Ten Tumultuous Romance Novels Loved By Our Subscribers
The romance genre delivers a constant stream of steamy fiction throughout the year, but this fall Hidden Gems subscribers were treated to a particularly bountiful batch of novels for FREE, to read and review at their leisure. We’ve put together a roundup of 10 of the most loved by our readers, so if you’re looking for a new romance to dig into, this list is a great place to start!
Beautifully Broken Spirit by Catherine Cowles
One of the best tropes in romance fiction is that of two broken people finding completeness in each other – since it’s an idea that’s so resonant with all of us. In this book, a single mom who looks after stray mustangs has to explore whether or not to pursue a relationship with her best friend – the handsome man who’s been with her through thick and thin, but seems to prefer any other woman in his bed than the one it’s clear he has feelings for.
“If you’re an ugly-cry reader then batten down the hatches, board up the windows and buy out your local warehouse store’s supply of facial tissues,” writes BookAddict, a Top 500 Reviewer who left the book a 5-star review. “I rarely cry over books, just as I rarely cry over events in real life, but this one, gah! I think it must be the perfect storm for me. A cute kid who stole my heart, lifelong friends who finally see what’s been right in front of them all along, and strong, symbolic bonds between humans and animals.”
Snowflakes and Sparks by Sophie-Leigh Robbins
Bookseller Suzie reluctantly returns to her home town in this festive romance – determined not to stick around. However, her plans get derailed by the appearance of her long-lost love Alex; the man whose heart she broke a decade earlier. You can probably imagine where this story goes – but that’s why you picked it up in the first place. This is a deftly written romance which perfectly strikes each of the familiar romance beats.
“Sparks will fly for this Christmas story!” writes booksandtealove in her 5-star review. “This is a great fun romantic Christmas read. I read this story in one sitting and it is definitely a feel-good story. Reminiscent of a Hallmark movie this is a great book to cozy up with a cup of tea, a candle and a blanket. I will definitely be recommending this to my fellow book lovers.”
Flame and Ash by Morgan Brice
The Witchbane series of M/M romances deftly blends paranormal adventure with well-written romantic suspense and has scored tons of loyal fans over the course of the four books. In this novel, we’re introduced to Seth and Evan – two young men on the wildest road trip of their lives as they struggle to end the cycle of murder that keeps a coven of witches immortal. Seth’s brother was murdered by these witches, and Evan would have been next in line if it wasn’t for Seth’s arrival.
“I am in absolute love with the Witchbane series and this book does not disappoint,” writes Sandra Maeder, who left a 5-star review. “Seth and Evan team up with Seth’s mentors, Toby and Milo, and hunt the next witch-disciple. Along the way, their love grows even stronger. And if you love the author’s other hunter novels (Badlands, Treasure Trail), some of the characters make cameo appearances to help out Seth and Evan. If you like ghosts, magic, suspense and deadly bad guys, you’re going to love this book.”
Demon’s Mark by Nora Ash
If you’re a fan of bad-boy romance, it doesn’t get much badder than a literal demon – like Lord Protector Kain in this intense and erotic paranormal romance. It tells the tale of Selma Lehmann – a human woman fleeing demons, who stumbles across the path of the brutal, powerful Kain. His feelings for her are instantaneous and powerful; but he tries everything to remove temptation from his path before it threatens to derail his part in an upcoming conflict. Will true love win out? Well – given the genre, what do you think?
“Wow. This book and its new demon culture took me totally by surprise,” wrote Katydid, in her 5-star review. “I am not sure what is the best thing about it: the author’s writing style which made you enjoy reading the story, the characters she has created or the world in which it occurs. All three things combine to make the book exceptional.”
Falling for the Foe by Milla Holt
Real life headlines parallel the themes of this inspirational interracial romance – which sees a brilliant and fearless aid worker in Uganda find herself inexplicably attracted to the wealthy, white executive whose company creates the life-saving HIV drug the people she’s caring for so desperately need.
Of course, the rivals-turned-lovers theme is a familiar one, but this book succeeds in keeping things fresh by exploring the real-world situation in Africa, and by weaving Christian themes into the book in a way that remains congruent and fluent.
“This story is more then the title and description,” writes PW, in their 5-star review. “You are taken on a journey in Uganda exploring how the HIV/Aids epidemic is being attacked. The characters are likable, believable and well written. The author includes their beliefs in God and Christian values without beating you over the head with them. This story includes social, economic, racial, prejudices, business, and governmental /political interactions. The way these are interwoven in the book adds authenticity to the story. I enjoyed the book because it had me reflecting on my biases. This book is about much more then a love story.”
The Favored Wife by Amy Pennza
In contrast to a lot of the warmer and more familiar reads in this list, the book we’re featuring now explores a lot of dark and troubling themes as it takes the journey towards true love. It’s the tale of Elizabeth – one of the ‘sister wives’ of a polygamous Morman, and raised in the grip of a religion very different to what even most mainstream Mormans would be familiar with.
The story is replete with fact, though – and brutally visceral as it outlines the struggles and hardships of Elizabeth as she struggles to find a place for herself in the world, and break the cycle of control and abuse.
“What a gripping story!” writes Jamie BJ, in her 5-star review. “I’ll admit that I don’t usually read serious fiction most of the time. Generally, I prefer light and fluffy historical romance. But something about this book when I saw it at a book review site caught my eye. The author did a fantastic job of showing the intricacies of a polygamous religious marriage. We see it all through the eyes of the youngest wife, somewhat ironically called “the favored wife” in the title. She has grown up within this religious sect so knows nothing else. When she gets a job in the outside world to help support the family (because she hasn’t been able to have children), she is definitely a naive person, not even knowing what we consider to be common cultural references. Her world had been her “husband” Thomas, his other wives, and the children. The author paints a pretty harsh picture of dominance and submission and not just between the husband and the wives but within the sister-wife hierarchy. It is a brutal world that the heroine lives in. I don’t want to give too much away, but the megalomaniacal tendencies of the husband are seen through to a nasty conclusion that forces a separation between the heroine and the world that she has known. This is an emotionally charged read and not an easy one. The characters are well drawn, and we are shown this world in vivid detail through the character’s eyes. The plot is not at a breakneck pace. Rather, things seem to go along somewhat normally, but then bigger events happen. It kept me wondering what would happen next.”
No More Horrible Dates by Kate O’Keeffe
We completely switch tracks with this next novel – a fun and fast-paced romance set in New Zealand, and very much in the theme of Bridget Jones and other fun books that feature achingly relatable heroines. In this tale, it’s ambitious young Erin – who finds herself as the fake girlfriend of the ‘wild boy’ of the professional rugby team she works for – and discovers there’s a lot more to this jock than his reputation suggests.
“I reviewed Darcy’s book in this series last time too. I adored this series so much,” writes Stephanie, in her 5-star review. “The humor never felt forced and overboard. The writing is amazeballs. Ok now the book. Erin Andrews has a strong dislike of ANY athlete and isn’t tempted by the men she deals with daily. Erin Andrews works as the manager for sponsorship for the Hawks who has had some truly bad dates. Nick Zachary is the face of Bennett motor which is the biggest sponsor. Nick has acquired the moniker Wild Boy of Rugby. His drinking and whoring has put him in bad stead with Bennett motors after he parks one of their trucks on a beach only to have it wash out to sea… they brainstorm and – bam! Now Erin is Nick’s new “ordinary ” fake girlfriend. To help clean up his act and reputation. Things start to change as they get to know one another. Acute dislike becomes attraction… maybe more?”
Reforming Hunt by Jules Barnard
If you’re still in the mood for bad-boys, I’d like to introduce you to Hunt – the leading man in this romance about finding redemption and peace.
Hunt is the ultimate playboy, running a resort where he enjoys free-flowing beer and girls. Then, during one of his summer programs, he meets an adorable little boy who reminds him of himself growing up – and why he is the way he is. Hunt risks everything when he pursues a relationship with the boy’s single mother; knowing the last time he dared to follow his heart, it took his family away from him. Will this daring experiment deliver the same devastating outcome?
“I absolutely loved this beautiful romance!” writes Viper Spaulding, in their 5-star Amazon review. “There’s so much emotional depth to this story, and it’s exquisitely drawn out as both Abby and Hunt figure out how to define their relationship and how to make it work. I read this in one sitting, ignoring everything else I was supposed to be doing, as I just couldn’t put it down until I got to the very satisfying HEA. I’ve read all the earlier books in this series, and this one is the perfect conclusion for the entire Cade family.”
It Was Always You by Cora Reed
Once upon a time, Simon and Margot were destined to be together – but then she took the road more-traveled, and wound up with a ‘safe’ boyfriend who wound up being anything but. Now, years later, Margot is struggling for custody of the child she and her now-husband have together; and who should be her lawyer-in-shining armor but the man she turned away from all that time ago.
This book is a second-chance romance with deep and emotional themes, and you won’t be able to read it without water in your eyes!
“I loved this book!” Pamela R Mitchell wrote in her 5-star review: “I loved every minute of this book with unforgettable characters and a beautifully written story that had me going through the whole gamut of emotions as Simon McCoy and Margot Banks may have a second chance at romance. Ms. Reed never disappoints and I have enjoyed every book in the Magnolia Valley series. If you are a fan of small town steamy romance, don’t miss It Was Always You — you won’t be able to put it down!”
On the Level by Madeline Olson
The Ram’s Head Lady’s Slipper is a rare and endangered species – which poses a problem for Nolan Rivers, whose family business relies on building a resort right on the Slipper’s breeding grounds. Compounding the issue is wildlife enthusiast Georgette LaCombe – who grew up in the same small town, and who has an undeniable attraction to Nolan. Which will win out? True love, or family responsibility? You’ll have to read this sensual romance to find out.
“On The Level (King’s Harbor Series Book Three) by Madeline Olsen is a heartbreaking tale of woe that nearly ends in utter disaster,” writes Ksd, a Vine Voice. “I found this book, it’s plot and characters very intriguing and captivating that had me hooked from the beginning. Georgette is a small but mighty woman. She is fierce and loyal to a fault. Nolan is the alpha, brooding and bitter, but unable to stop thinking about, wanting and needing Georgette. In addition to their relationship developments, these two go through quite the ordeal that spans throughout their families and even places them both in serious danger. Overall, this emotional roller coaster is a ride worth taking as Nolan and Georgette discover a long time coming true love for a much deserved HEA.”