a dyslexic heroine with a battered self-esteem and Nash, a book-loving college professor who was her childhood best friend. I ached for Tally and all she had endured and while I usually go for alpha heroes, Nash's beta-hero character stole my heart. Trentham's characters are well formed and complex, and she brings them to vibrant and realistic life on the pages of her books. They could easily be people you'd meet at the Saturday morning farmer's market or a Friday night street dance. She surrounds them with a supporting cast of interesting characters, some of whom have stories of their own that are inter-woven with the hero's and heroine's, adding layers of richness to the book without drawing the focus away from the main couple. And then there's the town of Cottonbloom, a character on its own, that’s brought to vivid life through Trentham’s words. I can smell the magnolias in bloom and feel the sultry heat of deep southern summers on my skin. It's all part of the total reading experience that she does so well.
***Kim Lowe from the SOS Aloha blog is another long-time blogger and romance fan. Kim’s picks:
Kate Pearce’s THE RELUCTANT COWBOY is a successful combination of several tropes – contemporary Western setting, small town romance, opposites attract, and family drama. Set in the Sierra Nevadas, THE RELUCTANT COWBOY pokes fun at stereotypes – the city slicker who can’t saddle a horse, the hippy who seeks a normal life, and a meddling family matriarch – for a humor laced romantic romp on the ranch.
KC Dyer’s FINDING FRASER follows the adventures of an OUTLANDER fan as she follows the footsteps of Jamie and Claire in the Scottish Highlands. It becomes a journey of self discovery as the heroine cherishes the Scots ... and learns to cherish herself. Dyer also gave readers a glimpse of Alba (the Gaelic word for Scotland) outside the burly men wearing kilts. She gave Alba a heart.
Patience Griffin’s THE TROUBLE WITH SCOTLAND offers an American quilter as she seeks solace at a seaside retreat only to find a Scottish hero looking for his own escape. Griffin delivered authentic characters who embrace their imperfections. I do not quilt, knit, or even sew. Yet I understood how the craft bound together the quilting ladies, created a viable business for the small town, and served as a metaphor of how different pieces sewn together makes a beautiful, but strong, community.
***Lynne Wall is a Reference Associate and Readers’ Advisory with the Aurora Public Library (Chicago-area) and huge romance fan (surprise!). ;o) Her rec’s:
I am grateful for two new (to me) authors I met this year. Being that it’s close to holiday time and we start thinking more about family, I suggest you read the new release by Katherine Reay, A PORTRAIT OF EMILY PRICE. Emily Price has a whirlwind romance with Ben, an Italian chef. She follows him to Italy to meet his family. This novel is filled with conflict, resolution, and romance. Reay gives a nod to classic literature in all her books, but with a contemporary twist.
I also recommend Sean D. Young’s The McClendon Holiday Series. I started with A McCLENDON THANKSGIVING, but the series includes a Christmas and Valentine installment too.
*** Last but not least, Scandal from Scandalicious Book Reviews - a little newer to the scene, but a great addition with her handful of reviewers, podcasts, and occasional videos. Scandy’s picks:
LUCK, LOVE & LEMON PIE by Amy E. Reichert - This women’s fiction title may hit home for long-married couples. Some people complain about the dreaded seven year itch - Luck, Love & Lemon Pie tackles the twenty year fog. That all too familiar feeling of being lost and perhaps a bit too comfortable in your marriage. Both the hero and heroine of this book are equally frustrating and it could be because they read so incredibly familiar to real life.
ACED (PresLocke #1) by Ella Frank & Brooke Blaine - Imagine the trials and tribulations of America's hottest, sexiest action hero movie star, coming out and falling in love with the sexy hot model in the huge white briefs advertisement sitting high on Hollywood Blvd. With one partner that has never been in the closet and another trying to figure out how to come out and keep his action hero status, the troubles seem insurmountable. In this case, love, respect, and trust can pretty much conquer all, even the nasty paparazzi.
HIS ROYAL SECRET & HIS ROYAL FAVORITE by Lilah Pace - When closeted royalty and a brash reporter collide, there is nothing but heat...and heart. These two books walk us through the intricacies of royal life, being next in line for the throne and also being gay. We also get a bevy of secondary characters that light up the pages and a look at mental illness that, frankly, carries slightly more stigma than being gay for the royals. Each book contains a declaration of love that I felt so deep, even months later, I can still feel the emotions they gave me. These books by Lilah Pace are must reads in my opinion.
HER NAUGHTY HOLIDAY by Tiffany Reisz - The second book in her Men At Work series is Thanksgiving themed on the surface. Dig a little deeper and you'll see the trials and tribulations of a successful 30 year old small business owner who has not lived up to the standards set forth by her overbearing family. The witty banter and dialogue found on the pages of this book are what you get when Aaron Sorkin and Amy Sherman-Palladino have a baby - the pacing is so quick, smart, and sex positive, it is truly a thing of beauty.
This is really long, so I’ll save my picks for December. What a great collection of titles! Enjoy! ~ Bobbi