I think I’ll be just shy of my reading goal for 2018, but maybe that’s a good thing because it was a really tough job to narrow down my favorites for the year from the ones I did manage to read! In my preferred category of contemporary romance there are many that exceeded my expectations and I’m taking this as a promising sign for the genre in 2019.  Here’s a glimpse at the books that caught my eye and heart this year.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Is there a ‘best of’ list that doesn’t have this contemporary romance on it? For all the reasons you’ve probably heard, it’s made my list too. An #OwnVoices novel with a personal look at autism and Vietnamese family dynamics, it’s a delight from start to finish (and super sexy too).

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

Dance All Night by Alexis Daria

When we started to think of best of lists at the end of November, I knew that if I submitted mine too soon I’d find one I’d want to add later. Sure enough, had I written it then, I’d have missed out on including this novella by Alexis Daria. It’s a hero in pursuit story (my favorite when the hero is a genuinely good guy) with some beautifully choreographed dance scenes true to its place in the Dance Off series about the participants in a reality TV show. All the books in the series have been great but this is a new fave.

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

Fool Me Forever by Ainslie Paton

It seems that nice guy heroes are my preferred book boyfriend this year as Halsey stole my heart (and Lenore’s) in this second story of the Confidence Game series. The Sherwood family lives up to their  modern day Robin Hood type reputation, robbing from the undeserving rich and giving to the poor which makes it hard not to love them. The ethics of falling for a thief are explored, but Halsey is irresistible. Ms. Paton has the knack of writing unique stories that make you think long after you’ve turned the last page.

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

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Another favorite on ‘best of’ lists for good reason! The way Alyssa Cole combines humour, societal reality (in particular the challenges faced by black academics), with a bit of a fairy tale (the handsome prince, only he gets schooled by the cynical but hopeful heroine) is enchanting. I devoured this one from start to finish, as well as book two (A Duke by Default) and look forward to more.

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

Swagger by Liz Lincoln

Sports romances are popular but don’t always dig into really deep issues. In contrast, Swagger stands out for me because it doesn’t shy away from tough topics.  Exploring clinical anxiety, misogyny in the workplace, the stress of being a graduate student, and concussion related injuries, there’s more to this sexy romance than just an injured football student having the hots for his physics teacher. It should definitely be on your TBR if you’re a sports romance reader.

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

One and Only by Jenny Holiday

Jenny Holiday has made my ‘best of’ list more than once (Infamous was my favorite read overall in 2017) so it’s no surprise to me that she’s continuing her streak with a delightful series about best friends and their involvement in weddings. One and Only is the first in the Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series and introduces the characters and relationships that form the series, with a cosplay loving heroine and a hero who faces the challenge of PTSD from his previous military experience. Romantic comedy combined with emotional soul searching defines the series and makes it one you won’t want to miss.

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

To See the Sun by Kelly Jensen

Despite appearances to the contrary, I do read other romance genres than just m/f contemporary! To whit, this LGBTQ science fiction romance by Kelly Jensen is a must read for its world building and characters. It’s like a Western with a mail order groom, only set on a planet where the sun is deadly. The romance is slow burn perfection and there’s enough action and adventure to keep you up reading late in the night. After the success of the author’s Chaos Station series (co-written with Jenn Burke) of which several entries made my ‘best of’ lists in the past, I’m not surprised at all that she’s made my top ten again.

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

Intercepted by Alexa Martin

Another football romance makes my list! It’s the heroine here, Marlee, who is such a fun character that you can’t help rooting for her to get a real happy ever after. The ins and outs of the NFL are covered from the perspective of a girlfriend, of which the author herself gives an authentic play by play. The next in the series, Fumbled, is one of my highly anticipated reads for 2019.

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

Mr. Hotshot CEO by Jackie Lau

Though I first started reading Ms. Lau under a previous pen name, I’m glad to see she’s taken on a self publishing role with her #OwnVoices romances that feature Chinese-Canadian characters and in the case of this story, the role depression plays for the heroine Courtney. Bringing mental health issues into a romantic comedy might seem counter-intuitive but the author does a fabulous job of providing a funny, uplifting and authentic story, ripe with Chinese cultural family dynamics and a sexy romance to boot. She’s on my auto-read list and I look forward to more of her unique brand of stories in 2019!

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

Rogue Nights Anthology by Various Authors

I’m cheating with this last choice as there are obviously more stories than one in this collection, but the quality of writing, the topics covered and the inclusion of #OwnVoices and LGBTQ pairings makes it impossible for me not to include it on my top ten list. It’s not uncommon for a collection such as this to have some strong entries and some weak ones, but every single story in here is worth reading and makes it one for the keeper shelf.

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

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I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.