So, yes, I am cheating at the whole only giving you one list of ten promise. But, honestly, I read 300 books this year and do you really want a list of ten amazing books when you could have more? Okay, great, thank you for understanding. Anyway, this list is exclusively comprised of 2019 releases. In early January, you’ll get another two lists (non-romance and romance) of ten each that are backlist titles. Now, I read 70 2019 releases, so this list was still tight and it wasn’t easy to whittle down. You may notice that when you get to the end, I may have cheated on this list too. But just barely. Sort of. Anyway, list time!
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I mean, you probably already knew what my top book of the year is because I haven’t shut up about it since I read it the first time. I’m basically a Daisy Jones evangelist because I talk about it as often as humanly possible. Did you know that it won the Book of the Month Book of the Year Award? And the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction? (We’re ignoring for this moment only that the Goodreads awards are dumb.) Anyway, if you haven’t already heard me evangelize, let me tell you two things: (1) Full cast audiobook of a book told in a format like you’re watching a Behind the Music documentary from VH1 about a 60s rock band that fell apart spectacularly and (2) “I’m not a muse. I am the somebody. End of fucking story.”
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Another book I’ve been out here evangelizing because Talia’s first traditionally published novel knocked it out of the park. I love everything about our prickly, chronically ill, heroine and her take no shit attitude. Chloe is easily one of the best heroines I’ve read about this year and she’s matched with a man who deserves her. Red is a great, wounded, teddy bear of a man and I fell for him right alongside Chloe. Their romance truly gave me hope and joy and made me want to believe in love again. If you haven’t read Talia Hibbert yet, this series is a great place to start and once you’re done, feel free to check last year’s list where I shouted a lot about Wanna Bet? and Damaged Goods.
Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Catalina is the paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy romance heroine I didn’t know I needed. She’s definitely a deviation for Ilona Andrews and she’s a far cry from Nevada, but that, to me, was a breath of fresh air and the opportunity to see myself in a kickass heroine. Catalina is not really sure of herself and has anxiety about the fact that she was thrust into the role of head of the family and has to swim in deep waters as she navigates the Baylor Family in their first case following the end of their grace period. I cannot begin to explain how much I loved reading from her perspective or how excited I am for Emerald Blaze. I know I’m going to love this second trilogy just as much as I loved Nevada’s.
Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse
Speaking of kickass heroines I adore, I thought Maggie shone even more in the sequel to Trail of Lightning. I absolutely loved watching her navigate new challenges with new and old characters. The girl gang in this book was absolutely lovely and the events that transpired with Maggie and Kai killed me in the best way. I am in AGONY waiting for an announcement about book three, but I’m also really excited about her new projects.
Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik
And, once again, we have a heroine I adored. Bianca is also a heroine who I think shines in a way that is a little different from a lot of sci-fi/fantasy heroines. Bianca suffered horribly at the hands of her deceased husband and now she has to live with some physical new realities. She is also one of the most resourceful information gatherers and that talent is key as she attempts to rescue her brother. She sets off into space without permission and Ian, head of security, has no choice but to chase after her. I loved Ian and Bianca’s romance so much and I cannot even express to you how much. I definitely highly recommend this series and I can’t wait for Chaos Reigning.
Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh
Memory and Alexei are both so great, I don’t even know who to talk about first. This latest installment in the Psy-Changeling world was an absolutely fantastic one and only increased my excitement for the next (and then we learned who it’s going to feature and I’m DYING). Anyway, Memory was kidnapped and Alexei finds her almost by accident and it’s incredibly impressive to see Memory heal. I think Nalini Singh did an excellent job ensuring that both characters have equal journeys and that their own individual journeys see them grow together without it feeling like love is responsible for healing from trauma. If you haven’t tried Psy-Changeling yet, I implore you to give the series a shot!
Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh
Closing out the sci-fi/fantasy favorites of mine this year, Archangel’s War picks up right where we left off in Archangel’s Prophecy and to say the stakes remain high is putting it mildly. But we finally do close off the overarching plot arc of the main villain of the series (once you get past the first couple books) so I’m really excited to see where the story goes from here. Next year is definitely going to feature a full Guild Hunters reread for me so I can be amazed all over again at how intricately Nalini built this world. She’s such a talented author, I’m just… I can’t not marvel.
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
First of all, happy book birthday to this beautiful masterpiece of a book! I have a full ARC review already posted so if you want something written more eloquently than my cold medicine state at the moment, please feel free to go there. In the meantime, I will say that I think Kate Clayborn’s ability to write about characters with anxiety is absolutely incredible. Meg’s anxiety isn’t even really named, I don’t think. But her refusal to deal with conflict? Girl, same. And for me, at least, it’s definitely because of my anxiety. Anyway, I think Meg and Reid are both really fascinating characters and I definitely want to go adventuring with them. I loved this book, so much, and I hope that if you give it a shot, you will too.
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
This book had me crying in the O’Hare airport, so… I was literally reading this book every spare second once I got an arc at Kiss Con. I skipped socializing more than once for more time with this book. Samson… If I could pick a single romance hero to make real and to fall in love with me instead of the heroine (so, so sorry, Rhi, I love you too, I swear), it would be Samson. He’s an actual angel of a man. Like… I swear. And in Girl Gone Viral I wanted to hug him all over again. (Speaking of Girl Gone Viral, absolutely incredible. Maybe even better than this one. Preorder highly recommended because you don’t want to forget!) Oh, but I got sidetracked somehow. This book is about how Samson ghosted Rhi and my beautiful darling has a lot of reasons for refusing to forgive him even though he absolutely had reasons. The two team up for some business reasons related to their respective dating apps (Rhi is CEO of a feminist Tinder alternative and Samson is the new spokesperson for a traditional matchmaking type service) and things blossom between them even though Rhi isn’t quite ready for that to happen. This book is just fantastic.
Brazen & the Beast by Sarah MacLean
I really loved the way Sarah MacLean handled this book. Hattie is a virginal society lady who really wants to do away with her virginity so that her dad will no longer have a reason to deny her the right to take over the family’s shipping business. If there were any justice in the world, it would be hers already. Anyway, she has a plan and when she sets out to execute it, there’s a tied up man in her carriage. Whit is… ah, he’s just such a great hero. He’s gruff and grunts and just really is not the kind of man you would expect to be brought to his knees by a headstrong woman, but oh boy, is he. I loved this book and think we can all take some lessons from the Year of Hattie.
Remember how I said I was cheating? Well, here’s where that starts happening.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
This book remains one of the funniest books I have ever read and I think, if it hadn’t had characters outted against their will, it might have been my second favorite book of the year. I love these characters and I think about this book a whole bunch. If you’ve missed all of the buzz, this book is about the First Son of the President of the United States (a woman!!! the blessings) and the Prince of Wales (the spare) hating each other, causing a scandal, having to pretend to be friends, and then falling in love. I adored it.
Alyssa Cole’s 2019 Releases
Did you think I was just cheating by one title? I mean, I get that. But Alyssa Cole had a phenomenal 2019 and all of her books were brilliant. An Unexpected Freedom capped off her absolutely phenomenal Loyal League series and the only reason it didn’t make the full list is because I reasoned that I prefer An Extraordinary Union to the final book. However, Daniel and Janeta’s story is not to be missed so if you haven’t picked it up yet, I can’t recommend it more highly. She also released two novellas and the final book in her Reluctant Royals series, which I adored and I couldn’t decide which of them should make the list so I did this instead. A Duke by Default from last year is still my favorite of the series (and a favorite of all time), but Can’t Escape Love is such a fun novella, A Prince on Paper had Johan, one of my favorite heroes of the year, and Once Ghosted, Twice Shy starred Likotsi!! I love Likotsi. And then she just released The A.I. Who Loved Me at the beginning on this month. It is an Audible original, but other formats are coming so fret not if you don’t want to subscribe to Audible. 2019 was absolutely the year of Alyssa Cole and I’m incredibly excited to get her 2020 releases! (And yes, that picture is a terrible one of me with the gorgeous Alyssa Cole wearing the outfit her cover model worse for A Prince on Paper.)
Please do share with me your favorite 2019 releases in the comments!