Best of 2019 Reviews, Part Two!

December 29, 2019

Smart Bitches Best of 2019 against a sparkly blue background above a stack of open books at the bottom it says Thanks for reading with us!NB: This week, we’re taking a look back at 2019. We’ve got a week of best-of posts to share, with reviews, cover snark, sales, and more. We hope you enjoy revisiting our archives, and most of all, we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday and a happy new year – with all the very best of reading.

We have arrived to the official top five! Are you ready? I’ll give you a few minutes to place any last minute bets into the betting pool at which books are listed below.

Aside from that, I want to get a little mushy and say thank you to all the readers who visit the site every day. Whether you’ve been here for a couple months or nearly all of our fifteen years on the internet, we so appreciate you being here. The community wouldn’t the same without your suggestions, you engagement, and of course, your book recommendations.

Top five, here we go!

Brazen and the Beast
A | BN | K | AB

5. Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean (July 29)

Review by Carrie

Grade: A

This book is funny, sexy, and empathetic towards its characters. It does tend towards the melodramatic so readers will have to decide if melodrama is a feature or a bug. The supporting characters are wonderful (or infuriating, depending on which character we are speaking of). The ambience is flawless. It’s also notable that neither Hattie nor Whit are members of the aristocracy. Hattie’s family is rich, but her father is a businessman, after all, and Whit’s background is best referred to as “complicated.” I will re-read this book many times, but first I have to read the previous book in the series!

 

The Wallflower Wager
A | BN | K | AB

4. The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare (August 13)

Review by Carrie

Grade: A-

The Wallflower Wager delivered many things I love with humor, pathos, and sexy times. It involves a woman who loves everything and everyone and a Very Bad Man who is helpless against her powers. It also involves animal rescue. While there are some structural flaws and the pace of the character revelations bothered me, I ate it up.

This is a lovely book about two unseen people who see each other. It’s also a good book about the evils of home repair and the horror of realizing that your rescue parrot was rescued from a brothel and learned interesting words there. It’s fun, it has pathos, there are clothes both hilariously awful and droolingly lovely, it contains found family, and it has plentiful humor. A keeper, for sure.

 

The Bride Test
A | BN | K | AB

3.The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (May 6)

Review by Amanda

Grade: A-

The Bride Test is very much a Cinderella story. It’s tender and so flippin’ sweet. As a book that I was really looking forward to since finishing The Kiss Quotient, it didn’t disappoint. Granted, there were more things that might bug some readers, but I loved this one even more than The Kiss Quotient. I didn’t even think that was possible.

The Bride Test is so beautiful and Hoang was right when she said it was impossible not to love Esme. She’s tenacious and battles against her fear of failure, of judgement, and of her own self-doubt, to become this confident and self-assured woman. This Bride Test has only solidified my love for Hoang’s romances; they are truly a gift to the genre.

 

The Unhoneymooners
A | BN | K

2. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (May 14)

Review by Amanda

Grade: C+

I so loved a majority of The Unhoneymooners: the humor, the banter, all the fun exciting things Olive and Ethan get to do! Their gradual dislike to like to love trajectory felt real and natural; I’m sure the fact they had ten gorgeous days in Maui had nothing to do with it. Where the book stuttered for me was the abrupt shift from bliss to THE SHIT HAS HIT THE FAN. The fallout was so awful for Olive and I wasn’t seeing what everyone else was, that she was cynical and angry and bitter. That wasn’t the heroine I had been reading.

 

Sweet Agony
A | BN | K | AB

1. Sweet Agony by Charlotte Stein (January 14)

Review by Elyse

Grade: Squee

We have a recluse hero with an unbearably sexy voice and impressive lexicon, we have a Gothic mansion, and we have lots of sexy times that turn into something poignant. More than that, we have a Dom hero who feels nuanced and creates Scenes that are entirely about the heroine. I don’t think I’ve read much erotica where the sex scenes are infused with adoration and love, but this book does that and does it so well.

I don’t think Sweet Agony will be for everyone. Some people might not like the hero very much or will find the erotic content too intense, but it was absolutely perfect for me.

What did you think of our top five? Were your guesses correct?

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