It’s the end of the year, and that means it’s time to reflect back on the books that made an impact! I’ll be talking about my favorite reads of 2021 this month – including the best romance series I read this year. Some of these started up in 2021, some of them came to a close, but each of these romance series had me ready to one-click the next installment before I even finished reading. There’s a little something for every mood, and you cannot go wrong with any of these.
I’ve got notes on each series, my personal favorites within a series, and links to everything I’ve reviewed. Each of these contemporary romance novels is part of a series – interconnected, duet, or semi-standalone – and they’re all excellent books. Happy reading!
Queens & Monsters by J.T. Geissinger
This dark and steamy series kicked off in February, and it has been my absolute favorite series of the year. Each book is fantastic – intense and hot and so compelling – yet they each have their own unique feel. Better together, this mafia romance series builds with each book, and things feel like they’re coming to a head now. While you can technically read them as standalones, this is one series where you’ll want to stay in order. And it’s an ongoing series, so it’s the perfect time to get caught up!
Jeeves’ Favorite: That’s a tough one! It’s a very, very close race between Savage Hearts and Ruthless Creatures. I love the softer feel of Savage Hearts. Well, soft for a dark and dirty mafia romance at least, lol. There’s no weak book in this mix, though the sex scenes in Carnal Urges weren’t my personal taste.
Start with Ruthless Creatures!
An explosive new novel of love, lust, and obsession from bestselling author J.T. Geissinger.
Five years ago, my fiancé disappeared. He left me with a wedding dress I’d never wear. Left me with the kind of scars that can’t be healed. The man I built my future on vanished like a ghost. All that remained was my broken heart and a million unanswered questions.
Until a mysterious stranger arrives in town.
Tall, dark, and dangerous, Kage is as full of secrets as he is sex appeal. Though I know he’s hiding something, I’m drawn to him like a moth to flame.
The intensity of our connection is addictive, unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. Heat crackles between us with every look, desire flares into passion, and I fall hard, helpless to resist.
But when I discover how he’s tied to my fiancé’s disappearance, I learn what happens when you fly recklessly into fire:
You get burned.
Preorder on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3IR1RSD
Play Hard by K. Bromberg
This angsty and sexy sports romance series came to a close in 2021, and I am sad to see it go! Each of these books was addicting and engrossing, following fierce and independent sisters as they fall in love with various sports stars. They’ll read as standalones if you want to, but the series does get you hooked along the way. I’ll miss this series, but I’m looking forward to whatever Bromberg has in store for us in 2022!
Jeeves’ Favorite: They’re all great, but my personal favorite is Hard to Hold. There’s just something about a bad boy who isn’t really that bad – I love watching them fall! Hard to Love was also excellent, with a redeemed antihero. Four out of five received 5-star ratings from me, with Hard to Lose being the only one I didn’t fully love… and it was still good!
Start with Hard to Handle!
New York Times bestselling author K. Bromberg is back with an all new second-chance, standalone hockey romance.
At first, the request seemed simple—sign a new athlete to the agency.
Then I found out the new athlete was none other than the most wanted man in hockey today: Hunter Maddox
Gifted. Sexy. At the top of his game. And the only man who has ever broken my heart.
If signing him will help save our family business, I’ll swallow my pride and do what’s asked.
But when it becomes clear his uncharacteristic antics off the ice are a hint of something deeper, keeping things strictly professional between us becomes more than complicated. But I know better than to cross that line.
I’ll never date a client. Not even for him.
Win the Stanley Cup and do it before time runs out.
Not a small feat, but it’s what’s motivated me since the start of my career.
And time is running out.
Enter Dekker Kincade.
Feisty. Dogged. Damn gorgeous. The one I let get away.
I have no idea why she’s traveling with the team, but hell if resisting her is going to be easy.
But I have a job to do, and I refuse to lose sight of that end game. Even if she confuses me. Even if she sees parts of me I’ve hidden from the world.
I can’t lose focus. Not even for her.
Unlawful Men by Jodi Ellen Malpas
I’ve been meaning to check out Malpas’ works for awhile now, and I decided to finally take the chance when she released The Brit. It was a surprise release this spring, and no one knew what to expect. I sat down and held on for the ride, and I’ve got zero regrets! One of the most suspenseful and volatile books I’ve read this year, The Brit contains so many things that I hate – but I loved it. And the same held true for The Enigma, which pushed even more boundaries. Now I’m ready to see where The Resurrection takes us next year – I honestly have no idea! These are standalones, but definitely best read in order or you will spoil the series for yourself.
Jeeves’ Favorite: The Brit knocked my socks off, so I think it’s my favorite. But The Enigma was such a surprise, and nothing like I expected – even having read The Brit. So you can’t go wrong with either of these, but The Enigma might be the more polarizing of the two.
Start with The Brit!
Pleasure has never been so deadly.
Rose Cassidy doesn’t truly live; she just exists. Numbing herself to fear and pain is the only way she can survive in this cruel world. So when she’s taken as collateral by the notorious Danny Black in a deadly game of power, she’s thrown by the deep fear she feels rising within her. And, worse than fear, a profound desire. She’s heard tales of The Brit. He’s callous. Coldblooded. But no one ever said he was wickedly beautiful and darkly captivating. He sees past her mask, giving her a cruel sense of hope. But she must fight their twisted attraction or risk losing the one thing she survives for.
When Danny Black took an enemy’s beautiful lover as security, he never anticipated the repercussions. Or the warped attraction they would share. Rose Cassidy pushes Danny to the brink of madness with her impenetrable façade and savage allure. He has to remind himself that she’s bait. A solution to a problem. Yet she evokes powerful feelings in Danny, and feelings are risky when you’re wanted dead by endless enemies.
The most dangerous game is about to be played.
But can either of them win?
*This story is gritty, dark, edgy, and contains scenes that some people may find uncomfortable to read. It is NOT for the fainthearted.
Preorder on Amazon: https://amzn.to/31RC9Mq
The Brodie Brothers by Kayley Loring
I’m a huge fan of Loring’s light and sexy rom coms, so when she started up The Brodie Brothers series this year, I couldn’t wait to get reading. And they did not disappoint! Both books are low angst, funny reads, and they had me smiling and laughing the whole time I was reading. Easy to read as standalones, you can enjoy in either order. And I’m hoping we get more in 2022!
Jeeves’ Favorite: These were both 5-star reads for me, but Attachment Theory was the obvious winner of the two. The hero was adorable and the forbidden romance had me hooked. You can’t go wrong with either one, but I have a definite favorite.
Start with Funny Business!
A single dad, a model, and a comedian walk into a bar… They’re all Owen Brodie.
It’s only funny if you aren’t the hilarious struggling comedian who has been hired to be his son’s nanny for the stand-up tour.
Dear Ms. Hogan,
I’m emailing to offer you the job as my son’s nanny because Sam had a temper tantrum when I told him I can’t hire you to come on my stand-up tour with us. “She heckled me at a club a few years ago,” I wanted to say. “She is the sassy little turd who trolls me on Twitter,” I could have told him. “She’s an even bigger pain in the butt when we’re face-to-face,” I thought to myself. What I would never tell him is—things could get complicated. For reasons.
Let me know if you want the job.
With great reluctance,
Dear Mr. Brodie,
Thank you for your email. Please inform Sam that I like him very much and would love to be his nanny and accompany him on your terrible joke of a stand-up tour.
I can assure you—things will not get complicated. For many, many reasons.
Primarily because Owen Brodie isn’t funny, and he can suck it.
Out of financial desperation and a fondness for your son,
Say Everything by Roni Loren
Yes & I Love You was my introduction to Loren’s work, and I could tell that it was something special. The heartfelt and emotional feel kept me reading, and I was looking forward to the followup – which ended up being an even better read for me! After kicking off the series in 2021, the vibe will continue in 2022, and I can’t wait to see where the series goes. These will easily read as standalones, but there are characters who tie everything together.
Jeeves’ Favorite: It’s definitely What If You & Me! Yes & I Love You was a solid 4-star read for me, and I knew that I wanted to try more from the author. When I sat down to read What If You & Me, I could tell immediately that it was right up my alley. I loved the broken hero and the emotional feel.
Start with Yes & I Love You!
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.
For You & No One Else
Preorder on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ENcZNE
Bellamy Creek by Melanie Harlow
I’m sad to see this series go! The Bellamy Creek boys were introduced in 2020 and they made quite the impression, then things just got even better in 2021! Each book is emotional and steamy, interconnected standalones that can be read separately but are better together. The series just came to a close, and I’m already missing it. While I’ve always enjoyed Harlow’s work, this is my favorite series from her so far.
Jeeves’ Favorite: Call Me Crazy! I really thought I wasn’t going to like the cocky playboy’s story, but we all know how that goes – the bad boy wins you over. I also loved the bad boy in Drive Me Wild, though both of the good guys’ books were great reads as well. Three of the four received 5-star ratings from me, with Tie Me Down being the only weak(ish) link for me.
Start with Drive Me Wild!
When Blair Beaufort literally crashes into Bellamy Creek wearing a ball gown and a tiara, I should have towed her car, said goodnight, and sent her packing.
I’m a mechanic, not a hotel manager. I’ve got enough on my plate trying to keep my shop from going under, my overbearing mother off my back, and my baseball team in contention for the league championship. I don’t have time for a former debutante with zero street smarts and a cash flow problem, even if she is crazy beautiful.
Problem is, she’s stranded in my small town, and I’m hiding a protective streak underneath my grumpy exterior that runs deep. So I offer her a place to stay and keep my hands to myself.
For exactly one night.
If only she weren’t so gorgeous. So funny. So eager to please. She’s a disaster behind the wheel, but she drives me wild without even trying–at work, at home, in the back of my truck . . . I can’t get enough of the way she makes me feel.
But I know better than to think it can last. She wants a fairy tale, and I’m no prince.
So when it comes time for her to leave, there’s nothing I can do but let her go.
No matter how much it hurts to say goodbye.
The Bergman Brothers by Chloe Liese
I’m ready for more of the Bergman Brothers! I was introduced to Liese’s work with the marriage in trouble romance Ever After Always, and it made quite the first impression. She is now one of my favorite up-and-coming romance authors, and I love her unique slow burn reads. They’re smart and funny and sexy with an emotional punch that keeps you reading. This series kicked off in 2020, continued in 2021, and we’ll be seeing more in 2022. I’ve been reading the series completely out of order with no trouble, but there are family members who tie everything together.
Jeeves’ Favorite: That’s a hard one! Always Only You made my Best of the Year list in 2020, and it’s a tough act to follow. The hero was just so swoony, and the reverse grumpy/sunshine romance was a win. But I also loved Ever After Always and the deep love that shone in every scene. If I have to pick a weak link, it’d be With You Forever, which didn’t strike the same chord with me.
Start with Only When It’s Us!
Prepare for an emotional rollercoaster brimming with laughter, tears, and slow-burn sexiness in this new adult romance that tackles the vulnerability of love with humor and heart.
Ever since she sat next to me in class and gave me death eyes, Willa Sutter’s been on my shit list. Why she hates me, I don’t know. What I do know is that Willa is the kind of chaos I don’t need in my tidy life. She’s the next generation of women’s soccer. Wild hair, wilder eyes. Bee-stung lips that should be illegal. And a temper that makes the devil seem friendly.
She’s a thorn in my side, a menacing, cantankerous, pain-in-the-ass who’s turned our Business Mathematics course into a goddamn gladiator arena. I’ll leave this war zone unscathed, coming out on top…And if I have my way with that crazy-haired, ball-busting hellion, that will be in more than one sense of the word.
Rather than give me the lecture notes I missed like every other instructor I’ve had, my asshole professor tells me to get them from the silent, surly flannel-wearing mountain man sitting next to me in class. Well, I tried. And what did I get from Ryder Bergman? Ignored. What a complete lumbersexual neanderthal. Mangy beard and mangier hair. Frayed ball cap that hides his eyes. And a stubborn refusal to acknowledge my existence.
I’ve battled men before, but with Ryder, it’s war. I’ll get those notes and crack that Sasquatch nut if it’s the last thing I do, then I’ll have him at my mercy. Victory will have never tasted so sweet.
Only When It’s Us is a frenemies-to-lovers, college sports romance about a women’s soccer star and her surly lumberjack lookalike classmate, complete with a matchmaking professor, juvenile pranks, and a smoking slow burn. This standalone is the first in a series of new novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.
Only When It’s Us
Wild Love by J. Saman
This intense, angsty, forbidden romance series wrapped up in 2021, and I am so sad to see it go! It’s probably my favorite rock star romance series out there, with different forbidden romances highlighted in each story. Crazy to Love You made my Best of the Year list in 2020, and the 2021 releases were also strong. You could read these as standalones if you really wanted to, but the series is better together.
Jeeves’ Favorite: It’s gotta be Crazy to Love You – but only because I got to know and feel for the antihero in Love to Hate Her! Those books are great together. I also really liked Love to Tempt You. There’s no weak link here, but I’ll admit that I still haven’t read Reckless to Love You.
Start with Love to Hate Her!*
A rare moment of weakness. A burning desire impossible to deny. Forbidden words I should never have spoken…
Seven years ago, I confessed my darkest secret to my brother’s girlfriend.
When she broke up with him and walked out of our lives, she took my secret with her.
But, with my band set to go on tour around the world, I have a problem. I need a nanny for my autistic daughter. And unfortunately, Viola Starr, my brother’s ex, is the perfect fit.
Now, there is no escaping her. Or our past.
Five months and she’ll be out of my life again.
Five months of ignoring lingering, heated glances. The fire she draws out of me. The way she loves my daughter.
Five months… And my world is about to come crashing down around me.
Jobless and financially destitute, I have no choice but to take this job.
Even with my boss hating my guts. A fact he goes out of his way to prove every chance he gets.
Lucky for me, the best part of Jasper Diamond is his daughter. But being the nanny on the road with one of the world’s biggest rock bands poses more challenges than I was expecting–-including falling for the elusive frontman.
Now with the world chasing after us, how long can we hide what others are determined to exploit?
They say there is a thin line between love and hate.
That all good things must come to an end.
Set on a collision course, nothing could have prepared us for this.
Or for what fate has in store for us…
*This is technically book 2 in the series, but I consider it the start
Promise to Love You
Reckless to Love You
The Hate Love Duet by Lauren Rowe
It was hate to love for me with this duet – and hate to love for these characters! I wasn’t sure that I was loving it at first, but this hot and tense duet won me over in a big way. If you love sexual tension and characters who mess up a few times before they get things right, then this duet is a very solid read. It cemented my love of Rowe’s writing, and I’m excited to see what’s next from her in 2022.
Jeeves’ Favorite: I wasn’t even sure that I liked Falling Out of Hate with You at first, but I was SO ready to read Falling Into Love with You as soon as I finished it. That’s how you know a book has you hooked! These must be read in order.
Start with Falling Out of Hate With You!
I’ve tried to like Adrian Savage, the mercurial frontman for Fugitive Summer, while serving as his band’s opening act on tour. We’re stuck together for three months, after all. And I’m well aware I’m lucky to be here.
But it’s proved impossible. He’s far too rude and dismissive a guy to get along with. And way too good at getting under my skin. In fact, at this point, I think it’s fair to say I downright hate his guts.
Global thirst trap that he is, though, I’m finding it extremely difficult not to want to jump Savage’s bones, despite how much he infuriates me. I hate myself for it. But my body is going rogue on me. It doesn’t matter, though. I’m determined to resist him.
In fact, what I’ve decided is that, as long as I’m here and stuck with him, I’m not only going to give Savage the sound tongue lashing nobody else around here has the balls to deliver, I’m going to bring that bad boy to his knees.
Roommate Romps by Teagan Hunter
I’ve always enjoyed Hunter’s light and fun rom coms, but this series was perfect for quick and playful reads! The series of interconnected standalones wrapped up this year, and I wasn’t ready for it to be over. Each low angst romance can be enjoyed as a standalone, but the friend group makes it fun to read in order. With a little something from every trope, there’s a book in this series for every reader.
Jeeves’ Favorite: I’m an enemies to lovers fan, so Loathe Thy Neighbor was a definite win for me! I also loved the forced proximity, the sexual tension, and the easy, sexy vibes. Crave Thy Neighbor was also great. The only weak link for me was Love Thy Neighbor, mostly because the trope (friends to lovers with a playboy hero) is not a favorite of mine.
Start with Loathe Thy Neighbor!
Don’t fall for your enemy…especially when he’s your new roommate.
Dean Evans is the worst.
Not only does the devil in disguise steal my pie on a regular basis, he also lives in the apartment right. Next. Door.
I see him all the time. At the mailboxes. In the elevator.
Every single morning.
It’s exhausting because he’s exhausting.
Now, after setting his apartment on fire, he’s my roommate…and he’s the worst at that too.
I don’t know what possessed me to let him stay with me. Pity, perhaps?
I do know that I won’t be falling for his charm.
Or that panty-dropping smirk.
His quick wit.
That body he works so hard for.
Nope. Not falling for any of it…least of all him.
There might be a fine line between love and hate, but I know exactly where I stand.
More of the Best of 2021!
Top 20 of 2021: The Complete List – here
Best of 2021: Top Picks by Trope can be found here!
Best of 2021: My 10 Favorite Romance Series can be found here!
Every 5-Star Romance Novel I Read in 2021 can be found here!
Want more romance recommendations? Check out some of my other lists!
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