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The Best of 2023 – Maria Rose’s List

It’s that time of year again, when ‘best of’ lists are everywhere and here at AAR, we are proud to share our favourite reads of 2023! My reading was a little more varied this year, with some fiction titles that definitely don’t qualify as romances, some re-reads, and a bunch of books that were published in years past. But this list will focus on my favourite romance reads that were released in 2023.

The Fake Mate by Lana Ferguson

Published in the nick of time to make a best list for this year, The Fake Mate takes the fake relationship trope and adds in some shifter concepts resulting in a delightful, funny, and steamy romance. It’s paranormal in that the two main characters are wolf shifters, but the majority of their time is spent in human form as medical workers. Hospital politics and shifter problems give the story some teeth on its way to a happy ending.

Buy it at Amazon

Consort of Fire by Kit Rocha

I’m a big fan of the authors’ Beyond series, and the more recently published Mercenary Librarians, both of which have dystopian futuristic concepts. The shift for the authors into fantasy comes with all the same action and heat, just a slightly different focus. And there are dragons! Or more specifically, a dragon God, Ash, who must marry a human consort, Sachielle, who in turn brings along her lover and bodyguard Zanya, an assassin, to the party. Secrets abound and this makes for a page turning, erotic read. I’m already looking forward to the next one!

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Once a Rogue by Allie Therin

Once a Rogue continues the paranormal adventures of very non-magical Lord Wesley Fine and his companion Sebastian de-Leon, a magic user whose current burden leads them to America in search of their friends after receiving a mysterious message. From the beginning of the Magic in Manhattan series to this latest spinoff series, the author interlaces fascinating tales with complex characters where nothing comes easy but love still finds a way to weave its own magic.

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Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

The surprise fantasy hit of the year, Fourth Wing follows a group of young adults as they enter a dragon riding academy. The hits come fast and furious as no character is safe in the brutal world portrayed, and the accompanying enemies-to-lovers romance of two people from very different backgrounds makes for a very readable, can’t put it down, fantasy romance. The ending will definitely lead readers to book two!

Buy it at Amazon

A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel by KJ Charles

There’s really nothing KJ Charles can write that doesn’t end up as a 4 or 5 star read for me, and the Doomsday Books series is following that trend, with a look at the trials, tribulations, and love lives of characters living on Romney Marsh. An Earl and the son of a smuggler shouldn’t have anything in common, but their attraction for each other leads them a merry dance while family secrets threaten to upend their fragile affair.

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The Duchess Takes a Husband by Harper St. George

The fourth book in the Gilded Age Heiresses series finally gives secondary character Camille, Duchess of Hereford, the chance of a happy ending. Her fake engagement proposition to Jacob Thorne, the co-owner of a gambling salon, has its own strings attached that could tie them up in a heated affair with no easy resolution. I’ve been enjoying this whole series and am very pleased with how this one turned out.

Buy it at Amazon

Time to Shine by Rachel Reid

Yay for more hockey romances from Rachel Reid! After the success of her Game Changers series, she’s kept the hockey theme but given us a look at two younger players just starting their careers. Grief challenged Landon has been called up to the NHL and is befriended by Casey, who has his own problems. Together they forge a friendship that leads to more, while balancing the demanding career that they’ve chosen.

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Do Your Worst by Rosie Danan

In this paranormal romance, curse-breaker Riley has been hired to well, break a curse, that has devastated a Scottish castle. What she doesn’t expect to find (and vice versa) is that archeologist Clark has been hired to survey the same grounds for artifacts. It sets the stage for an enemies to lovers fling as the harder they try to get rid of each other, the more the castle seems to throw them together. The author’s previous Shameless series set her up as a successful contemporary romance author and this slight deviation into a touch of the paranormal is equally enjoyable reading.

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The Dane of My Existence by Jessica Martin

Shakespeare lovers rejoice! Jessica Martin has presented a cheeky tribute to the author in the town of Bard’s Rest which holds its annual Shakespeare festival under the watchful eyes of the town’s inhabitants, including former resident and lawyer Portia Barnes who is spending the summer with family. Cue Benjamin Dane, a real estate developer looking to buy up the land where the festival takes place. At odds from the start, the pesky attraction between them muddles things up until Portia has to choose – will it be Ben or the Bard? Lots of laughs in this fun rom-com have put this new to me author on my watch list.

Buy it at Amazon

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