AAR no longer has the manpower to run our annual reader poll but we still want to know what you think! So, give us your 2019 choices for:
Best romance novel
Best secondary romance
Best debut romance novel
These are from books published in 2019. OK? Go!
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I’ve always been a great fan of the Annual AAR Polls. I love these lists! I understand why you don’t make them anymore, but it’s always nice to see what our fellow readers liked last year. I took all the answers given here although it has been a very little amount of answers, and therefore, with very few votes, these are the favourites:
Best romance novel: Evie Dunmore: Bringing Down the Duke
Best hero: Duke of Malloryn (Dukes are forever – Bec McMaster)
Best heroine: Freddy Carlton (The Austen Playbook – Lucy Parker)
Best debut romance novel: Evie Dunsmore: Bringing Down the Duke
It looks like there’s no winner in the other two categories: Best secondary romance & Hottest read
I hope this little poll has discovered good books for you. At list I hace found new books I haven’t heard of until this moment..
Best Romance: Brazen and the Beast by Sarah Maclean had everything I love.
Best Hero: t has to be at 3 way tie;;; Lysander from On Bended Knee by Celeste Bradley dark, quiet, troubled…loved him… Lucien from Angel in the Devil’s Arms by Julie Ann Long…same lol… I loved how the h/h talked to each other just great… and of course Beast from Brazen and the Beast by Maclean again same,,,
Best Heroine: 3 the from above mentioned … Heroine is tricky for writers I think…they tend to be insipid, or tooo young ( I don’t care about how it was back then anything under 21 is yuck) or too “fiery” ugghh….
Best Debut: well i read Grace Burrowes and Christy Carlyle for the first time and were awesome!
I had a hard time picking just one for “Best Romance” so I’m dividing it up into two categories :-)
Best Contemporary Romance Novel: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
Best Historical Romance Novel: What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon
Best Hero: Thomas from What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon
Best Heroine: Annabelle from Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
Best Debut: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary and The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Hottest Read: Satisfaction Guaranteed by Lauren Blakely
Honorable mentions: A Rogue by Night by Kelly Bowen and Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
I too loved Things You Save in a Fire.
For best romance novel, which for me is also funniest, I’m undecided between The Blacksmith Queen by G. A. Aiken, In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston (another name of same author), and The Billionaire Book Club by Max Monroe.
Best heroine is definitely Keeley Smythe, The Blacksmith Queen.
I still have a lot of 2019 titles either tbb (waiting for an ebook price I’m willing to pay) or tbr (too many books, too little time).
Best Romance Novel: Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Ann Long
Best Hero: Duncan Wentworth from When a Duchess Says I Do by Grace Burrowes
Best Heroine: Delilah from Lady Derring Takes a Lover
Best Debut: The Flatshare by Beth Oleary
Lady Derring Takes a Lover is definitely on my TBR list. I keep hearing awesome things about it.
I’m finding it quite difficult to pick a favourite hero and favourite heroine as many of my favourites this year have been couples – Hazard and Somerset, Wes and Hudson (Not Dead Yet), Shane and Ilya (Heated Rivalry), but if I have to pick one, it’s got to be the Duke of Malloryn from Dukes are Forever. Best heroine… hm… I loved Adele from the same book, but it’s a tie between her,and Freddy from The Austen Playbook
I think the only début I’ve read this year is the Dunmore, which was good, but not outstanding (a B+ for me).
I don’t usually read novelties, so I have not read many 2019 novels this year. Therefore I will not answer all the questions. These were my favourites this last year:
Best romance novel: Devil’s daughter by Lisa Kleypas
Best hero: Shaw Miller (The one you fight for, by Roni Loren)
Best heroine: Freddy Carlton (The Austen playbook, by Lucy Parker)
Hottest read: The right swipe, by Alisha Rai
There is too much on my tbr from this year yet to read. However, from what I did get to:
Best Romance – The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Best Debut – Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunsmore
Best Hero – Griff Everett in Talia Hibbert’s Work For It
Best Heroine – Delilah Swanpoole in Julie Ann Long’s Lady Derring Takes A Lover
Hottest Read – Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid
No secondary romances stand out.
Other favorites this year that just deserve another shout-out imho: Jenn Burke’s Not Dead Yet series, Adriana Herrera’s American series, and pretty much everything Gregory Ashe has written.
Best romance novel: The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker
Best hero: Captain Tristan Hardy from Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long
Best heroine: I haven’t loved any one this year. I liked a few: Terry Rayburn from Met Her Match by Jude Deveraux and Freddy from The Austen Playbook.
Best secondary romance: I haven’t read any books with secondary romance. But these characters from the Austen Playbook intrigued me so much that Headliners is on auto buy. Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport from The Austen Playbook.
Hottest read: Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long
Best debut romance novel: I haven’t read any so far, although many are on my TBR.
Great choice in secondary characters. I read an arc of Headliners and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, as Sabrina and Nick are magical together. It’s only 3 days into the new year, but I’m noting Nick Davenport as a favorite hero for 2020. I loved The Austen Playbook too so much. And 2019 was a really good year for Julie Anne Long as well.
Best Romance Novel : Dukes are Forever by Bec McMaster
Honorable mentions to:
How To Love A Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne (although points should really be debited for the awful title)
Promise of Darkness :Bec McMaster
Best Hero: Duke of Malloryn with Thiago The Prince of Evernight coming in a respectable second.
Best Heroine: Adele Malloryn. I never dreamed when reading “Heart of Iron” all those years ago that I would grow to love her character and that she would end up with Malloryn.
Best secondary romance: I don’t remember any.
Hottest read: I have to defer to Dukes Are Forever again.
I don’t know any debut romances but I am eagerly looking for some.
I had to use a previously untouched sorting button on my kindle to sort by publication date to figure this out. Apparently most of my reading is at least a year behind the times and doesn’t qualify.
You and I have clearly mind melded!
For me I think it began back with “Eleven scandals to start to win a Duke’s Heart” when other sites gave it an “A” and your review summed up every thought and problem I had regarding it.
Needless to say, when I see you give a book a high grade I feel pretty confident I will enjoy it.
I could name you best hero, heroine, debut, etc but they were not published in 2019. It’s time for me to expand my horizons and delve more into contemporary in 2020.
Best romance/debut – ‘Bringing Down the Duke’.
I also thought the romance in ‘The Binding’ was excellent too And I really enjoyed ‘The Widow of Rose House’ and ‘Lies’ -Kylie Scott
Here’s to more great books in 2020! Happy New Year everyone!
Thanks so much for sharing about Lies by Kylie Scott. I didn’t know about it and really enjoyed it. There was good humor with a snarky h. I wonder if there will be more from the same group of characters?
Best romance novel – Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
Best hero – Chase Sinclair in The Rakes enticing proposal
Best heroine – Eleanor Walsh in The Rakes enticing proposal
Hottest read – Passion & Ink by Naima Simon
Best Debut – Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
I’m very happy to see Bringing Down the Duke on someone’s list. It was close for me when deciding, especially for the hero category and as debut novel. It was one of my highlights of 2019.
Best Romance: The Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds
Best Hero: Jack, The Opposite of Always is tied with Arland from Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews with an honorable mention for Daniel Aoki from Jenn Bennett’s Serious Moonlight
Best Debut: The Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds
Best Heroine: Lucy Harris, Dark Matters by Michelle Diener and Memory from Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh
Best Secondary Romance: I think author’s are only teasing these now and waiting to publish the character’s own book. Which is frustrating.
@Maggie: Exactly! Especially in contemporaries—if the hero has a brother/best friend/business partner and the heroine has a sister/best friend/business partner (particularly if there’s quite a bit of antagonism between the secondaries), you know good and well those characters are going to show up in a future book in the series. The kind of secondary romance that Heyer often did (and Balogh—at least in her early books) just doesn’t seem to occur in contemporaries.
Contemporaries used to do a really nice job with this. SEP had several great secondary romances, as did Suzanne Brockmann, JAK, Nalini Singh and Robyn Carr. But I’ve noticed a trend in historicals/contemporaries of recent years to do set ups only. I just finished Tessa Bailey’s latest and the secondary romance was a set up for the next book in the series. I don’t know if its an issue of page space or what but books in the last several years just don’t seem to include secondary romance.
I think it might be a question of page count . . . ? Those books with great secondary romances – especially SEP’s and Brockmann’s that only appeared in the one book – were quite a bit longer than many novels today. Too much pressure to publish more quickly means less time per novel, less time for writing those great secondary characters?
A secondary romance is another romance storyline that isn’t as significant as that of the main leads but still has an HEA. They are found in almost all of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ stories (My favorite is that of Jack and April in Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips) and in many other romances.
Yeah, Jack and April were awesome. There is an older couple in Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series that I really liked; and Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series had several that worked as well.
I need to read The Widow of Rose House. It sounds excellent.
Yes, you do. Just finished it. It’s a very good read!
Best Romance Novel: A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert
Best Hero/Heroine: Ruth and Evan from the same book
Hottest Read: Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward
Best Debut: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
I don’t know what a secondary romance is either, so I’ll pass on that.
Ugh! Do you realize I had to check the publication dates before replying to this post? (I hardly ever pay attention to when something was published while I’m reading.) Thank goodness I found a few that qualify for the 2019 best categories. Here are my picks:
Best hero: Arash Shamshiri in “Undercover Justice” by Nico Rosso (Harlequin Intrigue)
Best heroine: Verity Plum in “A Duke in Disguise” by Cat Sebastian (Avon Impulse)
Best secondary romance: Like DiscoDollyDeb said, I’m not sure what you mean here. Either way, I don’t recall reading anything with well-developed secondary romance plots
Hottest read: “Undercover Justice” by Nico Rosso (Harlequin Intrigue)- there is quite a creative sex scene that takes place in a housing development, and lots of tension leading up to it
Best debut romance novel: Didn’t read any that were debut works in 2019, unless you want to count “Renegade Protector,” which is Nico Rosso’s first Harlequin Intrigue title.
Best romance novel of 2019: “A Duke in Disguise” by Cat Sebastian
Here’s to 2020!
Oh, oh, oh! I just finished reading “A Delicate Deception” by Cat Sebastian (Avon), and Lex and Georgiana get my vote for best secondary romance. (Although they win by default as it is the only 2019 romance where I have seen a secondary romance. Even so, it’s a great one- and a mixed orientation relationship too!)
Favorite romance novel: HEATED RIVALRY by Rachel Reid. M/M romance that covers ten years in the secret relationship between two professional hockey players.
Favorite hero: JJ, the gruff bar-owner in Kate Canterbary’s FAR CRY.
Favorite heroine: Brooke, the complicated & prickly heroine of the aforementioned FAR CRY.
Hottest: TEACHER’S PET WOLF by Kati Wilde. A shifter romance that is less about shifting and more about accepting all the disparate elements of who you are. Lots of sexy times and all of them with a molten heat level.
Secondary romance: I’m not sure exactly what “secondary” means. Is it that the romance is secondary to something else in the plot? Or is it a romance between two secondary characters that doesn’t take center stage in the storyline? Either way, I don’t really have a response here. I read mostly contemporaries where any secondary romance will undoubtedly get its own book later in the series.
Debut: I don’t think I read a debut novel in 2019–at least not one that jumped out at me.
I think secondary romance just means that it’s a romance or potential for one within a story already featuring a central romance. Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Anne Stuart come to mind as authors who regularly include secondary romances in their books. Secondary characters are supportive characters in a book but not the main protagonists, basically.
I didn’t read many romances in 2019, and I only read 8 2019 releases. The two that stood out far and away as the best were:
Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas
Forever Wolf by Maria Vale
I think Mulan and Kai from Magnolia Sword would be my favorite couple, hero and heroine.
Vale’s Forever Wolf was definitely the most poignant and emotionally affecting romance.
On Biller’s book (since Blackjack mentioned it). I did read that one. It was entertaining, and I enjoyed some aspects of it, but overall it was just a C read for me. I did like supporting character Henry a lot and would love to read his story, so agree there. However, I am NOT shipping him with the hero’s sister. Just as an aside and to show how personal associations can throw you out of a book, Sam, the hero, reminded me an awful lot of Dick Van Dyke in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I couldn’t get that image out of my head (LOL)!
Ha, on no. I wouldn’t crush on Dick Van Dyke either. As a counterpoint, I actually imagined younger Tate Donovan (i.e. when he was Rachel’s Joshua boyfriend on Friends). That totally worked for me! I also liked the concept of an absent-minded professor who is just relentlessly cheerful.
I’ll respectfully disagree with both of you and say I find DVD hot even at 90!
Hmm, I’ve never thought of Dick Van Dyke as “hot,” but I do like him. I definitely didn’t picture him as the hero of Biller’s novel though.
Best Romance: American Love Story by Adriana Herrera stole my heart forever. The other books in the series are also excellent.
Loved these too!
The best HR book that I read this year was The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews,. I simply adored it and it really stood out for me in a pretty much otherwise disappointing year for HR.
Best Romance: Someone to Love by Mary Balogh
Best Hero: Wulfric in Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh
Best Heroine: Abigail in Lady Saves the Duke by Annabelle Anders – currently my favourite heroine
Best Non-Traditional Romance: Void by Raven Kennedy – I loved everything about this book.
Hottest Read: Anton’s Grace by Regine Abel – loved it.
FYI, we’re looking for titles published in 2019… Wulfric is a terrific hero, but he made his first appearance in (gulp!) 2007!
Slightly Dangerous is a 2004 title. Wulfric made his first appearance in A Summer to Remember, published in 2002 :)
My favorite 2019 romance was Any Old Diamonds by KJ Charles.
Best Romance: Kate Clayborn’s Love Lettering
Best debut romance: Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare
Best Heroine: Freddy Carleton from Lucy Parker’s The Austen Playbook.
Best Hero: Leon Twomey from The Flatshare
Best secondary romance: The clever and enigmatic Henry from Diana Biller’s The Widow of Rose House and the hero’s sister. I cannot wait for their romance in their own book.
Hottest? I’m not sure as I often have a difficult time separating out “hottest” from “best” since they are so intertwined for me. I’ll go with Love Lettering.
I need to read The Widow of Rose House. It sounds excellent.
It’s utterly excellent!
It’s so good!! Ghost story and a haunted house but light on the chills. Darling hero with a grumpy heroine, It’s the author’s debut too!!
Me too! That’s why I love AAR as someone always alerts me to new authors and books I would have missed.
Ghost story + romance is my catnip. I’m very excited to pick this one up.
The Wallflower Wager
Griff from The Austen Playbook
My/Esme from The Bride Test
Devil’s Daughter had my favourite sensual scene of the year.