Contemporarily Ever After: Top Picks for the Week of May 5th

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There is a ton of sports on television right now – hockey, basketball and baseball – and there are also quite a few fantastic sports romances releasing this week. So, if you’re a fan of professional sports and this subgenre, you’ll be very busy watching and reading for the foreseeable future.

❤ Indicates the books that I have read and recommend.

Boyfriend Bargain by Ilsa Madden-Mills (May 5)

 Ilsa Madden-Mills’ Boyfriend Bargain is a seriously sexy and utterly swoon-worthy sports romance that packs an emotional punch. Sugar needs the university’s star hockey player Zach’s help, but she never actually expects him to agree to be her fake boyfriend, much less have his own reasons to want to be in a pretend relationship. She’s nothing like the girls who normally surround the popular athlete and vie for his attention, which is one of the reasons why he’s so intrigued by Sugar. She’s sassy, genuine, hardworking and challenges him at every turn, and she tempts him to consider making room in his life for something besides hockey. But there is much more to Zach than being an extraordinary athlete. He’s complex, a little tortured and dealing with tremendous pressure to be the best, while also grappling with deep emotional wounds from his past. He finds himself feeling out of control and fears he’s unraveling, but Sugar becomes the stability and motivation that he needs to face some of his deeply-rooted fears and anxiety. Boyfriend Bargain has it all, and you’ll be thinking about these characters and this book long after finishing it.

The Man I Can’t Have (Ward Duet #1) by Shanora Williams (May 5). Not a standalone.

 (Blurb)

It started as a simple search for a landscape designer…

I wanted a beautiful backyard for my new home and my neighbors suggested I look into Ward Landscaping & Design. 
The owner had no pictures of himself on his website, just a portfolio of nice outdoor sitting areas, pools, and vibrant gardens that I’d always dreamed of having.
Of course I hired him.
I expected to meet an average guy, but Mr. Marcel Ward is far from your average man. He’s handsome, and well-built, and his smile—though a rare trait—is truly infectious. 
He’s every woman’s dream—a handsome, older man who doesn’t mind getting down and dirty to create something beautiful all because of his passion for it. Unfortunately, that lucky woman can’t be me. 
Although Mr. Ward tests my limits, quickens my breath, and makes my heart skip a beat when he’s around, I’ve promised to devote myself to my husband.

So why am I falling for a man I know I can’t have?

Reverb by Anna Zabo (May 6)

 (Blurb)

The tougher they are, the harder they fall.

Twisted Wishes bass player Mish Sullivan is a rock goddess—gorgeous, sexy and comfortable in the spotlight. With fame comes unwanted attention, though: a stalker is desperate to get close. Mish can fend for herself, just as she always has. But after an attack lands her in the hospital, the band reacts, sticking her with a bodyguard she doesn’t need or want.

David Altet has an instant connection with Mish. A certified badass, this ex-army martial arts expert can take down a man twice his size. But nothing—not living as a trans man, not his intensive military training—prepared him for the challenge of Mish. Sex with her is a distraction neither of them can afford, yet the hot, kink-filled nights keep coming.

When Mish’s stalker ups his game, David must make a choice—lover or bodyguard. He’d rather have Mish alive than in his bed. But Mish wants David, and no one, especially not a stalker, will force her to give him up.

The Best of Me by Jessica Prince (May 6)

(Blurb)

It wasn’t hard for Nona Fanning to fall for Trick. He was strong, kind-hearted, loyal, and unbelievably handsome. He was the man of her dreams, and all it took was one night to give her a taste of the beauty he had to offer. But while she’d been opening her heart to him, he’d kept his under lock and key.

After Patrick “Trick” Wanderly’s wife left him, ripping away their picture-perfect life, he convinced himself that she’d taken the best pieces of him with her. He wasn’t ready to move on and give his heart to someone else. Then his whole world flipped upside down after spending one night with Nona.

It took awhile for him to see what he had standing right in front of him, but now Trick’s eyes are open, and he’s determined to fix what he broke. But when danger threatens to tear Nona’s world apart, it’s up to Trick to help hold those pieces together while fighting to protect the woman and the new life he’s come to cherish. 

Heartthrob by Robin Bielman (May 7)

Robin Bielman launches her new American Royalty series with Heartthrob, and you need this irresistible, sexy sports romance in your life. Chloe has sworn off love when she meets her newest client, professional baseball player and all-around swoon-worthy Finn. He’s a driven athlete, who doesn’t think he has time for a relationship, but he quickly finds himself falling for his new social media manager. They both try to resist their potent attraction, but its unrelenting pull doesn’t let them ignore it for very long. They banter and kiss their way to happily ever after with the support of their endearing families, and there’s nothing not to love about Heartthrob.  

Code Name: Genesis by Sawyer Bennett (May 7)

 (Blurb)

Years ago, they were in love. She was an up-and-coming superstar and he was the devilishly handsome security professional hired to keep her safe. They fell hard and fast, no matter how they tried to resist one another. But not everyone around them was happy about their relationship, and a string of lies and deceit destroyed what they once had.

Having just taken the helm of a nationally renowned protective services company, Kynan McGrath is looking to rebrand and revamp his career. The newly crowned Jameson Force Security is moving from the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas to the mountainous steel town of Pittsburgh, and the last thing Kynan has time for is to deal with his past.

More than a decade has passed since their split, but even a bruised and battered heart remembers its first love. So when Joslyn Meyers comes to him for help, Kynan reluctantly agrees to keep her safe from a terrifying stalker who keeps threatening her life.

As the danger they face continues to intensify, Kynan realizes he’ll stop at nothing to protect the woman who turned her back on him all those years ago. Because one thing is certain—no matter how hard he tries to convince himself otherwise, Joslyn still has his heart.

Dance With Me by Kristen Proby (May 7) 

Dance With Me is written by Kristen Proby and is the twelfth, standalone book in her fabulous and beloved With Me In Seattle series, and I feel like that’s probably all I need to say to convince you to read it. But if you do need a little more information to motivate you to 1-click it, it’s a deeply romantic and scorching hot love story between a mega-famous pop star, who has experienced a devastating loss, and an uber-sexy, swoon-worthy cop, who convinces her to believe in happily ever after again. These two will steal your heart and leave you with a huge grin on your face.

Hot to the Touch by Jaci Burton (May 7)

 (Blurb)

Firefighter Jackson Donovan doesn’t look back—as a rule. So when his past comes roaring back to life in the form of not-so-damsel-in-distress Becks Benning, the last thing he wants to do is relive old times. No matter how tempting she makes it seem…

Now thanks to his two interfering brothers, Becks is living with them while she looks for a new place and tries to pick up the pieces of her tattoo business that went up in flames. Which means a grown up, smokin’ hot Becks is in his house, sharing meals, and digging up old wounds. And despite his better judgement, the more time he spends with this smart, artistic, incredible woman the more he wants her in his bed—and his future.

Becks always had it bad for Jackson. Unfortunately for her, not much has changed–he’s still honorable, hard-working, sexy as sin—and closed off. But there’s more than one way to get to a man’s heart and if Jackson doesn’t want to recall old memories, she’ll just have to help him make new ones. Because now that she’s found Jackson again, she’s not letting him go.

That Second Chance by Meghan Quinn (May 7)

I devour everything Meghan Quinn writes, so I did a little happy dance when I got my hands on an early copy of That Second Chance, which is the first book in her new Getting Lucky series. Griffin Knightly and his three brothers are convinced that they were legitimately cursed while on a trip to New Orleans and are now doomed to fail at relationships, and he believes he’s already experienced the devastating effects of the curse. He’s built hefty walls around his heart and sworn off of love, but he feels his defenses start to crumble from the moment he meets Ren. She’s their small town’s newest resident, and she’s instantly drawn to Griffin but finds herself firmly placed in the friend-zone. But with the subtle and humorous help of his siblings, she begins to unravel Griffin’s tightly-wound control and excavate his wounded heart. That Second Chance is brimming with laugh-out-loud humor, steamy love scenes and swoony, heartfelt romance, and I can’t wait for more of the Knightly brothers and the next installment in this series.

Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy (May 7)

(Blurb)

LobsterShorts, 21
Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.


LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.

SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.

LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?

SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?

LobsterShorts: [crickets!]
SinnerThree, 21
Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF. 

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?

LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.

SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries…

LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?

SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.

LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing…
`

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (May 7)

Helan Hoang’s The Bride Test is one of my most-anticipated new releases in 2019, and I am thrilled to say that it lived up to all of my expectations. This utterly unique romance with its engaging, unforgettable characters, lush narrative and thought-provoking, beautiful storyline stole my heart.

Mỹ/Esme is a single, hardworking mom in Vietnam and has a chance meeting with Khai’s mom, who convinces her to come to the United States for the summer in order to make a love connection with Khai and marry him – hopefully, fingers crossed, please. Khai is not happy about his mother’s outrageous matchmaking, but he’ll do about anything for her and reluctantly goes along with the plan, at least to host Esme. He doesn’t believe he will every marry, because he’s convinced that he’s not able to sustain a relationship because he doesn’t have the ability to truly love someone. He’s on the autism spectrum and has struggled to accept that although he may experience his feelings differently, his are just as intense and genuine as everyone else’s.

He and Esme’s awkward meet-cute at the airport ignited my ear-to-ear grin that never wavered until long after I was finished reading The Bride Test. They find compassion and understanding with one another – virtual strangers – and their meeting and developing connection is brimming with kismet. I feel like I was with them on every step of their difficult, transformative and beautiful journey. Hoang writes with tremendous insight and intelligence, and she has a brilliantly deft touch when it comes to on-the-page humor, and The Bride Test is a contemporary romance that truly stands out.

Things We Never Said by Samantha Young (May 7)

(Blurb)

Local metalsmith and gift shop owner, Dahlia McGuire, likes her quiet life in Hartwell, Delaware. It’s the perfect place to hide from her family and the tragic events that led to their estrangement. However, when her father, the person she loves most in the world, needs her Dahlia has no choice but to return to Boston to face her ghosts. One of those happens to be her ex-boyfriend’s best friend, Michael Sullivan. The man she was never supposed to fall in love with.

Michael Sullivan has never forgotten Dahlia McGuire. Some might say he’s never gotten over her. For years he lived with the anger of her desertion, and now, newly-divorced, he’s finally ready to move on. That proves impossible when Dahlia returns to Boston and reawakens their explosive connection. Despite everything, Michael wants her back, but Dahlia can’t seem to let go of the tangled emotions of the past. When she flees home to Hartwell, Michael follows, determined to do everything in his power to convince her they belong together.

However, when the unthinkable hits the quiet seaside town, Michael finds himself trying to unravel more than the mystery of Dahlia’s broken heart. It’s time for truths left unsaid to finally be spoken or Michael and Dahlia might find themselves torn apart forever…

The Lying Hours by Sara Ney (May 9)

Sara Ney’s fifth, standalone installment to the addicting How to Date a Douchebag series is another laugh-out-loud, endearing New Adult sports romance that you don’t want to miss. Abe is the type of person and teammate who is willing to bend over backwards to help his friends out, but his altruistic endeavors backfire on him when he finds himself attracted to Skylar, the woman he’s messaging with while pretending to be his roommate on a dating app. He’s in a quandary of his own making, and the feisty, straightforward Skylar isn’t going to easily let him off the hook. The Lying Hours will have you laughing, sighing and smiling at the hilarious shenanigans, fan-worthy moments and heartfelt interactions in this feel-good romance.

Fix Me Up, Cowboy by Stina Lindenblatt (May 9)

Fix Me Up, Cowboy is the third, standalone book in Stina Lindenblatt’s family-centric Copper Creek series, and it’s an opposites-attract romance that will evoke all the feels. Kate believes she’s in small-town Montana only temporarily in order to deal with her great-aunt’s estate, but she never expects to meet the sexy and charming cowboy, Noah. Neither believe they have much in common but their chemistry sizzles, and they decide to indulge in a casual fling during Kate’s stay. But their steamy relationship gets a lot more complicated when feelings begin to develop, and both of them begin to reevaluate what they want in life and love. You can’t help but cheer for these two endearing opposites, who discover that they complement each other perfectly.

A Cruel Love by S.M. Soto (May 9)

(Blurb)

As a hitman for hire, Percivale is no stranger to violence. 
From the moment he saw Blossom Jaymes through the window of her bakery, he knew he was in too deep. Not only was she as sweet as her perfectly crafted treats, but she was a soft-spoken, golden-haired angel that shone like a bright beacon in his dark world. And Percivale didn’t deal in angels. He dealt in death and crime. The even bigger issue? Percivale’s next hit is on said sweet little baker who doesn’t seem to realize how much danger lurks around her with each passing day. 
If he doesn’t get the job done, who will? 

When Percivale has to decide what’s more important to him—the life of a woman who may very well be innocent or getting his revenge on the men who murdered his family—the lines become blurred. Morals are twisted and a deathly chase ensues that can only result in one thing—Blossom buried six feet under. 

Or can it? 

Can Percivale let his lust for revenge go in order to save Blossom from the bounty on her head, or will the power she unknowingly holds over him be what gets her killed?

Marriage For One by Ella Maise (May 9)

I was absolutely captivated by Marriage For One from the moment that I began reading this gorgeous slow-burn romance. Rose had barely met Jack Hawthorne when he barrels his way into her life and unexpectedly offers to marry her so that she can save her dream to open a coffee shop. She doesn’t understand his motivation to help a near-stranger, especially because Jack is anything but warm and friendly to her, but he explains that he needs someone to help him navigate the social situations required of a successful lawyer. She enters their marriage of convenience with trepidation and soon discovers that her new husband is a very complicated puzzle – one that she desperately wants to solve. He is antisocial, broody, quiet and downright grumpy, but he’s also seriously sexy, quietly supportive, patient and kindhearted. Soon, his cantankerous demeanor and gruff quasi-rebuffs don’t intimidate the quirky, endearing businesswoman. She finds him oddly charming, and as she slowly unravels the mysteries of Jack Hawthorne, she wants to prove that if anyone can melt his stone-cold heart, she can. They slowly and tentatively get to know one another and develop a fragile connection as the sexual tension escalates to fan-yourself-worthy levels. Their emotions leap off the page and their yearning for one another is palpable as they work toward admitting their burgeoning feelings and taking a chance on their fake relationship, and I felt everything along the way and rooted for them with each turn of the page. Marriage For One has an intensely compelling and beautifully romantic storyline with unique, unforgettable characters, and you’ll be thinking about this book long after finishing it.

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