Living in the UK I automatically relate beaches to the sea. However todays book features a lake beach, something we don’t really have in England. Crazy on You by Amelia Wilde has quite a beachy theme running through it. It’s on the shorter end of the novel spectrum, but still a really fun read packed with emotion.
For the last few years I’ve written a post on my top 12 books of the year, and my top 12 series’ of the year. This time I’m going to do thinks a little differently and talk about my top 3 reads in various categories/genres/tropes.
First category is Contemporary Romance.
This is a genre I’ve found myself reading less and less of, at least in terms of ‘straight’ contemporary. My first, and greatest, love in reading was the sci-fi/fantasy genre with authors such as Anne McCaffrey, Julian May, Katherine Kerr, Andre Norton and David Eddings being amongst my favourites. Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams will forever hold a special place in my heart, and prominence on my book shelf. Of late I have found myself drawn back to the genre, but preferring those books which also combine it with a good love story.
However I have read some excellent contemporary romances this year, and actually struggled to narrow the group down to a top 3! Colour me surprised because I didn’t actually expect to find even that number to include.
This is one seriously under-recognised author. Her writing is superb and I just wished she was more well known, Eris thoroughly deserves it.
It’s the story of a seriously messed up pair, who are dysfunctional to the extreme yet who somehow come together to create something wonderful. It’s one of those “so wrong, it’s right” stories and I loved every minute of it.
This is part of an ongoing series, which really needs to be read in order to fully enjoy and understand the back story. Each book features one couple, Cutter, the hero in this one, is a complete alpha-hole but in the best way possible. He’s constantly brought down to size by the bad-ass heroine that is Valentina.
I did have a fourth book, Rebel’s Redemption by Lexi C Foss, that I also need to mention. It is A-MAZ-ING and it’s only because I’m going to be featuring this author in other categories that I didn’t feature the book more widely here.
Next are my favourite 3 books containing BDSM. This was a category that I DID struggle with deciding on, I could easily have included many more books. In fact I’m featuring a series as one of my choices.
There are 6 books in the series, the final one was released a few days ago and I am currently reading (and loving) it. The first book, Sparks, is free. It is more erotic, less dark than the subsequent books, which take us into a dark, underground world full of danger and kink.
These have been amongst my most favourite reads of the year in any genre/trope. The author writes with a subtle humour and her characters are always strong. In fact along with Cari Silverwood, she has written some of my favourite heroines.
Let’s face it, Kitty Thomas is the QUEEN of the dark romance. If you haven’t read Comfort Food I can only say – “Why?”. It’s not an easy read but it is amazing, as is Twisted Fates which is part of the interlinked Pleasure House series and may be read as a stand alone story.
Whilst it’s a morally dubious story, it doesn’t contain non-consent and the dubious consent isn’t all that dubious either. On paper we should hate the hero, and in real life I’d want to see him locked away from society for a very long time. However Kitty persuades us that not only is Lyndsay perfect for Shannon, but she made me love him too.
Technically the Black Light books can be read stand alone, though part of this story builds on a short story by the same author in the Celebrity Roulette anthology. The book features two separate couples, mainly focusing on two new characters, Shane and Nalani, but also concluding Piper and Nolan’s story that began in Switched.
This book should have a trigger warning – there is a very violent and detailed rape scene. It wasn’t added just for the shock factor and the aftermath was handled well, in my opinion.
The link will take you to all 5 books of the Russo Saga. It’s a series of interlinked books, all of which I can highly recommend, but the duet of Absolution and Redemption are definitely my favourites. T
he story takes you to hell and back, along with the anti-hero and heroine. There were times. whilst reading Absolution, where i had to take an “feelings break” in order to recharge my emotional batteries.
Book #1, White Rabbit: The Rise, was listed amongst my favourite reads of 2018. The series has gone from strength to strength this year, with the release of 3 further books and the imminent release of book #5, Dark Horse.
White Rabbit: The Fall, Black Swan and Red Herring continue the story of Belladonna and The Kingmaker, otherwise known as Karina and Uilleam. And oh what a twisty, cat-and-mouse, game-of-chess, power-play story it is. London Miller has an amazing talent for weaving a complex tale where a seemingly random array of threads pull together at the last minute to form an intricately detailed tapestry.
Part of the Blaire’s World collection, and based on Anita Gray’s books of the same name, this is a dark and delicious duet. It delves into the underbelly of society, a world of pain, cruelty and evil and it doesn’t pull it’s punches.
One could argue that this belongs in the “Dark” catagory, below, but it’s my post so it’s my rules.
Again, I need to mention a Lexi C Foss book, this time it is the amazing Scarlet Mark. Part of the Cavalieri Della Morte series, it was the book that brought the author to my attention. When I discovered this was her first foray into Romantic Suspense I was gobsmacked to say the least. I tell you, she hit this one out of the ball park, and then some.
I’m going to finish today’s post with my top 3 Dark Reads of the year, and will be back tomorrow with 4 other categories of goodness to share. I think this was the hardest group to pare down to just 3 books, but I did it eventually!
No list is complete without a Lily White book, she is an expert at knowing how to mess with your mind. She’s had some personal struggles this year, so has been very quite for the last few months, but we are expecting a new release soon and I, for one, can’t wait to read more by this wonderful author.
The Five is typical Lily White, and was a very popular Book of the Month over in the Dark Erotica group on Goodreads. It’s not your typical romance and is very psychological, testing your morals, pushing your boundaries and challenging your judgemental side. It was a book that seemed to have a marmite effect, dividing readers into loved it or hated it. I was most definitely in the former camp and highly recommend it.
This story started life as Cocoon in the ‘Just Breathe‘ anthology, but has since been extended and improved, even though I didn’t feel that was possible as I thought the original was already perfect.
This is not as dark a piece of work as we are used to from Ms Bene. It does contain strong elements of dub-con, hence including it in this group. Crazy Broken Love spoke to me deeply and left me questioning my own prejudices, however unintentional they are.
For some reason the link only takes you to the first two books of the trilogy. Book #3, Forbidden, can be found here. The trilogy of books are NOT stand alone and must be read in order, they feature Ethan and Lily, the parents of Conor, who is the anti-hero of the original Dark Necessities trilogy.
Despite not liking Ethan for most of the story, my love for Lily (and her love of Ethan) made this one gripping must-read series for me. It’s dark and Ethan is not a good man, not a good man at all. But he does love Lily and that was his saving grace for this reader.
Asher has been such a mystery throughout this series, often mentioned but never seen. He doesn’t have the answers to the cash flow mystery but he does arrive with one heck of a surprise for his brothers. Actually make that two surprises, one of which is his wife of one day, Everly.
We find out where he has been and what he has been doing and, eventually, the truth behind all those secrets. I really want to avoid spoilers so will just say that, for me, it fitted well with the overall background history of the Bliss family.
I did feel that the romance element of this book felt a little rushed, I think, given all the story to get through the book perhaps needed to be a little longer. There just wasn’t quite enough time devoted to just Everly and Asher. The plot was really good, the twists, turns and discoveries very much held your attention whilst Asher and Everly were two very likeable and appealing main characters.
The story is very ‘feel good’ and is a perfect beach or comfort read. The sexual content makes it suitable for 18+ but there isn’t anything else in the story that would offend or be a trigger. This is a wonderful story that provides a very happy few hours reading and is one I can happily recommend.
I’ve enjoyed this series but Charlie and Leta just blew me away.
*Swoon* just goddamn *swoon*. I thought Charlie’s book would be fun, maybe a crazy girl who turned his life upside down, but I never imagined it would make me cry. I’m a sucker for a second-chance romance, but only when the writing is good too. This book. THIS. BOOK. was so full of feels, so emotive, so…. so perfect.
It’s on the shorter end of the novel spectrum but Crazy on You cut through all the usual fluff and filler, dragging us straight into a maelstrom of feelings and emotions and tossing your heart around as though it were in a tumble drier. On completion it left me adrift, a wreck floating on a turbulent sea, yet having loved every second of reading it.
Charlie is Mr Uptight, Upright and Organised, Leta follows ‘signs’ that the universe sends her. This pair shouldn’t work but they do, bringing the very best out of each other. Who would ever have guessed just what a dirty, bossy guy Charlie is.
Their story was believable and they were very likeable and ‘real’ characters. And then when we find out why Leta’s aunt bought the house – that shredded what little was left of my heart. Thank goodness Ms Wilde has such a talent at putting all the pieces back together again!
I highly recommend this if you like second-chance stories, well written romance or just a full of feels book.
She’s my polar opposite. My fooled-me-once. My heartbreaker. And now she’s back in town.
The last time I saw Leta Quinn, she was driving away from me, breaking the speed limit in our residential neighborhood off-the-wall artist girlfriend and love of my life was headed for California.
The universe gave her a sign, so she went.
I don’t believe in signs. I believe in working hard at the Bliss Resort. I believe in solving the mystery that’s ruining our finances. And I believe in never, ever thinking about Leta.
It’s all going according to plan until she tackles me on the sidewalk.
It’s not a sign. It’s coincidental torture that the great love of my life is moving in down the street.
Because one look at her has me wanting the impossible: a happily ever after.
Another sexy Bliss brother fights fate but finds love in Ruby Bay
Hooked On You is the story of two people who, on the surface, seem to be complete opposites. However over the course of their story it becomes clear that both fear loss of control. Holiday’s coping mechanism is to rarely leave her home whilst Driver refuses to stay in one place for long. Whilst it is the third book in the series, it can easily be read as a stand alone story. However the whole series is wonderful and worth reading!
A chance encounter brings together this sweet hero and his Miracle Girl. An unexpected event links them in a more resolute way. However any kind of future will mean sacrifices must be made and plans must be altered. When you’ve only known someone for a few weeks, is it worth risking your entire future career in the hope of being their forever?
Amelia Wildeis a very fine author indeed. She creates characters that you can’t help but like, imbuing them with such emotion that you find yourself invested in their happiness. I really couldn’t say how she does it, but within a few pages Driver had settled himself firmly into my heart. It didn’t take much longer for Holiday to take up residence next to him. As with the two previous Bliss Brothers books, this was a ‘gentle’ read, as in heart warming rather than heart wrenching.
If it hadn’t been for the fact that the clock said twenty past midnight, then I would have finished this in one reading. The book is towards the shorter end of the novel spectrum, more of a 2 – 3 hour read, but every single page is captivating and engaging. It’s an effortless read but not a boring or mediocre one, which is actually very difficult to achieve. Again testament to the author’s skill.
She also did something a little different and a lot risky. Both Driver and Holiday have been shaped by their past. Driver felt ignored and Holiday had some traumatic event happen to her in high school. We learn this information almost in passing, in throw away comments or brief thoughts and feelings. However we never really get any detail, being left instead to fill in those blanks for ourselves. I’ve lost count of how many books build up some trauma from the MC’s past, only for it to be a huge anticlimax when the big reveal is made. So whilst it maybe felt like depth was occasionally lacking, it was much nicer not to have that *meh* moment.
So to summarise, Hooked On Youis a wonderful read, low angst but full of emotion and wonderful characters. A book I’m happy to recommend to family and friends alike.
Stuck on Youis the second book set in Ruby Bay and features Beau, another of the Bliss brothers. It can very easily be read as a stand alone, though then you’d miss out on Crush on You, which is also a really good story.
If you’ve read CoY, then you will have got a little hint of Beau, and his troubles, at the end of it. As far as the Bliss brother, their resort and Ruby Bay is concerned, Beau is a synonym for event planning, fun and good times. He’s the guy guaranteed to make any party go with a swing, always smiling and with a drink in his hand. Only appearances can be very deceptive and false smiles can hide a multitude of pain.
When Claire is drafted in to work with Beau, after a very unfortunate incident with some fireworks and a boat from the local yacht club, they are soon making sparks of their own. It’s pretty much dislike on first sight, he sees an uptight and cold perfectionist, she sees the party guy image he fools everyone with. However the more time they spend together the more they both realise that someone else lies beneath the facade. Someone they’d really quite like to know.
In this almost enemies-to-lovers tale, there is also a huge dose of insta-lust that spirals very quickly into insta-love. The time frame in the book is fairly short BUT because Claire and Beau are very much the focus of the story, not to mention how much time they spend together, I found it worked. I did believe in their passion and emotions, they certainly heated up my kindle with their chemistry.
I also really liked them both, faults, secrets, foolish choices and all. They felt human and so very believable and made me care about them. There is an air of warmth that this story exudes, a feeling of being in your PJ’s, wrapped up cosy in a blanket, nibbling on chocolate. It’s very much a relaxing read, whilst still being entertaining at the same time. In fact whilst I wouldn’t classify this as a rom-com, it did have a subtle humour about it, a certain something that brought a gentle smile to the lips and a soft caress to the heart.
In some ways it’s a book to read when you’ve had your fill of hard and heavy reads. It’s a story to lift your spirits, take away your cares and leave you happy. However that doesn’t make it forgettable, it doesn’t mean it’s low quality or boring, nothing could be further from the truth. So much so that this is a book (and author) I will happily recommend to family and friends.
This is a warm smooch of a tale about how first, second and sometimes even third impressions aren’t always correct. I’d describe it as the perfect ‘pick me up’ book. Its both a book you should pick up, to read, and a heart warming tale that will pick your spirits up and leave you with that feel-good factor.
Crush on you, is a funny, gentle, smoking hot, romantic comedy and is everything you didn’t know you needed. It has two of the most adorable, yet sexy, characters in Roman and Jenny. This is a couple you just won’t be able to get enough of.
At school Jenny was the awkward geeky girl, the one who had to teach herself how to fit in. Roman was the hot guy everyone wanted to notice them, and he’s not grown any less hot with age. Let’s just say he wasn’t quite the arrogant player that Jenny remembered from her high school days. In fact both main characters were incredibly easy to like and are part of what made this a truly great read.
Whilst I want to describe this as quite a ‘sweet’ romance, that’s because of how it made me feel rather than ‘heat’ levels. This has plenty of hot bedroom (and waterfall, and elsewhere) scenes. The pace was perfect, quick enough to completely hold my attention throughout but not so fast that I ever got lost. The moment I dipped my toes into this book I was just buoyed along on a journey of love, secrets, mistakes and laughter.
I really, really enjoyed this book and I’m sure you will too.
She’s my new employee. So she’s 100% off-limits.
And that’s not all.
Jenny London is the girl everyone overlooked in high school, including me. I had no idea that she’d gone from ugly duckling to brunette bombshell until the moment she stepped into my office wearing a red bikini and a smile.
If this is revenge for ignoring her in school, she’s serving it hot. And if it’s not? Doesn’t matter. The sight of her around the office is driving me wild.
Too wild. I have a resort to save and a business to run. I need my head in the game, not tugging down the straps of her bikini.
I have to stop myself from falling. Office romances are forbidden for a reason: to protect the Bliss Resort and its legacy.
But let’s be honest…it’s already too late.
5 stars – This is a book I will not forget and would definitely read again.
4 stars – I really enjoyed this book, I might not read it again but I would definitely recommend it to others.
3 stars – This story was good but either forgettable or just very typical of its genre.
2 stars – Whilst the book was readable I either didn’t enjoy parts of the plot or just could not connect to the main characters.
1 star – This is a book I simply could not finish for reasons listed in the review.