Amongst the many holiday novellas and lighter reads that released in December, there were also some truly stellar sports romances. I think it’s kinda funny that all three of my favorite December romances featured athletes, were emotional, and burned with sexual tension – but that’s where we’re at this month! I’d normally select my top 5-6 picks for the month, but these were my clear favorites – the books that were EASY 5-star ratings for me. Each one had me hooked, with the kind of engrossing storylines that keep you reading late into the night.
January brings lots and lots of new releases, with books from many of my favorite authors. I’ll be posting my January Release Calendar this weekend, so be on the lookout for that, because 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!
WOW, talk about a build in intimacy. These two are hot for each other from the moment they meet, but love takes a little longer to happen. While I often struggle with that kind of storyline, Bromberg is such a master at writing those quiet, impactful moments of intimacy that this was compelling from start to finish. It’s a slow emotional burn, but there are these little tender moments along the way that really make the story shine. I loved the level of tension, the crackling chemistry, and the intense connection between these two. It’s angsty and steamy, emotional and gripping, and an engrossing read from the first page to the last.
The story follows Rush, a British soccer player who is spending some time in the USA following a scandal. He’s accused of sleeping with his teammate’s wife, and no one has taken the time to question whether the British bad boy would do such a thing. When Rush meets Lennox, it’s lust at first sight. They’re two people who use sex to avoid their feelings, and they seem to be the perfect match – at least temporarily. Neither one expects their relationship to develop into anything deeper than lust, but spending time together and seeing so much of themselves in one another changes the dynamic. Now… they just have to figure out what to do about that.
After a great start to the series, I was wholly expecting to love this – and I definitely did. Bromberg is SO good at building intimacy, showcasing touches and lingering glances that say more about the relationship than anything else. These two might’ve believed that their connection was only physical, but it was easy to see that there was more there. And I really, really loved Rush. His backstory is heartbreaking (and may be triggering to some), so it was even more gratifying to see him find happiness. I’ll openly admit that Lennox was more difficult for me to connect to; she definitely straddles that fine line between being sexually aware and just completely unprofessional. But that’s all part of the story, and the similarities between these two are what draw them to each other. It’s an intricate dance from start to finish, and I absolutely, wholeheartedly LOVED the back half. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy, and am voluntarily leaving a review of this steamy romance.
The sexual TENSION between these two is delicious, crackling with chemistry and waiting for the perfect moment to combust. I loved every bit of it. This forbidden romance will have you rooting for the bad guy, the man who wants nothing more than to end the relationship that he helped create – though there’s a WHOLE lot more to it than that. The man who snaps and spars with our heroine is difficult to reconcile with the sweet and vulnerable guy the reader gets to know, but they’re both sides to a hero who is complicated and living in torture. It’s a storyline that I’ve never read before; not quite a love triangle, but something else entirely. Buckle up for an unpredictable, tension-filled ride from start to finish.
The story follows River, a man living out a nightmare. He’s a popular frat guy, a football star whose lost his shine, a man who should be getting ready to graduate, and a friend who has to watch the woman he dreams about fall for another guy. His life is slowly slipping away from him day after day, and watching Anastasia is both the best and worst kind of torture. Though River would love nothing more than to tell Anastasia how he feels, he’s a loyal friend who knows he can never do so. The result is a strained, uneasy relationship between the two of them – Anastasia believes that River hates her, because he goes out of his way to draw a line between them. Their bickering causes a friction that feels an awful lot like chemistry, but neither one of them has any intention of acknowledging it.
Fair warning: this is a slow, torturous burn where our heroine is in a relationship with another guy for much of the story. I wouldn’t call it a love triangle, but it’s all kinds of forbidden. It’s a long time before Anastasia gets to know the River that the reader will fall for right away; their feud probably lasts a touch too long, but helps shape the way they interact with one another. I loved the unpredictability and unique feel of the storyline, and the tension is so, so good. It jumps off the page and hooks you in from the start. There were moments when I struggled with River and the lengths he goes to in order to distance himself from Anastasia, but the man is just so lovable that I couldn’t be mad at him for long. There’s the typical college drama mixed with a forbidden romance that overtakes the story. I never quite knew what was going to happen next, and that is all part of the appeal. If this is how the series kicks off, then I am SO looking forward to more. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy (then purchased it for my collection), and am voluntarily leaving a review of this forbidden romance.
Sentimental and sweet (but still oh so sexy), this friends to lovers romance is more understated than a lot of Quinn’s work. It leans towards being angsty, with a focus on healing – of friendships, of hearts, of fears. I love a good road trip romance and this is exactly that, following these two childhood friends as they reconnect and rediscover each other in a whole new way. While insecurities and indecision hold these two back, their love shines through. I really loved watching them bond over their shared history, and while it’s not the laugh out loud funny rom com that many have come to expect from the author, it’s the kind of romance that will tug on your heartstrings and cause an ache in your chest.
The story follows Crew and Hazel, two former friends who haven’t spoken in four years. Though they spent all their summers together when they were younger, Crew and Hazel had a falling out that may or may not have been related to the kiss they shared. When the death of Crew’s grandfather brings them back together for a mysterious road trip in Germany, these two are forced to finally heal their friendship while they say goodbye to the man they both loved. But spending time together stirs up all kinds of feelings, and neither one is sure how to react. Their lives are heading in different directions, and they’ve only got this trip together to figure things out.
I’m really not even sure what I was expecting from this book, but I was completely okay with the direction it headed. At first, I struggled a little bit because it’s just so vastly different than the first book in this multi-author series. Where that one was intense, this was much more subdued. The two stories have very little to do with one another, though they both deal with college athletes struggling to figure out their futures. Crew is the nice guy, the relationship guy, the guy who is so easy to fall for in a book like this. I loved him the whole way through. Hazel was a little more difficult to connect to, but some of that was intentional – she was hurt by Crew’s reaction to their kiss, and that’s led to a lot of insecurities about their relationship. I loved them together and fans of friends to lovers romance will definitely enjoy their connection. It’s sexy without being over the top, emotional without being completely heavy, and understated without being a snoozefest. This one will hit you in the feels and keep you entertained along the way. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy via Candi Kane PR (then purchased it for my collection) and am voluntarily leaving a review of this road trip romance.
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