This post gives a list of my favorite books I read in August, September, and October 2019. (I usually do a separate post for each month but wasn’t able to this time. I’m glad to have finally gotten this post up!)
This list definitely shows my bias towards contemporary romance, but also includes paranormal romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, YA fiction, a graphic novel, and non-fiction. 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 marginalized representation 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.
I read a bunch of Halloween romances over this period, and you can find my faves here.
Characters in the Publishing Biz
- Three-Part Harmony by Holley Trent (2019 contemporary m/m/f romance novel) I loved this so much, really enjoyed watching the complexity of these relationships unfold, and the ways each character was a catalyst for the others. This is a beautiful, unforgettable, polyamorous romance, and I’m already rereading it on audio. (Rep: Autistic queer man MC. Bi man MC. Black woman author.)
- The Write Escape by Charish Reid (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) I really enjoyed this romance centering a woman who takes herself on vacation to write a romance, and ends up falling for the guy in the cottage next door. It was a lovely light read, and the characters were really engaging. Looking forward to more books from this debut author. (Rep: Black woman MC. Black woman author.)
Foodie Holiday Romance
- A Gingerbread Romance by Lacey Baker (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel)*** This m/f holiday romance really feels like a Hallmark story. If you are into the Hallmark Christmas movies, this is the book for you. I went into the story expecting the holiday romance aspect to be dialed up to 11 and it completely delivered on that front. It wasn’t as architecture focused as I’d hoped and I had mixed feelings about the message of the book, but it really delivered as a foodie romance, single parent romance, and urban holiday romance. (Rep: Black woman MC. Black man MC. Black woman author.)
- A Match Made for Thanksgiving by Jackie Lau (2019 contemporary m/f romance novella) This is a nice fluffy holiday romance with a meet cute one night stand to lovers arc and a meddling matchmaking family that I enjoyed tremendously. It had a rom-com feel, could easily be made into a holiday romance movie. It’s low conflict, low angst, fairly high heat, and definitely a foodie romance. (Rep: Chinese Canadian MCs. Biracial Chinese Canadian author.)
- Sweet and Sour by Astrid Amara (2013 m/m contemporary romance novella) I enjoyed this Chanukah romance set in a Jewish deli where a cop has to hide undercover and the guy who runs the deli ends up falling for him. I could have done without the awful boyfriend he starts out with, but there were many lovely moments in this, and I especially enjoyed the foodie bits. (Rep: Jewish queer man MC. Queer man love interest.)
Friends to Lovers
- Tiny House, Big Love by Olivia Dade (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) I enjoyed this romance centering long term rather emotionally guarded friends who have been mutually pining forever and are taking one last shot to spend time together (and maybe finally make a move?) via a tiny house themed reality show. (Rep: Trauma survivor MCs.)
- Not Another Family Wedding by Jackie Lau (2018 contemporary m/f romance novel) I really loved this fake relationship romance set at a family wedding, complete with a huge helping of family drama. I especially loved the representation around not wanting children. (Biracial Chinese Canadian woman author.)
At Cross Purposes
- Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) I enjoyed this retelling of How to Lose A Guy in Ten Days especially for the very guarded heroine who really struggles to trust both herself and others. She stole my heart, and I was rooting for her the whole time, which meant I was rooting for him to finally figure out how to be a whole person and fully show up in a relationship. He mostly convinced me he was worthy of her, but honestly she is the reason to read this book; her arc is wonderful. (Rep: Biracial Black woman MC. Biracial Black woman author.)
- Open House by Ruby Lang (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) I stayed up til almost 3am reading Open House by Ruby Lang because I couldn’t put it down. I have no regrets. It was wonderful. I was so invested in these characters figuring stuff out & finding a way to be together & it was so satisfying to get to that happy ending. (Rep: Chinese-American man MC. Afro-Latinx woman MC. Asian American woman author MC)
- Man vs Durian by Jackie Lau (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) Peter hates durian and Valerie is devoted to it. He’s a soft sweet man who is really into her, she’s prickly and guarded, with good reason. I really enjoyed watching their romance unfold, and how he earned her trust. (Rep: Chinese Canadian trauma survivor heroine. Chinese Canadian hero. Biracial Chinese Canadian woman author.)
Marriage of Convenience
- White Whiskey Bargain by Jodie Slaughter (2019 contemporary m/f romantic suspense novel) I loved this marriage of convenience romance between the children of rival moonshine manufacturers who come together against a common enemy. It was deeply compelling, the MCs had glorious chemistry, and the stakes were high the whole time. I could not put it down. (Rep: Black heroine. Latinx hero. Black woman author.)
- Xeni: A Marriage of Inconvenience by Rebekah Weatherspoon (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) This romance has all of the strengths I generally find in books by Rebekah Weatherspoon: smoking hot sex scenes, heroines I want to be friends with, Black women supporting each other, awesome friendship groups, queerness, engaging writing, wonderful humor, and awesome fat representation. This is definitely a comfort read along the lines of Rafe, it has similar qualities, is low conflict and the angst doesn’t come from the romantic relationship. Instead we have family secrets and drama around them, and a central grief arc for the heroine, and a hero who has family issues of his own. (Rep: Black bisexual woman witch MC. Fat bisexual immigrant man MC. Black queer woman author.)
- Truly, Madly, Royally by Debbie Rigaud (2019 YA contemporary m/f romance novel)*** A lovely YA modern royals romance with an awesome Black heroine who meet-cutes with a prince, accidentally. It was completely delightful and had a seriously awesome heroine who I adored to pieces. The hero was just gone over her and how competent she was, and I love those kinds of romances. (Rep: Black woman MC. Black woman author.)
- American Squire by Sierra Simone (2019 contemporary m/m romance novella) This is I did wish it was longer and we got to see more of the Dom’s sadism, but I still loved it. I should note that it’s part of a kinky Arthurian retelling series that seems to be mixed orientation, with some polyamory.
- One Day to Fall by Therese Beharrie (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) I loved this angsty romance between two messy scared people who run away from their lives and spend the day together. It gave me so many feels, and it was lovely to approach the family I met in book 1 from a completely different angle. (Rep: Black MCs with trauma. Black woman author.)
Neighbors to Lovers
- Eight Secret Nights by Shoshana David (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) This m/f Chanukah romance has a secret admirer leaving presents for Chanukah thing going on, & I think it could be a fun light romcom. Which of her neighbors could it be? Are her friends helping him? Is it possibly the one she thinks is cute? (Rep: Jewish heroine. Jewish woman author.)
- Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) This is in my top three favorite 2019 romance novels. I adore everything about it, from the slow evolution of the romance arc to the characters to the wonderful fat rep, spoonie rep, and chronic pain rep. It’s full of humor, heat, and heart and is gorgeously written, perfectly paced, and extremely satisfylng. (Rep: Black heroine with fibromyalgia. Trauma survivor hero. Black Anglo-Romani autistic queer disabled woman author.)
I’m going to let the titles tell the tale here. These are all worth a read.
- “‘Pose’ Has an Increasingly Obvious Colorism Problem” by Court Danee (essay)
- ” When Thin People Hurt Fat People Out of Love” by Your Fat Friend (essay)
- “Dear Disgruntled White Plantation Visitors, Sit Down” by Michael W Twitty (essay)
- “Exactly Like Other Girls” by Felicia Grossman (essay)
- “Reading at the Intersections-The Importance of Trans Asian Representation” by Shenwei (essay)
- “What a hysterectomy at 31 is actually like — because the doctors won’t tell you the details” by Ace Ratcliff (essay)
- The Unique Grief of Ending a BDSM Relationship by Daemonumx (essay)
- “On Power, Heartbreak, and the Mainstreaming of (Only Some) Kink” by Andrea Zanin (essay)
- You Deserve a Partner Who Texts You Back by Ella Dawson
- Writing Romance for Asexual and Aromantic Readers by Rosiee Thor
- Bear with Me by Lucy Eden (2019 paranormal m/f romance novelette) A cute, fun shifter romance centering a social media influencer who is trying to save her career after a post-break up public meltdown, so she goes to a cabin in the woods, documents it for her followers, and ends up falling for a bear shifter. It’s my first book by Lucy Eden, and it made me want to glom her backlist. It’s funny, sexy, and it manages to do fated mates in a way that’s close to fully consensual. (Rep: Bisexual heroine. Black woman author.)
- Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu (2019 paranormal f/enby romance graphic novel)*** I adored this cozy second chance romance between childhood friends who reunite as older teens. I loved the feel of the art, so cozy with muted colors. All this glorious witchiness and magic school and magical experimentation. (Rep: Chinese-American, Deaf, queer Jewish MC. Chinese-American non-binary survivor MC. Asian American illustrator.)
- Posted to Western Mass Queer Exchange 08/01/2019 10:32am by DataPup (2019 Twitter parody short story) This story is eerily culturally accurate. (Rep: Queer women MCs. Bi trans author.)
- A Reluctant Santa by Roan Parrish (2019 contemporary fantasy m/m romance novelette) Neighbors to lovers holiday romance with misdelivered packages and very sweet dog that I enjoyed quite a bit. (Rep: Queer men MCs.)
- It’s a Whole Spiel ed by Katherine Locke (2019 anthology) I loved this anthology. My favorite stories were by Katherine Locke, Hannah Moskowitz, Rachel Lynn Solomon, Dahlia Adler, Nova Ren Suma and Laura Silverman. (Rep: Jewish MCs. Jewish authors. For more info see review.)
- Magical Girl Story by Azure Husky (a twitter short story) I love this fantasy story centering a trans woman. (Rep: Trans woman MC. Trans woman author.)
- Island Fling with the Tycoon by Therese Beharrie (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) This forced proximity romance that’s all about trying to save a wedding in trouble and also about grappling with complex subling dynamics around rescue was really compelling. (Rep: Black woman MC. Black woman author.)
- Work for It by Talia Hibbert (2019 contemporary m/m romance novel) I loved this angsty romance so so much. I fell really hard for both of the MCs and their arcs gave me so many feels. (Rep: Black man MC with depression. Autistic man MC. Black Anglo-Romani autistic queer disabled woman author.)
- Craft of Love by EE Ottoman (2018 historical m/f romance novella with a trans man lead)*** I really enjoyed rereading this with a buddy. It’s so cozy, and I liked talking through the fact that it feels like both MCs are ace spectrum, and the heroine is aromantic.
- Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman (2017 contemporary f/f romance novel)*** I enjoyed rereading this to discuss with the #RomanceSparksJoy group. It’s one of my most favorite f/f romances ever.
Audio Books & Podcasts
- Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts, narrated by Angela Dawe (2010 contemporary m/f romance novel) This is an old time favorite comfort reread on audio. The narration is wonderful. (Rep: Trauma survivor hero.)
- Play It Again by Aidan Wayne, narrated by Sean Crisden (2019 contemporary m/m romance novel)*** This is quickly becoming a regular reread on audio. So cozy, such a comfort. I love it so much. (Rep: Bisexual Jewish blind man MC. Homoromantic ace man trauma survivor MC with social anxiety. Non-binary author.)
- Be The Serpent #39: The Serpents’ School of Witchcraft and Wizzzardry! (2019 queer SFF podcast episode)*** This episode is all about magical systems, & discusses different types of them, has a detailed exploration of the magical system in one of my favorite SFF stories ever, and includes a magical system building game. (Transcript here)
- American Love Story by Adriana Herrera, narrated by Sean Crisden (2019 contemporary m/m romance novel) I loved this a lot, & really appreciated the complexity & nuance in the story. This may be my favorite 2019 romance, it’s at least in the top 3. This is my fave so far in a very strong series, a second chance, neighbors-landlord/tenant, activist romance. I read this in ebook, and then re-read in audio about a month later. The audio performance is wonderful. (Rep: Afro-Latinx Haitian American gay man MC. Gay man MC. Afro-Latinx Dominican American bisexual woman author.)
I went on a Roan Parrish audiobook binge. These were my faves, all rereads that have connected timelines and characters:
- Small Change by Roan Parrish, narrated by Jo Raylan (2017 contemporary m/f romance novel) I love this book to pieces and have read it at least 5 times since it came out. I especially enjoyed the audiobook performance this time around. (Rep: Queer Jewish woman survivor MC.)
- In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish, narrated by Robert Nieman (2015 contemporary m/m romance novel) There is something so cozy about this book, even with the trauma in the story. I really enjoy Daniel and Rex, in some ways even moreso on audio. (Rep: Gay man survivor MC. Gay man survivor love interest with dyslexia.)
- Invitation to the Blues by Roan Parrish, narrated by Greg Boudreoux (2018 contemporary m/m romance novel) This romance wrecked me just as much on second read on audio as it did the first time I read it. So much emotional intensity, such a lovely relationship emerging at it’s own pace. (Rep: Queer man with depression and trauma who I read as autistic. Black queer man love interest.)