NIKKI– I can’t believe it’s time to do this post! Where did 2013 go? It seems like I just did our top 2012 post and here it is, time to do it again. 2013 brought with it a bunch of books that I want to highlight so picking a top ten is nearly impossible. I set my goal at 135 books this year and I hit that goal in November…so all in all I think I did pretty well. My family is very used to me escaping to my “library” aka the front room and not coming out for hours. They have learned to feed themselves and to leave me alone in these very important times. I encourage you all to check out my Goodreads Page to see a complete list of all the awesome books I read this year because this is by far only a sampling….
10. Dream Man Series – Way back in January of 2013 I was encouraged…ok bullied…into reading the Dream Man series by Kristen Ashley. I immediately fell in love with the quirky, cracktastic writing style of Ashley and I devoured all four books in the series in record time. I can’t pick just one in this series as they are all fabulous, but I can say that Mystery Man (book 1) and Motorcycle Man (book 4) stand out because of the incredible alpha heros. I didn’t even review them because Michelle did…but I read the hell out of them and loved every minute of it!
9. Angel Bait by Tricia Skinner – This was surprising read by a debut author that left me breathless and anticipating future awesomeness….it was her only release this year but hopefully I’ll get my hands on more from her soon. I hear book two is on its way! Skinner’s writing intrigued me and is reminiscent of many of my past favorite paranormal romances authors, particularly JR Ward. Definitely check this one out!
8. Theirs To Keep by Maya Banks – Dear lord I loved Banks foray into self publishing…I’m not usually a huge fan of menage books but Cade and Merrick are so fucking hot I didn’t care at all. In fact I was flipping pages in earnest to get to what I knew was going to be some scorching sex scenes. This book has some trigger points so readers will need to scout them out before starting, but for me this was easily a no brainer to add to my list.
7. Autumn In The Vineyard by Marina Adair – This series by contemporary author Marina Adair has everything I look for in a small town romance. I fell in love with these characters in 2012 actually but her latest release just cemented those feelings. These are light, often funny reads that have been a winner with me with each book. If you’re a Jill Shalvis fan then you need to give these a try.
6. Bringing Home The Bachelor by Sarah M Anderson – I’m putting this one on the list for Anderson’s ability to take me from seriously disliking a heroine to being in tears in less than 200 pages. That doesn’t happen often and when it does I’m amazed at how tricky authors can manipulate my emotions and make them completely change over the course of a book. Also Billy? Best bearded hero I read this year. YUM.
5. Mine To Take/Mine To Keep by Cynthia Eden – My “best of” posts wouldn’t be complete it seems without a Eden book or two. Mine to Take was only supposed to be a novella but when a story needs to be told you can’t deny it, so Eden continued Trace and Skye’s story with Mine To Keep. These two books were dark but the growth of the heroine made me want to spotlight them. Trace is an over the top alpha hole at times, but I adored him and wanted to crawl into the book and directly into his arms. *Le sigh*
4. Beautiful Bastard Series by Christina Lauren – What started out as fanfiction managed to grab a hold of me in early 2013 and carry on throughout the year. Bennett and Chloe are probably one of my favorite couples of all time. I loved their constant back and forth bickering that always lead to some panty ripping and sheet scorching sex. As the series branched out to their inner group of friends I just fell more fully for the encompassing writing style that the duo of Christina Lauren possess.
3. The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love by Erin Quinn – This book surprised the hell out of me because I was unfamiliar with this author (who is writing under a pen name). It’s got a unique story line involving a reaper and a woman who seems like she’s invincible. As the reaper falls for the woman he’s supposed to kill he reveals a longing and vulnerability that I loved. There is plenty of action and lovers of paranormal romance should really enjoy this one!
2. The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone – Every so often there is a book that comes a bit to close to home and effects me profoundly. This was that book. It was dark, filled with anguish and longing and I spent a lot of the book crying…but yeah, I love Juliana Stone and this book deserves every shout out I can give it. Read it. Nuff said.
1. Bullet To The Heart by Lea Griffith – When I sat down to write this list I only knew one thing for sure…Bullet To The Heart was going to be my favorite book this year…everything else was up for grabs, but this I was sure about. This book surprised the shit out of me. Griffith gives readers two very unconventional characters who basically hate each other and what they each stand for. It’s gritty, raw and violent but somehow Griffith’s magic makes you care and by the end you don’t want to say goodbye. I can’t wait for more from her and find out where she takes these rough characters she’s created.
PAM – Where did 2013 go? I swear it was only January a couple of months ago, I may say this every year but the years seem to go by faster and faster. My 2013 was very uneventful, my family did not grow or thank goodness shrink and we were all pretty healthy and happy. I spent my winter weekends skiing at the local mountain and the spring and summer golfing and just enjoying life. I did visit California wine country in the spring and enjoyed it so much that we will visit again next year. As for my reading selection in 2013, I had a hard time picking my top 10, looking at my ratings I gave over 4 stars to more than 20 books so I selected a variety of genres of books that I enjoyed. Oh and 2014 looks to be a banner year for books, I already have many books that I am excited to read on my list. I set my 2013 goal at 175 books and I finished that by October, I should hit well over 200 by the end of the year. So all in all 2013 was a good year for me and I look forward to 2014 with high hopes!
Winterblaze – Kristen Callihan
Lord of Darkness – Elizabeth Hoyt
How to Tame Your Duke – Juliana Gray
Any Duchess Will Do – Tessa Dare
The Cursed – Alyssa Day
Forgotten Sins – Rebecca Zanetti
Miss Education of Dr Exeter – Jillian Stone
Archangel’s Legion – Nalini Singh
Tempt the Stars – Karen Chance
Unrestrained – Joey W Hill
Michelle – It was a little difficult for me to come up with an interesting “Best of” for this year because most of the best books I’ve read this year were by the same author. In order to not have this be a “Best of Kristen Ashley” list I’ve elected to leave off several of my five star reads. That’s not to say that there weren’t other fantastic books that came my way this year. There were, and they are worthy of being included here.
Motorcycle Man – Kristen Ashley Motorcycle Man isn’t the first book I’ve read by Kristen Ashley, but it was the first book I read in 2013. It was also the best book of the year. It is loud and vibrant and full of attitude – exactly like its hero Tack. Some of the most touching & romantic moments I’ve EVER read happened in this book. If I could give it ten stars I would.
Morning Light – Cora Cade This book was such a surprise to me. I never know what to expect when I’m asked to review a book by an author I’ve never heard of. Morning Light had some humor and a lot of sizzle and plenty of romantic moments. A little more detail, more in-depth dialogue and some more descriptive love scenes would have gone a long way toward making this an excellent book! Considering the length of the story, though, the author did a fabulous job creating a love story that was touching, romantic, sexy and very enjoyable to read!
Between Sinners and Saints – Marie Sexton I had no idea what to expect from this book because I didn’t even read the back cover (unheard of for me) and I didn’t read any reviews. I knew it was going to be a m/m erotic romance simply because Marie Sexton wrote it. It turned out to be an incredibly touching story and I absolutely loved it. It was such a beautiful, emotional, heartache filled book. Fabulous!
Lady Luck – Kristen Ashley I’ve read a lot of books by Ms. Ashley (not all because I’m pacing myself) and I’ve loved almost all of them. None have quite touched my heart as much as this one, though. I loved Ty & Lexie’s romance so much. Even though there were a lot of appearances by the other Carnal folks, especially Tate Jackson from Sweet Dreams, this was definitely a book about Ty and Lexie’s love. From start to finish (including a fantastic epilogue), this book was sexy and action-packed and so incredibly touching.
Rock Her – Rachel Cross I was very pleasantly surprised by this book. I knew it was a debut effort, so obviously not an author I’d read before. I didn’t expect very much, but Rachel Cross delivers a clever, sweet, sexy, heart-wrenching at times love story between two people with real problems and real feelings. The chemistry between Kate and Alec jumps off the pages of this book and the way that both of them fight it (and lose) over and over again is very realistic.
By Proxy – Katy Regnery I haven’t read this kind of book in a long time. It was sweet and romantic and full of emotion, without being cheesy or overtly sexy. The chemistry between Jenny and Sam was real and believable, although without the usual steam factor that I normally like in a romance. The by-proxy marriage scene was one of the best parts of the book, followed by their parting which was so full of angst it brought tears to my eyes. I liked how the author brought each of the characters on their own journey of development and thought that two strangers falling in love over the course of a long weekend was done just right.
Fire Inside – Kristen Ashley Before this book, did anyone other than the author really see Hop as hero material? I certainly didn’t, but I changed my mind real quick. Like most Kristen Ashley heroes, Hop is who he is and makes no excuses for the way he lives his life. He was alpha to the core, and part of what I loved about him was how much he wanted to look after and protect Lanie. Lanie was a nut – she has so many issues, but Hop systematically attacks each and every one so that he can help her get un-crazy. As usual, Kristen Ashley knows how to give her readers an emotional and entertaining storyline complete with dialogue that is both witty and full of raw sensuality.
One Last Night – Eliza Lloyd I can’t remember the last time a very short story impressed me this much. You might be surprised to see a short novella on my list, but in a mere 49 pages the author managed to pack in an interesting plot, scorching sex scenes and plenty of emotion. I liked everything about this book, starting with the cover and ending with the very last page. It’s rare that a book cover accurately depicts the characters, but this one shows exactly who I envisioned Lucy and John to be. Their romance was sexy and emotional, and I found myself pulling for their happy ever after, even knowing their situation was impossible.
Mine to Hold – Shayla Black This might be my favorite book in the Wicked Lovers series. Tyler made this book fantastic for me. Del was a hard nut to crack, but he was patient and persistent and absolutely refused to budge. He walked away from her once, he was NOT going to do it again. He was a strong, sexy, caring hero, and despite his well-earned reputation as a ladies man, there was not a “jerk” bone in his body. The suspense factor in this book was a little too obvious…. I knew where the story was going almost immediately, but overall it was a great read!
It Had to be You – Jill Shalvis I can tell you why this book made my Best of 2013 list in three words: It’s Jill Shalvis. You know how they say someone could sing the phone book and you’d listen? Jill Shalvis could rewrite the phone book and I’d read it. This book is just like all of the others in the Lucky Harbor series – fun, funny, romantic, touching and sexy. I loved Luke and I loved Ali and I loved them together.