The Best of the Best – Our Favorite Books of 2022

Each year, in January, the AAR staff comes up with lists of their favorite books published in the previous year–this year, these lists have the tag #Best of 2022. For 2022, we chose 87 books–we’ve conveniently put them all into an Amazon storefront! Then, we ask each reviewer to choose their Best book of the year–here is this list. It’s a diverse list–there’s something for every romance reader. Enjoy!


Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan

Grab the tissues – Ryan’s latest book is about a divorced couple reuniting after a number of shared losses and grief. Yasmen and Josiah have two children and a successful restaurant, but their marriage is broken. Despite the strong feelings they’ve always had for each other, losing a child and a parental figure all at once caused issues which broke down their relationship rather than binding them together. But a couple years after the fallout, they’re ready to look at each other with new eyes and see if there’s something left between them which can be saved.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop


Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

Ocean’s Echo is one of a couple of strong SF finds this year. Maxwell’s self-destructive hero Tennal reminded me of Miles Vorkosigan. His brain is imbued with a power he genuinely cannot handle, and his only hope may be the man with complementary powers – except the military has assigned that man to mentally enslave him. Their romance plays out against the backdrop of personal and interstellar intrigue. Another book that kept me up rubbing my eyes to try to get through one more chapter.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop


Subway Slayings by C.S Poe

Even though I didn’t struggle to find books to add to my Best of list this year, I did struggle to choose which book to include here!  In the end, though, Subway Slayings won out; like its predecessor (Madison Square Murders), the mystery is complex and multi-layered, the characters are compelling and their slow-burn romance is absolutely beautiful.  One of the things that makes this series stand out from the crowd is the author’s thoughtful exploration of grief and the conventions and rituals that surround it; another is the way she portrays the unique memory condition that affects its protagonist, a complicated, flawed, prickly and yet thoroughly endearing character who is quite unlike any other I’ve read.  A wonderful instalment in a wonderful series, and I can’t wait for more in 2023.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop


Hook, Line and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Sameness can be a wonderful thing. A recipe that always turns out well. A vacation spot that’s always pleasant. Tessa Bailey has a knack for delivering that good kind of sameness in her contemporary romances. Her romances are steamy, sensible (no over-the-top prose) and sincere. I always get excited when I see a new one’s on the way– and we’re getting two in the first six months of 2023!

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop


Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

Over the past few years, I’ve gravitated to urban fantasy and 2022 was no different. I read my favorite book of the year at the year’s end – Adrienne Young’s Spells for Forgetting. A story of true love, powerful women, unstable magic, and betrayal–it held my attention in a way almost no other book has this year.  Young’s tale features adults–always a plus in my book–and her word building is dense and intriguing. The lead couple, Emery and August, share the best sort of second chance, slow burn romance and the novel’s supporting characters are indelible as well. It’s a keeper!

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop


The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling

Even though The Kiss Curse is different from the books I typically lean toward (romantic suspense), I’m picking it as my Best Book for 2022 because I just really enjoyed it because it was happy and sexy and charming, and full of addictive characters who kept the engaging plot moving swiftly.

Buy it at Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop


Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron by Julia Quinn

As an avid Julia Quinn fan, I had been reading about this ‘made-up novel’ in her other works for years. So of course, when it came out as a graphic novel – with illustrations by Quinn’s late sister, Violet Charles –  I purchased it the day it released and absolutely adored it.  It is just as ridiculous as Quinn wrote about it being in her other works and I am here for it. I laughed out loud multiple times at the antics of Miss Butterworth and her titular “mad” Baron.

Buy it at: Amazon or your local bookshop


Nora Goes Off Script by Annabelle Monaghan

This is my favorite romance of the year. I love books with humor and the playful banter in this story made me laugh. It also has a lot of heart as Nora, Leo and the kids find love as a family, and I like to think of them on their front porch watching the sunrise.

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


The Belle of Belgrave Square by Mimi Matthews

When it comes to romance, nothing topped this one for me.  Combining truly suspenseful and unpredictable gothic mystery with a lovely, swoonworthy romance and some fun child characters and you have a winner.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop


The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin

While I had several wonderful reads in 2022 this novel was easily the most memorable. Part of that was the fascinating, unique location — Lisbon during WWII. The excellent writing, scintillating plot and fascinating characters all worked to bring that time and place vividly to life.

Buy it at: AmazonAudible or your local bookshop

Maria Rose

Tanked by Mia Hopkins

I read all three of Mia Hopkins’ Eastside Brewery series in 2022, and Tanked gets my top spot for book of the year. It’s Angel’s turn to join the family business and find a way to balance his own challenges including a relationship with social worker Deanna. The author does an admirable job of threading in the pandemic and its aftermath into Angel’s story and their vibrant characters and realistic worldbuilding make for compelling, page turning, sexy reads.

Buy it at: Amazon, or your local bookshop


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 and I really loved the world-building; the lore in this book is really extraordinary. The romance is stellar, the characters have great chemistry and both have their own conflicts to resolve, as they grow and change as people.  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

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