I don’t even know how I narrowed this down. I started off with over 20 then decided I need to whittle it down to just 10. I read a lot of adult contemporary romances so there’s a lot more of those. I include those I read, whether released in 2021 or not. (These are not in any particular order except contemporary romances are listed at the end.)
1. The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart
Publication: November 23, 2021
Series: The Drowning Empire #2
**The Drowning Empire is on track to becoming one of my favorite trilogies. **
Andrea Stewart returns with The Bone Shard Emperor, the second installment of this unmissable, action-packed, magic-laced fantasy epic.
The Emperor is Dead. Long live the Emperor.
Lin Sukai finally sits on the throne she won at so much cost, but her struggles are only just beginning. Her people don’t trust her. Her political alliances are weak. And in the north-east of the Empire, a rebel army of constructs is gathering, its leader determined to take the throne by force.
Yet an even greater threat is on the horizon, for the Alanga – the powerful magicians of legend – have returned to the Empire. They claim they come in peace, and Lin will need their help in order to defeat the rebels and restore peace.
But can she trust them? (Goodreads)
2. Air by L.B. Gilbert
Publication: November 28, 2016 (Kindle)
Series: The Elementals #2
**The book was unexpected in the best kind of way. I breezed through it and reread my favorite parts as soon as I was done.**
Despite being the junior Elemental, Logan’s never had to worry about failing a mission before. Not until an overgrown and annoyingly attractive shifter comes along.
Being an Elemental is in Logan’s blood. Hers is the gift of Air, a vast power she’s still struggling to control. Then a Were named Connell hunts her down. His wolf is missing, and he blames her.
A den of werewolves is the last place Logan wants to be. The testosterone alone is enough to make her choke. But she has a mystery to solve. She will find out who is stealing wolves even if kills her.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the enemy has planned… (Goodreads)
3. Daring and the Duke by Sarah MacLean
Publication: June 30, 2020
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards #3
**I have a love/hate relationship with second chance romances but this one is one of the best to come along with a hero that I’d give multiple chances to.**
Grace Condry has spent a lifetime running from her past. Betrayed as a child by her only love and raised on the streets, she now hides in plain sight as queen of London’s darkest corners. Grace has a sharp mind and a powerful right hook and has never met an enemy she could not best, until the man she once loved returns.
Single-minded and ruthless, Ewan, Duke of Marwick, has spent a decade searching for the woman he never stopped loving. A long-ago gamble may have lost her forever, but Ewan will go to any lengths to win Grace back… and make her his duchess.
Reconciliation is the last thing Grace desires. Unable to forgive the past, she vows to take her revenge. But revenge requires keeping Ewan close, and soon her enemy seems to be something else altogether—something she can’t resist, even as he threatens the world she’s built, the life she’s claimed…and the heart she swore he’d never steal again. (Goodreads)
4. Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton
Publication May 4, 2021
**If I could, I would read this for the first time again.**
For fans of Close Enough to Touch and Me Before You comes a poignant and moving novel about two patients who fall in love as they recover from traumatic injuries in the same hospital ward…all without seeing each other.
Alice Gunnersley and Alfie Mack sleep just a few feet apart from one another. They talk for hours every day. And they’ve never seen each other face-to-face.
After being in terrible accidents, the two now share the same ward as long-term residents of St. Francis’s Hospital. Although they don’t get off to the best start, the close quarters (and Alfie’s persistence to befriend everyone he meets) brings them closer together. Pretty soon no one can make Alice laugh as hard as Alfie does, and Alfie feels like he’s finally found a true confidante in Alice. Between their late night talks and inside jokes, something more than friendship begins to slowly blossom between them.
But as their conditions improve and the end of their stay draws closer, Alfie and Alice are forced to decide whether it’s worth continuing a relationship with someone who’s seen all of the worst parts of you, but never seen your actual face.
A tender novel of healing and hope, Before I Saw You reminds us that connections can be found even in the most unexpected of places—and that love is almost always blind. (Goodreads)
5. It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday
Publication: June 26, 2018
Series: Bridesmaids Behaving Badly, #2
**This has since become a comfort read, one I’ve already reread several times. Noah and Wendy are perfect together.**
In this hilarious romantic comedy, USA Today bestselling author Jenny Holiday proves that what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas…
All’s fair in love and war
Wendy Liu should be delighted to be her best friend’s maid of honor. But after years spent avoiding the bride’s brother – aka the boy who once broke her heart – she’s now trapped with him during an endless amount of wedding festivities. Luckily she’s had time to perfect her poker face, and engaging Noah Denning in a little friendly competition might just prove that she’s over him for good…
Noah Denning is determined to make his little sister’s wedding memorable. But it seems Wendy is trying to outdo him at every turn. Challenging each other was always something he and Wendy did right, so when she proposes they compete to see who can throw the best bachelor or bachelorette party in Sin City, Noah takes the bait – and ups the stakes. Because this time around, he wants Wendy for keeps. And when you’re fighting for love, all bets are off. (Goodreads)
6. Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
Publication: April 9, 2019
**This is another comfort read. Part of its charm is that it is fairly predictable, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.**
The New York Times bestselling author of Pucked and The Good Luck Charm delivers a Hollywood happily-ever-after where a famous heartthrob falls for his ultimate fangirl in this sexy standalone romantic comedy.
Talk about an embarrassing introduction. On her first day of law school, Kailyn ran – quite literally – into the actor she crushed on as a teenager, ending with him sprawled on top of her. Mortified to discover the Daxton Hughes was also a student in her class, her embarrassment over their meet-cute quickly turned into a friendship she never expected. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming either…
Now, eight years later, Dax is in her office asking for legal advice. Despite her anger, Kailyn can’t help feeling sorry for the devastated man who just became sole guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister. But when her boss gets wind of Kailyn’s new celebrity client, there’s even more at stake than Dax’s custody issues: if she gets Dax to work at their firm, she’ll be promoted to partner.
The more time Kailyn spends with Dax and his sister, the more she starts to feel like a family, and the more she realizes the chemistry they had all those years ago is as fresh as ever. But will they be able to forgive the mistakes of the past, or will one betrayal lead to another? (Goodreads)
7. Green by Kayley Loring
Publication: September 6, 2018
**The book is different from Loring’s other novels but it’s exactly why I love it so much. **
Three years ago, I did what so many people say you should do if you want a happy life. I married my best friend.
You know what people don’t say? They don’t tell you that you probably shouldn’t secretly marry your best friend so he can get a green card if there’s even a chance you might fall in love with him. Because that clueless hot nerd will be too busy becoming a millionaire to even notice how uncomfortable you get when he walks around the house shirtless, complaining that he can’t get the same kinds of snacks that he grew up eating in Canada.
We needed to stay married for at least three years so he could become a naturalized American citizen. I have spent the last year trying to fall out of love with him, so I can make a graceful exit from this arrangement and move on to greener pastures.
I did not expect my best friend to ask me to stay married to him.
He did not expect me to say ‘no’ to him.
Three years ago, it was all too easy to convince the immigration officer that we were a real couple.
Now my beloved fake husband is going to have to work his ass off trying to convince me that he isn’t just pursuing me all of a sudden because he’s crazy jealous of my new coworker.
I’m going to try not to panic while he displays the sexy alpha side that he’s been hiding from me all this time.
When he tempts me with “a real honeymoon,” I am going to try very hard to relax and have fun, despite having much less experience with relaxing and having fun (in bed) than him.
And I have no doubt that we will both blow it, because three years ago we were just too young and naïve to realize that secretly marrying each other would complicate everything.
GREEN is a standalone 70,000 word friends-to-lovers marriage of convenience sweet and sexy slow burn romantic comedy. (Goodreads)
8. The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta
Publication: July 6, 2021
**I loved and hated this book, but it stayed with me long after it was over. The writing is superb and one of the reasons I kept reading even after the characters made me mad.**
Faking a love story is a whole lot easier than being in love . . .
The world can see that international A-list actress Whitman (“Win”) Tagore and jet-setting playboy Leo Milanowski are made for each other. Their kisses start Twitter trends and their fights break the internet. From red carpet appearances to Met Gala mishaps, their on-again, off-again romance has titillated the public and the press for almost a decade. But it’s all a lie.
As a woman of color, Win knows the Hollywood deck is stacked against her, so she’s perfected the art of controlling her public persona. Whenever she nears scandal, she calls in Leo, with his endearingly reckless attitude, for a staged date. Each public display of affection shifts the headlines back in Win’s favor, and Leo uses the good press to draw attention away from his dysfunctional family.
Pretending to be in a passionate romance is one thing, but Win knows that a real relationship would lead to nothing but trouble. So instead they settle for friendship, with a side of sky-rocketing chemistry. Except this time, on the French Riviera, something is off. A shocking secret in Leo’s past sets Win’s personal and professional lives on a catastrophic collision course. Behind the scenes of their yacht-trips and PDA, the world’s favorite couple is at each other’s throats. Now they must finally confront the many truths and lies of their relationship, and Win is forced to consider what is more important: a rising career, or a risky shot at real love?
The View Was Exhausting is a funny, wickedly observant modern love story set against the backdrop of exotic locales and the realities of being a woman of color in a world run by men. (Goodreads)
9. You Didn’t Love Me Then by Lily Baines
Publication: September 28, 2021
Series: Riviera View #1
**Despite my love of HEA’s, I couldn’t decide if I wanted Luke to keep suffering or give Libby a well-deserved ending to her unrequited love. Either way, this book burned me slowly.**
How do you fall for someone you’ve always loved?
Growing up twenty-five yards from each other in a small beach town, Luke Delaney was Libby Latimer’s best friend. The confident, protective boy whose arms were a haven in her tumultuous life. They were inseparable. Until she developed feelings that shattered the boundaries of their friendship.
Fifteen years later, Libby is a social worker who has strived to build herself a drama-free, heartache-less life. She’s content and intends to keep it that way. When Luke lands back in town, he seems as hot and unattainable as ever, turning her heart and mind into a battlefield. She never forgot what kissing him felt like or how it ended.
Air Marshal Luke Delaney thinks he has his life under control. After spending fifteen years literally up in the air, he returns to his hometown. A chance meeting with his former best friend rips the smooth veneer off his life, revealing essential parts of himself he thought he could live without.
Old feelings brew to the surface with each unavoidable encounter. New ones simmer. As their past and present collide, can they get a second chance, or is it years too late? (Goodreads)
10. Block Shot by Kennedy Ryan
Publication: September 8, 2018
Series: Hoops #2
**It’s by Kennedy Ryan. Her writing is poetry.**
An enemies-to-lovers second chance standalone romance set in the cutthroat world of sports management.
If I had a dollar for every time Banner Morales made my heart skip a beat…
The heart everyone assumes is frozen over.
Her anger is . . . arousing.
Every glare from those fire-spitting eyes, every time she grits her teeth, gets me . . . well, you know.
If I had a dollar for every time she’s put me in my place, I’d be an even richer man.
I’m a successful sports agent because I assume “no” means you’ll think about it.
I’m sure what you meant to say is “Coming right up.”
They say even rich men don’t always get what they want,
but those men don’t know how to play the game. The trick is to keep them guessing.
Take Banner. She assumes she’s winning, but this game?
She doesn’t even know how to play.
If I had a dollar for every time Jared Foster broke my heart, I’d have exactly one dollar.
One night. One epic fail. One dollar . . . and I’m out.
I’ve moved on.
I’ve found success in a field ruled by men.
Anything they can do, I have done better.
They can keep the field while I call the shots, blocking them when I have to.
And Jared has the nerve to think he gets a second chance?
Boy, please. Go sit down. Have several seats.
I’ll just be over here ignoring the man carved from my fantasies with a lust-tipped chisel.
Oh, I didn’t say the struggle wasn’t real.
But I’ve got that one dollar, and Jared won’t have me. (Goodreads)
What were your best reads for 2021? Comment below. If you posted a list, drop a link and I’ll be sure to check it out.