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The Best Book of 2020: AAR Staff Picks

While the AAR staff each shares a list of books published last year they love, every year they are asked to come up with their FAVORITE read. This year, after being informed that “No, you cannot pick an author or a series,” most of our reviewers did indeed pick just one. Here are their choices. Enjoy!


Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan

This book not only took on more than any other book I read this year – religion! step-parenting! race! politics! infertility! – but it stuck the landing on every single one of them. Kimba and Ezra’s story is realistic, powerful, and unforgettable.

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


I am rubbish at picking “the best” of anything, and my answer to such a question usually varies on a daily basis. So choosing my favourite romance of the year is hard.  Loretta Chase’s Ten Things I Hate About the Duke is unquestionably the best historical romance of the year, and Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material is without doubt the best contemporary/rom-com. But right now, I’m finding so much to love in m/m romantic suspense, so it’ll be no surprise when I go for The Same Breath by Gregory Ashe, a superb blend of clever mystery and slow-burn romance featuring two flawed but intensely loveable characters who couldn’t be more different – or more perfect for each other.

Buy it at: Amazon or your local independent bookstore


The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

In this year of things going terribly awry, I recommend to you as my Best of 2020 a book about everything going right: the right woman (painter Sloan) meets the right guy (musician Jason) and they get a HEA that goes 4/4 on both of them getting everything they wanted re: career, house, marriage, babies. It topped my heart right up to the edge of its capacity.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent bookstore


What is my favorite romance read of the year?

Well, that’s tough. Loretta Chase’s long awaited historical romance, Ten Things I Hate About the Duke, is a delight. Maria Vale’s The Legend of All Wolves series rocks as does Milla Vane’s A Gathering of Dragons books. But I think the book I enjoyed the most – I’ve reread it twice! – is Julianna Keyes’ Bench Player. This is a story that pulled me out of my (mostly crap) year and made me remember all that’s good in the world. And, given that I don’t like baseball – So. Dull. – and find a lot of contemporary romance facile, the sheer pleasure this book gives me is a glorious surprise. I’m a sucker for older protagonists, redemptive storylines, and powerful women. This book has all this and more.

Buy it at: Amazon 


It’s tough to pick just one, but I’m going for TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea.  I loved many books this year but this is the one that I’ve recommended the most (and bought as a gift the most!). It was a wonderful book – I was entertained and moved and inspired – just what I want when I pick up a story. The romance was low key but the love was rich. It’s a book that will be revisited many times!

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


How to Start a Scandal by Madeline Martin

I discovered a love of Harlequin Historical romances this year and this title was my favorite of them all. I adore the Beauty and the Beast trope, especially when it’s something like PTSD, which the hero suffers from. The heroine was also fabulous, trying to make a life for herself without resorting to marriage. This title is on my read-again shelf because it was just too good to only read once!

Buy it at: Amazon or shop at your local independent bookstore


Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

What a romance, what a novel, and what a piece of work! No one encourages a reader to fall heedlessly in love with her characters like Hibbert, and no one makes the process quite the dance that she makes it.  A delight from start to finish.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent bookstore


Party of Two by Jasmine Guilory

I absolutely adored the relationship between Olivia and Max, which was honest, poignant, funny, flirty, sexy and involved deserts. I also deeply appreciated the balanced look at politics this author took and how well she detailed what the life of a senator would actually look like. Easily my my favorite romance of the year.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent bookstore

Maria Rose:

A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

Picking one book out of all the books I read in a year is always a difficult challenge, but I’ve settled on A Heart of Stone and Ashes by Milla Vane. It’s complex worldbuilding, fascinating characters and fast paced action combined with an enemies to lovers romance makes for a page turning read from start to finish.

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


The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan

This book was a sweet, fluffy read with a really amazing leading lady. Both of the main characters are such fun people to read about, and the central conflict is high stakes without being anxiety-inducing. I would recommend this book to any reader who is looking for a swoon-worthy, gentle book.  

Buy it at: Amazon or Audible


My favorite romance of 2020 has to be The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon. Not only is it a spectacular love story featuring mature characters who know what they want in life, but it’s also a love letter to female friendship. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect story. It’s a book I enjoyed from start to finish, and although I’m not someone who does a ton of rereading, I’m pretty sure I’ll be revisiting this one in the not-too-distant future.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent bookstore

Find all our Best of 2020 books at Amazon!

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