There are some months when I have to debate with myself for days on end which books will make my Best of list. This is not one of those months. These four books were the clear winners in a quiet release month, but that doesn’t make them any less awesome. Each one of these books held my attention from start to finish, were devourable and engaging, and are books that I’d recommend without hesitation. From the laidback and adorable Catch to the intense and steamy See Me After Class, this month’s picks each have a VERY different vibe, but they were all outstanding.
December brings lots and lots of new releases, with books from many of my favorite authors. If you missed my End of the Year 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!
What a light, feel good read! Honestly, I expected this hero to be more of a troublemaker based on the blurb, but he’s actually pretty laidback and swoony. This isn’t an enemies to lovers romance or filled with tension, it’s a low angst and sexy office romance that will charm you. The characters are both easy to like, their chemistry is obvious, and I devoured it in one sitting without even realizing I was doing it. This romance flies by, and I was engaged and interested from start to finish.
The story follows Keats, a sports agent who seems like a bit of a bad boy – at least until you get to know him. He’s trying to swear less, has fired four assistants already in the past year, and used to hook up with women all of the time. When Keats meets Maren under unusual circumstances, she makes such an impression that he finds himself hiring her. As they get to know each other better, attraction grows, and these two have to decide if they’re willing to cross the line.
It’s such an easy, sexy read that there’s never a dull moment. Sure, this is a slow burn and it doesn’t heat up until the back half, but you can feel the relationship progressing and the intimacy growing as the story goes on. I loved how little angst there is – even the big fight was just a blip on the radar. Really, it’s just light and playful the whole way through. Keats won me over immediately; he’s so adorably sexy and focused on Maren. The book opens with us learning about what a manhoe Keats has been in the past, and I’ll admit to being worried that the book would head in that direction, but it doesn’t at all. He’s smitten from the start and there is zero OW drama beyond an acknowledgement that he’s slept around in the past. I’ve got no major criticisms about the book at all; it was sweet, sexy, and fun.
Intensely sexy, tension-filled, and bursting at the seams with comedic moments, this felt like something different from Quinn while still retaining everything that makes her books consistently excellent. If you’d described this hero to me prior to reading, I’m not sure that would’ve had much enthusiasm for him, but Arlo is the kind of guy you’ll love – if you’re paying close enough attention. He’s a cardigan-wearing, dirty-talking, emotionally unavailable, grumpy contradiction of a man who has a lot more vulnerability than it appears on the surface. I liked him right away, but you really have to be paying close attention to pick up some of the subtleties here, because this romance is blatantly sexual on the surface. It’s a slow emotional burn that turns everything you think you know about teachers on its axis, and it’s an intense, entertaining journey from start to finish.
The story follows Greer, an English teacher starting out her first year at a prestigious school. She’s excited to teach using some non-traditional methods, but one of the established teachers in the department thinks she’s going about it all wrong. Arlo is a temperamental, traditionally-inclined kind of guy, and their disagreements quickly escalate into something altogether unexpected. Fighting becomes foreplay, sexual tension crackles between them, and it’s not long before these enemies see the… benefits… of their arguing.
This is definitely a love note to Pride and Prejudice, but done in a VERY modern way. Mr. Darcy was never this dirty, their relationship was never this steamy, and the tension was never this high. I love that Quinn always writes such distinctively broken heroes, pushing the reader’s boundaries about what’s acceptable. This one doesn’t have any major angst, but there’s an undercurrent of conflict from start to finish. It’s got a lot of light and funny moments, mixed with a heavy dose of STEAM, and touches of emotion. Just when I thought it was getting to be too much, Quinn turns things around and brings in the feels. Arlo is not the man you’d expect on the surface, and I loved the depth that Quinn brought to the story, especially once I understood his vulnerable side better. But, fair warning, he’s an intense guy. I was hooked on this love story from start to finish and absolutely hope that we get more from this group of friends. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy (then purchased it for my collection) and am voluntarily leaving a review of this steamy romance.
Awkward romance at its best! And that’s a compliment, by the way. Ney always writes such smile-inducing rom coms, filled with banter, playful moments, and scenes that you will not find anywhere else. This romance isn’t super deep, but it’s fun from start to finish. I devoured it at an alarming rate and didn’t even realize that I was doing it. This hero will make you alternate between rolling your eyes and swooning (and possibly wanting to smack him upside the head), and this authentic, “boring” heroine will have you surprised by her fire. It’s got zero angst and a ton of humor, so if you’re looking for a light, playful romance, you’ll find it here.
The story follows Tripp, a pro football player who would make a terrible boyfriend. The only girls he ever meets are not the kind you’d bring home to your mother, so no one ever calls him out on his bad behavior. Tripp is grouchy, macho, and unwilling to put up with anyone who isn’t worthy of his time, so he can come across as a bit of a douchebag. But if you take a closer look, this moody player is actually a big softie, and not nearly as opposed to a relationship as it might seem at first glance. When he meets Chandler, Tripp is wildly unprepared for the impact this seemingly serious, sweet woman will have on his life.
I’m not sure that I’ve ever read a book where it was distaste at first sight. These two aren’t exactly enemies, but they certainly don’t see each other as love interests. It’s only after a series of run-ins that they actually take the time to get to know each other, and the progression was immensely fascinating to read. I loved Tripp; he can definitely come off as a jerk, but he’s really a big teddy bear, and I appreciated that he wasn’t some cocky player. The first steamy scene certainly proved that, lol. I was laughing and smiling from start to finish, and I loved how unique this felt. Don’t go into this one expecting some deep, meaningful romance; this is pure fun. And it does it well. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy via Wildfire Marketing, and am voluntarily leaving a review of this low angst rom com.
So emotional – but worth it! This one definitely had me ready to shake both leads a few times, but only because I was invested in their love story and frustrated that they just couldn’t figure things out. It’s a small town romance with plenty of heat, featuring two characters who are genuinely good people. I loved this hero, even though he drove me crazy sometimes. Cole is a widower and single dad who takes his role as father extremely seriously and hasn’t taken any time for himself in the last nine years. That makes for a great man but also one who has some issues that he’s let build up over time, so even though he may want something, he won’t let himself have it. It’s angsty and pretty heavy at times, but there’s an underlying foundation of love throughout that makes for a compelling read.
The story follows Cole, a widower who lost his wife on the day he gained a daughter. He has devoted the last nine years to his daughter, moving back in with his mom and swearing off women. Cheyenne has been a part of Cole’s life for as long as he can remember – she’s his best friend’s little sister and a great support system for his daughter – but his feelings for her have always been pretty innocent… until now. A few not-so-innocent exchanges and one decidedly dirty text change the dynamic of their relationship in an instant. But Cheyenne has crushed on Cole since she was a teen, so she’s not willing to accept the small piece of his heart that he’s willing to offer.
This is an interesting take on a best friend’s little sister romance – it’s got all the great history that comes with that kind of relationship, but the focus is really on our damaged hero. Cole is a fantastic man, but life has broken him down over the years, so it’s difficult to find the loyal, loving partner he is at his core. This is the kind of story that could easily get too frustrating if not for the very solid writing, but Harlow navigates the complexities well. I was rooting for these two from start to finish, and their road to happily ever after is not a smooth one. What makes it compelling is just how easy these two are to like: their chemistry is obvious, their love is deep, and their personalities are endearing. It’s not AS steamy as the first book in this series, but there’s a palpable connection between these two throughout. If you’re looking for an emotional small town romance, this will definitely tug on your heartstrings. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy via Social Butterfly PR and am voluntarily leaving a review of this angsty romance.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Remaining 2020 Releases
There are a LOT of great books still on the way in 2020! If you missed my end of the year release calendar, you can check it out here to see what’s coming soon.