Hi everyone! I am so excited today to sharing my Best of 2019 post with my personal favorites this year! Looking back over 2019, I read 221 books. As you can imagine, choosing my favorites out of such a large and varied group of books isn’t easy, and as always, I struggled narrowing down my list. When I reflect on my reading year, I try to think about which books really stuck with me, which books moved me in some way that made them stand out among so many great choices. They are books that I loved and I know I will come back to time and again.
I’ll admit, as always, I cheated a bit here and combined some things because I just couldn’t fully winnow down to a top 10. But it was truly a case of being blessed with riches. So with that, here are my favorite books (and series… and authors…) of 2019, in no particular order:
Lily Morton is absolutely a go to author for me, and I could have put five of her books I read this year in my top 10 without blinking an eye. I choose Blue Billings because this book was such a delightful surprise. I know that Morton is a master with contemporary comedies, but this foray into a paranormal ghost story was more of an unknown and Morton blew me away with this story. It is romantic and sexy, scary and exciting, fun and engaging. I loved her use of setting and I was thrilled that this book took (several) steps out of Morton’s usual zone and still was an incredible success. So Blue Billings gets my top spot from Morton this year, but I do have to mention some other books of hers that any other year would have made the list on their own: Milo, Gideon, and the Rule Breaker and Deal Maker audios (with Joel Leslie turning in incredible performances).
Borealis Investigations series by Gregory Ashe
Ashe was a new-to-me author this year, but after hearing such incredible things about his Hazard and Somerset series, I was eager to check out these books and I was not disappointed. These stories are exactly what I want out of romantic suspense, giving me the perfect balance of both aspects. The books have great individual mysteries, as well as a really compelling overarching series suspense story. Along with that, I swooned over North and Shaw and their attempts to find their way together after years of mutual pining (so much pining!). The pay off is so good here and I just adored these books. I am crossing my fingers there will be more stories for these men.
Deosil by Jordan L. Hawk
There is not much more that I can say about this finale to the Whyborne & Griffin series than what I said in my review. Or as I like to call it, my giant, gushing love-fest to this series. I feel confident in saying there are few LGBTQ romance series that are so universally loved and so incredibly well written as Whyborne & Griffin. As I mentioned in my review, I was so full of emotion just thinking about reading this book. Not because it was sad, but because this series and these characters just move me like few others do. I have said it a million times, you NEED to read these books. The finale was bittersweet to see things come to an end, but absolutely perfect.
Proper English by K.J. Charles
This story is such a delightful house-party whodunit, with characters I just adored. Fen and Pat and are wonderful couple, each woman underestimated and overlooked in her own way. I enjoyed watching them break out of the little boxes people put them in and prove there is much more to both of them than what others see. They are such a great pair and, as always, Charles just excels with the character development. The book is set amidst a house party with a murder mystery our heroines must solve. There is such a fun dynamic here as the women examine clues and question suspects. It gives them a chance to further build their connection while giving us an engaging mystery. Charles caps it off with a great sense of time and setting that really rounds out the story. I just loved this one.
Soul on Fire by Tal Bauer
This is a book that seemed to have a fairly quiet release, but one whose poignancy has really stuck with me since I read it. The story features Elliot, a Navy SEAL sent to capture a terrorist who has gained control of a weaponized Ebola virus that could have catastrophic consequences if it is released. He connects with a Congoese doctor, Ikolo, who helps Elliot navigate through the jungle on the trail of the terrorist. The story is intense and exciting and horrifying and moving. Bauer really captures the sense of place, bringing the world and the people of the Congo to life. He also does a wonderful job showcasing the connection between Elliot and Ikolo, both romantically, as well as emotionally. The issues of race are really nicely explored and the character development is wonderful. Bauer really excels in stories that are rich in plot, with incredible detail, lots of suspense, and well-developed characters, and this story is no exception.
The Hitman’s Guide to Staying Alive Despite Past Mistakes (and all things Alice Winters)
Alice Winters is another author where I couldn’t pick just one — and who can blame me? I read a whopping 11 books by Winters this year! She is one of my go-to-authors for clever banter and great relationships, and most have a great dose of humor as well. I picked this second book in the Hitman’s Guide series as my favorite of hers this year because it is the perfect balance of side-splittingly funny, wonderful romance, and great suspense. I love Leland and Jackson and their seemingly dysfunctional, but actually quite awesome, relationship. This series really captures all I love about Winters’ writing and this book was a standout for me. I’ll throw in some honorable mentions for a few other favorites this year, including her foray into superheroes with A Villain for Christmas, as well as Deception in Darkness and The Sinner and the Liar.
Mr. Naughty List by Leta Blake
Mr Naughty List is such perfect, sexy, dirty fun, but it also has a great romance and wonderful characters. This is a holiday story, but the tale of a former student and teacher who reunite years later only to find their kinks most definitely align is one that you can enjoy any time of year. What I love about Blake’s writing is that she can write books that are intense and dirty and full of sex, but also make them so rich and nuanced and beautifully developed. This book is scorching hot, but always warm and moving and so lovely. I really enjoyed seeing RJ and Aaron find their happiness and the way they are willing to take that leap of faith and try for something real with one another. This was my favorite holiday story this season, but also easily one of my favorite books of the year.
Spellbound by Allie Therin
Author Allie Therin made quite a splash with this debut novel, a delightful historical paranormal story. It features Arthur, a man who works to protect the world from dangerous magical artifacts, and Rory, who has the ability to see into an object’s past. The two end up paired together to try to track down a dangerous artifact and keep it from falling into the wrong hands and leading to mass destruction. Therin creates a really exciting and suspenseful story here as the men race to stop the bad guys. Along with that, this historical has great world building and a wonderful sense of time and place that creates a rich backdrop for the story and the romance. There is such a great connection between Arthur and Rory that just leaps off the page. I am thrilled that this is the start of a series and I can’t wait for more.
Mastering the Flames by S.J. Himes
I am a huge fan of S.J. Himes’ Beacon Hill Sorcerer series and I just loved this latest installment. This fourth book takes a turn from earlier stories featuring the same main characters to instead feature Isaac Salvatore and his vampire lover, Constans. This book does a wonderful job continuing the fabulous world building Himes has created for the series, giving us a new magical adventure, as well as advancing the overall series plot. What I really loved here is how Himes so skillfully develops Isaac’s character in a way that very much makes him his own person, out from his brother’s considerable shadow. Himes showcases rich character development that lets us understand the man Isaac is and really understand him. The romance between Isaac and Constans is engaging and I loved to see the world and the assorted characters from their points of view. Himes really brought us a wonderful story that I just adored.
In the Blood by Hailey Turner (audio by Greg Boudreaux)
I absolutely adore the Metahuman Files series by Hailey Turner and this fourth book is my favorite of them all. This story features everything I love about this series — incredible world building, great romance, and lots of suspense, and takes everything up a notch. Things are really thrilling in this book; at times, even kind of horrifying, and there is just so much excitement and intensity. I love that Turner features both our main couples, Jamie and Kyle, and Alexei and Sean here, weaving their stories together. There is also such a great team dynamic with Alpha Team and I enjoy seeing all the characters working together and using their abilities. I am listening to this series in audio and narrator Greg Boudreaux continues to give a stellar performance, managing the large cast of characters just beautifully.
It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a few more books I wanted to squeak in to my list, so here are some honorable mentions that are all fabulous in their own right:
- Want Me by Neve Wilder
- Forget I Told You by Tanya Chris
- Fog City series by Layla Reyne
- Dealing in Death by L.J. Hayward
- Ravensong and Heartsong by T.J Klune (audio by Kirt Graves)
- A Wish Upon the Stars by T.J. Klune (audio by Michael Lesley)
So that does it for this year. It was another incredible year and thank you to all the authors who made it happen! And if you want to check out all our Best of 2019 posts, check out our Annual Favorites. We will be updating with more lists throughout this week and next.