• Best Contemporary Romance Novels

    The Rancher by Julia Justiss

    When he sets out to regain his family’s heritage, he never expects to fall in love.

    Cowboy Duncan McAllister has worked tirelessly to make the family ranch profitable enough to buy back the section of land hard times forced them to sell a decade ago. When the owner of that land unexpectedly dies, leaving the ranch to his city-based daughter, Duncan finally sees his opportunity. After her business partner boyfriend runs off with an intern—and all their clients—CPA Harrison Scott retreats to her Daddy’s Hill Country ranch to decide her next move. 

    Her father’s sudden death leaves her floundering—does she rebuild her professional career or carry on the ranch he loved? After rebuffing Duncan’s offer to buy her out, Harrison is forced to turn to her handsome neighbor to learn the ropes of ranching.Duncan tells himself he’s just being neighborly, but their immediate attraction soon deepens. How can he convince her that he wants her even more than his beloved land when she’s already been betrayed once before?

    A 5 star review from Goodreads:

    “An engrossing novel, this story kept my interest from the opening chapter.”

    Margaret Watkins – Goodreads 

  • Best Contemporary Romance Novels

    When We’re Thirty by Casey Dembowski

    Two friends. One pact. The performance of their lives.

    Hannah Abbott is stuck in a dead-end relationship and at a job she loves but that barely pays the bills. The four walls of her tiny New York City apartment have never seemed so small. She’s barely toasted her thirtieth birthday when her old college friend Will knocks on her door with an unexpected proposal.

    Will Thorne never forgot the marriage pact he made with Hannah, but he also never imagined he’d be the one to initiate it. One ex-fiancée and an almost-career-ending mistake later, however, he finds himself outside Hannah’s door, on bended knee, to collect on their graduation-night pinky promise.

    With both of their futures at stake, Hannah and Will take a leap of faith. Now, all they have to do is convince their friends and family that they’re madly in love. As long as they follow the list of rules they’ve drafted, everything should go smoothly. Except Will has never been good with rules, and Hannah can’t stop overthinking the sleeping arrangements. Turning thirty has never been so promising.

    The author on the character Will:

    “The biggest surprise was Will. I started When We’re Thirty not knowing he would have a POV, and then a few chapters in, he just appeared. I love that first chapter with him, because while we see him through Hannah and how she perceives him, when we get into his head he’s even more of that spontaneous and loveable person. It grants him a depth that we would miss if we only saw him through Hannah’s eyes.”

    Casey Dembowski 

  • Best Contemporary Romance Novels

    Like a Winter Snow by Lindsay Harrel

    Cozy up with this charming romance all about unexpected love, true friendship, and family loyalty.

    Women’s counselor Joy Beckman has always been a friend and helper to all. That’s why she’s given up everything to be with her parents as her mother suffers through Alzheimer’s. She may not have a thriving career or a love life at the moment, but she’s doing what she does best—taking care of others. And even though it’s difficult, she knows it’s where she is supposed to be.

    But life throws a curveball when she has to leave her parents temporarily to travel to England for the December wedding of her best friend. While there, Joy helps Sophia tackle her last-minute to-do list, and in the process, finally meets a man who turns her head—and her heart. The only problem? He lives in snowy London, and her life is with her parents back in sunny Florida. She tries to resist Oliver Lincoln’s charms, but it’s harder than it should be. With her heart torn in two, Joy is forced to choose between a life she knows she’s meant for and the one she didn’t see coming.

    A review of the novella:

    “This novella has just the right amount of sparkle, humor, and poignancy for the season, and a sweet friendship-to-romance.”

    Courtney C. 

  • Best Contemporary Romance Novels

    On a Night Like This by Barbara Freethy

    Sara had always been untouchable, his sister’s best friend, and the girl next door…

    Smokejumper Aiden Callaway never questioned his job until a fire took the life of his friend, Kyle, and left Aiden with injuries and fractured memories. The truth may clear Aiden of blame but destroy Kyle’s reputation and hurt the people he left behind.

    Sara has never forgiven or forgotten the way Aiden brought their teenage relationship crashing down. But the sparks between Aiden and Sara have been smoldering for a very long time. Sara is afraid to take another chance on the man who broke her heart, and Aiden knows better than anyone how dangerous an intense fire can be. As teenagers they weren’t ready for each other. Are they ready now? Or will secrets derail their second chance at love? 

    The author on her writing style:

    “On Night Like This will be my 34th published novel. My books are always complicated. I love big plots and deep emotional moments. I tend to write books that blend the romance genre with suspense and also with women’s fiction. I enjoy writing about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary adventures. And, I like to surprise my readers, which is always a challenge!”

    Barbara Freethy 

  • Best Contemporary Romance Novels

    Twice Shy by Mona Ingram

    He broke her heart all those years ago. Now he’s living at her grandmother’s B&B.

    Rebecca returns to her childhood home after her grandmother dies, only to discover that she might not have known her beloved Gran at all. Arriving at Waterlily Bay Lodge, she’s surprised to discover her childhood sweetheart in residence… the same young man who disappeared on the night of their high school prom. As the truth about Mitch’s disappearance is revealed, can they come to terms about what tore them apart?

    The author on the this “Power of Love” series:

    “These are individual stories featuring the healing power of love when lives are shattered and relationships go wrong. ”

    Mona Ingram

  • Best Contemporary Romance Novels

    Forever This Time by Maggie McGinnis

    Snowflake Village might hold more than just ghosts from the past. It might hold the possibility of a second chance at love…

    Boston therapist Josie Kendrew specializes in helping other people mend their broken hearts, but her own heart is another story. After years of putting distance between herself and her childhood home, she’s forced to rush back to Echo Lake, Vermont when her father has a stroke, but once she arrives, painful memories threaten to send her driving right back out of town. Between her sweet “little sister” and Ethan Miller, the boy she left behind, Josie finds herself face-to-face with a pain she’s not sure she can endure. Ethan is now—wow—all man, and he’s sitting in the CFO chair of Snowflake Village, her family’s Christmas-themed amusement park … a place noted by journalists as charming and sweet and festive, but a place she’s derisively called Camp Ho-Ho forever—or at least since she was old enough to watch the twinkly lights and endless hours destroy her parents.

    Ethan Miller never set out to be the one left behind, but when Josie blew out of town ten years ago with no explanation, suddenly that’s who he was. After a week spent mostly in a Jim Beam haze, he tucked her engagement ring in a drawer and set out to make a life for himself, though their history gnaws at him every day he walks the pathways of Snowflake Village. A lot has changed since Josie fled, so when she drives back in, a mixture of angry, scared, and sad, he has no idea whether she’ll stay … or leave him shattered once again.

    A review on the novel:

    “Launching the Echo Lake contemporary series, McGinnis weaves an engrossing and uplifting tale of enduring love.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • Best Contemporary Romance Novels

    If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

    If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

    When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

    Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…

    The author on the genre of chick lit/romantic comedy novels:

    “I’m not sure I’m placed to say it’s evolving. I definitely want it to feel like feminism is a thing, but those two things shouldn’t be separate. I mean, you write about women’s lives, why isn’t feminism inherent? I hope Twilight and Fifty Shades are a blip and we get back to spirited, confident, intelligent women. The trouble with romantic comedy is obviously: how does the girl get the guy? That’s the plot, but you’ve got to be very careful that the girl doesn’t get defined by the bloke.”

    Mhairi McFarlane

  • Best Contemporary Romance Novels

    Beautifully Broken Pieces (The Sutter Lake Series Book 1) by Catherine Cowles

    A woman who’s lost everything. A man battling the ghosts of his past.

    Taylor is looking for peace and quiet away from the memories of all she’s lost. A small mountain town where no one knows her seems like the perfect escape. Walker loves his life just the way it is. His town, his family, his brothers in blue. Everything simple and easy–until a chance encounter changes it all.

    When Taylor’s solitude is interrupted by the rugged cop, they find that the very thing they were avoiding might be just what they both need. As their iron wills clash and passion flares…a killer lurks. And you never know who might be caught in the crosshairs.

    The inspiration behind the novel:

    “Beautifully Broken Pieces was born out of the grief I felt when I lost my dad. I really wanted to explore the tougher parts of grief. Then I started to daydream about what might happen if my heroine fell in love while in the midst of that grief. My greatest hope is that I’ve written a book that will resonate with others who have lost a loved one.”

    Catherine Cowles

  • Best Contemporary Romance Novels

    The Selection by Kiera Cass

    Prepare to be swept into a world of breathless fairy-tale romance, swoonworthy characters, glittering gowns, and fierce intrigue…

    For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want.

    Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

    The inspiration behind the story:

    “The inspiration behind The Selection was thinking about the what ifs of other stories, mainly Esther and Cinderella. I wondered if Esther happened to like the boy next door before she got shipped off to a palace to become the wife of a king. What if she had to slowly let that love die? And Cinderella never asked for a prince, she asked for a night off. What if that person and that job were way too much for her? For some reason, those two things meshed in my head, and I knew I wanted to write about a girl who was poor and would catch the attention of a prince, but she wouldn’t want him because she was already in love.”

    Kiera Cass

  • Best Contemporary Romance Novels

    Second Chance on the Corner of Main Street by Meg Easton

    He shattered her heart when he raced out of town 12 years ago. Can she forgive him now that he’s back?

    Fun-loving Whitney Brennan has been running the presses at the Nestled Hollow Gazette while running from love. She’s part of every town gathering, but is terrified of making any real or deep connection with anyone because she knows that if she does, they’ll end up leaving like her mother did. Like the man who taught her everything about the paper did. Like her high school best-friend-turned-boyfriend did on graduation night.

    Eli Treanor skipped out of Nestled Hollow twelve years ago and created a new life and a thriving team-building business he thoroughly enjoys in Sacramento. When his parents beg him to come back and run the family outdoor rentals business while his dad has surgery, Eli isn’t happy about returning to the town that didn’t love him, the dad he could never please, and the girl he left behind all those years ago.

    When Whitney and Eli are paired together to create the decorations for the Main Street Fall Market, many of their old feelings resurface. But it also opens past wounds. Can Whitney and Eli overcome the fears that are stopping them from giving their love the second chance it deserves?

    Review by Award-Winning author of the Safe Harbor series:

    “Second Chance on the Corner of Main is a delightful tale of missed opportunity made right. In spite of their hurtful parting years ago, Eli and Whitney’s love sparkles on the page and makes this sweet romance totally sigh-worthy.”

    Donna K. Weaver