Best Reads November-December 2019

This post gives a list of my favorite books I read in November-December 2019.

This list definitely shows my bias towards contemporary romance, but also includes paranormal romance, contemporary fantasy romance, YA romance, romantic suspense, and science fiction romance. 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.

New reads

Bringing the Heat

  • A Taste of Her Own Medicine by Tasha L Harrison (2019 contemporary m/f erotic romance novella) I read this age gap small town teacher/student romance during a week when I really struggled to read anything at all.  I fell hard for Soni, and especially appreciated the family relationships in this wonderful romance centering a single mom who is rebuilding her life after divorce and falls for the younger teacher of her business class. Wow did it bring the heat in the best way. (Rep: Black woman MC who’s a witch. Chubby Black man love interest. Black woman author.)
  • The Little Drummer Boy by Elizabeth Lister (2014 contemporary m/m/m erotic romance short story) With both of his partners working so much, Tate feels abandoned and frustrated around the holidays. His dominant James comes up with a plan to get him through one more week of their busyness and put them all in the Christmas spirit: chastity play. (Rep: Queer white men MCs. Bi white woman author.)
  • Neighborly by Katrina Jackson (2019 contemporary m/f/f/m erotic romance novella) A completely delightful, extremely hot, and deeply loving polyamorous erotic romance. Such a good read, and a high heat low angst low conflict polyamorous story that feels tender, soft and rather cozy along w/being romantic and sexy. I really appreciated reading such a comforting, lovely high heat polyamorous story where all the characters are careful and caring toward each other and you can just relax and enjoy witnessing them coming together. (Rep: Black queer women MCs. Black men MCs. Queer Black woman author.)

Christmas Baking Competition Romance

  • Sugar Butter Flour Love by Nicole Falls (2018 contemporary m/f romance novella) This enemies to lovers romance between MCs who hated each other in high school and are now teammates in a holiday baking contest was delightful, fun, and had some lovely heat. (Rep: Black MCs. Black woman author.)
  • Mangoes and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera (2019 contemporary f/f romance novella) I really enjoyed this baking contest themed romance. The MCs had amazing chemistry and also rubbed each other the wrong way half the time, which made for great heat and also a really compelling story. (Rep: Dominican lesbian MCs. Dominican bisexual woman author.)
  • Gingerbread Dreams by K.L. Noone (2019 contemporary m/m romance novella) I especially loved all the detailed food descriptions in this romance between a sunshiny contestant and a grumpypants judge in a holiday gingerbread baking competition. I love this author’s style, and am looking forward to trying backlist titles. (Rep: Gay white men MCs. White woman author.)

Fake Relationship

  • Holiday Honey by Chencia C Higgins (2019 contemporary m/f romance novella) This was a lovely balance of humor and heat and generally really delightful. I loved the way the characters navigated the different aspects of their dynamic together and really enjoyed seeing their connection unfold in at the very different holiday gatherings they went to throughout the day. (Rep: Black MCs. Black woman author.)
  • Faux Ho Ho by ‘Nathan Burgoine (2019 contemporary m/m romance novella) I really enjoyed this roommates to lovers fake relationship home for the family holiday wedding romance. It skips back and forth through time in a way that occasionally was a bit difficult to follow, but generally really worked in terms of building to this lovely story about honoring who you are even in the face of awful relatives. (Rep: Gay white man MC. Bi white man love interest. Queer white man author.)
  • A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year by Jackie Lau (2019 contemporary m/f romance novella) This may be my fave so far in this series of holiday romances centering on the same family. I adored this friends to lovers fake relationship romance; the characters had such a lovely connection, the sex scenes were wonderful, but my favorite was the Pictionary. (Rep: Chinese Canadian man MC. White woman MC. Chinese Canadian woman author.)

Holiday Romance

  • No Room at the Inn by Brooke Winters (2019 contemporary f/f romance novella) The autism representation was my favorite aspect of this high heat kinky romance set at a sex hotel with casual to lovers and rained in tropes. (Rep: Queer autistic white woman MC. Queer white woman love interest. Queer autistic white woman author.)
  • Eight Kisses (2019 m/f romance anthology) I enjoyed this collection of Chanukah romances! It’s a strong collection, with only one story that didn’t work for me and many that I really enjoyed. (Rep: see review)
  • A Good, Old-Fashioned Chanukah Pegging by Roan Parrish (2019 contemporary m/f erotic romance short story) I really enjoyed this Chanukah story about the MCs in Parrish’s Small Change trying out pegging for Chanukah. It was nice to spend time with these characters again. and the pegging scene was wonderful. (Rep: Queer white woman MC who I read as neuroatypical. White man love interest. White woman author.)
  • Resolutions by Lucy Eden (2018 contemporary m/f romance novella) This friends to lovers novella was all about him helping her achieve the goals on her list before the end of the year, and it had some really lovely moments in it. A bit of a whirlwind timeframe, but really enjoyable. I especially liked meeting the characters families.  (Rep: White MCs. Black woman author.)

Meet Cute

  • You, Me, U.S. by Brigitte Bautista (2019 contemporary f/f romance novella) This slow burn friends to lovers romance has really lovely sex work representation and so much pining. (Rep: Filipinx queer women MCs. Filipinx queer woman author.)
  • A Girl Like Me by J. Nichole (2019 contemporary f/f romance novella) This romance had a lot of lovely aspects to it; I especially enjoyed the chemistry between the MCs and the ways they were tender with each other. It was definitely a coming out story and that aspect of it was about as central as the romance arc. (Rep: Black bisexual woman MC. Black lesbian woman love interest. Black woman author.)
  • Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) I adored this book so much, it was beautiful to watch this romance arc unfold. I loved the way it was as much about falling in love with art and NYC as it was about the MCs falling for each other. (Rep: White MCs. White woman author.)
  • The Chai Factor by Farah Heron (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) This was full of humor, heat and heart, and had a lovely femdom dynamic that I really enjoyed. I fell really hard for the heroine, and loved the complexity in the depiction of her relationships with family and friends. (Rep: Desi heroine. White hero. Desi woman author.)

Non-fiction

One Night Stand to Lovers

  • Slow Moves by Elliott Junkyard (2019 contemporary m/m romance novella with a trans man lead) I adored this rock star romance to pieces, really loved the one night stand to lovers arc, the way the characters built connection, the friendships in the book, the trans representation. (Rep: Bisexual white trans man MC. Queer white man love interest. Queer white trans man author.)
  • Grand Theft NYE by Katrina Jackson (2019 contemporary m/f romance novella) A sexy romantic comedy heist story! The sexual chemistry between the MCs was through the roof. He is completely gone for her in the best way, and I fell just as hard for her myself, and zoomed through reading this book because she was so damn compelling, and the plot just drove me along. I stayed up way too late reading this and I do not regret it; it was unputdownable and I loved every moment. The fat rep in this book was stellar, which is not a surprise, as Jackson is consistently writing wonderful fat rep that makes me so happy as a fat reader. (Rep: Fat Black heroine. Asian American hero. Black queer woman author.)
  • Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue (2019 contemporary m/f romance novella) This grumpy/sunshine single parent romance was delightful, hilarious and smoking hot. As usual, Melissa Blue delivered a book that helped me get through a hard week, and that I know I will be doing a comfort reread of soon. (Rep: Black heroine. Trauma survivor white hero. Black woman author.)

Romantic Suspense

  • Human Enough by ES Yu (2019 paranormal m/m romance novella) I appreciated the ownvoices autism representation in this vampire hunter/vampire romance, especially when it came to facing ableism in the workplace. This jumped back and forth through time in a way that I had a bit of trouble following, and emphasized the suspense plot over the romance, but I did really like this couple together, and appreciated the gray ace vampire love interest. (Rep: Chinese American autistic pansexual man MC. Homoromantic gray ace white man love interest. Chinese American neurodivergent ace spec aro spec queer author.)
  • Frostbite by J Emery (2019 paranormal m/m romance novella) I really enjoyed this vampire/monster hunter snowed in New Years m/m romance! It’s full of tropetastic goodness, lovely chemistry, and hits the enemies to lovers aspect just right. Really delivers on the snowed in aspect, from the trapped and someone’s coming after you part that is a staple when snowed in meets romantic suspense, to the nearly frozen MC gets cared for by other MC until he regains his health, to the sense of being the only two people in the universe. (Rep: Fat queer white man MC. Fem white queer man MC. Queer white non-binary author.)
  • All Things Burn by Jodie Slaughter (2019 m/f romantic suspense novel) This romance centers a woman whose abusive ex finds her and threatens her and the hitman she hires to kill him so she can be safe. It’s intense and riveting and I could not put it down. (Rep: Black woman survivor MC. White man love interest. Black woman author.)

Second Chance Romance

  • Kwanzaa Angel by Shirley Halstock (2012 contemporary m/f romance novel) Heartwarming tropey goodness with a big dash of heat, in a lovely m/f Kwanzaa romance, with childhood crush, second chance, return to hometown, & business rivalry tropes. Can she forgive him for breaking her heart on prom night? (Rep: Black MCs. Black woman author.)
  • Every New Year by Katrina Jackson (2019 contemporary m/f romance novella) I adored this angsty friends to lovers billionaire romance full of pining and heat. These characters could not get out of their own way to save their lives, and yet I kept on rooting for them to figure it out. The most New Years of all the New Years romances I’ve ever read. (Rep: Black heroine. White Jewish hero. Black queer woman author.)
  • Grounded for Christmas by Savannah J Frierson (2019 contemporary m/f romance novella) This brothers best friend forced proximity second chance romance was funny and sweet and sexy and I really enjoyed it. I especially appreciated the fat representation and how very into her the hero was. (Rep: Fat Black woman MC. White man love interest. Black woman author.)
  • Second Chance Road Trip For Christmas by Jackie Lau (2019 contemporary m/f romance novella) I adored thireally charming road trip second chance romance complete with a snowed in, power outage, only one bed situation. I really appreciated the way the characters were so good to each other, and felt so right together, and how low angst, low conflict this story was. It was such a good comfort read, and I was particularly charmed by how gone he was for her and how he devoted everything he had to making her happy. (Rep: Chinese Canadian hero. Black Canadian heroine. Chinese Canadian woman author.)

Workplace Romance

  • Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai (2020 contemporary m/f romance novel) This bodyguard/protectee romance has the twist of her not actually being in danger, but feeling scared and triggered by going viral and running away with her bodyguard to try to find a way to deal with the situation. I appreciated the trauma rep, the very slow burn, the friendships and complex family dynamics, and fell really hard for the heroine and the hero both. (Rep: Biracial Thai American heroine with PTSD. Biracial Desi-Mexican American hero with PTSD. Desi woman author.)
  • To Touch the Light by EM Lindsey (2019 contemporary m/m romance novella with a trans man MC) I enjoyed this deeply drawn angsty complex Chanukah boss/employee romance. The power differential was handled carefully and respectfully, and with the long term pining, I was on board for this pairing. They also have a really wonderful chemistry, which made for some gorgeous heat. (Rep: Latinx gay trans man MC. Immigrant white Jewish gay man MC with low vision. Bisexual chronically ill Jewish Deaf white woman author.)
  • Love and Gravity by Rebel Carter (2019 contemporary m/f romance novel) This light workplace romance between a visiting science and the woman who runs the lab has a big dose of humor, heat and heart, and was a joy to read. I loved the chosen family aspect of the workplace culture. (Rep: Black heroine. White hero. Black woman author.)

Young Adult Fiction

  • What Makes You Beautiful by Bridget Liang (2019 YA contemporary m/f romance novel with a trans girl lead)*** I enjoyed this YA that’s mostly about a teenager exploring gender and sexual identity but also has a sweet friends to lovers romance in it. It’s got a bit of a complex gender journey depicted, which is rare to find in YA, and I really appreciated that about it. (Biracial Chinese American trans girl MC. Many white queer secondary characters. Mixed race, queer, transfeminine, neurodiverse, disabled, fat author.)
  • I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver (2019 YA contemporary enby/m romance novel)*** I’d been looking forward to reading this for a very long time, and it gave me so many feels. The book felt rather bleak, partly because it was so full of trauma. It feels like a book that was written for non-binary readers instead of cis readers, which I especially appreciate, and the romance subplot was sweet. (White enby MC. Queer white boy love interest. White enby author.)
  • Kissing Ezra Holtz (and Other Things I Did for Science) by Briana R Shrum (2019 YA contemporary m/f romance novel) I loved this enemies to lovers romance; I loved how queer and Jewish it was, and how much it engages with complex issues around imagining a future and being framed as a slut. The casual inclusion of trans and non-binary secondary characters made me especially happy. (Rep: Jewish Sephardic bisexual teen girl MC who I read as having ADHD. Jewish white teen boy love interest. Many white queer, trans and non-binary secondary characters. Jewish white queer woman author.)

Audio Books & Podcasts

  • Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole, read by Karen Chilton (2019 contemporary f/f romance novella) I reread this on audio and fell in love with it all over again. The jumping back and forth through time aspect worked really well in this book to give a feel for the development of the relationship alongside the second chance arc. I adore these characters to pieces, and this is one of my favorite f/f romances of 2019. (Rep: Black queer women MCs. Black woman author.)
  • This is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, read by Cynthia Farrell and Emily Woo Zeller (2019 f/f science fiction romance novella) This science fiction romance blew me away. The writing is gorgeous, the audio performance is amazing, and the story of these two spies traveling throughout time and falling for each other is deeply compelling. I love epistolary romances and this is one of my most favorites. (Rep Queer white women MCs. Queer Lebanese Canadian woman author. White man author.)
  • Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz, read by Amy Melissa Bentley (2019 YA contemporary m/f romance novel) Some of the best chronic illness & chronic pain rep I’ve ever read. So resonant with my own experience in so many ways, for the spoonie stuff & also just in its NY Jewishness. Also, a really lovely swoony m/f YA romance with a bisexual hero! I especially love the audio & highly recommend you read it that way. The performance is great & the feels are more inescapable that way, I think. (Rep: Jewish white bisexual heroine with arthritis. Jewish white bisexual hero with chronic illness. Jewish white lesbian woman author with chronic illness.)
  • A Lesson in Thorns by Sierra Simone, read by Sara Ormenyi  (2019 contemporary polyamorous romance mystery) This is part mystery, part polyamorous romance, centering six childhood friends returning to the house where they spent time together as kids, and is centered around the complex, fraught, intense relationships they have and build as adults. It is a gorgeously written, deliciously kinky story culminating in an intense sex magick ritual for Imbolc, and it ends on a cliffhanger for both the mystery and the romantic relationships, though there is some resolution for each. I highly recommend the audio. (Rep: Bisexual white men MCs. Queer white woman MC. Queer fat white woman MC. Queer Black woman MC. White woman author.)
  • Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert, read by Adjoa Andoh (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 satisfying. In fact, this isn’t just a 2019 fave, it is an all time top ten favorite romance for me. (Rep: Fat Black heroine with fibromyalgia. White hero with PTSD. Black Anglo-Romani autistic queer disabled woman author.)
  • The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts, read by MacLeod Andrews (2012 paranormal m/f romance novel) This is one of my most favorite Nora Roberts audiobooks. I love the grumpy hero with a soft center matched up with the snooty city professional girl who turns out to be way more flexible and able to go with the flow than he could have predicted. The friendships are wonderful, the matchmaking ghost is sweet, and the performance is lovely. (Rep: White MCs. White woman author.)

I continued my binge reread of Roan Parrish on audio. These were my faves:

  • The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish, read by Chris Chambers (2017 contemporary fantasy m/m romance novel) A beautiful rather angsty retelling of Practical Magic, with so much baking, a lovely Chanukah feast, a light touch of magic, and characters that stole my heart and gave me so many feels. The heat is a deliciously slow burn in this story. I especially appreciated the autistic artist MC, and the kink, and also the dogs. I highly recommend the audio. (Rep: Queer autistic white man MC. Queer white man MC. White woman author.)
  • Raze by Roan Parrish, read by Kirt Graves and Tor Thom (2019 contemporary m/m romance novel) I love this installment in a series centering musician friends. It’s a bit quieter and less angsty than the prior books in the series, and it moves at this lovely slow pace, as you watch this relationship build over time, even while it still feels so fragile for most of the book. I liked the way the story engaged with addiction and coping, and also the way it really held the reality of being the caretaker in the family who is suddenly free of obligation. The MCs are so sweet together, and the kitten stole my heart. (Rep: Queer white man MC with addiction. Queer white man MC. White woman author.)

January TBR (I likely won’t get to all of these, but it’s nice to have goals.)

ARCs to Read

2019 TBR Catch up

Holiday  Romances

For fun

 

 

2 thoughts on “Best Reads November-December 2019

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