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Top 25 Best Romance Books of 2016

Welcome to the Top 25 List of Best Romance Novels of 2016!

It's always fun at the end of the year to look back and see what new books (and authors) we discovered. Whether it was continuing the journey with a group of characters we know well, or meeting a new couple, or being introduced to a new writer, 2016 was a fantastic year for romance!

This list is a review of the best and brightest in a year that took a lot of interesting twists and turns.

Happy reading!

I know, I knowit was published in 2015 but it was published in November, and technically didnt become a bestseller until 2016, so it is the one and ONLY book on this list that cheats a little. Plus, this novel is worth it

This is definitely a romance novel with a twist one which everyone who reads it is talking about. It places domestic violence front and center, and while it has all the tenets of a beautiful romance, it also looks at the ugly which sometimes dwells underneath it all. This is a MUST READ for everyone.

Why It's On the List This is the winner of the Romance Novel of the Year (2016) by Goodreads.

Hoover is a popular romance novelist and all of her books are fun and interesting reads, but this one has an authors note at the end which adds a spin to the novel which we didnt necessarily see coming.

Read if you like: contemporary romance; long lost love; be warned of some difficult situations involving domestic violence/partner rape

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This is the sequel to the bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses (2015), and it continues the story of Feyre as she recovers from what happened to her under the mountain. There are amazing supporting characters here, and Feyre continues to be a kick ass and take names kind of girl, even as she struggles with her new realities and her experiences, and explores her new relationships and love.

Haas is a bestselling author who has won numerous awards and earned many starred reviews for her books.

Why It's On the List

Honestly, the first novel was such a huge success, fans were clamoring for this oneI admit that I HATE cliffhangers in books that make me wait for weeks, months, and sometimes even years for the sequel. This one was a year in between the two, but the resolutions in the second book made the wait worth it.

You absolutely MUST read the first novel before reading this one

Read if you like: paranormal romance; well-developed main and supporting characters

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There were a lot of athlete romance novels this year and The Score is one of the better ones. This is the third in Kennedys Off Campus series about college hockey players, and this one tells the story of Allie, who has absolutely no idea what to do after graduation and is reeling after breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, and Dean, who is very used to getting what he wants. When they hook up one night, she is thinking rebound sex and he is thinking wow I would definitely like more of that. But Allie isnt buying or biting, as the case may be. Or is she?

Kennedy is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who has been a finalist numerous times for most awards for romance novelists. She is also incredibly prolific, and publishes numerous novels per year as part of the several series she writes.

Why It's On the List This novel was on the Goodreads and Hypable.com lists of most anticipated romance novels of 2016, and it definitely doesnt disappoint!

Read if you like: athlete romance; hot situations; bad boy/alpha romance

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This novel tells the story of Rhine, who was introduced in Through the Storm. Growing up as the child of slaves in Georgia, he is light enough to pass as white, which he does in Virginia City, NV in order to make his fortune. He is successful and engaged to be married he seemingly has it all, and then he meets Eddythey are both attracted to one another but also both have a lot to lose.

As with most Jenkins novels, the romance and passion are there, but nothing too graphic.

Jenkins is one of the most popular writers of African American romance today. She has earned numerous awards, including several Career Achievement Awards, and she was named one of the top African American authors of the 20th century, and was nominated for the coveted NAACP Image Award.

Why It's On the List

This novel is already the recipient of several honors and starred reviews, and the list for RITA awards has not even been released yet!

Read if you like: African American romance; historical romance; true-to-history situations

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This is the 15th book in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. What I like best about Ward is that she isnt afraid to rethink and revisit relationships that she has supposedly already given a HEA to. This novel tells one of those stories it tells the story of Rhage and Mary and their struggle to move their relationship forward, but it also serves as a catch up novel to move a lot of other interesting stories forward, including Layla, Xcor, Assail, Throe, etc.

The Beast takes on a double meaning here both for Rhage and for the other characters in the novel.

Why It's On the List

Ward is an internationalbestselling, award-winning author. She is the absolute queen of vampire romance, and she writes beautifully. I literally have to tell myself okay, only one more chapter or I would end up staying up all night to read her books.

Read if you like: vampire romance; hot, erotic romance; steamy situations and dialogue; challenging and interesting characters but be warned, you wont just be able to jump in with this novel do yourself a favor and go back and start with Dark Lover (the first novel) and read them in order you wont be disappointed!

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Yay! Two BDB novels in one year!! This is novel number 16 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series of novels. They are all amazing each one adding to the novels which came before, and even when you think you might not care for characters who are outside the Brotherhood, Ward has a way of drawing you in anyhow.

This novel tells the story of Elise and Axe (Who? Exactly), and revisits Rhage and Marys story from The Beast. As I mentioned above, I LOVE that Ward does this introduces new characters and mixes in the old, instead of just dropping characters once their relationship seems resolved. It feels like they keep growing with each passing novel, even when they are not the main focus. In many, many ways, this series is like a soap opera albeit a really cool, sexy one where characters we know and love continue to inhabit the pages of the novels, and we are able to catch up with them while adding new characters to the canvas.

Why It's On the List

See Number 5 above.

Read if you like: vampire romance; hot, erotic romance; steamy situations and dialogue; you enjoy serial-style romance

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This is the first novel in Deverauxs new Summer Hill series, focusing on the small town of Summer Hill, Virginia, set against the backdrop of Austens Pride and Prejudice. Chef Casey Reddick is exhausted and was dumped, so she quits her chef job in Washington, DC and moves to small Summer Hill, VA in search ofwellherself. She quickly finds herself caught up as the caterer for a summer stock production of Pride and Prejudice, complete with a famous director and two hot hot hot Hollywood stars who are supposed to draw in an audience. And draw in an audience they do. Casey quickly finds herself right in the middle of it all, including in a relationship with one of the hottest stars on the planet, Tate, who happens to own the small cottage she is renting for the summer. 

I love everything Jude Deveraux, so, of course, I loved this novel tooalthough there were a few weird twists and turns here that I could have done without. My guess is they were there to set up the future novels in this series.

Why It's On the List

Deveraux has over 60 million books in print, and has had over 40 novels on the New York Times bestseller list. She is a master at creating interesting stories and characters, and in fleshing out her settings in a way that always has me wanting to road trip to the places she writes about.

Read if you like: Jane Austen; contemporary/historical fusion romance; well-developed situations and dialogue; interesting and relatable characters

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This is a stand-alone novel which tells the story of Delilah, a female sportscaster who is used to blowback from male athletes, and Brody Easton is no different, especially when he drops his towel during their on-air interview. The back and forth which follows is somewhat predictable, but a lot of fun, and pretty hot! One line that stuck with me from the novel is There is a story between once upon a time and happily ever after, and this one is ours. I really like that approach although it obviously applies to every single book ever written, theres still something about seeing it like that which makes this an appealing read.

Recommended by Buzzfeed as one of the top romance novels to read in 2016, Keeland is no novice; she is a New York Times and a USA Today best-selling author with over one million books sold in 12 different languages.

Why It's On the List

Its a fun, engaging read that takes the typical athlete romance and turns it into a little bit more. The characters are interesting, relatable and SMART, and they really care about one another.

Read if you like: athlete romance; well-developed and engaging characters and situations; strong female characters

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This is the fifth book in the Driven trilogy yes, you read that correctly. The FIFTH book in a TRILOGY. Umm, why?? Well, the truth is that it actually is a great novel which really does add to the original trilogy.

This novel continues the story of Colton and Rylee after their HEA. It allows for additional character development and a continued exploration of the relationship that really resonated throughout the series. One reviewer makes the observation that happily ever after doesnt mean perfectly ever after, and that is definitely the case with this couple. It is a reminder about the hard work that goes into finding, making and then, ultimately, keeping a relationship, and that it isnt all sunshine and roses all the time.

Why It's On the List

Bromberg has won quite a few awards called the Shameless Book Awards including best hero, best heroine, favorite girl to be your BFF, favorite villain to toss off a cliff, best dirrrty (sic) talker, best use of props in a sex sceneetc. So, not exactly mainstream, but she definitely has some fans, and she is a New York Times bestselling author.

Read if you like: full circle romance; well-developed and relatable characters

Note: You will need to read the other novels in order to fully enjoy this one.

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Set in Victorian England, this novel is the second in the Ravenel series. It tells the story of commoner Rhys, a ruthless, ambitious businessman determined to gain what his birthright denied him, and Lady Helen, a shy aristocrat who is in way over her head with Rhys. Determined to possess her, he is willing to sacrifice everything in order to gain her as his wife. However, along the way Helen discovers that she is a lot stronger than she thinks, and is willing to take risks of her own to create the marriage that she has always dreamed of with her perfect man.

Kleypas is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has been nominated for/won numerous awards.

Why It's On the List

This novel was a RT Book Reviews Top Pick for 2016, and was a Kirkus Reviews choice for Best Romance Novel of 2016. Kleypas writes beautifully, and her characters are both interesting and entertaining. Yes, weve all read Victorian marry above romance before, but she brings each (and every) character to life, all while making some critical observations about the class standards to which we are still quite bound.

Read if you like: historical romance; well-developed characters and relationships; class consciousness

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This is the eighth novel in the Chicago Stars series, but can also be read as a stand-alone novel. It tells the story of Piper, a quirky, funny private detective, and Cooper, a retired football player who owns a club. Piper is trailing Cooper, but gets caught. Instead of telling him the real reason she is tracking him, she goes along with his assumption that she is stalking him/attracted to him. When he discovers the truth, he also realizes that she might be just the person to investigate some suspicious happenings at his club.

I wont lie - there isnt a lot of angst to overcome in this novel, but it sure does make you laugh. Phillips is masterful in developing creative situations for her characters, including some that are literally laugh-out-loud funny.

Phillips is a New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author whose books are published in 30 languages.

Why It's On the List

This novel has been nominated for awards from Romantic Times, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist. As with all of her novels, Phillips really does a great job with romantic comedy, and as always, she has developed some fun and unique characters.

Read if you like: romantic comedy; athlete romance; detective romance

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This is the first book in The Kingmaker Chronicles, and introduces us to Cat Fisa who is in hiding from the otherworld, and her mother. She is eventually discovered by Griffin, who immediately recognizes her gift and wants to use her as a weapon in his fight for control of the south.

This novel has some hot chemistry between Cat and Griffin, although it takes a while for it to fully develop; it also incorporates a lot of references to Greek mythology, which I am not completely sure adds to the story here. But it is what it is, and what it is, is pretty hot sexual chemistry and a lot of back and forth banter between them.

This is Bouchets debut novel, and has made quite an impact!

Why It's On the List

This novel has already been nominated for several awards Goodreads, Amazon best, NPR and Kirkus Reviews.

Read if you like: fantasy romance; witty dialogue; historical romance (??)

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This is the second book in the Infidelity series, but dont let the title of the series scare you away. This novel is not about cheating on anyone but ourselves. This series challenges the reader to think about the compromises we sometimes make for our hearts.

This is a romantic suspense novel which continues the story of Nox (Lennox) and Charli. Charli has just made a difficult decision, and is okay with it, until she receives a call which makes her rethink everything, and everyone, she thought she knew. We also meet a very different Nox in this novel, sometimes we really like him, but sometimes he pushes our buttons, along with Charlis.

Honestly, the best way to describe this novel is as a painting that is getting filled in the first novel was the sketch, and this novel puts paint to canvas and fully develops the painting with multiple layers and many, many colors.

Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has been nominated for/won several Goodreads awards.

Why It's On the List

This series is intended for readers who like a bit of a mystery yes, there is some sex/romance, but it almost takes a back seat to the development of the characters and their histories. It definitely makes for compelling reading!

Read if you like: romantic suspense; fully developed characters; a lot of background

Note: You need to read the first novel in the series, Betrayal (2015) in order to appreciate/understand this one.

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This novel has so many ups and downs you could get motion sickness, and the story is one which draws you in and literally challenges you to try to put the book down before you are done with it!

This stand-alone novel tells the story of Amelia and Justin. Both of them inherited half of her grandmothers house upon her passing, and both of them are too stubborn to give it up, so decide they will in the house together well, she will live in her half, and he (and his girlfriend) will live in their half. The backstory, of course, is that Justin was madly in love with Amelia when they were younger, and she dumped him. Now he is hot, and hard-bodied, and not alone when he shows up. Amelia is, of course, totally interested in what she cannot have. When they finally do get together, it is scorching hot! (And dont worry, the girlfriend he shows up with is just fineand actually is a really cool character!)

Ward is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author who has been nominated for/won numerous awards.

Why It's On the List

I love that this novel was released on Valentines Day! And I love the title. Seriously, those are two of the major reasons I chose this novel for this list. However, this novel hit number 1 on the Wall Street Journal and number 2 on the New York Times bestseller lists, so is completely legit as a novel, too!

Read if you like: second chance romance; enemies to lovers romance; young adult romance

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This novel tells the story of Lucy and Joshua, both of whom are assistants to co-CEOs for the company they work for. They are incredibly competitive, and they hate each otherwith a passion. But, as the novel itself proclaims, there is a thin line between love and hate. This novel spends a lot of time figuring out what is hate, what is flirting, what is mild annoyance, what is possible interest, etc. When a promotion opportunity comes up, the competition picks up. Then a chance kiss in an elevator ups the stakes way, way, wayyyyy up.

This is the debut novel for Thorne, who definitely seems to have a bright future ahead of her!

Why It's On the List

I really like workplace romancenot sure why, but its one of the settings that I really enjoy, and Thorne does a fantastic job of creating a fun, yet realistic environment here!

It won a Goodreads Choice Top Ten Romance Novels awardpretty good for a debut!

Read if you like: workplace romance; contemporary romance; will-they-or-wont-they romance

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Christina Lauren is a writing partnership of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, and boy are they prolific. They wrote the incredibly popular Beautiful Bastard series, which is linked with this one. This is the fourth book in the Wild Seasons series about BFFs who find romance and love after college.

This novel tells the story of London (I love characters who are named after cities) and Luke. Both are kind of wandering after college, trying to figure out who and what they want to be. Both of them have been hurt by relationships in their past, and are slow to open up and trust again but neither have any problem with one night stands! These are both characters with some flaws, but their chemistry is very real, as is the development of their relationship.

You dont necessarily have to read the other books in the series to enjoy/appreciate this one, although it helps.

Why It's On the List

Christina Lauren is a blockbuster writing team they write fantastic books about characters we really like or want to be. Their novels are fun, and interesting, and the main characters might as well be any of us at numerous points in our young adult lives, albeit coolermuch, much cooler.

Their novels have won recognition from Romantic Times, Goodreads, Kirkus Reviews, and they are international bestsellers who have had their other novels on the New York Times bestseller list.

Read if you like: young adult romance; contemporary romance; well-developed characters and situations

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Shes already tried Mr. Right and he was all wrong Maybe its time to give Mr. Right Now a chance. So begins the first book in the Dive Bar series, which is also a continuation of Book Four of her Stage Dive series. This novel tells the story of Lydia, a woman who found out right before her wedding that her fianc was cheating on herwith the best man. Ouch.

Ridiculous starting quote notwithstanding, this is a really fun book. Lydia is a very real heroine, and despite the inauspicious beginning, she is pretty tough. The musician-turned-bartender hero, Vaughan, whom we first met in Deep (Stage Dive series), has a whole lot of depth beneath his calm, cool and collected surface. They meet when she runs away from her wedding and ends up hiding out in his bathtub while she tries to process her new normal. He goes to use the toilet, and surprise! Theres a runaway bride in your bathtub! The story develops from there

Scott is one of the best at fun, escapism romance, and this novel is no exception. It does help if youve read the Stage Dive series, but it isnt absolutely necessary.

Why It's On the List

Scott has been nominated for/won several awards, including Goodreads, Book Reviews and Publishers Weekly.

Read if you like: runaway bride romance; contemporary romance; rock star romance

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"Some say the past is in the past. That vengeance will hurt both innocent and guilty. I never believed those lies. Once my lust for revenge is sated, I'll say goodbye to hatred. I'll find a new beginning."SIN & SUFFERShe came from a past Arthur "Kill" Killian never forgot. She made him sin and made him suffer. She tugged him from the shadows and showed him he wasn't as dead as he thought. And with her resurrection came betrayal, deceit, and war.But then they took her. Stole her. Imprisoned her.Now Kill's carefully laid plans for vengeance are complete. He craves action, retribution-the blood of his enemies. War has begun. War is all they'll know until they've paid their penance. He will get her back-and rewrite their destiny . . .

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This is the second novel in the Pure Corruption series. This novel is the sequel which tells the story of Arthur (Art/Kill) and Cleo (aka Sarah), and it picks up where the other one left off. Its a somewhat involved plot of memory loss (amnesia for her and concussion for him), new jobs/personalities, revenge and ultimately, some really, really, really hot sex.

Winters is a New York Times and a USA Today best-selling author, and is very proud of her SmutClub nominations!

Why It's On the List

I wont liethis novel doesnt have the best story on this list, but it definitely has some of the best sex scenes. Winters writes erotica like no one else on the list, and it is totally worth it! (Just be warned about reading the novel in public if you embarrass easily.)

Read if you like: biker romance; alpha romance (big time!); erotic romance

You definitely need to read book one in the series, Ruin and Rule (2015) in order to understand/fully enjoy this one.


#19 Set the Pace and Turn it Up (both 2016) by Kim Karr

Two-for-one on this one these two novels are in the Detroit Love Duet series, and tell the story of Jasper and Charlotte. These novels are a little bit everything it starts in the present, returns to the past, comes back to the present, goes back to the past, etc. Basically Jasper and Charlotte knew each other well growing up, until a tragedy causes her to suddenly leave town. Jasper is the local bad boy, trying to do good by creating the fastest race car in the world and saving the city of Detroit in the process. The first novel develops the relationships, and the second novel deepens them I think I like the second one better, but you cannot enjoy it without having read the first one ahead of time.

Karr is a New York Times bestselling author, and has been nominated for several best book awards.

Why It's On the List

These novels are a fun and interesting read the first novel spends time developing the characters, the mystery/suspense and the relationships. The second novel pays off for all of thembig time!

Read if you like: second chance romance; romantic suspense; friends to lovers romance

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This is the first book in the Lovibond collection. The series focuses on the three owner-partners of Lovibond Brewery, and they have too-cute names of Tap, Stout and Porter. Seriously? Oh, and the heroines name is Lawrence. Really??? I was originally rolling my eyes as I read reviews of this novel and new series. I admit itI was wrong.

After a failed marriage, Lucas, aka Tap, is allergic to relationships although he is not above a one night stand now and then. When asked by his partner, Stout, to do him a favor, he agrees, but its supposed to be texting Stouts sister, not actually interacting with her in person. But when Lawrence (Wren) shows up in person, Tap definitely has his hands (and arms, and mouth) full. Wren is a great heroine with a wonderful attitude; Tap is a little more brooding, but dedicated and committed to doing the right thing. Together they make for a great combination.

Cates is a New York Times and a USA Today best-selling author who has been nominated for several Goodreads Choice and Shameless Book Awards.

Why It's On the List

Because I was so wrong about the namesI seriously had decided to hate this novel before even opening the cover. I was wrong; it was good okay, better than good. I really like the characters and the story, and I think it is the start of a fun series of novels! Stout has already been released, and I will be picking it up soon!

Read if you like: contemporary romance

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This is the sixth, and final, book in the REAL series, and this novel tells the story of Maverick The Avenger. Mav is a newcomer with a chip on his shoulder who is determined to make himself a legend on the underground fighting circuit. Reese is spending the summer visiting her sister, and trying to bring herself from friend zone to something else with her dream guy back home. She and Mav meet in the gym, and the relationship takes off from there. Their journey isnt a smooth one, but boy is it a good one!

Evans is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author who has been nominated for/won numerous Goodreads awards.

Why It's On the List

There is just something about a brooding, want-to-be-good-and-do-the-right-thing heroand Mav is definitely one of them! Plus, Reese is a great heroine definitely someone who is shy and a bit of a loner, but also incredibly loyal and fun. Plus, their relationship is hot!!

Read if you like: athlete romance; semi-forbidden romance; bad boy romance

You dont have to read the other novels in the series to enjoy this one, but it does round out the story if you know who all the other characters are.

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This is part two in the story of Thia and Bear. You will definitely need to read Lawless (2015) before reading this novel. Although technically, it is actually Book Four in the King Seriesbut at a minimum you need to read Lawless before reading this one. The novel starts with Thia and Bear being apart and trying to find their way back to one another, and still leaves them with a problem to solve before they can get their HEA. Oh, and you have to love the introduction of a female character named Rage.

Frazier is a USA Today bestselling author who was also nominated for several Goodreads Awards.

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On amazon.com, here is what is posted under Editorial Reviews: "In the next book you should swear less and leave more to the imagination when it comes to the sex.  Your readers will like that better." -T.M. Frazier's MOM "I tried to read it. I really did.  I just couldn't..."-T.M. Frazier's Aunt "Very talented, but too much F-word."-T.M. Frazier's Grandfather "What's wrong with you?" -Every other person who has ever met T.M. Frazier

I mean seriously, how hilarious is that? That is definitely an author I can appreciate a sense of humor will take you a long way, and she definitely has one!

Read if you like: romantic suspense; alpha romance; bad-boy romance; dark romance

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This novel is promoted as Twilight meets Outlander, so definitely a high bar has been set! This is the first book in the for now two-book series about a girl, Arianna (Ari), who is only 18 when her mother makes a deal with the devil literallya blood-sucking vampire-esque demon/devil. Ari finds her entire life turned upside down as she races to save her mothers life, and, in exchange, finds herself dedicating herself to the princes of hell, agreeing to marry one of them and promising to provide an heir.

Karpov Kinrade is actually a husband and wife writing team (she is Kinrade, he is Karpov). They also write romance and suspense under the pen name Alex Lux. They are USA Today bestselling authors and semi-finalists for the Goodreads Choice Awards who have written over 30 books, including several series. Why It's On the List Its a cool approach to a somewhat traditional story. When she agrees to marry one of the princes of hell, Ari has to pick between the seven deadly sins (each of them represents one she ends up choosing the prince of war). She is also smart and brave, and open to new experiences. The novel itself also introduces strong, positive LGBTQ characters who are both confident and competent. Its fun to see how she navigates her new world, all while being true to herself (and her mother).

Read if you like: vampire and devil and demon romance; interesting situations and dialogue; close family relationships; well-rounded and thoughtful characters

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Set in the mid-1700s in England, then the Caribbean, this novel tells the story of Charity, a young woman who escapes to the American colonies aboard a ship when her abusive English husband turns up dead and she is the prime suspect. Unfortunately, the ship she is traveling on makes a stop in Nassau, where she sees her ex-brother-in-law, and worse, he sees her. She gives up hope of escape and jumps overboard, only to be rescued by a preacher (and former pirate). Hijinks, and serious sparks, ensue as they masquerade as husband and wife to help her escape her ex-brother-in-laws revenge.

Why It's On the List Tyndall is one of the best inspirational romance writers writing today. She writes real characters who are easy to relate to, and the passion between her characters is no less engaging or intriguing just because it isnt graphic. If anything, its a little more intellectually passionate, which is quite appealing after some of the more graphic novels out there these days.

She is a bestselling author and Christy Award finalist.

Read if you like:historical romance; pirate romance; inspirational romance

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Set during biblical times, it takes an interesting view on the exodus from Egypt behind Moses, as told from the perspective of Kiya, an Egyptian slave girl who was sold into slavery and abandoned by her betrothed. Her mistress treats her horribly, and the only solace she finds in in her friendship with a Jewish slave named Shira. She observes the plagues, and flees with Shira and her family through the parting of the Red Sea and comes to see all of the miracles which were performed. The story presents a compelling alternative to the Judeo-Christian perspective this asks the reader to consider what Gods miracles looked like to people who prayed to different gods. The story deepens when Kiya realizes that she is falling in love Shiras brother, Eben, a man who hates her people.

Why It's On the List I enjoy the first person narrative approach, and this novel really delivers. We experience everything as Kiya does, her fears and joys, her triumphs and setbacks, and her deep concern about what her growing love for Eben might mean for her and everything she thought she believed.

This is the debut romance novel for Cossette, and is very promising. She previously won the 2013 Frasier Award and was an ACFW Genesis semi-finalist.

Read if you like: historical romance; biblical/Christian/inspirational romance; deep questions; unique perspectives

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