My picks: Best of Romance 2016

It’s been a rocky year, and as such, I found myself diving between the covers of a good book (or two…or many). And it’s the romance genre where I have devoted my time. From paranormal to erotica to historical romance, you’ll find a little bit of each in my list.

Without further ado, these are this librarian’s best romance releases of 2016.

10. The Earl Takes All by Lorraine Heath.  This story was INTENSE. I wobbled back on forth about Edward’s actions in pretending to be his elder, deceased, titled, AND married brother (whoosh!). The when-will-Lady Julia-find-out and what’s-gonna-happen-when-she-does kept me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait for the next installment in this impeccable series.

Buy your copy here!

289534969. Ruled by Elle Kennedy. This particular author wins two spots on my countdown because, honestly, I haven’t read a book by Elle that hasn’t landed on my keeper shelf. Ruled is no different. It’s the third in her post-apocalyptic erotica series with not one but two male leads and the alpha female who brings them all together. Reese is a tough heroine, and it’s fun watching these two men try to keep up with her. Jam-packed with action, hold on to your eyebrows for this one!

Buy your copy here!

8. Megan Erickson and her counterpart in the Cyberlove Series,  Santino Hassell, claim spot number 8. Fast Connection stars Dominic, aka Nicky from book 1, who finds his match in a silver fox, Luke. They meet on Grindr, and from the get-go, it’s a series of shenanigans. Nicky is a handful, and we’ll leave it up to Luke to handle him. 😉

Buy your copy here!

7. I don’t read many mafia books, the exception being Kele Moon’s Untamed Hearts series. 18392763 The Enforcer is the much anticipated book that will tell Tino’s story. He’s the younger brother to the leader of the Sicilian Mafia. A man with a dark past and a crush on his sister’s sweet childhood friend, Brianna, this is an emotional and dark journey.  Be sure to keep your Kleenex handy. I can’t wait for volume 2 of their story. Release date TBD.

Buy your copy here!

6. Midnight Revenge by Elle Kennedy. Annnnd number 6 brings us back to the wonderful Elle Kennedy! If you’re looking for a romantic suspense – high action, drama, and pure alpha sexiness (in both the males and females) – give the Killer Instincts series a try. This book follows the alpha hero I’ve been waiting for, Derek “D” Pratt, and the doctor, Sophia Amaro, who may look sweet, but has a core of steel. It’s another dark tale (apparently I have an affinity for them), but the payoff – and the buildup to the long awaited Sully and Liam story line – makes it well worth the wait.

Buy your copy here!

270678765. Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt. My first love has always been Regency historical, and Elizabeth Hoyt always gives a heart-wrenching story. The heroine, Alf, takes this story to a whole new level. Masquerading as a boy her entire life, she gets entangled in a lordling’s mission against a group of evildoers. This installment of the Maiden Lane series stayed with me long after reading the last page. Alf is a heroine to admire.

Buy your copy here!

4. Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare. This historical was laugh-out-loud funny! From the first page, I was giggling like a loon, and the book has one of the sweetest “Oh, my god, but I do love him” moments that ripped my heart out of my chest. It is a refreshingly light-hearted
romance which will never let you look at an aubergine the same way again. (You’ll have to trust me on this. Or, you know, read this one :))

Buy your copy here!

3. Blood Vow by J.R. Ward. Black Dagger Brotherhood: if you aren’t familiar with what this is, allow me to rectify 29496208that immediately! A group of vampires living amongst humans, kicking ass and taking names. This book is a spin-off to that BDB series called the Black Dagger Legacy. It features all of the characters from her original series, and gives us a newer cast to continue J.R. Ward’s masterful storytelling and exquisite plot. Seriously, how does this woman keep all of these story lines in her head at once?!? She’s amazing, and Blood Vow delivers all the feels and laughs that I have come to expect.

Plus – side note! – there are Deadpool references. (I LIVE for Deadpool, you guys. Ask my husband.)

Buy your copy here!

2. Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas. I don’t know about you, but I remember the author that truly captured me into my favorite genre (Historical Fiction) – Lisa Kleypas. The woman can do no wrong in my humble opinion, and I have a whole stack of books on my bookshelf with additional ebook copies to prove it. Marrying Winterborne takes us on a wild ride with a business tycoon and the gentle beauty who steals his heart. The surprise reveal in this one floored me, and oh, how I love Winterborne.

Side Note: I CANNOT wait for the next in the Ravenels series, Devil in Spring.  I might have already preordered it. Let’s just keep it between us, okay?

Buy your copy here!

1.Drum roll, please!!!! Because, quite honestly, my number 1 pick this year is a no-brainer. There are some stories that capture you – body and 17927395soul – and leave you reeling for days afterwards where you are reliving each moment and wondering what possibly comes next. Sarah J. Maas delivers us The Holy Grail of Young Adult in A Court of Mist and Fury. The sudden turnaround in the characters’ fates laid me out flat. Like, what?!? I’ll admit, I’m a total traitor, and I love this book far more than the first one.

I need a piece of Rhys, asap.

I never knew what “shipping” a couple meant until this book.  I think this might be – quite possibly – my favorite read of ALL-TIME. And as a librarian, that’s saying something.

Buy your copy here!

Honorable Mentions:

Hooked on Love by Jeannie Marts

Baron by Joanna Shupe

A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean

Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

Review: Hard Hitter by Sarina Bowen

What do you get when you put together a big ass hockey player who doesn’t like to be touched with a determined masseuse determined to heal him? Sarina Bowen turns up the heat in the second book of her Brooklyn Bruiser’s series, Hard Hitter.

Synopsis

28869598Ari Bettini has no desire to date. With her stalker ex hounding her, Ari falls into her work as the personal masseuse for the hockey team, the Bruisers. That is, until Captain Patrick O’Doul comes in with his quiet and steady presence to shake up her world.

Patrick O’Doul is the main fighter on the ice and when a hip injury requires therapy, he is put in the capable hands of the beautiful Ari. Which wouldn’t sound so bad if he didn’t hate to be touched.  Under Ari’s gentle hands, O’Doul unravels and finds she just might be the healing he needs. If only her ex and Patrick’s past didn’t entangle them both in trouble.

Review

The Bruisers hockey team is on their way to the playoffs, and they need their captain in top shape. Thank goodness for Ari who knows something’s off the moment Patrick lands on her massage table. I loved her! She has such a kind heart, and she knows just how to lower O’Doul’s guard and put him at ease. Not only does he eventually accept her touch, but he wants it just for him!

 “Does Castro really propose to you every time you touch his feet?”

The question was so unexpected that she let fly a peal of laughter. “Yes, he does. We could be married a hundred times over by now.”

His back rose and fell with a chuckle. “God. Tell him to get in line behind me.”

“Why, Patrick O’Doul”—she gave his calf a pretend slap—“I’d almost think you liked this.”

“It’s tolerable,” he grumbled.

And that’s how she knew he was feeling better.

O’Doul, however, stole the show because behind his gruff and broody exterior, he is secretly the biggest romantic. Ari is running gun shy after her ex – whose dark past comes to endanger Ari – and O’Doul is exactly who she needs to break through her no-relationship barrier.

I loved how realistically this happens and with O’Doul opening up to her. He allows her into spaces – both physically and emotionally – that he doesn’t let anyone else enter.

He’d been in a scuffle tonight—the first one in years where he wasn’t wearing skates. And that wasn’t the only odd thing about the fight. It was also the only one in years he was certain had a real purpose to it.

The passion combusts between them, and it is the first time Ari experiences a truly loving (and smoking hot!) touch. Ari lets O’Doul in, and let’s be honest, it isn’t hard to do with his candid personality.

“What regrets? I have none,” he rumbled. “The problem is that I already get boned up on your massage table. Next time you put your hands on me at work I’m gonna start moaning like a porn star.”

“Might have to get out a gag for you,” she teased.

He let out a sleepy groan. “Doubt it’ll work. Probably just turn me into a submissive.”

There’s one scene where O’Doul turns the tables on Ari – quite literally – and boy! are readers in for one blazing treat.

Hard Hitter is a wonderful sports romance with just enough heat and more than enough heart. A solid four star read. Make way for these sexy hockey stars. Or, you know, jump in front of them. It would be no hardship.

Hard Hitter releases January 3rd!

Pre-order your copy

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   iBooks   Kobo

80%

Professional Reader

Review: Wolf Unleashed by Paige Tyler

I’m the type that obsesses over a good book, but occasionally, I get so lost in the story that I look up from the pages and expect the hero to form right before my eyes. Alas, dear reader, there was no six-foot-four inch muscled werewolf shifter, but hey, you can’t win them all.

In this case, I will gladly take what I can get.

51asdjhorjl-_sx303_bo1204203200_
Wolf Unleashed by Paige Tyler was non-stop action from the start. Our heroine, Lacey Barton, is the new vet in a clinic in Dallas, and when she hears that there is dog fighting in the area, she is one of the first to respond, and she’s getting tired of being too late to save the animals. What she doesn’t expect in her investigations is to get tangled up in the drug circuit of fireball – or as equally tangled up in Dallas SWAT member, Alex Trevino.

Alex can’t get the new vet out of his head, and he thinks she just might be The One. Unfortunately for him, Lacey keeps turning him down, and he just doesn’t get it. As the drug ring takes lives, Alex is determined to save them, and when he finds that Lacey and her sister are threatened, it just might be more than this werewolf can bear.

I adored this book. It’s always refreshing for me to see the heroine give the hero a good chase. From the very first meeting, she’s turning down the hunky Trevino. It seems ludicrous when you see what kind of chemistry these two have.

Reaching down, Alex gently picked up Tuffie and set her on the stainless steel exam table.

“Nice muscle tone,” Lacey murmured.

Alex felt the compliment go right to his head. “Thanks.”

“Actually, I was talking about Tuffie,” Lacey said as she tenderly ran her hands over the dog’s shoulders.

“Oh.”

She looked up at him from beneath her lashes. “But yours is pretty good too.”

Alex thinks Lacey could be his mate – The One destined for his werewolf – but how does she find it so easy to turn him down? While it’s a merry chase, I celebrated each time that Lacey avoids Alex’s advances while at the same time, celebrated when Alex got through one of her walls. This particular werewolf is a relationship guy through and through, and it is so refreshing.

Which leads me to the great camaraderie in the SWAT group.These guys are always giving each other crap, and Alex’s partner, Remy – the ultimate werewolf playboy – gives him the most.

“That works for you?” Alex asked. “Playing it cool when a woman isn’t interested in you, I mean.”

Remy shrugged. “Hell if I know. I’ve never met a woman who wasn’t interested in me. I’m just making up this crap in the hope that it helps you.”

Wonderful.

“And if it doesn’t? Then what?”

Remy glanced at him as he pulled the SUV into the parking lot of the SWAT compound. “Then you’ll just have to accept the fact that Lacey has extremely good taste and is way out of your league.”

Luckily for Alex, Lacey needs his persistence, his courage, his absolute dedication. Lacey’s backstory is horrible, and I cried for her. She’s been taking care of her sister for years, working hard for her future, that she does so little for herself. And isn’t that true in today’s world? Working ourselves to the bone for those we care about? To be proud of ourselves?

Alex loves to take care of Lacey, however. He shows her how it could be between them if she’d only rely on his strength.

Damned if he wasn’t sexy.


Lacey returned his smile. “You’re resorting to sexual arousal to blackmail me into another date?”

He stopped as he reached the door. “A desperate man does what he has to.”

She lifted a brow. “I make you that desperate?”

“I guess it will take another date—or two—for you to find that out.” That dangerous smile of his flashed across his face again before he turned and walked out.

The plot kicks into high gear not long after, and the romance falls a bit to the wayside. After the reveal of Alex’s werewolf identity, I wanted one last quiet moment for them. Something to round out their interactions.

That being said, I got sucked into this SWAT world, and I was flipping through pages so fast, my fingertips were burning. And I enjoyed every second of it.

Paige Tyler’s writing is simply effortless; flawless. So, if you’re in the mood for an adventure where the romance and the plot entwine masterfully; where you lose your heart to a giving and wounded young woman with her protective, alpha counterpart, I urge you to pick up this installment in the SWAT series.

It’s what romantic suspense should be.

Review:Becoming a Legend by Sarah Robinson

There are just some books that bring a whole new definition to the term “book hangover.” Becoming a Legend by Sarah Robinson is one of those books. It gives all the feels and hours later, I am still living in the Kavanagh world.

41d7qry9lilOh, these two! Right out of the gate, they have such a dialogue with each other. Kade has it bad for Nora, and Nora rebuffs him like it’s her day job! Unfortunately for Nora, there is something about him. I just knew they were going to throw down eventually (both in and out of the bedroom, that is). It’s simply a matter of when, and it happens quite quickly. At first, I worried that the plot might stall out.

I was so glad to be wrong.

Their chemistry is off the charts, both complimenting each other so well. Nora is a sweet character, but her mother (ugh! her horrid mother!) makes her feel unworthy. I’ll be honest and say I have never cried so much throughout a book. Nora’s history is heartbreaking, and Kade’s honesty and openness are just what she needs. Kade breaks right through those barriers of hers. (He’s secretly the biggest softie!)

Kane pulled her grip from the sheets and intertwined their fingers. He traced the edge of her ear with his tongue, and his breath warmed her neck as he whispered, “Anchor yourself to me, Nora. Nothing else. Only me.”

See what I mean? Such sweet, intimate moments where Kade completely steals my heart! I would give an I just love this book” sigh and then the sex would be steaming hot followed by another, “Awww, he’s just so sweet!”

But Nora definitely holds her own, and they are well matched. Kade can be a little bit of a bad boy and instead of getting on his case about it, she accepts it and gets a lot more confident and playful than she has with other men. Their banter was laugh-out-loud funny. In one part, Kade offers to help Nora with her studies:

Her eyes flickered down to his lips, then back up to meet his gaze. She straightened her shoulders and exhaled. “Let me guess, you’ll quiz me, and for each wrong answer I give, I’ll have to take off something I’m wearing?”

Kane’s mouth parted and his eyes widened as he considered the image she’d just painted for him. “Hell, Kitty, I was genuinely offering to help, but your idea is so much better. Let’s go with that.”

One of my favorite scenes involves a reference to The Princess Bride. They’re both secretly a little nerdy and quirky, and I love it! It had me giggling like a loon and grinning at their antics.

And I was astounded by how forward they both were. They communicated, and I loved that there weren’t any misunderstandings. They had each other’s back. They know what they want and when they make up their minds to go after it, it is electric.

They are electric.

This book had it all. This was the first book in the Kavanagh Legends series that I have read, and I have already ordered the previous two. I recommend this book so hard, and I dare you not to fall for the Kavanagh brothers.

I know I have.

Preorder your copy:

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kobo