Bella Andre is widely read, and her books are well-loved. It’s easy to see why; the standard pieces from a romance are rearranged, like she spun a kaleidoscope, and all the colors fall together in a new pattern.
The Sullivan series, all her books really, are a wonderful blend of the traditional romance that many of us grew up reading and something more modern. I Only Have Eyes for You is a best friend’s little sister book. The bad boy hero has the expected qualms about getting involved with good girl Sophie. When her sister catches them post-first-kiss, instead of lying or retreating or letting her fella take care of it, Sophie wades right in.
“He kissed me,” Sophie told her sister, her expression stubborn as she faced her. “Now you don’t have to talk about it. Let’s go.” She grabbed her sister’s hand and made sure they walked together past the shed.
In Can’t Help Falling in Love, fire fighter Gabe rescues Megan from the fire that destroys her home and everything she owns. She visits him in the hospital to thank him, but they don’t become involved until months later when Megan is back on her feet again. She doesn’t need Gabe to save her twice. In one heated love scene it’s the heroine who rips off the hero’s shirt. In high school artsy Vicki saves jock Ryan by shoving him out of the path of an oncoming car which is the start of their lifelong friendship. All those surprises keep me turning the pages.
Her heroes are alpha good guys. They love their families and are good friends. They are basically grown up boy scouts. They take phone calls from their mothers and pitch in to help out when needed. And when they fall, they fall hard. Only 8% into The Look of Love and Chase is a goner:
No question about it, he was on his way to totally and completely losing his mind over this woman.
The books are steamy, for sure, fan-yourself, singe-your-fingertips steamy. What I love is how Andre pairs that heat with such lush romance, sometimes in the same scene. Despite the love scenes that are so explicit, Andre knows not to skim over the little things like the moment of connection of holding hands with the person you love.
And even though it turned out that lying there, fully clothed beside each other, was better than any time he’d ever spent naked with another woman, he made himself let go of her hand as she moved to get back on her feet.
Hands down my favorite thing in Andre’s books are her heroines. They are down-to-earth and sweet and modern in a really refreshing way. Chloe, the heroine of the first Sullivans book, arrives at her hero Chase’s place only to find a naked woman in his bed hoping to get lucky. When Chase declines, Ellen offers to include Chloe in their bedroom games.
Chloe looked utterly bemused by the way Ellen was looking at her, clearly sizing her up for future performance. “Thanks, I guess,” she said, “but I don’t think I’m up for any threesomes tonight.”
No pearl clutching, no tantrum, no slut shaming. In the opening of the very next book in the series From This Moment On, the heroine Nicola goes out looking for hot sex. She fails at it but she doesn’t chicken out or decide it’s beneath her.
Heather in If You Were Mine has a semi-regular, unapologetic booty call before the book begins with the brother of the hero. She goes on to challenge the hero’s assumption that all women want to fall in love.
“Let me make sure I have this straight. A guy can not be looking for love because it’ll complicate his life. But a woman has to have all sorts of trauma to make her like that?”
Her heroines have this great, liberated attitude toward their sexuality which feels so fresh and modern. In a genre where the woman who isn’t the heroine is often contrasted with the (nearly) chaste heroine by her frank enjoyment of her sex life, it’s refreshing to have a heroine who doesn’t need to put down other women to look worthy of the hero’s love.
Julia Broadbooks writes contemporary romance. She lives in the wilds of suburban Florida with her ever patient husband and bakes ridiculous amounts of sugary treats for her teens' friends. Find her on Twitter @juliabroadbooks.