The Best of 2022 – Rachel’s List

Romance is always my go-to, though this year my reading has been a bit wider, and I’ve branched out into more science fiction and fantasy. These books in particular have brought me out of reading slumps, which have been frequent, and reminded me what I love about romance. I love when a book can be dark and serious, but still funny. I love seeing a character find themselves while finding someone else. These books are all amazing reads, and I highly recommend them.

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen

This book is a true gem, and my personal favorite book of this year. Mercy and Hart are such deep characters, both longing for something, and I adored reading their letters.  I really loved the world-building; the lore in this book is really extraordinary and made me want to read a dozen more books set in this world. The romance is stellar, the characters have great chemistry and both have their own conflicts to resolve, as they grow and change as people. Honestly, if I could recommend only one of the books I’ve read this year, this would be it. It made me laugh and cry, which is a high bar for me. I’m putting Bannen on my auto-buy list, because I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop

A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows

This is a queer romance set in a fantasy world, which automatically peaked my interest.  This book has some heavy themes, but it is, overall, hopeful in tone.  Although the story is more on the fantasy side than romance, the arranged marriage between two men isn’t something I’ve read before, and the central romance is very compelling – I loved watching the protagonists warm to each other. It’s a slow burn as the characters build trust and begin to heal from their previous traumas together, and that makes their relationship that much stronger. I loved the plot, which is a bit involved but definitely has me waiting for the next book.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop

Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade

Maria and Peter are so much fun! While these characters have a lot of obstacles in the way of a relationship, their story is full of as much humor as heart. I loved the chemistry between the two co-stars, and their dual perspectives give us so much insight into the characters. This book is full of great moments, but also misunderstandings. Peter is a really vulnerable, sensitive person, and his insecurities threaten to scuttle his and Maria’s fledgeling relationship. I enjoyed meeting more characters from this universe, and learning more about the fictional television show the protagonists are acting in.  Ship Wrecked might be my favorite Dade book to date!

Buy it at: AmazonAudible or your local bookshop

Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

I was always going to read this book, since it’s a romance with a Jewish heroine. But I did not expect to love it so much! I love celebrity and celebrity-adjacent romances, especially those that are critical of celebrity culture. Chani is such an honest portrayal of a person trying to move on from past mistakes in the present-day chapters, while her past self is clearly someone unsure of a lot. I loved the contrast between what they make public and what actually happens in the past chapters, the way that both Chani and the media spin things. This book is fairly critical of fame, while also examining the glow it casts over people and why they seek it. I loved Gabe, I loved his intensity, and how respectful he is, though he remains deeply flawed. I enjoy the messiness that both of the protagonists perpetuate in their lives, they are both people with problems, and that’s very real. They both work on themselves, and have a lot more they need to do. Their journey back to each other is a pleasure to read about.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible or your local bookshop

Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews

As the last book in this leg of the Hidden Legacy series, Ruby Fever had a lot to live up to. Catalina is one of my favorite heroines by the Andrews writing team, and that’s saying something. I love this world, and I love the family we have followed for these six books. Alessandro is a complicated love interest, one who is conflicted about his own worth, and I’ve loved seeing him integrated into the Baylor family. I feel like this book resolved a lot of the problems Catalina dealt with in previous books, while leaving space for the next installments. I was also really happy with the way internal family issues were discussed and diffused by the characters, as the Baylor family dynamic is one of my favorite things about this series. If you haven’t read any of the other books, you do need to do so to appreciate this one, but I would suggest doing so.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible or your local bookshop

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