– 2018 –
Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this book because I haven’t read the past few books by these authors (individually). But I thought, one more try. And this was just as adorable as I remember their collaborations to be! It’s about a woman who breaks off her engagement because her fiance cheats on her. That also leaves her without a job because she was working for him. She goes to try and get her money back for her wedding dress and ends up only being able to exchange it for another and she picks up one that had a note attached to the inside of it. That leads her to working for the man who wrote that note himself. This was a cute office romance about two people that have had recent heartbreak but develop a nice friendship. It’s kind of a slow burn as well and then it also packs an emotional punch. I couldn’t help but tear up by the time the epilogue rolls around.
CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE | OFFICE
Consumed by J.R. Ward
Talk about October being an intense month. CONSUMED is the definition of that. No, seriously. You’ll need to be emotionally prepared for what J.R. Ward has in store for you! This isn’t an easy book to read and it’ll take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. Maybe even make you want to throw things at the author. But stick with it, it delivers a great story and a great romance. I’m already in love with this whole set of characters and can’t wait for more.
CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE | FIREFIGHTER
Shades of Wicked by Jeaniene Frost
This book needs no introduction but it does have quite a bit of build up. If you are a longtime fan of the Night Huntress series like me, then you’ll have high expectations for Ian’s story. I am here to tell you that SHADES OF WICKED delivered! Ian is …. so Ian! There’s nothing that bothers me more than when authors change characters when we get to their book and I reaaaaallly didn’t want that to happen with Ian. He’s the same cocky, flirting, charming, conceited, alpha vampire we’ve come to love. But we get to see so much more of him and I was a greedy reader soaking it all up. This book is intense and action packed with a kick ass romance and story. You won’t want to miss the beginning of Ian’s story. Now, I can’t wait for the next one.
PARANORMAL ROMANCE | VAMPIRES
The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
Tessa Dare knows how to make us fall in love. THE GOVERNESS GAME is another adorable story that will sweep you off your feet. With her trademark grumpy heroes, packed full of sexy banter and undeniable chemistry about two completely opposite characters and with plenty of humor to make you giggle.
HISTORICAL ROMANCE | SWEET | SEXY BANTER | FUNNY | GRUMPY HERO
Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh
Nalini Singh does it again! It really should come as no surprise because she’s amazing but I really enjoyed this one. In fact, I’m now ready to say that this series is my fave of her contemporary ones (and I’m lumping in book 2 of the Rock Kiss series here as well because he’s the brother of the hero from book 1 here). OK, lets not make this confusing. REBEL HARD features both main characters from Indian descent. Both are at a point where they are willing to let their families take over (sort of) and arrange their marriage. I’m always curious about the subject of arranged marriages in the modern world and I think Ms. Singh has done it so great! I think this will be an enjoyable read for anyone. Plus, the hero works in construction and isn’t scared to get a little dirty and both the hero and heroine are virgins. What more can you ask for? This was perfect. Swoony as I was expecting it to be.
CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE | DIVERSE CHARACTERS | ARRANGED MARRIAGE | BLUE COLLAR
Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco
It’s probably no surprise to hear me talking about this series because I’ve become a huge fan of Audrey Rose and Thomas Creswell. ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI was a dark and twisty tale that had me glued to the pages and not wanting to put it down. It’s packed full of suspense and … yes, dead bodies turning up. The fact that our characters are basically stuck at sea with a scary traveling circus performing every night just adds to the heart-pounding element of this story. I have heard that the final book maybe has some changes from this ARC copy I read, so I’m not sure what things will be different (I’m dying to find out though). But from what I read I will say this… I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT. There’s a lot more romance and there’s also some trouble along the way. I was waiting any second to feel like punching Audrey Rose in the face and it never came. If you are looking for a good and fun mystery and a twist to the legendary character of Houdini then be sure to check this one out.
YOUNG ADULT | GOTHIC HORROR
Boy Toy by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby
I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I enjoyed the first one and then the second one a little less. We’ve seen Sadie’s marriage fall apart throughout this series and I was really rooting for her to get an HEA. I don’t know why I didn’t connect with the title that this would be a case where the hero was younger than the heroine but I couldn’t have been more pleased how it was setup and developed. Sadie used to babysit Liam and his siblings when she was in college and he was a teenager. While there isn’t a huge age difference, they are definitely at different points in their lives. But one thing has always been constant for Liam. He’s been in love with Sadie since he was sixteen and has measured up all women he’s with against his fantasy of her. And now he actually gets his dream girl. I thought this was fun, adorable, sexy, endearing. I couldn’t have asked for more.
CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE | YOUNGER HERO | SINGLE PARENT
The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
I love K.A. Tucker’s writing style and I think it just gets better with every book. This one is a contemporary romance that has some hint of womens’ fiction. While yeah, the focus is the romantic relationship, I really enjoyed the heroine’s journey of reconnecting with her now dying father. Rediscovering her roots in Alaska, and finding out things about herself she didn’t know. The setting of remote town Alaska was endearing and I really enjoyed that glimpse into that life. The romantic lead is a sexy, bearded, grumpy hero and this starts out as an enemies to lovers in the best way. Couldn’t put this one down so be sure to mark this one down on your calendars.
CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE | SMALL TOWN | GRUMPY HERO
All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover
I haven’t found many 5 star books this year (really, there’s been one so far and a few close 4.5s). And then this book came around. I’m always highly anticipating reading a Colleen Hoover book because I’ve really enjoyed her writing in the past. But at the same time I dread it because I’ve also had some misses from her. ALL YOUR PERFECTS is one of the winners. I haven’t found a ton of stories about troubled marriages but when I do and they’re done well I gobble them up. This one was especially well done and it dealt with not only with a marriage that’s having issues, but also a personal struggle that our heroine is going through. I don’t want to give anything more than that away. Suffice it to say it was so easy to identify with Quinn, to feel her pain, to not know how you would react in her shoes. Maybe it would be the same. And then there’s Graham, really the perfect hero even through his mistakes. I fell in love with him in the flashbacks and then fell more in love with him through the pain of their current situation. This isn’t a book of flowers and happiness, although there is a happy ending. Reading most of this book felt like an open wound but I wouldn’t trade a second of it. It was beautifully written and a captivating story. And yes, one of those elusive 5 star reads for me. A must read for this summer.
CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE | TROUBLED MARRIAGE
The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Loren
I fell in love with the first book in this series and I was dying to get my hands on this next one. There’s something captivating about Roni Loren’s writing. It gets me every time. From the moment I cracked this book open I couldn’t stop reading it. I connected with both characters immediately individually and I couldn’t get enough of them together. The heroine is the survivor from the school shooting and one that has a lot of old demons to deal with. Maybe more so than the first book. But she’s shut herself off from the world and from life and it was nice to see those walls slowly coming down thanks to the help of a man that is completely out of her type. She’s buttoned up and proper, fancy even. And he’s ruggedly badass. I couldn’t have loved them more! Plus he’s a chef and I’m a sucker for a hero that can cook. Put this one on your TBRs, it’ll sweep you off your feet.
CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE | CHEF | ENEMIES TO LOVERS
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
This was my second Ruth Ware book and every time there’s something captivating about her stories. The writing draws you in and gives you just enough to hook you and get your mind turning. I love how she’s able to keep me guessing until the very end, not a feat a lot of authors can do these days. The Death of Mrs. Westaway is no different and I loved every bit of its twisty ride. There is no impending sense of danger from a mysterious killer throughout the whole book, although the time comes for that, it’s more of a build up on a heavy veil of mystery and family secrets that you just need to unfold. Layers of deception. Years of hiding. In the end, nothing really was what it seemed and I was so pleasantly surprised. Not many authors can surprise me with the twists of their stories nowadays, but this one did. I had only one element figured out and the rest took me by surprise. And not only that, but I just couldn’t put this down because I needed to know the outcome. Superb job by an author that is quickly becoming a favorite of mine in the genre.
Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
I was probably one of the few people that hadn’t jumped on the Christina Lauren bandwagon, but something about this book kept calling to me to read it so I picked it up. Honestly, having mixed feelings about reading it because I had sort of thought their style of writing wasn’t so much for me. But that goes to show to never say never! I actually really found this story to be sweet and charming. It’s being marketed as a women’s fiction novel but I think it’s got a big dose of romance to it, so don’t fear about that. It is a second chance romance and the story of two childhood best friends who got each other through some of the tough teenage years and were supposed to be together forever, but then life happened and things didn’t go as planned. It’s a simple story at its core, but it’s told in a way that was very engaging. I can’t really give you a comparison to their other works but it’s not so much a funny story, it’s got a lot of heart and some emotional situations as well. Some angst but not over the top. I think it was just the right amount and blend of everything that kept me riveted to find out what would happen, and what HAD happened in their past. Overall, it was a great read and an enjoyable first experience for me with this author.
WOMEN’S FICTION | SECOND CHANCE
Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks
This series just keeps delivering amazing stories. I’ve been talking about it for a while but if you are looking for a refreshing take on fantasy romance, then look no further! While you could read these as standalone, I think they’re best read in order. This installment is so adorable! There are certain things I expect when reading a dragon book and Ms. Sparks managed to hit those while making this such a unique, engaging and truly unputdownable book! I adored the characters and the storyline kept me turning the pages. While this is a much slower burn type romance than the two previous ones, and the smexy factor is way down (be warned!) this was still a solid addition that stayed true to character and opened up the world even more. This is one of those few fantasy series where I think the author has such a clear idea of what the world they’ve created looks like and how it works that you, as the reader, are completely transported to it.
PARANORMAL ROMANCE | DRAGONS | FANTASY
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Tearjerker Alert! Guys, this book was seriously beautiful. There is romance, there’s historical fiction, there’s family, and heartbreak. Gahhhh. It’s just a captivating story that I highly recommend you experience. I’ve always had a fascination with stories about pre-Fidel Cuba and the aftermath of the revolution. How it’s impacted the lives of the Cuban’s left behind. Having known people that left and hearing their experiences, when I seek out stories that revolve around this I have a sense of familiarity. This book was a perfect representation of both things that always capture my attention as it’s told from two POVs in two different time periods. Our heroine, Marisol, is traveling to Cuba in 2017 to spread her grandmothers ashes. Her grandmother that fled Cuba in 1959 with the hope of one day returning, but that never happened. We get to see Marisol as she discovers the homeland of her ancestors and finds what feels like home for her as well there. And we experience the pre-Fidel Cuba through her grandmothers eyes. There’s love for both of them. Heartbreaking and difficult, because those are the times and the circumstances. But the star of the show here is Chanel Cleeton because she created a story that grabs your heart and the way she tells it you can’t help but feel as if the story comes alive. From the very first page I was right there with our heroines. MY NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA has so much heart, and at the same time it broke mine time and time again. I wasn’t prepared for an ugly cry, but I loved every second of it nonetheless.
HISTORICAL FICTION | TEARJERKER
Blood Fury by J.R. Ward
I was both excited and hesitant to read this book. The last Black Dagger Brotherhood book left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth and I was a little worried that we would have to address all the issues that were brought up there since that’s what we did in the previous book in the Legacy series. First, rest assured that this book is not picking up where THE CHOSEN left off. It simply follows Peyton and Novo with a side story of Ruhn and Saxton. It was deliciously simple. I actually thought those two stories where the perfect fit to pair together into one book because, while they are such different characters and on completely different paths, at the core their romance felt a lot alike. Tentative, intense, healing and new. I’ve been all for Peyton and Novo since the beginning and I cannot be happier right now with what we got. I adored both characters and their romance was just perfection. I don’t want to say much, although I do have a small complaint that some things felt like they’ve happened before in another book and I got some sense of deja vu. Maybe that’s what stopped me from giving this a full 5 stars. The big surprise in this book for me was how much I liked Ruhn and all his different layers. He’s a contradiction in many ways. So innocent and tentative, soft and careful. But there’s a whole other side of him that he struggles with. That broken side of him that makes him a little less refined and a bit more dangerous. I think J.R. Ward delivered on my expectations of this book and I may go as far as saying that so far in the Legacy series, Novo and Peyton may be my faves. And I hope you all enjoy them too.
PARANORMAL | FAVE COUPLE | INTENSE
The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren
The premise of this series is unique and heartbreaking. It follows a group of survivors from a mass shooting at a high school prom, hence the title. In this first book we have the goth rebel girl, daughter of a landscaper from the wrong side of the tracks, who was then secretly dating the star athlete from a well to do family and all around popular guy. Finn brought a different girl to prom and is getting a few minutes away from everyone to spend with Liv in the supply closet when the shooting starts and he leaves Liv there to go protect the other girl. Now twelve years later, a documentary brings all the survivors back into town and they have to face each other and some of the promises they made to themselves all those years ago. Also, all that unfinished business between Liv and Finn resurfaces. THIS BOOK! It’s my last 5 star read of the year, so by the time you’ll be reading it in January it should be your first. It’s so intense and emotional. Roni Loren digs deep and makes you feel right along with her characters. And I was pleasantly surprised to still see quite a bit of that signature smexyness I’ve come to expect from Ms. Loren, even if a little toned down to fit outside of the erotic romance genre. Basically, just get this book. I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s unique, it’ll make you feel and swoon. One of my favorite reads by this author and that’s saying something since I just love all of her stuff.
CONTEMPORARY ROM. | HOT | ALPHA MALE | TORTURED HERO | EMOTIONAL | INTENSE