2015 was a strange year both personally and professionally. So many good books were published but not a lot wowed me. I know what you’re thinking- ”Dude, you have 24 books listed.” This is true. But I read over 300 new to me books this year, so this doesn’t even represent 10% of what I have read. MATH FTW!! Plus, it’s hard for me to pick. Unless I DNF, there is some aspect I enjoy about every book I read from the ‘wow this is fantastic’ 5 star reads to the ‘what the fresh hell was THAT’ 1 star reads. Something engaged me or I never would have finished. So below are the books that made me think after I read them. That made me chat about them on social media and/or email friends that they had to read this one.
Everything I Left Unsaid by Molly O’Keefe Part one of a duology, O’Keefe pens an emotionally dark erotic tale of love, loss, and abuse when a young woman running away from an abusive husband finds more danger in the arms of the man who wants to save her. I enjoyed book two but found book one far more erotic and dark. (Review)
Alice by Christina Henry Christina Henry brings her considerable skill and magic to the classic tale of Alice in Wonderland, using delightfully perverse twists and turns to create a horrifying fantasy that will have you re-examining your love for this childhood favorite. (Review)
The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan A sweet, sexy, VERY funny, and emotionally refreshing friends to lovers contemporary that highlights a couple whose journey from friendship to love is facilitated by witty banter, adept communication, and delicious sexual tension. (Review)
Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh Though I adore EVERYTHING Singh writes, I choose to only pick one of hers to feature in here. The Changeling/Psy series remains my favorite of all her books with her Hunter’s Guild coming in second. In a series built on alpha over protective heroes, it’s was a nice change of pace to see an alpha heroine adopt the role of protector. I’ve waited a long time for Aden’s story and Singh blew me out of the water. Not only in terms of protagonists but in the way she advances the arc, introduces new characters, and effortlessly continues to change the characterization of an entire race. A fabulous series that continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
The Slayer Kele Moon Love, hate, family, betrayal, hope, and redemption all blend together to build a lush and heart-wrenching love story between a former gang banger, Chuto, and a preacher’s daughter, Aliane. The brilliance lies in the characters who live in this story. Life is never easy and sometimes the hardest blows come from those you love the most and nothing even begins to prepare you for the blows this couple has to take for their love and happiness.
Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan Emotionally heart wrenching, an unlikely romance blooms between two lost souls whose lives were shattered by the violence that often follows homophobia. Intense sensuality blends well the self-deprecating humor to keep the story from dwelling in the darkness for too long. Once again, Cullinan uses her voice to fight for the rights of those that some in society deem unworthy. (Review)
Beauty and the Rake by Erica Monroe A retelling of the classic-Beauty and the Beast-set in the 1800’s and focuses on London’s lower and middle class. A nice change from the usual trend of historical romances playing out among the aristocrats. Dynamic characters and a well-plotted storyline shows Monroe’s obvious attention to detail and allows readers an intimate view of the attitudes towards the lower class and the struggles that they endured day-to-day to survive. (Review)
Elements of Chemistry by Penny Reid Elements of Chemistry is the real deal with its dynamic characters, realistic dialogue, compelling scenes, and a love story that speaks to the heart. Reid excels at geek romance and her voice clearly sings in this one. (Review)
Vision of Silver by Anne Bishop This multiplexed Urban Fantasy series takes the sensitive issues of racism, discrimination, and abuse wrapped in the disguise of caring, wrapping them up inside a vibrantly magical world with a realistic core. Teeming with intrigue, suspense, heartbreak, and hints of romance, Ms. Bishop’s literary voice continue to astound and enchant. (Review)
Maybe Maby by Willow Astor Unique and crazy, Aster’s honest observations coupled with her witty characters and engaging storylines made this a treat to read. Living with someone who is OCD and manic depressive, it was very interesting in seeing it portrayed from the source (so to speak). Aster doesn’t sugar coat Maby’s issues nor does she make Maby a victim to be pitied. She is strong, intelligent, snarky, and self-deprecating. She’s a survivor.
The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne An utterly delicious and heart-wrenching historical romance that encompasses star-crossed lovers, second chances, revenge, hope, and redemption. A dark brooding hero whose past has damaged him and a strong intelligent heroine who refuses to give up find one another again years after they were brutally separated as children. Now they must find a way to let go of the past if they want the future they always dreamed of. Passionate, heartbreaking, and overflowing with action, suspense, and addictive dialogue.
Feel The Burn by GA Aiken A fantastic installment that proves once again that when it comes to PNR-Aiken/Laurenston is one of the reigning queens. I laughed so hard throughout this book. Though the humor reigns supreme; the action, intrigue, and romance blends well with the continued evolution of the world, characters, and arc.
Sweep In Peace by Ilona Andrews Can I just say I love the Andrews and ALL their books? No? I have to pick just one? *sigh*. As with Singh, I love EVERYTHING the Andrews write but once again, I choose to showcase one in this post. Fans of Ilona Andrews and their On The Edge series will cheer when they see some familiar faces in the second book in their self-published series that focuses on a young woman whose struggles to survive lead her into an epic adventures fraught with suspense, humor, danger, and a smattering of romance. (Review)
Craving Flight by Tamsen Parker Such a beautiful erotic love story about the dichotomy between a woman’s faith and her sexual needs. While the romance and sexual scenes are extremely hot and erotic, I think I enjoyed more the heroine’s personal thoughts on her journey into becoming Orthodox and the external and internal issues she dealt with. She imparts such emotion and longing into her voice as she tells us her hopes, dreams, and desires for her life and marriage.
Radiance by Grace Draven A wonderfully sweet and dynamic fantasy. Two kingdoms (and species) are merged through a marriage of convenience that turns to love as the couple gets to know one another. What made this for me is the maturity of the couple and their romance. No over the top dramatics or emotional angst is added to merely increase the conflict of the story. Interesting world building, a well plotted storyline, and fabulous dialogue made this a joy to read.
Edged Blade by J.C. Daniels I recommend this series to everyone who enjoys a darker Urban Fantasy that reviles in deception, betrayal, sorrow, and hope. Heavily character driven with deceptively mild world building, I find the balance of power and vulnerability to be an addictive draw. Ms. Daniels is not afraid to extract her pound of flesh from her characters and situations arise that will leave you wondering what more will she demand. Heavy plot action and ripe tension is tempered with snarky humor and everyday life; allowing you a respite from its heavy undertones.
Ride Steady by Kristen Ashley Ride Steady is exactly what I have been missing lately from Ashley and MC romances in general. Ashley engages the reader; bringing back her trademark over the top behavior and situations. Emotions are thoroughly explored. Objections are addressed and resolved. Issues are given the seriousness they deserve. Part of the appeal of Ashley’s books is she makes her stories about average people. Cops, bakers, hairdressers, construction workers, ect…everyone has a compelling story to tell and everyone is worthy of a fairytale romance no matter their position in life. (Review)
Asking For It & Begging for it by Lilah Pace A complex and convoluted erotic romance that dissects deep obsession, dark desires, and two people whose connection is fraught with pain and passion. The taut suspense-filled storyline only heightens the exquisite sexuality of these very fragile characters.
A Taste of Heaven by Penny Watson
The Last Kiss by Jessica Clare and Jen Fredericks
The Deal by Elle Kennedy
Act Like It Lucy Parker
Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews
The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen
The Madness of Lord Westfall by Mia Marlowe