My Favorites From 2018:
In 2018, I read 185 books, falling short of my reading goal of 200. But, we all know that life happens, and amazingly, sometimes we have to put our reading aside to take care of business. I really, really wanted to come up with just ten top books, but found it impossible. Here is my list of the best twenty books I read last year – each book below shows the blurb, a buy link, and a link to my review. I wholeheartedly recommend all these books, and it was a great pleasure reading each and every one. I’m in awe of the talent of these wonderful authors. I hope this list might lead you to a new addition or two or twenty to your ever growing TBR pile! Thank you so much for visiting or following this blog. Happy New Year, and Happy Reading! ~Rose
Mary Balogh – Someone to Trust
Amazon Buy Link: Someone to Trust (A Westcott Novel Book 5)
Review Link: Someone to Trust Review
During a rare white Christmas at Brambledean Court, the widow Elizabeth, Lady Overfield, defies convention by falling in love with a younger man in the latest novel in the Westcott series.
After her husband’s passing, Elizabeth Overfield decides that she must enter into another suitable marriage. That, however, is the last thing on her mind when she meets Colin Handrich, Lord Hodges, at the Westcott Christmas house party. She simply enjoys his company as they listen to carolers on Christmas Eve, walk home from church together on Christmas morning, and engage in a spirited snowball fight in the afternoon. Both are surprised when their sled topples them into a snowbank and they end up sharing an unexpected kiss. They know there is no question of any relationship between them, for she is nine years older than he.
They return to London the following Season, both committed to finding other, more suitable matches. Still they agree to share one waltz at each ball they attend. This innocuous agreement proves to be one that will topple their worlds, as each dance steadily ensnares them in a romance that forces the two to question what they are willing to sacrifice for love. . . .
Lenora Bell – For the Duke’s Eyes Only
Amazon Buy Link: For the Duke’s Eyes Only: School for Dukes
Review Link: For the Duke’s Eyes Only Review
If adventure has a name…it must be Lady India Rochester. The intrepid archaeologist possesses a sharp blade and an even sharper knack for uncovering history’s forgotten women. Unfortunately, she has one annoying weakness: the dangerously handsome Duke of Ravenwood. Former best friend. Current enemy. And the man who dared to break her heart.
Daniel Bonds, the Duke of Ravenwood, is a thrill-seeking antiquities hunter who only plays by one rule: Never fall in love. He’s in it for the fortune and glory. At least that’s what he wants the world to think. He’s sworn to hide his tangled web of secrets, especially from the one woman he cares about and will protect at any cost.
But when a priceless relic is stolen from the British Museum, the rivals must align forces. Racing to recover the stolen antiquity and avert an international disaster? All in a day’s work. Avoiding their buried feelings? More and more impossible. For love is about to become the greatest treasure of all.
The grand adventure begins…now!
Last Night With the Earl by Kelly Bowen
Amazon Buy Link: Last Night With the Earl
Review Link: Last Night With the Earl Review
After Waterloo, Eli Dawes, Earl of Rivers, was presumed dead—and would have happily stayed that way. He’s no longer the reckless young man he once was, and only half as pretty. All he wants is to hide his scars away in his country home. But when he returns home and tries to sneak into his old bedroom in the middle of the night, he’s shocked to find someone already there.
Rose Hayward remembers Eli as an arrogant rake who helped her late fiancé betray her. Finding him stealing into the house currently rented by Haverhall School for Young Ladies doesn’t correct her impression. Her only thought is to get him to leave immediately. Yet the tension between them is electric, and her painter’s eye can’t help but admire him, scars and all. He might be back from the dead, but now Rose will do anything to make him feel truly alive.
More or Less a Marchioness by Anna Bradley
Amazon Buy Link: More or Less a Marchioness
Review Link: More or Less a Marchioness Review
For the sake of propriety, and her younger sisters’ reputations, Iris Somerset has kept her rebellious streak locked away. But though she receives a proposal from Phineas Knight, Lord of Huntington, Iris can’t marry a man she knows isn’t truly enamored with her. In fact, Iris no longer wants to be chosen—she wants to choose. Under the clandestine tutelage of “wicked widow” Lady Annabel Tallant, she’ll learn how to steer her own marriage prospects—and discover her secret appetites.
What kind of debutante refuses a marquess? Finn is surprised, a little chastened—and thoroughly intrigued. This new, independent version of Iris is far more alluring than the polished socialite she used to be. Finn believed he needed a safe, quiet wife to curb his wilder impulses. But the more Iris surprises him, the more impossible it becomes to resist their deepest desires.
More or Less a Countess by Anna Bradley
Amazon Buy Link: More or Less a Countess
Review Link: More or Less a Countess Review
Violet Somerset has always preferred a library to a ballroom, but to please her grandmother she agreed to one London season. With nothing to show for it but heartbreak, she’s reconciled to spinsterhood. Until a notorious rogue known as the Devil of Dare requests an introduction to her timid, gentle youngest sister, Hyacinth. Violet will do anything to stop the match—even if it means posing as Hyacinth herself.
Nicholas Balfour, the Earl of Dare, is enjoying the life of a rake far too much to take a wife. But he must keep his promise to his grandmother. He’ll simply choose the meekest bride he can find, install her at his estate, then carry on as before. Hyacinth sounds perfect—until he discovers that her sweet demeanor hides the tongue of a viper and the mind of a bluestocking.
As Violet’s ruse threatens to unravel, however, she may find the tables turned. Soon she may have no choice but to tolerate her handsome fiancée—or fall in love with him.
My One and Only Duke by Grace Burrowes
Amazon Buy Link: My One and Only Duke
Review Link: My One and Only Duke Review
A funny thing happened on the way to the gallows…
One minute, London banker Quinn Wentworth is facing execution. The next, he’s declared the long-lost heir to a dukedom. Quinn has fought his way up from the vilest slums, and now he’s ready to use every dirty trick he knows to find the enemy who schemed against him.
There was just one tiny problem…
Jane Winston, the widowed, pregnant daughter of a meddlesome prison preacher, crosses paths with Quinn in jail. Believing his days are numbered, Quinn offers Jane marriage as a way to guarantee her independence and provide for her child. Neither thinks they’ll actually have a future together.
They were wrong.
He’s a wealthy gutter rat out for vengeance. She’s a minister’s daughter who must turn a marriage of desperation into a proper ducal union. Are they doomed from the start or destined for a happily-ever-after?
The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne
Amazon Buy Link: The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo
Review Link: Duke With Dragon Tattoo Review
He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…
A LEGENDARY LOVE
Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?
Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins
Amazon Buy Link: Wallflower Most Wanted: A Studies in Scandal Novel
Review Link: Wallflower Most Wanted Review
A dedicated painter, Miss Sophia Hastings is far more concerned with finding the right slant of light than in finding Mr. Right. But when an overhead conversation hints at danger for another local artist, Sophia is determined to get involved. Even it means accepting help from an impossibly good-looking vicar who insists on joining her investigation—and threatens to capture her heart…
Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle knows that Sophia is no damsel in distress. But he won’t allow her to venture into peril alone, either. . .especially since he finds Sophia’s curious, free-spirited nature so alluring. But protecting her from harm is becoming more difficult than the vicar could have expected as he and Sophia confront their fiery mutual passion. Who could have known that the art of love would prove so irresistible?
The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran
Amazon Buy Link: The Sins of Lord Lockwood
Review Link: Sins of Lord Lockwood Review
BACK FROM THE DEAD, AN EARL SEEKS VENGEANCE…
Liam Devaliant, Lord Lockwood, was born into a charmed life. Charismatic, powerful, and wild, he had the world at his feet—and one woman as his aim. His wedding to Anna was meant to be his greatest triumph. Instead, in a single moment, a wicked conspiracy robbed him of his future and freedom.
…BUT WILL HIS LONG-LOST COUNTESS PAY THE PRICE?
Four years later, Liam has returned from death with plans for revenge. Standing in his way, though, is his long-absent bride. Once, he adored Anna’s courage. Now it seems like a curse, for Anna refuses to fear or forget him. If she can’t win back Liam’s love, then she means at least to save his soul…no matter the cost.
Amazon Buy Link: The Snow Angel
Review Link: Snow Angel Review
It’s Christmas 1877 and Anne Follyot— of little beauty and no fortune, but sturdy spirit and an excess of imagination— is invited to stay with her favorite aunt in Cornwall. She’s all anticipation, waiting for the man chosen to escort her on this journey. According to her aunt, she met him before, many years ago, but Anne cannot remember him and she’s positive that he must long-since have forgotten her. She’s never been memorable.
But J.P. Deverell, Esq. is now a grown man with a dangerous reputation, of which her aunt cannot possibly be aware. And Anne means to make the most of her aunt’s mistake and this adventure. She considers herself a modern, independent woman, for whom a little scandal is well overdue. If she doesn’t seize this chance now, she might never have another.
As Charles Dickens wrote, “No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused.”
He’s in no temper for eggnog and mistletoe; no mood to tolerate the painfully polite company of some plain spinster, in a carriage, for three days. It’s probably a contrivance to get him home for Christmas.
Remember Anne Follyot? He doesn’t care to remember himself sixteen years ago, let alone recall the dull vicar’s five year-old niece.
He’d planned to spend his Yuletide working, alone and in peace. But a letter from his mother has guilted him into this act of begrudging chivalry, aided by the whispers of his best friend’s mischievous ghost.
“Bah, Humbug!” As Charles Dickens also wrote.
But this journey will not turn out quite the way either traveler expects, for when these two opposites collide, so do ghosts of the past, the present and the future.
Unmask Me If You Can by Shana Galen
Amazon Buy Link: Unmask Me If You Can (Survivors Book 4)
Review Link: Unmask Me if You Can Review
This masked lord…
Lord Jasper, younger son of a duke, suffered horrible burns fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. He wears a mask to hide his face from the stares and screams and finds comfort in the shadows. Jasper is an exceptional bounty hunter, so when a woman summons him to her deathbed and asks him to find her runaway daughter before she passes away, he doesn’t refuse. Jasper is close to his quarry when he’s knifed by an assailant. Imagine his surprise when he regains consciousness in the arms of the woman he seeks. Except she’s not at all what he expected.
Is not the only one with scars.
On a remote cliff on the sea, Olivia Carlisle calls her five-year-old son in from an approaching storm. But the little boy is more interested in the man he’s found on the trail to their hidden cottage. Olivia fears men and wants nothing more than to leave the injured man where she found him. But his knife wound is severe, and with the approaching storm, she knows leaving him will condemn him to death. As Jasper begins to heal, Olivia acknowledges her attraction to him, even though such emotions terrify her almost as much as returning to London. Jasper must convince her that her only chance at safety is to challenge the man who pursues her. They must travel into the lion’s den—he to face his vulnerability and she to face her worst fears.
A Devil of a Duke by Madeline Hunter
Amazon Buy Link: A Devil of a Duke (Decadent Dukes Society Book 2)
Review Link: A Devil of a Duke Review
HE MAY BE A DEVIL
He’s infamous, debaucherous, and known all over town for his complete disregard for scandal, and positively irresistible seductions. Gabriel St. James, Duke of Langford, is obscenely wealthy, jaw-droppingly handsome, and used to getting exactly what he wants. Until his attention is utterly captured by a woman who refuses to tell him her name, but can’t help surrendering to his touch . . .
BUT SHE’S NO ANGEL EITHER . . .
Amanda Waverly is living two lives—one respectable existence as secretary to an upstanding lady, and one far more dangerous battle of wits—and willpower—with the devilish Duke. Langford may be the most tempting man she’s ever met, but Amanda’s got her hands full trying to escape the world of high-society crime into which she was born. And if he figures out who she really is, their sizzling passion will suddenly boil over into a much higher stakes affair . . .
The Unlikely Master Genius by Carla Kelly
Amazon Buy Link: The Unlikely Master Genius (St. Brendan Book 1)
Review Link: Unlikely Master Genius Review
Sailing Master Able Six, Royal Navy, is a man like no other. To call him a mere polymath is to sell him short. Someone with his extraordinary gifts should rise to the top, unless it is the 1800s, where pedigree and money govern Regency society, as sure as Napoleon seeks world domination. A bastard raised in a Scottish workhouse with nothing in his favor except his amazing mind, Able must navigate life ashore on half-pay during the uneasy Truce of Amiens, and find a way to provide for his charming bride Meridee Bonfort, a gentlewoman to be sure, but lacking a dowry.
Assisted by two sea captains acquainted with his startling abilities, Able finds himself teaching mathematics and seamanship at St. Brendan the Navigator School, which is itself an experiment, taking boys like Able from workhouses and training them to serve the fleet in wartime. Meridee has agreed to invite four lads who need extra attention into their home in raffish, unsavory Portsmouth. Calling themselves the Gunwharf Rats, these St. Brendan lads show promise in an unpromising world. Can a sailing master-turned-teacher uncover their potential? Can Meridee find a way to nurture young hearts bruised too soon by life? What will happen when war breaks out again? And what is it about Able Six, the unlikely master genius?
One Step Enough by Carla Kelly
Amazon Buy Link: One Step Enough
Review Link: One Step Enough Review
How does life go on in the aftermath of tragedy?
If it were possible for two lovers to deserve peace, Owen and Della Davis should have been the happiest couple in Utah. But after the shocking deaths of two hundred friends and miners and the dispersal of their widows and children, happiness is hard to come by.
Owen has promised Della he is through with mining forever, but he still has to earn a living, and his heart is drawn back to the mines. Meanwhile, Della is wishing for a baby, but her arms remain empty. As she struggles to hold together the pieces of her life—through the resurfacing haunting memories of her father’s death and the heartache of missing a mother she never knew—she wonders if she even wants to reconcile herself to relatives who did her so much harm. Together, Owen and Della must face the secrets of her past as they struggle to build their future.
Based on the true events following the Scofield mine disaster in 1900, One Step Enough is a riveting and heartfelt romance filled with suspense, tragedy, and hard-earned love.
Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
Amazon Buy Link: Hello Stranger: The Ravenels, Book 4
Review Link: Hello Stranger Review
A woman who defies her time
Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.
A man who breaks every rule
As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.
Primrose and the Dreadful Duke by Emily Larkin
Amazon Buy Link: Primrose and the Dreadful Duke
Review Link: Priimrose and the Dreadful Duke Review
Oliver Dasenby is the most infuriating man Primrose Garland has ever known. He may be her brother’s best friend, but he has an atrocious sense of humor. Eight years in the cavalry hasn’t taught him solemnity, nor has the unexpected inheritance of a dukedom.
But when Oliver inherited his dukedom, it appears that he also inherited a murderer.
Oliver might be dreadfully annoying, but Primrose doesn’t want him dead. She’s going to make certain he survives his inheritance–and the only way to do that is to help him catch the murderer!
An Earl Like You by Caroline Linden
Amazon Buy Link: An Earl Like You: The Wagers of Sin
Review Link: An Earl Like You Review
When you gamble at love…
When Hugh Deveraux discovers his newly inherited earldom is bankrupt, he sets about rebuilding the family fortune—in the gaming hells of London. But the most daring wager he takes isn’t at cards. A wealthy tradesman makes a tantalizing offer: marry the man’s spinster daughter, and Hugh’s debts will be paid and his fortune made. The only catch is that she must never know about their agreement.
You risk losing your heart…
Heiress Eliza Cross has given up hope of marriage until she meets the impossibly handsome Earl of Hastings, her father’s new business partner. The earl is everything a gentleman should be, and is boldly attentive to her. It doesn’t take long for Eliza to lose her heart and marry him.
But when Eliza discovers that there is more to the man she loves—and to her marriage—her trust is shattered. And it will take all of Hugh’s power to prove that now his words of love are real.
Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah Maclean
Amazon Buy Link: Wicked and the Wallflower
Review Link: Wicked and the Wallflower Review
When Wicked Comes Calling…
When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it.
The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain…
Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.
For the Promise of Passion…
But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos, and he must choose between everything he’s ever wanted…and the only thing he’s ever desired.
Any Groom Will Do by Charis Michaels
Amazon Buy Link: Any Groom Will Do
Review Link: Any Groom Will Do Review
Lady Wilhelmina “Willow” Hunnicut has always dreamed of leaving tranquil Surrey for sights and sounds London. She is a talented designer and has aspirations as grand as London’s finest mansions. But an unmarried heiress dare not relocate to the capital city alone, and her parents have forbidden the move. A married woman, however, may come and go as she pleases, not a hint of scandal. With this in mind, Lady Willow writes an advertisement that offers her dowry to potential husbands as bait. She is determined to conveniently marry any man who will give her his name and then otherwise walk, ride, or sail away.
Lord Brent Caulder, the Earl of Cassin, lives in one of the last-remaining castles in Yorkshire, but it is a castle in decline. The tenants are listless and destitute, his mother and sisters are barely getting by. It’s Cassin’s fault, unfortunately, because he’s sealed the dangerous mines that have brought the earldom prosperity for generations. Now he must discover a safe alternative or his people will starve.
Relief comes in the form of an advertisement from a London investor. But when the “investor” is revealed to be a young woman and the money her dowry, Cassin must decide if he’s desperate enough to marry a stranger. The deal hinges on one stipulation: bride and groom will go their separate ways after the wedding and never look back.
When a family crisis forces the estranged couple to travel home to Yorkshire, Cassin seeks aid and solace from the new wife he barely knows. Lady Willow embraces the heated attraction that sizzles between them, and Cassin comes to see her as more than a financial backer, he falls in love with her as his wife.
Lord Stanton’s Last Mistress by Lara Temple
Amazon Buy Link: Lord Stanton’s Last Mistress
Review Link: Lord Stanton’s Last Mistress Review
She saved his life…
Now he can’t resist her!
In this Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies story, Lord Stanton’s stay on the island of Illiakos is shrouded in memories of fever and his mysterious nurse. Years later, an Illiakan royal visit to Stanton Hall reveals the princess’s chaperone, Christina James, is the woman who saved his life! Alexander is a master of control, but Christina makes him long to unleash the sinful side he’s buried…and unlock her passionate nature, too!
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Thanks, Mary. I had several more I wanted to include. LOL…..
I am happy to say, I own about 3/4 of these. I am sad to say, I have only read one so far! Life & the TBR were both out of control. I will catch up eventually, though! Thanks for the list!
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Sharlene, I totally understand about the out of control TBR pile. (sometimes the out of control life, too. LOL) Here’s hoping we both catch up. Thanks for visiting.