This has been an interesting year for romance.  It was one where contemporaries have thrived, YAs have blossomed – but it’s been harder to find the right kind of historical.  In reverse order, here are my favorite books of 2018!


The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

YA has had one heck of a year; I can name at least six books in the genre I’d give an easy best of recommendation to.  Lee’s book makes the grade for so many reasons, but the first is that it’s terribly absorbing and easy to fall into.  A rip-roaring adventure that gives us the next step in Felicity’s adventures, this book is about self-discovery and self-assuredness.  An asexual, aromantic heroine who dreams of becoming a doctor and finds her calling in the world at large, a lesbian Muslim pirate looking for a treasure and family, a society rose who’s been smothered by social expectations – together they make a sound family, and I wait with anticipation to see what the next slice of Lee’s world does for us.

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

What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine

None of the books I’ve read this year have stuck with me as strongly as Fine’s fable about a girl born in the rotting body of her mother, whose ability to curse those around her with eternal life or death determines the future she will live.  It’s not a pretty story, but it’s a powerful one filled with thickly-brewed worldbuilding.

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

Fourteen Summers by Quinn Anderson

Some stories feel like you could just reach out and enter their pages.  Quinn Anderson’s Fourteen Summers – about two men whose long-term childhood friendship blossoms into true love – tells the story of a small seaside town and two lives that are straining to grow in a way that feels familiar yet fresh.

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

Band Sinister by K. J . Charles

There are a number of wonderful writers (Katherine Ashe, Meredith Durran, Maya Rodale, Beverly Jenkins,  Margurite Kaye, Heaths both Virginia and Lorraine, Jo Goodman) who produced historicals that were excellent this year, but my absolutely favorite was Charles’ Heyer parody, which paid loving tribute to regency tropes while gently tweaking them and showing us the relationship between a rake and a retiring country squire that takes place during the meeting of a Hellfire Club (of sorts).

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

First Time at Firelight Falls by Julie Ann Long

There’s a reason why everyone you know has been raving about Long’s sweet contemporary romance about a school principal and a PTA mom who manage to fall in love among a lot of laughs; it was meltingly sweet and hot.  A treat of an experience.

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

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

You don’t need me to tell you how good Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient is.  The story of a mathematician who hires an escort to teach her the basics of physical affection, it’s charming and sweet and tender and funny without being saccharine.  If you haven’t been swept away by Stella and Michael’s story yet, please pick it up –  you won’t regret it.

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

It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday

Trying to pick my favorite contemporary romance of the year, as you can see, was one heck of a difficult task.  Jenny Holiday’s It Takes Two makes the list because of all of the ways it manages to emphasize how difficult it can be to fall in love when you’ve got baggage.  Nothing about the long pathway that Wendy and Noah take toward true love is smooth – which is what makes the book such a richly rewarding experience.

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

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Guillory put forth two great books this year, but The Proposal was my favorite by far.  Part sparkling romantic comedy, part a story about two people thrown together by circumstances who instead are richly rewarded by finding true love with each other – and a trenchant observation about what public scrutiny can do to people in this day and age of viral online media. Nik in particular is a heroine for the ages.

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

The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas

Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series has been one of the best historical mystery series ever published. Yes, I’m willing to say that much about it, because it really is just that good. Her take on the much-trod Holmes mythos is impeccably researched, well-populated with interesting characters, and deliciously written.  It’s impossible to come away from one of these novels dissatisfied.

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

From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon

Sometimes, you open the pages of a book and find an incredibly relatable character staring right back at you.  Menon’s Twinkle Mehra is someone most adults, tweens, and teenagers  can look at and feel total sympathy with, but for me she was a kindred chum.  As an aspiring filmmaker, following Twinkle’s journey through dealing with losing her best friend, gaining a crush, and trying to make her filmmaking aspirations come true, was like watching a little flickering piece of the person I once was – and still am – winking back at me from the pages of my e-reader.  The novel is beautiful, and still the best thing I’ve read all year.

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