Read a Romance Book: Contemporary Romance Part 1

Posted June 22, 2020 by Zeee in Read a Romance Book10 Comments

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Read a Romance Book: Contemporary Romance

A Beginner’s Guide to Romance Novels

I started the Read a Romance Book series on this blog as an introduction to the world of romance books.

Contemporary Romance

This post will focus mainly on Contemporary Romance and a few sub-genres under this category. This is not an exhaustive list.

Edit: I decided to cut this post in half because it was getting too long. Part 2 will be posted later.

 

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

Click here if you want to skip the about romance intro.

 

What is a Romance Novel

There are many genres and subgenres of a romance novel but essentially, it is defined as a fictional story with a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. Romance writers and industry experts (based on what I have read in the past and heard romance writers talk in panels) say that if the romance is taken out of the plot, the book will not make sense.

Romance readers usually say that a romance novel has to have an HEA (happily ever after) or an HFN (happy for now). There has been some debate over this, but as a romance reader, I personally define romance novels as having an HEA or an HFN.

A lot of genre fiction novels may have romantic elements, but if romance is not a central plot and it does not end in an HEA or HFN, it is not considered a romance novel. There are also other genres with strong romantic themes, but it is still not considered a romance if it does not meet the romance novel definition.

The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss

The very first romance novel The Flame and the Flower written by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss was published by Avon Romance in 1972.

 

Old Skool Romance

If you are a romance reader, you will know that Old Skool Romance or Old School Romance are those romances of any genre written and published in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Some of these romances are very problematic if written today.

Some of my favorite romances are Old Skool Romances and I always keep in mind the time that these books were written. While I believe that these books are problematic, I try to keep an open mind when reading it and judge the book based on the time it was written.

 

Heat Levels

There are varying heat levels in romance novels – from closed-door, to fade to black, to all-out sexytimes, there is a book for everyone!

I personally prefer sexytimes on the page, so most of my personal recommendation will have a heat level ranging from 3-5.

 

Literary Tropes

There are different types of tropes that are applicable to romance books. Wikipedia defines a literary trope as the use of figurative language, via word, phrase or an image, for artistic effect. The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs, or clichés in creative works.

Some books may have multiple tropes.

 

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I have been reading romance novels since I was 11 years old. I was first attracted to it when I saw a book with a lady on the cover with a gorgeous gown. This was a Harlequin Historical romance, and I have been reading romance ever since.

This feature will go over each general genre of romance. I will try to include all possible genres and subgenres. While I have not read all the books, I have asked other romance readers to recommend their must-read romance per genre and I will include those.

 

 

Contemporary Romance

Contemporary Romance (CR) are romance novels set from 1950 to the present and is the largest subgenre of romance. There is a growing list of CR sub-genres and some romance tropes are also used as a Contemporary Romance sub-genre.

 

Click on the links to be taken to each category

SMALL TOWN | COWBOY | SPORTS | ROMANTIC SUSPENSE | ROCKSTAR

Books marked with * are those that I have read.

 

small town romance

Small Town Romances are romance novels set in a small town or rural areas. These novels are usually light and fluffy.

Notable Small Town Romance Novels

Virgin River by Robyn Carr Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips The Next Always by Nora Roberts Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Published March 2007

Amazon | Goodreads

Published March 2005

Amazon | Goodreads

Published November 2011

Amazon | Goodreads

Published October 2010

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Favorite Small Town Romance Reads

I admit that I haven’t read a lot of Small Town Romances, so my choices are really very few. I plan to read more books in this genre.

Archers Voice by Mia Sheridan Heroine finds herself in a small town to start over and meets one of the silent residents and falls in love with him. This book is so emotional and lovely.

*Trigger: Abuse

Published January 2014

Amazon | Goodreads

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai Hate to Want You is an opposites-attract forbidden romance where the hero and heroine meet for one day a year for an illicit affair. Their families are feuding.

 

Published July 2017

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

The One for You is an unrequited second-chance romance about survivors of a school shooting. This is the last book in the series and is a must-read!

 

*Trigger: School shooting flashback scenes

Published December 2019

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

The One for You by Roni Loren All Chained Up is one of my favorite opposites-attract romance! All Chained Up is about a nurse an and ex-con.

 

 

 

Published March 2016

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

All Chained Up by Sophie Jordan

 

Romance Readers Recommend

Truth or Beard by Penny Reid A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen That Second Chance by Meghan Quinn

Amazon*

Recommended by

@charlottelovestoread

Amazon

Recommended by

@hannahheartsromance

Amazon

Recommended by

@glimpses_of_my_books

Amazon

Recommended by

@romanticallybookish

Amazon

Recommended by

@readingafterten

Click here to go back to the category menu.

 

cowboy romance

Cowboy Romances are Western-set romances. Most of the heroes or heroines are Cowboys or live in a ranch or are involved in the Rodeo scene. Some Cowboy Romances are also considered Small Town Romance.

Notable Cowboy Romance Novels

Montana Sky by Nora Roberts MacKenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard Long Hard Ride by Lorelei James Big Sky Country by Linda Lael Miller

Published June 2006

Amazon | Goodreads

Published February 2000

Amazon | Goodreads

*this author has been known to be problematic

Published March 2008

Amazon | Goodreads

Published May 2012

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Favorite Cowboy Romance Reads

Cowboy Romance is another genre that I haven’t really delved into.

True to You by Jennifer Ryan Cover True to You is an emotional and heartbreaking book about lies and redemption and family.

The hero is an undercover DEA agent and the heroine is the daughter of a drug lord the hero is investigating.

Published February 2018

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

 

Romance Readers Recommend

A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon All Night with a Cowboy by Soraya Lane Unbroken Cowboy by Maisey Yates Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom Breaking All the Rules by Cynthia Sax

Amazon

Recommended by

@ammybel

Amazon

Recommended by

@beamasalunga

Amazon

Recommended by

@glimpses_of_my_books

Amazon

Recommended by

@thenaptimewriter

Amazon

Recommended by

@carasbookboudoir

Click here to go back to the category menu.

 

sports

Sports Romance is a very popular sub-genre featuring sports, or sports agent (sports owners, promoters, etc).

Notable Sports Romance Novels

It Had to be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata Simply Irresistibly by Rachel Gibson Cover Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Published 1994*

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Published February 2016*

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Published January 1998*

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Published July 2015

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Favorite Sports Romance Reads

I have more favorite sports romance books but they are filed under New Adult Romance (which is way down below).

Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen

Rookie Move is one of the first sports romance books that I read and I fell in love with Leo and Georgia.

This is also a second chance romance and this series is a spin-off of her New Adult series.

 

Sports Romance: Hockey

Published September 2016

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault Off-page

Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan Long Shot is one book that I did not expect. I wrote a long review of this book and it’s a great read if you want to know my thoughts.

All I can say is that WOW! I love this book and I personally told Kennedy Ryan what an amazing book it is and what a strong character Iris is.

 

Sports Romance: Basketball

Published August 2018

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

 

Trigger Warning: Domestic Abuse on-page

Melt for You is a slow-burn hate to love romance.

I really love how the heroine finally stood up to herself and accepted herself as

Sports Romance: Rugby

Published September 2015

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Melt for You by J.T. Geissinger

Scoring the Wrong Twin is a case of mistaken identity!

I love this twin-switch trope.

 

 

Sports Romance: Football

Published January 2018

Amazon | Goodreads

Scoring with the Wrong Twin by Naima Simone

 

Romance Readers Recommend

Fumbled by Alexa Martin Pucked by Helena Hunting Cover Scoring off the Field by Naima Simone Love in the Red Zone by Love Belvin Brooklynaire Sarina Bowen

Amazon

Football

Recommended by

@dulivre

Amazon

Hockey

Recommended by

@ksquaredreads

Amazon

Football

Recommended by

@hannahheartsromance

Amazon

Football

Recommended by

@bookswithgab

Amazon

Recommended by

@readaholic19

Click here to go back to the category menu.

 

romantic suspense

Romantic Suspense involves an intrigue or mystery for the protagonists to solve (source: Wikipedia). Usually, this subgenre involves LEOs, FBI agents, Detectives, Navy SEALS, or the bodyguard. The key in this genre is that the romance is still the central plot of the story.

Notable Romantic Suspense Romance Novels

Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann Don't Tell by Karen Rose Absolute Feat by Lisa Jackson

Published August 2000*

Amazon | Goodreads

*this author has been known to be problematic

Published June 2000

Amazon | Goodreads

Published July 2003

Amazon | Goodreads

Published September 2015

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Favorite Romantic Suspense Reads

Midnight Action by Elle Kennedy

Midnight Action is the 5th book in the Killer Instincts Series and it is my favorite!

This is a second-chance, hate-to-love romance where the hero is a mercenary and the heroine is a hacker and leads a group of hacker ladies!

Published November 2014

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Forgotten Sins by Rebecca Zanetti

I really love this book! This was my firs Rebecca Zanetti and I loved it!

Forgotten Sins is another second-chance romance with a twist! This one features an enhanced supersoldier that gave me Captain America vibes!

Published January 2013

Amazon | Goodreads

Risking it All is one of my favorites in this series.

This book features an undercover female detective and an antihero!

 

 

 

Published January 2015

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Risking it All by Tessa Bailey

Where the Blame Lies is riveting and scary and had me at the seat of my pants!

I am just amazed at what an amazing and strong character Josie is!

The romance is between Josie, the survivor and the detective investigating the copy-cat case.

*Trigger: sexual assault, kidnapping

Published December 2019

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan

 

Romance Readers Recommend

Protecting Caroline by Susan Stoker Whiteout by Adriana Anders Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle The Witness by Nora Roberts Something About You by Julie James

Amazon

Recommended by

@thebookdisciple

Amazon

Recommended by

@dailywafflebooks

Amazon

Recommended by

@ksquaredreads

Amazon

Recommended by

@sporadic.obsessions.of.tiffany

Amazon

Recommended by

@readaholic19

Click here to go back to the category menu.

 

rockstar

These are romances featuring characters in a band. For this subgenre, I included actors/Hollywood romances or anybody in theater, as well.

Notable Rockstar Romance Novels

Lick by Kylie Scott Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning Forever My Girl by Heidi McLaughlin Midnight Blue by LJ Shen

Published July 2013*

Amazon | Goodreads

Published October 2010

Amazon | Goodreads

Published July 2003

Amazon | Goodreads

Published January 2018

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Favorite Rockstar Romance Reads

This is another genre that I still need to delve into! I’ve only read a few books in this genre.

Flow, Grip, & Still is a trilogy that needs to be binge-read ASAP! This is a second-chance romance between an up-and-coming rapper and his manager.

 

Triggers: Racism, Stillbirth

Published November 2014

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Grip by Kennedy Ryan

My Soul to Keep is another of Kennedy Ryan’s books that should be read prior to the Grip Series. This is a romance between a popular classical musician and an up-and-coming pop artist/dancer.

Triggers: Sexual Assault, Abuse

Published November 2014

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

My Soul to Keep by Kennedy Ryan
Another Sky by Jayne Frost  

Another Sky surprised me in a lot of ways. I was not expecting this book at all. It’s an amazingly written book about struggle, depression, and dealing with loss.

 

 

Triggers: Death, Loss

Published November 2014

Amazon | Goodreads | Review

Listen to Me by Kristen Proby Listen to Me is an amazing read and gave me 90s vibes.

The heroine is an ex-model and part-owner of a restaurant and the hero used to be a pop-star who retired and auditioned to be their entertainer.

I also love the friendships between all the 5 ladies here! Each gets their own book, too.

 

Published April 2016

Amazon | Goodreads

 

Romance Readers Recommend

Dear Enemy by Kristen Callihan Idol by Kristen Callihan The Mighty Storm by Samantha Towle Thoughtless by SC Stephens To Love Jason Thorne by Ella Maise

Amazon

Recommended by

@thenaptimewriter

Amazon

Recommended by

@pri_bibliophile &

@firewhiskeyreader

Amazon

Recommended by

@beamasalunga

Amazon

Recommended by

@lucyreadsromance

Amazon

Recommended by

@thenerdywanderer98

Click here to go back to the category menu.

 

 

Let's Discuss

What are your must-read Contemporary romance novels in the sub-genres mentioned?

Have you read any of the books recommended here?

 

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Resources:

 



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10 responses to “Read a Romance Book: Contemporary Romance Part 1

    • I’m not an expert but personally, I think the new romance books sound more modern and adapt modern themes. With old school romances, they tend to use themes that are not acceptable in today’s standards. The writing style also depends on the author.

  1. Sharlene Wegner

    I love Virgin River and Simply Irresistible for small town romances. Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series is fantastic! Welcome to Last Chance by Hope Ramsay, Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis, The Next Best Thing and The Best Man by Kristan Higgins, Meant to Be by Terri Osburn, Searching for Someday by Jennifer Probst. For Cowboy romances, I bow to Carolyn Brown – my favorite is Darn Good Cowboy Christmas.Also, Nora Roberts’ Song of the West. For sports romances, It Had to Be You & that series was so good! I’ve read Rachel Gibson’s hockey series and The Trouble With Valentine’s Day is my favorite. Other great hockey romances are Ice Knights by Avery Flynn and Kate Meader’s Chicago Rebels. I don’t read much romantic suspense, but I did like Julie James’ The Thing About Love. For rock star romance, Terri Osburn’s Rising Star (country star). Too funny – we just watched the movie Forever My Girl last night!

    • Thank you so much, Nick! I am slowly going to go through all the major/common romance sub-genres LOL wish me luck!