When my dad passed away in 2013, I struggled to find ways to manage the emotions I experienced. I tried watching movies, binged television shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race and The Bachelor. I ate – a lot.
In May 2014, I picked up my very first romance novel. Fifty Shades of Grey. I devoured it, as well as the two other books in the trilogy, and instantly set off in search of more romance. My obsession with the genre hit me quick and has not fizzled in the slightest. I guess you could say it was insta-love.
Looking at my Goodreads account, which is where I started tracking books in May 2014, I can tell you that I read a lot. Some were novellas or serials and I could sprint read through multiple in one evening. Some were long and drawn out and took several days to finish. But I couldn’t seem to read fast enough to inhale what was available to me
- 2014: 279 books
- 2015: 374 books
- 2016: 318 books
- 2017: 177 books
- 2018: 103 books
- 2019: 88 books
Clearly, I made some changed in 2017. I’ve gotten better at identifying which authors I know I will enjoy and which ones I know I can pass on because I don’t connect with their writing style. I also started writing my own romance books and it’s harder to read it while I’m writing than it was to read it on smoke breaks at my old job.
But I’m also incredibly guilty of the re-read. There are a handful of books out there that have just slain me. Ruined me. Created emotional upheavals. I return to these books over and over again – sometimes to read the entire thing, sometimes to skim as a reminder, sometimes to check back on the scenes that clutched me in the chest.
I want to share those with you because they have been life changing.
Sylvia Day – Crossfire Series
I dove into this series when there were only three books available back in 2014. I was desperate for something that felt like Fifty Shades, and the first book, Bared to You, absolutely delivered. When I re-read, I mostly return to the first book, though I do enjoy dipping in and out of the others as well. If you love lots of wealth, alpha male, steamy sex and insta-love, this five book series is definitely for you.
K. Bromberg – Driven Series
This was an absolutely phenomenal trilogy. The rich playboy/money-conscious heroine concept was new to me at the time, and I loved how the two characters seemed strong and resilient. I also loved the foster care component as a side-story, and feel like the side characters were written amazingly. If you’re into sexy race car drivers, women who don’t take your shit, and steamy, goodness, Driven is a great choice.
Mariana Zapata – Kulti
When I stumbled onto this forbidden sports romance set in the world of women’s professional soccer, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Kulti was my first read by Zapata, and it is long and very much a slow burn. I fell in love with Kulti’s stoic, abrasive character and how he grows soft and caring because of Sal. This is an absolute must read for any sports romance enthusiast.
Sherilee Gray – Breaking Him
I’m going to be completely transparent. I go back to this book over and over because it has some of the steamiest sex scenes I’ve ever read. I love the strong side of the heroine and the sensitive side of the (virgin) hero, a nice shift in a world filled with dominant males and the women who must bow to them. Breaking Him is on the shorter side, but has a healthy balance of storyline and steam.
Christina Lauren – Beautiful Secret
I’m a big fan of all of the books in Christina Lauren’s Beautiful Bastard Series, but the fourth book is what has me coming back to re-read again and again. I love age-gap romances, as well as a ‘teach me’ romance, one where either the hero or heroine are less versed in relationships and sex and the person helps give them a little education. Beautiful Secret ticks those boxes and more. It’s heart-wrenching and so, so, so good.
So there you have it. I will shout these books from the rooftops until the end of time. They’re sexy and strong and beautiful in so many ways. I hope if you haven’t heart of these, you’ll give them a try.
I also want to encourage you to go back and re-read books over again. There’s something about visiting characters you fell in love with that’s like putting on a snuggy pair of socks or a comfortable sweater. It sparks a happiness that’s hard to quantify, and makes you feel right at home.
What are your favorite re-reads that you keep coming back to? Leave them in the comments below!