I love novellas. When I don't have a lot of time or, let's be honest, much of an attention span, the perfect fix is to lose myself in a short story. An instant happily ever after. And if we're really lucky, we still get great characters, a complete story arc, and a believable romance. Whatever reading mood you're in, these novellas offer something for every genre lover and are all stand-alone ebooks, even more convenient for the ereader fans who don't have to cart around a single book to get a complete and satisfying story.
For the fans who like their historicals with heat, Improper Relations, by new author Juliana Ross, gives us a very simple premise that pushes all my buttons when it comes to a story that will make me swoon: a touch of forbidden love, drawn out sexual tension that actually builds with each encounter, a rakish hero, and an inexperienced but eager heroine.
“Why?” I blurted out. “Why me?”
“You intrigue me, that's why. You give every appearance, on the outside, of conforming entirely to the identity my mother has conferred on you. The drab drudge of a lady's companion. The poor relation who lives in the shadows. The ghost who –”
“Stop! Just stop. I know who I am, what I am. I've no ambition to be anything more.”
“But you do. I can see that so clearly now. When I think of the way you responded to me in the library, I know you're more than that.”
He was wrong. He had to be wrong. “You mistake me. Boredom has driven me here – that, and simple curiosity.”
“About what? Come now, Hannah—what are you curious about?”
It all comes together here in a formula that works and, even better, generates real chemistry between the hero and heroine that is only ratcheted higher and higher as the story progresses. This is an impressive story that accomplishes a lot in a little time, and the best thing is that we not only root for Hannah and Leo to overcome familial and societal obstacles, but also believe in a lasting love between them.
For the paranormal fans who love shifters, Vivi Andrews's under the radar Serengeti series starts with a bang with hunky Alpha Landon, lion shifter pride leader, and lovely Ava, the small but mighty runt of the pack. Landon is one of those good guys we love, an honorable leader looking for his mate, and while Ava may not look it at first glance, she's the perfect match.
“Oh, this is good. Big, bad Alpha can't keep it zipped around sweet little Ava. I love it.”
“I'm glad one of us does,” Ava grumbled, hugging her knees to her chest.
“Don't you see, Ava? This is fantastic.”
Ava grunted, not sharing Zoe's enthusiasm.
“Landon never loses control. He's too busy playing master of the universe. But, you, Ava. You wrangled an alpha in a rage out of a bar fight, no mean feat. And then you incited him to jump you, without even trying. You ruled him tonight.”
“Then why did he stop?” Ava blurted, blushing furiously when Zoe laughed throatily.
“Kitten, if you want a spot in my brother's bed, that isn't a problem. But if you want to be his mate, his partner, the love of his life, rule the pride and breed little Landons off him, then you're going to have to grow a spine and get ready to fight tooth and nail, fang and claw, for him, because no matter how much he wants you, he isn't going to make you his one and only unless you can prove you aren't a submissive little doormat.”
The heat between Landon and Ava is sizzling, and the world-building and setup of the pack is well done. Their story is my favorite in a solid series of novellas, and I really appreciate the social and even scientific issues the author explores in the series.
For the contemporary fans who take their stories with heat and rock stars, Olivia Cunning begins a new digital series, One Night with Sole Regret, focusing on a new rock band and starting with drummer Gabe. This hero is supposedly the tame one of the group, but when he meets Melanie, who's been dragged along to an after-party with her groupie friend, there's an instant connection. Their personalities really click, and this is a successful story that has enough compatibility between its main players to establish a real relationship in a short time.
“Later,” Gabe said. “I need to call Melanie first.”
Owen leaned across Gabe's body and snatched the phone out of Gabe's hand before he could find Melanie's picture and name in his long list of contacts.
“Twenty-four hour rule,” Owen said.
“Rock stars live too fast for the twenty-four hour rule,” Adam said. “Our average life expectancy is equal to one-half normal divided by number of addictions minus the number of small craft flights per month, the number of fast cars owned, and the number of miles driven on a motorcycle without a helmet. I'd say the three-second rule better applies to Gabe here.”
Gabe chuckled. “See? I'm already late calling her.”
Gabe breaks through the musician stereotype mold, and every scene that gives us an inner look at the dynamics among the entire band is fascinating. This is a strong start to a series to watch.
And for the erotic contemporary fans, Beth Kery's Captured by You tells the story of Sherona Legion, a diner owner in backwoods Illinois, and Chance Hathoway, a world-famous Australian photographer, whose romance starts hot and heavy with essentially a one-night stand, then successfully transforms into something real, all within novella length. Sherona and Chance manage to blend fantasy and reality in a series of explicit private photo sessions.
“For a few seconds there, I think you more than trusted me. I think you liked having me see you in all your glory. And if you believe anything, believe this,” he said, his manner suddenly almost grim, he was so serious. “You are the most fuckingly glorious woman I've ever seen in my life. You really can't blame me for wanting to capture you completely, can you?”
Worldly Chance is down-to-earth and immensely likeable, and his desire to fulfill Sherona's dreams of breaking out of her small town and seeing the world are really endearing. As an aside, a unique aspect of the story that I admire is the charity that Sherona helps run, which provides food and healthy options for the downtrodden families of the Appalachia, a serious issue that I've never seen addressed anywhere else in romantic fiction. Kery also has another novella that takes place in the same setting called Bound to You, which is also stand-alone and very good.
Novellas can be hit or miss. But the excellent ones have all the best components of great romance, and even better, they can introduce us to new authors and series to love.
What are some great novellas you've discovered recently?
Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.