Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when I have to distil all sorts of pleasurable reading into a list of the books I enjoyed the most. Such a difficult task! I started out thinking there were only a few, then I would talk to someone or look back through my ebook library and notice something else, and next thing I knew I had enough favorites to fill two blog posts. After much debating, here is my pared down list.

As I looked over my favorites, a bit of a common theme popped out at me. For whatever reason, many of the books this year involved main characters who had some sort of history together. As friends, lovers, or enemies, these first five books all have that in common.

The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran

This is the only classic Historical Romance on my list this year, and it’s a good one. There’s kidnapping and betrayal, misunderstandings, revenge, and of course the reunion of our star-crossed lovers. It’s a long road back to each other, but very worth it.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting

This is another one where the couple shared a past romance, but the feeling is very different. Lilah and Ethan were deeply in love in high school, before their lives started pulling them in different directions. When Ethan’s hockey career takes him back to their home town, he rekindles that old spark with Lilah. I particularly enjoyed the memories the couple shared of their past relationship here. Ms. Hunting does a good job of showing the beauty of young love, while also addressing its inherent problems, and showing how Lilah and Ethan have grown since that time.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid

In this case, Simone and Roscoe don’t have an old relationship to get over, but rather an old friendship. This is the latest book in Ms. Reid’s Winston Brothers series, and it has the comfortable feel of stepping into an old pair of shoes, if you’ve read the other books and are familiar with the characters. Yet it also stands alone as a great book with a unique twist on a common story, and dash of Ms. Reid’s characteristic wit.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Here we have another classic friends-to-lovers scenario, but with the twist of some online dating and deception thrown in. It’s a pretty recent release, but I knew as soon as I picked it up that this book would stand in my Best of 2018. The friendship between Reid and Millie is well written, develops easily into romance, and is deliciously complicated by their shared friend group and the fact that they are secretly talking to each other on a dating app. Only, Reid doesn’t know that. At turns humorous and a little bit heart-wrenching, this book is a must-read.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen

This book juggles not only a friends-to-lovers element, but also the fact that Nate is Becca’s boss. At a time when there’s constant news about people abusing that sort of power, I loved how Nate tried to hold himself back here in spite of the way he’s long carried a torch for Becca. There’s a lot to juggle between their friendship and employment relationship, but this book is an excellent example of an author getting that balance just right.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes and Noble/Kobo

That about covers my list of books where the characters have a prior relationship. Now, on to my other favorites:

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

This book only came out in September, but I’ve already reread it once, that’s how good it is. It’s a fantasy, with a couple who start out as unwilling allies against a corrupt monarchy. The worldbuilding is complex and well done, so I’m definitely hoping for more from this author in 2019.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder

This is more sci-fi than fantasy, and probably wins the title of Most Interesting Book Premise of 2018. Set years in the future, in this story humans have begun space travel and discovered Terracotta Warriors (like those already in China) on other planets. There are theories about aliens doing this, but so far no true explanations. Lyra is the daughter of two scientists who study the Warriors, in for an epic adventure.

Buy it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble

First Time at Firelight Falls by Julie Anne Long

This is one of my favorite books about a single parent. It’s difficult to strike the right balance of busy life, precocious child, and dreamy new romance, but Ms. Long does a phenomenal job. She had me falling for Principal Gabe just as Eden did, the real-life white knight who fights off angry PTO moms instead of dragons.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes and Noble/iBooks/Kobo

A Touch of Flame by Jo Goodman

Ms. Goodman’s Westerns never fail to delight me, and this one was no different. Ridley is the new – and female! – doctor in Frost Falls, Colorado. Ben is the town sheriff ready to help her adjust to her new life. Together they have some adventures and work to improve the town. It’s a classic storyline, and well executed.

But it at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

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College student by day. Book enthusiast around the clock. With any luck I'll eventually be able to afford food AND books. But I've got my priorities straight.