Sometimes, I’ve got a few of hours to kill before “something”. Like say… while I wait in the car as my husband does his “man” shopping (instead of dragging my feet behind my husband at a home improvement store to stare at wood for hours. Or bricks). Or like, I dunno. A slow period during work (or an extra long break) where all you can do is sit and wait. An extra long wait in the waiting room. Oh! I know. A plain, train or automobile trip that could go by in a heartbeat if you had something awesome to read.
Or when I’m waiting on guests to come over (well, nawww that’s a bad example. I’m usually frantically trying to shine things and make the house smell like cookies and stuff – thank goodness for “baked goods” wax tarts). Tricks ‘em every time! Tee hee!!
But you know where I’m coming from, right? Sometimes, I don’t have enough time to get into a full length book without possibly “breaking” an awesome reading rhythm after a couple of hours when I have to stop.
I’ve found myself frantically finger scrolling through my unread ebooks trying to remember which ones were the “shorts/novellas” that I could knock out in the few hours I have. Then, trying to figure out which out of those are going to be so good that I’d barely notice they’re “short” stories. Then only to realize I’ve already wasted half an hour doing just that.
But those awesome “shorts”? They exist. And it’s my goal to keep an updated list of my favorites (and yours)! Short stories written so well, that have captured me (and you) so intently.
Within our list of our absolute favorite books, these shorts stand tall amongst them.
Stephen King said it perfectly…
“A short story is a different thing all together – a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.”
― Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
Ready? I’m generally looking at books 150 pages or less (give or take a few)…
Here are MY FAVORITES (I’m not yet that experienced in “shorts” as I had a slight bias against them at one time). But let’s prove my old bias wrong!
Hearts In Darkness by Laura Kaye
Two strangers stuck in a dark elevator for hours. They have no idea what the other looks like, but get to know each other as they comfort each other. So intense! P.S. He’s tattooed and pierced and was one of my first “bad boys”. (my review)
Her Soul to Keep by Delilah Devlin
Whoa! I’m so excited that I found this one out of it’s “Anthology”. In fact I just re-purchased it in it’s “singular” form. THIS is the first short I read that left me speechless. My heart was 100% fully invested. What a reveal! It used to be called “Viper’s Bite” in a “Big Book of Vampire Romance” or something like that. I still have that big book somewhere on my shelves, and this story has NEVER left me. Don’t read the reviews if you’re game to give this a go ’cause of spoilers. Basically, Hot vampire stalks pretty girl home and she is SOOOO into him. And I’m leaving it at that. Then I found out this was a series, and “Viper” is a recurring character in it. I’m dying for more. (my mini review). I said “haunts me”, way back then, and it STILL does. Wow for all I know, there’s more about this story and I if so, I need to know. You know… even though I “know” I think I’m gonna re-read this one.
On Every Street by Karina Halle
This is not just the story of the bad girl and the bad boy. This is the story of the bad girl and the BAD GUY. It’s beautiful… and it’s not pretty, too. LOVED this, and it solidified my penchant for the anti-hero/bad guy in books. Then there is the “first official” book (Sins & Needles) after this one (this was the prequel), so the story does not end there. Jeannie also loved it saying: “… it blew me away and had me crying for hours. I wasn’t sure I would like this series because I loved the EIT series so much, but I should never doubt the great Ms. Halle. If she re-writes the phone book, I will read it.” Karina is one of my #1 all time favorite authors forever, Jeannie, and I think everyone knows it!
The Dex-Files (Experiment in Terror #5.7) by Karina Halle
A book of integral series scenes dedicated to the POV of one of my absolute #1 heroes of all time. Dex is not your gentlemanly type, making everything he thinks, does or say that much more fun, sexy or infuriating. It reads really well… like a book. Mind you, you’ll “get him” better if you read the books in the series before this installment, but you will LOVE this read once you get here. (my review)
Sheltered by Charlotte Stein
A steamy, sweet, sad and scary story. Total bad boy buying… “paraphernalia” being spied on (and judged) by over-protected and abused neighbor. But they eventually forge a friendship over the neighbor’s fence. And eventually she let’s him into her life (more like sneaks him in). ‘Cause even though she’s 18 (over 18) her iron-fisted father has her trembling in fear. (my review)
Curio by Cara McKenna
I’m getting to be a BIG fan of this author, because I love the intensity and sweetness of her unconventional romances. This one involves a male escort. Need I say more? I don’t do I? But I will. There was a twist that made it that much better! And there are follow up installments to continue the series. (my review)
Connected (Twists of Fate) by Jolyn Palliata
Rock star romance with a serious paranormal twist!! Pretty girl is being followed by a famous rock star. Well, worse than “followed”. He’s a ghost. Living inside her. Living in her head and they’re both trying to figure out why (and deal with… stuff). SUPER steamy (how? hehehe I’ll let you discover that), super sweet, he’s super obnoxious, and omg at a certain point… I cried (and I won’t tell you where so you don’t try and guess). LOVED this one and Emma agrees: “Yes…. I was going to suggest this little gem!” (my review)
Father Mine: Zsadist and Bella’s Story: A Black Dagger Brotherhood Novella by J.R. Ward
To be fair, you have to read their first book (Lover Awakened) to appreciate this one, but it’s intense, sorrowful, gorgeous… and it’s “Z”. The book-love of my life. P.S. To be really fair, I say read the entire series from the start. You will fall in love over and over again. But I won’t go too much into that as this post is about “short stories”.
——->> and now for some of my favorite “dark” shorts:
The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
I read “The Lottery” as a youngin and while it was right up my alley (horror books were totally my thing – still are…) this one shocked the heck outta me. I couldn’t believe the nightmare that this society had to endure. To be kept “in line”. GAH!!! I almost forgot this one until Jeannie reminded me of it saying: “I always remember reading The Lottery in high school and being very shocked by the end. I never forgot that story, even though it gave me a few nightmares. It showed me the power of a story.” Yep. ABSOLUTELY AGREE!! It HAD to be on this list. Not romance, no, but you’re looking for an adrenaline rush and a gasp-worthy experience. This is one of ‘em.
Willing Victim by Cara McKenna
Another one that had an intriguing intro and subtle attraction, big reveal, shock-worthy content, and still had me in a swoon, and giddy in their sweeter moments. He’s a street smart fighter, protector, lover… with a very dark twist. Siana reminded me of this one saying: “Willing Victim by Cara Mckenna is also another favorite of mine – can’t go past a bad boy fighter with issues.” and author Laura Kaye recommended this one as well: “ I might rec Cara McKenna’s book WILLING VICTIM as another great and extremely hot novella! << must read! ” (my review)
Wanderlust by Skye Warren
This one leads you to, and through an extremely dark and appalling situation. An utter nightmare with a detestable villain. Except as the book progresses, the characters develop in a way that has many readers connecting to both of them. (my review)
Hear Me (Dark Erotica) by Skye Warren
Girl with a dark and more “extreme” fetish that finds herself in a horrific predicament. She has forgotten her past and escaped her present. Running for her life, she is found and “saved” by a man that attempts to discourage her need to submit. Short story but emotionally raw with a few special twists and turns. (my review)
Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet: Book 1) by CJ Roberts
Dark as dark can be, and yet loaded in romantic tension and sweetness amongst the horror. You’ll find yourself hating and rooting for the bad guy (sometimes, simultaneously). This one’s a bit “longer” in the short reads department (190 pages) and the 2nd book is MUCH longer but once you read this one, you’ll be dying to continue.
Fix You (Second Chances) by Mari Carr
Corrine suggested this one! “I just read Fix You by Mari Carr. I really liked it!” and Melissa agreed: “I agree Fix You was a good short read…”
Protecting What’s His (Line of Duty) by Tessa Bailey
Suggested by Melissa “Also, I liked … Protecting Whats His…” and Lori agreed: “Loved Protecting Whats His! and she has a new one out in about a week.”
Leo by Mia Sheridan
Sarah recommends this one (actually, so do many!) She says: “Leo. It was short and I loved it!”
Pretending He’s Mine (Caught Up In Us Series) by Lauren Blakely
Paula also recommends this one!
Monster (Impossible #1) by Julia Sykes
Tre recommends this series. “Monster and Traitor by Julia Sykes. Very short reads but intense and addicting! The 3rd one (Avenger) comes out tomorrow and I can’t wait!”
“The Story of Son” by J.R. Ward in the Dead After Dark Anthology:
Recommended by Nikki: “”The Story of Son” by JR Ward- that was the first of her writing I had ever read, and was immediately hooked! Now several years later, I still re-read it occasionally (among all the other BDB books, of course!).”
How to Misbehave – A Novella (Camelot Series): A Loveswept Contemporary Romance by Ruthi Knox
Siana recommends this one saying: “ I also enjoyed How to Misbehave by Ruthie Knox – quiet good girl forced to take shelter with a hunky carpenter in basement when a tornado hits, and hijinks ensues. It was sweet, funny and sexy with a little angst thrown in.”
Just Gotta Say by Laura Kaye
Yep… this one I hear is off-the-charts steamy!!! And has been recommended by Heather.
After Adam (A Teen Romance) by Katie Aleo
Recommended by Melissa.
Sophie & Carter (Novella) by Chelsea Fine
Recommended by both Melissa and Kelly!
Not Today, But Someday (Emi Lost & Found) by Lori Otto
Casey recommends: “Not today but someday is short. It’s the prequel to the Emi series by Lori Otto.” (sidenote: Author recommends reading this one only after the first 3 main books in the series)
Ghosts & Lovers: First Confession by Aneesa Price
Recommended by Krista.
Risk the Night by Anne Stuart
Recommended by Lauren: “My favorite “short” is Risk the night by Anne Stuart! I love love love her anti heros”
Wicked To Love – A Wicked Lovers Novella by Shayla Black
Recommended by Shanda: “Wicked To Love by Shayla Black – steamy and short I have read this several times.”
Below The Belt by Skye Warren
Recommended by Debra: “Just read “Below the Belt” by Skye Warren last night. It was really good short. Well written and very steamy ”
Lana by R.K. Lilley
Recommended by Lauren: “I liked the Lana novella by rk lilley.”
Str8te Boys by Evangeline Anderson
Siana liked this one too! “Str8te Boys by Evangelina Anderson is a good gay for you (straight friends falling in love) novella, if you like steamy M/M books.”
Simple Need by Lissa Matthews
And this one as recommended by Siana, too: “The Simple Needs books by Lissa Matthews were fun if you like uber alpha tattooed badboys with a bit of bdsm thrown in…”
Come To Me by Sophia Grey
Aidan recommends it! “Come To Me by Sofia Grey. Sweet and hot cowboy/ a little bit paranormal I just loved. Currently 99c on Amazon.” and Awilk agrees: “I agree with Aidan about Come to Me by Sofia Grey. Quick, short and lots of fun.” and then Mistik chimed in recommending it too: ““Come to Me” is a 39 page PNR short about a British girl and a Texas cowboy who rocks her world. It’s sweet, sexy and delicious. Like chocolate.” and then mamabear recommended it. Yep, gotta read it!
Off Sides by Sawyer Bennett
Kathy suggested this one: “Off Sides. Loved that story and can’t wait to read the follow up about his sister.”
Caleb by Kim McNeil
Slown suggests this one. At first I didn’t “get” what she was trying to say, but I figured it out. It’s one of those bad boys/bad guys you love to hate? “Caleb by Kim McNiel. I really do NOT like Caleb. Series BAD BOY!”
More Than Words by Karla Doyle
This one’s just a bit longer than I would have considered but the synopsis was too good. Michelle pointed it out saying: “Just finished More Than Words by Karla Doyle. He’s a musician but tired of the party life. She’s trying to recovery from a trauma and can’t go out at night. They meet online playing Scrabble! It’s sweet but steamy, with a little “oh no he didn’t!”, … Quick read but good!”
Sleeping Handsome by Jean Haus
Molly recommended it: “Sleeping Handsome by Jean Haus. Sweet and satisfying.”
Fighting Fair by Anne Calhoune
DA recommends this: not mentioned: Fighting Fair by Anne Calhoun.
Blown by Braxton Cole
Recommended by Stephanie: “Full story with lots of hot and steamy!”
Manwich (Sexy Shorts) by Jennifer Roberts
recommended by Lindsey: “Manwich and Seducing Sunshine by Jennifer (CJ) Roberts. She’s such an amazing writer. Her shorts are perfect!” Which spurred me on to remark “WHAT WHAT WHAT??? CJ Roberts???” and she replied: “Yes, one and the same!”
Seducing Sunshine (Sexy Shorts) by Jennifer Roberts (yep!! CJ Roberts!! – author of the incredibly dark and seductive and exciting and scary and romantic anti-romance series The Dark Duet) – and while I’m at it, first book and upcoming 3rd book in The Dark Duet Series can also be considered “shorts” – first one is a long short but less than 200 pages).
Dead and Loving It (Berkley Sensation) by MaryJanice Davidson
Recommended by Niki: “Maryse- have you read “Dead and Loving It” by MaryJanice Davidson? If not, you’ve got to! Perfect book for this list! Super steamy, super funny- 4 short stories, each one like 60-100 pages, all hot werewolf stories! It’s one I got back to and re-read when I get that “quick read” urge.”
Great Exploitations (Mischief in Miami) by Nicole Williams
Jules recommends this one! “I really liked Great Exploitations. Unique storyline. Wished it was longer. It’s really short. Only 24,000 words. About 53 pages.” and Meghan agrees: “Nicole Williams Great Exploitations. Very sexy and short.”
Closer by Dannika Dark
Suggested by Lorna: “Closer by Dannika Dark-spin off of her Mage series..really good…”
Love’s Rhythm by Lexxie Couper
Recommended by Rebecca: “It’s a rockstar romance, too ”