Contemporarily Ever After: Top Picks for the Week of August 25th

Contemporarily Ever After: Top Picks for the Week of August 25th
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The final week of August is seriously epic — not only because of the number of new releases but because quite a few of my favorite authors have new books out this week. It’s like Christmas and my birthday in August!

And because I know someone might ask, I didn’t read the eleven books that I recommend in one week. I don’t possess the superpower of reading at the speed of light, although I wish I did, but rather I received advanced copies of these books weeks ago.

❤ Indicates the books that I have read and recommend.

Handle with Care by Helena Hunting (Aug. 27)

If anyone asks me to choose my favorite book in Helena Hunting’s Shacking Up series, I might seriously have a panic attack. I simply cannot do it, because I absolutely adore every one of these hilarious, smoking-hot, romantic and entertaining books. Handle with Care is the fifth, standalone installment and romantic comedy perfection and one of my favorite contemporary romances this year.

Wren is assigned to help Lincoln transition from a rustic socially-conscious entrepreneur to the polished CEO of his family’s media empire, and he’s not happy about it. He resists and resents his new role and her assistance, but he quickly finds himself captivated by Wren’s intelligence, beauty, determination and insightfulness. Their chemistry leaps off the page as they trade page after page of laugh-out-loud, flirty banter, and they are captivating as they go toe-to-toe in a sexy battle of wits and will. Their fall into love is sweet and entertaining while also packing an emotional punch, and there’s a very good possibility you will swoon while reading. Wren and Lincoln are one of my favorite couples of 2019 — if not all time — and I can’t recommend Handle with Care and the Shacking Up series enough.

Black Sheep (Dirty Mafia duet #1) by Meghan March (Aug. 27) Not a standalone.  

The first book in the Dirty Mafia duet, Black Sheep, is all you’d expect and more from Meghan March — a seriously sexy and sigh-worthy romance with a smart and resilient heroine, an irresistible alpha-hero, enthralling plot twists, and enough intrigue and suspense to ensure you’ll turn the pages late into the night. Cannon is the bastard son of a mafia boss, and Drew needs him to get answers and exact revenge for a crime she believes his father committed. But Cannon is more than she ever expected or anticipated, and she soon finds herself in a dangerous battle to discover the truth but also to protect her heart. The pulse-pounding conclusion to this epic love story, White Knight, releases October 1, and I can’t wait for it.

That Forever Girl by Meghan Quinn (Aug. 27)

It’s no secret I adore Meghan Quinn’s books, and I’ve fallen head over heels with her latest series, Getting Lucky. They are family-centric, small-town love stories brimming with charm, humor, passion, romance and splashes of intrigue. That Forever Girl is the second, standalone book, and it’s a second-chance romance that delivers all the feels. Rogan and Harper were childhood best friends, who fell deeply in love while they were in high school. They had their future mapped out, but when Rogan’s life took an unexpected turn, he ended their relationship and broke her heart. Now, Harper has moved back home years later, and she and Rogan are forced to see one another again and face their painful past. Their slow reconciliation is sweet, sexy, intensely emotional and peppered with surprises, and you cannot help but root for these two to find their happily ever after. 

Kiss Me Not by Emma Hart (Aug. 27) 

(Blurb)

What do you do when you’re the reigning kissing booth champion but the only person you want to kiss is your best friend’s brother? 

Let me make this clear right here, right now: I, Halley Dawson, do not care that Preston Wright is kissing other women.
Not a lick. Not at all. Nuh-uh-freakin’-uh.
I do care that he’s doing it six feet away from me behind a gaudy velvet curtain–making him my competition in this year’s kissing contest.
Why do I care, you ask? Because I’ve had an unfortunate crush on the insufferable idiot since I was sixteen years old, but I also know it’s never going to happen.
He’s the Creek Falls bachelor to die for, and I’m the Creek Falls racoon lady who puts peanut butter sandwiches out for them every night.
I’m not going to let him break my four-year-long reign–no matter how many times he breaks the rules and slides the curtain across to do the one thing he’s not allowed to:

Kiss me.

Already Gone by Kristen Proby and K.L. Grayson (Aug. 27)   

Kristen Proby and K.L. Grayson’s Already Gone is a witty, sexy and poignant friends-to-lovers, small-town romance that you don’t want to miss. Scarlett and Tucker were best friends growing up, but she fled their small town as soon as she was able to chase her dream of being a country singer, and she hasn’t looked back or been back home in years. Scarlett has achieved success beyond her wildest dreams and is now a superstar, who still has no interest in going home, so when her dad has a stroke and she’s forced to return, she’s not thrilled. She comes face to face with Tucker and discovers he’s no longer a scrawny nerd but rather a hunky cop and single father, who is quite angry with her for abandoning their friendship. But for all his bluster, he still cares for her and is also extremely attracted to her. As Scarlett struggles with her feelings about her hometown while reestablishing her relationship with Tucker, she begins to see him differently. With plenty of charm and all of the feels, Already Gone is a must-read.

Handle with Care by Marie Harte (Aug. 27)

(Blurb)

Evan Griffith has had a hell of a day…
And that was before he met the stunning, sexy woman having a meltdown.

Evan Griffith has had many careers in his life. But who knew working for his family’s moving company would hold just as much action as his stint in the Marine Corps? On an unforgettable job, Evan finds himself taken by a teenage conman and confronted by a woman wielding a knife—and promptly falls head over heels for her.

Kenzie Sykes is doing her best to raise her little brother and keep him out of jail—all while dealing with her own broken heart that just hasn’t healed. She doesn’t have time for romance. He’s not asking… Until he is, and she finds herself saying yes.

The Aussie Next Door by Stefanie London (Aug. 27) 

Stefanie London’s The Aussie Next Door ­is an absolute pleasure to read — refreshing, funny, romantic, endearing and heartfelt. Angie moved to Australia to get a fresh start and fell in love with the country, and, now, she wants to stay permanently. Unfortunately, she needs to get married in the next two months to do so, and she doesn’t have any prospects, although she’s attracted to her broody, quiet landlord, Jace. He’s not easy to read and has never indicated that he returns her feelings, but when he discovers her predicament, things begin to shift between them. Their relationship evolves fairly rapidly, but it feels natural and genuine, especially when they reveal their authentic selves to one another. Both have interesting backstories and are very likeable, but Jace is an intensely compelling character. He’s on the autism spectrum, and London presents him with insight and compassion but without overly focusing on his condition and taking away from the central romance. He quickly won my heart and is one of my favorite heroes. The Aussie Next Door has an interesting and emotional storyline with a beautiful setting, well-placed humor and unique, charming characters, and it truly stands out.

Catching Him by Aurora Rose Reynolds (Aug. 27)

(Blurb)

Leah Emerson isn’t looking for a man—she’s looking for the right man. But her mother’s idea of a great catch leaves her cold, and she’s pretty sure her cocky, arrogant, and way too good-looking new neighbor isn’t the one either. If only her wayward cat would stop jumping through his window, she could get on with her life.

Tyler Duncan moved into town for a new job, not to fall in love. But he always goes after the things he wants in life with steadfast determination…and he wants Leah Emerson. He wants her smiles, he wants her touch, and he definitely wants her in bed.

Unfortunately, someone else wants Leah—in the worst way. Now Tyler’s on a mission to protect the woman he’s falling in love with while proving he’s worth falling for, and Leah must decide whether Tyler is a catch worth catching…

Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day (Aug. 27)

Sylvia Day returns to the world of her Crossfire series with an intriguing, emotional and downright unforgettable love story — Butterfly in Frost. I was hooked from the first page and didn’t put it down until the last, and I was immediately ready to read it again, which is exactly what Day intends. She writes her books with the intention that they are read twice, and I promise you’ll want to pick up Butterfly in Frost again and again to soak up every nuance of this complex romance. Don’t miss my interview with Sylvia Day where we talk about the book, her writing and more.

Man vs. Durian by Jackie Lau (Aug. 27)

(Blurb) 

Durian is my nemesis. We have a long, painful history. In my opinion, the spiky fruit smells like natural gas and rotten onions with eau de vomit. Bleh.

So when Valerie Chow spills her durian ice cream all over me, I shouldn’t fall in love.

But despite her fondness for durian, Valerie is beautiful and delightfully prickly and stares at me when I take off my soiled shirt. And somehow, this chance encounter leads to me agreeing to be her fake boyfriend to get her mom off her back about her dating life. Her supposed boyfriend is a pediatric resident, but no big deal, right? My job’s in landscaping, but I can pretend to be a doctor. 

I’ll charm Valerie and her family, and I’ll figure out why she’s scared of relationships and gave up her career in software development. I’ll even take her to a durian dessert shop. And if I do a great job at being her fake boyfriend, maybe she’ll want me to be her real one…

 The Truth about Cowboys by Lisa Renee Jones (Aug. 27) 

Lisa Renee Jones’ latest, The Truth about Cowboys, is a highly entertaining and utterly swoon-worthy enemies-to-lovers romance. Jessica is a sassy divorce attorney, who needs to take a break from her big-city life and consider making a major change. She decides to do so in small-town Sweetwater, Texas, and finds herself going toe-to-toe with Jason, the broody, hot cowboy and former baseball player who owns the cabin she’s renting. He never approved of her rental and is dealing with substantial responsibilities on his ranch, and he cannot afford the distraction that Jessica creates. But she’s not going anywhere, and they bicker and taunt one another as the sexual tension rises to scorching-hot levels. Their physical relationship is fiery, but they also develop a deeper connection that has them seeing each other in a whole new light. With its heartfelt romance, explosive chemistry, subtle humor and one endearing grandmother, you do not want to miss The Truth about Cowboys.

Far Cry by Kate Canterbary (Aug. 27) 

I stayed up late into the night reading Kate Canterbary’s Far Cry, because I simply couldn’t put it down. This is enemies-to-lovers romance, which will undoubtedly be on my Best of 2019 list, was thoroughly entertaining, breathtakingly romantic, fan-yourself-worthy hot and deeply satisfying.

Brooke and JJ have known each other their entire lives growing up in the same small town of Talbott’s Cove and have alternated between widely attracted to each other and thoroughly annoyed by one another. They both left town for years but find themselves back at home, but Brooke doesn’t want to be there. She’s taking care of her very sick father and feeling angry, overwhelmed, out of control and sexually frustrated, and she’s decided to take all her vexations out on JJ. She volleys barb after barb his way, and he matches her sass and gives her the fight she craves and needs. When their explosive chemistry pushes them into the bedroom, Brooke is surprised to discover that she finds acceptance and empathy in her frenemy’s arms. JJ has always hidden that he has a soft spot for the outspoken and fiercely independent Brooke, and as he reveals his feelings, he proves himself to be the perfect partner and one hell of a book boyfriend. As these two fight and kiss their way to happily ever after, their journey is captivating, emotional and utterly romantic, and I’ll be reading Far Cry again and again for years to come.

Wild Steamy Hook-Up by Piper Rayne (Aug. 27)

I love every book and all three brothers in Piper Rayne’s White Collar Brothers series, including the third, standalone book, Wild Steamy Hook-Up, and the oldest Mancini sibling, Dominic. He and Valentina have a complicated history that includes a long friendship and, recently, a passionate but secretive affair. She’s a single mother and family friend, and she’s wanted more from Dominic for years. But he’s always been focused on his career and dead set against marriage. When a drunken night in Vegas sees them married and their meddling family insists they give their union a chance, Dominic discovers his relationship with Valentine is far more satisfying than the one he has with his job. Wild Steamy Hook-Up is part friends-to-lovers romance with a bit of second-chance romance and the marriage-of-convenience trope resulting in a whole lot of fun, sexy and entertaining love story with engaging, well-matched leads and an unforgettable secondary cast of characters.

Crazy by Adriana Locke (Aug. 29)

(Blurb)

Love is crazy. 
Peck Ward, the sweet, small-town mechanic, isn’t sure it’s for everyone. Least of all him. His life is chaotic enough without adding the pressure of a relationship. Besides, unrequited love is a real thing and he’s kind of over it. 
This works out perfectly until a certain someone throws a wrench—pun intended—into his plans. As they go from adversaries to friends to possibly something more, things get complicated. After all, they know how this story ends. It’s not with them together. 
His easy grin is enough to win her over. Her unabashed personality does him in. But are they ready to accept the fact that sometimes you don’t find love where you’re looking for it? Sometimes you find it in the most unexpected, craziest places. 

Instant Gratification by Lauren Blakely (Aug. 29)

Lauren Blakely delivers sexy, feel-good romance time and time again, so it’s no surprise that the second, standalone book in her Always Satisfied series, Instant Gratification, is a five-star friends-to-lovers romance that will have you smiling, laughing, blushing and swooning. Jason is a gorgeous, charming Brit, whose always been attracted to his best friend’s twin sister, Truly. There’s no denying they’ve always had sizzling chemistry, but they’ve always been able to keep things in the friend zone, except for one steamy, unforgettable night months ago. When they begin helping one another with work projects, they are forced into more and more intimate situations and can no longer resist one another. With their solid friendship and easy connection, these two endearing and likeable leads have to figure out how to make their romantic relationship fit their lives and obtain Truly’s brother’s approval, and you’ll be rooting for them each step of the way.

The Bad Twin by Avery Scott (Aug. 29)

(Blurb)

Being the good twin isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Abby Levesque knows that better than anyone. While her sister drifts through life carefree, Abby’s left to clean up her messes. The latest mess? Hudson Quinn— the hot, angry billionaire on her doorstep demanding she accompany him to Paris. He’s obviously mistaken her for her twin, Gabrielle, who happens to be his assistant. Too bad Gabrielle is nowhere to be found. If Abby wants to fix her sister’s latest blunder, she’ll have to pretend to be someone else for two weeks—preferably someone who isn’t wildly attracted to her mercurial boss… As far as Hudson’s concerned, his sexy-but-flaky new personal assistant is just another in a long line of terrible decisions and failures in his life. But he’s working on the deal of a lifetime—a deal that could change everything for him—and he needs her help to close it. The last thing he ever expected was to connect with her on a soul-deep level. Falling in love wasn’t part of the job, and when Hudson finds out who she really is, Abby’s terrified he’ll never forgive her. With a billion dollar deal—and both their hearts—on the line, can Abby convince Hudson she’s the right twin for him?

Finding the Way Back by Brittney Sahin (Aug. 29).

(Blurb) 

Years ago, he chose duty over love. He’s not sure if he can do it again.

Charlie “Knox” Bennett traded medical school for the Navy and never looked back. After almost eight years of working top-secret missions for the commander in chief, Knox’s greatest regret is lying to his best friend. But when his father decides to make a run for the White House, and with the fate of his team resting in the hands of the future president . . . the truth threatens to come out.

Following in her mother’s footsteps to serve and protect, Adriana Foster joined the Secret Service, never expecting one day she’d be assigned as detail to her best friend’s father. After twenty years of keeping her true feelings hidden from Knox, will working together finally be what pushes them out of the friend-zone?

As Adriana and Knox track down the shooter who attempted to assassinate his father, they soon realize they’re not the only ones who have been harboring secrets. With both his family and a teammate in grave danger–can Knox make the tough choice of putting everything on the line, even if that includes Adriana?

In what could be Knox’s final mission, he may win the battle, but he could lose his heart.

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