Welcome to the Badass Best of 2016. Take a look below for our 5 favorite Contemporary Romance reads from this year with a few honorable mentions.
Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton || Published Jul 12th, 2016 by Gallery Books || 5 STARS || Review
Synopsis: Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is…cheese. Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can. Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be…love?
Why We Love It: Alice Clayton writes women that you would look up to, women to emulate.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne || Published Aug 9th 2016 by William Morrow || 4.5 STARS || Review
Synopsis: Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual. Trapped in a shared office together 40 (ok, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything – especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking. If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong. Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
Why We Love It: The “enemy to lovers” trope, the funny situations, the heroine’s quirks, the great romance but at the top is the hero’s characterization.
Reaper’s Fire by Joanna Wylde || Published Aug 9th 2016 by Berkley || 5 STARS || Review
Synopsis: I’ve lived by those words my whole life—assumed I’d die by them, too, and I never had a problem with that. My Reaper brothers took my back and I took theirs and it was enough. Then I met her. Tinker Garrett. She’s beautiful, she’s loyal, and she works so damned hard it scares me sometimes . . . She deserves a good man—one better than me. I can’t take her yet because the club still needs me. There’s another woman, another job, another fight just ahead. Now she’ll learn I’ve been lying to her all along. None of it’s real. Not my name, not my job, not even the clothes I wear. She thinks I’m nice. She pretends we’re just friends, that I’ve still got a soul . . . Mine’s been dead for years. Now I’m on fire for this woman, and a man can only burn for so long before he destroys everything around him. I’m coming for you, Tinker. Soon.
Why We Love It: When you pick up a Reaper’s MC book, you’re guaranteed one hell of a ride. There were some heavy duty, scary things happening in this book, but the author manages to write in a way where it feels authentic to the lifestyle and the plot.
Well Hung by Lauren Blakely || Published Sep 12th 2016 by Lauren Blakely Books || 4.5 STARS || Review
Synopsis: Here’s what you need to know about me – I’m well-off, well-hung, and quick with a joke. Women like a guy who makes them laugh – and I don’t mean at the size of his you-know-what. No, they want their funny with a side of huge, not to mention loyal. I’ve got all that plus a big bank account, thanks to my booming construction business. Yup. I know how to use all my tools. Enter Natalie. Hot, sexy, smart, and my new assistant. Which makes her totally off limits…Hey, I’m a good guy. Really. I do my best to stay far away from the kind of temptation she brings to work. Until one night in Vegas…Yeah, you’ve heard this one before. Bad news on the business front, drowning our sorrows in a few too many Harvey Wallbangers, and then I’m banging her. In my hotel room. In her hotel room. Behind the Titanic slot machine at the Flamingo (don’t ask). And before I can make her say “Oh God, right there, YES!” one more time, we’re both saying yes – the big yes – at a roadside chapel in front of a guy in press-on sideburns and a shiny gold leisure suit. But it turns out what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas. And now my dick doesn’t stay in my pants when she’s around. But the more we try to keep our hands to ourselves, the more we end up naked again, and the more time I want to spend with her fully clothed, too. The question is…do I take this woman to be my ex-wife?
Why We Love It: Lauren Blakely’s best book to date. It was sexy, it was funny, it was romantic with a conflict that made sense for the hero.
Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci || Published Sep 13th 2016 by Gallery Books || 5 STARS || Review
Synopsis: Avery Bardot steps off the plane in Rome, looking for a fresh start. She’s left behind a soon-to-be ex-husband in Boston and plans to spend the summer with her best friend Daisy, licking her wounds—and perhaps a gelato or two. But when her American-expat friend throws her a welcome party on her first night, Avery’s thrown for a loop when she sees a man she never thought she’d see again: Italian architect Marcello Bianchi. Marcello was the man—the one who got away. And now her past is colliding with her present, a present where she should be mourning the loss of her marriage and—hey, that fettuccine is delicious! And so is Marcello…Slipping easily into the good life of summertime in Rome, Avery spends her days exploring a city that makes art historians swoon, and her nights swooning over her unexpected what was old is new again romance. It’s heady, it’s fevered, it’s wanton, and it’s crazy. But could this really be her new life? Or is it just a temporary reprieve before returning to the land of twin-set cardigans and crustless sandwiches?
Why We Love It: A wonderful escape from the drudgery of real life. It’s hot and steamy, sexy, and laugh out loud funny. A perfect vacation read.
Honorable Mentions (click cover for review)
Other Badass Best of 2016 Lists
Romance – Historical, PNR & Erotic Romance
Romance – M/M
Mystery & Realistic Fiction
Most Anticipated Reads of 2017
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