It’s that time of year where you look back and reflect on what you’ve read. What have you loved? Which characters have stuck with you? What authors have you discovered? This year has been full of some fantastic books but we couldn’t squeeze all of our recommendations in! But we have picked our creme de la creme of what we’ve read this year to share with you.
Last year I put Year One, the first book in this series as by best new release. This year Nora Roberts once again has the top spot. I loved this book. It has more of a young adult fantasy vibe, where as the first book was more of a post apocalyptic tale of survival. If you haven’t started this series I highly recommend it, it’s well written, exciting and a bit of an emotional journey; I shed a few tears reading. Now I am looking forward to the third and final book in this trilogy. Lets see if this series can take the top spot three years in a row!
by Nora Roberts
Released: December 4th 2018
Series: Chronicles of the One #2
Published by St. Martin's Press
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the epic Year One returns with a new tale of terror and magic in a brand new world.
They look like an everyday family living an ordinary life. But beyond the edges of this peaceful farm, unimaginable forces of light and dark have been unleashed.
Fallon Swift, approaching her thirteenth birthday, barely knows the world that existed before—the city where her parents lived, now in ruins and reclaimed by nature since the Doom sickened and killed billions. Traveling anywhere is a danger, as vicious gangs of Raiders and fanatics called Purity Warriors search for their next victim. Those like Fallon, in possession of gifts, are hunted—and the time is coming when her true nature, her identity as The One, can no longer be hidden.
In a mysterious shelter in the forest, her training is about to begin under the guidance of Mallick, whose skills have been honed over centuries. She will learn the old ways of healing; study and spar; encounter faeries and elves and shifters; and find powers within herself she never imagined. And when the time is right, she will take up the sword, and fight. For until she grows into the woman she was born to be, the world outside will never be whole again.
This book was recommended for me through a a post I did on my Kindle Unlimited recommendations. It sparked an obsession. I loved this light-hearted and fun urban fantasy series. If over the holidays you want a quirky read that will put a smile on your face I highly recommend starting The Lazy Girls Guide to Magic series.
by Helen Harper
Released: June 8th 2017
Series: The Lazy Girl's Guide to Magic #1
Published by Createspace Publishing Platform
Let's get one thing straight - Ivy Wilde is not a heroine. In fact, she's probably the last witch in the world who you'd call if you needed a magical helping hand, regardless of her actual abilities. If it were down to Ivy, she'd spend all day every day on her sofa where she could watch TV, munch junk food and talk to her feline familiar to her heart's content.
However, when a bureaucratic disaster ends up with Ivy as the victim of a case of mistaken identity, she's yanked very unwillingly into Arcane Branch, the investigative department of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Her problems are quadrupled when a valuable object is stolen right from under the Order's noses. It doesn't exactly help that she's been magically bound to Adeptus Exemptus Raphael Winter. He might have piercing sapphire eyes and a body which a cover model would be proud of but, as far as Ivy's concerned, he's a walking advertisement for the joyless perils of too much witch-work.
And if he makes her go to the gym again, she's definitely going to turn him into a frog.
The first book in this young adult fantasy series by Barb Hendee was released in January and I have been following it avidly ever since. I’m not normally a big young adult reader, but I found the idea of this series very compelling. In each book, all of which can be read as a standalone, the heroine is at a crucial point in her life. Whatever choice she makes in that moment will set her on three very different paths. This is where a magic mirror appears and you live out the consequences of each choice. At the end the heroine must choose what path she wants to take. It isn’t always the one you would expect. It’s an original series and has a little romance, a little action and a bit of a coming of age vibe in some places. Definitely worth giving a try.
Lisa Kleypas was always going to make this list in some capacity! She is one of my favourite authors especially in the historical romance genre. And with the release of Hello Stranger this year she wrote one of my favourite heroines: Dr Garrett Gibson. Garrett was a highly trained doctor in a time where educating women too much was frowned upon; they especially didn’t become doctors. Garrett was strong, competent and determined, all the best traits in a heroine and she has stuck with me as my favourite heroine of the year.
by Lisa Kleypas
Released: February 27th 2018
Series: The Ravenels #4
Published by Avon
A woman who defies her time
Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.
A man who breaks every rule
As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett's skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he's ever known.
I had to try very hard not to make every single category in this post a book by Ilona Andrews. I can’t help it, the husband-wife author team are my favourite. But, I couldn’t think of any other hero that rivaled Hugh D’Ambrey in pure charisma and raw appeal. Other than Curran Lennart of course! Iron and Magic is not the first time we have met Hugh. If you follow the Kate Daniel series you will be very familiar with him. He’s the ruthless Warlord whose been trying to catch and/or kill Kate. Basically he’s the bad guy. Can he be redeemed? Kind of, he’s still the ruthless charismatic Warlord we know, loath and secretly crush on after all.
by Ilona Andrews
Released: June 26 2018
Series: The Iron Covenant #1
Published by NYLA
No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.
Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.
Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.
Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?
As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”
Hugh and Elara may do both.
Patricia Briggs has the best covers, but even for her Burn Bright is particularly beautiful. If I didn’t already love and faithfully follow the Alpha & Omega series this book cover would have me reaching for it. But Burn Bright is more than its spectacular cover, it’s also a fantastic read. It had me gripped and Briggs sprung a few surprises on me with this one. So, if you are in the mood for a new urban fantasy series and you haven’t tried this series, I highly recommend you pick it up. If nothing else it will look pretty on your shelf!
by Patricia Briggs
Released: March 6th 2018
They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.
With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…
I found this category the hardest, mainly because a lot of books that I was looking forward to more than met my expectations. It was a good year. Most the books I didn’t get on with were titles I didn’t have any expectations for; maybe they were new authors to me or new series, I like to approach things with an open mind. But there was one book that actively angered me. Hostage by Annika Martin and Skye Warren. The writing was beautiful, the story disgusted me. What I have learnt from this; I am not built for taboo, especially taboo involving young girls, stalking/grooming and a hefty dose of violence.
Released: January 30 2018
Series: Criminals & Captives #2
I NEVER KNEW WHEN HE'D COME TO ME. ONLY THAT HE WOULD.
I’d never even kissed a boy the night I met Stone. The night I saw him kill. The night he spared my life. That was only the beginning.
He turns up in my car again and again, dangerous and full of raw power. “Drive,” he tells me, and I have no choice. He’s a criminal with burning green eyes, invading my life and my dreams.
The police say he’s dangerously obsessed with me, but I’m the one who can’t stop thinking about him. Maybe it’s wrong to let him touch me. Maybe it’s wrong to touch him back. Maybe these twisted dates need to stop. Except he feels like the only real thing in my world of designer labels and mansions.
So I drive us under threat, until it’s hard to remember I don’t want to be there.
Until it’s too late to turn back.
HOSTAGE is a dangerous standalone romance by New York Times bestselling authors Skye Warren and Annika Martin. It’s set in the same world as PRISONER, but can read separately!
This is the last time I will be able to add Kate and Curran in my Best of the year post. Magic Triumphs was the last in the Kate Daniels series. *moments silence*. As expected I absolutely adored it, I was only disappointed because it ended. I contemplated putting this as the Best New Release, and Kate as Favourite Heroine and Curran as Favourite Hero. But, in the end, I decided on Best Couple. Because they are the best couple and this book demonstrates this perfectly. But, this book aside through put the entire series part of the draw for me was the interactions and pure chemistry between Kate and Curran. At the beginning it was their enmity, which developed into some pretty intense flirting. Then they got together and the flirting and the banter between them just got better. For all future years the deep and abiding relationship built by Ilona Andrews between Kate and Curran will be the one to beat!
by Ilona Andrews
Released: August 28th 2018
Series: Kate Daniels #10
Published by Ace
Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can't-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.
Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She's made friends and enemies. She's found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.
Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate's doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.
Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.
For her child.
For the world.
I’m not a big reader of erotic romance, but I do like a sexy book. So, when I was thinking about my favourite sex scene of the year, what popped into my head was Willa’s Beast by Ruby Dixon. Now, I can’t point to one particular scene in the book… ‘cos the whole darn thing was so hot! What I really like about Dixon’s books, especially her Ice Planet Barbarians and the spin off Icehome, is that the you can get a really cute romance, such as Angie’s Gladiator and a raunchy book full of sexy times in one series. It all depends on the characters.
by Ruby Dixon
Released: October 5th 2018
Series: Icehome #3
Beast. Creature. Monster.
All of these things have been said about Gren.
Willa doesn’t believe it, though. She knows that monsters can sometimes come in appealing packages. She knows that for all of his snarls and fearsome appearance, he’d never hurt her.
And she knows she has to get Gren away from the Icehome camp, because no one will ever see him as a person, not when he attacks all who come close. Not when he’s tied and treated like an animal.
She’s going to save him… or fall in love. Maybe both. Willa doesn’t mind that he’s a beast, as long as he’s *her* beast.
There are a few authors I have really enjoyed this year, but the author that has consistently produced books I have fallen in love with is husband-wife writing team Tiffany Roberts. I started off with their sexy sci fi in the Valos of Sonhadra series, bounced to their romantic fantasy series Isle of the Forgotten and am now fully engrossed and in love with their Kraken sci fi series. It’s been quite a year! I can’t wait to see what’s to come in 2019.
What are your favorites from 2018?
Day 7 Prize Pack
SIGNED copy of MIDNIGHT UNBOUND by Lara Adrian
THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang
ALL IN by Melanie Jayne
LOVE THE WINE YOU’RE WITH by Kim Gruenenfelder
THE INCONCEIVABLE LIFE OF QUINN by Marianna Baer
REVENGE by Lexi Blake
WITCH CREEK by Laura Bickle
MY FAIR DUCHESS by Megan Frampton
ESCAPE TO YOU by Jennifer Ryan
BLADE ON THE HUNT by Lauren Dane
One winner will receive the bundle of books above
Open internationally, sponsored by Under the Covers
Winners for all 12 Days of Christmas prizes
will be selected December 26, 2018
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Annnnnd I will stop myself there, before I start waxing lyrical about my love of historical romance and fantasy as well; no one needs to know about my elf fantasies. As you can tell, I adore and day dream about most romance genres, and my three big loves are 1) reading about romance 2) writing about romance and 3) talking about romance with my gals. Which, is why I love Under the Covers so much, I get all my bookish needs satisfied and don’t get judged when I talk about my favourite characters like they are real people. Which they are right?
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