Every year I do a “Best Belated Reads” column to accompany my “Best of” column, because a lot of my year’s reading is not books that were published in that year.  Here are some books I read and loved in 2021 which were published earlier, and which I finally caught up with!

The Society of Gentlemen series by KJ Charles (click link to find individual reviews).

I binged this SO HARD. I loved how the couples were all so dramatically different from each other, how their courtships intertwined with the social and political events of the day, how the recurring characters from previous books were actually interesting and relevant (and sometimes… gasp… troubled?) when they reappeared. The series is, quite simply, a triumph.

Buy at Amazon: A Fashionable Indulgence: A Seditious Affair: A Gentleman’s Position

Getaway Girl by Tessa Bailey

Tessa Bailey is my go-to for steamy reads with dirty talking, bossy heroes and heroines with both a spine and a sense of humor. This story, about the old-money mayor-elect of Charleston and the dirty novelty Christmas shop owner who picks him up when he’s left at the altar, is a spicy delight.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent retailer

My Loving Vigil Keeping by Carla Kelly

I’m not generally an inspy person, but my love of Kelly novels made me give this LDS inspy a try, and I’m so glad I did. As many people have pointed out, there’s not a lot of momentum here. What is there? Nice people, a meticulously developed turn-of-the-century Utah mining camp setting, and a book that showcases ordinary working men and women. If there’s room on your reading list for a book that simply spends time in the day-to-day lives of its characters in a richly developed setting, give Vigil a try.

(Note: At time of writing, this title appears to be available in paperback and audio only.)

Buy it at AmazonAudible or your local independent retailer

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

A Regency-set magical romance with sorcery, adventure, and colonialism. The prose is delicious, the plot is page-turning, and the setting is brilliant. I also adored the hero, the first Black man to hold the position of Sorcerer Royal.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent retailer

Some other pre-2021 books I loved:

Crushing on You by Jen Trinh

Buy it at: Amazon or your local independent retailer

Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy

Buy it at: Amazon or your local independent retailer

Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent retailer

Anne of Green Gables by Manga Classics

Buy it at Amazon or your local independent retailer

Loving the Mountain Man by Adriana Anders

Buy it at Amazon or your local independent retailer

The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan

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

~ Caroline Russomanno

And here are some Best Belated Reads from the AAR team!


Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1) by Robin Hobb

Why didn’t anyone tell me this series was so great? Whoops, people have been recommending this fantasy series for years. I recommend the glorious special hardback edition, Assassin’s Apprentice (The Illustrated Edition). We watch as Fitz grows from a small child to a teenager forced to make very adult decisions. The series also has some of fantasy’s most famous “secondary” characters, including the Fool, Burrich, and Chade. This story is full of trauma and loss. Yet unlike so many other fantasy series, it avoids being “grimdark.”

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


My Best Belated choices are audiobooks.  I read so many ARCs that it’s hard to find time to read anything else, but because I’ve almost always got an audiobook on the go as well – and because audio often comes out much later than print and ebook editions – I find it easier to catch up with older titles that way.

Diversion series by Eden Winters

I’ve had the box set of books one to three of Eden Winters’ nine-book Diversion series in my Audible library for a while, but only got around to listening to it in 2021 – and then promptly kicked myself for leaving it for so long!  The series charts the development of the romance between Lucky Lucklighter and Bo Schollenberger, chalk-and-cheese colleagues who first meet when teamed up on a mission for the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau’s Department of Diversion Prevention and Control.  (Aka the guys who investigate thefts and trafficking of legal drugs.)  Lucky is, by his own admission, a “card-carrying asshole” – he’s prickly, snarky as hell and trusts no-one  – while Bo is unrufflable and very much  by the book.  Lucky is sure Bo will never go the distance; Bo, of course, proves him wrong.  It’s a fantastic odd-couple pairing,  the character and relationship development throughout the series is incredible, the plots are clever and compelling and Darcy Stark’s narration is absolutely outstanding throughout.  I’ve listened to books 1-6 and am saving the rest for a ‘rainy day’!

Buy it at: Amazon or Audible 

White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton

I reviewed this recently, so I won’t rehash that – I’ll just say that this was an unexpected hit in terms of both the story and narration.  It’s the first book in an urban fantasy series featuring Adam Binder, a young man with low-level magical and psychic powers who becomes an unwitting pawn in a battle between the gods and an evil spirit.  That probably sounds like the plot of every other UF book out there, but I promise there’s a lot more to this one;  the story is clever and inventive, the worldbuilding is excellent, the characters are complex and well-rounded and Adam will break your heart and make you smile.  Narrator Michael David Axtell was new to me, but he does a splendid job and I’ll be looking out for more of his work.  I was captivated from start to finish.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible or your local independent retailer

The Coincidence by Felice Stevens

Narrated by Kale Williams

This was one of those “quiet” books that kind of crept up on me, a deeply emotional story about two men – complete strangers – who discover their lives are more intertwined than they could ever have guessed.  Coby has broken up with his long-term boyfriend after discovering they weren’t on the same page at all about their relationship, and is persuaded by his bestie to sign up to a dating app while Eli, also single but struggling with his sexuality is persuaded to sign up to one by his brother, as a way of dipping his toes into the whole dating men thing.  Naturally, Coby and Eli meet via the app, but then discover that not only do they live in the same building, but they’re on the same floor.  Which is quite the coincidence… although not the only one they encounter.  The pacing is fairly slow, but the author does such a great job with the backstories and rounding each of the guys out as individuals that I honestly didn’t notice that they don’t meet until around a third of the way into the story, and Kale Williams – who has a very nice line in Jewish grandmothers! – delivers a warm and engaged performance that takes this engrossing, heartfelt story to another level.

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


Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

I raised my son on superheroes, but as an ardent romance reader, found that as I got older I wondered about the darker side of the supes. Hench answered my questions. When I finished the book, I tweeted to the author that it reminded me of a mashup of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-LongThe Incredibles, and The Boys. She appreciated the comparison. So if you liked The Boys, you’ll really enjoy Hench.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible, or your local independent bookstore


The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

This  suspense novel was nominated for a 2019 Edgar award for good reason. Spooky, mysterious and riveting it is the tale of Alison Smith, whose first love Will was convicted for being a serial killer. Years later a very similar crime is committed but Will refuses to speak to anyone but Alison. She doesn’t want to talk to him – but what if a new killer is stalking the streets of Dublin and only Will has the information to put an end to it? A great read by a new favorite author for me.

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

Maria Rose

The Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead

I was in the mood to try some urban fantasy so in the fall I picked up a copy of the second book in Richelle Mead’s Georgina Kincaid series, Succubus on Top, that was available as a digital copy from my library and it was so enjoyable that I went and immediately bought the other five books in the series! As a succubus, Georgina has to have sex to survive but the partners she chooses lose some of their earthly life in return. She meets her favorite author, Seth, and the series showcases their romance, including some ups and downs (so not every book has a ‘happy for now’ ending as the story arc continues from book to book). Because of Georgina’s nature, their romance has to rely on everything BUT sex as she’s not willing to take any of Seth’s earthly life away from him. It’s different, but it works. The writing is very humorous and the worldbuilding is inventive and unique. I’ve read the first four books (loved them all!), and am saving the last two for a binge read on my Christmas vacation. I can’t wait to see how the author gives Georgina and Seth their conclusive HEA! I highly recommend the series to readers of urban fantasy/paranormal romances who might have missed it, as it was first published from 2007 to 2011.

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

Visit our Amazon Storefront


Website | + posts
+ posts

I'm a history geek and educator, and I've lived in five different countries in North America, Asia, and Europe. In addition to the usual subgenres, I'm partial to YA, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and graphic novels. I love to cook.