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 11 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.
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 them, particularly when Carter can't recognize the way in which their boss is manipulating them. A workplace romance that is approached from a different angle—the pair meeting before becoming colleagues—creates an excitement in the reader as they try to find out the outcome. There's an easiness between Evie and Carter but the potential beaus must nevertheless compete for the coveted position. Equal parts hilarious pranks and steamy romance, you can't help but root for them. As they say: all's fair in love and work.
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 aloud erotica. Things take a different turn when the 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. As Emma struggles to keep her beloved bookstore afloat, she can't help succumbing to the pleasure of spending time with Caleb...but their lust may come with unexpected strings attached. A flirtatious erotica just as hot as a mid-summer day.
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. These two could not be more different and yet have a strong attraction. Not to mention Naledi was betrothed to Thabiso when she was a toddler—Naledi is unaware of this information. Nonetheless, Naledi falls for Thabiso—thinking he is an ordinary guy and unaware that he is her intended husband. Prince Thabiso relishes the opportunity to live without the pressure of his royal title for once. But when the truth comes out, will Naledi trust their chemistry enough to accept the crown? Cinderella has never been so fun! With both Prince William and Prince Harry married, it seems this is the closest we'll be to royalty.
Act Like It
If you're looking for a fun book, look no further! This story follows stage actors Richard Troy and Lainie Graham who due to various circumstances, their management teams suggest that they fake a romantic relationship for publicity. Richard may be the hottest actor in London but his recent antics have given him the title of "bad boy." There is a certain allure to a bad boy but Richard's behavior is making him lose fans. Now Richard's renowned playboy image is in need of a makeover and that might happen with Elaine's help. A mismatched just need to take a few photos together, attend events arm in arm... maybe a few kisses here and there. 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 Ryan—two former best friends. They got really close during the summer months they spent on Lake Placid where they enrolled in a hockey program. However things changed on the last summer before college...an unexpected hookup. Wes ended the friendship and Jamie was left with unanswered questions. Four years later, they're on opposing teams, but coaching together off the ice at the hockey camp they both used to attend. Wes is open on 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, before he ended things. Ian is the son of a wealthy state senator but he worked hard up the ladder to get his position. He decided to end things before they went any further; he was trying to protect the both of them even if he did end up hurting Flash in the process. But now Flash got hired for 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 which means if she is quitting there's nothing stopping Ian...with the holidays comes a second chance even hotter than the first, as Ian tries to convince Flash that the sparks between them haven't gone away.
Seared teases on the edge of taboo as step-siblings Naya and Lachlan reunite after a decade. Their parents married when Naya was 16 and Lachlan was 20. There was a mutual attraction and the beginning of something between them but Naya was sent of to boarding school. Now it's 10 years later and Lachlan’s father is now dead, but the passion between Naya and Lachlan is anything but. It appears there is nothing stopping them from finally being together so can they finally secure a happily ever after? Even from the grave Lachlan's father is determined to keep the lovers separated from each other. But it seems he doesn't know Naya well because now that she is finally back in Lachlan's life she is committed to winning over Lachlan—for good this time. Bonus: Lachlan is a renowned chef, for those of you who like your sexy romance paired with food porn.
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 let's his intentions known—he has his sights set on Freda. After watching Nicholas perform, a curious Freda agrees to be his assistant, and finds herself drawn into a world she never could have imagined. Freda does her best to keep her feelings platonic but with every touch and every look, she yearns to be with Nicholas. Soon they go from being friends to lovers. An unconventional tale about people falling in love in a cabaret.
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 but into what? Can they be lovers without ever being able to touch the other? Can they feel attraction without knowing what the other person looks like? Suddenly words don't seem 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. Her ex-boyfriend was controlling and abusive and she knows that he is looking for her—to make matters worse he has contacts in law enforcement. 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 him. Ivan is the gruff-but-tender bearded neighbor she comes to trust, desire, and love—and a man readers will find impossible not to fall in love with. Ivan thought his chances for romance were behind him, but when he meets the enigmatic Uma, he discovers a reason to hope once more. Together they teach one another to trust again and they learn that sometimes love is worth a second chance.
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. As Ethan falls for his community service boss, Graciela finds it harder and harder to guard her heart from the steamy attentions of her new employee. When the truth comes out, Graciela wants nothing to do with Ethan but he also discovers that he doesn't want to have anything to do with the person he was before. Can Ethan will over Graciela again or will he lose the best thing he's ever had?
Cath Yardley’s geeky romance novella, the first in her Fandom Hearts series, is a romance between Tessa, who wants to become a video game engineer and will stop at nothing to get it. 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 the work together, they keep getting closer…and soon he starts to see her more than a friend. Adam hasn't had a lot of luck in the love department, his last girlfriend broke up with him to follow her ambitions. Tessa is also very ambitious and he knows that she is obsessed with getting ahead in the video game world—so will he just end up getting hurt? You’ll laugh and swoon through the awkward rom-com encounters and abundant geeky references.
Apples Should Be Red
This hilarious novella is a love story between older characters served on a big ol’ Thanksgiving platter. 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, extremely prim and proper—although she is practically begging to come out of her shell. But when they’re stuck together alone one holiday, they decide to challenge each other to change aspects of their lives. They go toe to toe, constantly pushing each other to the edge; they end up falling right into each other's arms and somehow land on the bed. 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 romance novellas you’ll read. Clara is an independent yarn dyer who finds inspiration—and romance—in brash artist Danielle. They instantly bond over their favorite show Captain Werewolf; a large part of their initial flirting is the exchange of fanfiction and Danielle creating fan art for Clara. They grow closer over art and—of all things—yarn. Together they heal their past traumas and grow closer to each other. Sweet, witty, and real the two Jewish women and their developing relationship is a beautiful representation of the LGBTQ community. Set in South Florida, this sweet f/f romance is the perfect quick read for when you want a happily ever after in a hurry.
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 to Oxford over 12 years ago and discovered love in a boy named Marius. Their brilliant love was meant to last forever until it didn't—it ended two years ago. But Edwin is stuck in the past, he still lives in the house they used to share with reminders of their relationship always in view. You can’t help but root for Edwin, a painfully shy man nursing a heartache. Adam is an environmental worker trying to keep down the flood waters around his home. However, Adam might be more than that—he might be the hope that Edwin has long lost. As they struggle with the rising waters, they grow closer and Edwin might finally be able to let go.