2015 was a great reading romance year for me. I read widely across genres and found many a book I’d happily recommend. (You can see all my reading and ratings on Goodreads.) Here, however, are the books I loved the best.
My pick for most enjoyable historical romance of the year comes from Eloisa James. Ms. James, when she’s on her game, writes some of the wittiest romances around. Three Weeks with Lady X is full of sparkling, sexy exchanges between its heroine, Lady Xenobia India St. Claire, and its hero, Thorn (Tobias) Dautry (the illegitimate son of the Duke of Villiers, the hero of A Duke of Her Own.) I love almost everything about this book–the hero’s grand gesture at the end seemed a bit much–especially the letters Xenobia and Thorn send one another while she is overseeing the refurbishment of his estate. Three Weeks with Lady X is my favorite work by Ms. James in several years.
Mary Balogh is a consistently strong writer of historical romance. Only Enchanting has a wonderful love story with a heroine who has decided to, after a life of small rewards, to go for the gusto. The man she lets seduce her is just the hero she needs although he certainly doesn’t think so. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Many many reviewers have included Joanna Bourne’s Rogue Spy on their Best of 2014 lists. Add me to that list. I remain in awe of Ms. Bourne’s plotting. Rogue Spy is set during 1802, the same year that The Spymaster’s Lady takes place. It is, chronologically, the middle book of the Spymasters series, and, though we’ve encountered Pax (the hero of Rogue Spy) in the later books, his story is a completely engrossing surprise.
Cecilia Grant’s A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong is a tart, smart holiday novella. I wrote my review at All About Romance for it after reading it once. I’ve since read it again and it’s risen in my estimation. (I originally gave it a B.) Ms. Grant is justifiably known for the clarity and crispness of her writing and, in this work, her characterizations as well as her humor are astute. This novella, like her debut A Lady Awakened (review here), takes a romance cliche–here, the fake marriage–and turns it into something new.
Last September, my social media feeds were full of readers raving about Frozen by Meljean Brook. It’s a novella and was (and still is) priced at .99. I’ve read a few of Ms. Brook’s steampunk love stories and enjoyed them so I downloaded Frozen. I’m glad I did. Ms. Brook doesn’t spend a great deal of time world-building here and that’s a good thing. Her focus is on her lovers and the curse they must break to find their HEA. There’s just enough paranormal here–a giant, a clan of werewolves, and soothsaying mother–to give the story intrigue but the heart of the tale is its lovers and they are a compelling pair.