Books...the perfect escape.
Despite the challenges brought by 2020, there was one good thing we could count on to provide a great escape: books.
I read a lot of romance because I love the genre. In fact, that's why I write contemporary romance: it's reassuring to know that at the end of the book, there will definitely be a happily-ever-after.
I read 57 books this year and discovered three new-to-me authors that I absolutely love: Lyssa Kay Adams, Tessa Dare, and Loretta Chase. I can't wait to read every word they write. Give me their new releases, their older books, and yes, I'll even read their grocery lists. These authors are incredibly talented and tell fantastic stories.
I'm obsessed with The Bromance Book Club (by Adams). Every book in this series contains deep emotion, great plots, and laugh-out-loud humor. Same goes for books written by Tessa Dare and Loretta Chase. Dare and Chase write historical romance, a genre which can be a bit predictable, but these two authors produce quality content that shines brightly.
When this year got particularly rough, I returned to some old favorites like AGNES AND THE HITMAN (by Cruise and Mayer). This book contains a fantastic mystery, superb characters, and page-turning action that will entertain for hours.
Another old favorite is Ree Drummond's BLACK HEELS TO TRACTOR WHEELS, which reveals her real-life romance with Ladd Drummond. The story of how they fell in love is charming and fascinating. Part of me longs to live on a ranch in the mid-west, surrounded by wild horses and cattle herds...that world seems so different from the life I lead in northern Delaware.
Many of the new books I read during 2020 were recommended by bookstagrammers that I follow on Instagram. Those recommendations led me to try books written by big-time popular authors like BRUTAL PRINCE (by Sophie Lark) and MY BROTHER'S ROOMMATE (Kendall Ryan) and MR. FIXER UPPER (Lucy Score).
I also read a bunch of self-published romances and books published by small publishing houses. Of those that I sampled, one really stood out. CATCHING A PIXIE by Alleigh Burrows is a contemporary romance that really captures the highs and lows of a long-distance romance. The characters in this book work hard to figure out what's important in their lives, and their journey is relatable on so many levels. This book has great heat, snappy dialogue, and humor that is highly entertaining. I love how the characters figured out how to stay true to what's important to them but they were also willing to make sacrifices in order to stay together. Good stuff!
Thanks to my editor's helpful feedback, I published PROMISED TO HER in March of 2020. This book is my version of Beauty and the Beast and features the story of Victor Antonov, who lost everything in a devastating fire. While he searches for answers, he promises to be Nari Chen's live-in handyman for one month. That creates two problems: (1) he has no idea how to fix her broken farm. And (2), if he seeks vengeance against the man who destroyed his life, Victor will break his promise to Nari - the one woman who sees his soul instead of his scars. (Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon. Free in Kindle Unlimited.)
Here is the complete list of books I read in 2020:
Homecoming King, by Jami Albright
My Brother’s Roommate, by Kendall Ryan
*Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, by Ree Drummond
*Frontier Follies, by Ree Drummond
A Princess for Christmas, by Jenny Holiday
Her Christmas Cowboy, by Adele Downs
Pretend You’re Mine, by Lucy Score
Shelter Me, by Allyson Charles
Penelope and Prince Charming, by Jennifer Ashley
*Catching a Pixie, by Alleigh Burrows
*Mr. Fixer Upper, by Lucy Score
*The Red, by Tiffany Reisz – an erotic fantasy
*Crazy Stupid Bromance, by Lyssa Kay Adams
*Undercover Bromance, by Lyssa Kay Adams
*The Bromance Book Club, by Lyssa Kay Adams
Deadlines and Red Lines, by Stephanie Julian
*Last Night’s Scandal, by Loretta Chase
The Earl Takes a Fancy, by Lorraine Heath
The Absolutely, Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland, and Wales, by Anne Stuart
Tools of Engagement, by Tessa Bailey
*The Friend Zone, by Kristen Callihan
The Trouble with Quarterbacks, R. S. Grey
The Robin Hood Trilogy, by Marsha Canhan
Brutal Prince, by Sophie Lark
Regret, by April Wilson
Behind Closed Doors, by Shannon McKenna
Her Broken Highlander, by Fiona Faris
*Agnes and the Hitman, by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
Daring and the Duke, by Sarah MacLean
Vangie Vale and the Dismembered Donut, by R.L. Syme
The Truth About Cads and Dukes, by Elisa Braden
The Madness of Viscount Atherbourne, by Elisa Braden
The Devil is a Marquess, by Elisa Braden
Seducing a Stranger, by Kerrigan Byrne
Beach Read, by Emily Henry
The Marriage Bargain, by Jennifer Probst
Batter of Wits, by Karla Sorensen
Wild for You, by Kendall Ryan
Artistic License, by Elle Pierson
Vangie Vale and the Larcenous Lava Cake, by R.L. Syme
Say No to the Duke, by Eloisa James
Player, by E. Cleveland
Wicked Intentions, by Elizabeth Hoyt
*The Duchess Deal, by Tessa Dare
*The Governess Game, by Tessa Dare
*A Lady by Midnight, by Tessa Dare
*A Night to Surrender, by Tessa Dare
Iron Crowne, by CD Reiss
*Say Yes to the Marquess, by Tessa Dare
Dear Enemy, by Kristen Callihan
Crowne of Lies, by CD Reiss
The Beauty and The Beast, by Alana Albertson
*The Wallflower Wager, by Tessa Dare
*Do You Want to Start a Scandal, by Tessa Dare
*When a Scot Ties the Knot, by Tessa Dare
*Romancing the Duke, by Tessa Dare
Virgin River, by Robyn Carr
Some of these books have a * next to the title. These are the full-length novels that became my favorites in 2020. Every book on this list was a pleasure to read. Many thanks to all of these authors who provided a welcome escape into a world where love always wins.