Narrowing down the choices for my top ten best reads of any given year is no mean feat. Though I read less books overall than in my previous 3 years (topping out at about 300), seven new to me authors made my list! I wish I had branched out into more romance genres as that was one of my reading resolutions that I failed at spectacularly (sorry steampunk, young adult and urban fantasy). On the other hand, I made sure to include more own voices/diverse authors which I definitely count as a win as some of them made the final cut. These are my favorites.
My Roommate’s Girl by Julianna Keyes
The only new adult romance on my list, Julianna Keyes managed to redeem a seemingly nonredeemable hero in this romance about a young man who covets his roommate’s girlfriend and schemes to break them up so he can have her for himself. The plans works a little too well, and the consequences lead to a lot of twists and turns that made this one of those stories I couldn’t put down until the very end. Ms. Keyes’ Undecided was just shy of my top ten list in 2016, so clearly she has a winning formula for me in writing in this genre.
Silver Silence by Nalini Singh
I have finally read Nalini Singh! I’ll be honest, the backlist of stories in the Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series was a bit daunting and others who’ve read the series suggested they were best read in order for the overall worldbuilding and story arcs. Lucky for me, Silver Silence, while being part of the Psy-Changeling world, is also the start of a new series, the Psy-Changeling Trinity. It’s the perfect place for a new reader to dive in and I was enthralled with the characters and storytelling and can’t wait to read the next one!
All You Need by Lorelei James
Although Lorelei James has an extensive backlist, the first story of hers I read was a sexy holiday novella called Mistress Christmas during Christmas vacation last year. It put her on my radar, and when I saw that All You Need was going to be a sports romance, I hoped it would be as entertaining. And it definitely is! I love the heroine in this one who is a PR agent with the job of rehabilitating a cocky Swedish hockey player. The sparks fly from the get go with these two opinionated characters and I especially loved that Axl had a lot more going for him than what was on the surface. He gets a top shelf placing as one of my favorite book boyfriends this year.
Pretty Face by Lucy Parker
I heard really good things about Lucy Parker’s Act Like It in 2016 so it was an easy decision to pick up Pretty Face earlier this year. But would it live up to my high expectations? Well, yes, yes it did. In fact, it was so good, that while I was reading it, I kept going back and re-reading parts, so it took me ages to actually finish it! I didn’t want it to end! The opposites attract romance about a grumpy older hero who reluctantly casts a popular younger TV actress in his stage play hit all the right buttons for me.
Hate To Want You by Alisha Rai
My first Alisha Rai story was clearly a good choice, as Hate to Want You has ended up on several ‘best of’ lists this year, including mine. It’s a forbidden love story, a lovers to enemies to lovers romance full of sexy times and complicated family dynamics. The heroine has a Japanese/Hawaiian background which features prominently in decisions that led both families to where they are now. I found it to be an intense, exciting read.
The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian
I missed Cat Sebastian’s The Soldier’s Scoundrel, her debut novel that ended up on several of All About Romance’s reviewers best of 2016 lists. Thus, this one is my first by this author, but the second in the Turner series. Now I know what all the fuss was about! Set away from London society in the wilds of Cornwall, this story of a reclusive scientist suffering from an anxiety disorder and a con man makes for a compelling opposites attract romance.
Acting on Impulse by Mia Sosa
I’m so glad I was able to squeeze this in at the last minute before submitting my list because it totally deserves a spot! The hero is a cocky but charming actor whose recent weight loss for a role must be reversed for the next one. The woman who has captured his heart is a personal trainer, but after finding out his real identity, she’s less than impressed. He’s got to make it up to her, and he does it with a combination of honest apology, hard work, and bedroom attentiveness. It’s my first story by Mia Sosa and I’m already anticipating the next in the series.
Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn
Début author Kate Clayborn has written an absolutely delightful romance with a flawed but swoonworthy hero and an intelligent, cautious heroine. The premise of the series is that three female friends have won the lottery and each woman has found a different way to make the best of their payoff. For Kit, it’s a chance to buy and fix up an old house, a way of setting down the roots she didn’t have as a child. She’s smart enough to look for a much better, higher paying job which is where the hero Ben comes in, as a recruiter for a company looking for her particular skills. Ben’s family situation adds some extra complications, ones that show his true character underneath that of a slightly arrogant businessman. I loved the character development, the slow burn romance (that first kiss!), and honestly just fell in love with the writing style and overall story. This is an author worth keeping an eye out for.
Fair, Bright and Terrible by Elizabeth Kingston
I missed Elizabeth Kingston’s debut novel The King’s Man last year, but listened to it as a fabulously narrated audiobook (thanks to the talents of Nicholas Boulton) this summer. It would have made my list but for it being published in 2016 so it doesn’t count, but I’m mentioning it here because a) you should totally read it and b) the events in Fair, Bright and Terrible (FBT) take place directly after The King’s Man so while it is a standalone romance, you definitely benefit from reading them in order. That being said, FBT is a remarkable romance about a woman who is given a second chance at love with a man with whom she’d once had an ill-fated affair. In the ensuing years that they’d been apart, the hero had kept the dream of reuniting with the heroine alive in his heart, even while she had long ago buried any such hopes. It’s also a story about betrayal and revenge as Wales is suborned under English rule in the 13th century. When a story leads you to start reading Wikipedia pages on medieval European history, the author has clearly done her job and done it well.
Infamous by Jenny Holiday
I had a really hard time deciding which of Jenny Holiday’s Famous series I enjoyed more. Both Famous (book one) and Infamous (book two) made my ‘best of 2017’ folder on Goodreads (along with fifty others that I had to cull to make this list). I’ve decided to choose Infamous because although I loved them both, Infamous is the best contemporary LGBTQ romance I read this year and deserves its spot here. It’s the story of a bisexual up and coming rock star, Jesse, who strikes up a friendship with Hunter, a pediatric doctor, on a train ride. Jesse’s made the conscious decision to keep his hookups strictly heterosexual to maintain his image as a teen girl favorite and move his band up the pop charts. The evolution of Jesse and Hunter’s friendship and how it becomes more is delightfully told, sometimes bittersweet, definitely sexy, and with just the right mixture of laughter and tears. It should be on everyone’s contemporary romance shelf.