I cannot believe it’s already 2023. Like, where did the time go? I haven’t the slightest, personally. 2022 was a weird reading year for me. Or maybe just a weird year, it’s hard to say. Regardless, I feel like my reading mood was just a bit off and I think the difficulty I had in filling out this list really reflects that. There are a couple of series on here because I can’t separate out my enjoyment of a singular book within the series and the books collectively gave me so much joy. Anyway, let’s get started!
Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez
There was something about the synopsis of Part of Your World that honestly just had me iffy going into this book. If we’re being honest, I think it was the age gap piece because generally speaking age gap is not something that hooks my interest. In fact, I often specifically dislike it. But in Part of Your World, everything about the book just appealed directly to me. I loved it so, so much. There’s even domestic violence content and I was still able to read it and it didn’t cause me to do a full body recoil so I was honestly thrilled by that as well. I just really loved the town and the relationship and… Well, everything. I think I had an ARC so I’ll link my review here for more coherent (hopefully) thoughts.
You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Emezi’s writing was so stunning and this book was so messy that it’s both not surprising that I loved it and entirely shocking. I’m normally not a person who can easily switch between potential love interests and wound up spoiling myself for this book in order to know exactly what I was getting myself into. But once I had my mind in the place where the story was going, I was very much along for the ride and I loved it. The way Emezi talks about grief and art are both so compelling for me. I just had a really great time reading this book and I really hope we get more romance content from Emezi sooner than later!
All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata
So… I’m not sure how to review this book because Avon has now picked it up and I’m still trying not to give Harper Collins or its imprints anything they can use as copy in support of the Harper Collins Union. However, at the time I read All Rhodes Lead Here, it was a self-published title. So… I guess I’ll just say this, All Rhodes Lead Here is a really great book if you’re in the mood for a slow-burn and you like a community cast of characters. If you also like hiking, that would be a bonus. I hate going outside into the woods, but I actually really loved this book so much it had me considering it.
Lovelight Series by B.K. Borison
Remember how at the beginning I said I would have a couple of series on this list? Lovelight is the first and it’s on here because I absolutely cannot pretend that this series hasn’t pretty much taken over my entire personality at the moment. I love these characters so much. I wish they were real people and that Inglewild was a real place I could go and pick up treats at Layla’s Bakehouse. I want to meet Evie and Beckett and Stella and Luca and Caleb and Layla. I want to meander through the Christmas Tree Farm. I love this series and these characters so much and I cannot believe B.K. is now making me wait until NEXT FALL to get my hands on the next one. My impatience really knows no bounds because I need it NOW.
The Edens by Devney Perry
Devney Perry really captivated me with her writing this year and I’m not sure I can really put into words why beyond she writes community so well. The interconnected characters and stories are my favorite thing about romance and I just really loved this series so, so much. I can’t wait for more in the series next year!
Favorite Speculative Romance
Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews
Listen, I love Ilona Andrews as this list of favorites makes clear, but Ruby Fever just gave me everything I wanted and I need to read Arabella’s adventures!!!! Avon needs to let it happen. Or maybe let Harper Voyager or whatever the sub-publishing company that does Jessie Mihalik’s books publish Arabella’s journey. OH and also, this is a Harper Collins book so here’s my note that Harper Collins really needs to be working with the Union!!!! And since I’m also demanding things from Avon, I think we’re safe and there’s no copy being taken from here. Lol
Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews
I love Maud and Arland or whatever his name is so much. And little Helen. Is that her name? Regardless, I love them. All of them. I love the mystery. I love learning about this community. I just really enjoyed this.
House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas
This book almost led to a car accident because I fully lost my mind at the end of it. So, maybe it’s not the BESTEST book in the world, but it has me FULLY hooked and obsessed so I’m counting it.
(Listen, the hype got to me and I had a real good time. But I’ve paused on both, which is why I don’t think they actually make the full list.)
Favorite Historical Romance
Interestingly, I read all of these books in the first half of the year. I really need to be better at incorporating historical romance into my normal reading routine because I have so many. But I think one thing that you’ll notice about this collection is that they’re all a little unique. Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas is wildly angsty because that’s Sherry Thomas’s brand. Compromised into a Scandalous Marriage by Lydia San Andres (is a Harper Collins title!!) was such a unique and brilliant historical romance and you can see my ARC review here. A Delicate Affair by Lindsay Evans is a part of the Decades series a group of Black authors put together and I really loved this one. It’s set in the early part of the 1900s and set in Washington D.C. And then finally A Dangerous Kind of Lady by Mia Vincy just feels really unique in the Regency space. I really enjoyed it!
Favorite Other Books
The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea is a book I would classify as women’s fiction and I fell madly in love with it and the characters at the beginning of the year and it has stuck with me this whole time. Finding Me by Viola Davis was my favorite memoir of the year. I love Viola Davis and she narrates the audiobook, which made it even better. And then finally, I just read Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun and y’all, I loved it!! It’s even better than book two and I’m so thrilled to have read it. What I’m not thrilled about it is the fact that now I have to wait FOREVER for book four. I NEED IT NOW. I mean, the way book three ended?? I can’t believe we have to wait.
I read a lot of really good books this year and there are a lot of books that would be just under the honorable mentions in these various categories, but that’s part of why I do Quarterly Favorites and why I do the ranking the new releases I’ve read every four months. Down below, please let me know your favorites and also what books you think I would like now that you’ve seen my lists!