15 breezy romance series to read when you need an escape

From the publisher: "Will Darling came back from the Great War with a few scars, a lot of medals, and no idea what to do next. Inheriting his uncle’s chaotic second-hand bookshop is a blessing...until strange visitors start making threats. First a criminal gang, then the War Office, both telling Will to give them the information they want, or else. Will has no idea what that information is, and nobody to turn to, until Kim Secretan—charming, cultured, oddly attractive—steps in to offer help. As Kim and Will try to find answers and outrun trouble, mutual desire grows along with the danger. And then Will discovers the truth about Kim. His identity, his past, his real intentions. Enraged and betrayed, Will never wants to see him again. But Will possesses knowledge that could cost thousands of lives. Enemies are closing in on him from all sides—and Kim is the only man who can help. A 1920s m/m romance trilogy in the spirit of Golden Age pulp fiction."
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I just blew through this series (again) on vacation and it was good for my reading life. Richard and Lainie are actors in London's West End. Though talented, Richard's cranky off-stage antics are turning his fans against him, and the theater is worried they won't be able to sell tickets. Fan favorite Lanie is already stuck working with her cheating ex-boyfriend, and then it gets worse: she's asked to pose as his new girlfriend to help Richard clean up his reputation. And fans love nothing more than an on-stage/off-stage romance, so soon they're packing in the crowds. But then the lines between on-stage and off begin to blur. A fast, fun contemporary romance with a keen sense of humor.
From the publisher: "Simon Burke has always preferred animals to people. When the countdown to adopting his own dog is unexpectedly put on hold, Simon turns to the PetShare app to find the fluffy TLC he’s been missing. Meeting a grumpy children’s book illustrator who needs a dog walker isn’t easy for the man whose persistent anxiety has colored his whole life, but Jack Matheson’s menagerie is just what Simon needs. Four dogs, three cats and counting. Jack’s pack of rescue pets is the only company he needs. But when a bad fall leaves him with a broken leg, Jack is forced to admit he needs help. That the help comes in the form of the most beautiful man he’s ever seen is a complicated, glorious surprise."
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This smart contemporary romance series follows a group of seven friends in Chicago, whose relationships blossomed thanks to Knit Night. They rally around each other no matter what's going on and their relationships continue to be a priority even as they each fall in love. Penny Reid's characters have distinct personalities and quirks and it's delightful watching them grow individually and as a group as the series progresses. You'll wish you could be friends with them in real life! (Heads up: the first two books are on the chaste side, but the series grows in steaminess as it progresses and is considered "open door" after book 3.)
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From the publisher: "Of all the weddings in all the world, Angie Roux had to be mistaken for a bridesmaid in this one. Caledon, South Africa, is supposed to be just a stop on the way to Christmas in Cape Town, part of Angie’s long-avoided homecoming. She never expected to star in a bizarre comedy of errors, but here she is: convincing a handsome stranger to be her fake boyfriend for the day. Ezra Johnson, the handsome stranger in question, turns out to be a pleasant distraction from both the wedding and thoughts of her first family Christmas without her father. And he seems to loathe weddings just as much as she does. He’s the perfect temporary companion. But a lot can happen in twenty-four hours. Including a connection so strong it tempts them both into thinking of something more permanent…"
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Add one salty infertile heroine with one firefighter hero who dreams of having a big family someday and you have a debut friends-to-lovers contemporary romance you might stay up reading until the wee hours of the night. Ahem. Josh and Kristen have some big things to overcome but there’s no denying their chemistry from the moment they meet. In a fender bender, no less. This story will make you laugh out loud one minute and cry the next. It doesn’t shy away from the hard topics and it makes the happy ending that much more satisfying.
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From the publisher: "From beloved author Molly Harper comes the first novel in the contemporary romance series, Southern Eclectic, about a big-city party planner who finds true love in a small Georgia town. Nestled on the shore of Lake Sackett, Georgia is the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. Two McCready brothers started two separate businesses in the same building back in 1928, and now it’s become one big family affair. And true to form in small Southern towns, family business becomes everybody’s business. Margot Cary has spent her life immersed in everything Lake Sackett is not. As an elite event planner, Margot’s rubbed elbows with the cream of Chicago society, and made elegance and glamour her business. As Margot finds her footing in a town where everybody knows not only your name, but what you had for dinner last Saturday night and what you’ll wear to church on Sunday morning, she grudgingly has to admit that there are some things Lake Sackett does better than Chicago—including the dating prospects."
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The first book in Alyssa Cole's excellent contemporary Reluctant Royals romance series introduces Naledi, a stressed out grad student who relies on logic to guide her in every situation. When she gets an email from Prince Thabiso of Thesolo declaring his intentions to fulfill their childhood betrothal, Naledi writes it off as spam. She grew up in the foster system of NYC, not a faraway country she's never heard of. But when the prince shows up in the city with romantic proposals and a different version of her life's history, Naledi starts to follow her heart. What ensues is a modern day fairytale between a self-sufficient science nerd and a crowned prince who's determined to be a great leader. I loved reading their story and meeting delightful side characters who show up in subsequent books. Note: each book in this series includes open door scenes.
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This series opener centers Kit, a steady scientist who, because of her peripatetic childhood, wants to use her winnings to create a home for herself and develop roots in her community. So when Ben shows up in his role as recruiter her to entice her to leave it all behind and move to Texas ... well, it's a disaster. But as they keep talking, their connection grows. I loved watching Ben and Kit work through their respective baggage over the course of the story, and the large cast of well-developed secondary characters give this series life.
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From the publisher: "Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases - a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with as well as way less experience in the dating department than the average 30-year-old. It doesn't help that she has Asperger's and that French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. She decides that she needs lots of practice - with a professional - which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese-Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and he agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan... Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses but also to crave all of the other things he's making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges convinces Stella that love is the best kind of logic."
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From the publisher: "The first rule of book club: You don't talk about book club. Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott's marriage is in major league trouble. Welcome to the Bromance Book Club. Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville's top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it'll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife."
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I don't read much historical romance, but I am so glad I picked this series up. Heads up for some open-door moments. From the publisher: "Thea Knight loves a spot of mischief. She especially loves her current mischief: masquerading as her sister, while finalizing her scheme to expose the dastardly knaves whose lies ruined her life. Then big, bad-tempered Lord Luxborough upends her game by maneuvering her into marriage. But it's her sister's name on the license, so the marriage won’t be valid. Thea’s idea? Keep pretending to be her sister until she can run away. Rafe Landcross, Earl of Luxborough, has no love for mischief. Or marriage. Or people, for that matter. The last thing he wants is a wife—but if he marries, he'll receive a large sum of much-needed money. Then he learns that Thea Knight is using a false name. Rafe's idea? Pretend he doesn't know her true identity, marry her, and send her packing once the money is his. Fun, tender, and steamy, this Gothic-flavored historical romance tells of a fake marriage between a grumpy, scarred hero and a trickster heroine who reminds him how to play."
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From the publisher: "Opposites attract when a computer geek meets billionaire bad boy. The last thing Melody expects when she accepts a dream job offer is to run into her college one-night stand again. Not only does the hunky blast from her past work at the same aerospace company where she's just started in the IT department, he's the CEO's son. Jeremy's got a girlfriend and a reputation as a bad boy, so Melody resolves to keep her distance and focus on building a new life for herself in Los Angeles. But despite her good intentions, she can't seem to stay away from the heavenly-smelling paragon of hotness. As the two begin to forge an unlikely friendship, Melody's attraction to Jeremy grows deeper than she's ready to admit. Can the woman who always plays it safe take a risk on the man who's all wrong for her in all the right ways? This slow-burn romance is the first in a series of standalone rom-coms featuring heroines who work in STEM fields."
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A dreamy, breezy debut novel. From the publisher: "With nods to Bridget Jones and Pride and Prejudice, a charming #ownvoices queer rom-com debut about a free-spirited social media astrologer who agrees to fake a relationship with an uptight actuary until New Year’s Eve—with results not even the stars could predict! But maybe opposites can attract when true love is written in the stars?"
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Guillory’s debut was inspired by frustration: she wanted to read more books about people like her and her friends: single, with jobs, and living in cities (instead of quirky small towns like you often see in romance). Oh, and she wanted to see black women in the pages. Enter The Wedding Date. Drew and Alexa meet cute in a broken-down elevator; sparks are flying within seconds. Drew’s in town to watch his ex marry his best friend (ouch). He doesn’t have a date, so he asks Alexa to come along—and pretend to be his girlfriend. But soon the fake relationship starts to feel surprisingly real. But they both have big jobs they love, in different cities. Drew’s track record with women isn’t great. Alexa is black, and Drew is white. In short: it gets complicated. But it’s a rom-com, so they’re going to see it through. Heads up, readers: this is seriously racy in parts.
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