October was such an eclectic month for new releases, and my favorite romances of the month reflect that. From the heartbreaking The Cabin to the hilarious and sexy A Very Bossy Christmas, this month’s releases were emotional in all the very best ways. It was an outstanding month in terms of quality, with multiple books that are likely to make my Best of the Year list. Each of these books has a completely, COMPLETELY different vibe, but they were all fantastic reads.
This was such a great month that I rated more books as 5 stars than normal, so I’d be remise if I didn’t mention two books that would’ve made this list in any other month. These honorable mentions were highly entertaining; two rom coms that really made me smile.
November brings many new releases, with a fun combination of “regular” and holiday romances. If you missed my November Release Calendar, you can find it here – there are many exciting books to look forward to!
I’ve got my review for each of this month’s top picks below – you can’t go wrong with any of these!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Absolutely LOVED this
Hands down, no question, the most powerful thing I’ve read this year. You’ll get chest pains from the angst, but the journey is worth it because of the warm glow of HOPE, and love, and all the good things in life that you’ll feel by the end. This is a treacherous road to happily ever after, detailing the end and beginning of love – in that order – as our heroine goes on one INTENSE emotional journey. It’s raw, real, and will wreck your emotions. This love story is not for everyone, with plenty of triggers and darkness before the light at the end of the tunnel – but it is SUPERB. Grab a blanket and a box of tissues, because you’re going to need them.
Am I going to offer up storyline details on this one? Not a chance. Go into it blind, that’s all I can say. It’s deeply romantic without actually feeling like a romance most of the time, but I can assure you that this love story does have a happy ending. That blurb is just the tip of the iceberg, and the writing will draw you in from the start. I’m not even the kind of reader who loves an angsty story, so I can tell you that the heartache is worth it with this one. It’s about the feeling behind it, the emotion. Even on the darkest of days, when there seems like no reason to move forward, do. Because there can be beauty on the other side. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy (then purchased it for my collection), and am voluntarily leaving a review of this heart-wrenching romance.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Absolutely LOVED this
I am all SMILES after reading this; just so, so delightfully charmed by this holiday romance. It was everything I was hoping it was going to be and then some – and I always anticipate that I’m going to love this author’s books. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, sexy, and snort-laugh-inducing, crackling with sexual tension one minute and then making you swoon with a tender moment the next. The first half? Sharp, intense, and simmering with heat. And then the back half burrows into your heart a little deeper, leaning into the holiday aspect while showcasing the growth in intimacy. It’s the kind of book that I’d read every Christmas, or Christmas in July, or… anytime. Because this couple is GREAT together, from the first page to the last.
The story follows Declan, a lawyer who is aware that he can give people the impression that he’s a bit of a grouch. He’s got his reasons for being moody, and the only thing that seems to put a smile on his face recently is spending time with his new executive assistant, Maddie. As in, driving her crazy with texts and demands to work all hours of the day. With the holidays approaching, Declan hopes to make it another work-filled week, until family commitments require that he come for a visit… with a date who will act as a buffer for all of the drama. Somehow, Maddie finds herself spending even more time with Declan, but in a way that brings all of the tension between them to the surface in an entirely different way.
I loved all of the BANTER and the chemistry that just leaps off the page. These two have the kind of connection that sizzles, and the steamy scenes reveal more about their relationship than a hundred conversations. The word “baby” has never been sexier than when it’s groaned by this grumpalicious hero, and I loved his vulnerability. Loring executed some holiday magic with this one, because this couple was truly entertaining from start to finish. I devoured it in one sitting, loving the low angst journey as it progressed from bickering to bantering to blush-inducing and beyond. If you’re looking for a light and steamy romance that will make you smile, fill you with holiday cheer, and make you love it more with every scene, this is the one for you. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy (then purchased it for my collection), and am voluntarily leaving a review of this office romance.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ SO GOOD
Just like the man at the center of it, this book is INTENSE, and mysterious, and sexy, and a little dirty, and filled with so much heart that you won’t be able to handle it. I’ve been wanting Killian’s book for a long time, and this did not disappoint. He’s a crazy unique character that you’ll have all kinds of feelings about, but underneath it all, he’s a tender, loving guy… with a dark side. While this is very much a dark romance with plenty of suspense, heartache, and sheer intensity, it’s also SO funny. The first half is just straight up humor, with some seriously compelling banter and chemistry that sparks off the page. Jules is Killian’s perfect complement, and the two of them together are steamy goodness. While there were moments in this where I wanted to wring both characters’ necks, that’s all part of Killian’s appeal. He’s an infuriatingly sexy guy and this definitely showcases every side of his personality.
Can you read this as a standalone? Kind of. If you go into this blind, I have to imagine that it’s going to be a somewhat confusing, much more mysterious read – but it can be done. I’ve read nearly every one of this author’s books, so I had the pleasure of meeting Killian several books ago. He’s always been this fascinating character on the sidelines, and now it’s his turn to shine. This is intense romance, featuring an antihero with a dark side and a woman who is disgusted with herself by being attracted to him. That’s right; this is a forbidden romance of sorts a la Romeo and Juliet, where our heroine is disheartened by her immediate attraction to a man who is by all accounts a bad guy. There’s a push/pull, love/hate dynamic to this relationship and it makes for an engaging read.
I was drawn in from the very first page and that did not change until the very end. There’s something inherently engrossing about the storyline that will draw you in, and just as I was getting ready to throw my Kindle against a wall, the tension would dissipate for a moment. It’s got a little of everything, with an antihero who will melt your heart and heat up your Kindle at the same time. Yes, this is an intense romance with steamy scenes that match our antihero’s personality. It’s an entirely devourable read, and I cannot wait to see what this author writes next.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ LOVED it
I let out an audible GASP at one point while reading this, complete with hands flying to my face in shock, horror, and possibly relief. And that speaks to just how well this author gets her readers wrapped up in the story. This has combustible chemistry, sexual tension, and angst, all paired with so much shared history that you can feel the depth of the relationship. It absolutely FLEW by, and I devoured it in one sitting without meaning to.
The story follows Ben and Daisy, two friends who have gotten closer with every year that has passed since college. They’re both business-minded individuals, but they make time for each other in a way that they don’t with anyone else. And though there’s attraction between them, they each have their own reasons for pushing that aside and focusing on their friendship… at least until faking a relationship proves advantageous to both their careers. The problem? There’s a fine line between friends and lovers for these two, and faking makes it even more difficult to see.
Every time I start reading a book by Lawson, I know I’m in for what can only be described as an emotional rollercoaster. With this series of standalones, she’s seamlessly blended lightness with tension and just the right amount of angst. This couple has some obstacles to overcome on their way to happiness, but the overall tone is seriously sexy. It’s definitely one of the steamier books I’ve read by the author, which works for this couple and the level of trust between them – just be prepared to fan yourself a little. So what’s so twisted about this romance? Well, I won’t tell you that, but I will say that you should hear both sides of the story before deciding how you feel. Trust me when I say that the wrong kind of angst can break a story, and this one wasn’t a problem for me. Every book in this series has been outstanding so far, and I can’t wait for whatever’s next. Each one easily reads as a standalone, but the friend group enhances the experience and we’re introduced to some characters whose stories I’d love to read. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy via Wildfire Marketing (then purchased it for my collection), and am voluntarily leaving a review of this friends to lovers romance.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ SO GOOD
I love a swoony hero, and single dad Jake might just be the swooniest I’ve read in a long time. This is low angst delight, with a slow burn romance that will have you wrapped up in the story. I loved the connection between these two, and the light, fun tone of the book makes it easy to devour. If you’re worried about the dating contest storyline, don’t be – think of it instead as a unique meet cute that gives this romance a fresh feel. It’s not bogged down by OW drama or love triangles or anything along those lines; these authors succeeded in navigating a complex situation with a deft hand. Our hero might be a little oblivious at times, but there’s no question who is going to win his heart. It wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, and that just made the journey all the more interesting.
The story follows Holley, a journalist who is assigned the task of overseeing a dating contest. After sifting through applications, she’s found the best bachelor in the community and the most tolerable bachelorettes to date him. The only problem? This bachelor doesn’t even know he’s signed up to compete. Jake’s teenage daughter submitted the application on his behalf, and while he’s been focused on being a single dad since her birth, she thinks it’s time for him to have something else in his life too. And as Holley and Jake spend time together while they work on prepping dates, he soon realizes that he might just have found it.
I always enjoy this writing duo’s light, sexy rom coms and this was definitely no exception. It’s one of my favorites from them, featuring two characters who are incredibly easy to like and chemistry that makes this complicated story work. I love these dating contest romances, though they can be difficult to pull off successfully. This one is handled well, focusing instead on the connection between Holley and Jake with the show as *almost* an afterthought. They make the transition from strangers to friends to lovers, and while this one has a very low steam factor, there’s still plenty of great sexual tension. It also introduces another hero whose story I’d love to read, so I’m looking forward to more. I was lucky enough to receive a free copy via Social Butterfly PR and am voluntarily leaving a review of this slow burn romance.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Heartwarming slow burn
The best word to describe this single dad romance is HEARTWARMING. It’s the most laidback story I’ve read from this team of authors, developing at a pace that straddles the fine line between slow burn and slow moving. But I was engaged throughout and the second half took things to another level. I was definitely taken aback by the twists and turns, the unexpected developments, and was charmed by this hero. It’s sweet with just a touch of sexy, somber with a touch of humor, and filled with coincidences that feel like fate.
The story follows Sadie, a journalist who writes about relationships but has had no luck finding love herself. When she receives a letter from a young girl, it stirs up all kinds of emotions in her. As a woman who lost her own mother at a young age, Sadie empathizes with the girl and wants to brighten up her life a little bit. But one harmless response sparks a series of events, and Sadie soon finds herself wanting to learn more about the girl… and her sexy single dad.
I wasn’t too sure about this one in the beginning, because Sadie does get a little stalkerish and she doesn’t meet her guy for quite awhile. But once I really got into the story, it turned into a great read. It’s definitely for those that love a slow burn romance, because it’s understated and has the lowest steam level that I’ve read from this writing duo. This one leans more towards a sweet romance, with a heavy focus on healing after loss, family, and fate. The twist in the back half genuinely surprised me, and I loved that the conflict wasn’t a traditional one. And though Sebastian’s deceased wife does play a large role in the overall story, there is really no OW drama to speak of. I loved Sebastian as a hero – he’s kind, genuine, and has proven that he loves with his whole heart. It was really refreshing to read. By the end, this somewhat somber romance turns pretty uplifting, and it’s low angst overall.
🎧 Audio note: I listened to the audio version of this and it was the perfect workday listen. It’s just over 8 hours long, so you can wrap up the whole book in a day, the production quality is solid, and I love the male narrator (Sebastian York). I’m not personally a fan of Andi Arndt (though she does a good job); her voice is just not my favorite. That may be why I thought the first half was a little slow, because it’s told almost exclusively from her perspective. There are only a couple of steamy scenes and they are not very long, so no worries about those awkward office moments. The book is free in Kindle Unlimited and the audio is part of that plan, so you can also seamlessly shift between text and audio – just how I like it!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Banter-filled fun
This was EXACTLY what I was hoping it was going to be – banter-filled, low angst fun with plenty of the sass this author is known for. When Hart is on top of her game, she can write such great romances that are light, playful, and have just the right amount of sexy. And that’s what this was. This brother’s best friend romance features a genuinely good hero and the girl he’s been crushing on for years. It’s a nice play on the trope, with obvious history between the two and a build in intimacy that WORKS. I loved it from start to finish.
The story follows Kinsley, a bookworm whose love of romance novels sometimes gets in the way of her real relationships. She’s determined to date more, and is taken aback when her brother’s best friend, Josh, offers to help. He’s been in her life for years but they haven’t spent that much time alone together, and it seems like a strange offer. Turns out, Josh has been crushing on Kinsley for a long time but knows he can never cross that line, so setting her up with someone else seems like the perfect way to finally close that door. Except things don’t quite work out that way.
This author’s last few releases haven’t completely hit the mark for me, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. But it was SO good. I love a light and easy rom com that’s filled with dialogue, obvious chemistry, a connection that grows throughout the book, and a story that just makes me smile. That’s what this is. Playing up the tropes and doing it well, this low angst romance has so much humor and heart. The banter is a huge part of its appeal, and I loved both characters. There’s no way you won’t be rooting for these two early on, especially given how adorably sweet and sexy Josh is. This is the kind of story that the author excels at, and I cannot wait for more from the series. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this light, sexy romance.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ SO GOOD
I may have wanted to smack this hero silly on MULTIPLE occasions, but that didn’t stop me from seriously enjoying this steamy rom com with heart. It’s a mix of fun, angst, and smoking hot chemistry, with a couple you’ll be rooting for. It’s not long before this lovable playboy is in over his head, but the banter and connection make the journey worth it. This is for those rom com lovers who want a little weight behind the story – it’s still a sexy, low angst read, but there’s a hidden depth that takes over in the back half. Which, admittedly, makes it a bumpy ride to happily ever after, but an enjoyable one nonetheless.
The story follows “mountain manwhore,” Dean, a guy whose own love life has taken a dive since his closest friends entered relationships. He’s always been a shameless flirt and playboy, but it has reached new heights recently. There’s one girl who might be a little bit under his skin, but Norah has waved off Dean’s flirting every time, so nothing has come of it. But when both find themselves in need of a date others will take seriously, they strike up a bargain. Neither one has any interest in a relationship, so it seems like the perfect deal… until things start to feel just a little too natural.
It’s been awhile since I’ve read anything by this author and I had absolutely no problem jumping right into the series. There’s definite history between some of these characters, but it’s all spelled out in the story. I’m not sure if my opinion of Dean would’ve been different if I’d read the previous books, but I pretty much wanted to either kiss or shake him throughout the story – in equal measure. Dean is adorably sexy, a sort of nerdy, unique hero that you’ll fall for right away. I loved his vulnerable side and every scene that broke down his walls a little further. But, oh yeah, there are definitely WALLS around his heart. The first half of this is pure rom com perfection, focusing on the banter and the crazy chemistry, while the back half looks deeper into the hangups these two have. It was just a little too rocky for me, but the rest of the story is so solid that it didn’t diminish that. I’m looking forward to more from the author because this was such a fun read.