Contemporarily Ever After: Top Picks for the Week of June 23rd

Contemporarily Ever After June 23rd
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Summer is in full swing, and I’ve been enjoying all of the extra free time, which means I am reading a lot. But with another week full of amazing new releases, I will never have enough time to read everything I want to read.

❤ Indicates the books that I have read and recommend.

Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson (June 25)

Once Upon a Bad Boy is the first time I’ve read Melonie Johnson, and I enjoyed this second-chance romance so much that I’ve already downloaded the prior two standalone books in the Sometimes in Love series. Sadie and Bo met and fell in love when they were young, but he crushed her heart when he suddenly broke up with her on prom night. They haven’t seen one another in over ten years when they’re reunited on the set of a movie – Bo is coordinating the stunts and Sadie is the lead actress – and it’s apparent they still have chemistry and feelings for one another. But theirs isn’t a simple or easy reunion, because they have to excavate their past and share difficult secrets. It’s both a beautiful and painful process and what makes this romance powerful, relatable and memorable. Johnson delivers a wonderfully romantic and deeply satisfying love story with endearing characters and lighthearted humor, while deftly delving into relevant issues with compassion and gravity.

Slow Dancing at Sunrise by Jo McNally (June 25)

(Blurb)

Welcome to Rendezvous Falls, New York, where love is where you least expect it…

When accountant Whitney Foster’s carefully calculated life blows up, she escapes to the one place that’s always felt like home. But Rendezvous Falls has changed since she’s been away. Her aunt Helen’s winery is in trouble. And she doesn’t trust the sexy, surly stranger working the vineyard as far as she can throw him.

Luke Rutledge would do anything for Helen, who’s been like a mother to him. Revive the winery? Sure. Repair her property? No problem. Tolerate Helen’s infuriating, big-shot niece? Well…maybe. But as he and Whitney are forced to work together to rebuild the business, her chilly facade reveals a woman as complex and intoxicating as a fine merlot. Throw in a matchmaking book club hell-bent on happily-ever-after and it’s a potent cocktail.

Love should never be calculated. But it doesn’t take Whitney’s math skills to see that this is adding to up to one tantalizing adventure…

Another Sky by Jayne Frost (June 25)

(Blurb)

My world stopped turning six years ago.
My best friend. My best girl. 
A burning field in the pouring rain.
I survived, but I left the biggest part of me with them.
And now I sift through the rubble of my broken life.

I didn’t want a second chance.
Redemption. Closure.
Not for me.

Until Gelsey.
A dancer. A dreamer. Everything I’m not.
She’s the light to my dark.
The sun from another sky.

But sunny days never last.
The storm is coming.
And this time when darkness falls, I might surrender 

Never Fall in Love with a Rockstar by Rachel Higginson (June 25)

(Blurb)

My name is Clover Calloway and I’ve lived two separate lives. 

The first, I like to call “my past.” I never talk about it. I try not to think about it. My rockstar days of playing in one of the hottest bands on the planet are over. Along with the most volatile, beautiful, tragic love story of all time.

Over the past five years, I’ve settled into my second life. My “normal life.” The one where I work a normal job, hang out with normal people and fall in love with a normal, but wonderful guy. The life where I’m admittedly a little bored, but also safe. 

My past wasn’t boring. But my past broke my heart into a million, unfixable pieces. So, I’m determined to keep it where it belongs—behind me. 

And the man responsible for the shattering of me? Malachi Porter, lead singer and mastermind of Bright Tragedy, should stay there too. Far away from me and this idyllic life I’ve carved out for myself. 

But what happens when my two lives collide? 

When Malachi comes crashing into my perfectly normal world, he threatens to destroy it, promises to annihilate everything I’ve replaced him with. 

He upends everything I thought I wanted and forces me to question the reasons I left Bright Tragedy all those years ago.

But I didn’t walk away five years ago, I ran. As fast as I could go. And while my heart is whispering that it’s different this time—that he’s different—my brain is screaming for me to run again.

Malachi Porter isn’t a normal guy. And he doesn’t belong in my “normal life.” But, nevertheless, he’s bound and determined to make a place for himself here.

I just hope my heart can survive him, that we don’t burn into another bright tragedy. 

The Accidental Girlfriend by Emma Hart (June 25)

(Blurb) 

TOP TIP: Don’t put out an online ad offering your services as a fake date. Someone will take you up on it.
And it won’t just be for one night.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I ended up being Mason Jackson’s fake girlfriend.

He didn’t even want me to be. No–his sister was solely responsible for me being his date for his ten-year high school reunion.

Now, she’s responsible for telling his parents our relationship is real.

We have no choice. We have to act like this isn’t all a mistake, like it’s not all fake, like we’re totally, completely, utterly, head-over-heels in love with each other.

Simple, right?

Wrong.

Justified by Jay Crownover (June 25)

Jay Crownover hits it out of the park with this sexy and suspenseful enemies-to-lovers romance. Justified is the first, standalone book in her Loveless, Texas series, but there is also a novella, Unbroken, out now that I wholeheartedly recommend. Case and Aspen were friendly acquaintances while they were in high school, but everything changed when she represented his ex-wife in his divorce, during which Case lost custody of his son. He blamed her for the outcome, and they’ve been trading well-placed barbs and seething looks since then. Although he is surly and claims to hate her, he doesn’t hesitate to do his duty as sheriff when Aspen is suddenly threatened by an unknown, dangerous source. She’s prickly and resists his help, but he doesn’t take no for an answer and surprises himself when he wants to go above and beyond what’s necessary to keep her safe. Their forced proximity allows them the opportunity to reexamine their falling out, look past old hurts and truly understand one another, and their burgeoning attraction heats their every interaction. You’ll be on the edge of your seat and thoroughly entertained while cheering for this sassy, feisty heroine and grumpy, swoon-worthy cowboy as they bicker their way to happily ever while unraveling the mystery of who wants to hurt Aspen.

Seven Nights of Sin (Penthouse Affair #2) by Kendall Ryan (June 25). Not a standalone.

(Blurb)

He’s the powerful CEO. I’m the know-it-all intern.

Things went further than they should have, but I don’t have any regrets. Well, maybe just one . . .

I went and did the one thing he told me not to–fall in love with him.

Now I have seven days to prove my trust and devotion. Turns out money is a powerful drug, but love is even more addictive.

Save the Date by Monica Murphy (June 25) 

It feels odd to describe a romance as both adorable and sexy, but that is exactly what Monica Murphy’s Save the Date is, and I absolutely love it! Caroline and Alex were childhood friends and each other’s first kiss, but they haven’t seen one another since that awkward, teenaged make out session years ago. They are reunited when Alex is with his fiancée ordering save the date cards and wedding invitations from Caroline. Awkward. It quickly becomes painfully obvious that he and his soon-to-be-wife aren’t passionately in love – or even in love at all – and it’s made more apparent due to he and Caroline’s sizzling chemistry. When she discovers his fiancée is a cheater and tells him, it’s as though fate is pushing them together. They rekindle their friendship, but things evolve rapidly when Alex asks her to be his fake fiancée on a business trip to Paris. The romantic setting and close quarters lights the flame simmering between them, and they come together in a fiery, emotional union. I adore both Caroline and Alex’s characters and couldn’t stop smiling as they fell in love. This friends-to-lovers romance with a splash of second-chance love is the ultimate feel-good summer read.

Total Surrender by Erika Wilde (June 25)

(Blurb)

How far would you go to make the man that destroyed your family pay?

Maddux Wilder is a man consumed, a beast in a three-piece suit. Rich and powerful, he built his empire with one thought in mind: revenge.

After years of patience and planning, the wait is finally over. Tonight, Maddux will finally watch Theodore Cole’s kingdom crumble. At a lavish ball in the New York City castle the Wilder siblings call home, the man that killed their parents will atone for his sins.

If only he’d planned for her.

Arabella Cole is Theodore’s only child; his cherished and sheltered daughter. She’s an innocent, captivating beauty that would do anything to save her loving father, including sacrificing herself.

With her freedom gone, she must surrender to a man she hates. A man that makes her want things she shouldn’t. A man that awakens deep, forbidden desires.

But everyone knows that roses don’t bloom in darkness.

Enter Maddux Wilder, a man that doesn’t believe in fairy tales.

Can the beauty tame the beast or will revenge cost them both everything that matters most?

When You Were Mine (Stone Lake #2) by Jordan Marie (June 25). Not a standalone.

(Blurb)

 I loved a boy.

Gavin Lodge. 

He was sweet, gentle, kind and he made me feel alive. 

Letting him go was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. 

A hundred times I wished I had done things differently.

A thousand times I wished I had gone with him. 

A million times I wished he had chosen me.

I didn’t. Neither did he. 

Now he’s back. 

No longer a boy, but a man. 

I can’t love him. 

It almost destroyed me once and I won’t let that happen again. 

That should be the end of it. 

And maybe it would have been…

If someone wasn’t trying to kill me

Superfan by Sarina Bowen (June 25)

(Blurb)

Three years ago I met the most amazing girl in the world. We were both down on our luck. Then I got that call—the one that tells you to get your buns on a plane to go meet your destiny.
But the girl was left behind. I didn’t have her phone number, and she didn’t know my real name.
While I became a professional hockey player, she became a superstar, with platinum records and legions of fans. And a slick, music producer boyfriend who treated her badly.
But fate wasn’t done with us yet. When Delilah turns up at a hockey game, I can’t resist making contact. The internet swoons when I ask her out on a date.
She might not remember me. But her jerkface ex does. He’ll do anything to keep us apart. 
Good thing athletes never give up. This time I’m playing to win.

The Kiss Plot (Quicksilver #2) by Nicole French (June 26). Not a standalone.

(Blurb)

Jane and Eric de Vries.
Often enemies. Sometimes lovers. 
Husband and wife. Or are we?

I wore the dress. We said the vows. 
And somehow it became more than just a stunt to collect his billions. 
A promise bound by love, not hate. 
Until he humiliated me in front of all of New York and disappeared. 

Now my errant husband has returned, and it’s like I never existed. 
Except when he looks at me like he wants to rip my dress from my body. 
Something’s holding him back. And I won’t rest until I discover its cause. 

See, this wild heir is about to find out: karma’s a fickle mistress. 
My weapons? Batting eyelashes, high heels, and that red lipstick he can’t resist. 
I’ll break down his mask, little by little. And then I’ll make him pay for what he did. 
I just need to keep my heart in check while I do it.

Beautifully Broken Life by Catherine Cowles (June 26)

If you’re not already reading Catherine Cowles, you’ll want to rectify that ASAP and pick up Beautifully Broken Life (or any of her previous two books!) as soon as possible. This is the second, standalone installment in her Sutter Lake series, and it’s a powerful and emotional love story that tackles weighty topics with the sensitivity and seriousness they deserve while still delivering a heart-stopping central romance. Liam is a rock star, who has escaped to the small town of Sutter Lake to regroup and find his music-mojo again, and he finds himself intrigued and drawn to the shy and skittish tea shop employee, Tessa. She fled her abusive fiancé two years ago, and is still hiding from him for fear of her life. She, understandably, doesn’t trust anyone, but finds herself leaning towards the charming famous musician and wanting to share her burdens. He’s utterly swoon-worthy as he patiently, gently and sweetly pursues her and gives her the space she needs, even when he doesn’t yet understand her why she needs it. They develop a strong emotional connection and easy friendship that simmers with sexual tension, and this is a gorgeous slow-burn romance will have you feeling absolutely everything. Tessa and Liam are one of my favorite couples of 2019.

Adore Me by Kelly Elliott (June 27)

My first crushes were on my older brother’s best friends, so I have a soft spot for romances featuring this trope and couldn’t wait to dive into Kelly Elliott’s Adore Me. It is the third, standalone book in her must-read series, Austin Singles, and it’s all that I expected and more – sexy, funny, poignant and heartwarming. Blake has always been attracted to his friend’s little sister, Morgan, but has never acted on it. When he moves back to town after living away for a few years and they reconnect, she admits she’s always been drawn to him and suggests they have a no-strings fling. Of course, Blake agrees because it seems like the perfect situation, considering his aversion to commitment, but he soon discovers he and Morgan have some heartbreaking things in common. While their physical relationship develops quickly, their emotional connection deepens and gives their love story a hefty dose of pure, swoon-worthy romance. 1-click Adore Me: I promise you will not regret it.

Master Baker by Pippa Grant (June 27)

(Blurb) 

They call me the sugar whisperer.

Anything your tongue desires, I can bake it. Scones? Child’s play. Cupcakes? I’ll frost them so good you won’t know what hit you. Donuts? Please.

You’re talking to a master baker.

But there’s one egg I’ve never been able to crack.

My best friend.

Former best friend, that is.

She’s the apple in my pie. The whip in my cream. The lemon in my meringue. The 
wish in my bone.

She’s the one who got away.

After ten years in the military, she’s back. She’s bruised and battered by life, but 
she’s back.

Except she’s not my second chance. She’s gone to the dark side.

Running a rival bakery in a town not big enough for two.

So now I have to decide—which do I want more?

My bakery?

Or the woman I never should’ve let go in the first place?

Where Forever Ends by K. Street (June 28)

Street delivers ALL of the feels with this intensely emotional, affecting and beautiful love story, Where Forever Ends. Saylor suddenly lost her husband and is now a widow and single-mom at just twenty-eight. Although it breaks her heart all over again, she decides to sell the dream home that she and her husband built and move in with her older brother, who also offers her a job at his company. She soon reunites with her brother’s best friend, Jase, whom she’s known for years and had a youthful crush on. He recognizes that he’s attracted to Saylor but careful not to act on those feelings, knowing she’s still grieving, and he sets out to be her friend and confidant. He has his own emotional wounds, and his empathy towards her is breathtakingly sweet. He gives her the space she needs and proves himself to be a true hero, and he will be on many book-boyfriend lists this year. You’ll probably need a box of tissues close by, because you’ll definitely ugly-cry as Street skillfully and vividly brings gut-wrenching grief to the page, but you’ll finish Where Forever Ends feeling deeply satisfied and wonderfully hopeful as Jase, Saylor and her son Knox find their happily ever after.

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