Everyone knows the classic jokes about romance novels. The cover is usually some beautiful, scantily clad woman being held by a exceedingly shirtless, exceedingly handsome pirate, cowboy, fireman, astronaut, space monster, (insert overtly machismo profession here).
But honestly, if you love reading romance, that's part of the fun of it, isn't it? It's the very same experience as when most guys can't help but love any and all stories about some renegade/outlaw/vigilante/cool cat who just can't help being so awesome and kicking everyone's ass on his way to getting some hot imaginary chick who can't help but love him.
Romance novels are just like anything else; they're about the journey. Albeit a decidedly more sexy journey, but a journey nonetheless. Whether you're a guy or a gal (it's not weird to like romance, guys, last I checked we're usually one half of it) there's always room to relax and read a high quality, well-written romantic journey. Especially with summer bearing down on us. So grab an Arnold Palmer (spiked if you like), hang out on your porch or on the beach and read one of these fantastic Romance novels. They'll get your heart racing.
8 Heather Graham -- The Cursed
Let's start with a power-packed curveball. Everyone who knows Romance knows Heather Graham -- she's the gold standard, heck she's the platinum standard. Her fresh off the presses novel The Cursed (2014) is a romantic paranormal suspense that is supercharged like a 1969 Camaro. The story follows one Hannah O'Brien, who is acutely aware of her ability to see ghosts residing in the Bed and Breakfast she runs. Like Old Hamlet, a spirit appears proclaiming his murder, which sends her down a path where she would meet FBI agent Dallas Samson, whose investigations into the murders would hurl them both into a fight for their lives, trying to uncover the mystery of the violence that remains to this day.
Quite simply, "Heather Graham knows what readers want." --Publishers Weekly.
That's no hyperbole. There's a reason she's been on more bestseller lists so many times you'd need to call your friends to count them on fingers and toes. Heather has done it once again.
7 Patrice Wilton -- Serendipity Falls
Patrice Wilton's top seller Serendipity Falls will heat you up and make you wish it was winter, as pastry chef Tara Reynolds stays warm working in a mountain resort as the skiers flock to the town of Serendipity Falls. Romance is far removed from Tara's thoughts as she establishes herself in her new position, but a devilishly good looking local bar owner seems star crossed in her path despite both of their resistance. This fun, freshly voiced Rom-Com plays with the idea that love is in the air, as the town seems to become a hotbed of travelers looking for love. This novel bursts with sexual tension from both lovers' point of view. It has a lighthearted, enjoyable atmosphere and of course, some ignitable scenes. Don't be bashful, pick up Serendipity Falls and enjoy the far-away winter romance.
6 Erin McCarthy -- You Make Me
Erin McCarthy is no stranger to success in her writing endeavors. You Make Me certainly keeps true to that trend. A very real, relatable tale of young love lost and love gained, this novel certainly plays with some heavy romantic weapons. Caitlyn Michaud grew up in coastal Maine as a foster child with a host of different family experiences. Along the way she met her foster brother Heath, and in their youth and passion they fell in love. One day, Heath was gone and Caitlyn was forced to continue her tumultuous life without him. Fast forward to her college days, where she happily thrives as a sorority girl with her loving boyfriend Ethan. Recently released by the military, Heath shows up one night to throw Caitlyn's love life into a tempest. How can she choose over the passionate present love of Ethan and the enthralling past love of a brooding, mystique-surrounded Heath?
You Make Me is a keeper. Contemporarily relevant, passionate, real and sexy, the novel is everything you could ask for in a 21st century power romance. Don't miss it.
5 Kathleen Pickering -- Where It Began
An up and comer in the writing scene, Kathleen Pickering has all the skill and deft story control of a veteran writer, while allowing her energetic style and freedom of ideas to meld together into a fresh and passionate story in Where It Began. While Kathleen draws a wide range of inspiration from the world around her, using it to create romance novels in the supernatural, or in new-age idealism, or even religious mythology and history, Where It Began is more of a classic romance, with her own unique twists and turns in it. In the story, Maria Santiago and Daniel Del Rio's broken relationship seems to be a road block to progress in Maria's life. Despite the undeniable draw to each other, they can't seem to get out of each other's way. Maria's lack of memory from the tragic boating accident that killed her mother and sister leaves her in the dark with her own questions of what was and should be. A masterful sailor, Daniel Del Rio has his reservations when Maria wants to retrace their nautical steps in an attempt to jar her memory. The journey they'll take together will not only unearth memories, but repressed desires, as well as mysteries Maria could never anticipate. Don't hesitate to grab this hidden gem of an artfully crafted romantic story; you'll be grateful to be in the hands of a natural storyteller like Kathleen Pickering.
4 Beth Ciotta -- In The Mood For Love
Part of the Cupcake Lovers series, In The Mood For Love is the next fun, playful incarnation of the series dedicated to romance and something everyone loves-- cupcakes! Her previous novel in the series Anything But Love has been received with widespread adulation, and all indications are that Beth knocked another one out of the park with In The Mood For Love. Witty, emotional, real and romantic, Ciotta's style is a smooth fit for our times. In the novel, Harper Day has gone from L.A. to Vermont where she manages publicity for "the Cupcake Lovers", and finds herself enthralled by the remote beauty and slowed-down lifestyle in the town of Sugar Creek. Lo and behold, she meets a handsome fellow by the name of Sam McCloud, and his two kids. Sam and Harper's sensibilities may be at odds, but magnetic attraction cannot be denied, and Sam isn't afraid to step up to the plate to get what he wants. Don't miss out on this fun, sexy series, with In The Mood For Love hitting the physical and virtual shelves on July 1, 2014.
3 Traci Hall -- The Queen's Guard: Peony
1147 A.D., Snow flickers through the air in a cold winter in Nicaea, in what is now Northwestern Turkey. Lady Catherine le Rochefort takes refuge with Queen Eleanor and her royal guard after surviving a brutal attack. The Crusade into the holy land has attracted western Europeans all throughout Asia Minor looking for glory and holy vindication. With Queen Eleanor being kept safe in Nicaea for the time being, King Louis sends Lord Payen de Montfer into their company as a trusted emissary to try and quell dissent among the ranks of Eleanor's guard. Payen meets Lady Catherine in the camp, and struggles with his desire for her beauty. Catherine can't help her reciprocal feelings for Payen, but her own secrets keep her from getting too close-- her life, and absolution could be at stake.
Such is the rich, historical, and entrancing world Traci Hall has built in the second iteration of this series. Complex characters battle with their past and their desire, their beliefs and their urges. This is truly a novel that anyone can enjoy, with an atmosphere, setting and story that is captivating for anyone to read. And what could be sexier than those fighting with their undeniable attractions and their hopes for their eternal soul? You'll be happy you picked up the second novel in The Queen's Guard, and you'll want to jump straight to book one when you're done.
2 Bonnie Vanak -- The Mating Rite
To quote The Bloodhound Gang, "you and me baby ain't nothing but mammals, so let's do it..." well, you know how it goes. Bonnie Vanak isn't afraid to go primal with her fantastically sexy, well-crafted stories of Werewolf love. Part of her Mating series, inside complex world of Werewolf communities and the mating rituals of these demihumans, The Mating Rite follows Darius Bryant, a Werewolf whose first mate died before he could ever have her. Darius mourns her loss and longs for her love; but he couldn't shake Samantha Evers out of his head. When he discovers she is still alive, living as a human, all other mates mean nothing compared to his desire to hunt her love. But many things have changed over their years apart, and unexpected forces seek to upend their mating rite.
Bonnie Vanak fluidly melds her unique, draw-you-in writing style with unprecedentedly sexy Werewolf love. Don't be bashful, (the characters won't be.) Pick up The Mating Rite and others in her werewolf mating series and embrace the wild.
1 Kathy Love -- Devilishly Wicked
Kathy Love has been unabashedly kicking ass in the Romance world with something undeniably wonderful-- pure, unadulterated fun. Always willing to have fun at the reader or the character's expense, Love's classics like Fangs For the Memories and Any Way You Want It are as successful and sexy as they are hilarious.
Her recent publication, Devilishly Wicked, follows gleefully in her style. The third book in her Devilish paranormal series, Love tells the story of a Demon in disguise Tristan McIntyre who is ordered by the devil to overturn Tristan's soulless, evil boss at NYC's HOT! magazine, Finola White. But something Tristan can't account for, despite his play-it-cool attitude, is his unexpected desire for his human assistant Georgia Sullivan. Rather than being an emaciated model who cries at the picture of food, or a power-mad corporate wench, Georgia is kind and lighthearted real woman, and Tristan can't help himself. Their story gets flipped on its head when his seduction plans turn into real emotions for the girl, and hell hath no fury like a. . . confused planeswalker?
You don't want to miss Devilishly Wicked, because Kathy Love knows how to write what you want to read-- sexy, fun entertainment. Throw out your Twilight crap and pick up some real stories. You'll remember why good writing doesn't lie. Except, you know, for the whole storytelling part.