Hi friends!

As I prepare for another year to roll in, I thought I’d share some of my favorite reads and new discoveries from 2016.

Some of you may know this has been a bit of a tumultuous year for me, but I was blessed to travel to a number of conferences, including RT, RWA, Chicago North’s Spring Fling, and two international romance reader celebrations—Berlin’s LoveLetter Conference and the first ever Paris Romance Novel Festival.

2016 was the year I met so many great authors in person. Many I’d met before online, and many I met in person without the benefit of an online relationship.

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In 2016 I encountered the worst of the romance community, and the best. I was betrayed and mocked; I was celebrated and thanked. In both my professional and personal lives, I’ve had some amazing and some horrible experiences.

But you know? Romance is always, always about hope. And life is best lived when we can keep that fragile yet immensely powerful emotion in our hearts.

So as we approach a new year, one that follows a 2016 chock-full of surprises wondrous and shocking, I sincerely wish for you a 2017 filled with love, hope, and inspiration. 

And lots and lots of romance novels. Because, after all, don’t those, in the end, offer us all of those things, even when they’re hard to find in real life?

Happy New Year, romance friends.

I’m not going to do a “best of” list. Instead, I’m going to share some books I read this year that I loved for a variety of reasons. You can look them up on Amazon or read the Kirkus reviews if they’re available. Two of my all-time favorite authors, Sonali Dev and Sherry Thomas, had books this year that I haven’t had the chance to read yet, but since I’d recommend anything by them I say read them.

Many of the titles I’m listing I loved because they dealt with difficult issues in unique and fascinating ways, and were, in the end, hopeful and up-lifting. Not all of them are romances, but all of them have at least one romantic thread that has a happy ending.

There are so many great books out there, and I can’t read or listen to them all. But the ones I read and enjoy—or love—I feel fortunate to be able to share with you.

I am grateful to be able to read, listen to, and share my love of books, in particular romance novels. I am thankful to all of you who follow me. I love romance and truly believe that these books change lives and inspire us in ways that are sometimes hard to measure or articulate. Sometimes the broader romance community seems a little hostile to me—an interesting, disappointing counterpoint to the message of romance itself: hope. Always, always hope.

But I believe in the genre, and the community, and the writers and the readers, in the same way I believe in life. I am an optimist. It gets better. We find our friends and allies and, through them, we find joy and shelter and community. This is the greatest reminder 2016 has given me, and, sometimes, it’s the thing that helps me get through the day.

I expect 2017 will be much of the same. Some disappointment, but so much love and light and hope.

Sort of like the best kind of romance novels.

#LoveRomance #Happy Reading

 

Some of my 2016 faves:

12.29 whiskey Romance:

Marrying Winterborne - Lisa Kleypas

Forbidden - Beverly Jenkins

Wild at Whiskey Creek - Julie Anne Long

The Girl from Summer Hill- Jude Deveraux

Duke of Sin - Elizabeth Hoyt

Because I’m Watching - Christina Dodd

Allegiance of Honor- Nalini Singh

Taking Fire - Cindy Gerard (love the One-Eyed Jacks!)

The Hating Game - Sally Thorne

’Til Death Do Us Part - Amanda Quick (can’t WAIT for the 2017 release, The Girl Who Knew Too Much - which takes place in 1930s California against the glamour and shadow of vintage Hollywood!)

Promise of Fire - Amanda Bouchet (incredible debut - high fantasy romance)

 

12.29 Quick More women’s fiction than romance:

Lilac Girls- Martha Hall Kelly

The Things We Keep - Sally Hepworth

We Never Asked for Wings - Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Moon in the Palace - Weina Dai Randel

The Forgotten Room - Willig, White, & Williams

The Nest - Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

The Summer Before the War - Helen Simonson


12.29 hepworth Books I wanted to read but missed:

Sonali Dev - A Change of Heart (one of the best authors out there; this is her 3rd book)

Sherry Thomas - A Study in Scarlet Women (Sherry Thomas does Sherlock Holmes)

Katharine Ashe - The Earl (two great series meshed together)

Sarah MacLean - A Scot in the Dark (possibly the wittiest author writing right now)

 

Authors I Discovered or (finally?) Read in 2016 (after years of hearing about them)—and recommend:

Nana Malone - I read two titles by this author and she's great!

Joanna Shupe - after years of hearing great things I can now say I concur. Especially enjoyed Magnate.

Angela Quarles - her time travel romances are terrific

Kristin Harmel - have not read her 2016 release yet, but LOVED The Sweetness of Forgetting

Patience Griffin - finally read book #1 of her Quilts & Kilts series and highly recommend

Sarina Bowen - The Year We Fell Down is excellent

Jennifer Robson - simply adore her post-WWI novels

Cynthia Eden and Julie Ann Walker - terrific romantic suspense; especially enjoyed JAW’s first book in and the premise of the Hell and High Water series

Pamela Clare - finally read a couple of the I-Team novels and really like them

Liz Talley - a Perfectly Charming author!

Samantha Young - angsty, but really compelling

HAPPY NEW YEAR, friends!