Here, in no particular order, are the books I enjoyed the most this year.

The Searcher by Tana French

I’ve been stanning Tana French since reading her first book, In the Woods, although her last, The Witch Elm, wasn’t to my taste. I was worried that I might not love The Searcher either given that it too is apart from her wildly brilliant Dublin Murder Squad books. My fear was for naught. The Searcher is a meditative tale about Cal Hooper, an American cop who impulsively retires to a small Irish village and becomes entangled in a missing person case. French’s writing has never been better–even the rooks who haunt Cal’s yard have more personality than the leads of many a lesser book. The plot is a slow burn tour de force and you’ll ponder this story’s resolution long after finishing the book.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent bookstore


Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase

This is how its done. As Caz said in her DIK review,

It’s classic Chase, featuring a pair of well-rounded, likeable protagonists, oodles of sexual tension and prose filled with insight, a generous helping of snark and the author’s customary razor-sharp wit.  It’s the best historical romance of the year, hands down.

So. Good.


Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent bookstore

The Last Wolf by Maria Vale

Had you told me my favorite series of the year would feature wolf shifters, I’d have thought you didn’t know me at all. But, apparently, I love wolf shifter novels if they’re written by Vale. As I wrote in my review of Season of the Wolf, the fourth book:

Vale’s love story is sensual both in its depiction of the keen desire shared by Evie and Constantine and in the absolute joy the wolves feel for the wild. And though the quandaries they face are somber, this story–and series–brims with whimsey and hope.

If this intrigues you, I strongly recommend beginning with book one and reading the series as a whole. Vale’s world building and the Pack itself are riveting, singular, and damn worth your time.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent bookstore


A Dangerous Kind of Lady by Mia Vincy

In her DIK review, Caz nailed all the things I love about this book.  It’s funny, sexy, has just enough depth to be interesting but isn’t grim, and has leads that are easy to enjoy.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent bookstore


A Touch of Stone and Snow by Milla Vane

While I didn’t adore this in the way I do the first book in the series, A Heart of Blood and Ashes, this is still a superb and riveting fantasy. Vane’s world-building is mind bogglingly detailed and her characters all feel singular.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent bookstore


A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore

I loved everything about this book except its very unlikely ending but, hey, that’s OK. In romance, reality is not a requirement. The chemistry between Lucie and Tristan is exceptional and I simply swooned to see Lucie learn how to love. It was a good year for HR, in no small part to Dunmore.

 

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent bookstore


Heiress for Hire by Madeline Hunter

Heiress for Hire is Hunter’s best book in ages. The leads are grownups who treat each other with respect and care and the plot is intricate. The book is also quite funny without being jejune. I am looking forward to book two, Heiress in Red Silk, due out in April!

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or shop at your local independent bookstore


The Ruin of Evangeline Jones by Julia Bennet

When I interviewed Jones earlier this year, she shared that she wasn’t sure whether or not she’d get a contract to write a third book. It would be a shame if she did not. Both this book and its predecessor The Madness of Miss Grey are strong stories with unusual heroines. This book isn’t without its flaws but, honestly, I didn’t care. It was one of my favorite reads of 2020.

Buy it at: Amazon


An Heiress to Remember by Maya Rodale

This is on many a best list and for good reason. It’s worth reading just for how fun it is to learn about the female world of the Gilded Age department stores. It also has older, sane protagonists, and a satisfying denoumount. Read it–you’ll never see Macy’s the same way again!

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent bookstore


Bench Player by Julianna Keyes

This might be my favorite read of the year which astonishes me because I loathe baseball. But, it doesn’t matter. This book is everything I want in a romance: smart, sexy funny, interesting, and featuring leads I could not wait to read more about. It’s Keyes’ best in my opinion–and yes, I’ve read Time Served.

Buy it at: Amazon


Stages of the Heart by Jo Goodman

Goodman rarely disappoints and here, all the things she does well are paramount. I learned so much about how early American train routes were chosen and fell hard for McCall Landry, ancompletely scrumptious hero.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent bookstore


 

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