Four More Romance Novels You Should’ve Read YESTERDAY

Woman reading a thrilling romance

So you’ve read the four books I shrieked at you about, and now you want more? Give me a minute to rub my hands together and cackle with glee (another reader sucked into the salacious world of heaving bosoms!), and then we’ll move on to another round of my favorite picks for readers new to romance.

Next up on my comprehensive Nora Roberts syllabus (this will be on the test) is 1998’s Sea Swept, the first in her four-book series set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Cameron, Ethan, and Phillip Quinn were all neglected, abused children adopted by a professor and his wife. Sea Swept opens with the professor’s death in an accident and his sons learning that their father wants them to care for a boy, Seth, who’s in straits similar to theirs when he took them in. Fast-living Cameron upends his life in Europe to come home, and immediately butts heads with Seth’s social worker, Anna. For me, Roberts is at her best when she’s building a community and following it for a couple of books, and the Quinns are about as good as it gets—there’s a scene of all the brothers squabbling in the car that’s one of the funniest and truest evocations of family and the way they can drive you absolutely crazypants that I’ve ever read.

When it comes to books that I return to time and time again, Elizabeth Lowell’s Amber Beach is at the top of the list. It’s also the first in a series about a big, sprawling, squabbling family (see a trend in what I like? Or perhaps in how I was raised?), but rather than build boats like the Quinns do, Lowell’s Donovans globe-hop, searching for precious gems. Hope Donovan is desperate to find out why her brother Kyle is missing, and the man who shows up to help is—unbeknownst to her—Kyle’s business partner, and possibly the number-one suspect in his disappearance. True story: I once read this book twice in the same day, trapped at a mind-numbing temp job without Internet access, and right now it’s a struggle not to start rereading it. It’s a winner, and you’ll want to get your mitts on the three follow-ups as soon as possible.

On the subway last week after a lengthy workday, I scrolled past a few new titles in my e-reader and went for Julie James’s Something About You. James writes modern, relatable heroines who are still in some way extraordinary (here, she’s an assistant district attorney), and heroes who make me want to learn voodoo so I can turn them into real, live boys—this one’s a smolderingly sexy FBI agent who can kill bad guys with paper clips. More than anything else, I believe Something About You can turn romance skeptics into fans. Go get it, for the love of hot FBI agents.

Writers who can take a worn-out trope and turn it into something fresh and exciting are among my heroes, and that’s exactly what Sarah Mayberry does in her 2010 Harlequin SuperRomance Her Best Friend. Amy, the heroine, has suffered through being in love with Quinn for years—even after he got married and moved away. But now he’s back. And single. Part of what I love about Mayberry’s books is the contemporary Australian setting she often uses; her themes are universal, but the setting and culture lend variety and sometimes a touch of exoticism.

Anyone else have a favorite book they like to evangelize about until you’re begged to shut up? Or is that just me?

  • NotMarkTwain

    Norwegian Wood, because life doesn’t always have happy endings, but we can still learn from our relationships

  • Connie Bocci

    Roxanne St.Claire knows all about friendship, excitement and love! Her Barefoot Bay series is awesome! Barefoot by the Sea was released excited!!

  • Sue G.

    I agree with Connie! Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot Bay series is perfect! The books have great characters, stories, humor and even sex! 5 stars all the way!

  • Mona Kekstadt

    The Barefoot Bay Series by Roxanne St. Claire nothing short of amazing…it is Girl Power four friends…through thick and thin they support each other…no matter what.
    You are taken on a journey with Lacey, Jocelyn, Zoey, and Tessa in these wonderful Barefoot in the SAND, RAIN, SUN, BAREFOOT BY THE SEA~ which has been released today…You will be a roller coaster of emotions, but laughter, and HEART which Roxanne brings to each book…The key ingredients….Family, Friendship, Forgiveness…and so much more…You will be in love…

  • Danielle Oldfield

    As always, I would highly recommend Outlander and the following sequels. It’s a long read but well worth it.

  • Cheryl Grossel

    I love Saarah Mayberry. I also think that the entire Jill Shalvis Lucky Harbor series should be on your list.

  • Cynthia Hensley

    Excellent reviews! Thanks for sharing! You might also like Eugenia Price’s Savannah Series. Not modern but great generational family stories and romance. Sadly, Ms. Price has passed now, but she will always be remembered by those who love her wonderful stories. She has other series as well, but I loved Savannah the best.

  • Bette Hansen

    I think the barefoot bay series by Roxanne St Claire should definitely be part of this list

  • Jessica

    I need to second the gross oversight that is the omission of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

  • SHouse109

    Anything by Jude Devereaux, Julie Garwood & Kathleen Woodiwiss are sure bets!

  • Lisa B

    Just finished reading Roxanne St Claire’s new release Barefoot by the Sea. A great contemporary series that follows the relationships of 4 best friends. It’s a beach read with some great witty fun and emotion filled characters.

    Lisa B

  • Arie

    I’ve read a variety of books but Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is hands down one of the best! A definite must read! : )

  • Amy Brown

    “Chesapeake” series READ IT, “Donovans” series READ IT, FBI/US series (waiting for the next one), READ IT

  • Heather Brister Egtvedt

    I’ve been ‘reading’ the Julie James SOMETHING ABOUT YOU in audio form. It is great! Makes me want to read more romantic suspense.

    And speaking of romantic suspense, I have to agree with all the other ladies recommending Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot Bay Series. I first started reading Roxanne’s books after I found her on a blog. I have NOT been disappointed. Now, she is writing contemporary romance and I was afraid of the change at first but SO glad she wrote this series. The Barefoot Bay series is fun and emotional and deep. You can’t help but fall in love with the characters and feel completely attached to them when the book is over.

  • Vicki Brown

    Anything by Jayne Anne Krentz aka Jayne Castle aka Amanda Quick. Anything at all.

  • bookluver321

    @NotMarkTwain, I couldn’t agree with you more… life doesn’t always have to have end happily, those are the times you learn the most, in my opinion. This reminds me of a book that I recently read, “A Thousand Years of Johnny Von” by Edith M. Cortese. It’s not your typical romantic comedy. It’s has plenty of romance, but the main character in the book ends up single and content! I loved how realistic it was because that is how life is.

    • Lance Henley

      Jessica – I completely agree. Outlander is a great series. bookluver321 – looks like a great read by Cortese. Thoughtful title as well!

      • bookluver321

        @Lance, thanks! It really is a great read. I hope you get the chance to check it out sometime.

  • Patricia Loveys

    A new modern romance series entitled “Paramour” – comes out next week. Sounds fantastic!

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