8 Great Contemporary Romance Audiobooks

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Casey Stepaniuk

Staff Writer

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian who holds an MA in English literature and an MLIS. Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of LGBTQ+ Canadian books. She also writes a monthly column on Autostraddle recommending queer books called Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian, Litsy: CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian, Goodreads: CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian, and Facebook: Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian.

These are all wonderful contemporary romance books and they are also wonderful audiobooks. Yes, you heard it right: we’ve got amazing, great contemporary romance audiobooks!

One Walk in Winter by Georgia Beers

When Olivia Santini and Hayley Boyd Markham have a chance sparkling encounter in the woods, neither knows who the other is. But they soon realize they’re enemies. Olivia is the hardworking assistant manager at Evergreen Resort. Since the manager has resigned, Olivia is sure she’s going to get the job. Unfortunately, the youngest daughter of the family who owns the resort—Hayley—has been given an ultimatum. For her pragmatic dad to give Hayley her inheritance, she has to spend the winter managing the resort. Hayley needs the inheritance to pursue her dream of being a full time artist. How are Olivia and Hayley supposed to work together?

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Meg Mackworth is the go-to expert at hand-lettering in New York City. But she’s not only good at reading literal letters: she also has a sixth sense for reading people and noticing details that others don’t. This second ability comes back to bite her when Reid Sutherland, whose wedding programs Meg designed a year ago, comes to talk to her. Meg inserted one teeny, tiny word into his wedding program that indicated her surety that his marriage was doomed. Meg agrees to explain to Reid what she saw, if he agrees to help her with her recent creative block. As they spend more time together, it becomes harder and harder to ignore their growing bond. Nicol Zanzarella performs the audiobook with precise enthusiasm to hand lettering and expansive warmth to the slow burn romance.

cover of can't escape love by alyssa coleCan’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

Geeks in love, anyone? Regina Hobbs runs a website called Girls with Glasses for anyone excluded from mainstream nerd culture. Her dedication to her business is causing a familiar foe: insomnia. The only solution she can think of is to listen to the soothing voice of Gustave Nguyen, whose live streams solving puzzles she used to play to help her fall asleep. When she finds out his archive has been deleted, she has no choice but to contact him and offer to pay…for his voice? But a trade is in order. Gustave has gotten a contract to design an escape room based on a romance anime; unfortunately he knows nothing about romance or anime. In comes Reggie and her expertise. It turns out their online rapport translates well to IRL…Prolific audiobook voice actor Karen Chilton does an excellent job embodying the sexy, sweet, and geeky of this story.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Hibbert’s first (audio)book with Avon is a complete knockout. Red is a white working class artist whose previous relationship was abusive. Chloe is a wealthy black woman with chronic illness including fibromyalgia. Her disability is connected to her history of being abandoned by partners and friends. Red and Chloe are superintendent and tenant, respectively. They don’t have a particularly good impression of each other. But of course, they slowly realize they were wrong. Chloe enlists Red to help her with her “get a life” bucket list, which includes such wild things as riding a motorcycle (which Red happens to own), camping, and enjoying a drunk night out. Also, there’s a cute cat! The audiobook narration is by Adjoa Andoh, who excels at sarcasm, sexy times, and diverse emotions. Especially for non-British readers, her adeptness with different British class accents is both perfect and helpful.

Red White and Royal Blue cover imageRed, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Gay escapism at its best, Red, White, and Royal Blue imagines a world where the American president is a woman and her son Alex Claremont-Diaz falls in love with Henry, the Prince of Wales. The story begins with a PR nightmare. When tabloids latch onto an altercation between Alex and Henry, they’re forced into a pretend camera-friendly friendship to smooth over U.S.-Britain relations. But what starts out as a fake friendship takes a turn to a real romantic relationship which neither Alex nor Henry was expecting. From Alex’s bi coming out crisis to trying to keep things a secret from the press, their burgeoning relationship is far from easy. Voice actor Ramon de Ocampo brings to live the story’s tenderness, warmth, humor, performs in a way that really foregrounds the intense, emotional new adult voice.

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

The couple in this book have a great dynamic: an icy Slytherin no-beating-around-the-bush theatre critic and a bubbly optimistic Hufflepuff actress. James “Griff” Ford-Griffin is the Slytherin, Freddy Carlton is the Hufflepuff. On top of their unexpected love story, there are also delightful subplots involving an undiscovered secret from the generation of Freddy and Griff’s grandparents, what is going to happen in the Jane Austen whodunit mashup audience collaborative play Freddy is acting in, when Freddy is going to finally learn to stand up to her dad/business manager, and how Griff is going to save his family estate. The excitement, pleasure, humor, and general chaos are admirably narrated by Billie Fulford-Brown in alternately crisp and languid British tones.

small-change-roan-parrishSmall Change by Roan Parrish

This book is my personal favourite of the great contemporary romance audiobooks on this list. Ginger Holtzmann is a prickly, cynical bisexual tattoo artist who owns her own shop in Philadelphia. Her whole life she’s had to fight for who she is. Christopher is a happy-go-lucky redhead who’s just opened a sandwich shop in the neighbourhood. From Ginger’s perspective, Christopher being all nice and bringing her sandwiches is obviously too good to be true. Something to especially appreciate in this queer M/F romance is that throughout, Ginger discusses her queer identity with Christopher and her work and friend community of fellow queers is highlighted. Parrish also includes great subplots about dealing with sexism in the tattoo industry and as a business owner. Jo Raylan, who I think objectively has the sexiest voice I’ve ever heard, performs the audiobook with equal empathy and humor.

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

There’s nothing better to bring a dual perspectives romance to life than two incredible voice actors. In this case, Summer Morton and Jeremy York bring Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler and their star-crossed, second chance story to vivid life. While Livvy and Nico were childhood sweethearts, a rift between them sprung up from a scandal involving the grocery store their families used to run together. Fast forward to the future: Livvy and Nico are adults. The families have never resolved the conflict or forgiven each other. Livvy is back home after moving away years ago. Nico runs the business. Both cannot forget about the one night a year they have been meeting every year since Livvy left. But being together for real seems impossible.

Want more great contemporary romance audiobooks? Check out this list of 2018 Romance Audiobooks.