Contemporarily Ever After: Top Picks for the Week of November 3rd

Contemporarily Ever After: Top Picks for the Week of November 3rd
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I can’t believe it’s the first week of November! Where has this year gone? I know that I spent many hours reading fantastic books, and with this week’s amazing new releases, it appears I’ll be reading straight into 2020.

❤ Indicates the books that I have read and recommend.

Between Now and Heartbreak (Forever trilogy #2) by Dylan Allen (Nov. 3). Not a standalone.

(Blurb)

He’s searching for the truth.

I’m living a lie. 

And as much as we want to, 

We can’t stay away from each other. 

Falling for Carter nearly cost me everything. 

To save myself I made a deal with the devil. 

Now, I’ve got a second chance and more to lose than ever.

So when he makes it clear he wants me back, 

I vow not to make the same mistake twice. 

Carter has learned his lesson, too. 

He’s done making promises.

This time, he’s staking his claim.

He already owns a piece of my heart,

But he won’t settle for less than all of me. 

And by the time his seduction is done, I’ll want to give it to him. 

But I made promises I have to keep. 

And the devil I owe has come to collect his due.

Beard Necessities by Penny Reid (Nov. 4) 

Beard Necessities is the sixth and final book in Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series, and it’s a beautiful and deeply satisfying ending to this extraordinary compilation of stories and memorable cast of characters. 

In Beard Necessities, Billy and Scarlet/Claire get their much-deserved and extremely hard-fought happily ever after, and I cannot put into words how heartwarming and emotional it is to witness their reconciliation. They are the epitome of star-crossed soulmates, whose love has been thwarted by time, outside forces and even themselves, and they finally have their moment… with the help of the Winston siblings and their partners. Their yearning for one another is palpable throughout all of the previous books and now, and this final installment of their epic love story is beautifully messy, heart-wrenchingly real and perfectly imperfect. I loved every moment.

While Billy and Scarlet’s romance is the focus of Beard Necessities, the central love story throughout the series concludes — the Winston family’s. The Winstons love fiercely and without reservation, and readers have been on an incredible journey with them as their feelings for one another and their relationships with each other have been tested and reinforced throughout the years. Penny Reid brings authenticity and relatability to their love as they do what families do—make mistakes, both big and small, and celebrate successes, both big and small. I did not anticipate how profoundly I would be affected by their happily ever after. It made saying goodbye all the more difficult, but it also made letting them go a little bit easier. 

Well, I did decide as soon as I finished Beard Necessities that I’d read all the books again but back-to-back this time. I want to wallow in the emotionally sumptuous, charmingly quirky, laugh-out-loud hilarious and utterly unforgettable Winston Brothers series for just a little longer.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (Nov. 5)  

Talia Hibbert knocks it out of the park with the first book in her new The Brown Sisters series. It’s an utterly captivating and thoroughly entertaining enemies-to-lovers romance with unique, endearing characters and an authentic and heartwarming story. Chloe has a near-death experience and decides that she needs to “get a life,” and she makes a to-do list to accomplish her goals. She quickly tackles her first task and moves out of her parent’s house and immediately clashes with her building’s superintendent, Red. They both have reasons to be prickly and guarded, and they seem to drive each other batty. But they call a truce after Red rescues a cat, and he agrees to help Chloe with her list. As they get to know and develop feelings for one another, their verbal sparring begins to heat up with rapidly escalating sexual tension. They both struggle to be vulnerable, and it’s breathtakingly romantic when they drop their defenses and confide in each other. I adore Hibbert’s ability to infuse vibrant humor and raw emotion into a story filled with light-hearted moments, gritty reality and sharp-eyed social observation, and her perceptive, nuanced storytelling is in a league of its own.

Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward (Nov. 5) 

Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward are two of my favorite authors, and their latest collaboration is a swoon-worthy friends-to-lovers romance that packs an emotional punch. Luca and Griffin were childhood pen pals who corresponded for years and cultivated a strong friendship and deep connection. When Luca was seventeen, she survived a traumatic event, and she suddenly stopped writing Griffin without explanation. Now, she suffers with agoraphobia and is working intensely with a counselor to cope with her anxiety. When Griffin suddenly sends her a scathing note eight years later, it shakes Luca to her core and compels her to reply and explain what happened. As these two estranged friends start trading letters and getting to know one another again, it’s obvious they are no longer teenagers. The chemistry burns hotter with each exchange, and they quickly become more than friends. But Luca is struggling to heal, and Griffin has secrets that could stop their romance before it truly begins. You can’t help but root for Luca and Griffin to meet face-to-face and deal with the potential obstacles to their happily ever after, and you’ll be tempted to read this book in one sitting to find out how they do. I couldn’t put it down. Dirty Letters is brimming with sweet, humorous and sexy moments, but what makes it truly memorable and compelling is how Luca’s agoraphobia is presented and integrated into the storyline — with compassion, authenticity and the seriousness it deserves but without pushing the romance aside. You’ll feel absolutely everything while reading Dirty Letters and have a hard time letting this story and these characters go.

Tacker by Sawyer Bennett (Nov. 5)

Tacker is the fifth, standalone book in Sawyer Bennett’s must-read hockey series, Arizona Vengeance, and I’ve anxiously awaited this book since I first met the broody hero, Tacker, in the previous books. He’s a star hockey player who was devastated when the plane that he was flying crashed, and his fiancée died before his eyes. Fifteen months after the accident, he’s spiraling out of control and unable to deal with his guilt and grief. His team orders him to attend counseling to keep his job, and he meets his therapist, Nora, and immediately connects with her. She understands him and makes him comfortable, and he can open up and begin healing. While their chemistry isn’t apparent when they first start working together, it soon becomes apparent that romantic feelings are brewing between them. This is obviously a problem considering their working relationship, and they have to work through some ethical hurdles before embarking on a romance. Tacker is an emotional, heartfelt and moving love story that will probably make you shed a few tears but will also leave you with a big smile on your face. 

The Play Maker by L.M. Carr (Nov. 5)

(Blurb)

Playing football ruled every decision Julian MacIntyre ever made, including leaving his high school sweetheart behind to follow his dream. Sidelined by an injury on the field, he’s now making a huge comeback to the NFL as the league’s youngest head coach.

He wants it all. The glory, the job and the girl he walked away from years ago.

As one of the top sports reporters, Addison Hamilton has made a name for herself in a male-dominated industry. Proven to be a hard-nosed journalist, she asks the tough questions, but when given the opportunity to interview the man who broke her heart, is she willing to cross the lines of professionalism to get the answers she needs?

Oopsie Daisy by Iris Morland (Nov. 5)

(Blurb)

My professor gave me my first D.
Now my next assignment is due…in nine months.

You know when you meet your new professor, and he ends up being the same man you had a one-night stand with three months ago?

Okay, maybe not. Let me explain.

I hadn’t intended to sleep with my professor. I might be known as the impulsive, prankster daughter in my family, but I’m not insane. I just wanted to have some fun in Ireland at my sister’s wedding, and maybe lose my virginity, too.

When I met Lochlann Gallagher at a pub one night, I couldn’t resist him. He was hot, Irish, and entirely set on seducing me. One unforgettable night under the sheets with him, and my V-card went up in smoke.

Well, that night had one itty bitty consequence because Lochlann totally made my eggo preggo.

And if this story isn’t crazy enough, Lochlann is not just my baby daddy: he’s now my professor and my advisor for grad school.

Somehow we have to figure out a way not to reveal this rapidly gestating secret while resisting the explosive attraction between us.

Except there’s just one more complication to this story: I think I’m totally falling for my baby daddy.

Oopsie daisy.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (Nov. 5)

(Blurb) 

The first rule of book club:
You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

The Deception (Filthy Rich Americans #3) by Nikki Sloane (Nov. 5). Not a standalone.

(Blurb) 

I’ve been through hell to get to this place. To wear the perfect white dress and stand beside Royce Hale, the liar I tried desperately not to fall in love with and failed.

Or maybe I’m still trapped in hell because the devil is here too. He lurks at my side, plotting terrible ways to make me his.

It’s win at all costs in this family, and I know now just how far the Hales will go to get what they want.

But you can’t survive in a house full of lies without learning the art of deception, and once I become a Hale, I’ll show them exactly what I’ve mastered.

Crime and Periodicals by Nora Everly (Nov. 5)

 (Blurb) 

In Green Valley, Tennessee everybody knows everybody, but nobody knows Sabrina Logan.

Sabrina has been hiding in plain sight for years. Living her life inside of books, dutifully helping her family, and hoping no one will notice her. So far? Mission accomplished!

Yet when sexy—and distrustful—sheriff, Wyatt Monroe returns to town with his daughters, he definitely notices the quiet librarian everyone else overlooks. The single dad can’t seem to shake thoughts of shy Sabrina. Without quite understanding the impulse, Wyatt makes his mission finding her again, so he can . . . well, he’ll just have to reckon with that later.

What Wyatt discovers is a woman who trusts too easily, but who’s afraid to live. Trust doesn’t come easily to Wyatt. But living? That’s never been a problem.

And he’d sure like to show her how.

Prose Before Bros (Green Valley Library #3) by Cathy Yardley (Nov. 5) 

(Blurb)

Nothing about being a librarian prepared Thuy Nguyen for such a wide variety of casseroles. Or life in a small town. Or becoming a farmer.

But what can she do when her catastrophe-prone best friend begs her for help? After all, Maddy has always been there for Thuy. It’s time to return the favor.

It’s simple really, all she has to do is: learn everything about farming ASAP, save her BBF’s family business from disaster, and avoid being caught staring at Maddy’s biker brother, and his muscles, and his smile, and his soulful, sexy eyes.

Oh yeah, and she should definitely not fall in love with him.

Easy, right? . . . Right.

Stealing Her by Rachel Van Dyken (Nov. 5)

(Blurb)

My estranged twin brother, Julian, was always the wonder boy—and was groomed to become CEO of our ruthless father’s corporation. My mother and me? Left behind. Now, years after tearing our family apart, my father dares to ask me for a favor? Pretend to be Julian while he fights to survive a tragic accident. It can save the company. Nobody will be the wiser. It’ll be our secret.

I can play Dad’s favorite. I’ll do it for Julian. And for my mother, who’ll want for nothing.

But this double life comes with a beauty of a hitch: my very real feelings for Julian’s fiancée, Isobel. Not only am I betraying Julian, I’m deceiving a woman I love. She doesn’t suspect a thing. As lies compound, lines are crossed and loyalties tested, all I can ask myself is…What have I done?

Because sooner or later something’s got to give. There’s no way I’m giving up Isobel. But once the truth is exposed, it might not be my choice at all.

The Husband Checklist by Jasmin Miller (Nov. 7)

(Blurb) 

There are moments when you think life is going one way and a major curveball sends you the complete opposite direction. That’s me, standing in the rain, wondering how things went so terribly wrong. 

What do I need? To hide at my brother’s house to lick my wounds.

What do I get? My brother’s roommate, sexy-as-sin best friend, Carter Kennedy.

The cute, adventurous boy who was my teenage crush. The inspiring, irresistible man who will never be mine. 

But then things get complicated with fun-filled days and pleasure-filled nights. 

If Carter wasn’t the most commitment-phobic person I know, I could consider the cliché of dating my brother’s best friend. But he will never fit the husband checklist I made to find the man who will be my world, and I’m not willing to compromise on that. 

At least, that’s the plan.

The Billionaire’s Forbidden Little Sister by Max Monroe (Nov. 7)

(Blurb)

Theo Cruz, a New York man known for his family’s billion-dollar empire, Cruz Enterprises, has been indicted this afternoon in the Court of Public Opinion on charges of Bro-Code Conspiracy.

Chief counsel for the prosecution, Caplin Hawkins, spoke candidly about the accusation.

“Once thought of as a best friend to many—including myself—Theo Cruz has officially turned his back on human decency. He’s conniving and dishonest, and a habitual offender of Bro-Code Law 676. He’ll rue the day he forgot that you never—under any circumstances—get involved with your best friend’s little sister.” 

Fact: I haven’t actually been arrested or indicted.
More important fact: I inadvertently messed up—big-time.

Two strangers in a foreign country, we said hello.
Hello turned into a kiss.
A kiss turned into a rendezvous.
And a rendezvous turned into more than I’d ever imagined.

But her unruly golden curls and beautiful body hid an important detail—She’s my mouthiest billionaire best friend’s forbidden little sister.

Fact: I knew not of my crimes.
More important fact: I know now, but even though I know I’m playing with fire, there’s no way I’m stopping. I can’t leave her alone.

Question: What do you do when you fall for your best friend’s little sister?
More important question: How long can you keep it a secret before it all goes up in flames? 

The Boss Who Stole Christmas by Jana Aston (Nov. 7) 

Nothing makes me happier than a new romantic comedy from Jana Aston, and I was practically levitating when The Boss Who Stole Christmas landed on my eReader. Not only does it have the laugh-out-loud humor, scorching-hot sexy times, sigh-worthy romance and captivating banter that I expect from Aston, but it’s also overflowing with feel-good Christmassy schmaltz. It’s the first of three standalone books in the holiday-inspired Reindeer Falls series and they’re all releasing in November. Does it get any better than this? I think not.

Holly is passionate about all things Christmas and her job at a toy company, so she she’s not happy that her new boss, Nick, acts like both the Grinch and Scrooge. He doesn’t seem to care for her either, so when he forces her to go on a business trip with him, she’s sure that she’ll be miserable. But the trip’s romantic small-town setting and rapidly approaching holidays could reveal that sizzling chemistry and romantic feelings are simmering underneath their cantankerous dynamic. I loved every hilarious, entertaining and romantic holiday moment of The Boss Who Stole Christmas, and I can’t wait for the next book, If You Give a Jerk a Gingerbread, which releases November 14th.

Leave Me Breathless by Jodi Ellen Malpas (Nov. 5) 

Jodi Ellen Malpas’s Leave Me Breathless took me by surprise in the best way possible. It’s a little different than her other books with its rural village setting and heavy dose of intrigue and suspense, but it also features one of her signature swoon-worthy heroes and sassy, resilient heroines, so it still feels like a JEM romance. Ryan is a single dad and ex-military, and he has just retired from personal security and moved to the small town where he grew up. Hannah recently moved there and opened an art store, and their attraction is immediate and intense from the moment they literally crash into each other. She seems skittish about getting involved and evasive about her past, but Ryan is gobsmacked by her and wants to unravel her secrets. But the truth could put them both in danger when Hannah’s past comes back to haunt her. I absolutely adore Ryan — he’s sexy, sweet, funny and patient while still being a strong alpha-male. They make an endearing couple, and I found their romance entertaining, fast-paced and utterly sigh-worthy.

Crazy for Loving You by Pippa Grant (Nov. 8)

The fourth and final standalone book in the Bluewater Billionaires, Crazy for Loving You, is another hilarious and sexy romance with a heroine and hero you’ll adore. Daisy works hard and plays hard, so she’s not excited or prepared when she co-inherits a baby. She’s never even met her co-parent, West, but she’s extremely attracted to the broody retired Marine when she does. They’re opposites in almost every way, but as they get to know one another and learn to parent together, they discover that their differences make them perfect for one another. With its nonstop shenanigans, fan-yourself-worthy interludes, endearing characters and heartwarming storyline, there’s nothing not to love about Crazy for Loving You

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