Today’s hashtag and pop culture seems to frequently trend with one common thread. No matter what it may be, we have some pretty serious addictions to our favorite fandoms. Everything from television OTP’s to super film series that take place in alternate universes. They are all well and good, and like the rest of the masses, I fan-girl with the best of them. Sometimes instead of the noisy, destructive worlds, it’s nice to visit a quiet happier place. This can be accomplished by reading a book. Most of the time when the term “rom-com” is used, we think of our favorite romantic comedies in film, but today we’re talking books.
Anyone who, like me, is something of a book addict will definitely want to look into some of these authors. There is a wide range of topics and varying talent listed below. What each does have in common is either a talented prose that sets the voices apart or a unique perspective on their genre. Leading into Valentine’s Day, below are some of my favorite romances – a mix of old favorites and new finds.
Top 15 Favorite Romance Novels In Alphabetical Order, by Author
#1. Runaway Princess, by Hester Browne
I found this one difficult to be swept into – in the beginning. The book, about an average London landscape architect who happens to fall for a prince, starts off slow. Several chapters can cover one event, but once it becomes more about Amy and Leo’s romance, I was sold.
#2. A Broke Kind of Beautiful, by Katie Ganshert
More emotional than the average romance, this novel is, like its name, beautiful. There’s depth, purpose and elegant prose that endears the story. It’s about a model who is realizing her longevity in a world built on perfection is waning fast.
#3. Once Upon a Prince, by Rachel Hauck
A dashing, gentleman of a prince plus a normal American girl makes this novel one of the most charming in its genre. There’s a great quality to the writing and storytelling, and Rachel Hauck has the accent perfectly – Nathaniel’s voice practically jumps off the pages.
#4. Breath of Dawn, by Kristin Heitzmann
Unusual to most romances, the couple in this scenario falls in love after marriage. It’s a union that comes about as a result of a woman running from her past and a man looking for stability for his young daughter.
#5. Barefoot Summer, by Denise Hunter
Beautiful is the defining word to describe this novel. It’s poignant and gives the readers a hero and heroine that we not only feel for, but respect. It’s one of the few books that made me tear up. It’s about a woman named Madison whose twin brother died and the man, Beckett who holds himself responsible for that death.
#6. Save the Date, by Jenny B. Jones
Telling the story of a rising young politician, Alex and a non-profit organizer, Lucy, this cute romance is the definition of a rom-com in book form. It involves a pretend engagement, a moody younger sister and great one-liners. Jenny B. Jones’ signature is her easy ability to tell a genuine story with a healthy dose of comedy.
#7. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, by Lisa Kleypas
Okay, yes, I realize this one is set at Christmas, but I adored the story. There are faults, but the plot and the cool character of Mark Nolan made it worth those faults. Plus, it has a darling Hallmark TV adaptation that goes by the name, Christmas with Holly.
#8. Dear Mr. Knightley, by Katherine Reay
Dear Mr. Knightley is Sam Moore’s story, a 20-year-old young woman who has been in and out of the system since she was a child. Now as a recipient of a college scholarship from a mysterious benefactor, the only stipulation of the grant is that she writes letters to him – a man she knows only as Mr. Knightley. Written as an epistolary novel, Katherine’s beautiful prose and understanding of her characters is what makes this beauty a standout. Woven into the novel are literary references that any Austen purist will appreciate.
#9. Made to Last, by Melissa Tagg
Debuting in 2013, Melissa’s Made to Last is a loose re-imagining of the classic Christmas in Connecticut. This version is about TV host Randi who has to produce a husband she once made up in an interview. Things become complicated when her for-hire husband is cast at the same time that a persistent reporter becomes a fixture in her life. Nicely paced and contemporized, this book has a great sparkling wit. Plus, kudos to her – she ditched the awkward babies arriving from the 1940’s classic.
#10. First Impressions, by Debra White Smith
A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, no book list would be complete without some nod to the classic author. Though it’s been years since I read this one, I remember loving it. Oh, and Debra wrote a re-telling for each of Austen’s six novels.
#11. Safe Haven, by Nicholas Sparks
It seems like Nicholas Sparks constantly has a new book on the bestseller list to say nothing of the big-screen adaptations that arrive at regular intervals. This is my favorite book from Nicholas Sparks so far. I loved the breath-holding moments of suspense and the characters, particularly its lead Alex, who Josh Duhamel immortalized on screen in the film adaptation.
#12. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
Co-written by a creator and writer for the smash-hit YouTube series, this is the one book I haven’t read in full. With its wit and fantastic modernization, I couldn’t resist adding it. It does tell the same classic Pride & Prejudice story as its YouTube companion, yet it’s somehow different.
#13. Somebody Like you, by Beth Vogt
Expressively written, this plot is very special. It’s about a man who lost his twin brother and returns to visit his widowed sister-in-law, unprepared for the reaction she has when she sees the image of her deceased husband in him.
#14. Meant to Be Mine, by Becky Wade
Her best yet, Becky is one of my auto-buy authors. In this, her last release, the story could have easily fallen into clichés, but she breathed new life into the trope of a Vegas wedding that goes wrong.
#15. Happily Ever After, by Susan May Warren
Though her writing has produced titles in nearly every genre (historical, suspense, chick-lit), it’s one of her first contemporaries that still holds fond memories. The plot co-mingles mistaken identity and bookish elements, which means this really is the perfect modern fairytale.
What about you? What are some of your favorite contemporary novels or authors? Sound off below!
ARE YOU A ROMANCE FAN? FOLLOW THE SILVER PETTICOAT REVIEW:Our romance-themed entertainment site is on a mission to help you find the best period dramas, romance movies, TV shows, and books. Other topics include Jane Austen, Classic Hollywood, TV Couples, Fairy Tales, Romantic Living, Romanticism, and more. We’re damsels not in distress fighting for the all-new optimistic Romantic Revolution. Join us and subscribe. For more information, see our About, Old-Fashioned Romance 101, Modern Romanticism 101, and Romantic Living 101.
6 thoughts on “Rissi’s Top 15 Favorite Contemporary Romance Novels”
Rissi, What a wonderful list and I agree — book fandom is as relevant, vibrant and bit quieter. Thanks so much for including Dear Mr. Knightley in such a wonderful list. You have a few of my favorites there as well and a few to add… Thanks!
Hi, Katherine! Thanks for visiting. 🙂
Book fandoms are the best! The community is very welcoming and is always willing to chat about their latest reads, which makes for some insightful and fun conversation.
My pleasure! ‘Dear Mr. Knightley’ is still one of my very favorite contemporaries and I suspect, it will stay there. 🙂
A lot of my own new and old favorites on this list! I don’t read much contemporary–since I write and generally gear toward historicals more–but what a great list!! I’ll have to pick up a few more of these, for it seems we like the same kinds of books! 🙂
Hi, Dawn! Thanks for commenting and reading the list. 🙂
I understand that. Contemporary tends to be my overall favorite genre, so I do tend to gravitate towards that. I know many people who prefer historical and cannot get “into” contemporary novels. Nothing wrong with that. I respect authors and love that there is such a wide range of genres. It ensures there is something for everyone.
Hope if you do read some of these, you enjoy them. They’re going to be re-reads for me. 🙂
Such a great list! I’ve read a couple others of Hester Brown’s, but not this one. I’ll be adding it to my tbr now! 🙂
So many good stories-Rachel Hauck, Denise Hunter, Kristen Heitzmann, Katherine Reay….and especially The Lizzie Bennet Diaries! Now I need to reread and rewatch this.
Love this, Rissi! 🙂
Ooh, which of Hester’s have you read, Kara!? I really liked this one and am hoping to read more by her at some point. Hope you like ‘Runaway Princess’ if you read it.
Right!? I’m in the mood for re-watching Lizzie Bennet’s videos as well. This book is lots of fun and every time Lizzie shares a sarcastic joke or tells a story, I instantly picture all the antidotes as brought to life by the fabulous cast. Definitely a great series!
Thanks for reading, Kara. Glad you stopped in. 🙂