#Top10Tuesday – My Favourite Romance Novels

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#Top10Tuesday is a weekly book tag hosted by the fab team over at The Broke and The Bookish

The rules are simple – following a given prompt (or choose your own) you choose 10 items that fit within that prompt.

This week, following an in depth conversation with the other P.Turners – I decided to post MY Top Romance books. Now, we all know that I’m predominantly a crime fiction reader. Back in 2011, I was talking to a psychologist who suggested that my moods could sometimes be affected by reading too much “dark” material and that maybe I should branch out and try and read something “lighter”.

After the appointment, I took myself to my local ASDA and saw they had just re-stocked the book shelf with all of the new releases and I picked up a book that sounded exactly what I needed;

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

That’s right – the book I picked up was the newly released FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. I don’t normally conform the whole hipster idea of “I saw/read/made/heard this thing WAY before it become popular” but in this case, I actually did. At this stage, NO ONE had heard of this book. I sat, I read, fell in love and that started to get annoyed at myself as to why I hadn’t explored other genres before.

The recommendation from the psychologist work – I soon noticed that reading something more fluffy and light lifted my moods and it helped me to discover a WHOLE new world.

You only need to look at AESTAS BOOK BLOG to see there are HUNDREDS of sub-genres of romance fiction. The below selection of books are ones I have read, some re-read and loved. They may not be to everyone’s taste – but reading is never clear cut. I will forever champion people who want to sit and read, no matter what genre.
In no particular order;

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1. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E.L James
First Published 2011 (Random House, AUS)

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires

This series is now infamous across the world. For the most part, you say ‘FIFTY SHADES’ and before you even have chance to finish the sentence, you are confronted with a barrage of “it’s sh*t, the writings terrible, he’s a woman beater, etc, etc”. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is pretty average, you can certainly tell that James isn’t a seasoned novelist (her career is in TV!) but the story is there.

Too many people have a negative reaction to this book, many of which haven’t read the whole series. Sometimes I wonder if people protest too much and actually enjoyed the books – but are embarrassed to say so? At the end of it all, this is FICTION. Make believe.

I didn’t see this many people getting upset when THE CROW GIRL came out? Or AMERICAN PSYCHO? I applaud E.L. James. Without this book – the books that follow this TOP 10 would have languished on shelves forever….*M* from this blog would not have embraced the genre and I may be a different kind of reader altogether!

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2. GABRIEL’S INFERNO by Sylvain Reynard
First Published 1st April, 2011 (Omnific Publishing)

Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption.

When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide.

Like many readers, after FIFTY SHADES – I was then looking for the next romance novel to really get into. After reading about how FIFTY SHADES started out as Twilight Fan Fiction, there was also a link to other works that also started life as Fan Fiction and this is where I discovered GABRIEL’S INFERNO.

Firstly, Sylvain Reynard is a pen-name. At this stage, we have NO idea of the true identity of this author, which I like. There is a mysterious nature about the author, which is then translated into the book as we meet Gabriel Emerson. What I loved about this book (and series) is how much more romantic the story is….SPOILER…..they don’t even KISS until half way through! This is the book I recommend to people after FIFTY SHADES if they are looking for something with more romance in.

Why they haven’t optioned this for a TV series yet is beyond me?!

When people ask me for a book that is EVEN filthier than FIFTY SHADES…..I recommend this;

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3. BARED TO YOU by Sylvia Day
First Published 3rd April, 2012 (Berkley)

“Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness.

He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily
Gideon “knew.”

He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each others most private wounds and desires.

The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn’t tear us apart.”

Once again, I was on the hunt for a book following my FIFTY SHADES/GABRIEL EMERSON binge, but decided to go the other way and look for something raunchier. Delving into the Erotica section – I discovered BARED TO YOU by Sylvia Day. The storyline doesn’t read too dissimilar to FIFTY SHADES, however the characters are certainly more relatable as human beings who have problems in their lives like you or I.

This series will certainly make you blush!

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4. MAYBE SOMEDAY by Colleen Hoover
Published; March 18th, 2014 (Atria Books)

Sydney is living in an idyllic bubble—she’s a dedicated student with a steady job on the side. She lives with her best friend, has a great boyfriend, and the music coming from the balcony opposite hers is fast becoming the soundtrack to her life. But when Sydney finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, the bubble bursts.

The mysterious and attractive man behind the music, Ridge, gives Sydney hope that she can move on and they begin to write songs together. But moving on is harder than she expects, Sydney can only hope….

*L* has always been a fan of contemporary romance, especially the works of Colleen Hoover. I had seen the name floating around and after plenty of nagging, I picked up MAYBE SOMEDAY.

DAMN! Hoover can write….and write good! Like nearly EVERYONE who has read this book, you fall completely in love with Ridge. How can you not?! Hoover has essentially the perfect man, which is refreshing after reading so much about troubled men who behave terribly towards women and blame it on their past.

MAYBE SOMEDAY started my love affair with Hoover and we are going pretty steady now 🙂

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5. BEAUTIFUL DISASTER by Jamie McGuire
Published; August 14th, 201 (Atria Books)

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

Once I finished with Colleen Hoover – I did what most readers do, I scour Good reads/blogs to see what I should be reading next and BEAUTIFUL DISASTER was recommended. This is the first in the Maddox Brothers series, with the first book focusing on Travis and his relationship with Abby.

It is at this point where I started to feel like a bit of a book slut as I was starting to collect Book Boyfriends 🙂 This book is funny, romantic, sweet, dramatic and everything I wanted and more!

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6. PHOEBE JEEBIES AND THE MAN WHO ANNOYED EVERYBODY by RYAN BRACHA
Published; December 11th, 2016 (Abracadabra Books)

Phoebe’s just a girl who likes a guy.

He’s different. His mind doesn’t seem to work like everybody else’s. She’s not sure yet, but he could be a keeper. What’s really interesting about him, though, is his job.

His job isn’t work. Not really. It’s more an extremely lucrative hobby, with an added dash of fun and amusement. He annoys people intentionally. There’s not just him, either. There are hundreds of them, and they work on a commission basis.

The man who pushes the trolley into the back of your legs at the supermarket without apologising. The chances are, he’s one.

The bartender that serves everybody but you. The man who peed on the public toilet seat just before you get there, bursting to do a dump. The self published writers who flood the market with unfiltered crap. All of them get paid to do it.

But how do you get into the professional annoyance game? Who runs it? Who’s paying and why? Phoebe wants to know, and she’s not leaving his side until she knows everything.

I was fortunate to receive an early release copy of this book via *K* from our blog is rather good friends with the author; Ryan Bracha.

I have to admit that I was a little dubious at first – but I went in with no expectations…..and it paid off! This book is excellent! It’s a short and sweet story of a man (name is not mentioned in the book) who meet Phoebe. He falls for her hard.

The story follows our man explaining to Phoebe what he does for a living  – he annoys people. Literally. That is what he does. He works for a man where money is no object and his assignment is simple – annoy people. The bigger the annoyance and reaction, the bigger the payout.

A truly smart and funny romance novel 🙂

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7. ME BEFORE YOU by JoJo Moyes

Published; January 2nd, 2012 (Penguin UK)

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

I needed tissues. Lots of tissues! I think I am definitely getting softer in my old age as I cried pretty much for the most of this book.

ME BEFORE YOU is beautifully written and Moyes has taken the greatest care with a subject that is sensitive for many families around the world. The dynamics between Louisa and Will was a joy to read – all whilst knowing that this book was going to meet a tragic end.

I haven’t read the sequel AFTER YOU as yet as I don’t think I am emotionally ready!

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8. IT ENDS WITH US by Colleen Hoover
Pubished; August 2nd, 2016 (Atria Books)

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

Holy smokes Batman! This was one hard read – but also beautiful and ugly. The blurb is correct when it states it contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter. It is a romance novel which shows another side of a relationship – not the sex and the romance, but the real ugly side of where one of the couple loses control which has catastrophic consequences.

One of the best books that I read in 2016. The Author’s Note at the end of this book gives us a look into Hoover’s personal life and what inspired her to write IT ENDS WITH US. This only goes to help reinforce why Hoover is an important writer that we should all be paying attention to.

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9. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Published; December 1st, 2009 (Little, Brown and Company)

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Not being a huge fan of YA (I do read YA…but not that much!) I was a little apprehensive about starting BEAUTIFUL CREATURES as part of me wondered whether this was going to be a TWILIGHT rip off?

Thankfully I was so terribly wrong! This is a love story between a young Caster; Lena as she approaches her 16th birthday and Ethan; the token human who has no abilities. The two meet and soon start an intense relationship that between Garcia & Stohl has been beautifully written. There is the added drama with Lena’s family and their disapproval of Ethan.

One of the few fantasy/paranormal YA I really enjoyed.

Let’s not talk about the film adaptation…..

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10. UGLY LOVE by Collen Hoover
Published; August 5th, 2014 (Atria Books)

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

Hoover has done it once again! There must be a reason why she has featured three times on this list?! Say what you like, but Hoover knows how to write contemporary romance!

Miles Archer is a bad boy. But, as this is a Hoover novel – our bad boy has a reason for being this way and is actually a pretty instense and messed up man. The arrangement between Tate and Miles is pretty common these days – just not many people talk about it, so it’s refreshing to read this kind of romance.

This is what brings me back for more with Hoover’s work. She doesn’t recycle the same plot with different names, each book is completely different – but still has that dollop of magic stirred in.
Thank you so much for reading! Do you agree or disagree with any of the books in my Top 10? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Until next time…..

-S.

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