Today I’m chatting some of my favorite standalone reads of 2020!!! This post was inspired by The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, which is a book that doesn’t get enough credit 🥰🙌🏼 Then I realized how many amazing standalone books I read this year! In fact, there are fourteen, and that’s just the shortlist!
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
My favorite standalone for the first half of 2020 is definitely The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater! (My Review) Maggie Stiefvater is such an absolute Queen. Both daring and lyrical, her writing style owns me. Plus the soft, dangerous romance? 🥺🙌🏼
The opening line says it all, a line you may have seen all over bookstagram on Nov. 1: “It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” Every November, see, Puck’s town is run over by savage and bloodthirsty water horses. They only vaguely resemble horses, but they come from the sea, desperate to run down people and livelihoods for blood. The seaside setting was so vivid, wrought with an underlying tension and suspense that nearly broke me. Except I loved this soft story too much 🥺👌🏻
The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata
[ Kindle Unlimited Read ]
One of the books that immediately popped into my head for this list was The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata. It’s one of my favorite books I’ve discovered in 2020, and Aiden Graves could possibly maybe be … one of my fave book boyfriends of the year! For sure 🥺
This one follows Vanessa, Aiden’s personal assistant to his celebrity football player. She manages his house, communication, meals, and anything he needs, and has for a few years, while managing her own graphic design business on the side, saving money towards doing her dream full time. This book is an epic slow burn (on heretofore unknown levels!! 😅🙌🏼), friends-to-lovers, a marriage of convenience, roommates story! I love it with my whole heart 🥰 (My Review)
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Rather than pick my favorite love interest (oh lordy the stress of that question!), I’m going to go with one of my most surprising favorite male MCs, which is easily Alex from Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston! I read this book in two sittings (but in one day), and had more time doing so than I remember having in a long time. This book may have been written as a satire, but it swelled with hope and intelligence… plus a hilarious side of friends-to-lovers romance that truly rode off with my heart into the sunset.
This book was, quite frankly, an absolute delight. I loved how full of vibrant hope and fervor Alex was, and I especially loved how Henry and Alex connected! Casey was able to portray something incredibly special within these pages, and it was an absolute delight to find that the hype was not misplaced in this one. “History, Huh?” (My Review)
Marriage for One by Ella Maise
[ Kindle Unlimited Read ]
One of my favorite reads of the year was Marriage for One by Ella Maise, and I just read it this month! You *KNOW* I love my slow burn romances!! This is one of my favorites ever, I think! Rose and Jack definitely reached that point, where they found a truce and became a TEAM, the two of them against the world. There’s not much that I love more than this journey.
Mariana Zapata may be hailed as the Queen of Slow Burn Romance… but I have to say, with this installment, she has some intense competition :) Marriage for One is a gorgeous, sweet, and passionate love story that I’m already itching to pick up again. I’m so head-over-heels in love with both Rose AND Jack, and the two of them together are enough to make my heart explode out of my chest. Check out my review here for more reasons to pick this one up!
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
My favorite standalone for the second half of 2020 is most certainly The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune for being a pure shot of serotonin. It was adorable, it felt like a holiday with the fam, and I am so in love with all these characters! Sassy, magical kids? Soft, gay adults? Gimme.
TJ Klune is just a master in general. He’s an indelible icon with his amazing books. His Wolfsong books were my faves of 2020! I was so happy to then pick up The House in the Cerulean Sea, which took the internet by storm upon it’s unapologetic release, and discovered that Wolfsong wasn’t just luck. I’ll definitely be picking up all his other books now ;)
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh, one of my all-time favorite authors, was her first thriller/mystery release, and it was an incredibly atmospheric read! I really enjoyed it, and can’t wait for her next mystery release next year!
As her first thriller debut, I was SO excited… but a bit hesitant, too, not sure what I was going to actually get. I should never have doubted Ms. Singh for a moment! She always had a talent for making her setting come alive, and have the environment of the story seep through and become so atmospheric. Set in small town New Zealand, this was something I obsessed over. I also loved that the romance wasn’t a central part of the story, although it was enough to keep me satisfied, the emphasis was firmly on the murder/mystery.
Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen
I love happy and sweet books 🥰 One of those that I absolutely adored this year were Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen (my review). This was a friends-to-lovers office romance… and temporarily a roommate’s story. WITH HOCKEY!!! It was absolutely perfect 💞 They were so natural and genuine with each other 🥺 It was sweet, humorous, honest, and full of friendship, not to mention the hilarious…. well, I don’t really know what to call him. A smart bot? An AI? Think Jarvis from Iron Man, and that’s the tech that Nate is building and testing in his home. He was pretty funny and I loved that he was essentially a side character as himself!
Speaking of funny… the palindromes jokes!! I love a good nerdy hero with nerdy humor, and Nate certainly delivered. I mean, dirty palindromes? I certainly didn’t know that I needed that in my life <3 (My Review)
Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata
[ Kindle Unlimited Read ]
This one was such a surprise to me when I read it!! It kept me up until 4 a.m. before I finally had to give up and get some shut-eye, it was so immersive. The first half is all of their emailed and IM’d correspondence between Ruby, who signs up to write pen pal letters to a soldier abroad, and Aaron, the soldier who receives the letters. I LOVED reading these messages, they gave a clear idea of the characters before you even get to the second half, where there are actual dialogue and storytelling.
Ms. Zapata did an excellent job in this department because you could see the hesitation and the uncertainty and feelings that were caught even just in the messaging parts, even before we got to the friends-to-lovers meetup in the second half. They’re just so cute! It’s kept me up past 4am both times, and also made me cry at their first meeting, too :) (My Review)
The Roommate by Rosie Danan
In The Roommate by Rosie Danan, Clara takes a leap of faith and moves across the county to share an apartment with one her best childhood friends (who she has a major crush on), except when he picks her up from the airport, he tells her that he actually rented his room out for three months to a guy on Craigslist because his band got a gig. GTG! But turns out Josh (the Craigslist guy) is super cool and they get along swimmingly, even being completely different people. She, someone who laminates her move-in checklist that has items on it like “Check the Pipes!” and is terrified of driving (and she moved to LA…. lol), versus he, an overall laidback, goofy guy, who also happens to be an adult entertainer.
This was such a strong, fantastic debut! I mean, Clara and Josh were a delight. I loved their friendship, how real they were for the reader, and the sexual content? HELL-OH! I want a spinoff with Naomi, that’s all I’m saying, okay? But really, the social justice views and perspective chats on how we as a society view porn and pleasure… it did it for me. I loved it. (My Review)
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Does this count?? I’m not sure. But I really loved this book 🙈 It follows Josh and Kristen as they first meet… and don’t like each other much. Is this a theme with me?? I guess I do have a book-type 🙈😂 But anyways… they have to find a way to get along, as best man and maid of honor for their respective best friends’ wedding. One thing leads to another, and Josh is lending out his carpenter skills to Kristen’s small business (out of her garage).
And then they become really good friends. I have to admit, I fell in love with their friendship. But there was always that caution whenever they even considered crossing that line into lovers. Their work entanglements (loose as they were), and their amazing friendship that neither wanted to ruin. Such a slow burn! This book gets deep and made me sob, and it was incredible! (My Review)
Shortcake by Lucy Watson
[ Kindle Unlimited Read ]
I just finished this one and oh my gosh!! So much fun :) Emmy is the live-in caretaker for a kind old lady, who happens to be one of her best friends. What she didn’t know, was that she was named in the lady’s Will.
Turns out, for Emmy or grandson Ben to get their inheritance, they have to spend a couple of months renovating the house and living in it together. And they despise each other. Really, he despises her, and things get messy quickly, when a fake engagement is announced… This book was full of FUN and shenanigans!! Highly recommend checking out my review!!
The Player Next Door by KA Tucker
[ Kindle Unlimited Read ]
The Player Next Door by KA Tucker follows Scarlett Reed as she returns to her small town (12 years after she left for college). She moves into her childhood dream home, starts a teaching position at the local Elementary school.. and is confronted with Shane Beckett, the guy she dated and fell in love with the summer before senior year… until he dumped her. Not to mention, Shane’s kid is in her class, and Shane wants to be friends.
I was so pleasantly surprised by this book! I loved Scarlett and Shane! Their banter in the beginning… and who knew that joint home renovation could be so hot?? *Fans self* The blatant sexual tension was coursing through this one! It was everything it promised: a fun and flirty small-town romance! But my girl Scarlett did not let him in easy – she knew how to hold a grudge! Loved this one <3 (My Review)
Rock Hard by Nalini Singh
In Rock Hard by Nalini Singh, T-Rex and Charlie-Mouse … jk, Gabriel and Charlotte… have an incredible connection. This is one of my all-time favorite, favorite, favorite books. I’ve read it so many times, I’ve completely lost count 😂 We’re well into the teens now. Gabriel Bishop is an ex-Rugby player, now a CEO of Charlotte’s company, and she’s his secretary. But she’s also extremely fragile after enduring horrific abuse.
This book has set the bar for office romances everywhere, and I haven’t found one that matches it yet. Their connection was such a slow-burn, and I loved seeing the fiery intelligence in every page as Gabriel recognizes he has his work cut out for him with Charlotte. (Review)
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
This past summer (2020), I read The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (my review). I finally did it after weeks of bookstagram hype and I have to say, for once, I wasn’t even slightly disappointed in a CL book! I struggle with the author duo sometimes, but this time, I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this hate-to-friends-to-lovers, fake-dating story!
It was (unusually for them) perfectly paced, and flowed naturally, and allowed me to just slip into their tropical vacation with them, and enjoy the sexual tension simmering. It was a great “Beach Read” because it was bubbly, lighthearted, flirty, and left me with plenty of smiles and laughs. Less a fluffy read and more a feel-good romance, it was exactly what I was looking for. Plus the incredible banter 👌🏻👌🏻 (My Review)
Kulti by Mariana Zapata
[ Kindle Unlimited Read ]
Kulti by the slow-burn queen is another that I’ve already read twice this year! A dislike-to-friends-to-lovers mentor story that is just so lovely, that it really encapsulates why Mariana Zapata is the head of her field in slow-burn romances.
It’s just so immersive and feels quick, even if the romance is anything but. I loved their friendship, and not to mention unrequited love?! I literally (accidentally!) stayed up until 6:15am reading this one. That sets a record for me *EEP*
These did not get read in 2020, but I couldn’t not mention two of my faves!
The first book that popped into my head is A Thousand Perfect Notes by CG Drews. (My Review) This book is written by the incredible book blogger Cait @ Paperfury, she is a force within the bookish community, and so of course I gobbled up both of her releases when they hit the shelves!
A Thousand Perfect Notes is a tear-jerker that deals pretty heavily with abuse, but it has this fantastic musical element that carried such a passion, it made me feel passionate about it. Cait ran me through the emotional gamut with this one, but I was glued in, managing to read this one in a single sitting. But really I just want to hug and protect those adorable little cinnamon roll characters!! Cait knows how to manipulate your emotions, all while maintaining her stylistic flair for comedy, making it emotional (and often hilarious) through her dynamic characters. I will definitely be rereading this one soon. (My Review)
Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy was one of my favorite reads of 2019, and is available on Kindle Unlimited! This book… was so absolutely enthralling. Not only was the plot engaging, but there was an enemies-to-lovers and friends-to-lovers bit thrown in! Luke and Keaton are enemies in real-life (as well as dorm-neighbors), but on the internet they’re friends who heavily flirt.
But this book was no fluff piece – it had a surprising amount of substance and depth for a new adult romance. This book just teems with life through the two characters: Luke, who is a bossy-ass in bed, but who struggles through life by the tips of his fingers, and Keaton, who was so adorably nerdy, and wore his heart on his sleeve, even for a rich legacy kid. He had amazing animal facts, too! (My Review)
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What were some of your favorite stanadalones you read this year? Do you generally prefer series or standalones? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!