The long weekend is coming up, and that means a lot of reading time. To help you find the perfect stack, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite titles. We’ve got strong ladies, steamy romances, and girls who aren’t afraid to break the rules.
And who doesn’t love a pink cover?
Holly Danner has a complicated relationship with fame. It’s not easy being the only cast member of a 1990s song-and-dance show who didn’t become famous. Her childhood best friends came to dominate the worlds of pop music, film, and TV while she was relegated to a few near-misses and a nanny gig with her niece.
Harriet Price is the perfect student: smart, dutiful, over-achieving. Will Everhart is a troublemaker who’s never met an injustice she didn’t fight. When their swim coach’s inappropriate behavior is swept under the rug, the unlikely duo team up to expose his misdeeds by pulling pranks and creating the instantly legendary Amelia Westlake–an imaginary student who helps right the many wrongs of their privileged institution. But as tensions burn throughout their school, Harriet and Will struggle to keep their secret? How far will they go to make a difference? And when will they realize they’re falling for each other?
Sidney Larson always thought dark-haired, blue-eyed Brett Carmichael was sexy. But she didn’t have time for his overbearing tendencies when they were together so she broke things off. Now a chance encounter brings Brett back into her life, and Sidney can’t help but notice intriguing changes in her ex.
Since Sidney dumped him, Brett’s made major life adjustments. Sure, he’s still intense, but he's learned how to focus his energy on his career--not his partner. Brett still finds the sweet brunette as seductive as ever, but now that he’s finally worthy of her, will she be willing to give him a second chance?
When Abbi Jacobson announced to friends and acquaintances that she planned to drive across the country alone, she was met with lots of questions and opinions: Why wasn’t she going with friends? Wouldn’t it be incredibly lonely? The North route is better! Was it safe for a woman? And a common one… why? But Abbi had always found comfort in solitude, and needed space to step back and hit the reset button. As she spent time in each city, she reflected on the big questions: What do I really want? What is the worst possible scenario in which I could run into my ex? How has the decision to wear my shirts tucked in been pivotal in my adulthood?
After graduation, Violet moves to New York and lands a job in cable news, where she works her way up from intern to assistant to producer, and to a life where she’s finally free from Stella’s shadow. But soon everything is jeopardized when Stella gets hired at the same network. Now, she's in front of the camera and taking credit for the stories that Violet has worked tirelessly to produce.
Stella may be the one with the rich family and the right friends, but Violet isn’t giving up so easily this time. As she and Stella strive for success, each reveals just how far she’s willing to go to get what she wants.
No one was fiercer at war than Hamish MacHugh, though now the soldier faces a whole new battlefield: a London Season. To make his sisters happy, he takes on the challenge–even if it means letting Megan Windham teach him to waltz. Megan isn’t the least bit intimidated by his dark reputation, but Hamish senses that she’s fighting battles of her own.
It’s never too late to dive into audiobook listening. (Ask the two ladies on the Forever Team who just tried them for the very first time.)
To get YOU started, we’ve compiled a list of five of our most captivating romances.
Let’s get to listening!
Click here for preview: Four Letter Word
If you enjoy love stories with a bit of danger:
K9 handler Arin Siri doesn’t like taking orders, and she works best when it’s just her and her dog out in the field. But when she finds Jason Landon wounded during Search and Rescue, she does everything she can to get him to safety. The last time she saw Jason, they were on opposite sides of the conflict. This time, he’s begging her for help. The mission he's working won't be successful without her.
Click here for preview: Fierce Justice
Click here for preview: The Trouble with Dukes
Click here for preview: Meet Cute
Click here for preview: Don’t Close Your Eyes
Being a single parent can be difficult. And being a single parent who’s dating probably sounds impossible. Today, Forever is spotlighting five novels that remind us that while love and romance can be hard, they’re definitely worth it.
P.S. And who doesn’t love a hot single dad?
Meet Caden Marshall. Recently divorced and suffering from the world’s worst case of writer’s block, Caden is in Angel Falls to get his life back on track. He’s focused on teaching his new adult writing class and providing a stable and loving home for his young daughter, Ava. The last thing he needs is to jeopardize his new job, which means keeping plenty of distance between himself and student Gabby Langdon--no matter how tempted he is by her brains, kind heart, and the sparks that fly whenever they’re together.
Meet Griffin Sullivan. Between balancing being a single dad to an active six-year-old and the crazy demands of his job as a hockey coach, finding love is not in the cards. But when the team’s goalie is rushed to the ER, he’s immediately captivated by Sadie Braddock--the gorgeous, witty nurse on duty. The problem? She just happens to be the sister of one his players.
Meet Alex Rojas. This retired Navy SEAL is putting his life back together, one piece at a time. Being a single dad to his young daughter and working at Hope’s Crossing Kennels to help rehab a former guard dog, he struggles every day to control his PTSD. But when Elisa Hall shows up, on the run and way too cautious, she unleashes his every protective instinct.
Meet Josh Scott. With so many people depending on him, he has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family--that is until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “good bedside manners.”
Meet Daxton Hughes. As guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister, Dax is in way over his head. And if that isn't enough, life has given him a second chance with his college crush. Kailyn Flowers may not have forgiven Dax for what he did to her in college, but she isn't heartless enough to make him fend for himself, either. Now, Kailyn is his only lifeline to all things teenager--like shopping for tampons and finding his sister the perfect dress for her middle school dance.
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.
When Angelique Archer gets caught counting cards at Alexander Lavoie's vingt-et-un table, the last thing she expects is to get a job offer. It's an offer she can't refuse, really: counting cards was an act of desperation and to refuse a job—however evil it may seem—means starving. Alexander is rumored to be an assassin, but Angelique quickly finds he is handsome and fiercely protective.
This book is the winner of the RITA Award for Historical Romance.
Get ready for some steamy erotica—and the best out there this year, according to RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.
Lucky is a woman who has never known pleasure until she meets the dashing, handsome Q, who is 28 but won't live to see 30. Until he met Lucky, he was content with living for the pleasures of the flesh—but Lucky changes everything, and Q is forced to reveal his deepest, darkest secrets. RT Reviewers describes this book as "a truly amazing story that you will definitely want to read over and over."
Elizabeth Hoyt is the winner of the RT Career Achievement Award and her book Duke of Desire won RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award in the category of British Isles-Set Romance. This book is the 12th installment of the Maiden Lane series, and it's the darkest one Hoyt has written yet. In a tale of revenge and redemption, Rafael de Chartres plans to destroy the demonic club, but ends up saving the beautiful Lady Jordan, Iris Daniel, from being sacrificed. Romance ensues, but can Iris and Rafael survive their own darkness?
The healer Akira Ayres was just doing her job when she came across the handsome Geordie, who desperately needed to be saved after a life-threatening injury. The longer they spend together, the more they want to share with each other, but Geordie knows that revealing his best-kept secret would end in both of their deaths.
A winner of the RT Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award in the category of First Historical Romance/Historical Fiction, The Highland Duke has been described as an "exciting debut romance novel."
New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti tells the story of Noni, a woman who is so desperate to find her infant niece that she goes back to a man, Denver, who abandoned her a year before. Noni sees no choice in asking him for help, and Denver commits to protecting her and helping her find her niece. But Denver also deals with threats and dangers of his own, which he must keep from Noni.
An action-packed romance with a twist, this book won the Prism Award in the category Light Paranormal and the RT Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award in the category Paranormal Romantic Suspense, so get ready for some paranormal activity!
Angela Reardon is working through her trauma after she was brutally attacked. Her pursuit of a quiet life is thwarted by a handsome stranger who ignites something in her she thought was dead: the need to be loved. CIA assassin Jake Stone falls hard for his latest target, Angela, and commits to his own redemption—and her love—when he decides to find out who wants her dead and why.
Winner of the Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in the category Mystery/Suspense: Mainstream Mystery/Suspense, this book is shocking, carnal and twisted.
What to Read Next
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.
Bestselling romantic suspense author Sandra Brown shares her tried-and-true tips on how to write romantic suspense.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
What to Read Next
E.L. James’s Darker hit shelves this week, and now that you’ve binge read that bad boy like no one’s business, you’re probably suffering from some serious Fifty Shades withdrawals. To help cure your book hangover, we asked some of our staff to recommend the perfect post-Darker reads. See their books recs below and get ready to indulge your darker side.
The Farthest Edge by Kristen Ashley
I have an allllll new appreciation for the phrase “Yes, ma’am”! Kirsten Ashley’s erotica is hot.hot.hot!!!
How to Bang a Billionaire by Alexis Hall
Have you ever wondered what Fifty Shades of Grey would be like if it was a love story between two men? Well, look no further because How to Bang a Billionaire by Alexis Hall is here to give you everything you wanted (and didn’t know you needed). Funny, whip-smart, and sexy as hell, this book will have you laughing in one breath and making heart eyes in the next. And the best part? The sequel, How to Blow It with a Billionaire, comes out December 12!
Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren
Beautiful Bastard is a hilarious enemies-to-lovers romance that brings the heat. It’s the perfect read after Darker if you’re looking for something light and sexy. Chloe and Bennett’s chemistry is off the charts and once you start reading, you’ll never want this book to end!
Most of All You by Mia Sheridan
If you like the angst of Darker and want another emotional journey, curl up with Mia Sheridan’s Most of All You I absolutely could not put it down. It’s heartbreaking, raw, and deeply moving, and watching these two broken souls fall in love and find peace and happiness together… well, it put my heart back together again.”
Nine Kinds of Naughty by Jeanette Grey
Important reasons to read this book:
1. There’s a super sexy Dom named Dane. Dane is very good at dirty talk… a skill he’d like to use on his gorgeous boss.
2. There’s a high-powered CEO named Lexie (not Lexi, but close enough). Lexie is going to Spain for a business trip… a trip that includes some one-on-one time with her crazy-hot coworker.
3. Lexie is the boss in the boardroom, but Dane is the boss in the bedroom. Which makes this office romance not suitable for work. 😉
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!
In Night of Cake & Puppets, Laini Taylor takes readers back to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone universe to experience Zuzana and Mik’s magical first date. Zuzana has a handful of wishes and the perfect plan to entice Mik on a scavenger hunt through the city…if he’s willing. It turns out that Mik is more than willing—and he has a surprise for her, as well. This adorably fierce novella is whimsically illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo, and proves that life and first dates don't need magic to be magical—but it certainly makes everything sweeter!
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.
In the steampunk Finishing School Series, Gail Carriger takes readers to new heights when 14-year-old Sophronia is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality—an espionage school masked as a finishing school for young ladies…aboard a dirigible. Sophronia acquires a delightful assortment of new skills, involves herself in all sorts of conspiracies, and is curiously never far from a certain boy who works below deck. Their romance is star-crossed and not without its trials, but Sophronia is never one to let etiquette dictate how she lives her life.
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.
In Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor spins a new fantasy world of libraries, lost cities, gods, and dreams. Lazlo has been fascinated by the lost city of Weep since childhood but he never dreams he’ll actually get to see it. Everything changes when he is given the opportunity of a lifetime—a chance to journey to Weep. As Lazlo learns of Weep's mysterious past, he also discovers that some of his wildest dreams—including a mysterious blue-skinned girl—are real.
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.
In The Hearts We Sold, Emily Lloyd-Jones sends readers to boarding school, where Dee will do anything to avoid her home life—including giving her heart to a demon in exchange for tuition. Her bargain aligns her with other “heartless” teens, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. In the midst of doing the demon’s dangerous bidding, Dee finds herself falling for James in this delicious slow burn romance.
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.
Discover More Great Books for Young Readers
By Laini Taylor
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Curriculum Subject: Adventure: Magic/Fantasy
Grades: 10 & up
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.
★ “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