The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan: I’m not entirely sure what I can say since I feel like everybody has already read and loved this book. The Duke Who Didn’t is a fluffy romance with a side of food porn. I fell in love with Chloe and her lists and board clip, her dad and his spicy food for Jeremy, and Jeremy and his endearing goofiness. I can’t wait to visit Wedgeford again.
The Beast of Beswick by Amalie Howard: I read The Beast of Beswick near the beginning of the year, and don’t really remember specifics of why I loved it, but I am guessing that it had to do with the fact that it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling (there are two of those on this list) and every single one of my highlights was some sort of witty banter. I am a sucker for witty banter.
The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian: One thing I love about Cat Sebastian books is that so frequently one of the characters has some level of anxiety, and I felt the way it was dealt with in The Lawrence Browne Affair was so perfect. Besides that, I loved this strongly character-driven romance about two stubborn men slowly falling for each other.
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade: Spoiler Alert has my favorite trope – two people who are already friends online meet in person not realizing they already know each other. Combine that with excerpts from online postings, TV episode scripts, text message threads, and Tweets and you have my favorite type of book (I enjoy ephemera). There was no way I wasn’t going to enjoy this book, but then the story was excellent too. All around Kate catnip.
Call Me Maybe by Cara Bastone: I am not normally an audiobook enjoyer, but after I saw multiple people raving about Call Me Maybe on Twitter, I had to re-join Audible to check this one out. It was cute and sweet, and a perfect escape from our current ridiculous reality. The reveals never felt like “gotchas” and the falling in love story felt so real, even over the short period of time the story takes place in.
Written on His Skin by Simone Stark: This novella should not have worked, and yet. And yet. Insta-love via letter, I devoured this one whole (I do enjoy letters). It was sexy and super enjoyable.
Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn: I’ve read a few hockey romances this year, and this one I think may have been my favorite (barring the below-mentioned Check Please). The romance is between a hockey player and one of his college professors. They have scorching chemistry, with a bit of a power exchange vibe, and the book also manages to deal with things like how judging people by appearances is bad and the difficulties of coming out in certain arenas. Definitely a keeper.
Check Please Vol 1: #Hockey and Vol 2: Sticks and Scones by Ngozi Ukazu: It’s a graphic novel but it still made me have all the feelings. I cannot even begin to explain how much I loved these books. Bitty is my favorite cinnamon roll, Jack is my favorite grump, the rest of the boys on the team are amazing and well-fleshed out characters even though this is a graphic novel and there aren’t a ton of words to do that. It is very well done and worth a read.
Swordheart by T. Kingfisher: I don’t know how I discovered Swordheart (it is possible somebody recommended it and I don’t remember who), but this is the book that started me on a T. Kingfisher binge this year (the only reason all of her books aren’t on this list is that I felt that was maybe a bit excessive). Swordheart has it all – a man who lives in a sword/kind of is the sword, a very talkative heroine who just wants to be able to live in peace, a non-binary priest lawyer with the best punchlines and SO MUCH witty banter. This is fantasy romance at its best, in my opinion.
Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher: Paladin’s Grace takes place in the same world as Swordheart with a few overlapping characters, but can be read in any order, I think. Stephan is a beserker paladin whose god died. He has since taken up knitting and offers his services to others in hopes of being useful. Grace is a perfumer who finds herself in the crosshairs of trouble. Also full of witty banter.
Bitterburn by Ann Aguirre: Bitterburn was the paranormal Beauty and the Beast retelling that made it on this list (though T. Kingfisher’s Bryony and Roses was a close second). With Bitterburn, I came for the Beauty and the Beast retelling and stayed for the story of two broken people finding each other and falling in love. Check out my full review here.