We all judge books by their covers, don’t deny it. I will wholeheartedly and enthusiastically admit that I’ve added countless books to my TBR based almost entirely on their cover. Sometimes that works out in my favor… and sometimes it doesn’t, lol. But I love me a good cover.
The 15 books on this list feature the covers that stopped me in my tracks. They’re all gorgeous in one way or another, and 100% memorable. Whether there’s a shirtless dude or an adorable illustration, these covers make an impact. I’ve read some of these books and admired others from afar, but they all feature fabulous covers!
Throughout the month, I’ll be looking back on some of my favorite romances from 2021. From swoonworthy heroes to well-done tropes, there are elements of so many books that stood out from the crowd. Check back every week for a new list!
Earn Your Extra Credit by Meghan Quinn
“She went home with someone else that night?”
Hearing the disbelief from my best friend’s mouth makes the events of my failed date sting that much more.
I would like to make it known, I have a lot more swagger than what it seems. I don’t normally ask a girl out, have her fail to recognize it’s a date, and then give me a high five–as if I’m her wingman–and take off with someone else.
No. Normally I’m the one taking the girl home but with Stella, it’s been one failed attempt after another and frankly, I’m done trying.
But thanks to my best friend getting married in Hawaii right before the school year starts, I’m stuck on a tropical island, watching Stella parade around in what she claims is a bathing suit.
Unfortunately, that’s not the worst of it, just the tip of the iceberg. Because what I think is going to be a relaxing vacation, avoiding the one girl I can’t seem to make it work with, has turned into a spectacle of being recruited as Stella’s doting fake fiancé so she can save face with an old “friend” from high school.
Now I’m navigating through purgatory while trying not to get turned on by the way she holds my hand or kisses my jaw. It’s all fake, that’s what I keep telling myself, even though it feels entirely too real.
Read the 4-star review here
Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau
A baker provides the sweetest escape for an actor in this charming romantic comedy.
Actor Ryan Kwok is back in Toronto after the promotional tour for his latest film, a rom-com that is getting less-than-stellar reviews. After years of constant work and the sudden death of his mother, Ryan is taking some much-needed time off. But as he tries to be supportive to his family, he struggles with his loss and doesn’t know how to talk to his dad—who now trolls him on Twitter instead of meeting him for dim sum.
Innovative baker Lindsay McLeod meets Ryan when he knocks over two dozen specialty donuts at her bakery. Their relationship is off to a messy start, but there’s no denying their immediate attraction. When Ryan signs up for a celebrity episode of Baking Fail, he asks Lindsay to teach him how to bake and she agrees.
As Lindsay and Ryan spend time together, bonding over grief and bubble tea, it starts to feel like they’re cooking up something sweeter than cupcakes in the kitchen.
Faking It With #41 by Piper Rayne
Being the heir to Jacobs Enterprises, I’ve been around fake people my entire life. I promised myself a long time ago that I wouldn’t change for anyone. Which is the only reason I’m a professional hockey player who lives on the beach and does as he pleases without answering to anyone—except my father.
And now, my daughter.
Being a single dad wasn’t in the plan but after a one-night stand who took off after the baby was born, this is my reality.
My dad’s been harping on me to quit hockey and join the company for years and now that I’m a father, he’s only intensified his efforts. Until he makes me a deal I can’t refuse.
Insert Lena Boyd, the Jacobs’ family PR rep. She’s beautiful and intelligent and not at all the woman for me—ask anyone.
My dad needs us to act happily engaged and sell the idea that we’re in love. If we’re successful I won’t have to join the family legacy—ever. Of course, I agree.
That’s when things get complicated. I thought I had her all figured out until I found out there was more underneath her judgmental sneers and eye rolls. It feels like everything is coming together for the future I really want—with Lena—until my past ruins everything.
Read the 3-star review here
All the Feels by Olivia Dade
Following Spoiler Alert, Olivia Dade returns with another utterly charming romantic comedy about a devil-may-care actor—who actually cares more than anyone knows—and the no-nonsense woman hired to keep him in line.
“An absolutely witty, swoon worthy behind the scenes romp! Delightful from beginning to end!”–Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’
Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, Gods of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he’s dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.
Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to mention his Cupid fanfiction habit.
When another scandal lands Alex in major hot water and costs Lauren her job, she’ll have to choose between protecting him and offering him what he really wants—her. But he’s determined to keep his improbably short, impossibly stubborn, and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. And on a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves: anything at all.
Read the 4-star review here
Mr. Garcia by TL Swan
He was gorgeous, older and guarded.
I knew he was trouble from the moment we locked eyes.
We met at work, on my first day as a barista.
He smiled, I melted ….. then he tasted my coffee and threw it away.
Again, the next day, and the next.
He hated the coffee, yet still came back.
I knew his game.
He called my coffee death in a cup.
I called him god’s gift to women.
I wasn’t lying.
Then we ran into each other outside of the coffee house, and that’s when things got interesting.
No longer suave and sweet with impeccable manners.
Mr Garcia had a darker side, his appetite, thick and heavy.
He set me on fire.
Unable to help it, we fell hopelessly in love.
The highest of highs.
But his demons are dark, as are mine.
I’m not sure if we can make it and I know that I have two choices.
Walk away now to save myself.
Or try and hold on and let love be the light.
I choose option two.
Dirty Curve by Meagan Brandy
From USA TODAY & Wall Street Journal bestselling author Meagan Brandy comes an all-new standalone romance set in college about a hotshot pitcher and the girl he never saw coming.
You know how in college there’s that one guy everyone wants to be?
I’m the top dog.
The number one.
The big man on campus.
Some say those things are solid wins.
My new tutor would disagree.
My title means nothing to her.
My status lost on her.
And now my mind? That sucker is stuck on her.
She was told to make our sessions priority over all, to drop everything when I need her, and come to me. She does.
But I don’t want to steal her time anymore.
I want to earn it.
If anyone can do that, it’s me.
I’m Tobias Cruz, the king of the curveball. I don’t lose.
Not the game, and surely not the girl.
Little did I know, this girl has herself a secret … and it’s the dirtiest curve yet.
The Perfect Catch by Meghan Quinn
“Kiss me. Just this once . . . please Walker.”
Those whispered words were my undoing . . .
As the most hated player in baseball, I had two options: either clean up my image or pack my bags. Being traded wasn’t an option which only meant one thing, I had to become compliant.
That’s how I found myself sharing a small bistro table with Kate Chapman, the Chicago Bobbies newest PR Manager. Devastatingly beautiful, vastly intelligent, and incredibly cunning, she knows exactly how to handle my grumpy demeanor.
It was supposed to be simple. Book some PR events, show up, smile for the camera, and be done. But one massive mistake on my end sends me into the trenches with Kate, forcing me to open up to her.
Innocent glances turn into cordial encounters.
Secret touches turn into tempting invitations.
And dangerous nights alone turn into consuming desperation.
I’ve never wanted a woman as much as I want her. And I know she wants me, but there’s a no fraternizing with the players rule. Neither of us can afford to lose our jobs, but we also can’t seem to keep our hands off each other either.
Read the 5-star review here
The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams
Britta didn’t plan on falling for her personal trainer, and Wes didn’t plan on Britta. Plans change and it’s unclear if love, career, or both will meet them at the finish line.
Britta Colby works for a lifestyle website, and when tasked to write about her experience with a hot new body-positive fitness app that includes personal coaching, she knows it’s a major opportunity to prove she should write for the site full-time.
As CEO of the FitMi Fitness app, Wes Lawson finally has the financial security he grew up without, but despite his success, his floundering love life and complicated family situation leaves him feeling isolated and unfulfilled. He decides to get back to what he loves—coaching. Britta’s his first new client and they click immediately.
As weeks pass, she’s surprised at how much she enjoys experimenting with her exercise routine. He’s surprised at how much he looks forward to talking to her every day. They convince themselves their attraction is harmless, but when they start working out in person, Wes and Britta find it increasingly challenging to deny their chemistry and maintain a professional distance.
Wes isn’t supposed to be training clients, much less meeting with them, and Britta’s credibility will be sunk if the lifestyle site finds out she’s practically dating the fitness coach she’s reviewing. Walking away from each other is the smartest thing to do, but running side by side feels like the start of something big.
Read the 5-star review here
A Gorgeous Villain by Saffron A. Kent
Two years ago, Reed Jackson betrayed Calliope Thorne and broke her heart. So she stole his most prized possession – a white mustang – and drove it into the lake for revenge.
Now, Callie is stuck at a reform school while Reed is off at college, living his life without repercussions.
Until he comes back.
With him comes back all the feelings that Callie has been trying to bury: anger and heartbreak.
But most of all, desire.
At the sight of his beautiful but lying lips and his gunmetal gray eyes that still taunt and smolder when he looks at her.
Whatever though. It’s not as if Callie is ever going to fall for her ex-boyfriend again. Or let him corner her in a bar one night and touch her, kiss her…
Neither is she going to kiss him back. Or worse, sleep with him.
Because that would make her naïve and foolish.
Oh, and also pregnant.
And there’s no way Callie is ever going to get pregnant at eighteen and with Reed’s baby, no less. The guy she hates.The guy who taught her all about heartbreak.
Who might look like a gorgeous hero but really is the villain of her story.
Knot My Type by Evie Mitchell
He doesn’t do relationships.
She doesn’t do flings.
Everything they thought is about to unravel…
When you say you’re a sexologist, people imagine Marilyn Monroe. They don’t expect a woman who uses a wheelchair. As the host of the All Access Podcast, I’m breaking barriers, crushing stigmas, and creating sexual connections that are fulfilling for my fans. I’m like cupid, but with pink hair and fewer diapers.
Only, I’ve hit a snag. A lovely listener wants some advice about accessible rope play and I’m drawing a big fat blank. Which leaves me with no option but to get out there and give it a go.
Which is how I meet Jay Wood—rigger, carpenter, and all-round hottie.
I’d be open to letting him wine and dine me—only Jay isn’t my type. He’s not a one-girl kind of guy. Monogamy isn’t even in his vocab, and I’m not a woman who’ll settle for being second choice.
But there’s something about Jay has me tied up in knots.
And it’s making me think, maybe I could compromise and accept a little Wood in my life. Even if it’s only temporary.
Frankie’s funny, intelligent, and ridiculously sexy. This should be a no-brainer. A little fun in the sheets, and a little romp with some ropes—simple.
Only the infuriating woman has commitment written all over her.
It’ll be fine. I’ll just ignore the chemistry bouncing between us.
Yep. Totally fine.
So… why does my heart feel frayed? And why is it I can’t help but consider taking the ultimate leap of faith—tying myself to Frankie. Permanently.
Warning: This is an instalove piece of goodness that is too cute for words. Get thee some rope, a partner, and settle in for a delicious little romp!
P.S. THERE ARE NO WEREWOLVES IN THIS BOOK!
Falling Into Love With You by Lauren Rowe
I’m obsessed with Laila Fitzgerald. There, I finally admitted it. I’ve tried not to want her. I tried to step aside when my best friend said he wanted her. But it’s proved impossible. She’s too gorgeous and talented, too charismatic and badass, for me not to want her for myself.
Unfortunately, though, karma’s a bitch. In trying to do the right thing by my best friend, I’ve done the wrong thing by myself. I’ve pushed her away every chance I’ve had. Dug way too deep a hole to crawl out of . . . And now, Laila downright hates my guts. And rightly so.
But since we’re stuck together, yet again—and, this time, even more closely—I’ve decided nothing will stop me from getting what I want. This time, I’m going to figure out a way to coax Laila into falling out of hate with me . . .
Read the 5-star review here
Shipped by Angie Hockman
The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.
Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.
The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.
Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.
With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?
Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.
Read the 5-star review here
Saint by Sierra Simone
I can’t have Elijah Iverson.
I can’t have him because he’s my older brother’s best friend. I can’t have him because I broke his heart five years ago; because he’s now engaged to someone else—someone kind and dependable who deserves his whiskey eyes, his soft mouth, his fierce intellect.
I can’t have Elijah because I’ve chosen God instead.
The Bell brothers, though . . . well, we don’t exactly have the greatest track record with vows. But I’m determined to do this monk thing right—to pledge myself to a cloistered life and spend the rest of my years in chastity and prayer. But now Elijah’s here. He’s here and he’s coming with me on my European monastery road trip, and between the whispered confessions and the stolen kisses and the moments bent over an ancient altar, my vows are feeling flimsier by the day.
And vows or not, I know in my heart that it would take more than a good and holy monk to resist Elijah Iverson right now. It would take a saint.
And we all know that I’m no saint.
Rushed by Aurora Rose Reynolds
New York Times and USA Today bestseller Aurora Rose Reynolds turns up the heat in this tale of new adventures, dangerous decisions, and undeniable attraction.
Cybil is the queen of bad timing. First, her fiancé breaks up with her days before their wedding. Next, she’s stuck going on a couples retreat in the Montana wilderness alone. And worst of all, now she’s fighting a growing attraction to the wilderness retreat’s rugged owner, Tanner.
Tanner has built his wilderness adventure service on a few key principles: never take unnecessary risks, never put anyone’s life in danger—and never, ever sleep with a client. The arrival of a beautiful new visitor, however, might mean bending the rules.
Two people looking for anything but romance may have just bumped into their soul mates. In the Montana wilds, any misstep can spell danger. Cybil and Tanner just have to decide if they’re brave enough to face their next adventure.
Devil Heir by Rachel Leigh
Something so wrong has no business feeling this good.
I met the devil when I was fourteen years old.
Just a kid himself, he was hellbent on making me miserable.
By fifteen I hated him.
When I was sixteen, I moved as far away as I could.
Since I’ve left, my life has been simple—peaceful and still.
I had no intention of ever returning to Skull Creek.
Until tragedy struck and I was called back.
It’s been two years since I saw my step-brother.
I hoped he had changed.
But the devil is still the same.
He’s arrogant and ruthless.
Rules the town with an iron fist.
Where he walks, crowds part.
Now his blame is set on me, along with his dark orbs of hate.
It’s time to show him I’m not the same girl I was back then.
If he pushes, I’ll push harder.
Where I bend, he will break.
As long as he doesn’t find my weakness, I can survive this.
Even if my weakness has become the devil himself.
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!
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