While bad boy heroes and alpha males often steal the spotlight in contemporary romance, there are plenty of books out there that make the heroine shine. From single perspective stories that keep the hero a mystery to more heartfelt reads about personal growth, there are so many great romances out there that focus on the heroine.
The books on this list all feature heroines who play a huge part in what makes each story so engaging. They’ve all received a 4 or 5 star rating from me, and links to my reviews are included for each one. I’ve also got the blurb, a description of the vibe, and links to Amazon for easy addition to your Kindle. There’s also a link to a bonus recommendation list from this time last year, which includes 15 more fierce females. Happy reading!
And Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there!
Jeeves’ Top 20 of 2020 Selection • New Adult • Emotional • Slow Burn
Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover
Life and a dismal last name are the only two things Beyah’s parents ever gave her. After carving her path all on her own, Beyah is well on her way to bigger and better things, thanks to no one but herself. With only two short months separating her from the future she’s built and the past she desperately wants to leave behind, an unexpected death leaves Beyah with no place to go during the interim.
Forced to reach out to her last resort, Beyah has to spend the remainder of her summer on a peninsula in Texas with a father she barely knows. Beyah’s plan is to keep her head down and let the summer slip by seamlessly, but her new neighbor Samson throws a wrench in that plan.
Samson and Beyah have nothing in common on the surface.
She comes from a life of poverty and neglect; he comes from a family of wealth and privilege. But one thing they do have in common is that they’re both drawn to sad things. Which means they’re drawn to each other.
Beyah and Samson agree to stay in the shallow end of a summer fling. What Beyah doesn’t realize is that a rip current is coming, and it’s about to drag her heart out to sea.
Strong Heroine • Nanny/Guardian • Slow Burn • Emotional
How to Save a Life by P. Dangelico
From USA Today Bestselling Author P. Dangelico a story about second chances and the risk of falling in love again.
Riley James has everything to live for, a business to grow, goals to achieve. After everything she’s overcome, there’s no way she’s going to let anyone get in the way of her hopes and dreams. Not even a handsome businessman who makes her a crazy offer she would be even crazier to refuse.
Jordan West has everything a man could want. And yet it all feels so meaningless. But when tragedy strikes and he’s entrusted with the care of a two-year-old toddler, life doesn’t seem so meaningless anymore. Jordan West suddenly has everything to live for. Problem is…how does he hold on to that feeling?
There’s more than one way to save a life…
Great Meet Cute • Light then Angsty • Fling Turned More • OwnVoices
How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams
One daring to-do list and a crash course in flirtation turn a Type A overachiever’s world upside down.
When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.
Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship—except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her career.
Naya has two options. She can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again.
Reverse Age Gap • Light and Sexy with Plenty of Heart • Fling Turned More
Flirting with 40 by K. Bromberg
An all new flirty, lighthearted, standalone romance by New York Times bestselling author K. Bromberg guaranteed to make you swoon.
Blakely Foxx is having one of those years.
Her divorce may have been finalized a few months ago, but her ex is already engaged to someone half her age. Her younger boss is determined to sabotage her chance at getting the promotion she rightly deserves. And to make matters worse, she’s closing in on the big 4-0. There isn’t enough wine or ice cream in the world to convince her things will turn around.
When Blakely meets Slade Henderson, she’s left wondering why an early-thirties, hotter than hell, cardiothoracic surgeon would take an interest in her.
She’s been warned that he’ll break her heart, but she’s willing to take the chance. Not only is he helping her get that promotion, but in the process, he’s encouraging her to find the parts of herself she’s lost over the past few years.
Slade shows her that good guys really do exist, but who knew the hardest part about turning forty would be realizing the man you thought was a rebound, is actually your happily ever after?
Jeeves’ Top Pick • Super Swoony • Strangers/Enemies to Lovers • Slow Burn • Adorable but Deep
Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle
Can you find real love when you’ve always got your head in the clouds?
Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.
Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous–and it turns out he has a very different vision for the property’s future.
Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.
Light and Sexy • Quirky Humor • Great Chemistry
Drop Dead Gorgeous by Lauren Landish
I see dead people.
No, not like that movie.
I’m a coroner, and yes it’s the kiss of death on my dating life. When men find out what I do, I’m lucky to hear “it was nice meeting you.”
Until I almost accidentally kill Blake Hale with my car.
Instead of being freaked out by me, he’s intrigued.
No matter how much I try to scare him off, he keeps coming back for more.
And for a follow-the-rules guy, he’s breaking them all for me.
We couldn’t be more different.
He’s all goodness and light, with a brain that’s even sexier than his six pack.
I’m danger in a pretty package, and no amount of knocking on wood is going to make the happily ever after he’s promising come true. But…
With each word we exchange, my resolve weakens.
With each heated look, he gets further into my soul.
With every kiss, he consumes me by accepting me just as I am.
I deal in death all day. He sells life… insurance. What could possibly go wrong when I start believing in Mr. Right?
One Night Stand/Accidental Pregnancy • Great Chemistry • Light But Emotional
Floored by Karla Sorensen
What happens when an impulsive American grad student and a brooding British footballer walk into a bar?
An accidental pregnancy, of course.
When Lia Ward picked a fight with the gorgeous man in a London pub about which kind of football was superior, she had no idea who he was. But when a plus sign pops up on a pregnancy test a few weeks later, she’s about to find out.
Lia may not know what she wants to do with her life, but pregnant with the hot footballer’s baby was not in her life plans. Especially since she’s supposed to be finishing her class and leaving London for good.
Jude McAllister is busy grappling with the end of his long-standing career and a strained relationship with his family who’s never even liked football. Add a baby into the mix, plus explosive chemistry with the woman who has completely tipped his life upside down….?
Oh baby, things are about to really heat up.
Neurodiverse • Emotional • Office Romance • Sexy
Yes and I Love You by Roni Loren
A beautifully emotional and unforgettably steamy new contemporary romance from New York Times and USA Today bestseller Roni Loren
Everyone knows Miz Poppy, the vibrant reviewer whose commentary brightens the New Orleans nightlife. But no one knows Hollyn Tate, the real face behind the media star…or the anxiety that keeps her isolated. All her life, Hollyn’s tried to hide her true self behind an online facade, but when her boss tells her she needs to reveal the truth to the world or lose her job, she’s forced to rely on an unexpected source to help face her fears.
Enter Jasper Deares: actor, newly minted fake boyfriend, and way, way out of her league. Hollyn thinks Jasper must be joking when he offers private lessons to help overcome her fears. Getting up on a stage? Hello, worst nightmare. But Jasper’s infectious charm has her saying yes despite herself. They’re only supposed to be playing a few improv games, but as the lessons run longer and the lines grow blurrier, Hollyn can’t help but wonder if she’s acting at all…or if a relationship with Jasper might help give her the confidence she needs to say yes to every imperfect part of herself.
Jeeves’ Top 20 of 2020 Selection • Tear-Jerker • Emotional and Moving
The Cabin by Jasinda Wilder
One year ago, I buried my husband.
One year ago, I held his hand and said goodbye.
Now I spend most of my days lost somewhere between trying to remember every smallest detail of our lives, and trying to forget it all. I fill my hours with work until I’m too exhausted to remember him, to feel anything at all.
One year, 365 days—and then one knock at my door changes everything. A letter from him, a last request, a secret will:
My dearest Nadia,
Trust me, my love. One last time, trust me. Sometimes the epilogue to one story is the beginning of another.
Tear-Jerker • Emotional and Moving • Slow Burn • Great Setting
Float Plan by Trish Doller
Heartbroken by the loss of her fiancé, adventurous Anna finds a second chance at love with an Irish sailor in this riveting, emotional romance.
After a reminder goes off for the Caribbean sailing trip Anna was supposed to take with her fiancé, she impulsively goes to sea in the sailboat he left her, intending to complete the voyage alone.
But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.
In Trish Doller’s unforgettable Float Plan, starting over doesn’t mean letting go of your past, it means making room for your future.
New Adult • Frustrating and Mysterious Hero • Unpredictable
You’re the Reason by J. Nathan
Welcome to Crestwood University…
Where smiles conceal secrets.
Gossip runs rampant.
And everyone hides the truth.
Sophia Galloway has no idea what she’s walking
into when she transfers to Crestwood University.
Returning to Texas was her only goal.
But nothing could prepare her for stepping foot
on a campus where no one is what they seem.
In a world where frat guys think they can do no wrong.
And sorority presidents think they run the show.
Sophia’s about to find out what happens when she
unknowingly crosses the wrong guy,
pisses off the wrong sorority sister,
and refuses to play by anyone else’s rules.
A life will be lost.
Lies will be told.
Hearts will be broken.
And secrets…well secrets are meant to be revealed.
Is there anyone she can trust?
Mix of Humor and Heart • Emotional • Neighbors to Lovers
Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez
A brilliant and touching romantic comedy about two polar opposites, one adorable dog, and living every day to its fullest. When Vanessa Price quit her job to pursue her dream of traveling the globe, she wasn’t expecting to gain millions of YouTube followers who shared her joy of seizing every moment. For her, living each day to its fullest isn’t just a motto. Her mother and sister never saw the age of 30, and Vanessa doesn’t want to take anything for granted. But after her half sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her baby daughter, life goes from “daily adventure” to “next-level bad” (now with bonus baby vomit in hair). The last person Vanessa expects to show up offering help is the hot lawyer next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. No one warned her that he was the Secret Baby Tamer or that she’d be spending a whole lot of time with him and his geriatric Chihuahua. Now she’s feeling things she’s vowed not to feel. Because the only thing worse than falling for Adrian is finding a little hope for a future she may never see.
Light and Sexy • Rivals to Lovers • Rom Com • Low Angst
Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting
As two neighborhood shop owners battle for business, they prove opposites attract in this “deliciously sweet and savory new romantic comedy” (USA Today bestselling author Abby Jimenez). Blaire Calloway has planned every Instagram-worthy moment of her cupcake and cocktails shop launch down to the tiniest detail. What she didn’t plan on? Ronan Knight and his old-school sports bar next door opening on the very same day. He may be super swoony, but Blaire hasn’t spent years obsessing over buttercream and bourbon to have him ruin her chance at success. From axe throwing (his place) to frosting contests (hers), Blaire and Ronan are constantly trying to one-up each other in a battle to win new customers. But with every clash, there’s also an undeniable chemistry. When an even bigger threat to their business comes to town, they’re forced to call a temporary time-out on their own war and work together. And the more time Blaire spends getting to know the real Ronan, the more she wonders if it’s possible to have her cupcake and eat it too.
Very Slow Burn • Romance/Women’s Fiction Mix • Emotional
Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
International bestseller Mhairi McFarlane explores lifelong friendships, long-buried secrets, and unexpected love in a heartfelt, emotional new novel, perfect for fans of Evvie Drake Starts Over, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird, or In Five Years.
Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.
But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.
In the aftermath, Eve’s world is upended. As stunning secrets are revealed, she begins to wonder if she really knew her friends as well as she thought. And when someone from the past comes back into her life, Eve’s future veers in a surprising new direction…
They say every love story starts with a single moment. What if it was just last night?
Strong Heroine/Lovable Hero • Enemies(ish) to Lovers • Slow Burn
The Knockout Rule by Kelly Siskind
Siskind’s latest slow-burn romance is stay-up-all-night addictive and proves love hits when you least expect it…
Growing up with an adoring father for a boxing legend isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It looks more like hospital visits, bloody noses, and cracked ribs.
Isla Slade now works as a physiotherapist, helping athletes heal their bodies. Except for boxers. She has no interest in reliving the stress of her teen years. Dating someone in the boxing world? She’d rather snort wasabi powder.
Until she meets Preston Church.
Preston manages heavyweight boxing darling Brick Kramarov. A brute who’s built tougher than his name, with a cocky attitude to boot. She wants nothing to do with either man, but her father begs her to help them prepare for a huge Vegas fight.
She doesn’t expect Preston to recite romantic poems and slowly break her resolve. His fascinating mind gets under her skin, even if his star athlete reminds her how much she hates boxing.
Too bad it’s Brick coaching Preston how to woo Isla, falling for her from the sidelines. Once she finds out, she’ll have to decide if she can risk loving another man who puts it all on the line for the knockout.
Want more fierce females? Check out my list of 15 Great Romance Heroines here.
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