If I’m moving away from mysteries and thrillers, I think I might be moving towards Women’s Fiction and Romance because I read more of these this year than last year. I do prefer women’s fiction over romance, but they’re usually blended together. There have been more romances I’ve enjoyed this past year, but I still prefer those women’s fiction elements. I love a good, strong female lead and I usually love her friends and her journey, so I’ll take romance, but women’s fiction will always hold my heart.
I reviewed 17 books I’d consider to be mostly women’s fiction and/or romance this past year, so this is going to be quite a post!
As with every genre and every book there are just some that are not right for a particular reader. For some of these I’ve read reviews that didn’t like the same things I did, so it makes me feel a little better not loving them. Unfortunately, Bad Luck Bridesmaid by Alison Rose Greenberg was not just the first women’s fiction/romance book I reviewed this year, it was also the very first book I reviewed. And, unfortunately, it suffered from mis-marketing. It sounded like a cute romance, but ended up leaning far more heavily towards women’s fiction. I didn’t like the main character and the story was lacking substance, so that didn’t help. Thank You, Next by Andie J Christopher, though, was probably even more disappointing. I couldn’t believe the main character, the story felt thin, and the two people who were supposed to be falling for each other were mostly annoying together. Just above that would be The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson. Oh, I adored, adored, the diversity, but Maggie just got away with everything. It was so annoying and unrealistic and why can’t a grown woman deal with consequences?
Then there are those that were okay, maybe I even gave them 4 cups of tea, but, compared to all the ones I loved, they just feel kind of meh. I didn’t hate By the Book by Jasmine Guillory. It was cute with fun nods to Beauty and the Beast, but the two people were too conveniently similar and I disliked all the water usage since this is set in California and California, well, is in an ongoing drought. The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie by Rachel Linden also wasn’t bad, but it was way more romance than I expected and, sorry, the main character just felt sad for pining away for her first love for literally years even though she broke his heart and he moved on.
Breaking things up a bit were some cute romances. Black Truffle & Spice by Mathis Bailey was a bit rough, but, well, food. I also actually enjoyed the nods to The Devil Wears Prada, and the interracial and LGBTQ relationships were so much fun. Six Feet Apart: Love in Quarantine by Elena Greyrock is the only COVID book I’ve read. I was a little nervous about it, but it’s such a sweet romance! I loved this interracial couple and I loved how they grew separately in order to come together properly. The Boy with the Bookstore by Sarah Echavarre Smith was cute with food and books. I enjoyed the diversity and the romance was sweet. I just had a bit of a problem with Max, but it was still very sweet. Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade was probably my favorite of the romances. Then again, this is the third book in the series, so I’m kind of invested in this big cast of characters. I loved that this one has a sweet romance between two plus size actors who find themselves a bit at odds and having to film with a small crew on a tiny island.
The women’s fiction I so love cannot be ignored. 30 Things I Love About Myself by Radhika Sanghani was a fun one about an Indian woman trying to love herself after a bad breakup, though her traditional mother insists on meddling and her brother is dealing with mental illness. There’s a tad of romance, but it’s mostly all about Nina’s journey to fall in love with herself. Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler really struck me as this is about an Asian American woman suddenly widowed and having to care for two young children on her own, one suddenly foisted on her and the other adopted after a long process. Being Asian American myself, I really felt Tam’s story, but I also really loved how she came into her own as a mother. Love & Saffron by Kim Fay is short, but really packed in a beautiful story of friendship and the food that brings them together in the 1960s. Told mostly through letters, I loved how close these women became, and the trials they both faced.
There are two women’s fiction novels in particular that hold a piece of my heart because I adored them so much. The Summer of Georgie by Kerry Crisley has a middle-aged woman losing a job she hated anyways and spending the summer figuring out what’s next. As a wife and mother, one of her children being on the autism spectrum, she has a lot to consider and I loved how her journey progressed. This was an interesting look into how to set up a business, too. The other is Miranda Writes by Gail Ward Olmsted. Miranda is a disgraced attorney who has gained popularity with a blog, podcast, and now an upcoming TV talk show, but her last case reels her back in to her old job and the people who were once in her life. This was a fantastic mix of women’s fiction, romance, and legal thriller and I loved every moment. Miranda was also just so much fun.
And that leaves me with my top three, all of which perfectly blend women’s fiction and romance. The Spice Master at Bistro Exotique by Samantha Verant was more romance heavy than I expected, but I loved all the food since it’s set in Paris and has Kate trying to open her Bistro Exotique, her life’s dream. When her landlady insists she’ll only help if Kate works with her son, sparks of all kinds start to fly. This was fun and surprisingly mostly clean, and I loved the pampered cat. An Island Summer by Jenny Hale was almost literally a breath of fresh air since it’s set out in the Outer Banks. Meghan has failed to become a chef in NYC, so returns to her late grandfather’s home along with her best friend and surprisingly runs into an elderly man with dementia who thinks she’s a glamorous actress from his youth whom he loved and the man’s long suffering grandson. I loved following Meghan as she tries to piece her life back together, sweetly handles an elderly man, and develops an interesting yet cute romance with the grandson. These two were wonderful and I loved them but…
…my favorite has to be Butterfly Sisters by Jenny Hale!
Butterfly Sisters struck the absolute perfect balance of women’s fiction and romance. Both elements were handled perfectly and deftly. Leigh and Meredith are sisters who used to spend every summer at their grandmother’s house until she passed away. They’ve since grown apart, but their mother calls them back to the house on the lake. Recently, Leigh was summarily fired, so uses the time to get her head back on straight and come up with a next plan. She did not expect having to deal with her polar opposite sister or the boy she used to have a crush on now being all grown up and fighting her on what she thinks is her next dream. Her crush also has the most adorable dog ever. I’m not a dog person, but Elvis stole my heart. Butterfly Sisters is such a gorgeous Southern story of sisters and romance and finding a new path in life. I read and reviewed this much earlier in the year and it as just continued to stick with me so of course it must be my favorite women’s fiction/romance read this year.
What romance of women’s fiction/romance novel did you love this year?
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3 thoughts on “My Favorite Women’s Fiction and Romance Read of 2022”
A Walk in the Park by Rebekah Weatherspoon and Here’s To Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera were two of my favourite romances this year.
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I haven’t heard of the first one, but I do remember Here’s To Us sounded really cute. I hope you have more favorite romances this year!
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Same! I’d love to find a new romance I really love.
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