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The Best of 2021 – Alexandra’s List

I’ve watched my preferred reading move away from historical romance and toward fantasy and paranormal in recent years, but there’s nothing like making a “Best Of” list to smack you in the face with how your tastes have changed. While I still very much enjoy historical romance, I’ve found the genre slowly slipping off my auto-buy list as new authors and storylines rise to the fore. Here are some of my top books from 2021:

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker

This was unquestionably one of my favorites, not just of 2021 but of Parker’s works in general. There’s such a strong spark between Sylvie and Dominic in this enemies-to-lovers romance. Witty dialogue, a baking competition, and sabotage – all ingredients for an amazing story!

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent retailer

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas

First off – while it technically stands alone, this book is definitely best enjoyed after you’ve read the other ones in the Court of Thorns and Roses series. Nesta Archeron always struck me as one of the most compelling secondary characters in the original trilogy – although human and with a relatively short backstory (she grew up wealthy until her father’s fortunes turned, and then was poor until her sister started dealing with the Fae and the events of the series unfold), Nesta seems packed with strong emotion. She feels deeply, and this book her justice, diving into the very messy and mixed-up emotions that plague Nesta Archeron. While there is definitely a strong romantic element to this book as Nesta falls in love with the warrior Cassian, even that feels like a step on Nesta’s journey of growth. Watching as she comes into herself and starts to help her friends do the same is a joy.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent retailer

Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews

I’m convinced I’d enjoy reading a list of ingredients off a cereal box if written by Ilona Andrews – they’re that good. Blood Heir was the first entry in what is hopefully a new series about Aurelia Ryder. It’s set in the world of the Kate Daniels series, so you’ll definitely get more out of it if you’ve some familiarity with the authors’ work. The perfect mix of action, intrigue, and humor – with just a dash of potential for romance! – this book had me smiling for days.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent retailer

Totally Folked by Penny Reid

Any fan of Reid’s Winston Brothers series is pretty much guaranteed to love this book, despite the fact that the main character is disliked by most of the brothers. Jackson James may not be the Winstons’ favorite lawman, but he’s a wonderfully complex character who Reid unpacks well (as is Raquel Welch, his movie-star heroine). As with any Penny Reid book, you can expect lots of laughs, some awkwardness, and lots of chemistry.

Buy it at: Amazon or your local independent retailer

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren’s standalones can be hit-or-miss for me, but The Soulmate Equation was definitely a hit. Anyone dating in the modern era is familiar with the perils and pitfalls of dating apps, and it’s fun to see them reimagined in this unique way. I’m also a sucker for a story with kids, and the author does a great job showing Jess and her daughter Juno’s relationship in a fun but largely realistic light.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent retailer

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik

Anyone who knows me knows how excited I am about Naomi Novik’s Scholomance series, and this second entry in the trilogy did not disappoint. After setting up the dystopian Wizarding World in her first book, Novik still finds ways to surprise the reader here – so I won’t spoil anything. Just go pick up A Deadly Education (the first book) and hang on for the ride!

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent retailer

After Dark with the Duke by Julie Anne Long

A more recent addition to my list, this is the only historical making my “Best of” this year, and it’s a testament to my love of Julie Anne Long. After Dark with the Duke takes two characters who are polar opposites and watches them slowly finding common ground and learning to like each other. I highly recommend!

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent retailer

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