What to Read & What to Skip: My January Reading List

Check out the romance books I read this month and discover which I would recommend you read and which romance novels I suggest you skip.

*Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Check out her mini reviews for her latest romance book recommendations to find the best romance books.

Well I’m happy to say that 2021 is off to a great start with romance books!

This month’s reads included a number of new releases as well as a few books that I STILL haven’t stopped thinking about – they were that good!

This post hopefully kicks off a great year to come of must read romance books and new book boyfriends to explore.

Mini Reviews to Save You From Mediocre Books

It’s my goal here at She Reads Romance Books to help fellow romance book junkies find the best romance books worth reading.

There are just SO many romance books available, so why waste your time (and money) reading a mediocre book?

That’s why every month I share with you my reading list with my recommendations for books to read and which books you should skip.

This month I was inundated with new releases all falling at the same time so it was nose to the page for days at times this month.

Totally worth it 🙂

While I loved several new releases, there were some disappointing throw backs in the pile this month so read on to see which I recommend and which I recommend you skip.

New This Year: Book Boyfriend Ratings!

She Reads Romance Books is here for you to not only help you pick the best romance books worth reading, but to also help you discover your next book boyfriend!

To help you uncover the best of the best, I decided to add a rating to my book reviews this year – a book boyfriend rating. OH YES!

While I love most of the heroes I read, there are some that stand out above and beyond all the rest.

THESE are the men I want to read about again and again. And they are who I’d want to meet in real life if that were ever possible….

So be sure to check out my book reviews for the final word on whether the book boyfriends below are worthy of 5 diamond rings!

My January 2021 Reading List: What to Read & What to Skip

Favorite Books of the Month:

The Finish Line by Kate Stewart is the final book in her contemporary romance series, The Ravenhood, that romance book fans will find worth reading. This is the epic conclusion to a must read series that delivers a powerful second chance love story. Find out if this is one of the best novels of 2021 by checking out the full book review from romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books.

The Finish Line
by Kate Stewart

Published January 2021
*advanced reader copy
AMAZING Second Chance Romance to Complete an Epic Series
5 stars

My life has been full of secrets and lies for one purpose—revenge. To enact my revenge I had to deny my heart – until her.

Giving in, we crashed together but we’ve both paid the price. I tried living without her but now I’m back to claim her once again and hope that my past doesn’t get us both in the end.

THIS BOOK. OMG, it’s hands down one of Stewart’s best and now one of my all-time favorite romance books!

Originally set to be an extended epilogue, Stewart expanded The Finish Line to be a third and final book to her Ravenhood series and it is everything I didn’t realize I needed to cap off this amazing series.

Read Flock and Exodus and then bask in this amazing conclusion. I can’t recommend it enough.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Related: Best Second Chance Romance Books, Best Romance Novels of All Time

Skin is a young adult romance book by popular romance book author, B.B. Easton. This high school romance book is part memoir and an overall unforgettable read. Check out the book review from romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books, to see if this is a teen romance book worth reading.

by B.B. Easton

Published September 2017
A Consuming, Coming of Age High School Romance
5 stars

At age 15, BB was planning her wedding to the punk hero of Peach State High, Lance Hightower. Trying desperately to gain his attention by not eating and shaving her head, she instead ends up the object of Ronald “Knight” McKnight’s attention.

He’s the senior skinhead who’s anger scares everyone, including BB, but who ultimately ends up getting under her skin and changing her life forever.

I am kicking myself for waiting so long to read this book!

Forget about romance books with the perfect heroine and the swoony hero with the fairytale romance. This is not that type of story. It’s so much more.

Easton pens such gritty, damaged, flawed, raw and devastatingly real teens in this coming of age tale laced with neglectful parents, poor self-esteem and the need to be loved.

This is a high school romance not to be missed.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Related: Best Teen Romance Books

The Ex Talk is sure to be one of 2021’s best romance books worth reading. Check out what romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books, thought of this enemies to lovers office romance where love is found on the air on public radio.

The Ex Talk
by Rachel Lynn Soloman

Published January 2021
*advanced reader copy
A Fantastic, Diverse, Enemies to Lovers Story
4.5 stars

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade. She loves her job but lately it’s one big headache due to her newest colleague, Dominic Yun.

Now she’s paired with him as her co-host for the new show, The Ex Talk, posing as exes, and sharing relationship advice live on the air.

The show is an instant hit but as the show’s popularity grows, so does their deception as the two start to fall for one another.

I absolutely loved this book. Fantastic story, amazingly diverse cast of characters and great writing!

I loved how these two opposites start to fall for one another but I also enjoyed a look into the world of public radio as well as the themes of love and loss that were explored.

I highly recommend this one.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Related: Best Enemies to Lovers Romance Books

More Romance Books To Read and Those to Skip:

The Strike Out by Meghan Quinn is a baseball romance book. Check out the book review by She Reads Romance Books.

The Strike Out
by Meghan Quinn

Published January 2021
*advanced reader copy
A Sweet, College Sports Romance
4 stars

Harmony works hard to put herself through school so she has no time for rich, arrogant baseball players who have it made at Brentwood University.

But one day was all it took to change her mind about Holt Green. Even though he finally has his dream girl, why can’t he shake the feeling that he’s going to strike out and lose her?

I’m so in love with Quinn’s baseball boys that she can do no wrong. This book has two equally strong characters you can’t help but fall for as they fall for each other.

If you want a book with witty banter, hilarious texting exchanges and just a sweet love story that you’ll devour in a day, you’ll enjoy this book.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Related: Best College Romance Books, Best Sports Romance Books, Book Series to Binge Read

Reputation book cover

by Adriana Locke

Published January 2021
A Good, Frenemies to Lovers Romance
3.5 stars

Coy Mason may now be biggest, rising country music star, but he’s still a jerk. He was the boy next door who Bellamy fell in love with until he broke his promises and broke her heart.

Now he’s back home to repair his damaged reputation and just maybe win back Bellamy’s love.

I knew that Coy’s story was going to be one I wanted to read because I was intrigued by the tension between him and Bellamy that was alluded to in Locke’s book The Relationship Pact.

What transpires, is Bellamy and Coy re-establishing their friendship in a matter of mere days and realizing that they do want more.

Words are finally shared, trust is rebuilt and life is all hunky dory. The end. A good book but more depth would have made it great.

Amazon | Goodreads

Related: Best Enemies to Lovers Romance Books

More Than This book cover.

More Than This
by Jay McLean

Published July 2013
An Over-the-Top, High School Romance

Everything came crashing down in Mikayla’s life the night of prom. Betrayal and tragedy took everything away from her in one night.

Helping her pick up the pieces is Jake, the boy she just met. Dependent on Jake and his family to get by, Mikayla can’t help but feel the pull between them but she’s not sure she can risk her heart again.

This was a DNF at 60% for me.

While I could get over the crazy amount of drama that ensues on the first night that Mikayla and Jake meet, I found it extremely hard to believe everything that followed.

I kept reading hoping it would come together, but ultimately got to the point that I really didn’t care anymore hence the DNF.

This book may have a lot of high reviews but I don’t recommend it.

Amazon | Goodreads

Lotto Men book cover.

Lotto Men
by Ann Denton

Published May 2019
A Fun, Reverse Harem Set Up
3 stars

Katie’s friend Heather hit the jack pot and won the lottery. The one thing she now wants? A harem.

Now Katie’s first gig with her new party planning business is to rent a private island and create the most epic experiences for Heather to find her men. Only it’s Katie who is having a hard time picking between the pilot, the chef and the tennis pro.

If you’re looking for a cute, fun take on a reverse harem book, then try this one.

It’s book one in a duet but could easily be read by itself. It’s actually low on steam but high on the comedy and quirkiness with this unique storyline.

Amazon | Goodreads

Scarlett XOXO book cover

Scarlett XOXO
by Autumn Reed

Published January 2020
An Empowering, Polyamorous Romance Book
3.75 stars

Since moving back to Hastings, Texas it’s impossible to escape the mistakes I’ve made. A Scarlett A could just as well be stamped on my chest.

But I’m back to take care of my little brother so I’ll take the whispers and gossip. What I’m not prepared for is the kindness shown to me by my brother’s teacher and the town’s golden boy.

This was a good polyamorous story and very well written. I actually enjoyed Scarlett’s growth and “diary” reflections the most.

The romance was light and very tame but took an overall back seat to her redemption as the best part of this story.

Amazon | Goodreads

Not My Match is a contemporary romance book by popular romance book author, Ilsa Madden-Mills. This opposites attract romance book pits a virgin with a professional football player. Check out the book review from romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books, to see if this is a romance book worth reading.

Not My Match
by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Published January 2021
*advanced reader copy
An OK, Roommates to Lovers Romance
3 stars

I’m sworn to stay away from Giselle, the sweet girl genius. But when she ends up homeless, I can’t help but invite her to live with me.

Not only does she need a place to stay, but she it’s clear she also needs help in the love department.

The only problem is the more I play matchmaker for the twenty-four-year-old virgin, the more I want her for my own.

I like romance books where the guy is clearly fighting his attraction to the girl all because he thinks he can’t have her. That translates into some fun posturing by Devon to protect Giselle from her blind dates and set ups in this one.

Overall, this was a fun read, but it just didn’t fully click for me to love it.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Not What I Expected book cover.

Not What I Expected
by Jewel E. Ann

Published December 2020
A Disappointing Enemies to Lovers Romance
2 stars

After four kids and an end to her twenty-two-year marriage, Elsie Smith now finds herself attracted to the new guy in town.

The problem? Kael Hendricks is not only younger and anti-marriage, he also just opened a new business that’s threatening the livelihood of Elsie’s family’s store.

I have to say this book lived up to its title- it was not what I expected.

While I love a good romance with an older heroine (cue Fortuity) I can’t stand when they fall into the age gap territory.

That aside, I think the honesty in how the little annoying rocks in a relationship can fester to the point you need out is so true. But all of the annoyances voiced in this book made me sad more than anything.

I also did not care for Kael and the last few chapters just sort of veered off for me, leaving me wondering if the book would have been better with them just having a fling.

This is one to pass on.

Amazon | Goodreads

Related: Best Enemies to Lovers Romance Books

You Had Me at Holais a contemporary romance book that was a nominee for best romance book in the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards. Check out the book review from romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books, to see if this is a romance book worth reading.

You Had Me at Hola
by Alexis Daria

Published December 2020
An OK But Diverse Office Romance
2.5-3 stars

Soap star Jasmine and telenovela star Ashton have a lot riding on the new TV show they are making together. Jasmine needs to improve her image after a public break up landed her in the tabloids and Ashton needs to revive his acting career or see it finished.

A disastrous first impression has their on-screen chemistry lacking so they’ve resorted to rehearsing in private which leads to a hidden fling. But as their feelings grow, the media spotlight on Jasmine threatens not only their relationship but Ashton’s biggest secret.

This was my selection for January in the 2021 Romance Book Reading Challenge in which the goal was to read one Best of 2020 book.

This romance was selected as one of the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominees for Best Romance so it was a perfect fit!

With all the accolades, I’ll admit that I went into this one with high hopes but it didn’t totally deliver for me. I found it difficult to buy into their attraction and chemistry which left me just trying to get through it.

It may work for some but not all.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Related: 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominees

Rebel Roommate is a new adult romance book by romance book duo, Jeannine Colette and Lauren Runow. Check out the book review from romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books, to see if this is a new adult romance book worth reading.

Rebel Roommate
by Jeannine Colette and Lauren Runow

Published January 2021
*advanced reader copy
A Roommates to Lovers Romance With Tension
3.5 stars

When Stacey transfers to UC Berkeley, she moves in with her brother, but she also inherits another roommate, her brother’s best friend, Wesley Knight. Wesley was the boy who constantly teased her growing up and now he’s the fun police by scaring off any guys who want to talk to her.

If he’s ruining her dating life then she can do the same to his. Yet when she turns up the flirting, the line between roommates becomes blurred and has them breaking all the rules.

This was a fun college romance with tension between roommates!

I loved how Wesley hid his feelings behind wanting to “protect” her from any other boy on campus though the heat turned up once Stacey turned the tables on him.

If you like romance books between a little sister and a brother’s best friend, you’ll enjoy this.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Related: Best College Romance Books

Stealing Home is the latest contemporary, sports romance book from Carrie Aarons. This book takes a poignant look at domestic violence and how love can be found again. Check out the book review from romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books, to see if this is a sports romance book worth reading

Stealing Home
by Carrie Aarons

Published January 2021
*advanced reader copy
A Sports Romance With Serious Subject Matter
4 stars

Walker Callahan has loved Hannah from afar since the moment he met her six years ago.

The woman he loves is already married with children but when the ugly secrets of her marriage make the light of day, he’ll have to risk his own future and show her how to trust again or miss his chance.

Aarons’ books keep getting better and better with each new release!

I was excited to read Walker’s story after reading the first in this series, Warning Track, but this can easily be read as a standalone.

This romance book gives a poignant, realistic look at domestic abuse and how real love can truly be found after devastation. If that’s a trigger for you, you may want to skip this otherwise it’s a great read.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Related: Sports Romance Books, Best Baseball Romance Books

Praying for Rain is a new adult romance book by popular romance book author, B.B. Easton. This apocalyptic tale pulls you in and is a must read for romance book readers. Check out the book review from romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books, to see if this is a new adult romance book worth reading.

Praying for Rain
by B.B. Easton

Published April 2019
An End of Days New Adult Romance
4 stars

There’s only three days left until the predicted apocalypse and Rainbow Williams can’t wait.

Because then her pain will be gone and she’ll no longer have to feel. Her time may be cut even shorter but then she’s saved by Wes Parker – until he kidnaps her.

All Wes cares about is supplies, shelter and self-defense. So why is he chasing after Rain and protecting her? Society may be crumbling around them and about to end but now they both have a reason to live.

It felt a bit surreal reading a book about the end of days given our crazy world at the moment, but I love Easton’s writing and fell spellbound to this read.

Fair warning this is book one of a three-part series so there is a cliffhanger but I’m intrigued to see where this goes.

With only three days until the world supposedly ends, you have to be OK with a bit of instalove and some immaturity with this new adult romance, but it was my first apocalyptic read and I liked it!

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Looking For More?

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Leslie Murphy is the owner and writer of She Reads Romance Books.

Why Trust She Reads Romance Books?

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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She Reads Romance Books helps romance book lovers find their next book boyfriend because life is better with a love story.