Looking at the wealth of amazing contemporary romance titles available between July 1 and December 31, you would never guess that a “Save the Contemporary” campaign was being waged a few years ago. My 2015 book calendar is so full of contemporary titles that I will likely be reading them into 2016, and every title on that calendar is a book I really want to read. However, even among the stars, some shine more brightly. The following are all books that will move to the front of my TBR queue the minute I download them. Please be advised that the list is heavy on small-town romances (I was a fan before the current trend started) and series titles (I’m an admitted series addict, but in my defense, a substantial majority of 2015 romances are part of a series.)
Some Like It Scottish (Kilts and Quilts #3), Patience Griffin—July 7
(Also, The Accidental Scots (Kilts and Quilts #4) —December 1*)
Griffin has a knack for creating characters that I find engaging from the opening page. I love the kilts and the quilts. :) And how great to have a contemporary set in Scotland ! I loved Griffin’s first two novels, and I fully expect to enjoy the next two just as much. I even love the covers. I will probably have read Some Like It Scottish by the time you read this, but right now it is on my download list for next Tuesday. And I’m already anticipating The Accidental Scots.
Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family #4), Lisa Kleypas—August 11
This is my #1 most anticipated contemporary romance. I’ve been waiting six years for Joe’s story. Not only have I preordered it, but I have also cleared my calendar so I can reread Sugar Daddy, Blue-Eyed Devil, and Smooth Talking Stranger and be poised to start Brown-Eyed Girl the second it downloads. I love the Travis family, and I am beyond eager to revisit them. With sentences like the following one from an excerpt, I’m already falling in love: “It seemed the air had turned into champagne, every breath filled with effervescent, free-floating giddiness.
Fatal Frenzy (Fatal #9), Marie Force—September 15
I started reading Force’s Fatal series back in 2010 and was captivated by the lead characters Washington, D.C. Metro Police Detective Sergeant Sam Holland and Nick Cappuano, friend and chief of staff of Senator John O’Connor. The developing relationship between Sam and Nick is at least as essential to each book as the particular case, and the cast of recurring secondary characters is superb. But it is that relationship that put Force’s series on my auto-buy list. Sam is now Lieutenant Sam Holland and Nick is vice-president of the United States, and they are married. But their relationship continues to be as intriguing as the dead bodies that keep turning up. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
I love the titles of this series so much that I’d probably buy the books for that alone, but I am also hooked on the characters. In the first book (The Second Chance Café), readers meet Tennessee Keller who has lost touch with his brother Dakota and his sister Indiana after a teenage trauma alters all three lives. Ten finds his HEA with Kaylie Flynn and reconnects with Indiana in Book 1, and Indiana gets her HEA with Oliver Gatlin and summons Dakota to Hope Springs in The Sweetness of Honey (Book 3). Finally, in the fifth book, Kent gives us Dakota’s story—and it is a reunion romance! I cannot tell you how eager I am to see Dakota get his HEA.
Some Kind of Wonderful (Puffin Island #2), Sarah Morgan—September 25
(Christmas Ever After—Puffin Island #3--October 27*)
I didn’t read my first Sarah Morgan book until Sleigh Bells in the Snow (2013), but I knew when I read that first O’Neil Brothers book that all the Morgan raves I had read were deserved. I loved the O’Neils, and First Time in Forever convinced me that the Puffin Island series would be just as great. I’ve been counting the days since then to the release of Some Kind of Wonderful, a reunion story (my favorite) with a sexy bad-boy hero. The following month, the third book in the series will be released. Christmas Ever After pairs a heroine and hero who loathed one another at first sight. What fun it will be to see them fall in love!
The whiskey Creek series started three years ago with When We Touch, a novella in which Kyle Houseman married the wrong sister. The right sister, Olivia Arnold, finds her HEA with Brandon Lucero, Kyle’s stepbrother. Now after eight novels in which Kyle watched his closest friends find their perfect matches, Kyle will get his story. One of the things I’ve loved about this series is that Novak has done some really different things: a hero and heroine from the wrong side of the tracks, a hero dealing with the discovery that his long-time best friend is gay and in love with him, a heroine with what could be a fatal illness, and a heroine just out of prison. This time it’s turning the guy who betrayed the heroine of the first story into the hero. I am really eager to see what Novak does with this one.
Along the Infinite Sea (Schuyler Sisters #3), Beatriz Williams—November 3
I may be cheating a bit by including this one on this list. It is more women’s fiction than contemporary romance, and since it is set in the 1960s with threads from the World War II era, it is not contemporary in the strictest sense. And the protagonist is pregnant with the child of her married lover. But whatever label fits—or doesn’t—and whatever romance taboos are violated, I am looking forward to this book with the highest expectations. The Secret Life of Violet Grant and Tiny Little Thing, the other books about Schuyler sisters, were winners for me. I love Williams’s treatment of character, her use of the past impinging on the present, and her wonderful prose. I fully expect to love this book too.
Our Now and Forever (Ardent Springs #2), Terri Osburn—November 10
Terri Osburn has written some of my favorite small-town romances, and I laughed and sighed my way through His First and Last, her first Ardent Springs book. This second one has a runaway bride, a husband seeking reunion, and a marriage trial by celibacy. Now does that not sound irresistible? I don’t even intend to try to resist. I’ve read the teaser, and I have already booked my return ticket to Ardent Springs, Tennessee.
In the interest of full disclosure, Terri Osburn is a friend from the same Eloisa James bulletin board group as Manda Collins and PJ, but rest assured friendship is not my reason for including her book on this list.
My Kind of Wonderful (Cedar Ridge 2), Jill Shalvis—December 22
I wasn’t sure Jill Shalvis could produce another series that could rival Lucky Harbor in my estimation, but Second Chance Summer left me fathoms deep in love with the Kincaid Brothers and eager for more books in the series. This second book is Hudson’s story, and his heroine is not the lingering kind. Count me in. (And just in case you are like me and enjoy anticipating well ahead of publication, Jacob’s book, Nobody But You, will be released March 29, 2016.)
Anything for You (Blue Heron #5). Kristan Higgins—December 29
If Kristan Higgins puts her name on the cover, you can be sure I am going to read the book. But even among all my Higgins keepers, her Blue Heron books rank an extra star. I love this series. These are books that I’m ready to reread as soon as I finish them. And this one is Connor O’Rourke’s book—and Jessica Dunn is saying no to his proposal! It sounds like Higgins is giving me a perfect way to end my 2015 reading year.
*These books added to the ten make the full dozen.