These heroes and heroines have been shaped by growing up on the street.
My lists are never in any particular order! Enjoy!
1. Ecstasy in Darkness by Gena Showalter
Growing up poor on New Chicago’s meanest streets, Ava Sans had two options: be the predator or be the prey. No contest. Now, working for Alien Investigation and Removal, she’s been ordered to capture the biggest, baddest warrior of all—a vampire too beautiful to be real, with the abilityto manipulate time. Once the leader of the entire vampire army, McKell has been deemed savage and unstable, spurned even by his own kind.
To McKell, humans should be nothing more than sustenance. Yet the petite, golden-skinned Ava is a fascinating contradiction—vicious yet witty, strong yet vulnerable, lethal but fiercely loyal. Against his better judgment, McKell craves that loyalty, and much more. When the chase leads to seduction, McKell and Ava will race to discover the truth about his past. But the answers will come at a price, even for a woman who thought she had nothing left to lose. . . .
2. It Ends with Us: A Novel by Colleen Hoover
Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up - she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.
As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan - her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.
3. Heartmate by Robin Owens
All his life, Rand T’Ash has looked forward to meeting his HeartMate, with whom he could begin a family. Once a street tough, now a respected nobleman and artisan, he has crafted the perfect HeartGift, which, in the custom of the psychically gifted population of the planet Celta, is the way a man finds—and attracts—his wife…
Danith Mallow is irresistibly drawn to the magnificent necklace on display in T’Ash’s shop, but she is wary of its creator, despite an overpowering attraction. In a world where everyone is defined by their psychic ability, Danith has little, placing her at the opposite end of the social spectrum from T’Ash. But T’Ash refuses to accept her rejection and sees it as a challenge instead. They are HeartMates, but can T’Ash persuade his beloved to accept her destiny by his side?
4. Hot Secrets by Lisa Marie Rice
Jack Prescott waited twelve years for his wife, Caroline. And then, the moment he found her again, he almost lost her.
The son of a violent drunk, Jack grew up on the streets, and he understands better than anyone how cruel and dark the world can be. As a martial artist and former Army Ranger, though, he knows how to take care of himself and those he loves. Only one thing can bring him to his knees—the thought of someone harming Caroline.
So he made it his mission to teach her self-defense…but not all of their time on the workout mat is work.
When a violent monster of a man breaks into Caroline’s bookstore on Christmas Eve, Jack races to her side, all the while hoping his lessons have sunk in, because without her, life isn’t worth living.
5. Hunter's Claim (The Alliance Book 1) by S.E. Smith
Jesse Sampson and her two younger sisters have lived a hard life on the streets of Seattle, Washington for the past several years. Four years before the Earth received its first visitors from space causing mass fear. Alone in a world gone mad with just her sisters, Jesse has learned to use the darkness and the remains of the city to survive and keep what was left of her family alive. She has seen the savage side of human nature and finds they are not much different from the aliens who conquered the Earth.
The Trivators have taken control of the Earth to prevent the humans from destroying it in their fear. A world of warriors, they are sent out by the Alliance of Star Systems to seek out new worlds. Their mission is first contact. They are to establish communication with the leaders of the new worlds they find and bring them into the Alliance. Any resistance is to be quickly subdued to prevent unnecessary death of the inhabitants of the new worlds they find. Their payment comes from the success of their mission.
Hunter is what he is called. A hunter, one of the elite clans of the Trivators who seek out those who resist. His abilities to track, capture and eliminate those who try to harm any warrior is renowned. He finds the tables turned when he becomes the one captured by a group of ruthless humans.
Hunter is shocked when a strange human female risks her life to help him escape only to disappear into the ruins of the city. He now has a new mission, finding the female who saved his life. He is determined to find her before she is damaged by others of her kind.
What he finds is a reward beyond comprehension to a Trivator warrior, a family. Can he convince Jesse that he can give her and her younger sisters a better life on his world? Or will fear keep her from accepting what he has to offer?
6. For the Roses by Julie Garwood
The Clayborne brothers were a rough gang of street urchins -- until they found an abandoned baby girl in a New York City alley, named her Mary Rose, and headed to Blue Belle, Montana, to raise her to be a lady. They became a family -- held together by loyalty and love if not blood -- when suddenly a stranger threatened to tear them apart...Lord Harrison Stanford MacDonald brandished a six-shooter and a swagger, but he soon proved to be a gentleman to the core. The brothers taught him frontier survival, while Mary Rose touched his heart with a deep and desperate passion. But soon, a shattering secret would challenge everything Mary Rose believed about herself, her life, and her newfound love.
7. Once More, My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath
Born to the street but raised within the aristocracy, Drake Darling can't escape his sordid beginnings. Not when Lady Ophelia Lyttleton snubs him at every turn, a constant reminder he's not truly one of them. But after rescuing her from a mysterious drowning, he realizes she doesn't remember who she is. With plans to bring her to heel, he insists she's his housekeeper—never expecting to fall for the charming beauty.
While Ophelia might not recall her life before Drake, she has little doubt she belongs with him. The desire she feels for her dark, brooding employer can't be denied, regardless of consequences. So when Ophelia's memory returns, she is devastated by the depth of his betrayal. Now Drake must risk everything to prove she can trust this rogue with her heart once more.
8. Night Falls Like Silk by Kathleen Eagle
His gift is a rare talent; his art celebrates an important American legacy. But it's born from a torment that might make him as dangerous as he is irresistible.
Wealthy, beautiful and sophisticated, Cassandra Westbrook collects exquisite art objects with a connoisseur's fine taste and a rich woman's whims. She always dominates an art auction--until a mysterious artist named Thomas Warrior bids against her for a set of Native American ledger drawings.
Though he's outbid, Thomas feels a strong connection to the historic artwork that embodies his Native American heritage and symbolizes the survival of its courageous spirit. He's a survivor too, growing up on the mean streets to become more famous than he'd ever imagined possible. So he's not a man to give up easily--neither on the drawings nor on the stunning woman who now possesses them.
Thomas and Cassandra are not only destined to cross paths again, but when he agrees to mentor her talented but troubled nephew, fate collides with the fierce attraction they share.
Thomas's artistic gift haunts him as his creations seem to take on a life of their own. When Cassandra's nephew and the extraordinary ledger drawings disappear at the same time, not even Thomas is certain who he really is or what dangers threaten those he loves.
9. I Own the Dawn by M. L. Buchman
Name: Archibald Jeffrey Stevenson III
Rank: First Lieutenant, Dap Hawk Copilot
Mission: Strategy and execution of special ops maneuvers
Name: Kee Smith
Rank: Sergeant, Night Stalker Gunner and Sharpshooter
Mission: Whatever it takes to get the job done
You Wouldn't Think It Could Get Worse, Until It Does...
When a special mission slowly unravels, it is up to Kee and Archie to get their team out of an impossible situation with international implications. With her weaponry knowledge and his strategic thinking, plus the explosive attraction that puts them into exact synchrony, together they might just have a fighting chance.
10. Caught by Menace by Lolita Lopez
Menace’s plan to catch a docile woman is shot to hell when he’s tackled by a darkhaired beauty who wants to save her friend from being Grabbed. Refusing to leave the planet’s surface empty-handed, Menace claims the spitfire with his collar.
Naya clawed her way off the streets of Connor’s Run and vowed to never let any man control her. She plans to make Menace so miserable he’ll set her free, but the ruggedly sexy warrior disarms her with his unexpected patience and kindness.
Against her better judgment, Naya surrenders to Menace’s masterful hands and mouth. Submitting to her new husband brings more pleasure and happiness than she’d ever imagined possible. For the first time in her life, she willingly trusts a man to protect her.
But when past misdeeds catch up with her, Naya puts the depth and strength of that love to the test. Determined to prove he’s worthy of her trust, Menace will stop at nothing to save her.
Do you have a suggestion? Let me know!
Vote for the best of the best on my Goodreads list: Street Kid: Romance Novel Leads that Grew up on the Streets