Y'all, I got together with some of my best author buddies and compiled a list of our favorite indie-published romances of 2019. The rules - we couldn't recommend each other's work or anyone who is super big-time. We also didn't coordinate our recommendations, which explains why some authors or books show up multiple times. Take a scroll through and let me know in the comments what was your favorite read of 2019.
Mae Wood recommends Tombstones by KC Enders
Tombstones by KC Enders
A Green Beret on leave has a holiday fling that results in a surprise pregnancy. With that one sentence, how could you not want to read this book? This book stood out for me because there is a sweetness to our determined hero. His family didn’t want him to go to into the service. His high school girlfriend is still chasing him, but he’s intent on building a life for himself, a life that he wants, not a life that’s thrust upon him. He doesn’t want to risk anyone’s heart — especially his own -- while he’s still active duty, but no one truly gets to make that decision, do they? This the fourth book in K.C. Ender’s steamy Beekman Hills series. Centered around an Irish pub in upstate New York, I’ve read them all. I think they are best read in order, so you can enjoy the entire universe of Beekman Hills.
Lucy Score Recommends Delancey Stewart’s Happily Ever His
I picked Happily Ever His up on a whim and zoomed right through it. It's a small-town romance with a Hollywood star who's just about given up on finding something real. Tess is as real as it gets. The "normal, average" sister to a major movie star, Tess is used to not standing out. So when she and her sister's famous FAKE boyfriend develop a case of instalust in the midst of a scandal, I was THERE FOR IT.
Plus, there's a 90-year-old gamer grandma and a house chicken who falls in love with a bodyguard. I mean, just do yourself a favorite and pick up this book!
Lucy Score is a Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author of contemporary romance. Her favorite hobbies appear to include talking about herself in the third person on her own blog. Ahhhh, that kooky Lucy!
Kait Nolan Recommends Brighton Walsh’s Hometown Troublemaker
Kait Nolan: RITA ® Award winning MS native, who swears like a sailor, calls everyone sugar, & can wield a bless your heart like a saber or a Snuggie, depending on necessity
Hometown Troublemaker by Brighton Walsh
I love, love LOVE this series set in small-town Mississippi. It's hot (seriously hawt), sweet, funny, and it gets two thumbs up and a Magnolia Seal of Approval from this real Mississippi girl. Hometown Troublemaker features a divorced, mom of two, who gets the delightful lesson that perfect is not all it's cracked up to be. The hero, Nash, runs a construction company and it's so incredibly fantastic seeing him...well, see the real her. After a lifetime of pleasing other people instead of herself, it's delightful getting to watch her come into her own because of his support. He's exactly the kind of hero I adore. Also, the abs. And the toolbelt. Rowr. It's second in the series but can totally be read as a standalone.
Marley Valentine recommends Impact by Haley Jenner
A romantic at heart, Marley Valentine's stories combine the sometimes ugly truths of life, with a well deserved happy ever after.
IMPACT by Haley Jenner
A perfectly matched writing duo, Haley Jenner will blow you away with their words. While their writing in every book is stellar and evocative; it's the way they've brought heartache and happiness to life in IMPACT, that really sets them apart. For many, this book will go beyond the pages. It's true life. It's an experience. It's a well deserved second chance.
Kacey Shea (cheater, cheater pumpkin eater who recommended TWO books) recommends Waking Olivia by Elizabeth O’Roark
and Ridorkulous by Mary Frame
Kacey enjoys writing strong and smart heroines, heroes with hearts of gold, and stories that deliver a satisfying, well-earned happily ever after.
Waking Olivia by Elizabeth O'Roark
Wow. You know that feeling of reading a story, so unique and well written, that you can’t put it down? That’s how I felt when I started Waking Olivia. Olivia is the headstrong, independent heroine with scars so deep you find yourself rooting for her even when she screws up. She doesn’t trust easily, but when a bond is forged between her and her coach, it blooms into so much more. Beautifully written, this happy ever after is one this couple has to work for, but ultimately so satisfying. I can’t shut up about this book! No, really, I’ve been telling everyone to read it. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to pick up an Elizabeth O’Roark book, but boy am I glad I did!
Ridorkulous by Mary Frame
Oh my goodness! This book has everything I love in a good rom com! Smart, witty dialogue, hilarious supporting characters, and laugh out loud shenanigans. Two college students, nerd girl vs. hunky athlete fight for the last available room on campus in a series of unconventional challenges, all while the slow burn romance builds between them. I could not put this book down, and as soon as I finished I binged Mary Frame’s entire backlist.
Mia Kayla recommends Game Changer by Sierra Hill
Mia Kayla, Writer of Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters.
Game Changer by Sierra Hill
Gah! I love this author and I love this book. Looking for a single dad /nanny story that’s jam-packed with emotion? Look no further, because this is your next read. I love the heart and strength of the hero, his love for his special needs child and the growth he makes within the book. He’s made some mistakes but to see the overall change of the hero was beautiful. He has met his perfect match in Brooklyn, the nanny he’s hired to watch his son. This couple has off-the-charts chemistry, sparks that fly sky-high and steam so hot that you can feel it through the pages of the book. I highly recommend this book.
Jami Albright recommends Times Like These by Julia Wolf
Jami Albright, I write zany, sexy, pee your pants funny romcoms. If you don't snort with laughter, then I haven't done my job.
What a great book! Dalia and Nick’s story is stormy, super-steamy, and immensely satisfying! I loved this couple, and I also loved all the side characters. Julia Wolf not only made me fall in love with the moody lead singer of Blue is the Colore, Nick Fletcher, but also with the other three members of the band. Times Like These grabbed me in the first chapter and didn't let go until Nick and Dalia got their HEA!
Kelsey Kingsley recommends Times Like These by Julia Wolf
A contemporary romance author of nine books, living in New York with her family and a cat named Ethel.
It isn't often that I find myself so completely obsessed with an author's work that I proceed to binge the rest of their work after reading. But that's exactly what happened here. The storyline is that addicting, the hero is that swoon-worthy, and the supporting characters are that compelling. I am officially, 100% addicted to Julia Wolf and her Blue boys, and if you're into compellingly hot and perfectly witty rock star romance, I bet you will be, too.
LJ Evans recommends Alma Underwood is Not a Kleptomaniac
LJ Evans writes contemporary romance that should come with a WARNING label: “Do not read unless you are prepared to invest your heart and soul.” You can find her at https://www.ljevansbooks.com
Lacey Dailey Alma Underwood is Not a Kleptomaniac
Lacey Dailey did a beautiful job with this story. It’s a gorgeous YA, coming-of-age romance with a physically disabled hero and a do-good heroine that is completely hard to resist. It has a whole host of quirky, lovable secondary characters including some incredible LGBTQIA folks that make you laugh and want to hug them all at the same time. Lacey strives to be inclusive in her writing and ends up hitting a tone that is a mixture of Sarah Dessen, Rainbow Rowell, and John Green with a slice of humor that is extremely enticing. Can't wait to read more of her words
Claire Kingsley recommends Nerdgasm by Kimberly Reese
Amazon top 10 bestselling author of sexy and heartwarming contemporary romances and romantic comedies.
Nerdgasm by Kimberly Reese
Nerdgasm is a light, sexy read that was a ton of fun. Super cute, nerdy hero? Yes, please! And the oranges conversation? HOLY HOTNESS. Trust me, you'll never look at oranges the same way again. This book is a great choice when you want a fun storyline and a feel good ending.
Pippa Grant recommends Scoring the Keeper’s Sister by Delancey Stewart
Pippa Grant writes romantic comedies that will make tears run down your leg.
Scoring the Keeper’s Sister by Delancey Stewart
This book a) is funny, b) has a bet about cheese, c) with a hero who’s more than he appears, and d) has all of my favorite tropes - enemies to lovers, athletes, and teammate’s/best friend’s little sister. It’s like a bacon taco made by a unicorn, except it’s a romance novel, and it’s awesome, and everyone should read it yesterday.
Jeannine Colette recommends A Scarcity of Condors by Suanne Laquer
Jeannine Colette combines angst and humor in her sexy, stand-alone romance novels. Her stories feature dynamic heroines, and swoon-worthy heroes, who have to abandon their reality in order to discover themselves . . . and love along the way.
A Scarcity of Condors by Suanne Laquer
A Scarcity of Condors by Suanne Laquer can not simply be described as "a good read." It's an EXPERIENCE. With plots that intricate in design, scene rich in history and characters that move throughout the scene, Suanne has the ability to take you into a world unlike any other, and completely submerse you. A Scarcity of Condors is a M/M romance, historical suspense, an inspirational tale, and a familial love story all woven into one. It takes place over generations, and yet stays in the present. It takes you from the tortured souls to the ones finding love for the first time. Only a truly kickass author who knows the definition of humanity can achieve that.
Not only is Suanne a superb writer, but she's also a CHAMPION of the indie author. As an editor for brilliant minds like Emma Scott and Leylah Attar, she has helped craft some of the greatest novels of 2019. She never has a bad thing to say about another's work, is always proud of your accomplishments, and will love you even if you differ in views politically. She is one of my favorite people in this industry, and I think she deserves ALL THE PRAISE!
There you go. Our collective "wisdom" on the indie-published work that stood out to us in 2019. In the comments, please share your best book of 2019 so that we can swap our favorites.
P.S. Wondering why Kathryn Nolan, Dylan Allen, Kate Canterbary, Kennedy Ryan, and others didn't make the list? Don't be sad -- be happy that we all hang out and therefore couldn't cross-recommend.