I read sixty six books in the third quarter of the year, which somehow was one more book than I read last quarter, but still well below what I read from January to March. To be fair to myself, March was very much an outlier. It’s when isolating first started and I was so overwhelmed and confused, all I did was read. Anyway, I have a list of ten favorites to share with you today so we’ll start at my least favorite favorite and work our way up!
10. The Hitman by Katrina Jackson
I am so obsessed with this book and I’m absolutely dying for the next book in the series. It’s taking all of my willpower not to harass Katrina Jackson on a daily basis via Twitter to find out when it might be coming. If you’ve not read this book yet, this is about Zahra, who finds out the morning of her wedding that her fiancé spent the night before with her best friend and a very famous sex worker. She is… less than pleased. She winds up taking his credit cards with her to Italy for her now solo honeymoon and can’t seem to stop crying, which is driving her next door neighbor up the wall. Guilio is on his first vacation possibly ever and it would be great if he could get his neighbor to stop crying and also if he could get the really hot girl laying out by the pool into bed. Guilio is, um, also in the mafia and there’s a murder and a train ride and… Y’all. Greatness. I think I’m about to go reread this.
9. Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha
I am similarly excited for the next book in this series because some of the reveals in here had me absolutely screaming. Deal with the Devil follows a cast of characters and is more of a sci-fi novel than a romance, but our romantic leads are Nina and Knox. Nina is the leader of a group of essentially librarians (that could kill you) in this post-apocalyptic Atlanta and Knox leads this band of mercenaries who are set to double cross Nina’s crew in order to rescue one of their own. This book is very character focused and can move a little slow, but ultimately, I adored it and can’t wait for more!
8. You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
I absolutely adore Alexis Daria’s writing so I was bound to love You Had Me at Hola and I definitely did. Not only is the cover gorgeous, but Jasmine Lin Rodriguez and Ashton Suárez are really fantastic characters who deserve a cover that beautiful. Jasmine begins the book splashed all over the front covers of tabloids because of a break up that she also happened to find out about via a magazine. She decides she’s going to follow a Leading Lady plan, which means there will be no more guys in her future because she is not going to land herself back in the tabloids over some guy. What she doesn’t count on is her co-star, Ashton, being as intriguing as he is aloof. Ashton is suffering from some post-traumatic stress that he definitely needs therapy to move on from and is keeping some secrets that make it hard to get close to anyone. Personally I adored this one and am definitely looking forward to Michelle’s book!
7. Just a Heartbeat Away by Cara Bastone
Do you ever have a book catch you completely off guard? Where you had zero expectations for it and then it just blows you away? That was this book for me. I knew Nick had liked this book so that was more or less why I requested the sequel on Netgalley and purchased this one on kindle. Then I actually read this book and was captivated the entire time. It’s so fascinating to me how this book doesn’t exactly follow certain genre expectations and yet is so clearly a romance. Just a Heartbeat Away follows Sebastian whose wife has just passed away when the book opens. He’s not doing a great job taking care of his son, which he realizes when his son’s very compassionate teacher sends him home a note and a checklist. They reconnect a few years later when Via starts teaching at Matty’s school where Sebastian volunteers. There’s an age gap that makes Sebastian nervous as intrigued as he is and both Via and Sebastian have other relationships throughout the book. Via starts out with a long term boyfriend and Sebastian is trying online dating. Their relationship never crosses any boundaries though until they’re both single. It’s really, really wonderful and dang it, now I want to reread this one too!
6. Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
If you’re confused by the fact that this isn’t number one, I think that can best be explained by the fact that I still feel like I was in such a fog of joy reading it that I can’t even quite separate out my feelings. I know I loved this one, but I really, really need to reread it. I’m on Wildfire in my full series reread so I’ll get there soon! If you’ve not read this series, this is book two in Catalina’s trilogy and you should read them all even though I don’t have the words today to explain to you why.
5. Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
Honestly, the quality and my love for these books should be a testament to how much I love all of these. This is making me realize how challenging it’s going to be to do a top ten of the year! These last three months really did have some fantastic books. Anyway, I love Spoiler Alert for most of the same reasons I always love Olivia Dade. The care and attention she gives to making her books fat positive even when she’s tackling external fat phobia is impeccable. The only reason this book isn’t higher is because there’s an element of deception here in that April and Marcus’ online personas are really close internet friends and Marcus knows who April is but April doesn’t know who Marcus is once they start dating IRL. But the book is wonderful and amazing and I’m so excited for Olivia and I wish her all the success in the world! (To the tune of buying a copy for myself and one for a bestie!)
4. Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
I absolutely adored this book and Luc and Oliver’s banter and fake dating and just… everything about it. Luc is a “bad gay” who because he’s tangentially famous (his father is a famous rock star) has too many of his worst moments caught on camera. When the latest instance of that gets him into hot water at work, where he raises money for a nonprofit devoted to dung beetles, he’s told that he needs to clean up his image. This apparently means fake dating someone respectable, which is where Oliver comes in. Oliver is a very put together, buttoned up barrister and somehow he and Luc come together in really wonderfully beautiful ways. I do kind of want a sequel to this because I feel like things didn’t quite feel HEA and instead felt HFN, but I loved it a whole, whole bunch.
3. The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan
Thank you, Courtney Milan, for writing the book that I needed in 2020. This book is a diverse historical that reminded me why I like historicals, which is honestly the least of what it did. It also subverts so many romance expectations and conventions in such a loving way that doesn’t detract at all from the suspense of the will they/won’t they. It also creates this incredible community that makes you just want to linger and read approximately 80 more books in the series. I love this book with every fiber of my soul and if you haven’t read it yet… You really should. I haven’t even talked about the writing! Or what it’s about! So Jeremy is a duke and he’s back in town after being away for a few years and technically none of the people living in this town know that he’s the Duke who literally owns it. But he’s back because he’s going to prove himself to Chloe and even though he’s not entirely certain he’s worthy of her, he’s ready to try. And Chloe has lists on lists on lists and she really doesn’t have time for this, you know? But Jeremy’s persistent, but not in a creepy way, and y’all! My heart. Just really pick this one up if you’ve not yet.
2. Pretty Face by Lucy Parker
Another Luc, this time Luc Savage, absolutely ran off with my heart. The man is… not the kind of character I would normally fall madly in love with in the first few pages because while I appreciated that he was still friends with his ex, I did not appreciate his dismissal of Lily Lamprey based on her voice and body. But I trust Aarya and also Lucy Parker, so I knew his downfall was coming. And oh did it ever. Watching him fall head first in love with Lily was everything to me. They both knew it was a bad idea, between the age gap and the director/actress situation, but they just couldn’t quite help themselves and I LOVED it. Every page is glorious and I just wanted to flip back to the beginning and start over when I got to the end. I still feel that way actually. Ugh. Perfection.
- You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
This book made me happy cry, which is not a thing I tend to do. In fact, that’s really never a thing I tend to do. I had a feeling I would like this book and actually bought the April Bae Crate box because the book sounded intriguing and it was a self-care box, definitely something I need in 2020, you know? Anyway, so I’ve had this book since April and it was just hanging out until Aarya was talking about it on twitter one night. For unknown reasons, I actually felt the motivation to PICK UP this book and then proceeded to read it all in the same night?? Wild. Anyway, I was cackling. Truly. Sarah (my sister) came into my room to ask me what the heck was so funny because I could not stop laughing. This relationship in trouble romance is written from Naomi’s point of view and she starts out the book loving her fiancé about eighteen percent if I remember correctly. That number keeps plummeting but she knows if she leaves him, his mom is vindictive enough to take her to court over those wedding costs. So she gets petty and then he gets a little petty and the next thing they know, they’re maybe kind of sort of falling back in love again. I literally cried the first time Nicholas says “I love you.” My WHOLE heart, y’all.
And there you have my top ten favorites from the last quarter. Are any of these on your list? Let me know!