Joyfully Jay Best of 2022 badgeHi all! Today I am so excited to be sharing my Best of 2022 list of annual favorites!

Since last’s year’s Best of post, I read 197 books in total and so many of them were absolutely wonderful! As always, narrowing down the list to my absolute favorites of the year was tough. So I have a list of my Top Ten, plus some audiobooks and Honorable Mentions that I couldn’t resist including.

 

First off, I had two five-star reads this year. It takes a lot for a book to be a perfect reading experience for me, and both of these stories were just incredible.

 

matter of fact coverA Matter of Fact by Kate Hawthorne

A Matter of Fact so perfectly takes the villain of the Two Truths and a Lie series and redeems him in wonderful fashion (so much so that I have nicknamed this one “The Redemption of Rhys St. George”). Rhys is the strong antagonist throughout the first two books, and Hawthorne plays out his journey so well. At first, he is nothing but the horrific brother and ex-boyfriend. Then, slowly, we begin to get an inkling that there is more to Rhys than we (and the other characters) really knew. And finally, we get to his own book where we get to know and fall in love with him. I love that Rhys still isn’t perfect; he is prickly and difficult and really has no idea what he is doing as a boyfriend. But we see how he has made this journey over the series and I just adored him and the book. As I said in my review, “Redeeming a villain in a romance novel is not an easy task…This book, and this series, has one of the best redemption journeys I have ever read and I absolutely loved this story.” Check out the full series, as it is excellent, and this final book really caps it off so well.

 

prince's poisoned vow coverThe Prince’s Poisoned Vow by Hailey Turner

The Prince’s Poisoned Vow is the first book in Hailey Turner’s Infernal Wars saga and this one captivated me from the very start. It is a steampunk fantasy that follows a huge cast of characters as they circle around one another and cross paths amidst plotting and intrigue. The story takes place in the aftermath of the destruction of the capital city and sets the stage, introducing us to the key players. Then, the book jumps ahead in time and we see how things have played out and the current drama unfolding. I was so incredibly impressed with the way Turner balances all these storylines and characters; it could have felt like a jumbled mess, but Turner does such a great job keeping so many moving parts in play at once. Things tie together so well, with events happening in one place that end up later being important in another. I was totally captivated by this one and couldn’t put it down. If you haven’t had a chance to read this story, the second book comes out early next year, so this is a great time to jump in to this fabulous, epic adventure.

 

The rest of the books on my Best of 2022 list were all amazing, so I have them listed below in no particular order. Shout out to Cat Sebastian and Alice Winters who each had two books on my list this year.

 

malicious compliance coverLoose Lips Sink Ships Duet by E.M. Lindsey

These books were an end of year favorite that I absolutely had to add onto to my list. This is a duet of two books, Malicious Compliance and Instant Regret, that both released today. The books make up one long story of the journey to love between Jules and Forrest. It is a unique romance, as the men don’t even meet in person for the entire first book. Instead, they are first enemies, then friends, then in love, all while only talking to one another through their shared apartment wall. The first book focuses on Jules, who is restarting his life after getting out of an emotionally abusive relationship. Then, the second story gives us Forrest’s view on many of the same events, ultimately bringing their relationship forward as they finally meet. Each book is excellent individually, but together as a set they are just amazing. Absolutely worth the read.

 

proper scoundrels coverProper Scoundrels by Allie Therin

Proper Scoundrels is a spinoff story featuring side characters from Therin’s incredible Magic in Manhattan series. I think it is best read by those familiar with the main series, as it calls back to some events from those books. I just loved reconnecting with this world and seeing Sebastian and Wesley fall for one another. It is an exciting mystery/magical adventure that connects well with the larger series world building. And Sebastian and Wesley are just so good together. Total grumpy/sunshiney vibes, which is a favorite of mine. Spinoffs sometimes can pale compared to the main series, but Therin does a wonderful job of this one and it is a perfect companion to the original trilogy. If you haven’t stepped into this world yet, definitely don’t hesitate.

 

perfect crimes of marian hayes coverThe Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian

This one is a companion novel to The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, and tells the story of Rob and Marian, two side characters in the first book. The timelines of the books overlap a bit, and this one reveals some key points about the ending of the first one, so I won’t get into too much detail on exactly how Rob and Marian get involved with each other. But the story starts off really delightfully with a series of letters between the pair as Rob is attempting to blackmail Marian. It gives us such insight to Marian as a character, as she is basically have none of it and quickly puts Rob in his place. It is a fun, epistolary dynamic that sets up the early relationship between them. Things then turn into a road trip story as they travel together to Marian’s family home and sort out all the assorted trouble they have found themselves in. I love the way these characters fit so well together. Marian is strong and strong-willed with a “get shit done” attitude that pairs perfectly with the softer Rob. I just adored them together and found this story so delightful.

 

the doctorThe Doctor by C.S. Poe

I absolutely love the Magic and Steam series by C.S. Poe, and this most recent installment just blew me away. The series is a wild west, steampunk, paranormal mashup and I love everything about it. The books feature law man, Gillian Hamilton, who works for the Federal Bureau of Magic and Steam, paired off with notorious outlaw (but total sweetheart), Gunner the Deadly. I absolutely adore the pair of them together and it has been so much fun watching their romance blossom over the series. The two are so good together and balance each other out perfectly. I can’t say too much about this latest installment without giving away spoilers for the prior book, but it is intense and so exciting and I just couldn’t put down. The climax just had me breathless and desperately waiting for the next book in the series.

 

ghost of truthGhost of Truth by Alice Winters

Ghost of Truth is the second book in Alice Winters’ Medium Trouble series. I make no secret of my total adoration of Winters’ work, and this story had one of my favorite mysteries from her. We get an interesting perspective as we follow Hiro and Maddox as they try to make sense of this crime where the pieces just don’t seem to be fitting together. It is really nice and twisty and I was totally drawn in. I really enjoy Hiro and Maddox together and watching them grow over the series (including the third book, Ghost of Deceit, which has also been released this year). Once again, we also get lots of fun and hijinks, particularly from their ghostly pals. The ghost sidekicks are a great dose of humor, but here we also see them in a more dramatic role as they struggle to help Hiro when he is in danger. Winters balances romance, suspense, and humor so well and this story is a great example.

 

missing page coverThe Missing Page by Cat Sebastian

This is a cozy mystery that reunites us with Leo and James from Sebastian’s Page & Sommers series. James has been called to Cornwall with the rest of his family as they read the will in his late uncle’s death, and Leo quickly follows when returning from an assignment. As it turns out, there is a mystery to solve that goes along with the will reading, making things ripe for conflict with all that money on the line. This one is a combination of murder mystery and house party story as the men try to discover the truth about the long ago murder. It also gives us a chance to learn more about James and his past as he reunites with his difficult family for the first time in many years. And most enjoyable, we really get to see the wonderful connection between the two men and how their relationship has blossomed. If you enjoy the cozy mystery genre, this one is not to miss.

 

a lady for a duke coverA Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall

This book is such a great friends-to-lovers story with a twist. After being presumed dead at Waterloo, Viola Caroll is now living a new life as a companion to her sister-in-law. She may have lost her home, title, and wealth, but Viola is finally happy and content in her own skin. But she is mostly cut off from her old life, including her oldest and closest friend, the Duke of Gracewood. Meanwhile, Gracewood is mourning what he believes was the death of his best friend in battle, and has no idea when he meets Viola that it is the same person. He is mired in grief and addiction and his life has just stagnated. As the two begin to grow a romantic relationship between them, their connection helps them both move forward. I appreciated that the story moves past the initial conflict of Gracewood not realizing that Viola is his old friend, so we don’t spend the whole time with the mistaken identity being the focus. Instead, it moves into the two really building something together that brings them both such joy and happiness. I found this one really warm and romantic and such a great story.

 

unraveling the threads of fate coverUnraveling the Threads of Fate by Alice Winters

The story is fascinating and twisty and intense and the premise is so well done. Alex Coleman has the ability to see the threads of fate — both red for those who will fall in love and black for when someone is going to kill the other. Now, Alex is seeing his own threads… and both his red thread and his black one are tying him to the same man, Bishop King. The two used to be friends as teens, but tragedy tore them apart and they haven’t seen each other in years. But when Alex needs help, Bishop is the one he goes to, as his ability to enter people’s dreams may just help prevent a murder before it happens. The two work together frantically to stop the killer, and along the way find love with each other. The set up here is so much fun and so fascinating, particularly as the men are rushing toward this fate and I couldn’t wait to see how it would unfold and how they could stop it. This one is a little different in tone than some of Winters’ other works, though still plenty of suspense and humor, and it is one that really left a big impression.

 

Audio Favorites:

after felix audio coverThis year I had some really standout audiobooks. As it turns out, all were books I had previously read and now had a chance to enjoy in audio. These were all excellent and I’d highly recommend them in either format.

Honorable Mentions:

restless truth coverAnd here are a few that didn’t make the main list, but were still too good to leave out!

 

So that is it for this year! I had a great time reading and I can’t wait to see what is in store for 2023!

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