- 4 m/m romances
- 2 autobiographies
- 3 writing books
- 5 women’s popular fiction – romantic fiction
- The rest were contemporary at the time they were written (some were written in the 1970s – 1990s) category romances. Some were erotic, some were American, some were sweet, but they were all books where the main focus of the story is the developing romance between a man and a woman.
I have lots of 4 and 4.5 star books in my list, but as with previous years I’m only going to mention those I rated as 5 stars.
My Thoughts Exactly – Lily Allen: honest, unapologetic while admitting to her own many and various mistakes, inspirational, raw. I love all of her music and this was wonderful as it helped with context and background to her life while she wrote her albums (all of which I own. Obvs). Splendid.
Next of Kin – Joanna Trollope: an unflinching portrait of a farming family and the complexities within. Far from sugar coating living in the countryside, this shows all the challenges, warts and all. The funeral scene at the start, and a later scene were particularly emotional. But overall, uplifting.
Joshua and the Cowgirl – Sherryl Woods: Financial wizard city slicker man, fish out of water, opposites attract, cowboys, a ranch, a mischievous independent single mother cowgirl. These sort of tropes, I now realise having read may category romances, are completely my jam. And I am so much here for it.
Lace 2 – Shirley Conran: In some ways this was better than the first one. Strong female friendships. People who have it all, lose it all and then get it all back again. Intertwined storylines. Sumptious locations. I loved all. Of. This.
Romancing the Beat – Gwen Hayes: for anyone who’s interested in story structure and the genre expectations of romance – this is a must. Having read Reading The Romance by Janice Radway, which goes into the ‘science’ of why women (it was women who she spoke to in her extensive 80s research) enjoy reading romance – this was a good way to break it down into story beats / scenes. Think of it more like a recipe list, you can expand, contract, mix up a bit, rather than a pre flight checklist and it’s great to ensure your romance stories have all the right ingredients.
A Summer to Remember – Sue Moorcroft: the inhabitants of Nelson’s Bar on the north Norfolk coast were delightful. It made me want to move there – I know Nelson’s Bar is fictitious – but the sense of community, quirky characters, wonderful contrast to the city, were all very alluring. It was lovely to see how my garbled emails with suggestions for the gay couple were useful, in their own story arc.
Girls Behind the Scandalous Reputation – Michelle Condor: wilful rising star actress, buttoned up lawyer. I was SO HERE FOR THIS that it almost hurt!
An Image of You – Liz Fielding: opposites attract of a chauvinistic photographer for ‘those sort of calendars’ and a heroine forced to work with him. Add in camping in the outback and you’ve got it all there for a splendid category romance. Up to Liz’s usual standard.
Hope you had a wonderful year reading whatever books bring you joy,
Love and light,
Liam Livings xx