2016 Favorite Reads – Susan

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I didn’t get through as many books this year as I typically have in the past, but looking back, there really were some gems. And for that I’m so thankful. If ever a year needed some escaping, 2016 was a doozy.

I also ventured back into the worlds of “Chick Lit” (ok, ok…”women’s fiction”), YA (man, there are some REALLY amazing YA authors out there!), and dipped my toe in a bit of fantasy. But, my number one love is still the classic Contemporary. 🙂

So here they are, my favorite books (erm…snuck in a couple series onto the list) of the year:

Bittersweet

“Bittersweet” by Sarina Bowen – dirty-talkin’ farmer who makes his own cider? Yes please! Sarina Bowen’s heroes are always so swoon-worthy and Griff is my favorite of the bunch. This was pretty much the most satisfying contemporary romance I read this year. AMAZON

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“The Rifter” Series by Ginn Hale – An impossible series to describe. But…MIND. BLOWN. Possibly one of the best worlds I’ve ever read. I can’t scream “YOU MUST READ THIS!” loud enough! AMAZON

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“The Borders War” Series by SA McAuley – a military dytopian-esque series w/ two sworn enemies who have the sexiest relationship EVER. Each book in the series gets better and better. This one HURT…but it was so worth it. AMAZON

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“Foxes” by Suki Fleet – If you aren’t reading Suki Fleet, you are missing out on something beautiful. She writes characters and stories that haunt me long after I’m done with the book. God…Danny and Micky…still can’t shake them. AMAZON

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“Bounty” by Kristen Ashley – Because this year was so tough all around, having comfort reads saved me this year. And when KA comes out w/ a new Colorado Mtn book w/ all my favorite characters? It was like a balm to my soul. AMAZON

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“The Mermaid Murders” by Josh Lanyon – I don’t think I’ve gone a year without a Lanyon book on my favorites list. 2016 was no exception. The Mermaid Murders was the best of what Lanyon does…mystery, moments of scariness that had me hold me breath, imperfect men who struggle to allow themselves to love…and just really great writing. So good. AMAZON 

“The Goal” by Elle Kennedy

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She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

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“When the Dust Settles” by Mary Calmes

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Glenn Holloway’s predictable life ended the day he confessed his homosexuality to his family. As if that wasn’t enough, he then poured salt in the wound by walking away from the ranch he’d grown up on, to open the restaurant he’d always dreamed of. Without support from his father and brother, and too proud to accept assistance from anyone else, he had to start from scratch. Over time things worked out: Glenn successfully built a strong business, created a new home, and forged a life he could be proud of.

Despite his success, his estrangement from the Holloways is still a sore spot he can’t quite heal, and a called-in favor becomes Glenn’s worst nightmare. Caught in a promise, Glenn returns to his roots to deal with Rand Holloway and comes face-to-face with Mac Gentry, a man far too appealing for Glenn’s own good. It could all lead to disaster—disaster for his tenuous reconnection with his family and for the desire he didn’t know he held in his heart.

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“Night Watch” by Josh Lanyon

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Three years ago investigative reporter Parker Davidson barely survived a brutal attack by his psychopathic ex-boyfriend. It’s given him a dim view of romance.

When Parker’s ex escapes from a maximum security prison, LAPD Lieutenant Henry Stagge is tasked with making sure that Parker doesn’t end up a victim a second—and final—time.

Most cops believe Parker got what he deserved, but over the course of a few very tense hours, Henry begins to wonder if there’s more to Parker than he thought.

Second chances happen in the strangest places—and at the strangest times.

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“Red River” by Cardeno C

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Two Alpha shifters join together to lead their pack and build a family.

Commitment, loyalty, and strength aren’t enough to make Wesley Stone’s birth pack accept an Alpha with a physical imperfection, even if it’s a meaningless mark. Putting the safety of his pack above his own wellbeing, Wesley trades himself for another Alpha and agrees to mate with a stranger in a mysterious, insular pack.

Alphas from Jobe Root’s family have led the Red River pack from the first day shifters walked the earth. Now the time has come for Jobe to fulfill his destiny, but to do that, he needs his mate by his side. Spiritual, easygoing Jobe reveres Mother Nature and trusts in fate, yet he can’t help being nervous about how his mate will react to his new life in Red River, his new life with Jobe.

Two Alphas with contrasting personalities, different upbringings, and divergent beliefs come together for the good of their packs. But to stay together, Wesley and Jobe must see beyond the surface and embrace every facet of themselves and their union.

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“His Heart’s Revenge” by Jenny Holiday

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Twenty years ago, I was too smart and too poor to be cool. Now I’m laughing my way to the bank—the bank I’m CEO of. Nothing can touch me.

Except maybe him.

We met at summer camp. We made out under the stars. Then he stabbed me in the back.

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. But I’m gonna go with hot.

Alexander Evangelista is a millionaire with all the trappings: houses all over the world and hot guys lined up whenever he’s in need of some no-strings-attached company. He’s on his way to world domination.

A CEO in his own right, Cary Bell is competing for a major client with his boyhood crush. He’s never forgiven himself for betraying Alex. But with his professional reputation on the line, he’s going to have to find his inner cutthroat if he wants his new company to succeed.

Alex isn’t about to let his nemesis steal a client out from under him. It’s time to break Cary’s company—and his heart.

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“Strung Up” by Lorelei James

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Rancher Creston Grant retreats from the world after he loses the love of his life… Can his former flame, rodeo cowboy Breck Christianson prove he’s a changed man who can give Cres a second chance at love?

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“Tied Up In Knots” by Mary Calmes

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Miro Jones is living the life: he’s got his exciting, fulfilling job as a US deputy marshal, his gorgeous Greystone in suburban Chicago, his beloved adopted family, and most importantly, the man who captured his heart, Ian Doyle. Problem is, Ian isn’t just his partner at work—Ian’s a soldier through and through. That commitment takes him away from Miro, unexpectedly and often, and it’s casting a shadow over what could be everything Miro could ever dream of.

Work isn’t the same without Ian. Home isn’t the same, either, and Miro’s having to face his fears alone… how to keep it together at the office, how to survive looming threats from the past, and worst of all, how to keep living without Ian’s rock-solid presence at his side. His life is tied up in knots, but what if unknotting them requires something more permanent? What would that mean for him and Ian? Miro’s stuck between two bad choices, and sometimes the only way to get out of the knot is to hold tight to your lifeline and pull.

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“Art Criticism” by Celeste Spettro

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James has no idea what he’s going to do with his art history degree, but for the moment he’s managing as a lowly gallery assistant…until he has to deal with an aggravating photographer.

Turkish is a lot like his photographs: vapid, popular, and over the top – the perfect target for James’ snarky criticism, but somehow James is unable to reject the man as easily he rejects his art.

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“A Second Harvest” by Eli Easton

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David Fisher has lived by the rules all his life. Born to a Mennonite family, he obeyed his father and took over the family farm, married, and had two children. Now with both his kids in college and his wife deceased, he runs his farm alone and without joy, counting off the days of a life half-lived.

Christie Landon, graphic designer, Manhattanite, and fierce gay party boy, needs a change. Now thirty, he figures it’s time to grow up and think about his future. When his best friend overdoses, Christie resolves to take a break from the city. He heads to a small house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to rest, recoup, and reflect.

But life in the country is boring despite glimpses of the hunky silver fox next door. When Christie’s creativity latches on to cooking, he decides to approach his widower neighbor with a plan to share meals and grocery expenses. David agrees, and soon the odd couple finds they really enjoy spending time together.

Christie challenges the boundaries of David’s closed world and brings out feelings he buried long ago. If he can break free of the past, he might find a second chance at happiness.

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