Best Romance Books Recently Reviewed
Each day, subscribers to Hidden Gems are sent the opportunity to review hundreds of complimentary books spanning more than 15 different genres – and have become well-known for the honest reviews they choose to leave. A continuing feature on this blog is a periodic highlight of some true ‘Hidden Gems’ our subscribers discovered, and why you might want to check them out yourself. Keep checking back for the latest lists, categorized by genre, and learn about some of the best books that we’ve sent out. Or, join our list of readers and help discover future gems yourself!
It’s always the season for romance – but as the winters cool down, more and more people like to warm up with a nice steamy read! In September, Hidden Gems subscribers received the opportunity to read and review a plethora of the best romance books around – and we picked ten from the list which our readers especially loved.
Cyclone by Janie Crouch
One of the cornerstones of an addictive romance is to put two broken people together and watch how love heals them. In the case of Cyclone, hero Zac and heroine Anne have an added complication – widower Zac was the reason Anne fled their small town in the first place. Yet, after getting thrown together once again, author Janie Crouch weaves a beautiful tale in which redemption is as important a theme as romance.
Reviewer Kate Estevez really loved the leading man, and in her review wrote: “The thing I loved about this book is how Zac is a good guy, and he seriously wants to fix whatever happened with him and Anne. I love that he’s not afraid of it, that he doesn’t want to leave it unaddressed. Throughout the whole book he’s patient and kind and sweet. He never tries to force her into anything, he’s never overly pushy, he just wants to be around her in whatever way she is okay with. He really is a great hero in this book.”
The Facilitator by Tracie Podger
Don’t be fooled into thinking Tracie Podger’s novel is in the same mold as Fifty Shades of Grey. While the focus of this BDSM romance is a handsome, successful man awakening the sexuality of a lonely divorcee, our hero MacKenzie empowers the women he loves in almost the exact opposite way in which Christian Grey breaks his down – making this London set novel a darkly sexy but ultimately uplifting read.
“The story is a panty-melting read,” reviewer Ann Meemken writers. “Mackenzie leads Lauren on a wonderful journey of self discovery and in turn he learns a few things as well.”
Reviewer MareeTS describes it as: “A sexy adult story with fabulous character development of both Mackenzie and Lauren. Tracie Podger has excelled with this book.”
The Return Home by Jen Talty
The idea of a deeply wounded hero finding hope and redemption in the arms of his true love isn’t exactly new to the romance genre, but in The Return Home author Jen Talty somehow manages to add a lot of contemporary relevance to the theme by exploring the issue of post-combat PTSD – which many people can relate to. While this is the forth book in Talty’s Aegis Network series, it’s a stand-alone and many readers felt it stands apart from the others.
Reviewer dmchtx72 writes: “Out of all the books in the series, this one is probably the most impactful of them all. This one delves into territory a lot of us shy away from in our own ways. Bottled up emotions and feelings that over time can do more harm to us and those we love and cause permanent damage in unimaginable ways. This story shared a brief look into the mind of a soul so tortured and closed off and the emotional war he struggled with to find balance, safety, forgiveness and ultimately love. Dylan’s story is truly an emotional battlefield rather than a suspenseful read with a mean villain, but one that is a page-turner just the same. The tension, anxiety, pain and emotional baggage were there, on every page, but the story also held a good balance of family fun and banter and silly outtakes with the children to give it a lighter touch as well. It was a gut-wrenching emotional ride with touching moments, lots of smiles and full of family love and support. Talty does a wonderful job with these characters and immersing us in Dylan’s struggles as he tries to find his way home. Great addition to the series.”
An I.O.U. from a Billionaire by Olivia B. Dannon
A nurse and a billionaire collide in the first of Olivia B. Dannon’s Bargaining with Billionaires series, and the result is a cute and heartwarming romance that has surprised many readers by bucking the more traditional tropes of the billionaire genre.
“This is not a Cinderella type romance at all,” writes reviewer BookAddict. “Joan, the female protagonist has fire and spunk making her a woman I could respect. Liam had me swooning and wanting to smack him at times. This book really is a must read!”
“Her two characters each have their own share of the story line with a several twists thrown in to keep you laughing in surprise,” agrees reviewer Bahama M. “It has gets the right amount of frustration and snark between the characters. This story contains a character who is that person who won’t go away and is the like the bane of our existence, and really aggravating. I laughed out loud several times before I completed the book. This is a keeper.”
Redeeming Lies by Samantha St. Claire
This inspirational Christian romance takes us way back in time, to the railroads spanning the United States and the tale of a talented young lady who finds herself tangled in a web of lies by her manipulative father. Rich with historical detail and exploring themes of truth, honesty and integrity, this book is the fourth in St. Claire’s Sawtooth Range series and a great stand-alone introduction to her writing.
“I absolutely loved this book,” writes reviewer GumboMom. “It was filled with a wonderful story about lies, deception, intrigue, danger and romance. There was so much depth to the characters who were well developed and who I would want to have as my friends. When danger came looking for Maddie, they risked their lives to help to save hers.”
“Samantha St. Clairesweeps my imagination with her vivid descriptions in her book,” writes reviewer Che. “It makes me feel that I belong within the book, and not just a reader of it. It has realistic setting and the time frame where women are fighting for their place in society. The character development between all of the characters is very good. You could feel all the emotions running all throughout the story.
Only the Positive by Elle Thorpe
When Reese encountered the sexy and addictive Low, it was understood that their clandestine encounter would be a one-time thing… Until a text-messages changes both their lives forever, and brings these two broken souls back together in a way they’d never anticipated. While the themes of this story will appeal to any fan of romance, the setting – in the horse-racing world of Sydney, Australia – provides a unique angle which makes this book even more appealing.
Reviewer Kaja BV writes: “This story was an emotional roller-coaster from page one and grabbed me so hard. Low is not a hero I would typically go for – smooth, slick, and snarky – but as the story progressed, I felt so much for him. And Reese is a fantastic heroine, dealing with guilt so deep, she doesn’t know how to dig herself out of it again. Their love and their patience were seriously inspiring, and I rooted for them all the way through the end.”
Keyrsten Robinson gave the book 5-stars, writing: ” I was dang pleased to be able to experience all the twists and turns of it. At the beginning of the book they are two broken people trying to keep themselves afloat any way they can, even using sex and alcohol as a distraction to numb themselves. Elle’s writing brought their heart wrenching stories to life and really pulled me into feeling everything that our main characters were feeling. The guilt. The confusion. The hurt. The shame. The emotional exhaustion. Everything was felt. It was the type of writing that makes you feel it all and revel in the vulnerability of it.”
The Darcy Monologues edited by Christina Boyd
15 authors have assembled under the astute eye of editor Christina Boyd to create an anthology of stories inspired by the ultimate and original ‘alphahole’ – Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice: Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, J. Marie Croft, Karen M Cox, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Joana Starnes, Melanie Stanford and Caitlin Williams.
“I loved the fact that the authors took the readers through different eras of time, different parts of the country and all the plots were completely an adventure,” writes maryann in her 5-star review. “There were some stories I absolutely just loved and would have like to have full length novels of them. Some were just fine the way they were written. Each story had twists and turns and kept you guessing while others were clear and you know where they would take you.”
Bev goes even further with her praise: “I am speechless! I am totally in awe of this book and its authors! Never, never did I expect a multi-authored book could be as incredible as this read was! No matter what I say in my awe of how great this book is, no matter which words I choose, no matter how or what I write, can I do justice to this amazing feat!”
When Darkness Follows by Athena Daniels
Although this novel is the fourth in the Beyond the Grave series, it’s a fantastic stand-alone read and a great introduction to the series. The book starts off with a creepy paranormal encounter, as cocky band-members Rachel and her friends sneak onto a haunted wreck on an impulsive whim – and return with evil in their wake.
“Every book in this series is excellent,” 5-star reviewer Karen promises, “but this story is by far the best. It had me in the edge of my seat and the love they have for one another is amazing.”
“The horror, mystery and suspense had kept me on the edge of my seat,” Che promises. “The story’s pacing is good – fast at that. Has some graphically described steamy scenes. All characters are important in the whole development of the story – nobody was some kind of wallflower in it. I hate spoilers, so I won’t be telling more, and I know you will be so curious about the book – go get and read it.”
Caterina’s Renaissance by Christa Bedwin
If you like the time travel element of series like Outlander, you’ll love this tale – which sees reclusive Christina hide away on a small Italian island to mind her own business… and yet has a smoldering Renaissance-era hero fall into her life through a portal through the ages.
“Time travel, magic, fantasy, sensuality, amazing connection between people – all mixed into one,” writes Christyn in her 5-star review. “Loved each character from the beginning and fell in love with each of them by the end. Catherine or Caterina and Massimo are a pair to root for and remember. Imagine the man you have been dreaming of appearing in bed next to you one morning. Her life changed forever. From a tragic past to a love to remember. I didn’t want this to end. A good one, for sure.”
“The author brings strong well developed characters and an interesting plot,” Brenda promises in her own 5-star review. “She does a great job painting the scenes as well as the practices and language of the times. She brings a multitude of sub plots , mixes them in , bringing the story to life. I was hooked from start to finish reading this story and am looking forward to the next book.”
Risk by K.B. Rose
The spoiled daughter of a powerful man, and the loyal bodyguard sent to bring her home. If you’re a fan of romance, you’ll know that’ll be the recipe for a steamy romance and author K. B. Rose doesn’t disappoint in this fast-paced story of mismatched true love.
“This is more of a slow-burn romance,” writers reviewer Stacy C., “but you got to know both Dom and Leah as they got to know each other. While the physical attraction is there, they both really like each other as people and want to be together, despite the risks and the challenges, personal and professional. Dom and Leah also both have a deep love for their families, even when the personalities are difficult.”
“Leah and Dominic will take you on a sweet romantic journey with lots of curves,” promises BP34. “A dominant, overpowering dad, a crazy mom, a wild child and one hot bodyguard makes for a great story. It grabbed my attention right at the beginning Well written with great characters.”