AudioFile editors are proud to celebrate another year of exceptional audiobooks and audio artists. Below you’ll find their favorites from this year’s romance genre.

As You Wish by Jude Deveraux,

Read by Susan Bennett (Recorded Books)

Narrator Susan Bennett maintains the fine line between realism and magical realism in Jude Deveraux’s romantic novel. Three women of different ages—Olivia, Kathy, and Elise—meet in a Virginia summerhouse to discuss their failed romances. Separation, indifference, and cruelty evoke regret and longing in the women. Bennett speaks with the savoir faire of a seasoned narrator. She brings experience to Olivia’s recollections, sardonic understanding to Kathy’s, and a growing self-awareness to Elise’s, always matching Deveraux’s tone of yarn-spinning enchantment. It’s a treat to hear a romance that speaks to various life experiences, and Bennett bridges the age span with humor. This is a sexy romance to share with grown-up daughters, mothers, and grandmothers, equal parts charming and insightful.

Besotted With the Viscount by Susanna Malcolm,

Read by Nicholas Boulton (Hedgehog Productions)

Narrator Nicholas Boulton’s stellar performance will make listeners want to listen to this tense historical fiction in one sitting. Lord Gideon Birch, a wounded naval captain, has just moved to the small village of Littleover, where he has fallen hard for the impoverished Theadosia Ridley. But Miss Ridley, wary of the disparity between their social positions, keeps the former scoundrel at bay until their feelings turn a complicated situation into one that could be her utter ruin. Boulton’s sonorous tones turn this audiobook into a lush listening experience.

It Happened in the Highlands by May McGoldrick,

Read by Saskia Maarleveld (Macmillan Audio)

Narrator Saskia Maarleveld keeps listener absorbed in this romance story, set in London and the Scottish Highlands. Jo Pennington is shocked to see her former fiancé, Wynne, while searching for information about her parentage. Old feelings reemerge as Wynne tries to win back Jo’s heart. She wants his help in finding answers, but will she be able to trust him with her future? Maarleveld’s precise transitions and attention to detail perceptively expose the characters’ thoughts and motivations. As a result, Jo and Wynne’s simmering connection is utterly appealing. Supporting characters are treated with equal vigor and precision. For example, Wynne’s young son, Cuffe, is tenderly voiced as he bonds with Wynne. Listeners will want to meet all the Penningtons after hearing Maarleveld’s interpretation.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang,

Read by Carly Robins (Dreamscape Media)

Expertly narrated by Carly Robins, this #ownvoices romance illustrates the often hidden depths of an autistic heart and mind. Being on the autism spectrum, Stella has always had difficulties with relationships—especially with the opposite sex. She hires Michael, a Vietnamese-Swedish-American escort, to help her practice both sexual and romantic relationships. To Stella, this seems to be the logical step; however, when their business affiliation of being in a practice (and very steamy) relationship develops into deeper feelings, neither believes they can ever be more than partners. Robins gives the characters unique voices, flawlessly capturing their personalities and highlighting the differences between them. This is perfect for listeners who love their romance to be sizzling and engaging.

The Sometimes Sisters by Carolyn Brown,

Read by Brittany Pressley (Brilliance Audio)

Narrator Brittany Pressley’s sensitive and graceful performance lays bare the emotions and strengths of these sometimes sisters and an honorable old man. Uncle Zed’s mission to fulfill Granny Annie’s dying wish by reuniting her estranged granddaughters, Dana, Harper, and Tawny, doesn’t happen easily. The story is set in a small lakeside resort in Texas, and the sisters all have Southern drawls, which Pressley presents impeccably with changes in tone and mannerisms that allow listeners to like and envision them. Dana’s sassy preteen daughter, Brooke, heals the hearts of her fractured family, while Zed’s, gravelly tones and calm persona teach the importance of coming together. Long-held secrets are revealed, and love is hard-won in this contemporary love story.

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