As the year speed through December, I thought it would be fun to reflect on the best books in each sub genre of romance I read that were published in 2013.
I thought I would start with Contemporary Romance because I returned to reading this sub genre with a vengeance this year. My guess is there was a lot of great new to me and debut authors writing these kinds of books and was sucked in by the vortex of their talent.
I am saving the crack of the publishing world that in New Adult for another list. I don’t love it much but I did find some treasures.
Contemporary Romances are (according the RWA and they should know) romance novels that focus primarily on the romantic relationship, released as individual titles, and set in the current time period.
Here are my top ten reads in this sub genre published this year. They are in no particular order.
Neanderthal Seeks Human: A Smart Romance by Penny Reid
There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (TooMuch Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit.
After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan – aka Sir McHotpants – witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn- the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies- to make her an offer she can’t refuse.
After Hours by Cara McKenna
Erin Coffey has been a nurse for years, but nothing’s prepared her for the physical and emotional demands of her new position. Needing to move closer to her dysfunctional family, she takes a dangerous job at Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital, where she quickly learns that she needs protection—and she meets the strong, over-confident coworker who’s more than willing to provide it.
Kelly Robak is the type of guy that Erin has sworn she’d never get involved with. She’s seen firsthand, via her mess of a sister, what chaos guys like him can bring into a woman’s life. But she finds herself drawn to him anyway, even when he shows up at her door, not eager to take no for an answer.
What Erin finds even more shocking than Kelly’s indecent proposal is how much she enjoys submitting to his every command. But he can’t play the tough guy indefinitely. If they want to have more than just an affair, both will have to open up and reveal what they truly need.
Lush (Delicious Book 3) by Lauren Dane
Mary Whaley has her hands full running a successful catering company and overseeing her supper club. She has everything she ever wanted—or so she thought. When she meets ridiculously hot and very dirty rock star Damien Hurley at her friend’s engagement party, the attraction she feels is overpowering—and she isn’t about to deny herself.
Damien is used to a hard and fast life. He and two of his brothers started a band when they were fresh out of high school—then they hit the big time and stayed there. He’s also a legendary madman on the stage and in the bedroom. But when he meets Mary, something clicks, and the bad boy starts thinking he may have finally found something good.
What begins as a series of fleeting trysts soon gets much more complicated. Damien can’t figure out why Mary doesn’t want more from him. And before long, it’s Damien who wants more from Mary. But it turns out Mary is no stranger to celebrity news, and he’s got a very big job ahead of him: proving that he’s worth more than a one-night stand…
Dream Nights with the CEO (A Secret Desires Novel Book 1)
by Kathy Lyons
Hotel chain CEO and millionaire Wyatt Monroe is a stick in the mud. Sure, he’s hot as sin, even with the tie, but free-spirited assistant Megan Bradford refuses to jeopardize their perfect working relationship. Why mess that up with sex? She knows he’s the love ’em and leave ’em type, and she’s determined to find a family man.
Wyatt would never cross the line between boss and employee with Megan, no matter how hard it might be to resist the temptation. But when they visit a mysterious B&B in a bid to acquire the property, he starts having erotic dreams about the sexy brunette that make it hard to resist her in daylight.
Soon the line between reality and dreams further blurs when they learn they were sharing the same erotic dreams…
The Story Guy (Novella) by Mary Ann Rivers
I will meet you on Wednesdays at noon in Celebration Park. Kissing only.
Carrie West is happy with her life . . . isn’t she? But when she sees this provocative online ad, the thirtysomething librarian can’t help but be tempted. After all, the photo of the anonymous poster is far too attractive to ignore. And when Wednesday finally arrives, it brings a first kiss that’s hotter than any she’s ever imagined. Brian Newburgh is an attorney, but there’s more to his life . . . that he won’t share with Carrie. Determined to have more than just Wednesdays, Carrie embarks on a quest to learn Brian’s story, certain that he will be worth the cost. But is she ready to gamble her heart on a man who just might be The One . . . even though she has no idea how their love story will end?
Play With Me (With Me In Seattle Book 3) by Kristen Proby
Will Montgomery is a successful professional football player and seemingly has it all. He’s not used to being told no, and certainly doesn’t take no for an answer. So when he turns his charms on his sister’s sexy rocker-chick friend Meg, he’s not only turned down, but met with open hostility, piquing his curiosity and libido. He’s determined to show her that he’s not the arrogant jock she thinks he is, and to get her into his bed.
Megan McBride is not impressed with Will Montgomery, his fat contract, fancy car, or his arrogant public persona. She doesn’t have time for a relationship, and if she’s learned anything in life, it’s that loving means losing, so she guards her heart ferociously. But she can’t deny the overwhelming attraction to the sexy, tattooed athlete, and when Will starts breaking down her defenses and grabs hold of her heart, will she be able to admit her feelings for him, or will her troubled past cause her to lose the first man she’s ever truly loved?
Fire Inside: A Chaos Novel by Kristen Ashley
Lanie Heron isn’t looking for love-no surprise, considering her last serious relationship nearly got her killed. So when Lanie propositions Hop Kincaid, all she wants is one wild night with the hot-as-hell biker who patrols with the Chaos Motorcycle Club . . .
For Hop, Lanie has always been untouchable. She’s too polished and too classy for his taste. But when she gives Hop the once-over with her bedroom eyes and offers him a night in paradise, he can’t say no. And he doesn’t regret it when he finds that Lanie is the best thing that’s ever happened to him-in or out of bed. Now the trick will be to convince her of that.
Friends Without Benefits (Knitting in the City Book 2) by Penny Reid
There are three things you need to know about Elizabeth Finney: 1) She suffers from severe sarcastic syndrome, especially when she’s unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her like Nico Manganiello, and 3) She knows how to knit.
Elizabeth Finney is almost always right about everything: the musical merits of boy bands are undervalued by society, “benefits” with human Ken dolls are better without friendship, and the sun has set on her once-in-a-lifetime chance for true love. But when Elizabeth’s plans for benefits without friendship are disarmed by the irritatingly charismatic and chauvinistic Nico Manganiello- her former nemesis- she finds herself struggling to maintain the electric fence around her heart while avoiding electrocution or, worse, falling in love.
How to Misbehave: A Novella: A Camelot Novella (Camelot Series Book 1) by Ruthie Knox
As program director for the Camelot Community Center, Amber Clark knows how to keep her cool. That is, until a sudden tornado warning forces her to take shelter in a darkened basement with a hunk of man whose sex appeal green lights her every fantasy. With a voice that would melt chocolate, he asks her if she is okay. Now she’s hot all over and wondering: How does a girl make a move?
Building contractor Tony Mazzara was just looking to escape nature’s fury. Instead, he finds himself all tangled up with lovely Amber. Sweet and sexy, she’s ready to unleash her wild side. Their mutual desire reaches a fever pitch and creates a storm of its own—unexpected, powerful, and unforgettable. But is it bigger than Tony can handle? Can he let go of painful memories and let the force of this remarkable woman show him a future he never dreamed existed?
His Risk to Take by Tessa Bailey
Homicide cop Troy Bennett had a reputation with the Chicago PD for being fearless and in control—until the night his daredevil partner is killed during a raid. From that moment on, he swears he’ll never again be responsible for the loss of a loved one. To escape his demons, Troy transfers to the NYPD, bringing him up close and personal with Ruby Elliott, a beautiful, street-savvy pool hustler.
Reckless and stubbornly independent, Ruby embodies everything Troy’s avoiding, but when she walks into the pub he’s at with his new coworkers and blows his carefully laid plans to hell, Troy knows he has to have her—risks be damned. But there’s a connection between Ruby’s shadowed past and a case Troy’s working involving a notorious Brooklyn felon, throwing her safety into jeopardy. Confronted with his biggest fear, will Troy push Ruby away to keep her safe or fight to keep her in his arms where she belongs?
I am sure I missed reading some great Contemporary Romances. Let me know what else I should read that was published this year!
You can vote from the best of the best on this Goodreads list: Reader’s Choice: Best Contemporary Romance of 2013.