It was a great year for Romance of all stripes, so full of gems — from newer authors and old favorites — that it was difficult even to narrow this list down to 20 titles. Across Romance’s ever-widening variety of subgenres, however, our top picks share an emphasis on characters. And not just any characters, but unique characters that haven’t traditionally been represented in the romance world.
From the two male warriors at the heart of J.R. Ward’s tender Lover at Last to the charming, socially awkward professor at the heart of The Rosie Project, the top 20 romances of 2013 are filled with characters who come vividly to life and push the genre to be ever more inclusive. Here’s a look at three of the books that made our Best of the Year list.
|Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James
Eloisa James’ consistently charming Fairy Tales series hits new heights with Once Upon a Tower. Ostensibly a take on the Rapunzel story, Tower incorporates a dash of Shakespeare (in classic James fashion) by adding in an element of Romeo and Juliet. The love story between forthright cellist Edie and logical to a fault Gowan is a delight– hilarious, touching, and gorgeously non-traditional. Learn More
|Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh
Even after 12 books, Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series continues to produce surprising, daring romances. Heart of Obsidian, the first of the series to feature a romance between two Psy characters, is compelling and fast-paced, featuring a dark hero who gradually reveals himself to a strong but tormented heroine. Building off of an impeccably constructed world, Singh has written a romance that feels fresh, with characters who are complex and finely-drawn. Learn More
|Three Little Words by Susan Mallery
Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series focuses on an all-American small town, full of quirky characters, close friendships, and busy bodies. This setting makes for a sweet and cozy romance that you can sink into instantly, surrounded by loving families and loyal friends. Three Little Words is the third in a new cycle of Fool’s Gold books focusing around a group of former military special forces members, a few with previous connections to the town, who move in to start a bodyguard academy and corporate retreat called CDS. All three of the books in this new chapter of Fool’s Gold romances are excellent—compelling, character-driven narratives with the perfect balance of sweetness and reality—but Three Little Words might just be the best of the bunch. Learn More
|See all 20 books on the Romance Best of the Year list|