In the mood for a sweet and/or steamy romance to welcome Valentine’s Day? Here are my recommendations for romance novels released in the last twelve months:
Worthy of Love by Quinn Ivins
Age-Gap / Ice Queen
I loved Quinn Ivins’ first book so didn’t read the blurb before opening her second one. My first thought when I understood what it was about was “wow, that’s gutsy”. And while I liked her first book a lot, I think I enjoyed this one even more. In The Love Factor, she indulged in her love of statistics. With Worthy of Love, she tackles two topics she knows just as well: one of the MCs is a Filipino immigrant, like Ivins’ wife, and the other is neurodivergent, like Quinn Ivins herself. Both matters are an essential part of the story and of who the characters are but Ivins never falls into clumsy didacticism. She shines a light on issues, among which the absurdity of the US healthcare system, with both serenity and efficacy. Read the whole review.
One Weekend in Aspen by Jaime Clevenger
No Strings Relationship
Who’d have thought a book about a sex party would be full of suspense? I couldn’t put One Weekend in Aspen down, I had to know what would happen next. I would have read it in one sitting if life had let me, but as it is, I had to stop reading it for a whole day. Yet now that I have turned the last page, I’m sad it’s over. I really didn’t want it to end. Read the whole review.
Change of Plans by KJ
Opposites Attract / Mental Health
Like with every KJ book, there are many layers to this one. You can read it for the romance and enjoy it fully. You can read it for the insight on mental health and enjoy it fully. You can read it for the dysfunctional families, for employees who are essentially friends, for the beauty of Ikebana. You can read it for the writing and the humour and the sexy scenes. There’s nothing simple about this story and these characters and yet they bring simple joy. Read the whole review.
How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole
Retelling of Classics / Fake Romance
This sapphic retelling of Anastasia is a Grumpy/Sunshine romance with Grumpy being a former Sunshine tired of being used as a doormat. It’s also, for a while, a fake romance, confusing both parties, as should be, with the added bonus of only one bed and a lifeboat. It’s definitely an opposites-attract romance, all book long. Read the whole review.
Thrust by Rachel Spangler
Women with swords, do I need to say more? Probably not but I do have a lot to say about this book. I think Thrust was written for me. I love sports romances, any sports, even sports I don’t know. But fencing? Probably my favourite. Read the whole review.
The Headmistress by Milena McKay
Age-Gap / Ice Queen
Milena McKay may still be pretty new on the lesfic scene but she already has a unique voice. As she first proved in The Delicate Things We Make, she doesn’t shy away from sensitive topics yet doesn’t write heavy dramatic books either. The Headmistress is a subtle blend of substance, witty dialogue, humour, and sexiness. It was my favourite book in 2021, just saying. Read the whole review.
Fake It by Lily Seabrooke
Fake Relationship / Trans MC
This is my third book by Lily Seabrooke and if there’s one thing I’ve come to expect from her, it’s characters you’ll want to root for. Avery is adorable and self-conscious and much more willing to believe in magic teleportation than beautiful, self-assured Holly being attracted to her. I love how Avery being trans is a huge part of her story but not a huge part of the story. The story is the romance between Avery and Holly. But who Avery is is fundamental to the story. The author is a trans woman herself, who has already written many sapphic romance novels and Avery is her first trans lead. I sure hope she – and others – keeps writing trans characters as lovely (or not) as Avery. I’d love to remember this sweet – and hot – romance as my first one with a trans lead, and not as the only one. Read the whole review.
This Used to Be Easier by Katia Rose
New Adult / Mental Health
The premise for This Used to Be Easier is the same as Stop and Stare: two childhood friends and a kiss that changed everything. The rest of the story is very different, however. This Used to Be Easier begins as a cute NA romance, then gets a lot deeper. Not angsty so much as real. Read the whole review.
AITA? by Cassie Alexander
Sometimes you just need a WTF book and, with this premise, this one sounded like exactly what I needed, especially with this title. I mean, how many times have I got lost in AITA posts and comments when I should have been reading a real book? And now, an actual book brings all that goodness directly to me? Yes, please.
While it was the light and funny story I was hoping for, AITA? is also more than that. These two women’s – one human, one demonic – journey to finding themselves and their forever love is way more moving than I expected, way more than just a sexy romp. Read the whole review.
Back in Your Arms by Monica McCallan
Return to Hometown / Friends to Lovers
I’m not sure why but this was my first book by Monica McCallan. I’m looking forward to many more, now.I would have read Back in Your Arms in one sitting if I didn’t need to sleep from time to time. Read the whole review.
In the Long Run by Haley Cass
With In the Long Run, Haley Cass gives us, once again, lovely characters, and a heartwarming story of coming home when you least expect it. Her writing is refreshing and dynamic, and, combined with the stories she chooses to tell, it gives me all the feels. Read the whole review.
Go Around by E.J. Noyes
If you’ve read my reviews before, you already know how much I love second chance romance novels. Noyes brings something to the trope that I haven’t read often, or at least not so well-written and described. She takes time to analyze the breakup, really raises the issues that made the relationship fail the first time around, showing that love and hurt aren’t antithetical even when the loving seems meant to be. Read the whole review.
On the Rocks by Georgia Beers
This book made me so happy! And kept me awake way too late. It’s perfectly fluffy but not empty, fairly low angst with characters I loved at first sight. Read the whole review.
In the Shadows of the Past by J.E. Leak
I’m so impressed by debut novels like this one, in which the writing feels so mature. There’s room for growth but there’s also a lot to love already. I loved almost everything, from the cover to the atmosphere – very film noir – to the characters. Read the whole review.
No Strings by Lucy Bexley
Opposites Attract / Mental Health
I love how Lucy Bexley combines jokes and topics that require a delicate touch. In Must Love Silence, it was sobriety and anxiety. Here it’s Bipolar Disorder. This book made me smile a lot, laugh enough, it made my heart all warm and gooey, put lumps in my throat one minute, dissolved them the next. And left me slightly melancholy that Jones, Elsie, Benz and Avery aren’t my friends in real life. I’m going to miss them. Read the whole review.
D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia H. Higgins
I don’t watch reality TV shows – I have enough reality in my life, thank you very much – except for an episode here and there of baking shows when the people close to me are watching, but I would absolutely have rooted for Kris and D’Vaughn had Instant I Do been on my TV. Read the whole review.