Looking back at 2018, from January through June, there was a glorious wealth of romantic stories to choose from...and settling on just 20 books was a difficult task indeed.
Yet it was also a pleasure to remember the heroes and heroines, the conflicts that kept the apart, and their bravery in pulling together despite the odds.
Below are seven of our favorites of the year (so far). See the full list of all 20, from historicals to paranormals, and from modern romantic comedies to westerns, and enjoy their happily ever afters.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Our #1 romance of the year so far! Stella's social awkwardness causes her to freeze up in most social situations and definitely when she's in bed. The logical solution? Hire a gigolo to teach her precisely what to do between the sheets. Armed with a checklist and a formal feedback form, Stella thinks she's ready to learn a new skill, but part-time Romeo Michael Phan knows that checklists aren't the answer to finding a true connection. Sweet, funny, and heartfelt, this book will make you giggle even as it tackles tough topics.
The Trouble with True Love by Laura Lee Guhrke
When her newspaper publisher sister goes out of town on her honeymoon, Clara Deverill has to step into her shoes and take up the pen of "Lady Truelove," the paper's beloved and clear-eyed advice columnist. But Clara's first column as Truelove upends the relationship of Rex's good friend, and he makes it his mission to unmask Truelove. Humorous historicals with heart are making a huge comeback, and Guhrke is among the authors making this subgenre a new delight to read.
A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
Who hasn’t been harassed by emails claiming that you're an African prince's only hope? Naledi Smith thinks that a string of messages requesting that she get in contact with her long-lost royal fiancé is just a hoax, but the reality is stranger—and far more complex. Raised through the foster system and constantly needing to prove herself in her lab job—all without the safety net of family or money that the rest of her friends have—Ledi doesn’t have time for the charming Thabiso when he enters her life. Nor does she have time for the string of emails claiming that she's a mysterious African prince's only hope. But Thabiso is persuasive…even as he's trying to figure out how to break the news to Ledi that he's really-truly the prince she hasn't known she was waiting for. While Thabiso is charming, Ledi is the whip-smart, tough-as-nails star of A Princess in Theory, and there were dozens of times when I laughed at loud at her inner monologues. A thoroughly modern, thoroughly fun romance.
Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston
Three half sisters, all of whom are shifters and part honey badger, begin their adventures in Hot and Badgered, a hilarious, hard-hitting new series from the delightfully unpredictable Laurenston. When Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan first encounters grizzly shifter Berg Dunn, she's naked and needs his gun. It makes a huge impression on him; she's unfortunately not wearing her glasses and doesn't even recognize him the next time they cross paths. But as a shadowy foe stalks Charlie and her crazy half-sisters, Berg realizes that the notorious honey badgers can actually be charming…when they're not trying to tear his head off. Nonstop action and zaniness.
One and Only by Jenny Holiday
It's bad enough that Jane Denning has to deal with her bridezilla friend in the run-up to the wedding, but now she has to babysit the groom's black sheep half-brother, who has just come back from military service overseas. Though they initially rub each other the wrong way, Jane discovers that while Cameron MacKinnon is a daredevil, he's a caring one, even if he hasn't figured it out yet himself. Cam's book-ending gesture of love is so spot-on that women everywhere will raise the bar on what to expect from the men who profess that they are their one and only. Fabulously fun, and I gobbled it up on a single day.
Smooth-Talking Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Yates launches a new series, set just down the road from Copper Ridge, with a whole new town and a new cast of characters to fall in love with. In this series debut, opposites attract when two people pretending to be a couple realize that they might not be so incompatible after all. As always, Yates does a lovely job of plumbing her characters' emotional depths and wringing her readers' hearts.
The Prince by Katharine Ashe
Among a slew of comic historicals (which I do adore), Ashe's deeply passionate couples stand out. In her latest, Libby Shaw's singleminded desire is to be a surgeon—an impossibility in Scotland, because of her sex. When she enlists portrait artist Ziyaeddin to help her in her charade, each subconsciously knows that the other is their weakness and the most likely route to disaster. Deeply emotional with strong-willed characters you'll root for, The Prince will haunt you until you've finished it.
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