I love romance novels, much to the mortification of my husband, who falls under Will Smith’s “just don’t understand” category. (Pretty sure I just dated myself with that comment!) And I think everyone in the world has done a list of their favorites, and maybe I will one day. Not today, though. All I want is to mention some quality romance novels I’ve read throughout the past year. It’s probably the genre I read the most, so here’s what I love about it:
I love it when I read a hero who is protective and a heroine who isn’t afraid to make decisions. I love it when he follows her into the fray, despite the fact that he might have serious misgivings. I love it when hero is confused by his own feelings, even though the readers absolutely aren’t and neither is the heroine. I love it when a heroine is powerful and not confused by her own mind. I love, love, love when a hero thinks he’s not good enough for her, because sometimes he really isn’t…but could be. I love it when he scoffs at the idea of love, but then is completely overcome by it and her. I love it when he gets upset that she gets hurt or puts herself in danger, but is not judgmental, merely relieved she’s okay. I love it when a hero puts himself on the line for the heroine, sometimes to the point of breaking things off with her so that she can have the life she deserves. I love it when a heroine can still function after he does this; even though she’s heartbroken, she can still live her life. (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Bella Thorne. Blank pages for her tumult because life doesn’t matter without Edward? Get real, please, and grow the f*** up! Teenagers and tweens were reading that thinking it was okay, much to my disgust!) But on a total double standard, I love it when a hero can’t. (I know this isn’t fair.) Then again, I do love it when he is able to pick himself up and become the man she deserves. I love it when the hero is misunderstood, even by the heroine, but proves himself worthy and good. I love a fairy tale turned into a new kind of romance. (Hello, Marissa Meyer and my second post of this blog!) I love a heroine who is thoughtful and challenges the hero’s long held beliefs in himself.
You know what? I just love it all.
So, knowing all of this, here are some of my most recent keepers:
- Exile in the Water Kingdom by Cassandra Gannon. Currently free on Kindle Unlimited, it has a brilliant heroine in Ty and a totally misunderstood hero Gion. Add in supernatural powers and a new take on mythology, and I was sold. But it’s really the sweetness of their romance that won me over. It’s the third book in a series, which are all free as well on KU, but it can be read as a stand alone.
- Built by Jay Crownover. A lawyer and her contractor. Who wouldn’t want to read this? Add in unexpected legal troubles, and you have a win for me. Did I mention that I love it when the woman is the one who is wary of a relationship? Yeah, I do, and you get it here. This is the first in a new series by Crownover, but it has ties to her Marked Men series.
- Confessions at Midnight by Jacquie D’Allessandro. Daniel saw Carolyn and fell in love. But she was in love with another man. Daniel, being a remarkably good person who saves animals and people alike, stays away. But after the death of her husband, they attend the same weekend soiree, and Daniel sees his opportunity. This is about him taking a chance on Carolyn and realizing his true feelings. It’s a historical novel, the second in series, but I read it first out of the series, which didn’t affect the rest of the series at all.
- You Own Me by Shiloh Walker. Seriously hot! Decker and Lizzie are meant for each other and have been since high school. Not sure I liked what kept them apart for so long (it seemed like a stretch), but I was willing to overlook it for their romance. Short, so expect to read it quickly.
- Beast in Shining Armor by Cassandra Gannon. Again, free on KU. And no, I’m not really Gannon. This was just a damn good book in her fairy tale series. (There are only two!) A different take on Beauty and the Beast–an oldie, but a goodie!
- Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase. Chase is an established romance writer, but that being said, I don’t always enjoy her books. Sometimes, her heroines are a little too spoiled for my tastes. But Clara was just the right amount of headstrong and sensible. And her hero, Oliver Radford, was just enough intelligence (okay, he was super smart) mixed with wariness to handle her adventurous spirit. Oh, he was, of course, in the category of “trying to convince himself he wasn’t in love with her”. Needless to say, he couldn’t.
- Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare. Once again, we have a sad little hero, Rafe, trying to convince himself he doesn’t love the heroine, Clio. Truly, it’s a plot that never gets old for me. But it is interesting that he is trying to get her to marry his brother, who is the marquess, while Rafe is a second-son boxer. Throughout the book, he courts her in his brother’s name (the brother has no idea he’s doing this), but seeing how well Rafe knows Clio, the reader knows way before Rafe th at he’s doomed.
- Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Holt. Until this book, Notorious Pleasures, about Phoebe’s sister Hero, was my favorite. I didn’t know Holt could do better, but here we have Hero’s sister Phoebe, who has been going blind her whole life, striving for adventure. And the only one who seems the least bit interested in what she wants is her bodyguard Trevillion, who thinks he is completely beneath her because she is the daughter and sister of a duke and he’s an ex-captain in the British army. He’s not, though, which we quickly see. Their romance is sweet and heartwarming.
- One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake. Again, an established writer, but I had never read her before this past year. I’ve now read some of her other books, but this one is by far the BEST. The main characters, Jenny and Mick, have a small shared past, but it’s the trauma of their present that brings them together. A sweet love story where the characters find themselves, as well as each other.
- To Bed a Beauty by Nicole Jordan. I like some of Jordan’s romances, but not all. I’m actually really careful about purchasing her books because, to me, they are hit and miss, along with being expensive for someone who buys a lot of books. But Beauty was fab. Roslyn, always judged for her beauty and not her considerable intellect and kindness, is loved by Drew, but he doesn’t realize it’s love. He thinks he just wants her. Of course. She wants to marry a man of her choosing, and she enlists Drew’s help. Hi-jinks ensue. Never was true love so hidden from the main characters. I loved it!
These are only a few of my more memorable reads this past year. Maybe I’ll make a list of my favorites of all time, a list everyone does, but I don’t care. I love lists about romance novels! 😉
And, if you do exist, let me know what your favorite romances of 2015 were in the comments section. I love expanding my collection!
Talk to you soon, my not-sure-you-exist lovelies!