Contemporary Reads for June, Part 2!


June is full of great contemporary romance reads! Here are a few more of our favorites from this month. 

Conventionally Yours  by Annabeth Albert 

Charming, charismatic, and effortlessly popular, Conrad Stewart seems to have it all…but in reality, he’s scrambling to keep his life from tumbling out of control.

Brilliant, guarded, and endlessly driven, Alden Roth may as well be the poster boy for perfection…but even he can’t help but feel a little broken inside.

When these mortal enemies are stuck together on a cross-country road trip to the biggest fan convention of their lives, their infamous rivalry takes a backseat as an unexpected connection is forged. Yet each has a reason why they have to win the upcoming Odyssey gaming tournament and neither is willing to let emotion get in the way―even if it means giving up their one chance at something truly magical.

Hello! a romance set at a con, Count me in!  They say love is a thin line between love and hate and Alden and Conrad are firmly set in their respected gamer factions. All it took was a fated road trip to the biggest con of their gamer lives and a competitive streak that pulled them together. This is a sweet novel that pulls at your heartstrings and I also really enjoyed the gaming aspect.  

Head over Heels by Hannah Orenstein 

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine. 

This story is ripped right out of the headlines, dealing with the aftermath of Larry Nassar and doesn’t shy away from the tough subject. I really liked that the point of view is from a gymnast who is retired, forced or not. This is a story of redemption and there’s plenty of character growth here from our heroine. As she mentors new, younger gymnasts she has to come face to face with what she hated from the sport but never wanted to acknowledge. Avery needed multiple new beginnings to find her footing and what really shines is her ability to grow from each experience. As she fosters the growth of her promising young gymnast, she also grapples with her own “non-growth” and how she needs to move forward. It’s also eerie to read about the 2020 Olympics, knowing what we know now and is addressed by the author. Through all this there’s also a slow burn of romance that will make you swoon. 

The Player Next Door by K.A Tucker

Scarlet Reed has returned to Polson Falls, convinced that twelve years away is long enough to shed her humiliating childhood identity as the town harlot’s daughter. With a teaching job secured and an adorable fixer-upper to call home, things in her life are finally looking up.

That is, until she finds out that Shane Beckett lives next door.

Shane Beckett, the handsome and charismatic high school star quarterback who smashed her heart. The lying, cheating player who was supposed to be long gone, living the pro football dream and fooling women into thinking he’s Prince Charming. Shane Beckett, who is as attractive as ever and flashing his dimples at her as if he has done no wrong.

Scarlet makes it abundantly clear that old wounds have not been forgotten. Neighbors they may be, but friends they most certainly are not. She won’t allow herself to fall for the single father and firefighter again, no matter how many apologies he offers, how many times he rushes to her aid, or how hard he makes her heart pound.

But as she spends more time with him, she begins to fear that maybe she’s wrong. Maybe Shane has changed.

And maybe this time she’s the one playing herself—out of a chance at true happiness.

This was the perfect second chance romance that showcases how communication in a romance DOESN’T need to be a plot point nor a blockage in the relationship. Scarlet and Shane have a few bumps in the road but then they really talk, maybe even a little too much. Scarlet moves back into town, a place she NEVER thought she would return to. As you learn more about the history with her mother, and even the present, you very much realize why.  It doesn’t spend a lot of time on flashbacks, there’s plenty of things in the now that will have you gasping. It has crazy chemistry between the two characters and plenty of side characters that I would love to see have an HEA. I wish there was more! 

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert 

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom. 

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse? 

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs. 

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

What else could you want from a hero that’s both brawn and intelligent AND also reads romance novels. This book will have you smiling from ear to ear and is the perfect pick me up from covid blues. Continuing her series with another quirky heroine, Dani was first introduced in Get a Life Chloe Brown, as the realist sister of Chloe. This is another slow burn of a romance, that builds its relationships with the help of adorable side characters. The Brown sisters don’t make romance easy but, it’s a fun journey. 

All The Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani

From the moment Carli and Rex first locked eyes on a Texas high school basketball court, they both knew it was destiny. But can you truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself? Acclaimed author Liara Tamani’s luminous second novel explores love, family, heartbreak, betrayal, and the power of healing, in gorgeous prose that will appeal to readers of Nicola Yoon and Jacqueline Woodson.

A glance was all it took. That kind of connection, the immediate and raw understanding of another person, just doesn’t come along very often. And as rising stars on their Texas high schools’ respective basketball teams, destined for bright futures in college and beyond, it seems like a match made in heaven. But Carli and Rex have secrets. As do their families.

Liara Tamani, the author of the acclaimed Calling My Name, follows two Black teenagers as they discover how first love, heartbreak, betrayal, and family can shape you—for better or for worse. A novel full of pain, joy, healing, and hope for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jenny Han.

An immediate connection felt by our MC’s paves the way for discoveries that make this book so heartfelt. It’s a sweet coming of age romance (think Love and Basketball with some Romeo and Juliet). It’s not only about our two main characters but about their families. These characters leap out of the pages and as they grapple with their family drama, they’ll learn love isn’t always easy but it’s the best reward. 

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory 

Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe’s mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can’t resist–it is chocolate cake, after all.

Olivia is surprised to find that Max is sweet, funny, and noble–not just some privileged white politician she assumed him to be. Because of Max’s high-profile job, they start seeing each other secretly, which leads to clandestine dates and silly disguises. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny means people are now digging up her rocky past and criticizing her job, even her suitability as a trophy girlfriend. Olivia knows what she has with Max is something special, but is it strong enough to survive the heat of the spotlight?

Opposites attract in this sizzling romance filled with scandal, heat and plenty of chocolate cake. I love a good celebrity romance, the drama of navigating the ins and outs of a public high profile relationship isn’t easy and this story highlights how hard it can be, even in the political sphere. Olivia and Max have a great connection and amazing chemistry but, is making the tabloid headlines worth it?  This tackles some important social and political issues as well, while still keeping it entertaining and compelling from start to finish. Max showing up with that amount of cakes and pies for Olivia is what really sold me, who doesn’t love romance with a slice of pie?  

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