My March 2024 Reading List: What to Read and What to Skip in Romance

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In this book list and podcast episode, I’m reviewing all the romance books that I read in March 2024 and sharing what I really think of them – including which books I recommend that you definitely read and maybe a few books that I suggest you just borrow or skip.

This month I read a wide range of romance so there should be something for every kind of reader from contemporary to historical to paranormal to queer and more!

Check out the books below or listen to the podcast episode:

Episode 45: My March 2024 Reading List: What to Read & What to Skip

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Books Mentioned In this Episode:

Show Notes:

Hello readers!

Thanks for joining me today here on the She Reads Romance Books podcast! This month flew by I tell you but I’m OK with that because I’m ready for the warm days to come and stay and we are about to head out on spring break which I am SO ready for.

I’ve got my bag packed and my Kindle full so I’m hoping that I can crank through a bunch of books. We don’t have a lot planned for this vacation – just time at the pool and/or beach and I’m completely fine with that.

I’ll probably work a bit to put the finishing touches on the She Reads Romance Books Book Club which if you haven’t heard is launching VERY soon. Like soon soon so please join my email list so you can be the first to know when I get the sign up posted so you can join and find out what our first book is going to be. I’ve already lined up the author to join us for a Q&A session and it’s going to be so amazing because she’s awesome and I love her.

But onto my reading list – this was an interesting month of reading for me. I had a few favorite books of the month, several contemporary romances but the other two were a werewolf romance and historical romance. Those two categories seem like two opposite sides of the spectrum and yet a love story is a love story whether it’s set back in old England, or a world with werewolves and a shadow beast.

Unfortunately, it was also a month where several books just didn’t hit the mark. Either because the writing didn’t flow or the story just didn’t do it for me. And there were several books like this in a row which was a bummer and got me in a bit of a slump, and some that I just didn’t even finish.

Whenever I’m in a reading rut and have several books I don’t click with I start to get really uncomfortable about reviewing books. I am not an author and I think it’s pretty darn hard to be a great author. But that doesn’t mean that my expectations aren’t high for those who choose to write a book. I don’t want to blast anybody for their work but I do want to be honest in what I think about something.

The America Fererra monologue from the Barbie movie comes to mind when I feel this way because I feel like you should be honest but not too honest and you can’t be too critical or you’re considered a bitch.

My point being that I hope in talking about books that I don’t care for that the intent comes across that I’m just sharing my point of view of what worked or didn’t work for me from the story, but that doesn’t take away from the author’s hard work, and that someone else may absolutely love it.

But then I think about people who review restaurants. Now those people I assume are not chefs just like I’m not an author. But they’re there to review a restaurant and the dishes they try and to give their opinion on how the chef mixes flavors and how they present all the different pieces to a full meal.

And sometimes those pieces just don’t come together well, and I’d rather have a restaurant reviewer tell me that honestly instead of writing a review that they liked everything. Right?  Anyway, I’m just rambling now but given those thoughts, I’m just going to quickly talk about the books that didn’t work for me this month.

The first is Euro Dreams by Kate Stewart.

Euro Dreams by Kate Stewart is a contemporary romance book read by She Reads Romance Books in March 2024.

Euro Dreams
by Kate Stewart

This is a contemporary romance about two colleagues on a quasi-work trip to Europe. Lucian is this amazing surgeon who is about to do a ground-breaking surgery and the heroine is a nurse who’s along for the trip to assist in the surgery.

It’s billed as a trip from hell, enemies to lovers romance but it didn’t really come across that way to me.

I don’t think I’ve stopped reading a Kate Stewart book before because she is one of my favorite romance authors but I was baffled by this one because I just didn’t know what I was reading. I stopped at 46% in.

Yes, the heroine’s start to their trip was full of a few crazy moments but nothing that outrageous, and then the two of them just kept having the same conversation about a deal to be real with each other but then it gets wordy and I don’t really know what they are trying to get out of their conversations and I just didn’t like either main character. Basically, I was confused by the plot, wasn’t hooked by the characters so I just had to stop reading it.  

The next book I stopped reading almost halfway through was At First Spite by Olivia Dade which was another enemies to lovers romance and I love this trope so much so I was a bit sad to just call it on this one.

It was also my pick for the March Romance Book Reading Challenge prompt which was to read one contemporary romance but I have other books that met this challenge for the month too.

At First Spite is a romance book read by She Reads Romance Books in March 2024.

At First Spite
by Olivia Dade

This is about Athena who ends up moving into this tiny house, called the Spite house, which she had bought as a wedding gift for her fiancé but when her fiancé goes and ends their engagement, she has no choice but to move into the house herself.

Oh, and she happens to be out of a job and now has her almost brother-in-law as a neighbor. She hates Dr. Matthew Vine because she thinks he convinced his younger brother to call things off.

I thought this would be a mix of funny and sweet because she conspires to make Matthew’s life miserable and yet he actually does like Athena and tries to help her out but it just wasn’t moving forward for me.

I think others might like it but I don’t think Olivia Dade books are for me. I’ve tried and stopped another one of her books so I’m thinking her storytelling just isn’t for me despite loving the set ups she comes up with.

The next book I did finish but didn’t love it. Fake-ish is the first book I’ve read by Winter Renshaw and the story was intriguing but for lack of a better description it read like a debut novel to me.

Fake-ish is a romance book read by She Reads Romance Books in March 2024.

Fake-ish
by Winter Renshaw

It’s a unique fake relationship romance if you love those. Briar and Dorian meet up at a friend’s joint bachelor/bachelorette party and end up spending the night together talking and then having this epic one-night stand then after they make this pact to reconnect in two years after he’s done touring with the band he manages. This part was great and a good hook.

But they end up face to face just a year later when Briar agrees to pose as her boss’ fiancé so that he can gain his inheritance. She just has to spend the summer on their family’s island but there she comes face to face with Dorian who is Burke’s (her pretend fiance’s) brother.

So a lot going on and I picked it up because I liked the fake relationship that implodes in her face but the characters were all just a bit off. The family drama felt contrived and not fully fleshed out and I didn’t believe Dorian would ask her to wait for him given how he was characterized at the beginning. So it had the bones of a good story but just didn’t execute to my liking I’ll say.

Ok so moving on from the disappointments of the month, I next read one of my most anticipated new romance books for 2024 which was A Love Song for Ricki Wilde by Tia Wiliams.

A Love Song for Ricki Wilde is a romance book read by She Reads Romance Books in March 2024.

A Love Song for Ricki Wilde
by Tia Williams

This came out in February and has a focus on leap years which was very fitting since this was a leap year. Without spoiling it there is this magical thread to it that brings the hero and heroine together in New York City.

Ricki Wilde, the heroine, is part of this powerful Atlanta dynasty where her father owns this chain of funeral homes and her sisters have all bought franchises and work for the business too. It’s expected that Ricki will join the family business but she’s never fit in with her family.

She instead has this love of flowers and ups and moves to NYC to open her own flower shop after meeting this ninety-year-old widow, Ms. Della, who invites her to rent the bottom floor of her Harlem brownstone.

Because this was one of my most anticipated books of the year and because I loved Wiliams’ book Seven Days in June, my expectations for this one were super high. And I’ll say that I did enjoy reading but I’ll admit that this is one of those books that I’m glad I read it but after finishing it, all I can think about is what could’ve made it better.

I think that this book didn’t quite capture me to the same extent as Seven Days in June did because it was trying to be so many things. And yet trying to be so many things none of those things were fully flushed out.

For example, I found this to be a historical book that focused on the Harlem Renaissance and honestly, this is the part that I loved most. And while the initial chapters that delved into the Harlem Renaissance were fascinating and a great hook, that piece faded to where then facts and names from that period were just thrown out as the book went on.

I honestly would’ve loved if this was just a historic romance set in the Harlem Renaissance so she could really flush out everything of that time period since it was that captivating.

It also seems to be a coming-of-age story for Ricky, at least, from the beginning, talking about her unsupportive family and nasty sisters. And yet her family just sort of dropped off to the wayside, and even her quest to start up her flower shop, kind of fell into the background as well. I don’t even understand how or if it was that successful, or how it got that way.

I, of course, picked it up for the romance but the romance piece almost seemed tacked on to the rest of the story. Ricky and Ezra ran into each other maybe two times and it was total insta love. Now I don’t mind insta love in books however, I really didn’t understand how they became so consumed with each other in such a short time and their bedroom scenes were just a bit cringy.

I loved the aspect of her friendship with her adoptive “grandmother“ and the friendship with her new friend Tuesday, but even those aspects of the story felt like a lot and yet underdeveloped at the same time.

All of this is to say that a lot was going on in the book, and some parts were really interesting and good but reflecting back on the story as a whole it was a bit disjointed. The Harlem Renaissance part was honestly the best and as the magical aspect became apparent, it was pretty obvious how it was going to end so that wasn’t much of a surprise.

So, I’d say if you want to read about that time period or if you’re a fan of Tia Wiliams then definitely read it. I just went in hoping to really love it but found it just good and wanting a bit more.

OK, now onto my werewolf romance phase of the month. The first book being Wolf Gone Wild by Juliette Cross which is the first book in her Stay a Spell series which I cannot believe I haven’t picked up before now.

Wolf Gone Wild is a romance book read by She Reads Romance Books in March 2024.

Wolf Gone Wild
by Juliette Cross

This book focuses on Mateo Cruz, the hero, who is a werewolf who has been unable to shift for three months. And because he hasn’t been able to shift, he hears his wolf in his head who is pushing him to take up his more carnal and violent urges. And he’s pretty much making Mateo go insane so he seeks out the help of Evie who is a witch whose power is to break curses.  

Even though there is this unspoken, or maybe spoken I can’t remember which, rule that she and her sisters don’t mix with werewolves, Evie decides to help Mateo but soon realizes that it’s not just a simple curse that is effecting him.

While she and her sisters try to figure out how to help him, she agrees to hang out with Mateo for 4 hours a day so that he can complete the art commissions that he has lined up for work. He’s a sculptor and he hasn’t been able to get work done with his wolf constantly in his head but his wolf seems to quiet down whenever he is around Evie – obviously because both he and the wolf really like her and her wolf basically declares that’s because Evie is their mate.

I enjoyed this one and gave it 3-4 stars. I liked the fact that Mateo heard his wolf in his head as it was a good juxtaposition of Mateo in his human form was this sweet guy who didn’t want his urges to overtake him and then there was Alpha who was all about violence to anyone who threatened them or Evie and who wanted to sleep with her any chance she was around. Poor Mateo was just trying to balance it all and not scare Evie away.

The beginning was a tad slow if anything but I liked the chemistry between the characters and Cross does a great job of introducing you to Evie’s sisters and other characters whose books you get further into the series. I recommend this if you like werewolf romances!

The next werewolf romance I read was Rejected by Jaymin Eve and honestly, it was one I just randomly picked up on Kindle Unlimited and I’m glad I did. It’s book one in the Shadow Beast Shifters series.

Rejected is a romance book read by She Reads Romance Books in March 2024.

Rejected
by Jaymin Eve

Mera, the heroine, is part of a pack that hates her and bullies her because her father had challenged the alpha and lost. She’s been paying for his choices ever since and just biding her time until she has her first shift and she can leave the pack.

When she does shift, turns out that her true mate is the son of the Alpha but he rejects her. With that denial her wolf howls and ends up touching the shadow world and bringing the Shadow Beast, their shifter god to her and then the Shadow Beast taking her to his lair for lack of a better word.

This book starts out as a bully romance in her hometown turned enemies to lovers romance with the shadow beast which has paranormal and fantasy elements with a strong heroine and since it’s book one, it ends on a cliffhanger FYI.

After reading it my first thought was that this book has so many similarities to A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah. J. Maas only with a more paranormal angle along with the fantasy. I mean the more I thought about it the more the similarities I saw.

First, you have a strong heroine who doesn’t have a great home life. She does something, in this case howls and touches the shadow lands, which prompts her to be taken against her will by a leader, in her case the Shadow Beast.

The Shadow Beast needs her for a particular reason which he isn’t upfront about at first (just as Tamlin needs Feyre).

Of course, the heroine who is bullied and not treated well at the beginning becomes so much more powerful than anyone realizes….and she ends up falling for the person she shouldn’t and who took her in the first place…sound familiar?

There are even more similarities but I won’t go into them for risk of spoiling anything but it’s uncanny. Another similarity at least for me is that I found both books to be a bit slow in parts which if they were just a bit tighter would be out of this world, but I enjoyed it and recommend it if you like werewolves, fated mates, strong heroines, and paranormal romance.

The next book I listened to as an audiobook and OMG I freakin loved it. I mentioned that I loved a historical romance at the beginning and this it. I finally sat down with How to Tame a Wild Rogue by Julie Anne Long and man did this book just reinforce how much I love her work and how talented a writer she is.

Plus, I normally don’t listen to audiobooks but this one was phenomenal. Narrated by Justine Eyre I cannot say it enough that her voices were fantastic. Just fantastic. And the delivery was just perfection.

How to Tame a Wild Rogue is a romance book read by She Reads Romance Books in March 2024.

How To Tame a Wild Rogue
by Julie Anne Long

This is book six in Long’s Palace of Rogues series which features love stories set within the famed hotel, the Grand Palace on the Thames. I read book three prior to this one, I’m Only Wicked With You, but believe it can be read as a standalone.

The couples from book one and two however are featured heavily in this one so if you don’t want their unions to be spoiled you may want to just start at the beginning. You honestly can’t go wrong either way.

But in this story, Daphne, the heroine, is found one dark night dangling out of a second story window, trying to escape an unsavory working situation when she is rescued by Lorcan St. Ledger. Because of the late hour with a raging storm on their heels, the two find themselves at the door of the Grand Palace on the Thames in desperate need of shelter from the storm.

But the only room available is a suite so the two pose as a married couple before knowing that people from their respective pasts are owners of the hotel or their spouses.

If you love a good slow burn, opposites attract romance then this is the book for you. There is so much I loved about this book. First the characters.

I’m a sucker for a strong heroine when it comes to historical romance and Daphne is amazing. She is a woman who’s had to step up in life since the age of 11, got jilted by a former fiancé, and now is faced with a proposal from a much older man with a title that she pretty much has to take given her father’s debts.

Then there is Lorcan – a man who came up from nothing, and did not always do so in lawful ways, but he now owns a ship and is a privateer. He immediately comes to Daphne’s rescue and plays the dutiful part as her loving husband and ultimately becomes the one person she can let go with and depend on.

And let me just say that Julie Anne Long is so exquisite in her prose and word choice. I mean every sentence is like a masterpiece but doesn’t come across as heady or too wordy if that makes sense. Her writing is just beautiful in her descriptions and how she builds up the tension and chemistry between her characters.

She’s also an amazing writer because she can write the steamiest scenes when all Daphne has to do is put her hand on his thigh and the tension skyrockets by 100%.

And then there is this scene where the two of them are playing a game and he gets her so worked up by his words and then he wins the bet to kiss her on her upper thigh and OMG I felt like it was the steamiest scene EVER and yet he just kissed her thigh. UGH…it was amazing.

Plus, this book has THE BEST proposal speech I think I’ve ever read. Lorcan is just amazing. Such a great book I cannot recommend it enough. Check out How to Tame a Wild Rogue by Julie Anne Long.

This month I also read Lynn Painter’s newest release, Happily Never After. The set up of this romance and the meet-cute for the hero and heroine is what totally drew me to this story, plus the fact that I fell hard for her writing last year after reading The Love Wager.

Happily Never After is a romance book read by She Reads Romance Books in March 2024.

Happily Never After
by Lynn Painter

This was another one of my most anticipated romance books of 2024 and it didn’t disappoint.

I absolutely loved how Sophie and Max meet in this story. Max is hired to object at Sophie’s wedding because she finds out that her fiancé has cheated on her again and she can’t call off the wedding herself given that her father works for her fiance’s father.

So Max gets her out of her nuptials by objecting and that night they end up drinking together and Sophie notes that she could have a lot of fun objecting at weddings too. When Max gets another wedding gig that he could use her help on they reconnect and the rest is history.

The whole business about objecting at weddings was such a fun hook to the story and it was super cute to see them at work. Of course, the entire need for them to object only solidifies their respective attitudes toward love and marriage (neither want it or believe in it) and yet hanging out together only fuels their attraction and chemistry together.

Turns out that they use this to their advantage – pretending to be more than just friends for her boss’s sake (as she wants a promotion and needs to demonstrate better work/life balance) and her his parent’s sake as his dad won’t retire and they won’t move to Florida until they think he’s “settled.”

So throw in some fake dating and some hot chemistry and a shared belief about love never being enough and you’ve got two people who are just really fun and easy to root for.

Also Throw in some geriatric roommates for some comic relief and a much-needed heart to heart and the novel was an easy read that I really enjoyed. I highly recommend. Check out my full book review of Happily Never After.

This month I also read an advanced reader copy of Alison Cochrun’s newest romance which releases tomorrow, April 2. It’s her second lesbian romance called Here We Go Again but it’s really more than a former friends to lovers romance.

Here We Go Again is a romance book read by She Reads Romance Books in March 2024.

Here We Go Again
by Alison Cochrun

This book stars Logan and Rosemary who used to be best friends when they were tweens until one party where they kissed and then their friendship imploded and they haven’t really spoken for 10 years or maybe more honestly despite them both living in their hometown and working at the same high school as teachers.

They both love and have befriended a former English teacher and mentor, Joe, who has been struggling with cancer and who is now told he only has a short time left to live so he asks the girls to drive him from Washington state to Bar Harbor Maine so he can die while looking out at the ocean from the cabin where he used to live.

So you have both women who are complete opposites in a way, Logan who has ADHD and impulsivity control issues whose life choices describe her as a fuckboy and then there’s Rosemary who’s anxiety manifests as the need for complete control and planning and the need to be perfect. Putting these two in a van with a dying man and a dog is like a recipe for disaster and it is in so many ways but it’s also this amazing journey for all of them as they travel cross country.

I did enjoy the romance development between Logan and Rosemary and how they came to finally talk about what happened between them as kids and how they came to be honest with one another about their current struggles. There’s a lot going on with these women that impacts their ability to trust others and feel like they are worthy of a relationship.

But then there is Joe and I was equally if not more captivated by this man and his journey and backstory.

Don’t get me wrong this book was heart-wrenching and has trigger warnings for a reason as it is about someone’s death, his end of life journey and how these two women give their favorite teacher, stand-in parent, and friend the send-off that he wants and how they grieve along the way.

There is also a trigger warning about parental neglect which seems to be a hot topic lately for romance books. This is the third romance I’ve read this year that uses that theme.

I adored Cochrun’s debut novel, The Charm Offensive, and Here We Go Again brings the same level of storytelling with what I’m gathering is her signature look at mental health and real-life topics that impact personal lives and thus their relationships.

It is not a particularly steamy romance. There is really only one short scene that only has them watching each other so if you’re not one to like steamy romances this is not one of them and it didn’t need to be in my opinion.

Cochrun was a former English teacher so I imagine she brought some of her own experience to this novel but either way it is definitely one of her best books and just proves that she’s a must-read author for me.

Check out my full book review of Here We Go Again.

The final book I read this month was Nine Month Contract by Amy Daws. It had been over a year since Amy’s last release, Last on the List so I was beyond excited to finally read something new from her because she is truly one of my favorite romance authors.

Nine Month Contract is a romance book read by She Reads Romance Books in March 2024.

Nine Month Contract
by Amy Daws

She has this amazing way of writing hilarious romcoms while also hitting you with all the feels and delivering the best banter and she does it again with Nine Month Contract which was fabulous.

This is a wannabe single dad romance with some age gap and forced proximity thrown in because Wyatt Fletcher is a mountain man who’s ready to become a single dad so he’s on the hunt for someone to be a surrogate for him.

But throw in two crazy brothers and a niece who wants to help him find a surrogate and love, and you get a want ad placed in the local bar and an ad up on Craigslist looking for a woman with a uterus who wants to give the mountain man a baby.

It’s hilarious in its set up which leads him to interview Trista for the role and she’s perfect – even willing to go the traditional surrogacy route in exchange for money she desperately needs to start up an animal rescue as well as an apartment located above Wyatt’s barn.

From their first attempt at insemination to their simmering attraction and the animals on the farm that keep multiplying, this book, as I said, was such a great blend of Amy’s humor and banter with other important topics such as body image, family love and support and the ability to trust that someone can be there for you no matter what.

This book kicks off a new series for Daws and I’m already excited for the next brother’s story. It can easily be read as a standalone but you do get Wyatt’s 3rd brother Max in here with his wife and daughter whose story you get in her latest release, Last on the List which is worth the read as well.

I’m not going to go into this book more other than to say that it’s wonderful, one of the best of the year, and one I highly recommend you read. You can learn more in my book review of Nine Month Contract.

And I’m not going into it more because you’ll want to tune into my podcast next week because I had the opportunity to chat with Amy about the book, her writing and all the things and I’ll be sharing that interview in my next podcast episode.

It was seriously such a joy to talk with her and I think you’re really going to love that episode as we cover a lot of things including this book.

And there you have it. Quite a mix of a reading month with some definitely misses but also so many hits as well that you really have to add to your TBR list. Some really great variety too from historical to paranormal to queer to romcom – definitely something for everyone on this list of recommendations.

Thank you so much for listening. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and or join my newsletter because I’m putting the finishing touches on the She Reads Romance Books Book Club membership which is going live by the end of the month and I’m beyond excited for it.

I already have several authors lined up for Q&As after reading their books which is just one benefit of the membership so get ready to join the club!

But in the meantime, happy reading…because life is better with a love story!

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Check out She Reads Romance Books March 2024 reading list to see which books she recommends you read and which romance books she recommends you skip!
Leslie Murphy is the owner and writer of She Reads Romance Books.

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Leslie is the founder, writer, and producer of She Reads Romance Books (and the She Reads Romance Books Podcast), an online book community focused on romance books and the readers who love them because life is better with a love story.

Leslie reads 150 romance books a year and has been called a "book expert" by CNN. Reading romance is her passion and she cultivates her book lists with the best books worth reading in the genre. Leslie graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College where she honed her writing skills and also holds two Master's degrees. Join her community in the She Reads Romance Books Reader Lounge.

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