What to Read & What to Skip: My October 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.

Discover which romance books you should read and which books you should skip from She Reads Romance Books October 2021 reading list.

Let me tell you that October started out as one of the best reading months for me! I rarely give 5 stars to books but boy did some deserve it this month!

Life has been super busy as usual but reading is the one thing that I always prioritize to help me unwind and relax. Finding the time when I can I was able to finally get back on track with my Goodreads Challenge goal!

This month I had a number of advanced reader copy books to crank through and I was excited that most of them were amazing.

So my October reading list has quite a few new release titles on it that you should check out, but of course I snuck in a few that had been on my TBR pile as well.

I went back and forth for my selection for this month’s Romance Book Reading Challenge.

The theme was romantic suspense, which isn’t my most favorite trope, but I read one and completed the challenge- yay!

When there are just SO many romance books to read, I want to help you find the best of the best worth reading and of course help you weed out those you should skip!

Check out my favorites and my not-so favorites books that I read in October below.

My October 2020 Reading List: What to Read & What to Skip

Favorite Books of the Month:

Cruel Paradise , is the latest contemporary romance book by J.T. Geissinger. Check out the book review from romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books, of this must read book of 2020.

Cruel Paradise
by J.T. Geissinger

Published October 2020
A Mafia Romance With the Best Book Boyfriend
5 stars

Killian Black is a mob boss in Boston but who is he really? His world is turned upside down when he crosses paths with a thief who happens to be the daughter of his most deadly enemy.

Geissinger did it AGAIN with this book. I honestly don’t know how she keeps writing the best stories with the best characters but she does and wrote another amazing book in the Beautifully Cruel series. I loved Liam in Beautifully Cruel so why wouldn’t I love his twin brother?

I’d honestly recommend reading these books in order so that you get some background on Killian but READ THIS BOOK. I loved both main characters but Killian is just the best book boyfriend.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Playing with Fire is the latest contemporary, college romance book from popular romance book author, L.J. Shen. This contemporary romance novel will captivate you as you follow two tragic characters who find love. Read the book review from romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books to see if you’ll find this book worth reading

Playing With Fire
by L.J. Shen

Published September 2020
A Breathtaking College, New Adult Romance
5 stars

West St. Claire is a god on campus – he’s broody, he’s aloof, and he only does one night stands. Until he meets Casey. Casey is a fellow student at Sheridan U who survives by trying to blend into the background and stay unseen. Until she meets West.

This book wasn’t on my radar until I received it in my Swag-tastic Box from The Bookworm Box. And if you haven’t heard of The Bookworm Box, check out my review of the best romance book subscription boxes.

Let me just say that I fell captive to this book from the very beginning. It’s one of those romance reads where by page 50 I was in deep with this story and fell hard for these flawed characters who had such strength.

It’s definitely one of my most favorites by Shen and a must read.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Related: Best College Romance Books

That Swoony Feeling is a contemporary romance book by Meghan Quinn. This friends to lovers, small town romance book is definitely a must read for fans of this trope. Read the full book review by popular romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books.

That Swoony Feeling
by Meghan Quinn

Published August 2020
A Swoony Small Town Romance
5 stars

Brig Knightly is painfully single while the rest of his brothers have already paired off into coupledom bliss. He’s tried to find the one but he’s plagued by that wretched curse.

Luckily the town has started a new pen pal program and he’s hit it off with his mysterious writer. The only problem – he’s been hanging out with Ruth Barber, his new work neighbor, and he’s getting that swoony feeling for both women.

OMG I had been waiting for Brig’s story and Quinn delivered what I consider one of her best books. I seriously fell hard for this hopeless romantic and I absolutely loved Ruth who was the perfect match for him.

I honestly think you’ll get the most out of this book if you at least read That Secret Crush before so you can understand how wickedly funny and adorable Brig is but then read this book. 

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

More Books To Read and Those to Skip:

Pride and Papercuts is the latest contemporary romance book from popular romance book author, Staci Hart. This enemies to lovers romance novel is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as an office romance. Read the book review from romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books to see if you’ll find this book worth reading.

Pride and Papercuts
by Staci Hart

Published October 2020
*advanced reader copy
An Awesome Retelling as an Office Romance
4 stars

Laney is devoted to her job and she’s not about to let someone talk down to her even if he technically works for her boss – even if his name is Darcy.

Laney Bennett and Liam Darcy are like oil and water and don’t hold back when it comes to expressing how they really feel about each other. Loathe may be a strong word but then again there really is a thin line between love and hate.

Staci Hart has tackled what I have to think is one of the hardest things to do – create a modern retelling of this amazing story. Not only did she do it but I think it’s fantastic!

If you are a fan of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, you are going to LOVE this office romance!

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Related: Best Office Romance Books

Check out the book review of Take a Number by Amy Daws, her latest contemporary romance release in October 2020 featuring a fake relationship love story. Review by She Reads Romance Books

Take a Number
by Amy Daws

Published October 2020
*advanced reader copy
A Delicious Fake Relationship Romance
4 stars

When Norah needs a fake date for her parents’ anniversary party, the silent investor for her new bakery is the perfect guy for the job. It all seems so simple until she kisses Dean and they start mixing pleasure with business.

Amy Daws never disappoints if I’m being honest. I loved this fake relationship story that brings a workaholic out of her shell.

Flirting as foreplay is the greatest set up for a relationship and Dean and Norah made the cutest couple. Just be prepared to crave donuts the entire time reading this book!

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Related: Best Fake Relationship Romance Books

I Promise You by Ilsa Madden-Mills is her latest new adult, contemporary romance release about a quarterback and the girl he’s never forgotten. Read the full book review by popular romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books.

I Promise You
by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Published October 2020
*advanced reader copy
College Football Romance Featuring a Campus Legend
4 stars

Dylan McQueen is Waylon University’s hot shot quarterback who’s just trying to make it to the NFL. He didn’t anticipate running into the quirky girl he kissed at the freshman bonfire who’s since haunted his every waking thought. She’s not his type, so why can’t he stop trying to win her?

Madden-Mills writes the best college football romances and this one hit the spot. Dillon is a different kind of hero – a cocky, take charge athlete but one who is shy and a bit tongue twisted around Serena. I loved that!

I love how the Waylon University legend pits the most unlikely couples together. This can easily be read as a standalone but Madden-Mills’ other couples make an appearance.

Amazon | Goodreads | My Review

Related: College Romance Books

Love Your Life book cover

Love Your Life
by Sophie Kinsella

Published October 2020
*advanced reader copy
A Contemporary Romance to Definitely Skip
1 star

After ditching her dating apps, Ava escapes to a writers retreat on the coast of Italy. With participants only using fake names, she falls for “Dutch” and has a whirlwind affair. But can their relationship last when it’s time to return to “real life” and their true identities.

Unfortunately, everything good about this novel ended with the book synopsis and this book turned into a big disappointment.

I will say that the writing itself is good, however everything about the story and the characters is just one big train wreck.

This book is based on a case of instalove that is not only unbelievable but just plain overkill and with characters that I just could not like. I would definitely skip this one!

Amazon | Goodreads

Fliritng with 40 book cover.

Flirting with 40
by K. Bromberg

Published September 2020
A Slight Age Gap Romance That Missed
2 stars

Blakely is closing in on the big 4-0 and is ready to leave her divorce behind her. Slade is a sexy, cardiothoracic surgeon who’s encouraging her to re-find herself and to consider him more than just a rebound.

This was just a lackluster read for me. It was really slow to get going and the majority of the book where Blakely and Slade are at the business retreat was boring and repetitive.

Slade was Blakely’s constant cheerleader after meeting her for 10 minutes, so it wasn’t believable and there wasn’t much depth to her character other than knowing she’s divorced and dealing with a crappy boss- all which you learn in the first chapter. I honestly started skimming because there wasn’t more to the story.

Of course it’s well written because it’s K. Bromberg but the story needed more in my opinion but it’s probably perfectly adequate for some.

Amazon | Goodreads

Naked in Death book cover

Naked in Death
by J.D. Robb

Published July 1995
A Futuristic, Romantic Suspense Not to Read Before Bed

It’s the  year 2058 and New York homicide detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas is assigned a high-profile case taking her into the depths of Washington’s political elite circles, including the world of billionaire Roarke, her prime suspect.

*I’ll first clarify that this was a DNF for me not because it was a bad book but because as I read the first few chapters I realized that this story involved a serial killer and my psyche just wasn’t up for that type of storyline before bed each night.

I had originally picked this as my selection for the October Romance Book Reading Challenge, which was to read one romantic suspense book, but I had to go with another choice.

I know that this book and this series is wildly popular so I hope to return to it at another time.

Amazon | Goodreads

Hot Seal Lover book cover.

Hot Seal Lover
by Lynn Raye Harris

Published June 2016
A SEAL Romantic Suspense with Heat
3 stars

Christina is not looking for a new relationship after the embarrassing scandal her husband put her through but she IS open to a one night stand to get back in the saddle again. Enter Remy Marchand, the sexy Navy SEAL, but one night is not enough for the man who saves her from danger.

This book was decent but it was a bit repetitive preventing me from giving it a higher rating. I liked the rescue aspect which gave the book a unique twist, but the repetition of Christina’s hang ups and Remy’s regret weighed this down for me.

Overall I liked it and it was a better choice of romantic suspense book for me to meet the monthly challenge. I may check out the other books in this series to get my sexy Navy SEALS fix!

Amazon | Goodreads

Happily Letter After book cover.

Happily Letter After
by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

Published October 2020
An Underwhelming Contemporary Romance
2.5 stars

I work for a magazine that fulfills people’s wishes one time a year. It’s not time yet but I can’t help myself and decide to fulfill a little girl’s wishes on my own. There’s no harm in that, right? Until I see her handsome, single father.

This book was just ok in my opinion. A bit underwhelming to be honest coming from this duo.

I loved the set up of this story, how Sadie starts to reply to Birdie’s letters to Santa, but there wasn’t much to the romance. It’s more a story featuring Sadie and Birdie in my opinion.

Sebastian was just there – with nothing remarkable about his character – and there was nothing to base their relationship on except a run in or two that was based on a lie. Not sure what either saw in each other besides their looks I guess.

Of course this is well written but the story and connection wasn’t for me.

Amazon | Goodreads

Heated Rivalry book cover

Heated Rivalry
by Rachel Reid

Published March 2019
A MM Hockey Romance I Couldn’t Put Down
4 stars

Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov are the most talented men in pro hockey. The media may hype up their rivalry but out of the spotlight these two men heat up the sheets. When secret hookups are no longer enough, it may be time to walk away rather than risk it all.

I was in the mood for a MM romance and this one delivered! Reid was also a new author to me and I look forward to reading more of her books about her hockey heroes.

The enemies to lovers vibe as well as the secrecy and tension to their relationship was a great hook that has you wanting to see where this goes.

You’re basically a fly on the wall to their secret trysts over the years as you see them build to more than just a hook up.

If you don’t like your characters being with others then this might not be the book for you but none of their other hook ups were in your face, just implied.

If you’re a fan of MM romance or hockey romances, then I highly recommend this book!

Amazon | Goodreads

Related: Best MM Romance Books, Best Hockey Romance Books

What was your favorite romance book to read in October 2020? Share below!

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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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