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Best of the Best of 2021

Every year, after we’ve run all our individual “Best of” lists, we ask each reviewer to choose their ONE favourite book of the year from their list.  We’re an eclectic bunch when it comes to our reading habits, so this is an eclectic list – hopefully with something for everyone!


Battle Royal by Lucy Parker
It was surprisingly easy to pick a favorite this year, I just enjoyed this book so much. There’s something about the way Parker develops chemistry and witty dialogue between her characters, managing to show them as both enemies and friends/lovers by turns. It gets me every time!

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent retailer


Not Here To Be Liked by Michelle Quach

An eminently qualified young woman running for high school newspaper editor loses to the last-minute candidacy of a newbie male jock, prompting our heroine and the entire school to confront systemic misogyny and what feminism really means. It’s nuanced, compelling, important, and well worth an adult read. This book is my top new release of 2021.

Buy it at AmazonAudible or your local independent retailer


King’s Man by Sally Malcolm

Okay, I know I always say that I’m rubbish at choosing and that choosing just ONE title from my Best of List is akin to torture, but this year, the choice was even harder than usual.  I had two very different books on my short-list, and trying to compare them – one historical set in 1780s England, one mystery/romance/tense family drama set in modern day Missouri – was less like trying to choose between apples and oranges than it was like trying to choose between apples and a giraffe!

So I decided to enact a tried and trusted rigorous scientific method for choosing.  I tossed a coin.

In King’s Man, author Sally Malcolm creates longing and sexual tension so intense it leaps off the page, and the way she’s seamlessly woven together this emotionally powerful love story with a tense and exciting plot and a wonderfully (and obviously very well researched) rich historical background is nothing short of masterful.  Heart-breaking, uplifting and utterly captivating, King’s Man is a compelling read and easily one of the finest historical romances I’ve read over the past few years.

Buy it at: Amazon


Walk on the Wilder Side by Serena Bell

For the second year in a row, my favorite romance is a smart, independently published contemporary: Walk on the Wilder Side by the lovely Serena Bell. (Last year, I chose Juliana Keyes’ sports romp Bench Player.) As I wrote in my DIK review:

Bell is one of my favorite contemporary romance writers in no small part because she can take tried and true tropes and make them feel fresh, funny, and real… Walk on the Wilder Side is a steamy, sweet love story with depth. The sex scenes are plentiful and smokin’ hot AND deepen the connection between the leads. Plus it made me laugh more than once. All the Wilder books are a very good time, but this one, thus far, is my favorite.

Buy it at Amazon or your local independent retailer


Just Not That Into Billionaires by Annika Martin

When I reviewed it earlier this year, I said it was charming and fun and sexy, and I stand by that opinion. It’s the story we all need in this pandemic. It’s the lighthearted feeling we all deserve.

Buy it at: Amazon or your local independent retailer


The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen

I inhaled it over a twenty-four hour period.  The setting, the time jumps, the female principal characters, the story – IT’S ALL FANTASTIC.  Friends, I cried at the end.  I LOVED IT SO HARD.  If you’ve dug your heels in like me and said NO MORE WOMEN’S FICTION FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I beg you to make an exception and read The Paris Apartment.  It’s Bowen’s best book.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent retailer


A Nun for the Viking Warrior by Lucy Morris

I purchased this book because someone shared it as a joke in a reading group on Facebook and I found the blurb interesting.  Now I’m in love with Viking romances.  Gentle giants are my favorite and Jorund is one of the best: he was so sweet to Aimee the entire story.  And this was packed with so much action I had trouble putting it down.

Buy it at Amazon


Blackberry Beach by Irene Hannon

With its two charming romances, a lovely small-town setting near the ocean, gentle inspirational messages, and well-drawn characters, Blackberry Beach is a wonderful gem. Given the fast pace and uncertainty of life, I love the quiet interlude this book offers. Enjoy!

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent retailer


Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

This second part of Gong’s retelling of Romeo and Juliet provides the most satisfying conclusion to a YA series I’ve read since Mackenzi Lee’s Gentlemen’s Guide series.  A perfect novel.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent retailer


Our Darkest Night  by Jennifer Robson. It is the Autumn of 1943, to survive the Holocaust, Antonina Mazina, a young Jewish woman, poses as the wife of  Nico Gerardi, a young man who was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to leave the seminary and run his family’s farm.Their love story, set against a backdrop of terror and hardship, is a gorgeous, haunting, lyrical tale that you will remember long after you have read the last page.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent retailer

Maria Rose

Make it Sweet by Kristen Callihan

Choosing a favorite book of the year is always difficult but from the moment I read Make It Sweet, I knew it was a contender, and my love for this book has only grown in the interim.  The author has taken two characters from different walks of life, Lucian an ex-hockey player and Emma an actress, and had them meet at a career crossroads for them both.  Secluded at a gorgeous California estate, they are reluctantly drawn to each other,  their time together giving them the courage to face the world again and the knowledge that they’ve found something special if they’re willing to take a risk.  Make It Sweet doesn’t shy away from the hard realities of life but softens the edges by giving Lucian and Emma a sensual and sexy romance and the reader a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Buy it at AmazonAudible or your local independent retailer


The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun
I was particularly impressed by this as it’s Cochrun’s debut. The Charm Offensive is relentlessly charming, sweet and hopeful. Dev and Charlie are deeply flawed but intensely loving people who are confused about what they want, and sadly used not having their needs met. I loved their story, it’s super romantic and beautifully written.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent retailer

So… those are OUR favourites.  If you’ve read any of them, what did you think?  And what are YOUR favourite books of the past year?

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