Best Reads February 2019

This post gives a list of my favorite books I read in February 2019.

This list definitely shows my bias towards contemporary romance, but also includes paranormal romance and crime/romantic suspense. I am putting the audiobooks in a separate category. I link to reviews where I have written them; and also where I have only posted trigger warnings, so you can easily find those. If I have not yet reviewed, I am using affiliate links to Amazon. If you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money on that sale (which I plan to use to buy more books to review), but it will not add any to the cost of your product. It comes out of the company’s profits.

I’m listing rep at the end of my descriptions. If you spot something incorrect, please do feel free to let me know. Also, I am not intending to out anyone; I get author info from the web and the book bio. If an author would like me to remove any info listed, please do let me know. I want to note that I use the word fat as a neutral descriptor when listing rep, and use the word queer when a character or author identify that way or when I am unclear about their identity but know they fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella.

For folks looking for stories with no on-the-page sex, I am putting three asterisks*** at the end of the description.

New reads

  • Can You Say My Name Again by Nadia Nova (contemporary f/f romance story with two trans women MCs) This was a gut punch of a story that felt very new adult in a lot of ways, as it was all about coping with being an adult and identity. The romance arc was a big part of the story, but this has a bit of a litfic feel, in the intensity and voice of the story, and it’s structure. The MCs anxiety was very visceral and resonated a lot for me, felt extremely immediate in the story, and the trans representation felt very resonant to me as a trans reader. This is clearly written for a trans audience and it felt like it let itself be raw and real and messy in ways that were deeply compelling and gave me so many feelings. (Trans women MCs. Latinx trans woman author.)
  • Graham’s Delicacies by Mina Waheed (contemporary romance short story collection) This contains three light and fluffy romances: a meet cute workplace f/enby romance, a coworkers in denial about their long term crush until they finally admit it m/m romance, and a second chance after the love interest disappeared in the middle of the night after a one night stand m/enby romance. They are all centered around queer characters who work in the same bakery cafe, and they were all adorable. (Rep: Saccharine: Black, bisexual MC with anxiety. Nonbinary, chubby LI with anxiety. Delectable: Gay Mexican-American MC. Gay Black LI. Ravenous: Arab-American, queer, and nonbinary MC. Gay Korean-American LI. Fat, bi/pan romantic demisexual, Arab, nonbinary, anxious author.)
  • Triple Windsor by Ada Maria Soto (contemporary polyamorous romance short story collection) This is a follow up to the author’s novel, Tactical Submission which centers a man in an open marriage and the submissive man he develops a D/s relationship with. That pairing get a story, along with a story about Isaac and his wife, and one about his wife and her girlfriend. It was lovely to spend time in this world again, and with these characters, and I especially liked the f/f story, getting to see their dynamic more. (Rep: Bisexual man MC. Bisexual woman MC. Queer woman MC. Gay MC with PTSD. Mexican American author with dysgraphia and phonological dyslexia.)
  • Criminal Intentions: Junk Shop Blues by Cole McCade (contemp m/m romance novel) This is a police procedural slow burn romance serial. What I read this for was the characters and the slow burn romance, not the crime/mystery aspect. And it really hit the spot for me in terms of those things, as McCade consistently does in his work. He is truly masterful at building complex characters, at having slow organic reveals of them as a story goes along, at building sexual and romantic tension, and at showing small moments of intimacy. (Rep: Bi Persian American Mizrahi Jewish man MC with PTSD. Gay demigray ace Korean American man MC with PTSD. Genderqueer/Two Spirit Lumbee secondary character. Aro Black Cubano American woman secondary character. Native AmeriBlAsian POC demibisexual queer trans man author.)
  • Fair Play by Samantha Wayland (contemporary m/f romsusp novel) This is the first in a polyamorous hockey romance series which resolves to an m/m/f triad, with the seeds planted in this book; I’m definitely hooked and want to read the other books. It was riveting, I really liked the heroine’s arc around her job, and the MCs have truly explosive chemistry; amazing UST and when they finally get to it, the sex scenes are extremely hot and definitely lay the groundwork for a triad later with a ton of erotic compersion, which was lovely to see in a romance about a couple. Please do look at the CWs in the link because there are quite a few. (Rep: Woman trauma survivor MC. Bisexual man MC.)
  • Kiss and Cry by Mina V Esguerra (contemporary m/f romance)I loved this romance, it’s one of my faves I’ve read in 2019, and it beat out my former favorite Esguerra romance for the top slot. This is a second chance #romanceclass romance between a hockey player and a figure skater. It has a bucket list aspect to it, with a time limit (what I think of as the ticking clock trope). I really appreciated how sweet the hero was, how he could be presented as clearly very athletic and a talented devoted hockey player without him being hypermasculine or possessive. (Rep: Filipino MCs. Filipino bisexual secondary character. Filipina woman author.)
  • Game Changer by Rachel Reid (contemporary m/m romance) This contemporary m/m romance has a meet cute between a closeted hockey player and the cute guy who made the smoothies that might have helped him break a losing streak, a one night stand to lovers arc, and heavily centers out for you as the core trope. This was my first Reid book and I found it pretty compelling. It feels like the most swoony of the hockey romances I’ve read so far, except for Kiss and Cry. It felt like the story valued the romantic aspect of the relationship and centered it alongside the sexual aspect. (Rep: Gay MCs. Several secondary characters of color.)

Rereads

  • Tactical Submission by Ada Maria Soto (contemporary polyamorous m/m romance novel) Wow this was just as good to reread. The pacing of this story really works well for me, as do the deep characterization and the dual POVs. The writing is just so damn good. It made me feel less alone, in so many ways it just quietly held so much of who I am, and that’s exactly what I went into this reread looking for. (Rep: Bisexual man MC. Gay man MC with PTSD. Bisexual woman secondary character. Queer woman secondary character. Mexican American author with dysgraphia and phonological dyslexia.)
  • Coffee Boy by Austin Chant (contemporary m/m romance with a trans man MC) I just finished my third read of this book, and it is absolutely my go-to reread when I need a dependable trans romance comfort reread that I know I will love. This book really holds the reality of what it’s like to be a non-passing trans guy at the workplace. The dislike turning to crush is lovely as it unfolds, the way they seek intimacy with each other and step back is a dance that I enjoyed quite a bit. (Rep: Gay trans man MC. Bisexual man LI. Queer trans man author.)

Audio Books

  • Trade Me by Courtney Milan (contemporary m/f romance novel) I loved the audio for this, the performances were wonderful. I always appreciate Sean Crisden and Xe Sands blew me away. It was also just really lovely to get to immerse myself in one of my most favorite romances ever in audio. Many of my fave indie romances have not had audio, so I’m not even used to searching to see if it’s available. It was lovely to see this one in the Audible romance package. This book was just as wonderful the fourth time around. I love Tina so much, and it has this lovely humor, a huge heart, and is incredibly gripping. (Rep: Man MC with an ED. Chinese American immigrant woman MC with trauma. Secondary character with addiction. Chinese American immigrant secondary characters. Latinx trans woman secondary character. Bisexual hapa woman author.)
  • Riven by Roan Parrish (contemporary m/m romance novel) One of the most striking things about Riven is how much it’s about music, and how composing, performing, and collaborating on music is deeply central and gorgeously, compellingly portrayed. Riven is hands down one of my favorite romances I read in 2018 (and 2019), and an m/m romance I will return to again and again. I loved it on audio in particular, the performances were spectacular. (Rep: Gay MC with addiction. Gay MC who I read as neuroatypical.)
  • Rend by Roan Parrish (contemporary m/m romance novel) Rend was a particularly intense read for me, it wrecked me big time, and the audio performance was brilliant. I fell so hard for the MC, he really resonated. The trauma rep cut so close to bone for me, and I liked that it mostly focused on what it was like to be a survivor, years after the trauma, how it can shape you. I liked that it was a couple on the rocks story, because that was the only way to get an arc that felt real with these particular characters, where I would believe in the happy ending. This is one of those books I know I will return to, again and again. (Rep: Gay MC with PTSD.)

I embarked on a major Nora Roberts reread on audio last summer, and it’s still going, though I’m repeating some at this point. Here are a couple I especially liked in February:

  • Savor the Moment (contemporary m/f romance novel) This is my favorite of all the NR comfort reads. So many food details, chosen family, friends to lovers/best friend’s brother romance arc. It really hit the spot during a disability flare this month.
  • Considering Kate (contemporary m/f romance novel) This is one of my most favorite single parent romances. I love how direct and capable the heroine is, and really enjoy all the dance details. The audio performance is wonderful.

March TBR (I likely won’t get to all of these, but it’s nice to have goals. A in parentheses indicates books I plan to read on audio)

Buddy Read

ARCs to Read

My YARC19 Challenge TBR

Romance Book Bingo TBR

M’s Book Bingo TBR

Hockey Romance TBR

For fun

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2 thoughts on “Best Reads February 2019

  1. hello!!
    love this post, i have so many of these books on my TBR!
    i’m slowing reading Criminal Intentions and having the best time, best slow burn that i have read in a while!! Lydia San Andres is so wonderful and heartwarming! And I love Once Upon A Marquess, oh the tension between the MCs!

    hope you have a great reading month! well, a great month in general!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yay! Love it when there is a lot of crossover in book tastes. I wrote a longer review of CI:JunkShop Blues, if you click above it will take you to it. I am enjoying the series so much as well. Milan does tension so so well, I’m excited to read. & San Andres books are so cozy, I love them.

      Hope you have a great month, too!

      Liked by 1 person

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