What follows are my Top 10 Favorite Books of the year. My methodology was simple. I looked at the books that came out this year that I read and asked myself “which of these books would I start reading again right now”. From that I kept comparing and eliminating books until I got to a Top 10.
Choosing my Top 10 Favorite books of the year was very difficult this year. I had fourteen strong contenders.
The first thing I did was impose a rule that I couldn’t have more than one book by a single author. That cleared up some choices (I chose DUKE OF PLEASURE over DUKE OF SIN by Elizabeth Hoyt — both great books, but DUKE OF PLEASURE wins out because I adored Alf) but I still had a hard time choosing between ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR and ROCK WEDDING by Nalini Singh and HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON and WILD AT WHISKEY CREEK by Julie Anne Long.
The two books by Nalini Singh have some similar traits. Both are book where the entire cast appears for a summing up and thus there are so many great interactions between characters. I began reading Nalini Singh through her ROCK series and my favorite book of hers is still ROCK ADDICTION. I ultimately gave the nod to ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR but it was really close.
The two Julie Anne Long books were almost impossible to choose between. I loved them both and there are so many great moments in both. I finally gave the nod to HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON only because the wedding speech is one of the best explanations of love I’ve ever read.
Here is my list (Click on the links to see my original reviews of the books).
10. A CHANGE OF HEART by Sonali Dev: Heartbreaking and beautiful. I have a thing for angst and drama and things not being what they seem. This book isn’t at all what I expected from the blurb. A man loses his wife and wallows in despair until a woman comes into his life claiming to have received her heart in a transplant. It is the story of loss, grief and recovery. The story felt so raw and real. I fell in love with the characters and their journey.
9. THE ANGELS’ SHARE by J.R. Ward: Can I admit that I the Bourbon Kings made me like the Black Dagger Brotherhood better? I had been burnt out and unhappy with that series until I saw how Ward applied the same narrative techniques she uses in the Black Dagger Brotherhood to her contemporary soap opera series about a wealthy family in Kentucky. I love Angels’ Share which is filled with murder, sex, lies, flawed people and lots of drama.
8. SCOT IN THE DARK by Sarah MacLean: Who can resist a Scottish hero? Especially one who is determined to save a woman from her ruin, but she ends up saving him from his own demons. A book about overcoming shame, surviving and accepting ones past mistakes, this book also has humor and intensity. There are no magic wands here that change the past, only characters that find acceptance in one another.
7. 738 DAYS by Stacey Kade: A girl who was kidnapped meets up with the washed up actor whose poster was on the room where she was held. Two people who have had their lives ripped apart at a young age travel through pain and disappointment. Yes, this book has its share of angst, but there is also charm and humor.
6. RUINED by Jess Michaels: The aristocratic girl is ruined when runs off with a man who turns out to be a criminal but returns to the man who she has wanted but couldn’t have for years who happens to be the family’s horsemaster. Hot, sexy and full of angst and drama, I just loved the mixed class romances where the man is of the lower class.
5. NO MISTRESS OF MINE by Laura Lee Guhrke: A second chance at love between a man and the woman who was his mistress but threw him over for another man. Imperfect flawed characters who have to accept their own faults. I loved the self-made woman who made the best of her chances, did what she needed to do to survive and succeeded in being a good business woman in the end.
4. ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR by Nalini Singh: A book that had the purpose of tying up the fourteen book Psy-Changling series with numerous points of views and characters from all those book seems like an impossible task. In Singh’s hands, however, this book manages to become a celebration of everything I loved about the prior books in the series, a satisfying conclusion to their stories and the lingering questions, and a launching pad for more stories. It is rare that authors write books that are truly for the fans, but this one is one big love letter for them.
3. HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON by Julie Anne Long: The question whether Long could transfer her emotionally complex, small village stories from historical England to contemporary California was a resounding Hell-cat yes! A book about a small town waitress and a not so popular actor was enthralling with its depictions of love, pain, struggle and ultimate triumph. No one can express in words the lyrical depiction of love like Long. The wedding toast given by the hero is so amazing that it alone would have gotten this book on my list, but this book is so much more.
2. THE HUNTER by Kerrigan Byrne: Dark, angst driven but wonderfully redemptive. The story of an assassin in Victorian England who falls in love with the woman he is supposed to kill. I adore damaged heroes and Christopher is a man who is so damaged that he has convinced himself to want nothing, need nothing, feel nothing. His romance with Millie opens his soul to beauty and possibility. One of my catnip tropes is the man who stands on the line between hero and villain and Christopher is certainly in that category.
1. DUKE OF PLEASURE by Elizabeth Hoyt: The bastard son of the King meets up with a woman masquerading as a boy and also taking on the role of the Georgian equivalent of a superhero. Combine this with the lyrical and fierce emotional heft of a Hoyt book and you have a winner. Alf, the heroine of this book, manages to be both cynical and worldly but also gentle and innocent in ways I never expected. Even in the penultimate book of the Maiden Lane series, Hoyt is still surprising me and writing books that immediately go to on my all time favorite list.
I also had two honorable mentions.
MR. PRESIDENT by Katy Evans: The first part of the secret romance between a woman and the man who could be President was amazing because of the combination of sexual and emotional tension combined with a sweet romance. The next part is going to be published in January and I can’t wait.
BIG EASY TEMPTATION by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake: Book three in the Perfect Gentlemen series is about a couple who were torn apart by the ongoing mystery in this series. The pain and emotional complexity in this couple kept me reading…and keeps me checking to find out when the next book of the series will be available.
2016 was a great reading year and I look forward to what is coming up in 2017.
Happy New Year to you all!