Ranking Every 2021 Release I Read from January – April

I did this for the first four months of the year last year too and then couldn’t figure out a practical way to continue the series because I read so many 2020 releases. This year, I have a plan. I’m going to just rank all the books from each four month period and hope that still provides some useful information for y’all! Let me know what you think. Anyway, for now, let’s get to the ranking. I’ll start with the worst and make my way through to the best. Keep in mind all opinions are my own and should not be considered objective.

Ranking 2021 Releases || firewhiskey reader

A Game of Cones by Abby Collette (ARC Review)

Honestly, I think this book probably just wasn’t for me. I didn’t get the cozy mystery vibe I was expecting and that’s probably at least mostly because I don’t know what that vibe is. I just felt like there was really weird humor that didn’t line up with my sense of humor and there were a lot of plot choices I did not understand. I’m sure this would work much better for many other people.

Reckless Road by Christine Feehan

This Feehan was at least better than the previous book in the series and despite not loving it, I still devoured it like candy. Something about this series is weirdly addictive for me. I don’t necessarily recommend it though. Motorcycle club/dark romance, but with a twist.

Once Upon a Dream by Sierra Simone

This short story collection was uneven and I liked one of them a lot, but the other two were just okay.

A Marriage of Equals by Elizabeth Rolls (ARC Review)

A well-written historical romance, but it’s a white woman writing about a person who was born enslaved and I just couldn’t quite get past feeling like it wasn’t the author’s place to write this particular story.

Complacent by Alexandra Warren (Series Review)

Not my favorite in the series because it didn’t align with what I want out of a marriage in trouble romance. Largely because the marriage is not actually in trouble. So it’s just like… lacking in stakes.

At the Rancher’s Pleasure by Joss Wood (ARC Review)

A perfectly fine category romance that I enjoyed between an older woman and a younger man. I like the small town Texas setting where everyone is into everyone else’s business. I think it’s fun.

Scandal in the VIP Suite by Nadine Gonzalez (ARC Review)

I liked this one, but felt like the pacing didn’t work for me in the category length. It either needed to be longer or take place over a shorter period of time.

Son of a Beach by Mia Sosa

A fun Audible Original that was just a little too short for me to give it more than 3 stars. But it really is fun! Totally worth the listen if you’re a member.

Waiting for a Scot Like You by Eva Leigh (ARC Review)

This book was enjoyable enough, but occasionally wandered into aggressively fine territory. All in all, I did enjoy it though.

To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters (ARC Review)

I did enjoy this book, but the further from it I get, the more upset I am that I didn’t even get the delivery on the promise of the premise I wanted. If you write a sex pact romance, I have expectations, okay?! That said, still fun. Just not what I expected.

Careless Whispers by Synithia Williams (ARC Review)

I’ve really enjoyed all of this soapy series, but this book just had a little too much family drama for me to really wind up all in on the romance. The elements didn’t balance out well enough for me, but I don’t think that’s the books fault! And I did still really enjoy it.

Back in the Texan’s Bed by Naima Simone (ARC Review)

Naima Simone can write anything, but wow, if she isn’t great in the category length. This book was four stars despite being a secret baby trope. Baffling. But she’s so good!

Deeper by Rilzy Adams

Listen, this little 30 page, essentially an extended epilogue, was utterly delightful and perfect if you loved Go Deep as much as I did. It ranks here because it’s hard to put a 30 page extended epilogue any higher.

Maybe Next Time by Christina C. Jones

CCJ is so good at what she does, I barely noticed this man straight up kidnaps his estranged wife. But… I did notice. And that’s why we’re here. I also felt like if it was longer I would have bene better able to look past it.

Yes & I Love You by Roni Loren (ARC Review)

If the ending of this book had been just a little different, this book would rank SO MUCH HIGHER. But I’m not bitter. (This book is really good. Just the ending may make you a little mad. Or a lot.)

His to Protect by Sharon C. Cooper (ARC Review)

This romantic suspense category romance was a delight, but I wanted the end to make just a little more sense than I felt like it did. Definitely recommend though.

Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins (ARC Review)

I really adore Spring and it was nice to have a cinnamon roll hero from Ms. Bev. Once again, the end was just a little off for me and kept me from fully loving it.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell (ARC Review)

I originally loved this book a ton and while I did really enjoy it, it hasn’t stuck with me quite as much as I expected. This m/m space romance has a ton of political intrigue happening and maybe the world-building is why it didn’t stick with me as much as I might have guessed it would.

A Rogue to Remember by Emily Sullivan

I thought this debut historical romance was a ton of fun and I enjoyed it immensely. There was a tiny hiccup at the end that kept me from fully loving it, but I really enjoyed it and am quite looking forward to book two.

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai (ARC Review)

I always enjoy Alisha Rai’s books and First Comes Like is no exception. It just didn’t have the same staying power for me as many of her others. I think it’s partially because there was a lot going on and not always enough time for each element of the plot to breathe.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins (ARC Review)

I am honestly shocked I loved a Jane Eyre inspired thrilling because I really don’t like the source material. But I did really enjoy this thriller!

Love Scammed by Rilzy Adams

Please just let me have this happen to me IRL. This book is so fun and sexy and even though I, too, would be mad at my BFF if she made me think I was getting a vacation with her and it was instead a set up, I would be THRILLED with the end outcome and would forgive her.

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

I mean… I’m honestly just SJM trash, okay? Like… I rated this book four stars on Goodreads trying to be objective, but I love these books so much. That said, the characters didn’t always seem consistent with previous books and that was jarring.

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan (ARC Review)

I mostly loved this one so much, but the ending! Can you tell I struggle with third act break ups?

Best Laid Plans by Roan Parrish (ARC Review)

So soft. So cute. Would highly recommend this m/m romance with home rehabilitation. And there are cats!

Ever After Always by Chloe Liese (ARC Review)

I adored this marriage in trouble romance so much, even with the OTT antics of the Bergman Brothers.

Feelings by Manjit Thapp (ARC Review)

The artwork in this graphic novel is stunning and the content was perfect for me at the time. I gifted a copy to my best friend, but I think I should have bought a copy for myself too.

Quiet in Her Bones by Nalini Singh

Nalini’s second thriller was just as good as the first in my opinion, although I liked the romance in the first one better… Anyway, I had no idea what to think reading this book! I had so many theories and basically none of them were correct.

Love at First by Kate Clayborn (ARC Review)

Although Love at First got off to a slow start for me, Kate Clayborn’s writing sucked me as usual and the sick bed scene… I mean, five stars for that alone, you know? But also, this book is sort of about loneliness and community and… finding oneself, in a way that really spoke to me.

Flirting with Forever by Cara Bastone (ARC Review)

Speaking of community, Cara Bastone is amazing at creating that sense of community and I loved Flirting with Forever so much. I just really adore Bastone’s writing and would definitely recommend the whole series. Mary and John and some of the commentary in this one is just top notch.

The Sweetest Fix by Tessa Bailey

I wasn’t actually expecting this novella to have quite the level of impact it did on me, but I adored this book. And that’s in spite of it having a lot of elements I don’t love, so it was a nice surprise.

Make It Sweet by Kristen Callihan

I usually enjoy Callihan’s writing, but this book blew me away. I loved how soft it was and just… It was so nice. You know? It worked for me.

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle (ARC Review)

Speaking of soft books and soft heroes, in particular, Twice Shy was brilliantly done and so unique in concept. I loved it a whole bunch and Wesley needs to be real. It’s not fair that he isn’t, honestly.

The Duchess Hunt by Lorraine Heath

Oh man. Kingston being brought low by love was just as wonderful as I thought it would be honestly. I adored this one and I can’t wait to review it fully for you much closer to release date and to scream about it as much as I did Scoundrel of My Heart.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (Review)

Y’all know I loved Beach Read and I’m happy to say People We Meet on Vacation lived up to my outsized expectations. I really loved this friends to lovers romance and think that the way Emily Henry handled the flashbacks was so unique and worked really well for me. It built up the anticipation quite a bit and made the characters really come alive.

Broken by Jenny Lawson (ARC Review)

I loved this memoir/essay collection so much. It was laugh out loud hilarious and poignant and just brilliantly done. I can’t wait to read more from Lawson.

Scoundrel of My Heart by Lorraine Heath (ARC Review)

I fell in love with this book so totally and completely, I still haven’t recovered. Lorraine Heath does a perfect mixture of sweet and angsty that works for me on every level. I adored this historical romance with a best friend’s brother trope.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert (Review)

I will never not love a Talia book, I don’t think, and Eve’s book was certainly not an exception. Act Your Age, Eve Brown with Jacob and Eve is just… everything on so many levels. Sweet and sexy and dashes of Chloe and Red and Dani and Zafir. Perfection.

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon (ARC Review)

Like Beach Read last year, The Ex Talk spoke to my millennial existential angst of not really knowing how to adult despite having been one for years. This book was pretty perfect for me and I’m so grateful for its existence.

My take away from making this post is that this year, more than probably ever before, is that I have really just wanted soft books. The books that bubbled to the top largely have caretaking men as romantic leads, who even if they’re grumpy are so dedicated to making sure that they are good and kind and that their love interest is taken care of and happy. I have definitely wanted and needed that this year!

I don’t want to post this without saying something about the situation in Palestine and I still (a) don’t have the words and (b) am not actually supposed to talk about politics because of my job, so thank you to everyone sharing about the situation. If you, like me, didn’t know where to begin when trying to figure out the context and how to write a letter to your electeds, this carrd may help.


8 responses to “Ranking Every 2021 Release I Read from January – April”

  1. Ooo I love that you ranked The Ex Talk so high. It took me a while to get into it (I was put off by Dom), but then I ended up adoring it.

    Also this post is amazing, I can’t imagine how much work it took to piece out your thoughts on all of these different raeds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was really fun and also terrible to do. Lol. A lot of the ones in the middle could probably move around a little, but I mostly feel good about it.

      I’m glad you wound up adoring The Ex Talk!! I loved it so much. But millennial disasters always speak to me (especially when they feel like one, but objectively are doing fine. I get it!). Lol


  2. I’m so impressed you were able to actually put them in some sort of order! Also, there are so many great books on here!! And more than a few I need to read yet, especially the Lorraine Heaths!!


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