I am one of those people who’s always playing catch-up in my reading. Every year, I frantically use the DIK Power Search and cram as many books in as I can before choosing my top reads at the end of it.

This year, I’m trying to do better, and one of the most helpful resources for me is various “best of the year (so far)” lists I find online. I thought I’d make one myself to open a conversation about what everybody feels we absolutely MUST read before the end of 2018. I’ve taken the categories are from the old AAR annual polls.


Best Contemporary Romance:

Pas de Deux by Lynn Turner. A multicultural romance about a ballerina and a choreographer which transported me into a richly-portrayed (and extremely sexy) world of dance and dancers.

Best Romance Couple:

Michael (Phan) Larsen and Stella Lane, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. A woman with autism hires a male escort to help her with her sex and relationship challenges. It may be odd to call this relationship “sweet,” but what else would you call two people who work so hard to fit each other’s unusual edges?

Best LGBTQ+ Romance:

My “best” was When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri, but it’s more of a B read. I’m still looking for the book that blows me away.

2018’s Best Debuting Romance Author:

Helen Hoang, for The Kiss Quotient.

Best Young Adult Romance:

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. This paranormal re-imagining of post-Civil War America with a zombie slaying heroine is the YA fantasy novel I didn’t even know I needed. Is this a romance? Not yet (this is the first in a series). Do I care? Not a whit.

Favorite Funny Romance:

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris. This Choose-Your-Own-Adventure affectionately embraces every romance trope out there, with endings ranging from becoming a noblewoman to becoming undead. I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed harder at a romance.

Most Tortured Romance Hero:

Liam Devaliant, Earl of Lockwood, from The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran, the brutalized survivor of an Australian penal colony working to reclaim his mind and body now that he has his freedom.

Best Kick-Ass Heroine:

Kate Snyder, Love Game by Maggie Wells. A women’s basketball coach with back-to-back national titles and an Olympic gold medal who negotiates her salary with the flair of a Beyonce gif: Kate proves you don’t need to fight to kick ass.

Best UK Historical:

The Prince by Katharine Ashe. An exiled prince turned painter helps his unconventional muse deceive the Edinburgh medical community into believing she’s a young man so she can qualify as a surgeon. Chock full of sexual tension and meticulous research.

Best Fantasy Romance:

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. The interlocking stories of a duke’s daughter and a Jewish moneylender, whose marriages to a cursed tsar and a frost king are the only things that stand between their country and eternal winter.

Best PNR Romance:

Technically, this would be Ocean Light by Nalini Singh, but I actually found it a bit of a letdown. I hope someone here has a good recommendation!


I’m going to save best hero, best heroine, steamiest read, and best overall romance until the end of the year. After all, I haven’t even managed to get to these categories:

Best Sci-fi romance  Best Non-UK Historical; Best New Adult Romance; Best Novel (non-romance) with strong romantic elements; Favorite Tear-Jerker Romance; Best Erotica / Romantica Romance; Best Romance Novella or Short Story; Best Category Romance Book; Best Romantic Suspense.

Here are some 2018 books still on my TBR:

A Duke in the Night – Kelly Bowen

A Scandalous Deal – Joanna Shupe

Emergency Contact – Mary Choi

It Takes Two – Jenny Holiday

The Proposal – Jasmine Guillory

The Warrior’s Bride Prize – Jenni Fletcher

Fool Me Forever – Ainslie Paton

Phoenix Unbound – Grace Draven

So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with me on any categories? What books do I HAVE to read by the end of the year so I can vote on them? Can somebody please hook me up with some SF or PNR that I will love?

~ Caroline Russomanno