As I mentioned in my Things I Thought I Hated in Romance Novels post, Instalove/Instalust romance novels can be a bit hard to swallow.
Most of the time.
But every so often, an author comes along who can convince me that two complete strangers can fall in love (or lust) after just one look, conversation, or interaction.
Below is a list of romance novels that were able to pull this off for me.
I feel like I need to preface this list by saying that Lauren Rowe is kind of the queen of Instalove/lust. She pulls these types of relationships off so effortlessly. Her ability to create chemistry and connection between two characters is stunning.
Alright… now on to our regularly scheduled programming…
Misadventures of a College Girl (Misadventures #9) by Lauren Rowe
Straitlaced freshman Zooey Cartwright has arrived at UCLA determined to have a heck of a lot more fun in college than she did in high school. What’s the first item on Zooey’s agenda before classes start in two days? Losing her pesky V card. She’s definitely not looking for a boyfriend, so where can Zooey find the right guy to do the deed and move along without a backward glance? At a party thrown by a bunch of football players, of course.
Enter Tyler Caldwell. A beast on the field and off, cocky as heck, and often wearing T-shirts with sayings like “God’s Gift to Womankind,” Tyler is most definitely not boyfriend material.
After a make-out session with Tyler leaves Zooey entirely unsatisfied, she is determined never to see him again. But her schedule lands her in not one but two of his classes, and it doesn’t take long before Tyler is giving Zooey exactly what she wants—and a whole lot more she never bargained for. Can Zooey surrender her body to this bad boy without giving him her heart, too?
Starting off with a bang here. I absolutely love this book, it’s one of my all-time favorite contemporary romance novels. This book actually annihilated two tropes I thought I hated: the virgin trope and the instalust trope. In Lauren Rowe I trust.
Jacob (Nightwalkers #1) by Jacquelyn Frank
Since time began, there have been Nightwalkers – the races of the night who live in the shadows of the moonlight. Love with humans is absolutely forbidden, and one man makes certain to uphold this ancient law: Jacob, the Enforcer…
For 700 Years, He has resisted temptation. But not tonight…
Jacob knows the excuses his people give when the madness overtakes them and they fall prey to their lust for humans. He’s heard every one and still brought the trespassers to justice. Immune to forbidden desires, uncontrollable hungers, or the curse of the moon, his control is total…until the moment he sees Isabella on a shadowy New York City street. Saving her life wasn’t in his plans. Nor were the overwhelming feelings she arouses in him. But the moment he holds her in his arms and feels the soft explosion of her body against his, everything changes. Their attraction is undeniable, volatile, and completely against the law. Suddenly everything Jacob has ever believed is inflamed by the heat of desire…
Bring on the night.
Supernatural romance novels have a little bit of an advantage over contemporary because they can easily use the excuse of magic or other paranormal reasons for instant connections (such as a mating bond, for example). However, this doesn’t mean that you will also feel that connection as a reader. This book, however? It has the best meetcute of all time and it’s as if you feel that instant connection right along with the characters.
Misadventures on the Rebound (Misadventures #18) by Lauren Rowe
After getting canned from her dream job this morning and played in spectacular fashion by her boyfriend this afternoon, Savannah “Savvy” Valentine is having a truly awful day. Which is why she’s currently drowning her sorrows in whiskey and self-pity in a shabby bar along the route to Las Vegas.
In light of today’s double whammy, Savvy isn’t sure why she’s still heading in the direction of her five-year high school reunion. The only reason she’d wanted to attend the reunion in Vegas in the first place was to show the captain of the football team, the guy who took her virginity and then promptly rejected her, that the captain of the math team grew up to have all enviable hot things: hot body, hot boyfriend, and hot career. Now, the only “hot” thing about Savvy Valentine is her mess.
But when a gorgeous stranger with sandy hair, a leather jacket, and motorcycle helmet walks into the bar, Savvy’s awful day suddenly looks a whole lot brighter. The man is perfection. Sexy and mysterious. And he’s heading to Las Vegas, too.
Can one wild night with a sexy stranger in the middle of nowhere lead a girl to fall desperately and deeply in love in Las Vegas? Savvy Valentine is about to find out.
Clearly I’m trying to break up the Lauren Rowe books a bit, but this book certainly needs mentioning. If you don’t love these two characters together instantly, I don’t know what to tell you. Their chemistry is absolutely off the charts after one conversation.
Hearts in Darkness (Hearts in Darkness #1) by Laura Kaye
Makenna James thinks her day can’t get any worse, until she finds herself stuck in a pitch-black elevator with a complete stranger. Distracted by a phone call and juggling too much stuff, the pin-striped accountant caught only a glimpse of a dragon tattoo on his hand before the lights went out.
Caden Grayson is amused when a redhead literally falls at his feet. His amusement turns to panic when the power fails. Despite his piercings, tats, and vicious scar, he’s terrified of the dark and confined spaces. Now, he’s trapped in his own worst nightmare.
To fight fear, they must both reach out and open up. With no preconceived notions based on looks to hold them back, they discover just how much they have in common. In the warming darkness, attraction grows and sparks fly, but will they feel the same when the lights come back on? (
If I had to name a #1 pick for this list, it would be this book. Hands down. This isn’t even a full-length novel. This is a novella, and somehow Laura Kaye, within so few pages builds such a strong connection between two characters, I fully believe they are in love after four hours. On top of that? They can’t even see each other for those four hours. It’s amazing.
Captain (Morgan Brothers #1) by Lauren Rowe
It wasn’t the way this kind of story was supposed to go . . .
Insta-love isn’t supposed to turn into insta-hate.
But that’s exactly what happened when the hot-as-hell dreamboat I met in a bar turned out to be a lying, cheating scumbag-player-douche looking for nothing but a little side action. Jerk.
And he has the nerve to call me a liar and a “sociopath”? Assh*le.
And now, three months later, through a mind-blowing series of events I couldn’t have predicted in a million years, it turns out my boss is marrying his sister in Hawaii and I’ve got to play nice with him for an entire freaking week.
Okay, sure, I’ll put on a happy face this week and act like I’ve never even met the jerk before–did I mention his sister is marrying my boss?–but that doesn’t mean I’ll like it. And it certainly doesn’t mean I’ll stop secretly hating the cocky bastard’s guts.
Because I do.
I hate him.
I really do.
I just wish my brain would explain the situation to my body . . . because every time he flashes that panty-melting smile at me, it takes all my self-restraint not to jump the bastard’s hot-as-f*ck bones.
This was the book in which I first discovered just how incredibly Lauren Rowe is with building and establishing a strong connection simply through conversation between two characters meeting for the first time. I highly recommend the entire Morgan Brothers series!
White Knight by C.D. Reiss
Catherine Barrington is a rich girl. Chris Cartwright is a poor boy.
He left her to make something of himself. A man she could be proud of. A man she could bring home to her parents. A man she could marry.
On the trading floor he became the man he knew he could be. Now, it’s time to return.
She didn’t care about his money, but he didn’t believe her. Soon after he left, all the money was gone.
Her life is hell.
Now he’s back, and he’s different. Pristine. Gorgeous. Rich.
Money was never the barrier, until now.
This freaking book. Just reading the title gives me butterflies thinking about how these two characters met. This book is a bit different than others on this list because while the characters do instantly fall for each other, most of the book takes place in the future and flashes back to how they met. Of course, being that CD Reiss is the author, you can expect amazing writing on top of everything else!
Hero (Morgan Brothers #2) by Lauren Rowe
The first time I laid eyes on Lydia Decker, I couldn’t speak. Or breathe. Or string two coherent thoughts together.
And I don’t mean any of that figuratively.
I’m not talking about a guy being floored by the sight of a gorgeous woman—although, of course, Lydia is gorgeous beyond words.
No, when I first laid eyes on Lydia Decker—my physical therapist—I was lying flat on my back in the ICU, high as a kite on painkillers, breathing on a ventilator, my bones as broken and splintered as my spirit.
When I first laid eyes on Lydia Decker, she was a ray of light in the dark. Hope for the hopeless. A salve for my singed and battered soul.
She said she’d been assigned to fix me. That she was there to bring me back to life. She said helping me was her calling.
And then she touched me. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. She healed me.
And I fell in love.
But what I didn’t know… what I couldn’t possibly know… was that Lydia Decker needed fixing far more than I ever did.
Lauren Rowe took instalove/lust to a whole new level with this book. Also… it’s a firefighter romance, so…