Every year, I tend to have a sub genre I glom. This year I had an amazing run of blessings with Contemporary Romance. Contemporary Romances published in 2014 were particularly good so this post is just about those beauties.
Here is my best reads of Contemporary Romance published in 2014. So many 5 stars, it is dazzling. I can't never pick a favorite so these books are not in any particular order. They are all great. Read them!
1. His Road Home by Anna Richland 5 Stars
Special Forces medic Rey Cruz needs to find a fiancée, fast, or he'll end up in a marriage orchestrated by an Afghan warlord. Finding a picture online of a girl he barely knew back home, he fakes an engagement photo, thinking no one else will see it. But when Rey loses both legs and the ability to speak while rescuing a local boy, the image goes viral.
Seattle marine biologist Grace Kim is shocked to find out she's engaged. When she's offered a plane ticket to visit her "fiancé," she takes it, looking for the answer to one question: Why did he lie? Touched by Rey's funny texts and the determination she sees in him, Grace offers her friendship—a big step for someone who prefers whales to most company.
And when Rey is finally sent home, Grace agrees to help him drive his classic car cross-country over Thanksgiving—a once-in-a-lifetime road trip that leads to what feels like real love. In front of his friends and family, she plays the caring fiancée, but what place will Grace have in Rey's new life once he's ready to be on his own again?
2. Truly: A New York Novel by Ruthie Knox 5 Stars
May Fredericks hates New York. Which is fair enough, since New York seems to hate her back. After relocating to Manhattan from the Midwest to be with her long-distance boyfriend, NFL quarterback Thor Einarsson, May receives the world’s worst marriage proposal, stabs the jerk with a shrimp fork, and storms off alone—only to get mugged. Now she’s got no phone, no cash, and no friends. How’s a nice girl supposed to get back to safe, sensible Wisconsin?
Frankly, Ben Hausman couldn’t care less. Sure, it’s not every day he meets a genuine, down-to-earth woman like May—especially in a dive in the Village—but he’s recovering from an ugly divorce that cost him his restaurant. He wants to be left alone to start over and become a better man. Then again, playing the white knight to May’s sexy damsel in distress would be an excellent place to start—if only he can give her one very good reason to love New York.
3. Sun-Kissed by Laura Florand 5 Stars
They called her the Ice Queen.
Anne Winters. Self-made billionaire. Household name. Divorced single mom. Convicted felon. She didn’t let anyone or anything get to her. No one was allowed to breach the walls around her heart except for her own son. She had only one trusted friend: her vacation house neighbor. They’d been walking the beach together for twenty years. Not that this gave him access to her heart, of course…
They called him a man who got what he wanted.
Mack Corey. Self-made billionaire. Dominant world player. Widowed father of the bride. No felony convictions yet, although his daughters had come close. He’d transformed his family company into one of the top 500 by the age of thirty. He’d raised two daughters who dumped him for idiot arrogant French chocolatiers and went off to live in Paris. Hell, he even managed to tolerate his dad. But that Ice Queen act Anne Winters had going was really starting to get to him…
They’d been best friends for twenty years. Could they become lovers?
Could a frozen heart be kissed by the sun?
4. Love Hacked by Penny Reid 5 Stars
There are three things you need to know about Sandra Fielding: 1) She makes all her first dates cry, 2) She hasn't been kissed in over two years, and 3) She knows how to knit.
Sandra has difficulty removing her psychotherapist hat. Of her last 30 dates, 29 have ended the same way: the man sobbing uncontrollably. After one such disaster, Sandra--near desperation and maybe a little tipsy--gives in to a seemingly harmless encounter with her hot waiter, Alex. Argumentative, secretive, and hostile Alex may be the opposite of everything Sandra knows is right for her. But now, the girl who has spent all her life helping others change for the better, must find a way to cope with falling for someone who refuses to change at all.
5. Hard Time by Cara McKenna 5 Stars
Annie Goodhouse doesn’t need to be warned about bad boys; good sense and an abusive ex have given her plenty of reasons to play it safe. But when she steps into her new role as outreach librarian for Cousins Correctional Facility, no amount of good sense can keep her mind—or eyes—off inmate Eric Collier.
Eric doesn’t claim to be innocent of the crime that landed him in prison. In fact, he’d do it again if that’s what it took to keep his family safe. Loyalty and force are what he knows. But meeting Annie makes him want to know more.
When Eric begins courting Annie through letters, they embark on a reckless, secret romance—a forbidden fantasy that neither imagines could ever be real…until early parole for Eric changes everything, and forces them both to face a past they can’t forget, and a desire they can’t deny.
6. Deeper by Robin York 5 Stars
When Caroline Piasecki’s ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the Internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn’t look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear, hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defense and punches her ex to the ground.
West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he’s shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger—even after promising her dad she’ll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works.
They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they’re “just friends,” their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend. The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself—and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her.
When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper.
7. Live: A Burnside Novel by Mary Ann Rivers 5 Stars
If there’s an upside to unemployment, Destiny Burnside may have found it. Job searching at her local library in Lakefield, Ohio, gives her plenty of time to ogle the hottest man she has ever laid eyes on: the sexy wood-carver who’s restoring the building. But as the rejection letters pile up, Destiny finds an unexpected shoulder to cry on. With his rich Welsh accent, Hefin Thomas stirs Destiny so completely that, even though he’s leaving soon, she lets herself believe the memory of his scorching kisses will be enough.
Hefin can’t help but notice the slender, confident woman with ginger hair who returns each day, so hopeful and determined. So when the tears start to fall, his silence—penance for a failed marriage—finally cracks. Once he’s touched her, what Hefin wants is to take her back to Wales and hold her forever. But Destiny’s roots run too deep. What they both need is each other—to learn how to live and love again.
8. The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand 5 Stars
She hated him.
Patrick Chevalier. The charming, laid-back, golden second-in-command of the Paris pastry kitchen where Sarah worked as intern, who made everything she failed at seem so easy, and who could have every woman he winked at falling for him without even trying. She hated him, but she’d risked too much for this dream to give up on it and walk out just so he wouldn’t break her heart.
But he didn’t hate her.
Sarah Lin. Patrick’s serious, dark-haired American intern, who looked at him as if she could see right through him and wasn’t so impressed with what she saw. As her boss, he knew he should leave her alone. The same way he knew better than to risk his heart and gamble on love.
But he was never good at not going after what – or who – he wanted.
He could make magic out of sugar. But could he mold hate into love.
9. Beyond Repair by Charlotte Stein 5 Stars
When Alice Evans finds a bona fide movie star on the floor of her living room, she has no idea what to do. Ordinary men are frightening enough, never mind someone as famous and frankly gorgeous as Holden Stark.
However, once she realizes that Holden is suffering behind that famous facade, she knows she has to help. He needs someone like her to give him a taste of sweetness and desire and love. He needs normality. The only problem—Alice is hiding a secret that is far from normal. In fact, her name isn’t even Alice at all.
And once Holden finds out, the intense connection they are just beginning to build may well be torn apart.
10. Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid 4 Stars
There are three things you need to know about Ashley Winston: 1) She has six brothers and they all have beards, 2) She is a reader, and 3) She knows how to knit.
Former beauty queen, Ashley Winston’s preferred coping strategy is escapism. She escaped her Tennessee small town, loathsome father, and six brothers eight years ago. Now she escapes life daily via her Amazon kindle one-click addiction. However, when a family tragedy forces her to return home, Ashley can’t escape the notice of Drew Runous— local Game Warden, bear wrestler, philosopher, and everyone’s favorite guy. Drew’s irksome philosophizing in particular makes Ashley want to run for the skyscrapers, especially since he can’t seem to keep his exasperating opinions— or his soulful poetry, steadfast support, and delightful hands— to himself. Pretty soon the girl who wanted nothing more than the escape of the big city finds she’s lost her heart in small town Tennessee.
11. Hard to Hold On To: A Hard Ink Novella by Laura Kaye 4 Stars
Edward "Easy" Cantrell knows better than most the pain of not being able to save those he loves--which is why he is not going to let Jenna Dean out of his sight. He may have just met her, but Jenna's the first person to make him feel alive since that devastating day in the desert more than a year ago.
Jenna has never met anyone like Easy. She can't describe how he makes her feel--and not just because he saved her life. No, the stirrings inside her reach far beyond gratitude.
As the pair are thrust together while chaos reigns around them, they both know one thing: the things in life most worth having are the hardest to hold on to
12. The Key by Victoria Darkins 4 Stars
Jack and Carrie are lost souls. Jack is an eminent university lecturer in English Literature who suffers from quadriplegia after a spinal cord injury in his late teens. Having convinced himself that he was better off on his own he has closed the door on any romantic entanglements and instead directed all his energy into his work.
Carrie is trying to unchain herself from a cruel, neglectful and guilt ridden childhood. She has earned a place on a degree course of her dreams but it comes at a costly price.
Both are thrown together by Mary, a mutual friend and past social worker, who has hatched a plan to help Jack and Carrie with their predicaments. Carrie becomes Jack's live-in carer securing her with an income and unexpected benefits.
Will it be too late from them to find out that they both hold the key to unleash each other from the chains that hold them to their past? A key that will unlock their hearts.
13. Just Not Mine by Rosalind James 4 Stars
Destiny can sneak up on you. Or it can smack you in the face.
Hugh Latimer’s coping with a few problems just now. A broken hand, missing the European rugby tour . . . and a half-brother and sister who are playing havoc with his love life. Instead of packing down in the scrum, he’s driving the carpool to ballet—or forgetting it’s his turn. When he hears his neighbor wailing out bad pop in the wee hours, it’s the last straw.
Josie Pae Ata is a fortunate woman. A new house, good friends, a gorgeous boyfriend—oh, and stardom, too. Getting involved with her new neighbors would bring risks she doesn’t need. But life has a way of changing the rules. And when you get more than you can handle, sometimes all you can do is hang on for the ride.
14. Shoreline Drive by Lily Everett 4 Stars
Dr. Ben Faulkner is a veterinarian on warm, welcoming Sanctuary Island, a refuge for wild horses. Though he’s dedicated his life to healing animals and rescuing the ones no one wants, Ben is nursing deep wounds of his own. After tragedy tore his family apart, he gave up his dreams of finding happiness long ago…until Merry Preston arrives on the island. Vivacious, friendly, and instantly loveable, Merry is everything Ben is not. She’s also nine months pregnant and attempting to carve out a new life for herself and her unborn child.
Though Ben tries to keep his distance, when a raging storm cuts them off from the mainland, he’s forced to help bring her new baby into the world. It’s a harrowing experience that leaves him with one great certainty: I want these two to be my family. Seeing his opportunity, he makes a dramatic proposal to the young mother: a marriage of convenience. If Merry marries him, he’ll draw up a contract naming her son as his heir and promising to provide for them both. But as they’ll learn, love is more than a business proposition…and it’ll take all the magic hidden in Sanctuary Island to turn Ben’s proposal into something real and lasting.
15. Imperfect Chemistry by Mary Frame 4 Stars
Lucy London puts the word genius to shame. Having obtained her PhD in microbiology by the age of twenty, she's amassed a wealth of knowledge, but one subject still eludes her—people. The pendulum of passions experienced by those around her both confuses and intrigues her, so when she’s offered a grant to study emotion as a pathogen, she jumps on the opportunity.
When her attempts to come up with an actual experiment quickly drop from lackluster to nonexistent, she’s given a choice: figure out how to conduct a groundbreaking study on passion, or lose both the grant and her position at the university. Put on leave until she can crack the perfect proposal, she finds there’s only one way she can study emotions: by experiencing them herself.
Enter Jensen Walker, Lucy's neighbor and the one person on the planet she finds strangely and maddeningly appealing. Jensen's life is the stuff of campus legend, messy, emotional, complicated—in short, the perfect starting point for Lucy's study. When her tenaciousness wears him down and he consents to help her, sparks fly. To her surprise, Lucy finds herself battling with her own emotions, as foreign as they are intense. With the clock ticking on her deadline, Lucy must decide what's more important: analyzing her passions...or giving in to them?
"Picasso would have loved his face."
An art exhibition in Queenstown, New Zealand results in an unlikely friendship and a reluctant love when shy art student Sophy James meets reticent security consultant Mick Hollister. Content with her solitude and independence, Sophy has never desired a long-term relationship. Born with a face that apparently not even a mother could love, Mick has given up hope of having one. They don't have a lot in common; they shouldn't even like one another - and they can't stay away from each other.
So, there it is! What a wonderful year! Thank you!
I read about 300-400 books a year. My best reads come from that pool of books. I would love to know your favorites that I may have missed in Contemporary Romance published 2014.
To vote for your best Contemporary Romance from this year-- Best Contemporary Romance 2014.