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Award-Winning Romance Novels of 2018

It’s cuffing season, baby! Winter is coming, and we are all looking for another warm body to cuddle with and love to get through it all. Or you could snuggle up with some award-winning romance novels, a hot water bottle and a body pillow. Who are we to judge? Either way, here are some recommendations for the upcoming season.

 

Related: Six romance series to dip into this fall.

Discover more of the best in romance from Forever & Forever Yours.


Nicole Froio is a Sociology PhD candidate based in York, United Kingdom. She writes about books, politics, human rights, feminism and more. She is a Book Riot contributor and can be found at @nicolefroio.

How Sandra Brown Writes Supercharged Romantic Suspense (Every Time)

 

Bestselling romantic suspense author Sandra Brown shares her tried-and-true tips on how to write romantic suspense.

The Romance

The four elements of romance that I incorporate into every book:
1. The hero and heroine must share time and space.
2. They are co-dependent, needing each other in order to survive a common threat or to overcome a shared enemy. Neither is happy about requiring the other. They’re reluctant allies.
3. Nevertheless, they desire each other. Badly.
4. They’re forbidden to each other. Something built into the plot makes it impossible for them to submit to their desire. If he’s a fireman, she needs to be an arsonist.

 

The Suspense

I plant a question in the reader’s mind early on. If not in the first sentence, then certainly by the end of the prologue and first chapter. I continue to plant questions and if I do it correctly, the reader isn’t even aware of the questions. But I withhold the answers for as long as possible. The first question asked is the last question answered. That “aha” is the reason for the story. It’s what makes the point of telling it.

 

Related: Sandra Brown’s All-Time Favorite Novels Might Surprise You

Plot Twists

When I plot, I build in several plot twists which make the initial problem worse, turn the tide, or otherwise make the reader more uncomfortable about the protagonists’ chances of success. However, my characters are often smarter than I. They do or say things that I didn’t plan for them. Some of the best plot twists in my books, I didn’t see coming! They shocked the heck out of me. I love when that happens!

 

The Challenge

Something else I do with each book: I self-impose a challenge, try something that I’ve never tried before, which helps to keep the writing fresh and me from getting lazy. Complacency is anathema to a writer.

 

Read Everything

I would advise aspiring writers of every genre to read, read, read. Read the genre they enjoy, read the genres they’ve never read before. I would advise they read the authors they love and determine why they love them. Also, to finish books they’re disliking and determine why. One can learn as much from that. Study! Read books on how to write fiction.

 

There is No Shortcut

I also advise that they write, write, write. After pursuing this career for more than thirty years, I’ve yet to discover a shortcut. There’s no fairy dust on any successful writer I know. However, there is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. One must spend hours, days, months, years in solitary confinement putting words on paper. Workshops, critique groups, classes–all of which are beneficial–do not get the job done. In order to be a writer, one must write. A word of warning: it’s hard.

 

About Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over sixty-nine novels, including her most recent #1, Tailspin.

 

 

Forever Staff Recommends: 7 Books to Read After Darker


7 Magical YA Romances You Can’t Miss

Falling in love and magic often feel like one and the same, but when both elements are present in a story, it’s impossible to resist the spell. From elaborate fantasy worlds to familiar places with secret charms, prepare to be swept away by these ten magical YA romances!

 

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

In Born Wicked, Jessica Spotswood transports readers to an alternate 19th century, where three witchy sisters must hide their magic from a fanatical Brotherhood that has outlawed witchcraft. Cate is determined to protect her younger sisters and maintain their façade of normalcy, but when the kind and charming Finn Belastra comes along, he becomes a snag in her best-laid plans. Not only could Finn betray them if he knew their secret, but his life could be in danger as Cate and her sisters grapple with a magical destiny beyond their control.

 

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

In When the Moon Was Ours, Anna-Marie McLemore creates magic in the mundane—a world where pumpkin fields are menacing, water towers hold secrets, and roses bloom in the most unlikely places. The novel follows best friends Miel, who is searching for answers about her past, and Sam, who wants to leave the past behind to forge his own daring future. In each other the teens find love, but they must fight for it—and their true selves—against all odds.

 

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

In Wintersong, S. Jae-Jones plunges readers into the underworld. When Liesl agrees to marry the Goblin King in exchange for his sparing of her sister’s life, she finds herself ensnared in a dark world ruled by ancient laws and customs. To her surprise, she’s actually drawn to the mysterious Goblin King, who at times seems to be just as much a prisoner as she is. Liesl must rely on her own strength if she’s ever to escape the Goblin King’s domain, but leaving behind the husband she’s beginning to love may prove to be her most difficult challenge yet.

 

Jessica Woodbury began her addiction to books at age 8 and plans to keep going after death if possible. She is a reader, writer, blogger, and book reviewer. She is also a single parent with two kids in constant search of books to keep them excited about reading.

Fall Back In Love with a New Romance Ebook

 

From hockey hunks to handsome heroes, these hot and heavy romances will keep you warm all season long.

 

 

 

Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer cover

Strange the Dreamer

By Laini Taylor

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Adventure: Magic/Fantasy

Grades: 10 & up

 

Read an Excerpt

 

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

 

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

 

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by Laini Taylor, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage. Welcome to Weep.

 

PRAISE

★ “This has distinct echoes of Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011), though ultimately it’s a cut above even that: characters are carefully, exquisitely crafted, the writing is achingly lovely, and the world is utterly real. While a cliffhanger ending will certainly have readers itching for book two, make no mistake— this is a thing to be savored.” —Booklist

 

★ “Gorgeously written in language simultaneously dark, lush, and enchanting, the book will leave readers eager for the next.” —Publishers Weekly

 

★ “It has all the rich, evocative imagery and complex world-building typical of Taylor’s best work…  This outstanding fantasy is a must-purchase for all YA collections.” —School Library Journal

 

VIDEOS

 

Cloudwish

Cloudwish coverCloudwish

By Fiona Wood

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Teen Life: Personal Development, Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Personal Development: Self-Discovery, Teen Life: Relationships/Sexuality

Grades: 7 & up

 

For Vân Uoc, fantasies fall into two categories: nourishing or pointless. Daydreaming about attending her own art opening? Nourishing. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, star of the rowing team who doesn’t even know she’s alive? Pointless.

 

So Vân Uoc tries to stick to her reality-keeping a low profile as a scholarship student at her prestigious Melbourne private school, managing her mother’s PTSD from a traumatic emigration from Vietnam, and admiring Billy from afar. Until she makes a wish that inexplicably (possibly magically) comes true. Billy actually notices her. In fact, he seems to genuinely like her. But as they try to fit each other into their very different lives, confounding parents and confusing friends, Vân Uoc can’t help but wonder why Billy has suddenly fallen for her. Is it the magic of first love, or is it magic from a well-timed wish that will eventually, inevitably, come to an end?

 

PRAISE

“Offers insight into conflicts emerging from the clash of old and new values, the traumas refugees face, and the struggles of the children of first-generation immigrants. It’s an inspiring story with a sympathetic heroine, who will especially appeal to those who feel pressured to follow paths they don’t want to travel.” —Publishers Weekly

 

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

ŸLB School Podcast with author Fiona Wood

Bookish Friends Podcast about Cloudwish

Radio National interview

Sydney Morning Herald interview

Alpha Reader interview

The New Guy

The New Guy

(And Other Senior Year Distractions)

By Amy Spalding

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Teen Life: Relationships/Sexuality, Teen Life: School, Personal Development: Character Development

Grades: 7 & up

 

What’s the only thing that could derail overachiever Jules’s perfect senior year? Alex Powell–former member of boy-band sensation Chaos 4 All and newest transfer to Eagle Vista Academy.

 

Alex seems cool enough when he starts spending time with Jules. In fact, he turns out to be quite the romantic (not to mention a killer kisser). And after getting over the initial shock that someone like Alex might actually like like her, Jules accepts that having a boyfriend could be a nice addition to her packed schedule. That is, until Alex commits the ultimate betrayal, which threatens to ruin her high school career, and possibly her entire future.

 

 

PRAISE

“The sparks that fly between Jules and Alex, the ex-boy band star and newest addition to the senior class, are hot enough to make them a couple worth rooting for.” —Kirkus Review

 

“Spalding excels at creating flawed characters whose own issues and mistakes propel the plot forward…this book will appeal to those who want a gentle high school drama with a touch of romance.” —School Library Journal

 

“The internal conflict between her drive to succeed and her attraction to Alex make Jules the most dynamic character…Jules’s first-person narration pulls the reader into her thoughts and feelings, and her dialogue creates a sense of immediacy.” —VOYA

 

VIDEOS

The Loose Ends List

Loose Ends ListThe Loose Ends List

By Carrie Firestone

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Grandparents and Extended Family, Personal Development: Self-Discovery, Teen Life: Family, Teen Life: Relationships/Sexuality

Grades: 7th & up

 

Seventeen-year-old Maddie O’Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie’s closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie’s plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret “death with dignity” cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way—and give the O’Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.

 

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.

 

PRAISE

 

★ “While readers know from the very beginning how this story will end, they will be surprised to discover that the journey is far more about life than death. Maddie’s first-person account is filled with humor and fun, introducing readers to a raunchy, heartwarming, and endearingly dysfunctional family. The story is made all the richer by a cast of quirky supporting characters that includes her two gay uncles, a sweet and slutty cousin, her larger-than-life grandmother, and a small handful of terminal patients and their families who are celebrating and grieving alongside them. Best of all is the achingly romantic love story that unexpectedly blossoms between Maddie and a fellow shipmate and lends the story much-appreciated moments of passion and levity. A poignant and important story about compassion, love, and the decision to live life on your own terms—right up to the very last minute: all aboard.” —Kirkus

Every Exquisite Thing

Every Exquisite Thing coverEvery Exquisite Thing

By Matthew Quick

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Teen Life: Personal Development & Identity; Poetry; Vocabulary; Mental Health

Grades: 10th & up

 

<a class=”lb-school-library-button” href=”http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/podcasts/index.html?channel=5&podcast=536″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Listen to Author Interview</a> <a class=”lb-school-library-button” href=”https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/PR4664_EveryExquisiteThing_EG_Final.pdf” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Educator Guide</a>

Nanette O’Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hardworking student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper–a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic–the rebel within Nanette awakens.

 

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young but troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion sometimes comes at a high price.

 

A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.

 

PRAISE

★ “Quick continues to excel at writing thought-provoking stories about nonconformity.” —Publishers Weekly

 

★ “This will find a dedicated audience among teen readers.” —School Library Journal

 

★ “All of the elements of this novel work together to make this an outstanding coming-of-age story…This is a book that readers will want to read twice to take it all in.” —VOYA

 

VIDEO