Contemporarily Ever After: Top Picks for the Week of August 11th

Contemporarily Ever After: Top Picks for the Week of August 11th
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I just got back from a massive book signing, Book Bonanza in Dallas, and I am still on a high from meeting and socializing with so many wonderful authors and readers. I feel so much love for this community that I’m on a romancelandia high. Ironically, being at a book event meant I didn’t get to read as much as normal, and my recommendations this week are abbreviated. This is definitely a bookworm problem.

❤ Indicates the books that I have read and recommend.

Playing House by Ruby Lang (Aug. 12)

(Blurb) 

The last thing Oliver Huang expects to see on the historic Mount Morris home tour is longtime acquaintance Fay Liu bustling up and kissing him hello. He’s happy to playact being a couple to save her from a pushy admirer. Fay’s beautiful, successful and smart, and if he’s being honest, Oliver has always had a bit of a thing for her.

Maybe more than a bit.

Geeking out over architectural details is Oliver and Fay’s shared love language, and soon they’re touring pricey real estate across Upper Manhattan as the terribly faux but terribly charming couple Darling and Olly.

For the first time since being laid off from the job he loved, Oliver has something to look forward to. And for the first time since her divorce, Fay’s having fun.

Somewhere between the light-filled living rooms and spacious closets they’ve explored, this faux relationship just may have sparked some very real feelings. For Oliver and Fay, home truly is where their hearts are.

Moti on the Water by Leylah Attar (Aug. 13)

Moti on the Water is an absolute gem of a romance — thoroughly entertaining and uniquely charming with utterly endearing characters, hilarious shenanigans, laugh-out-loud family dynamics, a swoon-worthy happily ever after and page after page of Attar’s quirky, dry sense of humor. It’s truly one of a kind and shouldn’t be missed.

(Blurb)

A Greek family. An Indian family. A summer wedding on the Aegean coast…

Meet Moti Ferreira—spectacularly jinxed from the day she’s born.

Saddled with an eccentric mother, she stumbles upon the one man who holds the key to her freedom—the best man at her cousin’s upcoming wedding.

All Moti has to do is overcome her fear of water, board a yacht to the Greek Isles, seduce the dreamy Nikos Manolas, and survive two weeks at sea with her oddball family.

The only obstacle Moti doesn’t see coming is Alexandros Veronis, the onboard chef and star witness to her awkward mishaps. He transforms onions into chocolate and aroma into nostalgia. Day by day, his alchemy works its magic on Moti. But she’s not the only one falling under his spell. Everyone has a secret, growing round and ripe at Chef Alex’s table. When the masks fall off, they spill out one by one, and everything blows up in their faces.

Now Moti’s truth is exposed, and worse, she’s hooked on more than Alex’s midnight snacks. But this time, screwing up could be the best thing she’s ever done…

The Obsession by Nikki Sloane (Aug. 13). Not a standalone.

(Blurb)

The Hale family is obsessed with status, power, and control. No problem is too big their money can’t solve.

Royce Hale manipulated me into giving him everything. My virginity. My hand in marriage. My heart. 

And as soon as he got what he wanted, he callously sold me off for a cool ten million.

In the boardroom and the twisted game his family plays, he says the only rule is to win at all costs. 

Yesterday I learned a painful lesson not to trust the prince of Cape Hill. Today I’ll destroy his carefully laid plans and show him just how badly he’s already lost. 

All the money in the world won’t be able to stop me.

Playing for Keeps by Kendall Ryan (Aug. 13)

Kendall Ryan launches a contemporary sports series — Hot Jocks — with Playing for Keeps, and it’s a seriously sexy, feel-good hockey romance featuring the older brother’s best friend trope. Justin and Elise have explosive chemistry and an easy and sweet dynamic, making them perfectly matched and fun to watch. I can’t wait for more in this series.

(Blurb)

My teammate’s incredibly sweet and gorgeous younger sister should have been off-limits, but my hockey stick didn’t get that memo.

After our team won the championship, and plenty of alcohol, our flirting turned physical and I took her to bed.

Shame sent her running the next morning from our catastrophic mistake. She thinks I don’t remember that night—but every detail is burned into my brain so deeply, I’ll never forget. The feel of her in my arms, the soft whimpers of pleasure I coaxed from her perfect lips…

And now I’ve spent three months trying to get her out of my head. Which has been futile, because I’m starting to understand she’s the only girl I’ll ever want. 

I have one shot to show her I can be exactly what she needs, but Elise won’t be easily convinced. 

That’s okay, because I’m good under pressure, and this time, I’m playing for keeps. 

Get ready to meet your new favorite hot jocks in this series of stand-alone novels. If you like sexy, confident men who know how to handle a stick (on and off the ice), and smart women who are strong enough to keep all those big egos in check, this series of athlete romances is perfect for you! 

Bad Apple by Elle Kennedy (Aug. 13)

(Blurb)

One night with him will change her life…

Between her waitressing job, volunteer work, and college classes, there are never enough hours in Maggie Reilly’s day. Especially not for a relationship. Luckily, she’s got the perfect arrangement: a lover she meets three or four times a year. But when she shows up at the hotel expecting to hop into bed with one man, she accidentally ends up with another—Ben Barrett, Hollywood’s most notorious bad boy.

Ben, determined to lay low after another scandal, just wants some much-needed sleep. What he gets is a scorching make-out session with a gorgeous, naked redhead. He won’t accept her apology, but what he will accept is a place to hide out…and if there’s some hot, no-strings sex involved, why the heck not?

But Ben soon discovers that one week with his sassy, bed-hopping waitress is definitely not enough. He wants more. A lot more.

Now he needs to convince relationship-averse Maggie that a bad boy might be oh so good for her—and the best thing that’s ever happened to both of them.

The Reluctant Boyfriend by Erika Kelly (Aug. 13)

The fourth, standalone book in Erika Kelly’s Bad Boyfriend series is a fun, feel-good royal romance that will have you laughing, smiling and swooning. I’ve loved all of the Bowie brothers, but Brodie might be my favorite. He’s a little cynical about love — until he falls hard and fast for Princess Rosalina.

(Blurb)

Princess Gone Wild!

When Princess Rosalina discovers her fiancé cheating on her, she’s done being dutiful. Jumping on a plane, she lands five thousand miles away in a world of hot cowboys, jean skirts, and tequila. Grabbing her chance to fly under the radar, she plans on acting out every single fantasy she’s denied herself while trying to meet the expectations of her family and country.

Brodie Bowie doesn’t know what happened. One minute he’s wreaking havoc and tearing up the slopes with his brothers, and the next he’s an outsider. All of them are in serious relationships. He just can’t figure out why they’d put a ring on it when there’s so much fun to be had as a single man.

Brodie’s not the settling down type, but then he’s never met anyone like the woman who jumps in front of his bulldozer, refusing to let him dig up his meadow. The feisty chemist and perfumer is everything he never knew he wanted.

Except she only wants a summer fling before she goes back to her real life…as a princess.

He doesn’t fit in her world, and there’s no way she can live in his.

But a love like theirs doesn’t play by the rules

Truly Mine (Mason & Sophie duet #1) by Kennedy Fox (Aug. 13). Not a standalone.

(Blurb)

 The night we met in the dimly lit bar, she looked like a brunette bombshell, and I wanted to learn her deepest secrets. With sun-kissed skin and soulful bedroom eyes, she was pure temptation, and I was mesmerized. 

As one drink led to two, I craved more of her playful banter and taunting lips. Resisting her wasn’t an option, and we quickly became a desperate mess of tangled limbs and hot kisses. She tasted like the sweetest sin, but I was no saint. 

Once we caught our breaths, and it became obvious that meeting her wasn’t a coincidence, everything changed. Now I must deny her at all costs.

Friends. It’s all we can ever be. 

After years of lying to myself and keeping her at a distance, I want to pull her close. Sophie’s on my mind more than ever as my instincts to protect her take over. Regardless of my attempts to help, she pushes me away and makes it clear she doesn’t need me. 

I’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe, to show her I’m the good guy, but one night takes a tragic turn for the worse when her boyfriend and I start throwing punches. 

And ends when I’m arrested for his murder.

Beauty and the Bayou by Erin Nicholas (Aug. 13)

(Blurb)

Sawyer Landry knows he’s been beastly to be around for the past few months. But he can’t seem to remember how to be fun-loving and friendly. Until he sees Juliet Dawson on his boat dock… and realizes that hip waders are, apparently, one of his turn-ons. But despite the beauty in the boots, the last thing he needs right now is a city girl in his way for the next two weeks.

But he’s not really getting a vote. Juliet is determined that her little brother rebuild the dock he and his idiot friends smashed. She’s quirky, klutzy, independent…and possibly an even bigger pessimist than Sawyer is. He’s incredibly drawn to the cynical fish-out-of-water, who seems to be the one person who isn’t intimidated by his growling.

The big, gruff boat captain is the first person in a long time to want to watch out for her and Juliet finds that hotter than his grandma’s jambalaya. Well, that and his sexy scar, his emotional baggage, and the sense of humor and fun that is buried deep. But Sawyer doesn’t need any more people to worry about long-term and the things that make him feel protective of Juliet aren’t going to go away.

So, this two-week adventure can’t be anything more than a fling. With Juliet down on the bayou, there’s an even bigger threat than alligators and hurricanes. There’s the very good chance of someone ending up with a broken heart.

Bound (Tangled Web #3) by Aleatha Romig (Aug. 13). Not a standalone.

(Blurb)

 With danger lurking around every corner and my life turned upside down, I struggle with who to believe and who to trust. 

Can my heart convince my mind that what was bound long ago is where I’ll find love, safety, and security?

Or are the memories simply an illusion?

Best Fake Fiance by Roxie Noir (Aug. 14)

(Blurb) 

I told a judge I was engaged to my best friend.
Now we’re faking it.
How hard can it be?

My life has room for exactly two women: my daughter Rusty and my best friend Charlotte — known to everyone as Charlie. 

One is a feisty, tomboyish firecracker. The other is my seven-year-old. I can’t imagine life without either.

So when my ex springs a custody hearing on me, I find myself telling the judge that I’m engaged to Charlie.

The only problem? I’m not. 

Time to fake an engagement.

Pretending we’re a couple will be no big deal.

We’ve been friends for years. We used to sneak cigarettes behind the bleachers. We turned cans of hairspray into flamethrowers. We got drunk on stolen malt liquor. 

She’s beautiful, vivacious, spontaneous, and she loves my daughter to death. It’s the perfect answer: we fake it for a few months, then go back to our lives.

Until we touch, and sparks fly. Until I can’t take my eyes off her. Until I can’t stop thinking about what she’s got on under her coveralls.

It takes one kiss. 
One touch. 
One shared secret and suddenly, I’m not pretending anymore. I want her, I need her in ways I didn’t know I could.

But there’s a lifetime of friendship between us, and falling in love with Charlie could risk everything.

Hush, Hush by Lucia Franco (Aug. 14)

I just started reading Hush, Hush, and this forbidden romance should come with a warning that you may overheat while reading it or your eReader might spontaneously burst into flames.

(Blurb)

I knew the rules.

Never reveal my true identity.
Play the game, give the illusion. 
Don’t get close to the clients. 

The dark and glamorous lifestyle of the rich and shameless open my eyes to a lavish world of sin and wealth, and a man I can’t have. 

A man I desperately want—James Riviera. 

We’re treading a fine line as we live the ultimate double life until we make a startling discovery that tests both our loyalties. 

I only had to follow the rules, but rules are meant to be broken. 

Happily Ever His by Delancey Stewart (Aug. 15)

(Blurb)

Tess was used to being in the shadows. But when movie star Ryan McDonnell pulls her into the spotlight, her whole world is threatened. Can a relationship that starts as a secret fantasy ever survive in the real world?

My sister Juliet has always gotten everything she wants. It’s fine though. I never wanted the spotlight. That was my sister’s domain. And now that she’s America’s most poplar starlet? She can have it.

But when Gran—the feisty woman who raised us, and who I cannot seem to wean off video games, an afternoon doobie, or her daily Manhattan—has a huge party to celebrate her 90th birthday, Juliet brings the Hollywood madness straight to Maryland. 

In the form of my ultimate movie-star crush, Ryan McDonnell. I can barely form a sentence around the guy (at least I don’t still have a poster of him on my wall). And I definitely can’t get over the fact that he’s Juliet’s new boyfriend. 

I just need to get through the weekend with them—and with the magazine people who are covering them and the party for a featureI just need to stay away from Ryan and his warm curious eyes, his perfectly chiseled arms, and the impossibly sexy things that come out of his mouth when we’re alone together.

It’s only one weekend, and I just need to remember that Ryan is an actor. A good one. Because I almost believe him when he tells me we have a chance together.

Something Like Hate by Claudia Y. Burgoa (Aug. 15)

(Blurb) 

Between a troublesome client and my fake-girlfriend-for-my-sister’s-Cancun-wedding canceling at the last minute.
I’m having the day from hell.
Then I spot Claire. Sexy. Smart. Sassy. 
So one of my superstar employees is boarding the same plane. 
With her help, I could kill two problems with one tequila shot.
That thing about never mixing business with pleasure? 
I should’ve remembered.
Now the hottest one-night stand I’ve ever had is my biggest business rival.
We’re after the same client.
I’m after her heart.
The trick is how to win one without losing the other.
Because when love has you by the balls, it’s time to play dirty.

Dare by S.L. Scott (Aug. 15)

(Blurb)

Dare Marquis is a bad boy rock star with a body to match.

Cocky.
Devilish good looks.
A voice that commands attention.

A night with him and no strings attached is just what I need. But he makes it impossible to not want more when he runs his hand through his dark, wild hair and smiles. One he only shares with me.

Weatherly Beck is an angel with a body made for sin.

Whip-smart.
Drop dead gorgeous.
Too good for any guy from the east side.

Her life is planned out, so I don’t have a right to step in and mess up her future. But when I look into her sapphire blue eyes and taste the innocence on her lips, I know we’re meant to be more than a one-night stand.

I want her to take a chance on me, to take a chance on us. She may not be a damsel in distress, but I Dare her to let me be her Hero.

Rules of a Rebound by Nina Crespo (Aug. 12)

(Blurb)

Natalie Winters thought she’d married the man of her dreams…but her marriage ended way too soon in a nightmarish divorce. She even has to share custody of the dog! The stress is killing her, so she decides to take a night off and attend the Breakup Bash—a private party for women celebrating their breakups—with her friends. 

Former executive security specialist turned bartender Rome Collier is drawn to the woman easily trading sexy banter with him. And if she wants the “Do Me” condoms she accidentally throws across the counter at him, she’ll have to claim them…personally. Their flirtation turns into so much more, and every scintillating night they spend together is better than the last.

Strong, protective…and hot, Rome is everything Natalie ever wanted in a man. All she has to do is convince him he’s more than a rebound.

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