Best of 2022 ~ Books & Blog Posts

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration!

I set a Goodreads reading goal at 80 books! Last year I read 74 books, this year I’ve exceeded that by just a little: 76 books. Again, this is not something I am focused on meeting, it’s just something I think it’s fun to note.

I’ve read considerably more historical fiction this year, so I have included more titles in this genre here in my best-of list. If you’d like to see all of the books I read and read more extensive reviews, check out my 2022 Goodreads Year in Books or browse my blog archives.

THE (self-imposed) RULES: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, so I want to keep up my tradition ;). I’ll link each title to Goodreads and my review (if applicable). At the end, I’ll be sharing popular posts on the blog this year.

All titles are inspirational fiction unless noted with *.

Companion post: Best Films & Shows I watched in 2022

Best Books of 2022

Historical – North American Setting

A Heart Adrift by Laura Frantz | review

Chocolate. Second chances. Steadfast.

In Honor’s Defense by Karen Witemeyer | review

Adventurous western. Humor. Tender friendship.

Laura’s Shadow by Allison Pittman | review

Endearing heroines. Heritage. Contrasts.

The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham | review

Fortitude. Licorice. Mountain folk.

Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz | review

Enduring love. A fiddle. Kindness.

Historical Romance – UK Setting

The Belle of Belgrave Square* by Mimi Matthews | review

Bookish heroine AND hero. Rescue. Belonging.

Romancing the Rake* by Nichole Van | review

Cat studies. Sacrifice. Hilarious coach journey.

The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen | review

Self-worth. Sisterhood. Enchanting setting & romance.

Historical Romance – American Hero/Heroine & International Setting

Written on the Wind by Elizabeth Camden | review

Genre-bending hero. Riveting romance. Convictions.

The Brilliance of Stars by J’nell Ciesielski | review

Commitment. Adventure. Strength.

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin | review

Endurance. Integrity. Friendship.

Mystery or Mystery Elements

Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen | review

Unpredictable mystery. Unique setting (abbey-turned-hotel). Friends to lovers.

An Artless Demise* by Anna Lee Huber

Gripping plot. Gage’s unwavering support. Atmospheric London.

The Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright

Moving story. Lore. Preacher Pritchard.

Contemporary Romance

Turn to Me by Becky Wade | review

Banter. Grace. Agatha the dog.

The Last Way Home by Liz Johnson | review

Pancakes. Mercy. Homecoming.

Provenance by Carla Laureano | review

Stranded in the snow. Unlikely friendship. Identity.

just a few of my #backlistbooks23 titles

For 2023 reading, one of my goals is to read more of the books I already have on my shelves. I have found the “#backlistbooks23” challenge hosted on Instagram by @lemonyreads, @bookswithnopictures, and @thebookscript that has readers sharing a list of 23 books they already have + want to read in 2023. Here’s my list: This is open to join in through January 31 if you want to be part of the challenges, buddy reads, or giveaway. Follow the accounts to keep up 🙂

Most popular new posts:

Most popular new book reviews:

As always, thank you for being a blog reader in 2022 and beyond. Many thanks and appreciation to the publishers and authors who have graciously included me on their review teams this year. It has been a joy to be a part of this bookish community!

What are your favorite books you read this year? Do we share any favorites? Did you post a list of favorites on your blog or social media? I’d love for you to share in the comments!

Favorite Quotes from the Brotherhood of the Black Tartan Series

The Brotherhood of the Black Tartan series is one of my new favorite historical romance series and one I can eagerly recommend to readers interested in late Regency stories set in England and Scotland. It has adventurous heroes, daring heroines, 5 unique love stories that explore a variety of tropes, and one uniting past event that ties the group together in a story thread that comes into their present timeline. I’m sharing my thoughts on each book in this post, and I’m highlighting my favorite quotes from each book in the series in another blog post linked below.

Companion blog post: Series Review: Brotherhood of the Black Tartan by Nichole Van

These books are best read in order, especially concerning the ongoing plot thread and quite the twist that happens close to the middle of the series. For that reason, the book descriptions and premise of the final book, in particular, constitute mild story spoilers. I would caution you in reading any details about Remembering Jamie if you want to avoid spoilers! I will try to be as non-spoilery as possible in my thoughts.

For more information on each book, click the book titles to view them on Goodreads.

Suffering the Scot

“Her extensive etiquette training had never covered this particular scenario: When a young lady of excellent breeding finds herself tumbled into a muddy stream and cursing like a sailor before a group of Scotsmen . . .” chapter 4

“He knew there was fire just underneath her surface, perhaps a secret version of Lady Jane she hid from others. Given her expansive vocabulary when upset, Lady Jane could not be the chilly lady she would like others to believe. Not entirely. And somehow, knowing that, nearly put a smile on his face.” chapter 8

“You. Do. Not. Find. Him. (Or his knees.) Attractive! A woman was in dire straits indeed if she found a man’s kneecaps fetching.” chapter 9

“He was kind and observant. He listened attentively to her questions and gave an ear to her ideas and explanations. He saw her as an equal intellectually, challenging and meeting her head- on in arguments. He had ceased goading her as he had before— as if challenging her to react— and now met her comments with good- natured teasing and dry wit.” chapter 17

“It is easier tae meet someone’s low expectations than tae change their prejudiced assumptions.” chapter 19

Suffering the Scot Book cover with Snack

“Wasn’t this a woman’s lot in life? Her world could be tumbling down around her, but a proper lady would sit and calmly stitch poppies and butterflies despite the chaos. Embroidery, in moments like this, was not nearly violent enough for Jane’s taste. Clearly, a sadistic man had dreamed up the pastime.” chapter 27

Romancing the Rake

“Oh. Be still her heart. A biology-educated rake. The man was truly a menace to bluestockings everywhere.” chapter 1

“This woman. Instead of crumbling into a weeping heap, she swallowed, pinched her lips together, and rallied. And damn if he didn’t admire her all the more for it.” chapter 11

“This was the Lady Sophie of his memory, the woman who delighted him with her unexpected comments, with her ability to always be three thoughts ahead of him.” chapter 14

“Would Lord Rafe ever stop being this man to her? The one who undid her, unraveled her heart and made her yearn for things she had given up years ago. Even now, he was unearthing bits of her soul—hope and desire and longing that she had thought broken beyond recovery—and offering them to her, encouraging her to rebuild. But . . . she had trusted him once, and he had shattered her.” chapter 16

“His Sophie. He had gone and done it. He was thinking of her in possessive pronouns. Words like his and mine and us. A man was done for when a woman started to alter his very grammar.” chapter 17

“She appreciated that Rafe handed her the gun and had faith that she could keep them safe. She knew she was competent, but most men would not assume so. Jack certainly would never have trusted her in this situation. But Rafe was not like most men. He treated her as a partner, a friend in every sense of the word. She and Rafe . . . they were equals. Working together.” chapter 22

“Love, she realized, was not the sort of thing to neatly fit into parameters and boundaries. No . . . Love took many forms and needed to be accepted as it came. To do otherwise was to risk a life of eternal disappointment.” chapter 29

Loving a Lady

“Tension still hung in the room. That bitter orange color clinging to furniture and dripping down the walls.” chapter 1

“From her earliest memories, she had adored this view. The vastness of the ocean. The red sandstone cliffs extending up and down the coast. The green sweep of fields and gorse. This landscape was a soothing calm on a sunny summer’s day and a glorious terror in the throes of a January storm. Today was somewhere between those two extremes.” chapter 7

“She hadn’t realized how much she needed a witness to her pain and guilt until this moment. Someone to look into her soul and say, I understand. I have stood in this place, too.” chapter 11

” ‘I see it like this. If a woman asked for my help, I would offer it, as far as was proper. That said, as a former prizefighter, I recognize the value in knowing how to defend one’s self from attack. I would want any woman in my life to have the skills necessary to choose her own destiny, as it were. There is power in knowing ye can fight your own battles, if ye ken what I mean.’ ” chapter 16

“How was he to behave around her now? How was he to keep his adoration from shining through every look, every word? Worse, was he going to have to thank Andrew and Rafe for their high-handed interference?” chapter 18

‘ “Well, I have had about enough of this brooding. Care to talk about it?’ The older man stretched, knuckles cracking. ‘Not particularly,’ Ewan replied because he was . . . well . . . brooding.” chapter 24

Making the Marquess

Making the Marquess cover on smartphone, held up in front of blooming red geraniums

“What did one call a group of solicitors anyway? Were they a pride, like lions? A murder, like crows? Several of Alex’s closest friends were naturalists. He should have a clever answer for this. A quarrel, perhaps?” chapter 1

“… the lady was not to be pigeon-holed. She was not monolithic but human and approachable and mussable. And Alex didn’t wish the words mussable and Lady Charlotte to ever come near one another in his brain.” chapter 9

“ ‘How do you do this?’ Her words held a nearly plaintive tone. ‘You pluck the very thoughts from my brain.’ ‘Me?’ Alex barely stifled a surprised laugh. ‘I would have said the same thing about yourself. Though I think there is another truth here. That just as ye can know someone for years and never understand them, the opposite can also occur. Ye can know someone for only a wee while and feel a deep connection.’ ” chapter 13

“He had vastly underestimated her. As usual, Lottie’s external harmony led one to assume that her inner life was similarly peaceful. But like the mole on her cheek, her small outer imperfections were wee emblems of the riot of living inside her head. And, in the end, wasn’t that the answer to his question— Why had she kissed him? She had kissed him because Lady Charlotte, despite her demure princess-like appearance, was herself a dragon.” chapter 14

“The sight of Alex dragging a pencil across the back of his hand, naming tendons, should not have set her heart to pounding and yet, everything about the man was a hammer to her good sense.” chapter 17

“Life isnae so black and white. Winds turn, masts crack, sails have tae be jury- rigged. We make do until a new breeze comes and pushes us in an unexpected direction. Change is hard. It’s often messy and hurts like bloody hell. But sometimes, ye have tae leave the past and move forward into an unknown future.” chapter 25

Remembering Jamie

“ ‘So [he] makes off with a King’s ransom for luring me to you, while I receive nothing?’ ‘Oh, I didnae say that.’ Kieran wanted to list outright everything he would give her—his beating heart, his endless devotion, every last shilling to his name.” chapter 2

“… it was the fire of her that drew him in. The sense that she would always meet him as an equal. Perhaps sensing his thoughts, she paused, her gaze tangling a bit too long with his. He smiled wider, perhaps a smidge challenging now. True to her nature, she didn’t flinch.” chapter 9

“The North Sea stretched before them, a rippling mass of shadow and light. The ocean currents and the near-constant wind conspired to create a crosshatch pattern on the water. In Scotland, the water itself bore the stamp of a tartan. But as a sailor, Kieran understood only too well the danger of a crosshatch sea. It spoke of strong, competing currents that could easily drag a man down to his death. Was that what he and Jamie faced now? A swirling tartan sea that would spell the doom of their love?” chapter 13

“He sobered, his eyes turning soft and thoughtful . . . which was, again, somehow even worse. She was rapidly realizing that underneath the charm and flirtation rested a sincere and earnest heart.” chapter 14

“I’m happy tae tell ye how fetching ye look in trousers, lass. Women would never wear dresses again, if I could help it.” chapter 19

“Where did friendship end and attraction and romantic love begin? Were the two even capable of being separated, in the end?” chapter 28

Did any of these quotes stand out as a favorite? Or, did one spark your interest in a particular story? I’d love to gush with you over these characters in the comments.

Series Review: Brotherhood of the Black Tartan by Nichole Van

The Brotherhood of the Black Tartan series is one of my new favorite historical romance series and one I can eagerly recommend to readers interested in late Regency stories set in England and Scotland. It has adventurous heroes, daring heroines, 5 unique love stories that explore a variety of tropes, and one uniting past event that ties the group together in a story thread that comes into their present timeline. I’m sharing my thoughts on each book in this post, and I’m highlighting my favorite quotes from each book in the series in another blog post linked below.

Companion blog post: Favorite Quotes from the Brotherhood of the Black Tartan Series

These books are best read in order, especially concerning the ongoing plot thread and quite the twist that happens close to the middle of the series. For that reason, the book descriptions and premise of the final book, in particular, constitute mild story spoilers. I would caution you in reading any details about Remembering Jamie if you want to avoid spoilers! I will try to be as non-spoilery as possible in my thoughts.

For more information on each book, click the book titles to view them on Goodreads.

Suffering the Scot

Suffering the Scot has all the hallmarks of my favorite kind of historical romance. It has a fantastic, considerate hero and a whip-smart, feisty heroine. The romance is *happy sigh* thoughtful and complex.

I am just discovering Nichole Van’s stories, and I’m happy to report her style and research is impeccable. The portrayal of class prejudice, in particular, is a big part of this story (and series) and her skill in writing witty banter and intelligent conversations is impressive.

Suffering the Scot Book cover with Snack

I appreciate the vulnerable hearts of the characters. Andrew is hilarious and endearing while Jane is relatable and spirited, and when their relationship starts to develop, they become a formidable pair to root for. While not without its ups, downs, and surprises, though, it does end up in a realistic way with a great ending.

The original plot with a hint of adventure and suspense puts me in mind of another era favorite, Mimi Matthews’ Gentleman Jim. The two share in common lead characters with striking depth, plot surprises, and a heroine who just might have a secret tomboy side.

Romancing the Rake

I. Love. Rafe. (And Sophie, of course! And her cat studies!) And his rakish façade that hides a tender and gallant heart. Their story is one of the most adventure-filled of the series, with a humorous and enlightening journey by coach from southern England all the way to the wilds of Scotland.

Rafe delivers the BEST one-liners and quips of any of the heroes, appropriately so because of his fierce sense of humor.

The romance is a second-chance one, born of a friendship shown in the early chapters from years before. This is a unique story device that’s thoughtfully employed to illustrate the depth of their connection and bring the reader into their emotions through more than just simple memories or brief flashbacks.

A personal note: I named one of my cats after Lady Sophie, and I can say she shares a sense of daring with her namesake.

Loving a Lady

I just want to cheer for Ewan and Violet as they get to know each other and see how much they share in common. Theirs is a deeply emotional romance and story of finding happiness. And, the ongoing plot connecting each book in the series kicked up a notch with events and revelations in this one.

Ewan is a study in contrasts, as his physical persona leads people to perceive him in one way while his sensitive, artist’s heart proves his complexity. I especially like that he thinks and processes the world around him through ideas of color.

Making the Marquess

Making the Marquess cover on smartphone, held up in front of blooming red geraniums

Oh, my heart! This ROMANCE. It tentatively begins with friendship and absolutely BLOSSOMS. And, because of family + rules of inheritance, etc, it’s a bit of an impossible situation (not quite forbidden), so that makes it poignant in the best way.

I love how Alex sees Lottie as his equal and falls for her intelligence most of all. And, in return, how Lottie balances and slows his constant energy (that’s really a wall he hides behind!).

The ongoing “Brotherhood” story takes some interesting turns and sets us all up for the finale in the last novel. And, I ADORE the brief glimpses of Lord Hadley as a dad.

Remembering Jamie

Remembering Jamie is one of those books I’m joyous and sad to have finished, because it perfectly caps off a fantastic series! This book has been 4 in the making already, with each previous book hinting at and setting up its events. It happens to be my favorite of the series because of that!

Kieran is an absolutely DEVOTED hero — he loves Eilidh with a selfless, sacrificial approach, yet he remains a devastating flirt through it all. And Eilidh, she’s so brave and it was wonderful to see her transform under Kieran’s safe watch, to see her grow and realize her strength and embrace her past, the joy and grief of life, finally. ❤

Have you read any of this series? Do you have a favorite book by Nichole? Do you enjoy Regency series with an adventure thread? I’d love to gush with you over these books in the comments.

Recommended Reading: Literary Influenced Fiction

Hello friends! It has been a while since I shared a Recommended Reading post. Also, in the past, I’ve shared lists of Reading for Janeites and 10 Favorite Jane Austen-Esque Romances, so in keeping with that sentiment, I’m sharing some more books influenced by classic literature. These go beyond Austen’s influence and draw from other classic novelists, sometimes subtly or directly.

Laura’s Shadow by Allison Pittman | The Laura of the title is, in fact, Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House fame, and the setting of the book includes De Smet and the tangential influence Laura had on a pupil, then later that child’s granddaughter.

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan | The wardrobe in question is that of C. S. Lewis’ Narnia chronicles, and Lewis appears as a character in this fictional story of siblings, hope, and grief.

Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep | This story pays homage to the classic Frankenstein and Mary Shelley and tells a tale of sibling connection alongside a Regency romance.

John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow by Mimi Matthews | As the title indicates, this is a gothic retelling of Brontë’s Jane Eyre and *spoiler alert* elements of Dracula. It flips the genders and expectations of the classic tales, telling a story of bravery, allies and romance, and the battle between light and darkness.

The Belle of Belgrave Square by Mimi Matthews | Combining elements of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast with aspects of The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery, this wonderful bookish tale has a swoony romance and a perfect HEA.

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner | While I can’t pick one author that has obvious connections to this fictional story, at its center is a book store and literature in many forms plays a big role in the story. An earlier, related book by Jenner, The Jane Austen Society, has closer ties to that prominent lady.

The Curse of Morton Abbey | An updated twist on The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett with adult characters instead of young ones, this story also has some influence from Jane Eyre within its mystery elements.

Before Time Runs Out and Only Time Will Tell by Amy Matayo | Both of these are part of her “Charles and Company Romance” series, as in Charles Dickens. They combine a few time shifting plot devices that allow the characters to travel back to Dickens’ London (book 1) and to trade places in life/circumstance in present day (book 2).

Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson | While the influence of a classic is more subtle in this romance, as a fan of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, I was quick to note the similarities in setting and the personality contrast of the hero and heroine.

Your turn! Do you have any favorite stories influenced by classics? Have you read any of these books or authors?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Favorite Words

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Today’s topic is Favorite Words. I’ve seen a few fun spins on this topic (as I am posting a day late), but I’m still sticking with a basic list today. These definitions are copied from the first one listed on dictionary.com.

10 Favorite Words

Persnickity: adverb informal. overparticular; fussy.

Mercy: noun. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence.

Tangentially: adverb. in a way that barely touches or involves someone or something.

Crescendo: noun. music. a gradual, steady increase in loudness or force.

Heirloom: noun. a family possession handed down from generation to generation.

Marvelous: adjective. superb; excellent; great.

Book: noun. a handwritten or printed work of fiction or nonfiction, usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers.

Glacial: adjective. of or relating to glaciers or ice sheets.

Cheesecake: noun. a cake having a firm custardlike texture, made with cream cheese, cottage cheese, or both, and sometimes topped with a jamlike fruit mixture.

Meander: verb, to proceed by or take a winding or indirect course.

Your turn! What are your favorite words? Do any on my list strike you?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Own in Multiple Formats

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Today’s topic is Books I Loved So Much I Had to Get a Copy for My Personal Library. I’m editing that to reflect books I have in multiple formats — digital ebook, audiobook, and print! My reasons for having these in so many formats vary, but it’s mostly so I can read the book whenever and however I want. Sometimes audiobooks are the best use of my time.

10 Books I Own in Multiple Formats

the Kindred duology by Lori Benton: Mountain Laurel and Shiloh | I greatly enjoyed these in audio form — especially the accents!

the Parish Orphans of Devon series by Mimi Matthews: The Matrimonial Advertisement, A Modest Independence, A Convenient Fiction, and The Winter Companion | A set I just *needed* in all 3 formats. I’ve loved listening to these after my initial read-through.

Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz | I listened to this one recently, thanks to all the feedback on another TTT post.

Provenance by Carla Laureano | Carla’s novels *always* have to be on my shelf. Plus the audio was great!

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes | A gorgeous tale, I remember reading and listening to this one a few years ago.

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin | My absolute favorite by Sundin, and I’m in love with this cover.

Which of these have you read? Do you collect multiple copies of favorite stories?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books to Read Soon from my TBR

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Today’s topic is a FREEBIE! I’m sharing 10 books sitting on my shelves that I want to read soon — and hoping YOU can help me decide which to read next! If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to know your favorites. Share in the comments, or vote in my Twitter polls (Poll 1, Poll 2, Poll 3) for your picks.

10 Books to Read Soon from my TBR

Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz | It’s the only novel of Laura’s I haven’t read!

The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham | The only one of Pepper’s I need to catch up on!

Your is the Night by Amanda Dykes | It’s by Amanda… nothing else needs to be said.

Heart in the Highlands by Heidi Kimball | Isn’t this a gorgeous cover!?

Facing the Enemy by Paige Edwards | A newer release on my TBR, it sounds so intriguing!

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green | I’ve been excited about this debut novel since *before* it came out.

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle | Highly recommended by reader friends 🙂

The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant | Bakery + romance = something I know I’ll love!

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade | One of her backlist titles I need to read!

The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton | Dare I admit I haven’t read this yet?

Which of these have you read? Do we share any TBR titles in common? What’s a book that’s been on your shelf for too long?t

Top Ten Tuesday: Bespectacled Book Boyfriends

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic is a FREEBIE! This concept has been sitting in my drafts for a while, and I’ve added to it along the way. I’m talking here about bespectacled book boyfriends! I know this is a superficial way to categorize a hero, but it’s just so darn fun to recognize glasses as a little everyday accessory that add a bit of intelligence to any face (I say this as I wear them myself 😉 ). So, welcome to my new fan club.

The Bespectacled Book Boyfriends Club

Tom Finchley from A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews

Titus from Jane By the Book by Pepper Basham

Nate from Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Peter from When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

Will from Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Zivon from A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M. White

Simon from The Mozart Code by Rachel McMillan AND Oliver Thorne in Rose in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan (shoutout to Hamish from her Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries!)

From my TBR

I have been told these are wonderful heroes, who also happen to be bespectacled

Quin from The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

Ray from The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

Amos from Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

Have you “met” any of these book boyfriends? Do you have any bespectacled characters I need to add to my list? What did you feature for this week’s TTT?

Best of 2021 ~ Books & Blog Posts

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration!

I set a Goodreads reading goal at 80 books! Last year I exceeded this number, but this year I didn’t quite get there with 74+ ,which is fine by me! It’s an ideal, not something I really payed attention to working toward.

Looking back at my reading habits of 2021, I see I have read quite a bit of historical fiction! I’ve included more titles in the histfic category for this best-of list. If you’d like to see all of the books I read and read more extensive reviews, check out my 2021 Goodreads Year in Books or browse my blog archives.

THE (self-imposed) RULES: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review (if applicable). At the end, I’ll be sharing popular posts on the blog this year.

All titles are inspirational fiction unless noted with *.

Best Books of 2021

Novellas

The Journey of Runs-Far by Lori Benton | Review

Redemption. Family ties. Freedom.

Snowbound by Carla Laureano | Review

Rivals. Sentimentality. Blizzard.

Split Time

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright | Review

Atmospheric. Sibling bonds. Hope.

The London House by Katherine Reay | Review

Truth. History’s influence. Healing.

Hope Between the Pages by Pepper Basham | Review

Legacy. Longing. Story.

Contemporary

Let It Be Me by Becky Wade | Review

Dialogue! Magnetic romance. Identity.

Is It Any Wonder by Courtney Walsh | Review

Genuine characters. Forgiveness. Idyllic setting.

Beyond the Tides by Liz Johnson | Review

Dreams. Lobster determination. Joy.

Thriller & Suspense

John Eyre by Mimi Matthews* | Review

Brilliant retelling. Gothic. Threads of light.

The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood* | Review

Sacrifice. Classic influence. Conquering love.

A Brush with Shadows by Anna Lee Huber* | Review

Setting as a character. Personal mystery. Married relationship growth.

Historical

The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski | Review

Intrigue. Trust. Romantic prose.

Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz | Review

Tender romance. Endurance. Riveting events.

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin | Review

Intelligent romance. Justice. Sacrificial Love.

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton | Review

Epic story. Lyrical. Grace.

A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M. White | Review

Fitting title. Unique perspective. Patterns.

The Mozart Code by Rachel McMillan (2022 release) | Review

Nuanced romance. Bravery. Sacrifice and loyalty as love.

Most popular posts:

North and South 2004. Drama, love, & social commentary in my favorite miniseries.

Most popular new book reviews:

As always, thank you for being a blog reader in 2021 and beyond. Many thanks and appreciation to the publishers and authors who have graciously included me on their review teams this year. It has been a joy to be a part of this bookish community!

What are your favorite books you read this year? Do we share any favorites? Did you post a list of favorites on your blog or social media? I’d love for you to share in the comments!

Recommended Reading: Historical Fiction with Gothic and Mystery Elements

Since autumn is my favorite time to read historical fiction that falls in the gothic, mystery, or otherwise atmospheric storytelling category, I thought I would share some recommendations of this kind!

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright | Review

This split time mystery and suspense novel takes readers to a manor on the shores of Lake Superior in contemporary times and the post-Civil War era with a haunted quality and a search for missing treasure.

Lost in Darkness by Michellle Griep | Goodreads

This Regency story combines elements of a Frankenstein-like tale with that of a romance as siblings contend with life-changing choices. I’m currently reading this one — expect a review soon!

A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber | Goodreads

The third novel in Huber’s Lady Darby Mystery series, this one finds the heroine and her inquiry agent counterpart contending with folklore and grave robbers in 1830 Scotland.

John Eyre by Mimi Matthews | Review

A retelling of the classic Jane Eyre, this one *slight spoiler* also combines elements of Dracula with a spooky and SMART gender flipped twist like only Matthews could pen.

The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood | Goodreads

This is a Victorian mystery full of suspense and a formidable heroine who comes into her own with agency and an unexpected romance. It considers the scenario of the classic The Secret Garden with grown-up leads and draws out themes of loyalty and sacrifice with some influence by Brontë’s Jane Eyre. (Review coming here on the blog next week!)