Searching for a great contemporary romance read? Whether you’re new to the genre or looking for an awesome love story you might have missed, these 17 contemporary romance novels—plus four bonus contemporary novellas—will give you plenty of swoon for your buck.
Forbidden romance, hockey romance, red-hot stories of long-lost lovers getting a second chance to make it work...no matter your pleasure, there's a contemporary romance out there that will scratch your itch.
Lily's Little Flower Shop
After she is passed over for a promotion at work, Lily decides to follow her childhood dream and moves to the coast to open her own flower shop. But adjusting to her new life is far from a bed of roses as she struggles to find her place in this tight-knit community.
Dealing with the financial uncertainties of owning her own business, a long-distance boyfriend who has just relocated to another country, and with her mother pressuring her to return to city life, Lily can’t help but wonder if she’s made a mistake.
As she begins to form connections in her new community and the possibility of romance arises, Lily will have to grapple with the choices she’s made in this heart-warming story about finding your true happiness.
Act Your Age, Eve Brown
Eve Brown knows what people think of her: she’s the Brown sister who doesn’t have her life together, who leaves a trail of false starts and failures in her wake. Embarrassed and frustrated after disappointing her parents again, Eve impulsively applies as a chef at a bucolic B&B.
The owner, Jacob, doesn’t intend to offer Eve the job, but when an accident forces him to stay in bed, he has no choice but to rely on the notoriously unreliable Eve. Forced together by circumstances, the unlikely couple develop feelings for each other, and Eve realizes that she’s been underestimated all along. Kirkus called this 2021 release “a sexy, satisfying end to a beloved series.”
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake
Full of fondant, flirting, and reality TV show fun, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is the ideal read for fans of series like The Great British Bake Off.
Single mom Rosalie hopes that her stint on a British reality show can whip up a new future for her and her daughter. She doesn’t expect to find romance on the set, but find it she does—with two other contestants.
Filled with positive bisexual representation and lots of baking hijinks, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake is a charming contemporary confection.
While We Were Dating
A Hollywood romance from Jasmine Guillory, While We Were Dating follows Anna Gardiner, a rising star who lands a prestigious ad campaign on her ascent to the top. Marketer Ben does not have time for romance, particularly not with women he’s working with, so he didn’t expect to get along so well with the big-name starlet fronting his latest campaign.
But as they develop real feelings for each other, Ben and Anna begin to worry: in the cynical, status-seeking world of Hollywood, can they really have a relationship with heart?
Forever My Hero
This seventh book in Sharon Sala's emotional Blessings, Georgia series is also the perfect standalone Southern read. Alice and Dan are two Blessings loners whose lives haven't turned out the way they expected. Widowed Alice never found the love she wanted in her marriage. Dan is still grieving his wife and son, who were killed in a tragic accident.
Neither Alice nor Dan believes they deserve to love again — but when the pair have to seek shelter together during a hurricane, they realize love may have found them regardless.
One Night More
One year ago, there was an attempt on journalist Harper Allen's life. It was thwarted at the last minute by a sexy stranger who insisted on remaining anonymous...even after the pair shared a red-hot one-night stand. Now, Harper and her rescuer, U.S. Marshal Galen Kelly, have been reunited.
Galen is tasked with protecting Harper from a senator's assassin — and to keep her safe, he needs to pretend their night of passion never happened. A steamy romantic suspense story, One Night More will have you craving a U.S. Marshal of your very own.
To Win Her Heart
Country star Jessi Tucker has a stalker. She's not too concerned — but her family is. Jessi is fed up with the constant supervision the men in her life insist on giving her, particularly her cousin, football star Tuck Tucker. Determined to make the best of a frustrating situation, she recruits Tuck's sexy friend Max, a professional cage fighter, for the role of her bodyguard.
Little does Jessi know, Max has been harboring an intense attraction to her for years — but now that duty compels him to spend nearly every waking minute with Jessi, he's honor-bound to ignore his feelings for her and focus on keeping her safe.
Dating You/Hating You
Named on several 2017 best romance lists, Christina Lauren’s sweet and sexy romance between two Hollywood agents is also very timely: the heroine, Evie, has to deal with a sexist boss as she competes for the same job with fellow agent Carter—the guy she’s been dating.
The two ambitious agents have undeniable chemistry, but the merger of their two firms threatens to drive a wedge between the couple, particularly when Carter can't recognize the way in which their boss is manipulating them.
Equal parts hilarious pranks and steamy romance, you can't help but root for Carter and Evie in this contemporary romance novel. As they say: all's fair in love and work.
Related: 7 Books for Fans of Christina Lauren
Tell Me a Story
Romance doesn’t get much sexier than this standalone novel about Emma, an Orlando bookshop owner whose quirky ideas keep her business afloat. Story Brothel—her most popular reading event—allows customers to pay writers to read erotica aloud. Things take a different turn when a handsome billionaire real estate mogul enters the picture.
Caleb comes to Emma with a deliciously dirty proposition: a session in a private cabana. Their romance is dramatic and passionate, and the story has one huge twist in the middle you won’t believe.
A Princess in Theory
Alyssa Cole’s latest novel centers on Naledi, a grad student who constantly keeps people at arm's length due to her orphan past. We also meet Thabiso, the heir to the throne in Thesolo, an African country. Though they seem to come from different worlds, they can’t help falling for one another.
It’s a setup that makes the plot twist—Naledi is unaware that she was betrothed to Thabiso when she was a toddler—all the more enjoyable.
Act Like It
If you're looking for a fun contemporary romance novel, look no further! This story follows stage actors Richard Troy and Lainie Graham, whose management teams have suggested they fake a romantic relationship for publicity.
But what happens when they start playing their off-stage roles too well? A bad boy and a sweetheart...seems like opposites do attract.
A winner of a 2016 RITA award and a great pick for sports fans, Him is a sexy hockey romance between Jamie and his former best friend, Ryan. The boys spent every high school summer together at hockey camp—but an unexpected hookup during the last summer before college changed everything.
Four years later, they're on opposing teams, but coaching together off the ice at the hockey camp they both used to attend. Ryan is open about his sexuality and wishes he could pursue his feelings toward his best friend, but as far as he knows, Jamie is straight. However, once the skates are off, the two begin to explore a connection that's hot enough to melt ice.
One Hot December
Tiffany Reisz is known for her sharp wit and erotic stories, and this Harlequin Blaze shows both to full effect. The heroine, Veronica—aka "Flash"—is a welder/artist who had one hot night with her wealthy boss, Ian Asher. However, not wanting to risk either of their jobs, Ian broke her heart and ended things as quickly as they began.
But when Flash finds a full time position at a plant nursery—a place where she can finally let her creativity run wild—she quickly gives in her two weeks notice. Now, there's nothing stopping Ian… and with the holidays comes a second chance even hotter than the first.
This L.H. Cosway novel is not only wonderfully written, but unusual in that the hero, Nicholas, is a cabaret performer who dresses in drag. He’s also sexy and funny and catches the eye of his neighbor, Freda, a baker from Dublin who is swept away by his dark and magnetic energy. Freda considers herself to be average so she is shocked when he lets his intentions be known—he has his sights set on Freda.
Way Down Deep
Stein and McKenna both write love stories that are super sensual and gorgeously written, and their pairing in Way Down Deep is perfection. In this story, told entirely through text messages, Malcolm and Maya are two strangers who meet through a mistakenly sent message—Malcolm typed the words but never meant to send it, especially to Maya. Their shared traumatic pasts allow the strangers to quickly become intimate.
The connection only seems to strengthen with their exchanges; they openly share their deepest thoughts, desires, and observations. The friendship evolves into something more...Can they be lovers without ever being able to touch the other? Suddenly, words don't seem like enough.
Under Her Skin
Adriana Anders’s debut romance is the emotional story of Uma, a woman fleeing her abuser and hiding as a live-in housekeeper. Uma is forced to leave her old life behind and start over and her plans do not include a man. But there is something about her neighbor that she can't stop thinking about.
Ivan is the gruff-but-tender bearded neighbor she comes to trust, desire, and love—and we can pretty much guarantee you’ll fall in love with him, too.
Unbuttoning the CEO
Warm and funny, Unbuttoning the CEO pairs nonprofit head Graciela with Ethan, a CEO sentenced to community service at her organization. Ethan is used to calling all the shots, but with over 200 hours of community service to complete, his chief executive informs him that he has to keep his real identity under wraps.
Secrets sizzle in this debut, but so do the sparks between Graciela and Ethan, two good people who are perfect for each other.
Cath Yardley’s geeky romance novella, the first in her Fandom Hearts series, is perfect for young adult readers. The story is a romance between Tessa, who wants to become a video game engineer, and her roommate, Adam. A major introvert, Tessa is forced to socialize with her video game coworkers in order to create a fandom-based video game in under three weeks.
It turns out that her roommate Adam is just the person who can help her. Adam has always been strictly business but as they work together, they keep getting closer…and soon he starts to see her more than a friend.
Apples Should Be Red
Though their kids may be married, 62-year-old Tom and 59-year-old Bev are complete opposites. Tom would be considered socially unacceptable: he drinks and smokes too much, he has the mouth of a sailor, and wants nothing to do with his neighbors. On the other hand, Bev is set in her ways, and extremely prim and proper—although she is practically begging to come out of her shell.
When they’re stuck together alone one Thanksgiving, they decide to challenge each other to change aspects of their lives. They go toe to toe and end up falling right into each other's arms. What follows are some awkward moments with their children who are both shocked and horrified. Turkey Day was never so titillating.
Knit One, Girl Two
Knit One, Girl Two is one of the most delightful modern romance novellas you’ll read. Clara is an independent yarn dyer who finds inspiration—and romance—in brash artist Danielle. They grow closer over art and—of all things—yarn.
Sweet, witty, and real, the two Jewish women and their developing relationship is a beautiful representation of the LGBTQ community.
Waiting for the Flood
Alexis Hall writes beautiful, poetic lines, and Waiting for the Flood is a gorgeous, emotional novella set in a flood zone in England. Edwin Tully arrived in Oxford over 12 years ago and fell in love with a boy named Marius. Their relationship ended two years ago, but Edwin is stuck in the past.
You can’t help but root for Edwin, a painfully shy man nursing a heartache. But then he meets Adam—and he might be the hope that Edwin has long lost.
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