Hey there, bookworms! Happy Sunday! I know the weekend is coming to a close, but we can all always use a reading suggestion, right? This is a post I’ve wanted to put together for awhile, but my schedule just hasn’t allowed the time to compile it the way I wanted. Throw in a massive headache that kept me in bed since 4pm yesterday, and now I’m finally bringing you this post. Also, I thought it could be a way to celebrate being a blogger for four years and surpassing my 700th like on Facebook. Slow and steady, but I’m really proud and humbled by how far this blog has come.
On another note, I’m still tinkering with the idea of a book club as another way to develop and expand the site and have real discussions about our favorite reads. I have no idea how I’m going to go about it, but if I can really get it together and create rules and a forum for people to comment on a monthly selection, I’d love to give it a go. Comment below and let me know if you’d be interested!
Okay, now to the point of this post. As a constant defender of the romance novel, and because someone is always looking for a new love story to read, I wanted to put together a list of some of my favorites I’ve read over the years. These are in no particular order, but I will say how difficult it was for me to narrow down. I initially began with 5, then it jumped up to 15 or 20, and then I narrowed it back down to 10 to keep the list just long enough. Many of these stories have developed into series anyway, so if you choose one, a few, or all of them to savor, you’ll have material to last you for quite awhile. I promise. Now, let’s jump into some of my favorite book boyfriends!
1. Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard
While I said these are listed in no particular order, it’s no secret that if you follow me on any social media or have seen past blog posts, that no one has knocked my Gabriel out of the number one spot yet, and I read this series for the first time back in 2013. I didn’t know until after I was eyeballs deep in this series that it began as Twilight fan fiction. All I can say is that I’m thrilled that this story developed so much and really became something of its own and became something so magical and enchanting, that I re-visit Gabriel and Julianne’s story at least once a year.
“Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption.
When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide.
An intriguing and sinful exploration of seduction, forbidden love and redemption, “Gabriel’s Inferno” is a captivating and wildly passionate tale of one man’s escape from his own personal hell as he tries to earn the impossible…forgiveness and love.”
2. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
This trilogy leaves me absolutely breathless just thinking about it. The first time I read book one, I not only got a love story, but I was properly schooled on WWII history in Russia, and learned about this whole other barricaded life that Tatiana was trying to survive in Leningrad.
All three books are absolutely heart-wrenching, steamy, and show a true testament of love. Tatiana and Alexander and nowhere near perfect. They have their fair share of challenges and struggles, and even reach a precipice that becomes sort of a breaking point, but they’re nothing if not determined to be together. I loved the ups and downs of this entire series, and I’m even giving it a listen on Audible right now and it’s absolutely leaving me shattered.
“During the summer of 1941 the Metanov family are living a hard life in Leningrad. As the German armies advance their future looks bleak. For Tatiana, love arrives in the guise of Alexander, who harbours a deadly and extraordinary secret.”
3. The Blackstone Affair by Raine Miller
Oh, the things I can say about these books. There are four of them, so that’s a start. Four yummy novels about one Ethan Blackstone. The fact that Miller used David Gandy as her muse for one of my favorite book boyfriends is just the icing on the cake. For four books, I got to traipse around London, one of my favorite places in the world, with this beautiful and tortured man.
When I first began this series, I was mad when I closed book one, because fair warning, book one is short. It ends abruptly, and there is no great elaboration in the plot. DO NOT LET THIS DETER YOU! Please immediately begin book two and so on. Your questions will be answered, I swear, and you will have one hell of a sexy journey with Ethan and Brynne.
Side note. This series has quite a few spin-offs featuring some of the supporting characters. I’ve read some of them so far and they’re just as wonderful as the main series!
“Brynne Bennett is living the good life. An American art student at the University of London and part-time photographic model, she’s putting her life back on track with school and lots of hard work. When ultra successful London businessman, Ethan Blackstone, buys her nude portrait, he isn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. He wants Brynne in his bed and makes plans to keep her there no matter what. His dominant nature captivates and ensnares despite the demons she carries inside her. But there are secrets in this relationship. Huge ones. Can Ethan free Brynne from the past that has marked her? Will Brynne let him or will the specters tormenting her resurface to destroy them both…”
4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Goodness. How much time do you guys have for me to wax poetic about all things Outlander? This might merit another discussion, or ten. I can NOT say enough wonderful things about these books, about the show, about every last bit of these stories.
This is a series that has everything. Romance, time-travel, fantasy, history, drama, death, destruction, war, you name it, Diana wrote it into the text. These are hefty books. There’s also eight of them with two more in progress (I think). Do not feel intimidated to pick them up. Just take them one at a time, and I promise you’ll be entertained beginning to end. Diana is thorough with her research and gives you all the proper information and background in order for you to visualize her story. All eight of these took me from mid-June until about the end of September if I remember correctly, so you’ll really be invested in this series once you get going!
“The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.”
5. This Man by Jodi Ellen Malpas
Ah, Jesse Ward. The Lord of the Manor. On the surface, he’s demanding, controlling, persistent, and a total alpha. As Ava and the reader peel back the layers, we find out what a battered, broken, yet devoted and loving man he is. He’s flawed, as are most of my favorite book boyfriends, but his heart is pure gold and full of affection for Ava.
All I can say is that I’m thrilled there is a fourth book in this series releasing in just days. When it does, I plan on hunkering down, uninterrupted, with these two!
“Young interior designer Ava O’Shea has an appointment for a first consultation at The Manor with the owner, Mr Jesse Ward. She is expecting nothing more than an overweight, cravat wearing, well-to-do countryman, and on arrival, nothing would suggest otherwise. How wrong could she be? This Man is devastatingly handsome, charming and confident. He is also a conceited, hedonistic playboy, who knows no boundaries. Ava desperately does not want to be attracted to him, but she can’t control the overwhelming effect he has on her. Every instinct is telling her to run, so she does, but Jesse Ward is not so willing to let her go. He wants her and is determined to have her. She knows she is heading for heartbreak, but how can she run when he won’t let her?”
6. Crossfire by Sylvia Day
This was one of the first big-girl romance series I read after being introduced to the genre years back. Therefore, one Gideon Cross has a special place in my heart. When other girls preferred to be trapped in an elevator with Christian Grey, I was all about riding in a limo with Cross.
All five books take place right across the river from me in Manhattan, so I loved running around the city streets with some of the fancy elite when it came to socialite Eva Tramell and her brooding man, Gideon. What a steamy series, and it contains all the elements that make for fantastic and guilty pleasure romance novels.
“From #1 ‘New York Times’ bestselling author Sylvia Day comes the provocative masterstroke of abandon and obsession that redefined the meaning of desire and became a global phenomenon… ‘Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness.’ ‘He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily Gideon ‘knew.’ He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each others most private wounds and desires. The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn’t tear us apart.'”
7. Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren
Another series that I believe also began as Twilight fan-fiction. Whatever, though. I love everything writing duo Christina Lauren does so I was not disappointed with a single book in this whole series. Every novel focuses on a different character pairing and they’re all funny, quirky, contemporary, and sexy as all hell!
An ambitious intern. A perfectionist executive. And a whole lot of name calling.
Whip-smart, hardworking, and on her way to an MBA, Chloe Mills has only one problem: her boss, Bennett Ryan. He’s exacting, blunt, inconsiderate—and completely irresistible. A Beautiful Bastard.
Bennett has returned to Chicago from France to take a vital role in his family’s massive media business. He never expected that the assistant who’d been helping him from abroad was the gorgeous, innocently provocative—completely infuriating—creature he now has to see every day. Despite the rumors, he’s never been one for a workplace hookup. But Chloe’s so tempting he’s willing to bend the rules—or outright smash them—if it means he can have her. All over the office.
As their appetites for one another increase to a breaking point, Bennett and Chloe must decide exactly what they’re willing to lose in order to win each other.
8. Crash by Nicole Williams
One of my absolute favorite and very first romance series I ever downloaded. Although this trilogy is categorized as New/Young Adult, they’re still some risqué reads! I loved every dramatic and angsty moment between Jude and Lucy and know I’m in need of a serious re-read soon!
“Southpointe High is the last place Lucy wanted to wind up her senior year of school. Right up until she stumbles into Jude Ryder, a guy whose name has become its own verb, and synonymous with trouble. He’s got a rap sheet that runs longer than a senior thesis, has had his name sighed, shouted, and cursed by more women than Lucy dares to ask, and lives at the local boys home where disturbed seems to be the status quo for the residents. Lucy had a stable at best, quirky at worst, upbringing. She lives for wearing the satin down on her ballet shoes, has her sights set on Juilliard, and has been careful to keep trouble out of her life. Up until now.
Jude’s everything she needs to stay away from if she wants to separate her past from her future. Staying away, she’s about to find out, is the only thing she’s incapable of.
For Lucy Larson and Jude Ryder, love’s about to become the thing that tears them apart.”
9. Alabama Summer by J. Daniels
What a series. My goodness. I’m not sure there are better boys out there than the Bama Boys. Ben, Reed, Luke, CJ, and soon… Jake and Nolan!
These guys are a lot of alpha, and a lot of men to take on, but luckily, I was up for the challenge and I can’t wait for more!
J. Daniels has many books to choose from that I tossed around to put on this list, and the Sweet Addiction series came close to a top ten choice, but there’s something about those Bama Boys that kept me won over for a top romance pick. However, by all means, please check out that series as well! You won’t regret it!
A New York Times bestselling enemies to lovers STANDALONE
When Mia Corelli returns to Alabama for a summer of fun with her childhood best friend, Tessa, there’s only one thing keeping her on edge. One person that she’d do anything to avoid.
Benjamin Kelly. World’s biggest dickhead.
Mia hates him with a fury and has no desire to ever see him again. When she decides to start her summer off with a bang and finally give away her v-card, she unknowingly hands it over to the one guy that excelled at making her life miserable, learning a valuable lesson in the process.
Always get the name of the guy you’re going home with.
Ben can’t get the girl he spent one night with out of his head. When she leaves him the next morning, he thinks he’ll never see her again. Until he sees her lounging by the pool with his sister.
Mia is determined to hate Ben, even though she can’t forget him.
Ben is determined to prove he’s not the same guy he used to be.
What happens when the one person you wish never existed becomes the one person you can’t imagine being without?
10. The Coincidence by Jessica Sorensen
Okay, I know I said I wasn’t putting these in any particular order, but it’s fitting that I wound up ending this list with the very first real romance series that introduced me to the entire genre. I was playing with the Flipboard app on my iPad, and reading through some new releases and must-reads from New York Times, I actually read a synopsis for the second book in the trilogy. I knew in an instant that I had to binge on the whole thing, and I never looked back. Now an avid lover and fighter for all things romance novel, I suppose I need to credit this Young Adult series.
Please go meet Callie & Kayden if you’d like a sweet but angsty tale of love!
“For Kayden, suffering in silence was the only way to survive. If he was lucky, he could keep his head down, do as he was told, and make it through the day. But one night it seemed like his luck — and his life — might finally end… until an angel named Callie appeared just in time to rescue him.
Callie has never believed in luck. Not since her twelfth birthday when everything was taken from her. After the worst was over, she locked up her feelings and vowed never to tell anyone what happened. Now, six years later, she continues to struggle with the painful secret that threatens to consume her.
When fate lands Kayden and Callie at the same college, Kayden is determined to get to know the beautiful girl who changed his destiny. Quiet and reserved, Callie still fears letting anyone else into her world. But Kayden is certain that Callie has come back into his life for a reason. And the more he tries to be a part of her life, the more he realizes that, this time, it’s Callie who needs to be saved…”
Well, that does it for me and my lists for now. Have you read any of these books or series? What are some of your romantic favorites or current reads? What are some I should check out that weren’t featured on the list? Let’s chat about this!
*Final Note: If you’re genuinely interested in a super casual book club, let me know in the comments because I really am trying to form one. A head count in the mean time would be super helpful!
Okay, I’ve blabbed enough. I’ll let you get back to your books. Until next time, happy reading!