Thursday, January 2, 2020

Best of 2019

Last year was a good year for books. I discovered some newly published authors, fell in love with new books by favorite authors, met characters who kept me reading way past my bedtime, and ventured into fantasy worlds I had not yet explored. Here, in no particular order, are my best books of 2019. 

Angel in a Devil's Arms
by Julie Anne Long

Long is at her best in this second installment of her historical The Palace of Rogues series, creating a story filled with heartache, humor, deep passion, revenge, redemption, sweet poignancy, reconciliation, and love. Wrapped in the sheer beauty of Long's powerful, evocative prose, it's filled with characters brought to life in glorious, gritty detail. This one's a keeper. (read full review)

Brazen and the Beast
by Sarah MacLean

What a wonderful story. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen next while, at the same time, wanting to slow down and savor each delicious word. I laughed, cried, sighed, and cheered. Hattie is a heroine who will live in my heart and my mind for many years to come. This book is Sarah MacLean at her best and that is a very high bar. (read full review)

Just Once
by Lori Handeland

This powerful, compelling, and deeply emotional women's fiction story is an exceptionally well-written story I couldn't put down. Handeland's characters are complex, flawed, and infinitely human. They're not always easy to like and yet she molds them in such a way that I cared about each of them, even when I didn't like them or their actions. She expertly guides them through the depths of sorrow and the heights of joy, the glow of accomplishment, and the agony of heart-wrenching mistakes, taking them, and the reader, through an emotional tsunami of love, betrayal, grief, compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness. It's a journey I won't soon forget.

The Bluestocking
by Christi Caldwell

I read a lot of books. Some don't work for me. Others, I like. Some, I love. Then there are those few that are special, that check my boxes, engage my mind, capture my heart. Those stories that pull me from my world into the world of the author's creation, fully immersing me in the hearts and minds of the characters - characters I come to know and love and wish I could meet in person. Characters who linger in my mind long after I turn the last page. Characters who, even as I read their final words, I know I will return to revisit, time and time again. This is one of those books. (read full review)

The Scoundrel In Her Bed
by Lorraine Heath

I usually enjoy Lorraine Heath's books but this one takes a special place among my Heath keepers. I was hooked from the opening pages and remained immersed in the story until the very end, not just reading about these characters but experiencing their journey with them. Heath filled me with just about every emotion possible with this tale. Keep the tissues handy. You're going to need them. (read full review)

Devil's Daughter
by Lisa Kleypas

Halfway through the first book in this series, I was already begging for West to have his own story. By the time his book went up for pre-order and I discovered his heroine would be Phoebe, Evie and Sebastian's widowed daughter, I was over the moon with anticipation. I am happy to report that Devil's Daughter met all of my expectations...and then some. This is a hero who will live in my heart for a long time. 
(read full review)

Old Dog New Tricks
by Roxanne St. Claire

Old Dog New Tricks is a heart-tugging, life-affirming, deeply romantic journey between two characters who may have snow on the roof, but still hold plenty of fire in their souls. I can't imagine anyone reading it and not falling in love with Daniel, Katie, and the entire Kilcannon family, including the four-legged members. The writing is flawless, the story, realistic and deeply emotional, and the ending had my heart, and tear ducts, overflowing with joy. In my opinion, it's some of St. Claire's best work. (read full 

The Military Wife
by Laura Trentham

Laura Trentham will break your heart and then stitch it back together, stronger than ever, in this poignant, heart-wrenching, and, ultimately, life-affirming story about the men and women who protect our country on the front lines and those on the home front - the spouses, children, and families - whose contributions, and trials, are no less significant. Those of you who have read Trentham's romances should be aware that while The Military Wife is women's fiction and there are some serious issues dealt with, there's also plenty of sexual tension, humor, deep emotion, and, for the romance lovers among us, a happy ending.  (read full review)

Sapphire Flames
by Ilona Andrews

What do I expect when I pick up a book in the Ilona Andrews Hidden Legacy series? Impeccable world building, complex characters who engage my mind and capture my heart, story lines that achieve a perfect balance of action, intrigue, and emotion, and a thrilling romance that plays out over the course of each trilogy. Sapphire Flames, the first book in Andrews' new Hidden Legacy trilogy provides all that and more. I couldn't put it down the first time I read it. Ditto for the second. The fact that I'll read it again before book two releases is a given. (read full review)

Kingdom of Exiles
by Maxym M. Martineau

Martineau's debut kept me reading until the wee hours of the morning. She brings her fantasy world to life with vivid descriptions that had me believing such a place really does exist. She creates characters - human, beast, undead, and more - with care and complexity, giving them surprising layers, unexpected depths, and a range of emotions that stirred my own. If this is an example of Martineau's storytelling skill as a debut author, I can't wait to find out what's in store for readers a few books down the road. I am all in, happily hooked, and eagerly anticipating every future book with Maxym M. Martineau's name on the cover. (read full review)

Who's Sorry Now
by Maggie Robinson

The second book in Maggie Robinson's Lady Adelaide Mysteries series is another tightly-woven story that immerses readers in 1920's England in all its madcap, post-war glory, with intriguing and complex characters so well developed that it's easy to be convinced that they must have actually lived at the time and descriptions so vivid that they transport readers into the smoke-filled, private jazz clubs of London as well as small villages in the English countryside. In fact, her settings are so realistically depicted that, if I didn't know better, I'd wonder if Robinson hadn't invested in a time machine in order to gain a little first-hand knowledge. (read full review)

Can't Escape Love: A Reluctant Royals Novella
by Alyssa Cole

Brimming with originality, this novella features engaging characters I couldn't help but cheer for, a depth of emotion typically only found in full-length books, the imperfections that make all of us unique, and the joy experienced when we find that person who not only accepts but celebrates us for who we are. Can't Escape Love showcases the brilliance of Alyssa Cole's writing and her ability to fully immerse readers into the hearts, minds, and lives of her unforgettable characters and the journeys of her imagination.
(read full review)

The Beast of Beswick
by Amalie Howard

This book was everything I hope for in a historical romance with its brooding, scarred hero and damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead, heroine. Astrid is brilliantly portrayed, wholly believable, and had my support the entire way. Then there's Thane. Oh, what that man has suffered. He could only be brought out of hiding by a woman as strong as he and I loved being there to watch it all unfold. (read full review)

Playing for Keeps
by Jill Shalvis

If you enjoy character-driven contemporary romance with emotional depth, humor, charm, complex issues, and hard-won happy endings, I highly recommend Playing for KeepsAmong all the books of Jill Shalvis's career, I think it stands out as one of her best with the complex Sadie and Caleb one of my favorite Shalvis couples. (read full review)

What were your favorite books of 2019?


  1. I only have one of these but oh so many look good!!

  2. The Miltary Wife that you mentioned here and all of the Dogfather books, particularly the first I read, Bad to the Bone. There are so many others and here are a bunch: (Most are 2019 releases)
    Asheley Farley - Nell and Lady Robyn Carr - View from Almaeda Island Richard Paul Evans - Noel St.
    RaeAnne Thayne - The Cliff House Sharon Sala - I'll Stand by You, The Rainbow Above Us and all of the Blessings, Ga. series Carolyn Brown - The Magnolia Café Susan Mallery - Summer of Sunshine & Margot Bella Andre - Captivating in Love JS Scott - Enamored Susan Wiggs - Oysterville Sewing Circle Toni Blake - The One Who Stays Roxanne St. Claire - Three Dog Night
    Karen McQuestion - Hello, Love Lori Wilde - The Christmas Dare The Moonglow Sisters
    Ronald Anthony - The Forever Years Brenda Novak - Christmas in Silver Springs

    1. I'm looking forward to Trentham's Feb. 4 military women's fiction release, An Everyday Hero.

      Bad to the Bone is my favorite book in the Dogfather series.

  3. I've read a couple of the books you've mentioned and enjoyed them. My favorite books of 2019 could end up being a long list, so I'll hit the high spots:
    Where the Dead Lie by C. S. Harris
    The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
    Heiress and the Hothead, The by Sabrina Jeffries
    A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe
    A Conquest Impossible to Resist by Stephanie Laurens
    A Death in Norfolk by Ashley Gardner
    Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose
    Unmask Me If You Can by Shana Galen
    Why Kill the Innocent? By C S Harris
    Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey
    Becoming by Michelle Obama
    Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries
    President is Missing, The by Bill Clinton & James Patterson
    A Duke a Dozen by Shana Galen

    Most of these books were part of a series with books still to come. Looking forward to those in 2020.

    1. That's a great list, Karen! I've read several of them but there are a few I'm unfamiliar with. Adding them to my list to check out. Thanks!

  4. I read a lot of very good 4-star books this year, but there were only a few 5-stars 2019 releases for me:

    Devil's Daughter by Lisa Kleypas
    Say No to the Duke by Eloisa James
    Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne
    The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
    Saving the Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday
    Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

    1. I loved Coming Home for Christmas. I think it's some of Thayne's best writing to date.

  5. I agree with Military Wife by Laura Trentham and Old Dog New Tricks by Roxanne St. Claire. Things You Save In a Fire by Katherine Center.

    1. I'm not familiar with Katherine Center. I'll have to check that out.


  6. WOW! I have a few of these - on my kindle t b r. And the lists from other readers include some books I have read and others I NEED to read now.

    Y'all do it to me every time I read this blog.

    Thanks so much for the lists. I feel I am quite lucky, because I have a wonderful list of books to which I can look forward.

  7. A Curve in the Road was one of the best non-published in 2019, that I read. I also loved Tessa Dare's Duke books (can't remember all the names) but I read them back to back with one more to come this year!
    I'm looking forward to the new Iris and Roy Johansen book which is out this month. Too many more to name.

    1. I'll have to take a look at A Curve in the Road. I love Tessa Dare's books. She's one of my all-time favorite authors.

  8. Awesome authors & terrific titles--great list!

    1. If you give any of them a try, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

  9. I agree with Military Wife by Laura Trentham and Old Dog, New Tricks by Roxanne St. Clair. I'd add Shot in the Dark by Tracy Solheim, Sniper's Pride by Megan Crane, The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets by Molly Fader, The Wonder of Now by Jamie Beck, and Getting Hot with the Scot by Melonie Johnson

    There were many more that I enjoyed and I haven't even looked at the list of historical novels I read.

  10. I've read some of these and they were wonderful. I also found a great Author thanks to your Hellie. It's the India Black series by Carol K. Carr. OMG, they were absolutely brilliant. I couldn't put them down. I wish that she would write more in the series.

  11. All but 3 of the books listed above are on my wish -want to read list. This was not a good year for reading. I was overcome by events and was lucky to read one book every month or so. It is sad when you have to squeeze it in and take such a long time to finish a book. I read and enjoyed a Christmas anthology, Longing For A Cowboy Christmas, and the first two books in Linda Broday's new series, The Outlaw's Mail Order Bride and Saving The Mail Order Bride. It took so long to finish each book that I had to reread them (not a hardship) before I could write a review. Except for a couple of old Harlequin Intrigues, these are pretty much all I have been able to read since May. I really hope I can get back to reading a book or two a week. I miss it and have such good books here at home waiting for me.

  12. There were so many good books this year.
    Toni Aleo's Wild Tendyand Power Play. Kristen Ashley's Quiet Man and Free. Amy Daws Blindsided.
    Melissa Schroeder's Luscious. Delicious. Scrumptious.
    Helena Hunting Lie For A Lie.
    Jeanine Frost's Bones POV from One Foot in the Grave from her website. So many good ones.