Contemporary stories are the stars of this fall’s romance lineup. Established authors and newcomers are livening up the genre with humor and drama while staying true to its promise of love stories that click with modern readers.
Stephanie Haefner bursts onto the scene with the hilarious Try Me On for Size, in which a lingerie shop owner is struck by a moment of marketing genius: find a hot guy to be the spokesperson for the business, and sell sex toys modeled on his anatomy. Naturally, she has to personally audition men for the job—but she doesn’t expect to fall in love with one of them.
Australian author Rachael Johns debuts in the U.S. with Jilted, a sweet story set in tiny Hope Junction in Western Australia. The rumor mill is abuzz when soap opera star Ellie Hughes comes home 10 years after dumping the town’s favorite son, Flynn Quartermaine, at the altar. Amid gossip and family secrets, Ellie and Flynn find ways to reconnect.
Fantasy author M.J. Scott, also from Australia, turns to romance (writing as Melanie Scott) with The Devil in Denim, the first of three books about three friends who band together to save their favorite baseball team. When financier Alex Winters bids for team ownership, he runs afoul of Maggie Jameson, daughter of the team’s current owner, who always expected to run the show someday. Sparks and curve balls fly.
Grace Burrowes, a star of the historical romance scene, makes her first foray into contemporaries with A Single Kiss. Her first heroine, a single mom who grew up in foster care, would much rather work in corporate law than ever handle a family law case. But the only job available is with a small family law firm—and comes complete with a very attractive boss who’s a single dad. The novel launches a series about the foster care system that draws on Burrowes’s own background as a family law attorney.
Business and pleasure also mix in It’s in His Kiss, the newest Lucky Harbor book from contemporary romance darling Jill Shalvis. New readers and series fans will be equally enthralled as a down-on-her-luck concert pianist takes a temporary job with a charter boat company and falls hard for her new employer. This witty, sensual installment begins the final trilogy set in Lucky Harbor.
Christmas romances will hit the shelves in October, with plenty of kisses under the mistletoe. Top African-American contemporary authors Donna Hill, Zuri Day, and Cheris Hodges have a gift for wintertime romance fans who enjoy shorter stories: The One That I Want, a Christmas-themed romance anthology. Those who prefer longer books should keep an eye out for Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Heroes Are My Weakness, a hilarious story with plenty of emotional depth, in which a puppeteer is snowbound with a reclusive horror writer.
Looking for something a little racier? Librarians shake off their dowdy stereotypes in The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, edited by Rose Caraway, who runs the popular Sexy Librarian blog and podcast.
Readers who prefer paranormals will be excited to see a new series from longtime bestseller Ilona Andrews: Burn for Me launches the Hidden Legacy books with the case of a PI assigned to track down a man with the magical ability to set anything on fire. And historical romance fans will be swept away by Sherry Thomas’s My Beautiful Enemy, a novel of espionage, danger, betrayal, and love in Regency England. But if those readers are in the mood for something new, this fall is the time to try a story with a contemporary setting. No ball gowns, no battles—just love.
PW’s Top 10: Romance & Erotica
Burn for Me. Ilona Andrews. Avon, Oct. 28
The Devil in Denim. Melanie Scott. St. Martin’s Paperbacks, Aug. 26
Heroes Are My Weakness. Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Morrow, Aug. 26
It’s In His Kiss. Jill Shalvis. Grand Central/Forever, Aug. 26
Jilted. Rachael Johns. HQN, Sept. 30
My Beautiful Enemy. Sherry Thomas. Berkley, Aug. 5
The One That I Want. Donna Hill, Zuri Day, and Cheris Hodges. Kensington/Dafina, Oct. 7
The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica. Edited by Rose Caraway. Cleis, Nov. 11
A Single Kiss. Grace Burrowes. Sourcebooks Casablanca, Jan. 1
Try Me On for Size. Stephanie Haefner. Pocket Star, Aug. 11
Romance & Erotica Listings
After the Rain by Renee Carlino (Nov. 11, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-4767-6399-6). From the bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere but Here comes a deeply emotional contemporary romance about the second chances waiting beyond the shattered dreams of youth.
Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover (Aug. 5, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-4767-5318-8) is a heartwrenching love story about good intentions and broken promises.
Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews (Oct. 28, paper, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-06-228923-0) kicks off the new Hidden Legacy series. PI Nevada Baylor has just taken on the hardest case in her life, and she’s being relentlessly pursued by a devastatingly powerful billionaire known as “Mad Rogan.” 150,000-copy announced first printing.
Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks (Oct. 7, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-0-06-231246-4). A woman risks her life and her heart to find a wealthy man’s missing sister in the first novel of a sexy new romantic suspense series. 200,000-copy announced first printing.
Owning Violet by Monica Murphy (Dec. 2, paper, $14, ISBN 978-0-553-39326-2) launches a sexy contemporary trilogy in this tale of passion and revenge.
My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas (Aug. 5, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-26889-6). From the award-winning author of Tempting the Bride comes a thrilling and suspenseful new romance.
Shelter Me by Catherine Mann (Aug. 5, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-26988-6) starts a series set in a Tennessee animal rescue shelter.
The Accidental Abduction by Darcie Wilde (Sept. 2, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-26556-7) is a hot Regency romance in which a headlong flight across London to stop an elopement leads to a hasty wedding between strangers.
Caged in Winter by Brighton Walsh (Nov. 4, paper, $14, ISBN 978-0-425-27648-8). In this emotional and sexy new adult debut, the only thing more frightening than commitment is hope.
Spice by Seressia Glass (Nov. 4, paper, $15, ISBN 978-0-425-27509-2). Nadia Spiceland, a baker, works in the business of temptation. But one customer is interested in more than just her delectable sticky buns.
Criminal Gold by Ann Aptaker (Nov. 18, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-62639-216-8). Through a dangerous night in New York in 1949, Cantor Gold, dapper dyke-about-town and smuggler of fine art, is forced by a crime lord to be his instrument of vengeance.
Stick McLaughlin: The Prohibition Years by CF Frizzell (Oct. 14, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-62639-205-2). Corruption in 1918 cost Stick her lover, her freedom, and her identity, but a very special flapper and the family bond of her own gang could help win them back—even if it means outwitting the Boston mob.
Taken by Storm by Kim Baldwin (Sept. 16, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-62639-189-5). Lives depend on two women when a train derails high in the remote Alps, but an unforgiving mountain stands between them and safety.
Men of the Manor: Erotic Encounters Between Upstairs Lords and Downstairs Lads, edited by Rob Rosen (Sept. 9, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-62778-066-7) gathers the hottest stories of romance and sex between wealthy aristocrats and hard-working estate staff, all with a pre-WWI backdrop.
The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica, edited by Rose Caraway (Nov. 11, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-62778-065-0). This voracious volume is simply bursting at the binding with amorous archives and bibliophilic bliss.
Hungry for More: Romantic Fantasies for Women, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Dec. 16, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-940550-04-6). Love and sexual fantasy have always been intimately intertwined, and this collection of steamy stories shows just how well they can come together.
Three of Hearts: Erotic Romance for Women, edited by Kristina Wright (Oct. 14, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-940550-03-9). Three’s company? No, three’s a charm! In these sexy stories, threesomes are not just falling into bed—they’re falling in love.
Cover Him with Darkness by Janine Ashbless (Oct. 14, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-940550-01-5). In a remote part of Europe, a priest keeps a dark secret beneath his chapel: an imprisoned angel. The priest’s daughter is determined to free him even though she risks her family, her life, and her soul.
Memory Zero by Keri Arthur (Aug. 26, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-440-24658-9). Shape-shifters and vampires complicate a woman’s search for clues to the mystery of her childhood.
Illusion by J.S. Cooper (Oct. 21, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-4767-9098-5). Indie sensation Cooper introduces the Swept Away series with this dark and sexy romance about a woman marooned on a desert island with a mysterious stranger.
One Night: Promised by Jodi Ellen Malpas (Aug. 5, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-4555-5931-2). All he wants is one night to worship her. No feelings, no commitment, nothing but pleasure. But she senses that behind the fast cars, fancy suits, and posh apartment, he’s aching inside.
Unleashed by Rachel Lacey (Oct. 28, paper, $6, ISBN 978-1-4555-8209-9). Matt Dumont doesn’t need his skills as a private investigator to know that dog fosterer Cara Medlen is perfect for him—but the timing makes romance impossible. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
It’s in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis (Aug. 26, paper, $8, ISBN 978-1-4555-2952-0). The final trilogy set in Lucky Harbor begins with this smart and funny romance that combines witty repartee, believable characters, and highly sensual love scenes. 150,000-copy announced first printing.
The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane (Aug. 26, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-373-77934-5). Even after years of the rock and roll lifestyle, Paddy Hurley never forgot the two wickedly hot weeks he once shared with smalltown librarian Natalie Clayton. Now he wants more.
Return to Glory by Sara Arden (Aug. 26, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-373-77930-7). In Glory, Kans., the best baker in three counties helps a wounded hero forge a forever kind of love.
Shattered Secrets by Karen Harper (Aug. 26, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7783-1647-3). A former abductee and a sheriff come together to solve the case of a missing child.
Snow Angel Cove by Raeanne Thayne (Oct. 28, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-373-77907-9). Thayne spins off a new contemporary series from her Hope’s Crossing books.
The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost (Aug. 26, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-373-77905-5). Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. When her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers that the hallucinations are real. And the one person who believes her is bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.
Jilted by Rachael Johns (Sept. 30, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-373-77936-9). First published in Australia in 2012, this sweet smalltown story reunites a soap opera star with the man she left at the altar.
No Limits by Lori Foster (Aug. 26, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-373-77904-8). Cannon Colter rescued Yvette Sweeny from kidnappers, only to put an end to her romantic dreams. Now she’s older, smarter, determined to face whatever life throws her way—even the prospect of sharing a house and business with Cannon.
The Highlander Next Door by Janet Chapman (Aug. 26, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-515-15322-4). The New York Times–bestselling author combines her Highlander and Spellbound Falls series in a new supernatural romance.
Scratch by Rhonda Helms (Sept. 30, paper, $9.95, ISBN 978-1-61773-120-4). Helms’s new adult debut is a contemporary romance between an emotionally and physically scarred young woman and the attractive classmate who breaks through the walls she’s built.
Close to Home by Lisa Jackson (Aug. 26, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0-7582-5859-5). In this intense romantic thriller, a single mother seeks refuge in the house of her childhood dreams, only to plunge her family into a living nightmare.
The One That I Want by Donna Hill, Zuri Day, and Cheris Hodges (Oct. 7, paper, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-7582-7514-1). Three of the hottest names in African-American contemporary romance team up to deliver a holiday-themed romance anthology that will warm up the winter nights.
Celine by Kathleen Bittner Roth (Oct. 7, paper, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-4201-3528-2) gives the Old South a romantic aura reminiscent of Gone wth the Wind, with a dashing hero and feisty, independent heroine worthy of Rhett and Scarlett.
Cover Your Eyes by Mary Burton (Nov. 4, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4201-3211-3). Public defender Rachel Wainwright is struggling to reopen a decades-old case, convinced that the wrong man is in prison. Homicide detective Deke Morgan doesn’t want to agree, but he finds Rachel and her research hard to resist.
No Christmas Like the Present by Sierra Donovan (Oct. 7, paper, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-4201-3420-9). This sweet holiday romp combines contemporary romance with a hint of magic and a taste of A Christmas Carol.
Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Aug. 26, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0-06-210607-0). He’s a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She’s a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids’ puppet shows. When they’re snowbound together, will their old love rekindle? 200,000-copy announced first printing.
The Flowers of the Field by Sarah Harrison (Oct. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-4091-2875-5) is a moving novel of the devastating changes that WWI brings to a vulnerable family.
Change of Heart by Jude Deveraux (Oct. 21, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4767-7972-0). Two childhood playmates grow into more than just friends in Deveraux’s full-length romantic novel based on her short story of the same name.
The Prince Who Loved Me by Karen Hawkins (Sept. 23, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4516-8524-4). A bookworm charms a prince in this Cinderella story set in Scotland.
A Family for Maddie by Sara Luck (Dec. 30, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4767-5378-2). A young woman on the Montana frontier finds love in the arms of an ambitious trader.
Try Me On for Size by Stephanie Haefner (Aug. 11, e-book, $4.99, ISBN 978-1-4767-6556-3) is a sexy, laugh-out-loud love story about a woman trying to save her failing lingerie business with a new product: sex toys modeled on a handsome man. When she falls for the first model she meets, can she prove she’s his perfect fit?
The Mammoth Book of Gaslit Romance, edited by Ekaterina Sedia (Nov. 11, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-7624-5467-9) is a magical collection of stories of love and intrigue based in the Victorian era, including some noir and fantasy.
The Awakening by Allen Johnson (Oct. 7, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-63158-009-3). Diego survived the bloody Spanish Civil War only at great cost. His granddaughter is the town’s physician. Together they breathe new life into a mysterious American stranger who can only remember his suppressed past through the guiding grace of love.
Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures by Lillian Marek (Nov. 4, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-0220-0). Harry DeVaux loves Lady Elinor Tremaine, but is convinced that his past makes him unworthy of her. He agrees to accompany the Tremaine family to Italy to explore Etruscan ruins, even if it chips away at his resolve to stay away from the delightful woman he loves.
The Truth About Leo by Katie MacAlister (Aug. 5, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4022-9445-7). In MacAlister’s first new Regency romance in 10 years, an impoverished Danish princess marries a half-conscious Englishman. Hilarity naturally ensues.
The Rake’s Handbook, Including Field Guide by Sally Orr (Nov. 4, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-0211-8). Scandal surrounds Ross Thornbury, the infamous author of The Rake’s Handbook, a gentleman’s guide to society brides. To clear the air, Ross decides to get married. When Elinor Colton, the widow next door, refuses his proposal, Ross tries seductive words from his handbook to change her mind.
My Highland Spy by Victoria Roberts (Sept. 2, paper, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-4022-9200-2). Lady Ravenna Walsingham is sent to the Highlands to uncover a plot against the king. Playing the part of a governess, she infiltrates the home of Laird Ruairi Sutherland. But Ravenna soon discovers that the only threat Sutherland poses is to her heart.
Slow Hand by Victoria Vane (Nov. 4, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-0112-8). Wade Knowlton is a workaholic close to leaving his struggling Montana law firm in the dust. Nicole is a Southern belle with a hankering for cowboys. Will they discover that love can lead to greener pastures?
A Single Kiss by Grace Burrowes (Jan. 1, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4022-7890-7). Two single parents find love in the first contemporary from Regency romance star Burrowes.
Texas Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday (Jan. 1, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-0281-1). Rancher Cooper Thorne thinks his life is finally on an even keel. But when mail-order bride Delta Dandridge steps off the stagecoach and claims he sent for her, he scrambles to set her straight. The tempestuous woman makes him see red and also challenges all his vows to remain a bachelor.
Tregaron’s Daughter by Madeleine Brent (Sept. 1, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-285-64219-5). This impressive 1971 debut by the pseudonymous Brent (adventure writer Peter O’Donnell), a mystical romance set in early-20th-century Cornwall, gets a makeover for a new generation of romance readers.
St. Martin’s Griffin
Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven (Jan. 6, paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-250-06327-4). This new adult romance follows two young actors who get a second chance at once-in-a-lifetime love.
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Mine To Take by Jackie Ashenden (Nov. 25, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-250-05176-9). Gabriel Woolf has sworn vengeance against his father—but then he meets his stepsister and sparks fly. Can romance and family entanglements outweigh the lust for revenge?
Break Out by Nina Croft (Sept. 30, paper, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-250-05809-6). Vampire Ricardo Sanchez is 2,000 years old and lives for no one but himself—until he meets his match in the form of a gorgeous, mysterious woman.
Irresistible Force by D.D. Ayres (Aug. 26, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-250-04217-0). Shay Appleton, fleeing her abusive ex, adopts Bogart, a stray who turns out to be a K-9 police dog. His human partner, James Cannon, wants Bogart out of Shay’s house and back on the force, but how can he leave Shay in peril?
The Devil in Denim by Melanie Scott (Aug. 26, paper, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-250-04042-8). Scott does a fine job of balancing sports and passion in this contemporary debut, in which a businessman buys a baseball team and must work with the strong-willed daughter of the former owner.
The Future for Curious People: A Novel by Gregory Sherl (Sept. 2, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-61620-369-6). Set in a time when it’s possible to see glimpses of your romantic future, this quirky debut novel is about finding happiness and accepting our fleeting existence.