Monday, December 19, 2011

Top Five Contemporary Romances of 2011

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the doom and gloom of Urban Fantasy and cleanse your reading palate with something a little lighter, and contemporary romances are my favorite way to do just that. Here are five that I read this year that I find myself re-reading again and again.
Kristan Higgins Until There Was You
Who doesn’t like a bad boy and a reunion romance? This list has a couple of bad boy heroes, and Liam Murphy fits the bill perfectly. He builds motorcycles, wears lots of black leather, and sometimes doesn’t shave for days, giving him a swoon-worthy scruffy look. It’s no surprise that tiny Posey Osterhagen lost her heart to him when she was a teen, and now that he’s a widower and back in town with his teenage daughter, Posey tries to steer clear of him, to no avail. Liam will steal your heart when he sends his daughter off to prom, and Posey is a funny, eccentric heroine. The John Hughes ending makes the book all the more satisfying. Read my review here.
Susan Andersen Playing Dirty (Sisterhood Diaries #3)
This was the first book I read by Susan Andersen, and it’s a winner. You can pick it up without having to have read any of the prior books in the series, but they’re lots of fun as well, so I highly recommend you check out the entire series. This book focuses on Ava Spencer, a full-figured heroine who had a humiliating experience with documentary maker Cade Gallari back in high school. He slept with the free-spirited “fat girl” to win a bet and let everyone know about it. Ava manages to get her own then and now, and watching Cade lose it over the stunning Ava is so much fun.

Susan Mallery Only Mine (Fools Gold #4)
I think it’s a safe bet that you’ll love any of Ms. Mallery’s Fool’s Gold books, but I was long awaiting the beginning of the Hendrix triplets’ trilogy, and the first book featuring Dakota Hendrix is a winner. Ever since a grad student wrote about the man shortage in Fool’s Gold for her thesis, men and the media have been descending upon the town in droves. A reality tv show (think The Bachelor) has set up in town, and Dakota’s been asked to coordinate with the show to keep the craziness to a minimum. When Alaskan pilot Finn Anderssen shows up and demands that she prevent his 21 year old twin brothers from participating in the show, Dakota has to tell him that she has little control over the producers’ choices. Ms. Mallery’s books are always winners, and the romance between Finn and Dakota is sizzling and heartwarming.

Shannon Stacey Yours to Keep (Kowalski Family #3)
This ebook release was so popular that it’s coming out in 2012 in mass market paperback, which is great for those of you without ereaders. This book had me in stitches, because the Kowalski family is not above interfering in each others’ lives. Sean Kowalski has just returned from the Army and is not sure what he wants to do with his life. Little does he know that local Emma Shaw has been telling her grandmother that he’s her fiancé. When Sean returns to town just before Emma’s grandmother comes to visit, Emma’s in a panic and begs him to pose as her fiancé, with hilarious results. You can read this book on its own without any problems, but you’ll want to check out the others in the series as well. Read my review of Yours to Keep here.

Carly Phillips Serendipity (Serendipity #1)
Carly Phillips was another new-to-me author, and I picked up Serendipity at the bookstore after seeing several reviews of the book online. I wasn’t sure how likeable the heroine would be, since she’s a former rich girl whose father bilked thousands out of their money in a ponzi scheme, but Faith Harrington is delightful. She returns to her hometown of Serendipity after her husband divorces her because of the scandal surrounding her father. You’ll really enjoy watching her find her way in a town that’s not disposed to view her favorably. When she and former bad boy (yay for bad boys!) Ethan Barron meet up again, sparks fly. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, and if you want a small sample to tide you over until that book comes out, Ms. Phillips just released a novella, Kismet, set in the same town.

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