Dec
31

My Picks for Best Romance Novels 2020

It’s the last day of the year, so that means I finally get to post my list of the must-read and best romance novels 2020. Sitting down to compose this post as the last ‘task’ before a new year begins is one of my favorite things to do.

Speaking of  2020—oh, what a year you were!

For me, this year has been about comforting myself as well as my family through the anxiety, uncertainty, and a little bit of homeschooling.  I rediscovered my love of baking (which added a few quarantine pounds to my love handles), took more walks around the neighborhood than I ever thought possible (to combat the aforementioned comfort baking), and made delicious cocktail concoctions with my husband (salted caramel vodka is my new favorite ingredient, in case you were wondering).

I can’t say that I am sad to see the backside of 2020, but honestly, I also had some good experiences this year. Having my family home more, having fewer commitments and obligations, and having more home-cooked meals around the table were definitely in the win column for me. 

One of the things that did suffer was my reading mojo.  I am always a moody reader, but between quarantine and general malaise, I would pick up my Kindle only to put it back down after a page or two.  I read more for comfort than I did for reading challenges or book tours.  Thank goodness for audiobooks, or I would never have met my 100-book goal this year (also, RIP Audible Escape, I loved you so much).

Best Romance Novels of 2020-Pinterest2

My Picks for Best Romance Novels 2020

As you can see by my list below, I still managed to read a ton of amazing books this year. 

My list for best romances of 2020 includes all of my favorite romantic sub-genres and tropes with a few bonus genres thrown in.  One of the things I have learned is that it is ok to switch genres when you’re not feeling contemporary romance.

I tried to cover all of the bases, so I hope you find something on my list that you either enjoyed or would like to give a go after reading my thoughts.  Be sure to let me know in the comments if you agree with my picks or if you have a book that I should add to my TBR!

Best Slow Burn of 2020

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Sarah Hogle hit it out of the park with You Deserve Each Other.  

The storyline is such a unique premise for an established-couple romance. It’s a bit War of the Roses meets Sweet Home Alabama meets How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (with a little Monster-in-Law thrown in for good measure).

The writing and banter are razor-sharp, the characters seem doomed to immaturity but surprise you with their growth, and the emotional ups and downs keep your heart on a string.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and it was the first in a very long time that kept me glued to my phone all freaking day. I couldn’t stop listening and had to see how it would end.  That hasn’t happened since I listened to The Hating Game by Sally Thorne in 2016.

Best Historical Romance of 2020

Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

Where the Lost Wander is such a beautifully detailed and mesmerizing story of American Pioneers in the 1850s.

I am in awe of Amy Harmon’s ability to weave all-consuming and beautiful stories.  You can just tell that she puts a tremendous amount of time and effort into researching them.  

This is one of those books that you just have to experience to truly understand. It is gorgeous and thrilling, so be prepared to read it cover to cover in one sitting.

Best Friends to Lovers Romance

The Girl in the Love Song by Emma Scott

The Girl in the Love Song is just latest of emotional books from Emma Scott and is a poignant and beautifully-written coming of age story filled with unlikely friends, unrequited feelings, and love that cannot be denied no matter how hard you try. 

The story spans through high school and college, so the majority has a young adult feel, but the latter part of their relationship is definitely more mature.

Prepare for your heart to be drawn into the story and for there to be angst and possible tears.

Best Small Town Romance

Wild at Heart by K.A. Tucker

If you loved The Simple Wild as much as I did, do yourself a favor and read Wild at Heart .

Picking up and moving across the country to live in Alaska is hard enough, but moving to the small town where they put down roots is a big adjustment for Calla.

However, the grumpy Yeti will melt your heart with his swoony sweetness and seeing Calla mature along the way just adds to the perfection that is this story.

If you haven’t read this series yet, I can’t recommend it enough!

Best Paranormal Romance

Riley Thorn and the Dead Guy Next Door by Lucy Score

You don’t have to be psychic to know that this book is going to be both hilarious and fun to read!

From the storyline to the characters, this story is uniquely Lucy Score and it was just what I needed to read at the time.

I first fell in love with Lucy Score’s writing in Rock Bottom Girl (another highly recommended romance!) and will continue to one-click her books as they release.

Best Debut Author

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

Something to Talk About was like a breath of fresh air in the romance genre of 2020 and a fantastic debut by author Meryl Wilsner.

It has a great cast of characters, crisp and snappy writing, and the slowest of slow burns—my absolute favorite!

I really enjoyed Something and I can’t wait to read more from Meryl in the near future.

Best Sports Romance

A Favor for a Favor by Helena Hunting

While I could have picked any book from this series to include in my list, I chose A Favor for a Favor based solely on my love for Bishop, the hero.  

In fact, he and Stevie have some of the hottest chemistry I’ve read in a while.  The writing and characters are perfection, and I didn’t want to see it end.

Their banter is razor-sharp, the cat and mouse games are delicious, and their denial of feelings for one another makes you want to smoosh them together through sheer force of will— not to mention, it has one of the most acrimonious slow burns ever.

Best Romance Audiobook

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

Narrated by the dream duo of Erin Mallon and Zachary Webber, The Happy Ever After Playlist. is pretty close to both vocal and literary perfection.  I laughed, I cried, I awww’d.

Abby Jimenez proves that she has the writing chops to handle difficult, real-life situations with grace and humor, first with The Friend Zone and now with Happy Ever After.

Best Romance Novella

Forever Wild by K.A. Tucker

Are you sensing a theme yet?  I loved this series so much, and to get a holiday-themed novella to cap off Jonah and Calla’s story was just perfect. 

While this novella focuses mainly on the Christmas holiday and their upcoming nuptials, there are plenty of heartfelt moments throughout.  

This series is one of my absolute faves and I definitely had a smile on my face when it ended.

Best End of a Series

One More Round by Alice Clayton

Four things about One More Round:

  1. I never knew I needed this book—but it was the best surprise.
  2. It’s the absolutely perfect ending to a great series.
  3. Simon’s chapter almost killed me.
  4. I really missed Alice Clayton.

Best Holiday Romance

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

While I enjoyed The Honey-Don’t List, I think Christina Lauren dazzled with In a Holidaze this year.  

A little bit like Groundhog Day with a Christmas twist, the storyline is fantastical yet totally realistic.  I also thought that the characters were adorable.

This was also an audiobook listen for me and the narration is fantastic.

Best Romantic Suspense

Hidden by Laura Griffin

Hidden was an unexpected gem of a romantic suspense/mystery and a much-needed (temporary) break from contemporary romance for me. 

Although it still has a ‘will they or won’t they’ romantic element, the mystery’s storyline kept me riveted until the end. I had to know the who/what/why before I could put it down.

I highly recommend Hidden if you’re looking for a mysterious romantic suspense that will keep you glued to the pages.

Best Women's Fiction

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

2020 was the year I discovered Katherine Center and I am so happy I did.

Her writing reminds me of being cocooned in a warm hug—I know that doesn’t make much sense, but go with me here.

The story in What You Wish For is so heartwarming and endearing, while the writing is so beautiful and hopeful. 

If you haven’t read her, I highly recommend starting with this book or Things You Save in a Fire.  So good!

Are any of your favorites here?  I’d love to hear your suggestions for must-read romances to add to my TBR, so leave me a comment below with your best reads!

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3 Comments

  • I started baking a lot too in quarantine. And now that it’s winter, I can’t walk it off!

    Great recs. I recently read You Deserve Each Other; it took me a while to warm up to the two but I liked it in the end.

    Reply
    • Thank you for coming by and leaving a comment, Amber! Yes, the winter months mean we have to get creative, but I am *not* about to give up the baked goods 😂

      Honestly, it also took me a little bit of time to warm up to YDEO, but once it started to turn toward reconciliation, I was ALL IN. I ended up loving it!

      Reply
  • quarantine baking is probably one of my favorite things to come out of last year (I have finally mastered chocolate chip cookies and I think my life is almost complete now 🤣).

    My reading was a bit off last year, so I am so glad I found this list! Don’t mind me as a I waddle more than half of these rec’s to my TBR list for the year 😅😅. Happy new years and thank you for the epic list!

    Reply

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