Does anyone else’s eyes light up when they realise that the book they’ve picked up is a standalone? That you can just pick this book up, read it, enjoy it and then NOT have to spend the next 5 years investing in book after book as it forms a series. Or a trilogy. A duet. A chronicle or even a dreaded saga. There’s something relaxing about knowing that you can pick up a singular book and within it’s covers there’s a singular world waiting for you to dive into. One which stays contained and doesn’t leak into any other book.
But a standalone can be hard to find, so I’ve put together a ten of my favourites, old and new and across genres for you to start with.
Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold
by Ellen O’Connell
Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell is one of my favourite ever historical romances. So, I beg you, look past the, frankly atrocious, cover and give it a try. It’s a romance between two people who for far different reasons have been shunned by society, him for being Native American and her for not living up to her father’s expectations. This is a slow burn type romance within a marriage of convenience story and I loved watching them slowly come to understand and cherish one another. So, pick it up and prepare yourself for an emotional read that will sit it on your favourites shelf for years to come.
Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold is a story of family conflicts set in Colorado in 1885. Anne Wells has embarrassed her rigidly proper family since she was a child with occasional but grievous lapses from ladylike behavior. They blame those lapses for the disgraceful fact that she is a spinster at 28. Cord Bennett, the son of his father’s second marriage to a Cheyenne woman, is more than an embarrassment to his well-to-do family of ranchers and lawyers – they are ashamed and afraid of their black sheep. When Anne and Cord are found alone together, her father’s fury leads to violence. Cord’s family is more than willing to believe that the fault is his. Can Anne and Cord use the freedom of being condemned for sins they didn’t commit to make a life together? Or will their disapproving, interfering families tear them apart?
Prison Planet Barbarian
by Ruby Dixon
I am cheating a little with this one. However, I can’t do a list and not include a sci-fi alien romance. This book is a spin off standalone that in itself created a spin off series. Prison Planet Barbarian is basically as story set in the world created by Ruby Dixon in her Ice Planet Barbarian series and Corsairs series. But it is designed to standalone. The story is kind of what it says on the tin. He’s a dangerous barbarian (blue in colour…with horns) on a prison planet. She’s a human who ends up at that prison. You can probably guess the rest. And yes, although it’s predictable, I love this book (and everything that Dixon writes!) it’s sexy and fun. Also if you haven’t read any Dixon before, it’s a good book to test the waters.
Being kidnapped by aliens is one thing.
Being kidnapped by aliens and then sent to a prison planet is something infinitely worse.
Here in Haven’s prison system, I’m stranded among strangers, enemies, and the most ruthless criminals in the galaxy. There’s no safety for a human woman here, especially not one branded as a murderer. I’m doomed to a fate worse than death.Then…he decides I should be his. His name’s Jutari. He’s seven feet tall, blue, and horned. He’s an assassin and one of the most dangerous prisoners here. He’s like no one I’ve ever met before…and he might be my only chance.
All the Ever Afters
by Danielle Teller
I’m not a massive fan of fairy tale re-tellings, but I was lured in by All the Ever Afters beautiful cover. And, I am so glad I was. It retells the whole tale from the point of view of the “evil” step mother from Cinderella. Only, she isn’t really that evil. And the ugly step sisters aren’t really that ugly. And Cinderella isn’t quite what you expect either. Teller writes this as if it was historical fiction set in medieval times and I loved the almost mundane twist on a story regarded as magical. This is one of my favourites of 2018 and definitely worth a try.
We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?
As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .
A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.
Magic at Midnight
by Gena Showalter
I may be cheating a teensy bit with this one. Magic at Midnight is an anthology that contains only two novellas. The two short stories are about a pair of sisters, one story for each sister. So, I guess technically it could be seen as a duology, but I decided that as it is all contained within one book that it counts as a standalone…. Annnnyway, I wanted to include a paranormal romance in this top ten, however, finding a PNR I really liked that wasn’t part of a series was harder than I expected! But, Showalter delivered with this anthology, it has her signature funny sexy style creating an enjoyable read that will leave you with a smile on your face.
Hundreds of years ago, in the mountains of Colorado, Mysteria was founded by a random act of demonic kindness. Today, it’s a magnet for the supernatural, where magic quietly coexists with the mundane world. But now two sisters are about to unleash a tempest of seduction that will have tongues wagging for centuries to come…
The Witches of Mysteria and the Dead Who Love Them
Genevieve is a witch with a bad case of unrequited love for a local bar owner. But is his sudden change of heart the result of a love potion—or a literally breathtaking passion?
A Tawdry Affair
Glory, witch of love, wants her man. Unfortunately, he barely knows she exists—until a magic pen brings her creative fantasies of seduction, sex, and delicious revenge to life.
Keep her Safe
by K.A. Tucker
I’ve recently grown to really love thriller and mystery books and it is in no small way due to K.A. Tucker. I read her book He Will Be My Ruin and it had me hooked and eager to read her next standalone mystery/thriller Keep Her Safe. If anything, it was better than her first book. It’s full of dark family secrets and police corruption. The secrets all unravel as a son looks into his mother’s supposed suicide and discovers lies, cover ups and love. A great read which gives you a standalone dose of excitement, romance and mystery.
Noah Marshall has known a privileged and comfortable life thanks to his mother, the highly decorated chief of the Austin Police Department. But all that changes the night she reveals a skeleton that’s been rattling in her closet for years, and succumbs to the guilt of destroying an innocent family’s life. Reeling with grief, Noah is forced to carry the burden of this shocking secret.
Gracie Richards wasn’t born in a trailer park, but after fourteen years of learning how to survive in The Hollow, it’s all she knows anymore. At least here people don’t care that her dad was a corrupt Austin cop, murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. Here, she and her mother are just another family struggling to survive…until a man who clearly doesn’t belong shows up on her doorstep.
Despite their differences, Noah and Gracie are searching for answers to the same questions, and together, they set out to uncover the truth about the Austin Police Department’s dark and messy past. But the scandal that emerges is bigger than they bargained for, and goes far higher up than they ever imagined.
by Elle Cosimano
This was a book where, once I had finished it, I wished it was a series and not a standalone. I wanted more. Which, surprised me as I am not usually a big fan of the Young Adult genre. But, it combined a few things that I love; crime/mystery and the paranormal. Then it added a hint of romance, enough that I was invested in the couple, but not overly saturated with and crossing the line into tragic teenage romance. This was a beautifully told story that still leaves me pining for more.
John “Smoke” Conlan is serving time for two murders but he wasn’t the one who murdered his English teacher, and he neverintended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke’s new home and the only one he believes he deserves.
But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they’re asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn’t care that the “threads” that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.
Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink’s help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he’s willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.
His Road Home
by Anna Richland
If you’ve been reading romance long enough you would have crashed into the fake-relationship-turns-real type of story. His Road Home by Anna Richland could fit in to that category. But reducing it down to one trope would be doing it a disservice. Because although this book may be short, but it packs a punch. The hero is an injured soldier who has lost a leg and has aphasia. The heroine is a quiet marine biologist who found herself smack bang in the middle of a media storm when she is named as a war hero’s fiancee. This is a beautiful slow burn romance and a favourite.
To avoid an Afghan warlord’s matchmaking, Staff Sergeant Rey Cruz invents a fiancée he’ll never meet—until he’s flat on his back in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and marine biologist Grace Kim shows up with one question: why did you lie?
Cruz can’t explain his fabrication to her, the news media, their families, or their hometown, because his traumatic brain injury has manifested as aphasia, leaving him with few words to navigate his new world.
Grace offers friendship, a big step for a woman who prefers Orcinus orca to most company. Texting throughout his recovery, they connect in ways neither anticipates. She agrees to help drive his classic muscle car home across-country at Thanksgiving. His hands-on method of teaching her to operate a manual transmission is the beginning of his challenges to her comfort zone. She responds by introducing him to the steamy world of South Dakota ice-fishing shacks, and they both learn to look beyond labels into each other’s hearts.
Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin
by Mariana Zapata
As I have discovered recently Mariana Zapata is a treasure trove of standalone reads. Not only that, but she is the queen of the slow burn friends-to-lovers trope. I devoured her entire backlist in a week. But, I wanted to choose my favourite to get you started, so I chose the book that sparked my obsession: Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin. As expected it’s a friends-to-lovers story and I loved the growing relationship between the hero and heroine. Not only that, but Zapata has a great sense of humour and I found myself with a constant grin on my face as I was reading. Zapata writes standalone contemporary novels, so when you read to the blurb of this book but don’t fancy it, make sure you check out her other titles, another particular favourite of mine is The Wall of Winnipeg and Me.
Twenty-six-year-old Gaby Barreto might be a lot of things (loyal, sarcastic, one of the guys and a pain in the butt depending on which family member you ask), but dumb isn’t one of them. When her twin brother invites her to go on tour as his band’s merch girl, she isn’t exactly screaming at the top of her lungs with joy.
With no job opportunities pounding on her door, an ex-boyfriend she would still like to castrate, and no end in sight to moving out of her parents’ house in Dallas… it would be dumb to say no to the chance of a lifetime. Two bands, three continents, one tour. Spending the next ninety-plus days with three beloved idiots and eight complete strangers shouldn’t be a big deal, right?
If only the singer of the headlining band didn’t have tattoos… a great personality… a fantastic body… and if he wasn’t so funny….
Let’s be real: Gaby never had a chance against Sacha Malykhin
The Billionaire’s Wake-up-call Girl
by Annika Martin
This book has a magical combination of being hilarious and sexy as hell, it’s a rare kind of beast – a erotic romantic comedy. The dialogue between our wake-up-call girl and billionaire switches from funny and witty to absolutely filthy and sexy. It has you you laughing and heating up all within the span of a chapter. Loved it. Annika Martin has written a smart, smexy and hilarious standalone with The Billionaire’s Wake-up-call Girl. She has also written another standalone that has a similar vibe called Most Eligible Bastard which I would also recommend you give a try. Once you’re hooked, you then need to check our her work as Carolyn Crane!
Answer: practically impossible. It turns out that no wake-up call company in the world will take him on as a client. They’ve all had enough of his surly personality.
So in an effort not to lose my job, I secretly start making the calls myself, every day at 4:30 am sharp. OMG yes you read that right—four freaking thirty in the morning.
Confession: I’m not the nicest wake-up-call girl at that hour. Hello! Who wakes up before the roosters are even crowing? Luckily he doesn’t seem to mind my get-your-ass-out-of-bed attitude.
Day by day we’re becoming closer, and the calls start turning hot, like pay-by-the-minute hot and oh-so-wild. Snuggled under the covers with the moonlight streaming in the windows, we divulge our secrets to each other, but the one thing that he can never find out is that the sexy vixen who wakes him up every morning is just the lowly assistant who wears frumpy dresses. I can only imagine his disappointment.
Now he wants to take me out on a date and he’s scouring Manhattan to find me. He’s an overachieving billionaire bent on a mission. How much longer can I keep up this charade?
The Sugar Queen
by Sarah Addison Allen
Ah Sarah Addison Allen, my favourite author of magical realism of which The Sugar Queen is my favourite of all her books. The pretty cover just reflects the beauty that it traps. Josie’s journey from a dutiful daughter to a difficult mother, who takes comfort in the sweets she hides in her closet, to a woman who takes control of what, and who, she wants is a heart-warming and emotional journey. All propelled along by the sudden appearance of a strange woman living in her closet. It’s a story of love, forgiveness and strength, peppered with the light touch of magic and Sarah Addison Allen’s captivating writing. It’s perfect for curling up in your cosiest socks, with a mug of something hot and sweet. And, if you like The Sugar Queen, then this author has a small backlist of other standalone romantic magical realism books, in particular I adore Garden Spells.
Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night. . . . Until she finds her closet harboring Della Lee Baker, a local waitress who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey’s narrow existence quickly expands. She even bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who is hounded by books that inexplicably appear when she needs them—and who has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush. Soon Josey is living in a world where the color red has startling powers, and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. And that’s just for starters.
Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.
What are your favourite standalones?
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Annnnnd I will stop myself there, before I start waxing lyrical about my love of historical romance and fantasy as well; no one needs to know about my elf fantasies. As you can tell, I adore and day dream about most romance genres, and my three big loves are 1) reading about romance 2) writing about romance and 3) talking about romance with my gals. Which, is why I love Under the Covers so much, I get all my bookish needs satisfied and don’t get judged when I talk about my favourite characters like they are real people. Which they are right?