I don't review adult novels on this blog though I do include links to my Goodreads reviews of them in my Quarterly Round-Up posts. I do read adult though and my go to genre for that does tend to be romance novels. I love the banter, potential, hope, and guaranteed happy ending in them. Many of them are feminist and have amazing character development too. When this week's topic came up, I decided it was a perfect time to highlight my favorites. Since I don't usually talk about these here, I will tell you a little bit about WHY they're my favorites too.
It is one of those strange truths that an author can write one of your favorite books and also write a whole lot of books you don't love. The first few books in Julia Quinn's Bridgeton series were instrumental in helping me maintain sanity during my first few years of teaching. This is the one that remains a favorite even as I have not been enthusiastic about her newer books in quite a few years. I know this is not everyone's favorite and some were not happy with how Colin (everyone's favorite from the first three books) came across. But I LOVE him. I love that his insecurities and issues are so completely NORMAL. Quinn tends to go for the melodrama when she can, but this is pretty basic stuff. And then Penelope is the absolute best heroine in the world. Who could not love Penelope?
This was my first romance read after coming back from a years long break from the genre caused by genre fatigue. (I pretty much read nothing but romance in my non-school required reading free time from age 16 to 26 so I needed a six year break. Really. That's how long it was.) But then I picked this up on a whim after hearing a couple of people gush about it. I read it three times before I had to turn it back in. I recently reread it and was reminded of how wonderful it is. The friendships in the book are amazing and I love the super slow burn of the romance.
I read more contemporary romance novels now (my earlier years were pretty much exclusively historical) and Florand is a big reason why. I love both of her series but these are my favorites from each. I adore the fairy-tale feel of The Chocolate Kiss and Damien from A Wish Upon Jasmine is my favorite Florand hero. I love that he is ruthless (at business) and ambitious while being completely unapologetic about it. He is good at making money and loves doing it. He does it for his family though and they are a spectacular family.
No shock to regular readers: I LOVE POLITICS. Yes, real world politics too. Emma Barry's The Easy Part trilogy is so much my jam. All three books are wonderful (and favorites). I had a hard time deciding which one to include on the list, but went with Party Lines because of the banter and how much I adore Lydia (the heroine). I also kind of have a thing for secret affairs and super smart individuals in opposition to each other. Emma's characters are all incredibly smart and this leads to some of the best (and funniest) flirting scenes out there.
I discovered Gen's books through Emma (above-who is now a friend). Genevieve Turner's historical series about a Spanish family in California during the late 1800s is phenomenally well done. It has a very real sense of place, incredible historical details, rich characters, and fabulous plotting. Autumn Sage is my favorite book in the series because of Isabel. I have a thing for smart, prickly women who don't take crap. That's pretty much a common thread in all of these (though some writers do this better than others and Gen NAILED it here).
Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner joined forces to write what is my favorite romance novel of all time. Hands down. I don't care if it has only been out a few months. I've read it several times already. It holds up. You can read my entire review here. Eugene Parsons is my all time favorite type of hero and he embodies it more perfectly than any other hero I've read. Charlie is the ultimate foil for him. They are both so smart (and we see them actually doing their smart people jobs-so often not included). The banter between them is perfect as is their slow realization of what they really want from each other
Julie James novels are kind of hit and miss with me. I think she's gotten repetitive and definitely has some writing ticks. There are parts of A Lot Like Love that get on my nerves (like how much time we see what the villain is doing/thinking about). My issues are all overrun by how much I love the banter between Nick and Jordan. They are A+++ flirters with that snarky edge I love so much in the best of flirtations. This is one I reread frequently sometimes just focusing on the scenes where they are smart mouthing off at each other.
I typically don't care for the small town America contemporary romance, but there is something about Virginia Kantra's Dare Island series that I can't resist. Maybe its the Outerbanks setting. Or how Kantra manages to convey small town without being quirky. A big part of it is definitely the entire Fletcher family. I love how much the books focus on their relationships with each other as well as the romances. Carolina Man is my favorite for a lot of reasons, but the main reason is Kate. At this point you can probably figure out what sort of character she is just by my saying that.
The Black Hawk is the newest addition to my favorites. I just read it a few weeks ago. I picked up the series due to the recommendation of several friends and started (for some reason) with the the third book. Turns out that was a good move for me as I wasn't personally fond of book one or book two. What I did love about all three of those books was Adrian, aka Hawker. Cockney pickpocket turned British spy at an early age Amazing British agent through all the years of French upheaval following the Revolution. Best of Friends. King of Snark. He's pretty incredible. This story is made even better with Justine, who is all the things I love in a heroine. Their story spans years and a lot of heartache but it was utterly perfect for me.