As fall begins, I start thinking about end-of-year “Best of” lists. There are so many books released each year that I’m always worried that I’m missing out books I should have tried. AAR’s Power Search is my longtime favorite for checking out what’s been going on in a given year, and I often turn to it for guidance on what I should try to cram in before December.

As of 10 September, when I pulled the data for this column, AAR staffers had given DIK grades to 125 books published in 2019. But we read widely, and we can’t help sharing all the books that get us excited, even ones that aren’t romance (our biggest non-romance DIK category? Psychological thrillers!).

When you adjust the list to include only romances, we have given sixty-seven books published in 2019 a DIK of grade A+, A, or A- so far (1 A+ and 37 As). Contemporary has been our most successful subgenre, where we’ve had 29 DIK reads or listens, and our second-best is historical, with 16. This matches the anecdotal feeling of some of our reviewers that it’s been a weak year for historicals.

Alyssa Cole is having an extraordinary year, with four (!!!) DIKs: Can’t Escape Love; Once Ghosted, Twice Shy; A Prince On Paper; and An Unconditional Freedom. That’s more DIKs in nine months than some authors earn in a career! She’s followed by four authors with two books apiece: Jenn Burke with paranormal romances Not Dead Yet and Give Up The Ghost, K.J. Charles with Proper English and Any Old Diamonds, Kennedy Ryan with Hook Shot and the audiobook of Block Shot, and Talia Hibbert with Work For It and That Kind of Guy. Our one A+ so far: Crazy Cupid Love, by Amanda Heger, given by our happiest reviewer this year, Lisa Fernandes, who has given 18 DIK grades.

I asked AAR staffers – what are your do-not-miss romances of 2019? In addition to the works listed above, and in no particular order, here are the books they named.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Grading Curves by Naima Simone

Angel in a Devil’s Arms by Julie Anne Long (Release Date: 29th October)

Dukes Are Forever by Bec McMaster

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

A Chip and a Chair (the entire Seven of Spades series) by Cordelia Kingsbridge

The Rake’s Enticing Proposal by Lara Temple

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Fumbled by Alexa Martin

More than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden

The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma

Teach Me by Olivia Dade

Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau

What about you, readers? Which of our favorites have you read, and do you agree that they are 2019’s finest? What 2019 romance do you want to get up on your soapbox and shout about until everyone reads it?

~ Caroline Russomanno