Julia's Go-To Romances

When I tell people that I’m an author who’s written a few romances in her time, I inevitably get two reactions:

  • “What? That’s so random.”

  • “Oh my god, I love romance. Give me all of your recommendations.”

The people with that second reaction? That makes my little author/reader heart pitter-patter with delight.

Here are a few of my go-to romances when someone asks what their next read should be.

If you like rom coms, try Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

Sophie Dempsey wants to help her sister film a video and then get out of Temptation, Ohio. Mayor Phin Tucker wants to play pool with the police chief and keep things peaceful. But when Sophie and Phin meet, they both get more than they want. Gossip, blackmail, adultery, murder, vehicular abuse of a corpse, and slightly perverse but excellent sex: all hell breaks loose in Temptation as Sophie and Phin fall deeper and deeper in trouble... and in love.

Jennifer Crusie is usually one of my first recommendations for my friends who are dipping their toes into romance and are big rom com watchers. In all of her books, she manages to blend quirky characters, hilarious scenarios, and a bit of steaminess. In this book, a movie rolls into a small town and quickly turns everyone’s life inside out as it spirals out of control. The romance between Phin, the town’s mayor, and Sophie, who is helping her sister make the movie, is funny, complicated, and sweet in turns.

If you love period dramas with feisty heroines, try Devil in Winter by Lisa Kelypas

Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest Wallflower, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St Vincent with a most outrageous proposition: marriage!

Sebastian's reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden's good name. Still, Evie appeared, unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fine eye for beauty could do far worse. 

But Evie's proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become another of the Viscount's discarded broken hearts - which means Sebastian will have to work harder at his seductions . . . or surrender his own heart for the first time in the name of true love.

Listeners to the podcast are guaranteed to hear me go on about my love for Devil in Winter. It’s the ultimate underestimated heroine going toe-to-toe with a rakish alpha hero who, at his heart wants to protect and lift her up. It’s also a marriage of convenience (my catnip).

If you love spy thrillers and historical dramas, try An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.

Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton's Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.

Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy's favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other . . .

Full disclosure: Alyssa is a friend, and that makes recommending this book and hearing that people love it even sweeter. Truly talented at creating deep characters, tension, and explosive romance, Alyssa is able to make completely believable romance against the backdrop of a Civil War spy ring. It’s just so good.

If you like your heroes complicated and broody, try Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders

Ivan thought the world was through giving him second chances.

Hell, who was he kidding—he wasn't good enough for them anyway. And he certainly wasn't good enough for her.

But the moment Uma walked into his life, Ivan knew he had to put all that crap aside and do everything he could to help. She was like nothing he'd ever known. Beautiful, lost, alone, she had the kind of sad eyes that were just begging for someone to save her...

...and despite his rough exterior, despite the nasty rumors, despite all the bad decisions following him around like the strays he couldn't help but rescue, Ivan was nothing but willing to be the kind of man she needed.

Yeah, he'd thought the world was through giving him second chances. 

Until she came into his life. Until she changed everything.

Until he realized he would do anything, fight anyone, tear the world apart if it only meant saving her.

Another book by another friend that I will shamelessly flog because, again, it’s just so good. I picked up Adriana’s book, and read it straight through in one sitting because I just couldn’t stop. The story is emotionally raw, compelling, and beautifully tender all the same time. And Ivan is…well, he’s book boyfriend material.

If you love snappy banter, try The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman sit across from each other every day . . . and they hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. HATE. Lucy can't understand Joshua's joyless, uptight approach to his job and refusal to smile. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy's overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and desire to be liked.

Now they're up for the same promotion and Lucy, usually a determined people-pleaser, has had enough: it's time to take him down. But as the tension between Lucy and Joshua reaches its boiling point, it's clear that the real battle has only just begun . . .

Whenever I recommend this book, I always mention that I read it on audiobook because the narration is excellent. A classic workplace romance, this enemies-to-lovers book is tons of fun with great voice.

If you love action films, Off the Edge by Carolyn Crane

Hunted by her psycho ex-husband for years, Lanie flees across the globe to start a new life with a new identity. 

She’s home free…or is she? She’s caught sight of familiar faces on the crowded Bangkok streets.

Has her past caught up with her? 

Does she have to run yet again?

The last person she wants to turn to is her arrogant new frenemy, sexy Professor Peter Maxwell. And what could a linguistics expert do to help her, anyway? Though he does seem awfully lethal for a professor. And he has secrets, too…

All of the Undercover Associates books are good, but this one goes above and beyond in delivering action, adventure, and plenty of steamy romance. If you’re a fan of the Bourne or Bond movies like I am, this is the book for you.