I read many fabulous books this quarter, but my five favourites are:
DILF by Amy Andrews (contemporary)
‘Serious DILF alert.’ Those are the words that warn Stefanie that her younger brother’s best friend Owen has grown up and graduated as a doctor. He’s about to start work at St Bart’s General Hospital, and she had promised her brother he could stay with her until he found his own place. But… that was when she still thought he was a skinny teenager with acne rather than the hottest doctor in town. The chemistry between them is off the charts but there are a zillion reasons why having sex with Owen is a bad idea. For starters, there’s the age. Owen doesn’t see it as a problem. He’s always had a thing for Stefanie even if she didn’t notice him before. Stefanie is ready to settle down and have babies. She reckons Owen still has to date a thousand nurses. Can he change her mind and get her to give them a chance, first in the present and then in the future? Written with Amy Andrew’s trademark wit and wickedly sexy encounters, this is a delicious romp that will have you alternatively laughing out loud and fanning yourself.
Down and Dirty (Men of Haven) by Rhenna Morgan (contemporary)
I’ve been waiting a long time for Axel’s story, ever since I met him in book 1 of Men of
Haven alongside his brother by choice Jace. Rhenna Morgan doesn’t disappoint. His love interest, rock lead singer Elizabeth is his perfect foil, bringing out all of Axel’s protective instincts and allowing him to engage more fully with the music world he loves and turned his back on as a young man. Elizabeth is scared of being overwhelmed. She’s been down that path once before. Axel, with his dark desires and ferocious intelligence is surprising hesitant when it comes to pursuing Elizabeth, needing a good push from his family. I adored this series and hope to see all the characters pop up again in future series from Ms Morgan.
Devil’s Daughter (The Ravenels) by Lisa Kleypas (Victorian)
The Ravenels and the second generation of wallflowers just can’t seem to keep their hands off each while declaring they just won’t suit. This leads Sebastian, former wicked Lord St Vincent and now meddling Duke of Kingston, to pull strings in order to ensure his beloved daughter Phoebe gets her happily ever after second time around. Phoebe doesn’t want to like West Ravenel. He’s the boy who bullied her poor dead husband at school. But, her father likes him, her son adores him, and even her brother thinks men can change. West doesn’t think he’s good enough for Phoebe. Will all Sebastian’s meddling come to naught or will passion overcome Phoebe’s scruples long enough to allow her to seduce West? Lisa Kleypas once again delivers a witty, intelligent romance with a cast of memorable characters.
On Bended Knee (The Wicked Worthingtons) by Celeste Bradley (Regency)
I had the great good fortune to meet Celeste Bradley as part of the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) book signing tour of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. She is charming with a dry sense of humour that resonates through her books. If you haven’t met the quirky Worthingtons, make a date in your diary to do so. You won’t regret it. Lysander Worthington is back from the war in Spain, carrying a terrible secret that haunts him day and night. In search of his brother, he accidentally takes on a fight with a male pig who is not to be outdone on his own territory, thus introducing himself as a patient to Gemma Oakes, doctor’s widow. Gemma feels responsible for her hamlet in Yorkshire and continues to provide medical services. She accompanied her husband to the war, knows the horrors that Lysander faced, and is determined to rescue him from himself. However, he couldn’t fall in love with a patient – that would be unethical. Except no one on her side or Lysander’s agrees. Can Lysander face the horrors of his past? Will his secrets drive Gemma away? Only by confessing, can he find out. Celeste Bradley writes with compassion, humour and an understanding of human foibles. This is a delightful, amusing and heart-warming romance.
Of Sunlight and Stardust by Christina Lee and Riley Hart (contemporary dual timeline gay romance)
Tanner Rowe is living in the house he bought for his dead wife because that is what she wanted of him. Cole Lachlan has been released from prison and is looking for work, finding out the hard way that no one wants to give an ex-con a chance. He’s camping on Tanner’s property when they meet. Tanner, realising Cole is down on his luck, asks him to help rebuild the burnt barn. Cole knows he is gay but makes no move on Tanner. Tanner is initially confused by his feelings for Cole but comes to understand and accept them for what they are. Their story is eerily similar to that of two boys who lived and worked on the property fifty years ago in less enlightened times that ended in tragedy with Tanner’s dead wife mirroring the role of the girl who tried to help them. As Tanner and Cole seek to uncover what happened to the boys, the relationship grows. The question is, has the town grown enough to appreciate the value Tanner and Cole can add to the community, or will prejudice and fear of Cole’s past isolate and endanger the men? Of Sunlight and Stardust is the most beautiful, sensitive and heart-warming romance I read this past year, demonstrating the range and fluidity of human sexuality that psychologists now acknowledge. Contemporary romance at its finest.
The above are all five star romance reads. If you’re looking for something different, why not see what the other members of The Writers’ Dozen have been reading?