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The Best of 2018: Haley’s List

Every year when I’m ready to compile my best of the year list, I feel like I haven’t read anything for a year. That isn’t the case for 2018. I read a ton this year…it just wasn’t published in 2018. My reading habits took a shift from consuming almost entirely Contemporary Romance (with some Young Adult) to suddenly powering through the backlists of several Regency Romance bestsellers. I don’t know what happened! It did mean that my list for what I’d read that was actually published this year was shorter, but I have a handful I loved and want to share.

The Earl I Ruined and The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham

I know both of Peckham’s books have some controversy around them because they’re definitely not your typical Historical Romances, but that is part of what made me love them. I spent a lot of 2018 reading older Regency titles that were well reviewed, and after a time they start to look the same. I think Peckham has a remarkable skill for writing emotion and description, which is key in romance, so both books completely drew me in. On top of that, her characters get to break away from the traditional mold set for historical heroes and heroines, making the Secrets of Charlotte Street series a breath of fresh air.

Buy The Duke I Tempted at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

Buy The Earl I Ruined at: Amazon/Apple Books/Barnes & Noble/Kobo

The Bastard’s Bargain by Katee Robert

Robert did an incredibly skilled job of making readers want to read a book starring the villain of the rest of the series. Dmitri comes off as plain evil throughout the O’Malley’s series, yet it was clear he would eventually have his own book with the youngest O’Malley sister. The chemistry between them had been simmering in the background for some time, and once they stepped up as leads it was not a disappointment at all. I really adored this whole series and I’m still sad that it’s over, so it may be time for a reread.

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

Making Up by Lucy Parker

If you don’t know how great Lucy Parker’s books are, now’s the time to give them a chance. I’ve loved all three books in the series almost equally, but I liked how Making Up had almost a circus feel compared to the more traditional theater predecessors. Trix and Leo were a great couple, and Trix especially stood out to me as a fun, sassy heroine. I’m already looking forward to the next installment in the London Celebrities series.

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

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I’ll probably be the millionth person to add The Kiss Quotient to a Best Of list this year, but anyone who has read it probably knows why. Hoang created a book that has both all the elements of a tropey, sexy Contemporary Romance as well as the fresh voice and inclusivity that make this book a standout. Stella and Michael jump off the page (and steam up the page), and I personally couldn’t put it down once I started reading. Some books just come along and have the right je ne sais quoi to make everyone fall in love with them, and The Kiss Quotient is one of them.

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

Dare to Love a Duke by Eva Leigh

Eva Leigh is somewhat to blame for my return to reading Regency. I saw a tweet promoting her older title, Temptations of a Wallflower, and ended up really enjoying it. I’ve never wanted to review historical titles because I don’t read them much, but I gave Dare to Love a Duke a chance and I’m so glad I did. I just adored this book. Leigh’s writing works for me on a lot of levels, namely it’s very sexy and her heroines are strong, independent, smart women. Now that I’ve read the whole London Underground series, I’d venture to say this final book might be the best of the three, with the first giving it stiff competition.

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

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Although I’m behind on reading the sequel, I’d be remiss to not include A Princess in Theory. Cole’s voice for Contemporary is very fresh, and I really liked the inclusion of a scientist heroine. Also, I’m always a fan of Contemporary Romance where young heroines don’t just seem to have gobs of money with no obvious source or from an unrealistic job that wouldn’t pay much, like a cupcake bakery. This book is an excellent example of how to take a classic Cinderella story and make it new by both grounding it in reality and broadening who gets to be included in the happily ever afters.

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

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