Given that we’re soon going to be gearing up for our 2017 Annual Poll, it seemed like a good idea to bridge the gap between it and the 2015 poll because, as Dabney explained in her recent post, it just hasn’t been possible for us to do our annual poll for the Best Books of 2016.  You may recall that the majority of AAR staffers chose their best books of the year in a series of posts that ran throughout December and January.  Well, at around the same time, we had an internal poll of the books WE thought were the best of 2016.  In lieu of doing a public poll, we thought you might like to see what our choices were – and to chime in in the comments with your own thoughts and suggestions.

Obviously, our tastes as a group can be quite diverse, so none of the books on this list received a mountain of votes; but there were clear winners – and runners-up – in some categories, and they were chosen as follows:

AAR Staff Best of 2016: Chosen by the most staff members

AAR Staff Best of 2016 Honorable Mention: This book did not have the most votes, but at least two staff members voted for it.

With thanks to Caroline Russomanno for collating all the information.

Best Romance of 2016


The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Honorable Mentions

Best contemporary romance of 2016:

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Honorable Mentions

Best Category Romance:

There was no outright winner in this category.

Honorable Mentions

Best Romantic Suspense

This vote was a tie:

Honorable Mentions

Best LGBTQ+ Romance

This result was also a tie:

Honorable Mentions

Best Début Author

Sally Thorne

Honorable Mentions

Cat Sebastian

Dal Maclean

Best YA

Honorable Mentions

There are no honourable mentions in this category.

Best Novella or Short Story

There was no outright winner in this category, and no honourable mentions

Best Romance Couple


Lucy & Josh – The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Honorable Mentions


Colin and Emily – The Earl by Katharine Ashe

Cletus and Jennifer – Beard Science by Penny Reid

Ivory & Maximus – Duke of My Heart by Kelly Bowen

Best Hero

Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery – Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

Honorable Mention

Colin Gray, Earl of Egremoor – The Earl by Katharine Ashe

Favorite Funny

Honorable Mentions

Best Tear Jerker

Honorable Mentions

There are no honourable mentions in this category.

Steamiest Read

Honorable Mentions

There are no honourable mentions in this category.

Most Tortured Hero

Christopher Argent, The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne

Honorable Mentions

There are no honourable mentions in this category.

Best Kick-Ass Heroine

Ivory Moore, Duke of My Heart by Kelly Bowen

Honorable Mentions

There are no honourable mentions in this category.

Best NA

Honorable Mentions

There are no honourable mentions in this category.

Best Novel (non-romance) with strong romantic elements

There was no outright winner in this category.

Honorable Mention

Best UK Historical

This vote was a tie:

Honorable Mention

Best Non-UK Historical

Honorable Mention

Best SF, Fantasy, or Paranormal

There was no outright winner in this category

Honorable Mentions

So those are the books, characters and authors that stood out for the AAR team in 2016.  With such a huge number of books being published each year, it’s entirely possible we’ve missed out on something really good, and that our choices are completely different to yours.  So tell us – what did we get wrong?