Monday 29 January 2018

The Breathless List - Our Favourite Reads for 2017

We're back!

Every January we Breathless Bloggers choose our favourite romantic reads from some wonderful Aussie and New Zealand authors to share with you in our Breathless List. 

It's never easy, but here are our top picks for 2017. You are in for a treat!


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I was delighted to discover Marry In Haste by Anne Gracie, Book 1 of her new 'Marriage of Convenience' series - my favourite romance trope! Returning war hero Major Calbourne Rutherford discovers he's unexpectedly become Lord Ashendon, with duty of care for a neglected estate, two unmanageable half-sisters and a wild niece he didn't know he had. Wrangling the girls is a bit like herding cats, so he tries to engage the services of their previous teacher, Miss Emmaline Westwood - and unexpectedly offers marriage when she refuses 'the job'.

Anne Gracie creates a wonderful family for us to enjoy, one that prickly Cal didn't realise was ever possible, aww... So fabulously heart-warming. A little bit unusual because Cal and Emm don't really fire off together until about halfway through the book - then, wow! Another stunner, Anne. 💞


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Every now and then, as a reader, I’ve been lucky enough to find a book that hits that sweet spot inside. In 2017, that story was Sasha Wasley’s Dear Banjo.

It’s a poignant ‘friends to lovers’ story; the tale of Tom and Willow (nicknamed Banjo), childhood bffs who grew up on neighbouring cattle stations in the Kimberley (a spectacular setting I’m particularly partial to 😉). The pact they made as teenagers, not to let anything destroy their special connection, is broken when Tom attempts to kiss Banjo before she leaves for university. She sees it as a betrayal of their friendship and the letters he sends her, one each month for the next year, go unopened.

Ten years later, Banjo returns home where she must confront the past by finally reading Tom’s letters.

I’m a sucker for epistolary narrative and Tom’s letters are heart-rending (such a gorgeous hero). The book is filled with gentle humour and heartfelt emotion, and I loved every minute spent with Banjo and Tom.


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 A Love to Remember by Bronwen Evans is a story full of emotions, guilt and steamy love scenes. Evans pulls the reader into the story from the first page and tugs at the heartstrings the whole way through to the end.

Rose is a widow with a young son, and Phillip is her best friend's brother. When she offers condolences and support at his brother's funeral they become lovers. At the time, the terms of their affair were clear. Neither of them ever wanted to marry again, but years later they have both fallen in love with each other. Rose wants to marry Phillip and have more children but when he refuses to even discuss marriage she ends the affair, breaking both their hearts.

This is when the story takes the reader on an emotional journey through jealousy, guilt and heartache that made me yearn for the 'happy ever after' these destined lovers deserved. Thankfully, Bronwen Evans gives the sigh-worthy ending that only a great book can give. 


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Nineteen Letters by Jodi Peri is a beautifully constructed, sweet romance novel. It tells the story of Gemma and Braxton, childhood sweethearts who are separated by fate when a car accident causes Gemma to lose all memory of her past life.

Braxton shares his most powerful memories of their time together by writing Gemma a series of letters – nineteen in all. He hopes that she will learn to love him again, and that they may once more live as man and wife.

The sheer emotional tension woven by Peri, together with the well-constructed characters, made me struggle to put this novel down.


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After a wild night out, football star Nick Harding meets Anna, a waitress. She’s smart, gorgeous, different to the usual women flocking around celebrities, and Nick is instantly attracted. An attraction that threatens his career. Still, he pursues her. Anna, a refugee haunted by a horrific past, won’t risk hurting her conservative family, but Nick draws her.

Nick’s sister, Lily, a medical student conflicted about completing her degree, crosses paths with Toby, a man grieving his estranged wife’s death. Intense emotions pulling them together, they fall into a passionate affair that soon overwhelms them.

Beautiful Messy Love grabbed my attention from the first sentence and wouldn’t let go, even after I’d reached the last word. Though everyone wishes it, love isn’t always happily-ever-after. It’s complex, at times hilarious and at other times sad, and often messy. Beautiful Messy Love reveals this so captivatingly.

This contemporary tale of four characters intertwined by tragedy, family and duty, hit me hard. Not only for its roller coaster of emotions, but also because Tess Woods shows that love can overcome the social issues of today. Beautiful Messy Love is a 5-star read for me, a book I will always treasure.

Well, there you have it - our favourite reads of 2017. What a fabulous selection from some great Aussie and New Zealand authors! 

Was your top pick among ours? If not, what was your favourite book from last year? Leave a comment and you'll be in the running to receive a copy of A Very Aussie Christmas, our anthology of short stories.