2019 was full of great reads for me, and choosing my favorites was no easy feat. Even so, here are some of the best books I’ve read this year in no particular order.

Into the Dark by Karen Rose

This fifth installment in Karen Rose’s Cincinnati series is chock full of sexual tension and twisty suspense. The heroine is a doctor who is HIV positive, and the hero has had feelings for her since they met several years before our story starts. I loved watching them grow their feelings for one another. Karen Rose is a master storyteller, and Into the Dark is one of the best books she’s ever written.

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

The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood

This unconventional romance is not for the faint of heart, but I loved it-from start to finish. The characters have messy lives, and the heroine in particular makes some really bad decisions over the course of the story, but there’s something so compelling about the way Ms. Greenwood brings these people and all their complexities to life on the page. Nothing about the story is sugar-coated, giving readers the impression they could encounter these characters in their everyday lives. Books like this one don’t come along very often, so I’m glad I chose to read it and I urge others to do the same.

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

Witching Hour by Yasmine Galenorn

This is urban fantasy at its best. It’s technically the seventh installment in Ms. Galenorn’s Wild Hunt series, but it’s the beginning of a new story arc featuring a new heroine. Raven is a bonetalker, a witch who communicates with the dead, and I fell in love with her and her circle of friends early on in the story. As always, Ms. Galenorn’s ability to create complex worlds is matchless, and I’ll be a fan of her books for as long as she continues writing them.

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

The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan

Kennedy Ryan has received a ton of well-deserved attention over the past few months and I was eager to try one of her books for myself. The Kingmaker is the first book in a duology and although it ends on an enormous cliffhanger, don’t let that put you off because everything about this book is phenomenal. The story features a Native American heroine and a hero who has turned his back on his extremely rich family. The obstacles to their romance are complex and completely relatable, and the second book is on my short list of books to read in the very near future so I can see exactly how things turn out.

Buy it at: Amazon

Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

This is a young adult retelling of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables set in space. I was intrigued by the synopsis and utterly captivated by the novel itself. There are so many little nods to the classic novel I love, but the authors still manage to give this retelling a unique spin. It’s a big book, but I flew through it, and heaved a sigh of pure joy when I reached the end. The sequel is due out in early 2020 and I plan to read it as soon as it becomes available.

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

The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts

This inspirational romance set in the U.S. around WW2 is a tear-jerker for sure. It tells the story of Brighton, a girl born to a mentally ill mother residing in an institution. Brighton spends her early years locked up alongside numerous psychotic women and has no real understanding of the outside world. Her one true friend is an albino boy from the nearby children’s ward, a boy who doesn’t know his own name and whom she christens Angel. Together, they forge a daring escape from the institution, and begin a harrowing journey in search of safety and acceptance. The author’s writing is lovely and evocative, and I was under the spell of her story from start to finish.

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

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

Young adult fantasy is one of my favorite genres these days, and Nicki Pau Preto’s Crown of Feathers is a perfect example of everything I love about these stories. It’s set in a richly imagined world where a select group of privileged young men are chosen as phoenix riders. Our heroine has always longed to partner with a phoenix, but women are never chosen for this honor. So she leaves her domineering older sister behind, disguises herself as a boy, and sets out in search of the legendary riders, in hopes of joining their ranks. This novel is the perfect blend of magic, political intrigue, and the beginnings of a romance, and its sequel is one of my most anticipated reads of 2020.

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

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts

The Wizard of Oz is a huge part of my childhood, and so the book and the film will always occupy a special place in my heart. Finding Dorothy is nothing less than a love letter to the iconic children’s book and its creator. Told from the perspective of Maud, the wife of L. Frank Baum, this story explores her marriage to Frank and what inspired him to create the character of Dorothy and the magical land of Oz. It’s a sweeping story, spanning Maud’s entire life, paying special attention to the time after Frank’s death when the film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz was being made. It’s a book I’m glad I read and one I hope others will embrace, especially if they grew up longing to visit the land beyond the rainbow.

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

A Rogue by Night by Kelly Bowen

I fell in love with Kelly Bowen’s work in 2016 when I picked up Duke of My Heart, and I’ve been a devoted fan ever since. I love her intelligent, resourceful heroines and the heroes who love them because rather than in spite of who they are. A Rogue by Night, the third book in her Devils of Dover series, is really something special. I have a weakness for smuggler romances, and I don’t see very many of them these days, so this one filled a huge hole in my booklovers heart. The story is full of all the witty banter and sizzling chemistry I’ve come to expect from this author. Plus, we get to see the fantastic King again, and I’m really excited that Ms. Bowen has at last given him a book of his own.

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

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

What the Wind Knows is a time-travel romance about a woman who travels back in time to Ireland in 1916. Ms. Harmon brings this important period of Irish history to vivid life, and spins a fantastic story of revolution and romance that is sure to appeal to anyone who enjoys books set there. It’s the kind of story you’ll want to sink into and putting it down will be next to impossible. I read it in just over twenty-four hours and I loved every minute I spent with these characters.

Buy it at: Amazon

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