This year was really something, huh?
Summer in South Africa is ending; pouring rain has started to creep between days with blue skies. Even when it's sunny outside, these days it always kinda feels like the skies are grey. And at least once a day, I remember that I was supposed to be in Seoul, Korea right now for cherry blossom season, and then my heart aches even more. So! I’ve compiled a list of books that bring the much-needed spring blooming feeling with their covers.
We already shared our list of YA Romance for January-March 2020, so here's the next three months!
Since there are way too many books for one reasonably sized post, here's how we've structured the list:
- Books that we're excited to read will have a cover and a little bit about why we're excited to read them.
- Other books that we're aware of but not rushing out to preorder are at the end. They'll have links if you want to find out more!
- This list is absolutely not any indication of quality or content. We haven't read these! Stay tuned throughout the year for reviews when we do.
- Books are listed in chronological order and include what we're aware of as of February 2020. This means more will probably be slotted in before June and this list will be out of date. So it goes.
- Every book will have a link to its page on Amazon. Yes, we'd love for you to buy the books elsewhere but the reality is that 98% of our clicks are to Amazon. In a list this size, it's just too much time to generate four links for each book instead of one. These are affiliate links, meaning we earn 4% of whatever you buy after clicking. It doesn't cost you anything extra but we have to disclose this for the feds.
Without further ado, on to the books!
A while back, we talked to Ana about being selected as a judge in The Ripped Bodice's first ever Awards for Excellence in Romance Fiction. Informally known as "the ribbies," this award is judged a bit differently than others. TRB put together a diverse team of judges and had them discuss the books they thought represented the best in Romance, rather than a system involving self-nomination, money or simple popularity (such as in the Goodreads Readers Choice Awards). You'll find the full panel of judges and more information about the contest here.
Today we're sharing a guest post about how queer individuals and communities function after breakups and how that may be different from straight relationships. Remember how everyone on The L Word dated each other? Yeah, that. (With less bananas soap shenanigans.)
Author Valentine Wheeler writes both contemporary and SFF queer romance. Her latest book is No Parking, a bisexual f/f romance set in small-town Massachusetts. Scroll down to the end of the post for more on the book, out on February 10th!
There’s a punchline I’ve heard in the queer community for decades, though the joke varies: when women break up, they stay friends. I’ve seen variations about queer men, too, though less often. But it’s rare that that trope makes it into romance fiction. When it does, I for one am thrilled.
Reasons I love reading romance set in France:
1) revolution and beheadings, frequently spies
2) the extravagances of Versailles and The Sun King--everyone is terrible!
3) fashion and food, regardless of time period
4) in modern France, the magic of Paris, sans dog feces all over the streets
And since we give nearly all of our historical romance discussion time to books set in England, I'd like to talk about books set across the Channel for a change. With some contemporaries thrown in for funzies. This list will mostly focus on books I've actually read, but I'll be clear when I haven't.
Sometimes the urge to do something is so strong you just have to go with it. I’ve been reading romance for close to a decade and as we close this decade I felt a great necessity to look back at the Romance novels that marked me as a reader. Although I only started reading romance seriously during 2010, I started with what my library collection had, so my first romance novels were really books that had been out for years (Balogh, Kleypas, Quinn, Garwood, Dodd, Krentz and Chase). They were an excellent crash course on romance, if Romance is only for white, cis, straight historical ladies. I don’t regret reading them, I just regret thinking they were the only things out there.
This year was really difficult. For all the reasons that many of us struggled with, and for many personal reasons on top of those. I struggled to find motivation to be a person at all, and my concentration capabilities basically quit on me with no notice. As Suzanne said in her 2019 Favourites: It was "a really bad year for reading with my eyeballs." When I could eyeball-read, (Can we trademark this term? Getting my lawyers on this, stat!) I reread the books that comforted me; ones I could dive into and know everything would be exactly as I needed. But this year of limited eyeball reading also lead to an Audiobook Adventure! (Pretend there are sparkly emojis here, okay thanks!)
[Editor's Note - All reading is reading! To suggest otherwise is horribly ableist among other things. So please don't. There are lots of reasons why reading with eyeballs doesn't go well/isn't possible, and everyone deserves stories.]
Suzanne has beeeen repping audiobooks, and I really wanted to be the kind of person who was there with her, but I never got round to it. Then, during a LiP Patreon chat (whoop whoop this is the sign up link, join us for the next one wink wink) before my long flight to South Korea, the LiP Patreon gang SOLD me! I signed up for Audible while still on the chat, and added a ton of their recs to my Wishlist. In the end, I was violently ill the entire flight there and knocked out cold on the flight back, so I did not get to listen. But when I came home and everything sucked, audiobooks swept in and saved the day! These are my favourites on the adventure so far:
These posts are so subjective that I decided not to call mine a Best Of 2019 list this time. Did I read every romance that came out this year? Does every person bring their own preferences and baggage to each book? Yeah, exactly.
I’ve read so many wonderful books this year it actually hurts to pare down the list to a Top 5, so I had to cheat a little bit and create sub-genre specific Top 5 (and occasionally Top 10) lists to figure out what should be in my Top 5 list of the year so I am going to sneak in mentions of all the others books I loved in here too.