Best Contemporary Romance Books of 2023

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2023 will go down as the year I discovered Contemporary Romance novels. I am not sure what kind of rock I had been living under, but I honestly hadn’t explored this genre until 2023. Well, not only did I explore this genre…but, I went on a seek and destroy mission to find and devour as many of them as I could. It was a success. I have a new obsession which has carried over into the new year. So, I wanted to take a minute and share with you THE BEST Contemporary Romance Books of 2023. These weren’t all published in 2023…but they were read by me in 2023…so we are rolling with it. So, without further ado…my 10 Faves! Let’s chat!

Meet Me At The Lake by Carley Fortune

Let’s start with the book that started it all off. Now, I won’t go so far as to say I had never read a romance before…but I had never really connected with anything up until 2023. Meet Me At The Lake by Carley Fortune was sent to me during a Book Challenge that I did last May with Booksparks. I devoured it. Like, head over heels didn’t want to do anything else until I finished this book. I promptly ordered her previous book which you will see here in a minute and I have since pre-ordered her next novel that comes out this spring.

This book was SO good! Carley Fortune writes amazing characters, dialogue, and has a breezy style of writing that I just fell in love with. The chemistry and banter was incredible and I was so invested in Fern and Will…seriously rooting for them the entire book! Please please give this book a read!

Goodreads Synopsis

Fern Brookbanks has wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter. She spent just twenty-four hours in her early twenties with the aggravatingly attractive, idealistic artist, a chance encounter that spiraled into a daylong adventure in Toronto. The timing was wrong, but their connection was undeniable: they shared every secret, every dream, and made a pact to meet one year later. Fern showed up. Will didn’t.

At thirty-two, Fern’s life doesn’t look at all how she once imagined it would. Instead of living in the city, Fern’s back home, running her mother’s Muskoka lakeside resort—something she vowed never to do. The place is in disarray, her ex-boyfriend’s the manager, and Fern doesn’t know where to begin.

She needs a plan—a lifeline. To her surprise, it comes in the form of Will, who arrives nine years too late, with a suitcase in tow and an offer to help on his lips. Will may be the only person who understands what Fern’s going through. But how could she possibly trust this expensive-suit wearing mirage who seems nothing like the young man she met all those years ago. Will is hiding something, and Fern’s not sure she wants to know what it is.

But ten years ago, Will Baxter rescued Fern. Can she do the same for him?

Practice Makes Perfect by Sarah Adams

I am not the type of gal to pick favorites…but…if I were that kind of gal…which I am not…I would likely choose this book. Holy moly did I ADORE every single thing about this book. Practice Makes Perfect by Sarah Adams is everything I look for in a romance…sweet, funny, all the small town vibes. It was perfection. I was fully prepared to hate the hunky tattooed bodyguard…he had to be all kinds of ick, right? Nope. He was a delight and all leading male characters should be modeled after him. I have a full review here on the blog for your viewing pleasure!

Goodreads Synopsis

Annie Walker is on a quest to find her perfect match-someone who nicely compliments her happy, quiet life running her flower shop in Rome, Kentucky. Unfortunately, she worries her goal might be too far out of reach when she overhears her date saying she is “so unbelievably boring.” Is it too late to become flirtatious and fun like the leading ladies in her favorite romance movies? Maybe she only needs a little practice…and Annie has the perfect person in mind to become her tutor: Will Griffin.

Will–the flirtatious, tattooed, and absolutely gorgeous bodyguard–is temporarily back in Rome, providing security for Amelia Rose as excitement grows for her upcoming marriage to Noah Walker. He has one personal objective during his time in town: stay away from Annie Walker. But no sooner than he gets settled, Will soon finds himself not only breaking his rule, but tasked with far more than simply providing security.

Will wants no part in changing the sweet and lovely Annie, but he can’t bring himself to say no to her request, so he officially agrees to teach her how to be the next leading lady of Rome, Kentucky, and find the love of her life-even if he doesn’t believe in love himself. Between faking a relationship so the meddling town doesn’t catch on to what’s really happening on their practice dates, and tutoring lessons that convince Annie to add passion to her list of must-haves in a mate, it doesn’t take long for the lines of their friendship to blur…

Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

My girl Katherine Center can write a romance novel. This book was cozy, sweet, creative, full of fabulous banter, and just plain awesome. It was a feel good read and while I did figure out the main “twist”, it didnt in any way interfere with my enjoyment of the book! After loving Hello Stranger so much I decided I need to grab The Bodyguard and I loved that one too. So now I am on the hunt for the remainder of her books…because I adore her writing!

Goodreads Synopsis

Love isn’t blind, it’s just a little blurry.

Sadie Montgomery never saw what was coming . . . Literally! One minute she’s celebrating the biggest achievement of her life—placing as a finalist in the North American Portrait Society competition—the next, she’s lying in a hospital bed diagnosed with a “probably temporary” condition known as face blindness. She can see, but every face she looks at is now a jumbled puzzle of disconnected features. Imagine trying to read a book upside down and in another language. This is Sadie’s new reality with every face she sees.

But, as she struggles to cope, hang on to her artistic dream, work through major family issues, and take care of her beloved dog, Peanut, she falls into—love? Lust? A temporary obsession to distract from the real problems in her life?—with not one man but two very different ones. The timing couldn’t be worse.

If only her life were a little more in focus, Sadie might be able to find her way. But perceiving anything clearly right now seems impossible. Even though there are things we can only find when we aren’t looking. And there are people who show up when we least expect them. And there are always, always other ways of seeing.

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Part romance, part story about coming home, part tear-jerker, and part ghost story. The Dead Romantics was so fabulous. It had moments that cracked me up and moments that seriously tugged at my heartstrings but I absolutely adored this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one but I ended up being so enamored with the entire book. Who would have guessed that a paranormal love story would have me so smitten?

Goodreads Synopsis

Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.

When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.

For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.

Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.

Romance is most certainly dead… but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.

This Spells Love by Kate Robb

I am a sucker for an adorable book cover and a debut novel…and this happened to be both. This was a Book of the Month pick for me and it ended up being one of my favorite reads of the year. 5 big ole stars! This was charming, witty, romantic, schpiiiicy, and had a smattering of magical realism which is my ultimate jam. This Spells Love by Kate Robb is definitely one to add to your 2024 TBR! This had the most amazing cast of characters, easy and cozy writing, and was just so much fun! Recommend this one so much! You can read my full review here!

Goodreads Synopsis

A young woman tries to heal her heartbreak by casting a spell to erase her ex from her past, but she wakes up in an alternate reality where she’s lost more than she wished for in this witty, whimsical friends-to-lovers debut.

What if one little wish changed everything?

When Gemma gets dumped by her long-term boyfriend, she reacts the way any reasonable twenty-eight-year-old would: by getting drunk with her sister, kooky aunt, and best friend, Dax. After one too many margaritas, they decide to perform a love- cleansing spell, which promises to erase Gemma’s ex from her memory. They follow all the instructions, including a platonic kiss from Dax to seal the deal.

When Gemma wakes up, she realizes that this silly spell has worked. Not only does it seem that she never dated her ex, but the rest of her life is completely unrecognizable. The worst part: Dax has no idea who she is.

To reverse the spell and get back to her old life, Gemma must convince her once-best-friend-now-near-stranger to kiss her. But as she carries out her plans, she finds herself falling for him—hard. Soon, Gemma begins to wonder whether she even wants to go back to the way things once were. What if Dax was The One all along?

A Winter In New York by Josie Silver

I went all in on the Winter/Holiday/Christmas books this year. I had never really gravitated toward that kind of theming but I really enjoyed it this year. When I saw A Winter in New York by Josie Silver pop up on my Book of the Month page I immediately added it to my cart. The cover was adorable and the premise sounded like so much fun. I absolutely loved this book! This was full of family, love, loss, and hope. So much witty banter and the chemstry was off the charts fabulous! I am looking forward to reading more from Josie Silver!

Goodreads Synopsis

A young chef stumbles on a secret family recipe that might lead her to the love—and life—she’s been looking for in this stunning novel.

When Iris decides to move to New York to restart her life, she realizes she underestimated how big the Big Apple really is—all the nostalgic movies set in New York she’d watched with her mom while eating their special secret-recipe gelato didn’t quite do it justice. 

But Bobby, Iris’s best friend, isn’t about to let her hide away. He drags her to a famous autumn street fair in Little Italy, and as they walk through the food stalls, a little family-run gelateria catches her eye—could it be the same shop that’s in an old photo of her mother’s?

Curious, Iris returns the next day and meets the handsome Gio, who tells her that the shop is in danger of closing. His uncle, sole keeper of their family’s gelato recipe, is in a coma, so they can’t make more. When Iris samples the last remaining batch, she realizes that their gelato and her gelato are one and the same. But how can she tell them she knows their secret recipe when she’s not sure why Gio’s uncle gave it to her mother in the first place?

Iris offers her services as a chef to help them re-create the flavor and finds herself falling for Gio and his family. But when Gio’s uncle finally wakes up, all of the secrets Iris has been keeping threaten to ruin the new life—and new love—she’s been building all winter long.

The Second Chance Year by Melissa Wiesner

Oh my goodness was this such a charming read. The Second Chance Year by Melissa Wiesner was a-dorable. A story about second chances and getting the chance for a do-over! If you life was going epically terrible and you had a chance to do an entire year over…would you do it?? While this was such a fun read, it also dealt with some pretty heavy topics. Some major sexism and sexual harrassment happen throughout the story, so just know that going in. I adored the chemistry (again with the chemistry but I think it is so important in a good romance!), Jacob is just about the most adorable thing in life, and I adored the side characters as well!! Just a great read!

Goodreads Synopsis

In this unforgettable story full of charm, wit—and just a bit of magic—a woman down on her luck is given a second chance at fixing her life and trying one year all over again. Perfect for readers of Josie Silver and Rebecca Serle. 

Sadie Thatcher’s life has fallen apart in spectacular fashion. In one fell swoop, she managed to lose her job, her apartment, and her boyfriend—all thanks to her big mouth. So when a fortune teller offers her one wish, Sadie jumps at the chance to redo her awful year. Deep down, she doesn’t believe magic will fix her life, but taking a leap of faith, Sadie makes her wish, opens her eyes, and . . . nothing has changed . And then, in perhaps her dumbest move yet, she kisses her brother’s best friend, Jacob.

When Sadie wakes up the next morning, she’s in her former apartment with her former boyfriend, and her former boss is expecting her at work. Checking the date, she realizes it’s January 1 . . . of last year .  As Sadie navigates her second-chance year, she begins to see the red flags she missed in her relationship and in her career. Plus, she keeps running into Jacob, and she can’t stop thinking about their kiss . . . the one he has no idea ever happened. Suddenly, Sadie begins to wonder if her only mistake was wishing for a second chance.

Georgie All Along by Kate Clayborn

Georgie All Along by Kate Clayborn was my last read of 2023 and it was such a great book to end the year with. I adored the premise of this story. Such an utterly charming and witty book with wonderful characters! Georgie was just the most lovable mess and the whole Grumpy Sunshine thing was perfection. More excellent banter in this book…I am going to be seeking out more books by Kate Clayborn!

Goodreads Synopsis

A wise and witty new novel that echoes with timely questions about love, career, reconciling with the past, and finding your path while knowing your true worth.

Longtime personal assistant Georgie Mulcahy has made a career out of putting others before herself. When an unexpected upheaval sends her away from her hectic job in L.A. and back to her hometown, Georgie must confront an uncomfortable truth: her own wants and needs have always been a disconcertingly blank page.

But then Georgie comes across a forgotten artifact—a “friendfic” diary she wrote as a teenager, filled with possibilities she once imagined. To an overwhelmed Georgie, the diary’s simple, small-scale ideas are a lifeline—a guidebook for getting started on a new path.

Georgie’s plans hit a snag when she comes face to face with an unexpected roommate—Levi Fanning, onetime town troublemaker and current town hermit. But this quiet, grouchy man is more than just his reputation, and he offers to help Georgie with her quest. As the two make their way through her wishlist, Georgie begins to realize that what she truly wants might not be in the pages of her diary after all, but right by her side—if only they can both find a way to let go of the pasts that hold them back.

Honest and deeply emotional, Georgie, All Along is a smart, tender must-read for everyone who’s ever wondered about the life that got away . . .

Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison

Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison came SO highly recommended that I was almost scared to read it. I took to Threads (have you tried Threads yet? I kinda love it) and asked for the perfect cozy winter holiday book and literally everyone shouted at me that I needed to read this book. Let me tell you…it did NOT disappoint! I fell absolutely in love with everything about this book and have added the other books in the series to my wish-list! The fake dating trope is not usually my fave but oh my goodness I kind of loved it here. I got major Hallmark movie vibes from this book…in all the best ways. The chemistry was off the charts and I loved these characters SO much! Loved the writing, the character development, the pace, the dialogue…all of it was perfect. Oh, and I asked for a cozy book and man did Lovelight Farms deliver. So So good!

Goodreads Synopsis

Two best friends fake date to reach their holiday happily ever after in this first romantic comedy in the Lovelight series.

A pasture of dead trees. A hostile takeover of the Santa barn by a family of raccoons. And shipments that have mysteriously gone missing. Lovelight Farms is not the magical winter wonderland of Stella Bloom’s dreams.

In an effort to save the Christmas tree farm she’s loved since she was a kid, Stella enters a contest with Instagram-famous influencer Evelyn St. James. With the added publicity and the $100,000 cash prize, Stella might just be able to save the farm from its financial woes. There’s just one problem. To make the farm seem like a romantic destination for the holidays, she lied on her application and said she owns Lovelight Farms with her boyfriend. Only…there is no boyfriend.

Enter best friend Luka Peters. He just stopped by for some hot chocolate and somehow got a farm and a serious girlfriend in the process. But fake dating his best friend might be the best Christmas present he’s ever received.

Mom Com by Adriana Mather

Last but not least we have Mom Com by Adriana Mather. This book was laugh out loud funny and also so heartwarming. If you are a fan of second chance romance, witty banter, and fantastic chemistry then I know you will love this book! I really loved author Adriana Mather’s writing…very quick, witty, and clever. I binge read this book and think you will really enjoy the sweet story!

Goodreads Synopsis

Maddi DeLuca is coming home for the holidays with her nine-year-old son, only it’s not the triumphant return she might have hoped for. She recently broke down on a reality TV baking show, letting the entire country know she feels like a colossal failure. And she can be certain her mother will remind her of all the ways she hasn’t lived up to expectations over the years.

Ten years ago, all Maddi dreamt of was running her father’s beloved bakery in their tiny coastal town of Haverberry Cove, MA. Her best friend, Wilder Buenaventura, had his own dream—a life with Maddi. And for one brilliant moment when they were seventeen, those dreams collided. They baked together. They loved each other insatiably. But like a fallen soufflé, their relationship imploded, taking their lifelong friendship with it.

If she had her way, Maddi would have stayed in California, hiding her head in its beautiful white sands. But at her mother’s request, she has returned to her hometown to help deal with an urgent matter concerning her father’s will and his nostalgia-filled bakery. What Maddi doesn’t know is that this issue also mysteriously involves the one person she’s spent forever trying to forget—Wilder. Now she finds herself forced to make an impossible give up her father’s bakery and her lifelong dream, or find a way to coexist with Wilder without murdering him with a cookie cutter.

Eyes on 2024

I am so excited for 2024! There are some amazing books coming out and several of them from some of my favorite authors! We are a few weeks into the new year and I have already read a couple of new fave romances…Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez was SO good and I also loved The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling!

I will have a blog post coming next week sharing some of the Contemporary Romance novels that are releasing this year that I am most looking forward to! Y’all…there are SO many!

What are your favorites? Any that I have to add to my 2024 TBR??? Drop me a comment below or send a message! I am always looking to add to my TBR!

Happy Reading!

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