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Kate Clayborn Shares Her Favorite Contemporary Romances

The Love Lettering author reveals the contemporaries she can’t get enough of.

contemporary romantic couple kissing in front of a lake

We’re deep into winter, which means I’m cuddling up and reading more than at any other time of year—a blanket, a cup of tea, and the biggest stack of contemporary romances I can put together. I’m thrilled to share some of my new favorites and my go-to re-reads, in hopes that you all can also enjoy a cozy February full of great contemporary romance books!

If you’re into romantic comedies (and who isn’t these days?!), I recommend a just-released book by Mia Sosa. The Worst Best Man follows Lina Santos and Max Hartley as they throw their hats in the ring for a huge work opportunity. The only problem with working as a team? Max is responsible for Lina being left at the altar—by Max’s brother!—only a few short years ago. 

I think a lot of rom-coms these days are pretty light on the “com” part of the equation, but Sosa really delivers on the laughs with this one; the various scrapes and scenarios Lina and Max find themselves in are genuinely funny, as is their banter.

Also, are there any other HGTV and house-hunting show fanatics out there? If so, let me point you in the direction of Ruby Lang’s terrific Uptown series, set in New York City and featuring couples who are all embroiled in various types of real-estate dilemmas. These books are packed with sweetness and depth, and Lang writes some of the most complicated heroines out there right now. 

It’s hard to choose a favorite of these three, but the final book in the series, House Rules, features a divorced couple who agree to co-habitate in the face of NYC’s brutal rental market. Lang pulls off this reunited lovers scenario spectacularly, and it’s a book that leaves you feeling hopeful and whole.

Related: 15 Second-Chance Romance Books That will Make You Believe in Love

One of my longtime favorite subgenres within contemporary romance is—and I can hardly believe it myself, suburban/city gal that I am—cowboy romance. One reason I think these romances appeal is that they’re in a context (a ranch!) so different from my experiences that it’s easy to get swept away. Plus, most of these romances feature casts of close-knit characters who often have really complicated relationships to one another. 

An upcoming release to keep your eye out for is Rebekah Weatherspoon’s A Cowboy to Remember, which features a heroine with amnesia (!) reconnecting with a childhood sweetheart. I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of this one, and the world it builds in Charming, California, is exactly that: completely and totally charming. 

If you’re looking for a series that’s already complete, I’d recommend Caitlin Crews’s recent Cold River Ranch books—these are emotional reads featuring three brothers who have to find their way back to each other even as they find their lifelong romantic partners.

Related: 13 Romance Book Series You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

Being stuck inside so much all winter means it can be easy to get isolated from the friends we see more regularly when the weather’s good—and that gets me craving romances with those strong friendships featured prominently! Tracey Livesay has a great start to a new series where all of the heroines are part of a group who met in college and meet up every summer for a vacation together. Sweet Talkin’ Lover kicks it off, and it features a (hot!) small town mayor.

Finally, this is the perfect season for comfort reading: those classics that you go back to and reread from start-to-finish, or for favorite scenes. Maybe a couple of my comfort reads might become yours? 

First up is Jennifer Crusie, whose books were my introduction to romance. She’s got a great backlist of witty, emotional romances, but one common re-read for me is The Cinderella Deal. A pretty implausible but fun set-up (a college professor needs a fake fiancée to land his small-town dream-job) gives way to a fantastic opposites-attract love story, and the best part is, Crusie somehow makes a wintertime flu epidemic in town seem romantic—it’s got a great care-taking scene. 

Another go-to re-read author for me is Sarah Mayberry, who has a massive backlist of contemporary romances (including some cowboys!). One favorite of mine that’s perfect for the season is Her Best Worst Mistake. It’s another opposites-attract romance, but it features a maid-of-honor falling deeply and extremely inconveniently in love with her best friend’s jilted groom. You wouldn’t think this setup would work at all, but just like in all of Mayberry’s books, she finds a way to get her characters to the most comforting, convincing happily ever afters.

Featured photo: Cristian Newman / Unsplash