LJ Best Books 2017

It's time again for LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry and literature, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles.   SEE WHO MADE THE LIST

Best Books 2015: Romance

KristinRamsdellB2014ljx151201webBBslug1bLibrary Journal‘s Romance reviewer par excellence
Kristin Ramsdell rolls out the Top Ten Best Romances of 2015.

Romance has long delighted in unlikely pairings, and this year is no exception. While some of the couples in the novels here are exempt from that premise (and obviously perfect for each other from the start), many are not, and it’s only the skill of the writer that assures these uncommonly matched twosomes of their “happily ever after.”

Balogh, Mary. Only a Kiss. Signet: NAL. (Survivors’ Club, Bk. 6). ISBN 9780451469687. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780698156104. HISTORICAL
baloghBESTA war widow’s quiet life is turned upside down when her late father-in-law’s heir arrives from London to visit the estate—and then stays on—in a marvelous tale that is as funny and witty as it is emotionally wrenching and satisfying. (LJ 8/15)

Byrne, Kerrigan. The Highwayman. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. ISBN 9781250076052. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466887404. HISTORICAL
The dark, violent side of the Victorian era blazes to life as a caring, competent heroine living under the radar is abducted by a notorious crime lord with spectacular results in this exceptional, emotionally compelling, vengeance-driven romantic adventure. (LJ 8/15)

Dare, Tessa. When a Scot Ties the Knot. Avon. (Castles Ever After, Bk. 3). ISBN 9780062349026. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062349033. HISTORICAL
dareBESTWhen a desperate young woman invents a fake fiancé, she is shocked beyond measure when he shows up at her door, intending to claim her as his bride in this smart, sexy, hilarious romp that puts a new spin on the “imaginary lover” theme.
(LJ 8/15)

Dodd, Christina. Obsession Falls. St. Martin’s. (Virtue Falls, Bk. 2). ISBN 9781250028471. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250028464. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
A chance encounter and heroic action send a resourceful heroine into hiding until a pair of relentless men run her to ground, and she is drawn into an insane, deadly game that only one of them can win. Intense, chilling, and totally mesmerizing. (LJ 8/15)

Florand, Laura.
Once upon a Rose. Laura Florand. (La Vie en Roses, Bk. 1). ISBN 9780988506596. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780988506565. CONTEMPORARY

An exhausted, burned-out rock musician finds herself and her music, as well as unexpected love, amid the rose fields of Provence in a lyrical, beautifully descriptive romance that will have readers smelling the roses and heading for the south of France. (LJ 2/15/15)

Krentz, Jayne Ann. Secret Sisters. Berkley. ISBN 9780399174483. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698193666. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
secretsistersBESTLong-buried secrets resurface with deadly results when a successful hotel chain owner is called back to her San Juan Island childhood home in this intricate, richly plotted romantic mystery that doles out clues with clever precision and keeps the tension high, the romance simmering, and the revelations coming until the very end. (LJ 12/15)

Long, Julie Anne. The Legend of Lyon Redmond. Avon. (Pennyroyal Green, Bk. 11). ISBN 9780062334855. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062334879. HISTORICAL
A wedding announcement brings a legendary privateer back to Pennyroyal Green to reclaim the only woman he has ever loved in this well-crafted story that finally brings a long-separated couple together, ties up several loose ends, and eloquently concludes Long’s popular series. (LJ 10/15/15)

Novak, Brenda. This Heart of Mine. Mira: Harlequin. (Whiskey Creek, Bk. 8). ISBN 9780778316725. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781460380536. CONTEMPORARY
novakBESTA woman who served 17 years for a crime she didn’t commit returns home to try to help her mother and reconnect with the son she was forced to give up. Now she must deal with vicious hostility as she fights for the truth—and the man she has never stopped loving. (LJ 4/15/15)

Owens, Robin D. Heart Legacy. Berkley Sensation. (Celta, Bk. 14). ISBN 9780425263976. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101604953. FUTURISTIC
owensBESTA First Family noblewoman and a “stableman” spy are the unlikely but perfect protagonists in this politically charged romance that keeps the action lively and romance on target as it continues to expand Owens’s sublimely conceived futuristic world. The sentient “familiars” are a bonus in this addictive series that is sure to continue. (LJ 10/15/15)

Putney, Mary Jo. Not Always a Saint. Zebra: Kensington. (Lost Lords, Bk. 7). ISBN 9781420127171. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781420127201. HISTORICAL
A dedicated surgeon and cleric who reluctantly inherited a barony and a heroine with a damaged past find unexpected love in this exquisitely written romance that shouldn’t be missed. (LJ 8/15)

Kristin Ramsdell is Librarian Emerita, California State University, East Bay. She is the author of the romance section of What Do I Read Next? A Reader’s Guide to Current Genre Fiction (Gale, annual) and Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre. 2d ed. (Libraries Unlimited, 2012). She is also a Romance Writers of America Librarian of the Year


About Kristin Ramsdell

Kristin Ramsdell is Librarian Emerita, California State University, East Bay. She is the author of the romance section of What Do I Read Next? A Reader's Guide to Current Genre Fiction (Gale, annual) and Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre (Libraries Unlimited)


  1. I was curious how this list came about – how do books get submitted for this list? What are the judging criteria? As an avid romance reader, some authors that I expected to be on this list weren’t. Just curious about the process.

    • Bette-Lee Fox says:

      Thank you, Nicole, for being an avid romance reader; we can never have enough. The Top Ten list is compiled by LJ’s Romance columnist, Kristin Ramsdell, a retired academic librarian and author of romance reference works who has been reviewing Romance titles for us for more than 20 years. She scans the six columns we have published over the year (we do receive just about every romance released by traditional houses as well as from small presses and authors publishing independently) and chooses those she considers the best for library users. It’s subjective, of course, as all reviewing is. But we know that libraries won’t go wrong if they acquire these titles and that most readers will fall in love with them. Enjoy.