2017 Favorite Reads – Susan

 

I didn’t read as much as I have in years past. Mostly because it was hard to get my head and heart out of the rut that is the WORLD right now. But, also, because of everything going on around me, I’ve felt inspired to write some of my own stories. This year, I’ve finished one YA novel and am drafting my 2nd. It’s exciting!

I slacked on reading and reviewing for the blog, so I want to thank SHERI for keeping up the site! Not only are you a great blogger, but you’re an amazing friend. 🙂

As I’ve been writing YA, I’ve made it a point to read more in the genre. So, though Romance is still my number one, 2017 allowed me to experience some powerful and amazing YA stories as well.

So, here they are…my favorite reads of 2017…

History

“History Is All You Left Me” by Adam Silvera – No joke, this book broke me. This story about first love, love lost, and healing was a powerful read and had me self-reflecting more than I was prepared to be doing. Adam Silvera is a master at telling a story that is NOT EASY but so freaking WORTH IT. AMAZON

hatinggame

“The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne – This was possibly my favorite audiobook of the year. The narration by Katie Schorr was so SPOT ON not only for the characters, but the overall voice of the story. A workplace enemies-to-lovers story, it was charming, heartfelt, sexy, and fun. AMAZON

goodboy

“Good Boy” by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy – Bellyachingly funny, Good Boy is a spinoff of Bowen/Kennedy’s “Him” series. Blake Riley is one of the most hilarious characters I’ve read in a long time. I wanted to hate him, but instead, I fell absolutely in love. This is hilarious, it’s fun, surprisingly emotional, and sexy AF. Loved. (The audiobook version is also wonderful!) AMAZON

hateugive

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas – This book has been sitting on the NYT bestseller list since pretty much the moment it debuted…and there’s a reason why. It is a POWERFUL story depicting the problematic race relations between law enforcement and Black men today. Thomas’ characters are compelling and real and raw. It’s a story that needed to be told, and was done so in a way that was superb. AMAZON

Gathering Storm

“A Gathering Storm” by Joanna Chambers – This book is such a swoony, lovely, haunting historical romance. I love all of Joanna Chambers’ books so it’s a broken record to say this is one of my favorites. But it truly is. There is such a beautiful quality to the way this story was told. And the setting of the town of Porthkennack was a character in and of itself. AMAZON

vicevirtue

“The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee – What a ride! Following two teenaged best friends + a way-awesome younger sister across Europe in a rip-roaring adventure with bad guys, danger, illness, love, and a lot of sass was a HOOT! I read this book 3 times and listened to the audio (highly recommended) 2 more times. To say I loved it would be an understatement. I LOVED IT! AMAZON

 

There are a couple of advanced reader copies I got and read this year that I will SO EXCITEDLY add to my list for 2018, both were 5-star reads for me. Keep your eyes open for “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi (epic YA fantasy) and “Tribute Act” by Joanna Chambers (lovely, smalltown M/M romance). I loved them both!

Hope you and yours survived (and maybe even thrived!) 2017. Looking forward to a WONDERFUL 2018 filled with stories to steal our hearts! Happy reading!

Best,

Susan

2017 Favorite Reads – Sheri

The end of the year is here, which for me means too much good food, lots of bubbly and a time for reflection. I always look forward to taking a few moments to pause and remember the highlights from the last twelve months. Books are a huge part of my life. They bring me great comfort; my kindle is almost like a security blanket and certainly one of my most prized possessions. Even when I was unable to read for a few weeks, it never left my side. I am forever grateful for the brave authors in this world. Providing an escape, whether it be fluff and smut or angst-ridden and tearful, is a priceless gift. So, thank you! I treasure my book time and I would be lost without you. I had the pleasure of discovering new authors and found myself in new trope territory too! I couldn’t stay away from the angsty reads again this year and melted into a few beloved series from the year before. All in all I was quite fortunate and it was another stellar year of books.

Let’s get this book party started,
Here are my most cherished books from this past year…..

 

“The Layover” by Roe Horvat – Whoa. This novella left me thunderstruck. I was drawn to it for some reason when the review request list came along and I’m beyond thankful I took a chance on it. A shiny new author rocked my world and left me gobsmacked. As I declared in my post-read daze, it is real, it is raw and it’s remarkable. The last time a novella left such an impact on me was when I was flying high with “Skybound” from Voinov. Truly powerful writing is the only link between the two books. Every word has a purpose in an impressive and compelling manner. Believe me, this is phenomenal and worth reading if you haven’t.  AMAZON

 

“Misfits” by Garrett Leigh – I was introduced to Leigh near the end of last year and I’ve quickly become a devoted reader. She is fearless and takes us on hellacious rides. This particular adventure was not one I would have sought out before I began reading everything she has penned. Three? MĂ©nage? Throuple? I would politely decline and move along. Because….I didn’t get it. And then Garrett opened my eyes and my heart to three awesome men I will never forget. I understood how two people can fit together perfectly and yet they still require one more piece to bind them in place. A secure connection that doesn’t interfere, simply locks them. Gorgeous story that I think everyone should experience. AMAZON

 

“Kidnapped by the Pirate” by Keira Andrews – *blink* This was…..another blindside. I don’t read historical romance. I’ve tried before and just couldn’t find the appeal. Until now. Andrews takes us back, wayyy back, and I couldn’t get enough. A naughty pirate and a naive young man pulled me into their turbulent world of forbidden love and I longed to stay. It was sassy, sweet and of course, sexy. Keira has become one of my auto-buy authors for good reason. If you haven’t jumped on this “juicy” journey, you are sorely missing out!  AMAZON

 

“Arrows Through Archer” by Nash Summers – I don’t think it’s necessary to disclose I’m friends with the author but I’ll put it out there. Yes, I think Summers is an awesome person but she’s also an awesome author. I’ve had the pleasure of watching her grow and this book is her best work in my opinion. This story is a tsunami of feels and I willingly threw myself into the storm. It’s not often characters stick with you but I have no doubt Mallory and Archer are with me for the long haul. If you haven’t read Summers yet, this is a marvelous place to start! AMAZON

 

“True Colors” by Anyta Sunday – I don’t read a lot of YA but I DO read a lot of Anyta Sunday. This was a tragically beautiful second chance story of true love. This book hurt…but it hurt so good. Two best friends were ripped apart in the most agonizing manner and then reunited years later. The damage was severe and the time apart has not been kind. Sunday delivers a powerful first love, true love, only love story that should make the cut of all YA readers. And hey, even if you’re not, I bet you’ll agree this story is worthy of all the colors of the rainbow. AMAZON

 

“Be My Best Man” by Con Riley – This book!!! Sensational spellbinding storytelling at its best. Yet another new-to-me author that blew me away. A complex love story that requires patience from the reader but will reward you in the most astounding fashion. Prepare to endure real life oppressions, adversity, and afflictions. The storm clouds are dark and heavy but when the sun comes out, it will take your breath away. This story needs to make it to the big screen. I just KNOW it would kill it as a blockbuster. Con Riley, I’ve got my eye on you and I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in the upcoming year. AMAZON

 

“A Worthy Man” by Jaime Reese – If you know me at all, you know I’m proud to be Jaime Reese’s number one fan. I know I’m not alone (check out all the gushing reviews!) but there are valid reasons why I am obsessed with her stories. The Men of Halfway House are all unique and equally dreamy in their own imperfect ways. But Vann And Drayton? I think they are my favorite. But don’t tell Julian. Or Cole. Or Ty. Or…okay, I can’t pick a favorite. Clearly, they are all impressive for different reasons. Vann and Dray are soul mates. They have been separated for nearly two decades and are finally reunited. Reese demonstrates the stark difference between a lover and a soul mate and if you believe in eternal love, you need this book. Seriously, go get it….  AMAZON

 

“Play Dead” by Avery CockburnThe Glasgow Lads knocked me off my feet last year and I was thrilled we had the chance to slip back into their world again. Things pick up from the moment the previous book left off, so it’s important to know their story before you begin this one. All of the couples in the series are fantastic but I really enjoyed the continuation of Andrew and Colin’s story. This novella felt deeply intimate and I couldn’t deny the powerful emotional pull. This is as serious as it is sensual. The balance was brilliantly done. Sexy Scots are apparently my weakness and I hope Avery continues to gift us with more of their powerful plays! AMAZON

 

“Rule Breaker” by Lily Morton – Another new-to-me author! Such a wonderful year, meeting and adoring new authors. I was instantly smitten with this grouchy boss and charming assistant. Their rocky and rough road was full of broken rules and I was utterly and completely engrossed in their story, I couldn’t put it down. Morton won me over with her sharp writing, witty characters and forbidden passion. It’s not often I experience story quicksand (where you can’t leave the pages and sink deeper and deeper) but this was one sticky fight I was content to lose. It’s clear to see Lily loves her guys because she continues to add bonus scenes (free on her website!) just because she wants to. I appreciate and respect this act of love. These wonderfully wicked men are not to be missed! AMAZON

 

“Bitten By Desire” by Annabelle Jacobs – Paranormal romance is still my all-time favorite trope and Jacobs remains on top with her superior wolves. This series is my most anticipated for 2018 and this story is best of the best for 2017! SO GOOD. I was on the edge of my seat and squealed and sobbed as I read. Jacobs presents an impressively intricate storyline driven by deeply emotional characters. It was INTENSE. If you are a shifter fan and haven’t met The Regent’s Park Pack, stop what you are doing and race your fingers here…  AMAZON

 

“Lickety Split” by Damon Suede- I gotta give props when they’re due and this is one story that shouldn’t be overlooked. I have tremendous respect for Suede’s writing and this story is a prime example of why. When Damon creates a story he pours himself into the pages. There’s nothing wrong with the powerhouse writers that churn out several books a year but there’s something to be said for the careful and cautious crafters. Suede’s words are magical, powerful and full to the brim. This cowboy and his pup took me on a (scorching hot) ride I won’t soon forget. Reckon you’ll feel the same.  AMAZON

 

Well, that’s it! This concludes my best of 2017 but I can’t go without shout outs to: “Heart” by Garrett Leigh, “The Perils of Intimacy” by Rick R. Reed, “Snowblind” by Eli Easton, “Leo Loves Aries” by Anyta Sunday, “Lucky Man” by Garrett Leigh (as you can see, I’m kinda addicted to Leigh) “Off the Beaten Path” by Cari Z., “Summer Heat” by Jay Northcote and “Married for a Month” by Cate Ashwood. It wasn’t easy (which I think is kinda great) to narrow down my top ten…or eleven this year…but ha, who’s counting?

2017 seemed to fly by, I still can’t believe it’s over! I made some amazing and unforgettable memories with my family, friends and of course, my books. I hope 2018 brings you lots of laughter, love, and books that will…. shake any funk.

Hugs,

sheri

“In Case of Emergency” by Keira Andrews

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Former stepbrothers find Christmas romance under the tree.

After years alone, Daniel Diaz is finally ready to shake up his orderly, solitary life. He’s about to leave for a cozy Christmas getaway with his new man when he gets the call from the ER that his former stepbrother has been admitted with a concussion and a broken hand—and Cole put him down as his emergency contact. Why the hell would he do that? Daniel barely knows the guy. After all, their parents’ marriage lasted less than a year and it was a decade ago!

But Cole has no one else to look after him and strict doctor’s orders not to be left alone. So fine, Daniel will bring him along on vacation to make sure he doesn’t starve or fall into a coma. This is supposed to be Daniel’s chance to explore romance again after locking down his feelings for too long—except it turns out his could-be boyfriend is more interested in partying and being an obnoxious jerk. Daniel sends him packing, and now he’s stuck with a virtual stranger in an isolated mountain cabin.

Cole Smith crushed hard on cranky Daniel when they were teenagers. Alone with him in a romantic winter wonderland, those feelings roar back to life. Glimpsing the caring, vulnerable man under Daniel’s frosty shell, he yearns to get closer. Christmas is a time for surprises, and Daniel and Cole discover a scorching connection that just might melt their hearts.

 

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“Cruising” by Cate Ashwood

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Best friends Dylan and Jake have been inseparable since college, but Dylan has one secret he can’t bring himself to share with Jake—he’s completely, utterly in love with him.

Jake’s friendship is the most important thing in the world to Dylan, so as much as it hurts to see him with other people, Dylan keeps his mouth shut about his true feelings. When Jake wins a cruise to Alaska, he asks Dylan to go along, but what Dylan doesn’t know, is that there’s more on offer than a dream vacation.

Can Dylan and Jake sail off to their happily ever after, or are they cruising toward disaster?

 

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“Not Just For Christmas” by Annabelle Jacobs

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Ben has Christmas, cats, and mistletoe on his side…. Jason doesn’t stand a chance 

For Ben Slater, moving back to Bristol means being closer to his family, living with his best mate, and volunteering at the local animal shelter. But there’s also Jason, his best mate’s eldest brother. Ben’s had a crush on Jason for as long as he can remember, but the eleven-year age gap has always seemed insurmountable.

Jason Armitage works as a vet at his uncle’s practice. He owns a cute cottage on the outskirts of the city, and a loving dog. The one thing missing is someone to share it all with. His brother’s best friend seems a bad choice, but Jason can’t help taking a second look. Ben’s changed a lot since Jason last saw him; both in appearance and attitude. Gone is the shy young boy, replaced with a confident, twenty-four-year-old man.

In the run up to Christmas, the festive period gives Ben the ideal opportunity to show Jason what he has to offer. But concerns for his brother’s feelings hold Jason back. If they have any chance of making this work, Ben must convince Jason that he’s old enough to know what he wants, and Jason needs to believe that a relationship with his brother’s best friend won’t ruin their friendship.

 

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“Eight Nights in December” by Keira Andrews

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A geek. A virgin. One sexy holiday.

Orphaned Lucas figures spending the holidays with his obnoxious roommate’s family in New York City is better than staying alone on campus upstate. He ends up sharing a room again, this time with his roommate’s brother, Nate. Geeky photographer Nate isn’t at all what Lucas expects. In fact, he’s incredibly sexy—especially when he invites Lucas into his darkroom…

They hide their attraction during Hanukkah celebrations, but behind closed doors, Lucas and Nate can’t keep their hands (or mouths) off each other. Nate’s only looking for a bit of holiday fun, and amazing sex with a hot virgin definitely fits the bill. Yet as the candles burn, Nate and Lucas begin to realize eight nights will never be enough.

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“Desperately Seeking Santa” by Eli Easton

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Journalism student Gabe Martin gets his first professional assignment—to write about a Christmas charity dinner that benefits a children’s home. It sounds like a total snooze-fest until Gabe learns that the event’s Santa is a mystery man. He shows up in costume and no one has a clue who he is. Uncovering Santa’s identity sounds like the perfect angle to turn a fluff piece into serious journalism.

Mack “The Mountain” McDonall, at 6’10”, is University of Wisconsin-Madison’s enormous star wrestler. When Gabe first claps eyes on him at a wrestling match, it’s lust at first sight. Gabe’s friend, Jordan, sets up the pair on a date. But when Gabe chatters on about his plans for outing Santa, Mack goes cold, and their first meeting becomes an epic fail.

As Gabe researches the children’s home, he learns that Mack has secrets a guy famous for being a brute wouldn’t want the world to know. Can Gabe find his holiday spirit, write a killer article, win the heart of a surly giant, and give everyone a very merry Christmas?

 

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“Secret Santa” by Jay Northcote

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Keeping secrets is never a good way to start a relationship…

Theo hardly has time to date. Between work and caring for his four-year-old son there aren’t many hours left over. He’s lonely though, so he joins a hook-up app and starts chatting to a guy called Luke. Luke seems friendly and they arrange to meet. Theo doesn’t mention that he has a child. It’s early days and he’s worried about putting Luke off before they get to know each other.

Luke is currently working as Santa at the local shopping mall. He figures Theo never has to know. Christmas will be over soon and Luke will move on to a new, less embarrassing job. He’s surprised when Theo and a little boy visit Santa one afternoon. Theo doesn’t recognise Luke, and Luke realises he’s not the only one with a secret.

Despite misgivings on both sides, they start dating, and the chemistry is amazing. But as Christmas approaches their secrets pile up like colourful packages under the tree. If they’re not careful, they’ll lose the best gift of all—each other.

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“Dear Ruth” by Kim Fielding

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Dear Ruth,
I’m not in the mood for Christmas. After a romantic relationship went up in flames, I returned to my hometown in rural Kansas. Then my mother passed away. I’m really busy with my job as fire marshal—and now with my mother’s advice column, which I reluctantly took over. There’s a sexy newcomer down the street, a guy with a young daughter and an unfortunate disregard for fire safety. He seems to want to be friends, but that creates problems that may be too hot for me to handle. The last things I need right now are flammable holiday decorations and too much holiday food. How am I supposed to give good advice to others when I can’t seem to get my own life straight?
—Bah Humbug in Bailey Springs

 

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“Regret Me Not” by Amy Lane

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Pierce Atwater used to think he was a knight in shining armor, but then his life fell to crap. Now he has no job, no wife, no life—and is so full of self-pity he can’t even be decent to the one family member he’s still speaking to. He heads for Florida, where he’s got a month to pull his head out of his ass before he ruins his little sister’s Christmas.

Harold Justice Lombard the Fifth is at his own crossroads—he can keep being Hal, massage therapist in training, flamboyant and irrepressible to the bones, or he can let his parents rule his life. Hal takes one look at Pierce and decides they’re fellow unicorns out to make the world a better place. Pierce can’t reject Hal’s overtures of friendship, in spite of his misgivings about being too old and too pissed off to make a good friend.

As they experience everything from existential Looney Tunes to eternal trips to Target, Pierce becomes more dependent on Hal’s optimism to get him through the day. When Hal starts getting him through the nights too, Pierce must look inside for the knight he used to be—before Christmas becomes a doomsday deadline of heartbreak instead of a celebration of love.

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