In celebration of all the strong, dynamic heroines out there who are often overshadowed by the heroes in their love stories, I’m sharing my list of 15 romance novels featuring heroines who steal the show. It may not be their abs that grace the cover or their name in the title, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t hold their own. Some are single moms, some are strong and determined, but they all play a big role in making the books such compelling reads.
If I’ve reviewed a book, there’s a link to that (either on the blog or GoodReads), and there are also links to Amazon for easy addition to your collection. I’ve included the blurb and a little about the vibe of each book – there’s a little something for everyone with this list!
Resist by K. Bromberg
This heroine is FIERCE, doing what she needs to do to make a living. It’s an unconventional pairing that makes for an intense, gripping read that never fails to hold your interest. Their love story is one that’s so complicated that it requires two books to complete, and I loved every moment of it.
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Driven series comes a powerful romance about reaching great heights through low depths.
Who says you have to play by the rules to get what you want?
Agreeing to meet Ryker Lockhart is my first mistake. Rich, handsome, and more than intriguing, he thinks blackmail will bend me to his will.
But he’s wrong.
I may have done a few things that weren’t exactly legal, but I have my own reasons for that. The last thing I’m going to do is let some high-powered divorce attorney come into my life, have my body, and rule my heart. Not to mention ruin everything that I have carefully built in just a short amount of time.
But as much as I try to resist him, and against my better judgment, there is something about him that has me agreeing to his proposal.
I’m putting everything on the line for him. I just hope I won’t lose everything when this is all over.
***Part one of a duet.***
The Knocked Up Plan by Lauren Blakely
A steamy, sexy baby-making romance, this one features a heroine who wants to become a mom – and she enlists the help of her commitment-phobic co-worker to do it. It’s Lauren Blakely at her sexiest, with plenty of smoking hot moments and a couple who fall for each other while neither one was looking for love.
There are three little words most guys don’t want to hear on the first date. Not those…I mean these… “knock me up.”
This single gal has had enough of the games, the BS and the endless chase. I know what I want most, and it’s not true love. It’s a bun in the oven, and I’m not afraid to hit up my s-e-x-on-a-stick co-worker to do the job. Ryder is gorgeous, witty and charming — and he’s also a notorious commitment-phobe. That makes him the perfect candidate to make a deposit in the bank of me.
I won’t fall for him, he won’t fall for me, and there’s no way baby will make three.
There are four words every guy wants to hear on the first date — “your place or mine?”
When my hot-as-sin co-worker makes me a no-strings-attached offer that involves her place, my place, any place — as well as any position — I can’t refuse. Besides, I’ve got my own reasons to take her up on her deal even with her one BIG condition.
There’s no way I’ll want more from one woman than any position, any where, any night? Except . . . what if I do?
Be prepared to swoon and fan yourself from the heat! This full-length standalone contains lots of hot baby-making s-e-x, happy tears, playful jokes and a hot, swoonworthy hero you will fall madly in love with. One-click now for pure reading enjoyment!
Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills
This high school romance showcases the strength of our heroine, who has gone through more than any teenage girl should. Paired with a compelling and determined hero, it’s a great combination that makes for one intense read.
WSJ bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills delivers a gripping enemies-to-lovers, secret admirer, high school romance.
The rich and popular Sharks rule at prestigious, ivy-covered Camden Prep. Once upon a time, I wanted to be part of their world–until they destroyed me.
The last thing I expected was an anonymous love letter from one of them.
Please. I hate every one of those rich jerks for what they did to me. The question is, which Shark is my secret admirer?
Knox, the scarred quarterback.
Dane, his twin brother.
Or Chance, the ex who dumped me. . .
Your eyes are the color of the Caribbean Sea.
Wait. That’s stupid.
What I really mean is, you look at me and I feel something REAL.
It’s been ten months since you were here, but I can’t forget you.
I’ve missed seeing you walk down the hall.
I’ve missed you cheering at my football games.
I’ve missed the smell of your hair.
And then everything fell apart the night of the kegger.
Don’t hate me because I’m a Shark.
I just want to make you mine.
Bad Love by Piper Lawson
Opposites definitely attract in this emotional romance that mixes light moments with splashes of angst. Our heroine is a single mom who is forced to work with an overgrown fratboy of a man, and let’s just say that there’s some tension on the road to happy ever after.
I bet my family’s legacy on pleasing 10,000 women.
Kendall Sullivan, marketing queen, is my only hope of saving the thing I love most.
She doesn’t have time for my jokes or my playboy reputation.
Too bad I can’t get her sweetness or her toughness out of my head.
So what happens when the only woman I want to please is her?
Pastor’s kid. Single mom. Divorced before I could drink.
I’ve lived my life without regrets.
Until the infamous Logan Hunter makes me an offer: I help with his problem and he helps with mine.
He’s the most gorgeous, infuriating man I’ve ever met.
I know it’s reckless. A bad idea…
I’m totally going to hell for this.
Bad Love is a full-length contemporary romance about a reckless player with a heart of gold, a single mom with dirty fantasies, and a sexy bet that makes their attraction explode!
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
This refreshingly different, kinda serious, romance stars a heroine who makes a living by doing hand-lettering. It’s told from the heroine’s perspective and moves at it’s own pace; a smart, subtle kind of romance that will hold your interest and leave you charmed.
In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts one woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .
Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .
A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .
Baby Maker by P. Dangelico
A sexy, angsty, baby-making romance, this features a heroine who is determined to become a mother, one way or another. When she meets her soon-to-be baby daddy, it’s not love at first sight, but that doesn’t mean they can’t start their own kind of family. It’s a slow burn romance with chemistry that develops along the way and angst that creeps up on you.
Sparks fly when a successful financial manager and a legendary football player enter into a legal agreement to have a kid together. They planned on everything–they just didn’t plan on each other .
A standalone, slow burn novel.
Stella Donovan’s biological clock is a ticking time bomb.
The successful financial manager has spent her adult life building a career and neglecting her personal life.
Problem is, she doesn’t believe in marriage. Not after watching her mother be treated like garbage by her father.
Nope, marriage is not for her.
All she wants is a baby. All she needs is a man to agree to her terms.
Dane Wylder, recently retired NFL tight end and future Hall of Famer, wants a baby.
Naturally, marriage is off the table. He’s not the marrying type.
Women are great–as long as they’re trying to get into his bed and not his heart.
But after years of living only for himself, he’s ready to be a father.
All he needs is a woman to agree to his terms.
Kickin’ It by Rachel Van Dyken
A sports romance that features a female athlete, this forbidden romance features one outstanding hero – as well as a kickass heroine. She’s had to deal with more than any woman should, but that doesn’t stop her from fighting for a better career. It’s got some incredible banter and characters who will keep you turning the pages.
Love breaks the offside rule in New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken’s irresistibly sexy Red Card romance.
Successful, high-profile sports agent Matt Kingston thinks he can handle anything. Then soccer player Parker Speedman shows up at his door. She is young and gorgeous, has natural talent, and is looking for a team. She’s also a hothead with a punchy past who floored her last coach on live TV. Despite his misgivings, Matt agrees to be both her agent and her coach. Professional common sense says she’s off-limits. But what can he say about the raw attraction between them?
Parker plays soccer with her heart and soul. But after the events of the last year, she’s shaken. She’s already seen what a powerful man can do to a female athlete’s career. And her beloved dream is in the hands of a sexy, gorgeous man with the uncanny ability to slip past her defenses…and into her heart.
Now Matt and Parker are about to learn that when it comes to love, the only way to win is by breaking every rule they know. And by playing nice. Real nice.
Charmer by Kayley Loring
This heroine is a single mom who doesn’t stand a chance against swoonworthy musician Nico. Though they’ve been flirting for months, it’s not until they go on the road together that the dynamic changes, and I loved seeing this hero fall hard for his girl. It’s light and sexy fun.
She serves me coffee late at night when I come around to write lyrics,
but it’s not the caffeine I’ve gotten addicted to.
We’ve got the spark, but she’s the only woman in town
who seems to be immune to my charms.
When it’s time for me to leave for my cross-country tour,
I just can’t imagine not seeing her for months.
So I offer her a job on the road with me.
Everyone in LA knows that Nico Todd has a way with songs and with the ladies.
What he doesn’t know is that I would love to let him have his way with me.
But my life can only revolve around one infuriatingly cute guy—
the six-year-old that I live with.
Imagine my surprise when Nico finds out about my little boy
and tells me to bring him and my mom on the road too.
And imagine Nico’s surprise when he realizes my son
is the biggest charmer of them all.
The Honeymooner by Melanie Summers
This light, funny rom com features a workaholic heroine who decides to take a honeymoon by herself after being left at the alter… in order to secure a business deal. Though her actions are ill-advised at the beginning, she goes through a great transformation throughout the book.
From bestselling author Melanie Summers comes the wickedly funny, ridiculously romantic spinoff of her highly-acclaimed Crown Jewels Series…
Twenty-nine-year-old workaholic Libby Dewitt lives by the motto ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ She’s finally about to start her dream life with her steady-as-a-rock fiancé, Richard Tomy. Together, they’re the perfect power couple—right down to the fact that he’s agreed to use their honeymoon to help further her career in mergers and acquisitions. But ten minutes before the wedding, her dreams dissolve via text message.
Devastated and humiliated, Libby escapes to Paradise Bay alone. She’s got two goals for her trip: to devise a plan to get Richard back and to convince resort owner Harrison Banks to sell his property to her company. Unfortunately, when she arrives, she discovers that tall, dark, and built, Harrison is not about to make anything easy for her.
Instead, he derails her plans while at the same time, bringing out a side of Libby she’s kept carefully tucked away—a carefree, adrenaline junkie. After a few days together, Harrison’s got her wondering if the life she always wanted was meant for some other girl. Suddenly, Libby must decide which version of herself she wants to be.
Will she go back to her comfortable, safe life, or risk everything to be with the only man who’s ever made her feel truly alive?
Trouble Me by Eliza Peake
This heroine is a recovering alcoholic whose sole focus is turning her life around. She knows that her past will shape her future, but that doesn’t stop her from seeking out a better life. So when she starts a new job working at a winery and begins falling for her boss, well, trouble is bound to follow.
A recovering alcoholic. A determined winery owner. An intense chemistry that could destroy them both.
Emma Reynolds is ready to start her life over—clean and sober. Unfortunately, the only job in the small, southern mountain town of Madison Ridge that can help her save her family’s estate is an executive job at a local winery. Her sexy and dangerously handsome new boss only complicates matters.
Shane Kavanaugh is the billionaire heir to a wine empire. But when his integrity is questioned, he makes plans to redeem himself and protect the family legacy. However, those plans don’t include distractions from the curvy brunette he hired as his new executive.
With every stolen glance and sizzling touch, the spark between them grows. But when secrets are revealed and her sobriety is tested, Emma and Shane will have to let go of the past if they want to have a future.
Author’s Note: A workplace romance with a brilliant heroine, a swoonworthy hero, and a steamy poker scene. If you like great sex and redemption, you’ll love Trouble Me.
Hate You Not by Ella James
This one’s got a distinctly small town feel and features two total opposites who unexpectedly find themselves fighting over custody of their niece and nephew. When neither one is willing to back down, they are forced to break down walls and get to know each other a whole lot better. Our heroine is strong and sassy, the perfect complement to our workaholic hero.
I didn’t know I was that person. You know—the one who gets the kids. But that’s what the will said. June Lawler: Legal Guardian.
My niece and nephew are 6 and 9, and all they’ve ever known is San Francisco. I arrive the day after the wreck, pack up my sister’s mansion, and fly them back to Georgia.
The small-town farm where their mom and I grew up isn’t what it once was, but it’s home. That’s all they really need.
I was courting an investor when it happened. Tromped all up and down the Himalayas, and he didn’t even buy in. It was a week before I found out what I’d lost. My little brother meant the world to me. Now even his kids are gone.
Spirited away to Heat Springs, Georgia—population 298.
They’re living on a farm that’s half a breath from bank foreclosure with a 26-year-old who didn’t finish high school. Nowhereville is not the place for little Mastersons. But I’ll get them back. It’s the money she must want, and I’ve got lots of that.
“June Bug” Lawler is poorer than that red dirt she comes from. I can make her dreams come true—and do one last thing for my brother.
I hate him.
She makes me crazy.
He thinks he can buy me off! I’ve never met a man so arrogant.
There’s no woman anywhere more stubborn.
I wish I had never met him.
But that’s not the story.
Shortcake by Lucy Watson
An original, addictive debut, this is told exclusively from the heroine’s perspective and is the kind of story you won’t want to put down. It’s got plenty of humor, an enemies to lovers vibe, and so much chemistry between the characters.
Things Emelia Anderson would rather do than share a house with Benjamin Crawford:
1) Get strapped to a chair in a restaurant full of loud-chewers.
2) Parachute into the Australian Outback armed with only a blowdart.
3) Live her best life as an ice road trucker in the Alaskan Tundra.
Benjamin Crawford thinks Emelia conned his dying grandmother into leaving her half of an estate worth millions, so let’s just say he’s not her biggest fan either. Not even close.
Now they have to live together for the next thirty days while renovating the family home. Or the estate will transfer to the one person Ben hates more than Emelia, and she’ll have to move back to the one place she wants to forget more than Ben.
Did I mention Ben look likes man-candy and smells like testosterone? Not that Emelia notices. She spends a lot of time not noticing things about Ben.
Dangerous Beauty by J.T. Geissinger
This heroine kicks ass, pure and simple. She’s been to hell and back and is still fighting. It’s not an easy journey to happy ever after for this couple – that’s why there are three books in the series – and their story is filled with action, suspense, and touches of darkness.
A beautiful fugitive. A hot bodyguard. A high-stakes game of temptation.
For Nasir, former Special Ops military man and bodyguard, his new job seems like an easy-money gig: trail a Russian mobster’s runaway wife in Mexico, enjoy the sun, observe, and report. Just one rule: don’t get too close. But it’s all Naz can do not to watch the alluring dancer’s every move. A closer look is irresistible—especially when she’s in trouble.
Evalina escaped to the island getaway to live an untraceable life—as far away from the past as she can get. But Eva can’t ignore the dark, muscled stud who rescues her from a drug gang. He says he’s an ex-cop on vacation. When providence throws them together time and again, Eva thinks it’s all a beautiful coincidence. Now she’s giving in to a strange new sensation: trust.
But Naz has a mission to accomplish and a secret to keep. Eva has her share of secrets, too. And as the heat flares between them, Naz knows that trust could become the most dangerous impulse of all.
***Part one of a three part series.***
Knocked Up by Stacey Lynn
This heroine gets more than she bargained for after a one night stand and soon finds herself expecting a child with a mysterious, sexy stranger. It’s full of heart, touches of angst, and a great look at an unconventional start to a family.
First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes baby in a baby carriage. Just not necessarily in that order. . . .
Braxton: I should probably be dead or in jail right now. Instead, thanks to some tough love, I worked my ass off and now I own a string of tattoo parlors throughout the Pacific Northwest. And yet the one thing I’ve always wanted—a family—still seems out of reach. When my best friend gets married, I’m just hoping to blow off some steam with the super-hot maid of honor. But after Cara Thompson tracks me down to tell me she’s pregnant, she’s more surprised than I am when I tell her I’m all in.
Cara: For the first time in my life, I’m living for myself—not for my parents and their ridiculous expectations. I gave up on my MBA, dropped out of the Ivy League, and moved to Portland to pursue my dream of becoming an artist. And what’s the first thing I do? Get knocked up. For a tatted-up sex god, Braxton Henley seems way too eager to “be there for me.” Is this guy serious? Maybe. He sure is patient. Because he won’t back down until I admit what I know in my heart: that our one night stand might’ve led me to the one.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Told from the heroine’s point of view, this laugh out loud enemies to lovers romance is memorable and unique. Our heroine is quirky and full of fire, pairing perfectly with the buttoned up hero. It’s a beloved book for a reason, and one of my all-time favorites.
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman
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.