2018 Favorites!

This is your yearly one-click trap. Sorry, but not sorry. 😉

Every year it’s the same thing.
Readers, bloggers release statements about how productive/fulfilling —or not— their reading year was, publish favorite lists triggering the reading community’s one-click finger.
Here’s my contribution to your bank account demise with over 20 very favorite books read throughout the year 2018.
Ever since I started this social media/blogging thing, I’ve only had amazing reading years. This year for example, it may seem I’ve had less 5 stars reads (I’m showcasing most of them below) but I I’ve had four times the amount of 4 stars reads, really goods books, new to me authors, books I really liked and ended rating 3 stars because of my nitpicking ways… Still, I enjoyed each of these books tremendously, they all contributed to a fulfilling year as a reader. With over 200 books read and an average of 3.8 star rating, I’d say this year has been good to me, yet again.
I wish I could list them all here and give  every author a shout out, but it would defeat the purpose of publishing a list of “favorites”.
Thank you authors for giving us readers the mean to escape, to entertain ourselves and to bond over your amazing stories. Thank you bookish community—readers, bloggers, friends and authors, for the never ending book chatter, the great and bad recommendations and friendship.
Here’s to 2019 and more books. Good, okay and bad.

Alex.

Continue to read for details on each book!

Book synopsis behind the cover. Just hover on, the book cover will “flip” allowing you to scroll down and read.

My Oxford Year

Set amidst the breathtaking beauty of Oxford, this sparkling debut novel tells the unforgettable story about a determined young woman eager to make her mark in the world and the handsome man who introduces her to an incredible love that will irrevocably alter her future—perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.

American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day.

When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret.

Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

In all seriousness, this book is not quite a romance, not really women’s fiction, but somehow all the elements made for an amazing and heartfelt read. Playful banter, dry humor, english lit references and a delicious slow burn truly struck a chord for this romance driven reader! Some reviews may hint at some similarities with Moyes’  “Me Before You”,—I STRONGLY DISAGREE— don’t let this hinder your judgment, My Oxford Year was an engaging, beautiful, poignant story and deserves your attention!

It’s not lust; lust you could understand. It’s appreciation. It comes with a nearly imperceptible smile when he looks at you and he thins you can’t see him. It’s the appreciation that separates him from all the other boys you’ve been with. It’s the appreciation that makes him a man.

One day In December

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.

Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

One Day In December by Josie Silver

This book was one wonderful treat that will do nicely if you’re looking for something to curl up to come the winter nights. Pure delight.
I feel like I should entice some of you with what is like catnip to me : slow burn, friends to lovers, missed opportunies, love unrequited and an over the top HEA… How does that sound? Pretty amazing right?

The Kiss Quotient

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

✓Male Escort
✓Autistic heroine
✓Pretend relationship

Do I even need to say more?
Alright, I thought the Kiss Quotient would be a whole lot sweet, a little awkward, and plenty swoony but I had not expected the angst, the feels and the STEAM! Holy hot level of steam, that was some hot sex! Yes, it shouldn’t have been a surprise for a book about an heroine seeking help from an escort, but considering the her propensity to tackle everything in life as a task, it’s safe to say she definitely overcome her issues! This book is just glorious in every way, its fun, emotional and hot. Perfect romance book.

Rainy Day Friends

Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. 

Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.

Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Brown changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

A soft hearted heroine in a prickly bear disguise, a single dad setting a precedent for all single dads in romance before, an obnoxious and crazy italian family, the slow burn, the banter and playful dialogues… That’s the Jill Shalvis effect for you. MUST READ.

Mists of The Serengeti by Leylah Attar

Steffi doesn't talk.
Rhys can't hear.
They understand each other perfectly.
Love isn't always a lightning strike. Sometimes it's the rumbling roll of thunder...

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life - she's been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He's deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she's assigned to look after him. To Rhys it doesn't matter that Steffi doesn't talk and, as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she's falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

The stunning new novel from the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things is a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.

Mists Of The Serengeti by Leylah Attar

Don’t be like me. Don’t wait another day, another month—another year even, to read this book. It’s just beautiful all over.

Josh and Hazel's Guide To Not Dating

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

Josh And Hazel’s Guide To Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Friends to Lovers, an insufferable slow burn, an heroine so completely over the top, eccentric, quirky but oh-so-charming and a hero which is her total opposite, reserved, realist, stoical even! ‘Josh and Hazel’s Guide To Not Dating’ was  adorable and a pure delight. I just adored this book, it kept a grin on my face all throughout and ranks in my TOP 3 favorite Christina Lauren’s and is possibly the best opposite attracts romance ever written!

My Favorite Half Night Stand

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Perfect for fans of Roxanne and She’s the Man, Christina Lauren’s latest romantic comedy is full of mistaken identities, hijinks, and a classic love story with a modern twist. Funny and fresh, you’ll want to swipe right on My Favorite Half-Night Stand.

My Favorite Half Night Stand by Christina Lauren

A refreshing take on yet another friends to lovers story. This one is miles apart from Josh and Hazel though. Friends to lovers, online dating, cat-fishing, high quality banter and engaging dialogues. My Favorite Half Night Stand was an exciting and sexy read that surprised me by the rush of emotions near the end. I simply adored it.

The Governess Game

He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Truth, I haven’t found a Tessa Dare book I didn’t enjoy. She writes such funny, lovely and sexy romances, modern historicals, perfect if you’re a contemporary romance reader curious about historical romance.
This time her heroine is an Alexandra, she’s stubborn, a nerd and a book lover trying to reform a rake. It felt like reading my own adventures, yes I was totally projecting. The Governess Game was highly entertaining and plenty endearing thanks to the two little girls stealing the show.

Fight Or Flight

The universe is conspiring against Ava Breevort. As if flying back to Phoenix to bury a childhood friend wasn't hell enough, a cloud of volcanic ash traveling from overseas delayed her flight back home to Boston. Her last ditch attempt to salvage the trip was thwarted by an arrogant Scotsman, Caleb Scott, who steals a first class seat out from under her. Then over the course of their journey home, their antagonism somehow lands them in bed for the steamiest layover Ava's ever had. And that's all it was--until Caleb shows up on her doorstep.

When pure chance pulls Ava back into Caleb's orbit, he proposes they enjoy their physical connection while he's stranded in Boston. Ava agrees, knowing her heart's in no danger since a) she barely likes Caleb and b) his existence in her life is temporary. Not long thereafter Ava realizes she's made a terrible error because as it turns out Caleb Scott isn't quite so unlikeable after all. When his stay in Boston becomes permanent, Ava must decide whether to fight her feelings for him or give into them. But even if she does decide to risk her heart on Caleb, there is no guarantee her stubborn Scot will want to risk his heart on her...

Fight Or Flight

Enemies to lovers addicts and asshole heroes enthusiasts, do not miss this one! (For those fearing the hero might be too much, the heroine just gives as good as she gets—if not better— and hero has truly redeeming… assets. Qualities. I meant qualities. Duh.)

Speakeasy

Sometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now…
May

Did you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it.
Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy.
Alec
I should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job.
It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us.
Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…

Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen

There is just something so heartwarming about this whole series, even when the premise doesn’t necessarily speaks to me from the get go, I always—ALWAYS— end up swooning my heart out. This one was no exception.
An all winning romance series for me.
Sarina Bowen writes, I feel. Easy.

Runaway Girl

It’s Naomi Clemons’s big day. Her dream wedding. And she’s outta here.

One moment. A chance meeting of gazes through the church window pane with someone familiar who radiates intrigue. Independence. It’s the final push Naomi needs to realize...she’s boring. A blonde, cookie cutter, well mannered trophy wife-to-be. How can she expect to lead a fulfilling married life when she’s never lived?

Special Forces diver Jason Bristow needs a beauty pageant coach. Not for himself—although the tattooed bruiser could definitely use some charm. For his little sister who he has returned to St. Augustine, Florida to raise. When a beautiful southern debutante lands on his doorstep, she awakens a hunger that won’t be ignored. If only she wasn’t planning on winning back the ex-fiancé she left at the altar…

Despite the potential for ruin, heat continues to build between Naomi and Jason beneath the sultry Florida sunshine, consuming them both. But they’re on borrowed time…and it’s about to run out.

Runaway Girl by Tessa Bailey

A runaway bride awfully prim and proper meets the most rugged and unpolished alpha male…
Hey, I know some of you don’t need any more to work their one-click but for the sake of the ladies and gents in the back…
I can say without hesitation the heroine Tessa Bailey delivered here is my favorite, by far.
Inner voice true to characters, supporting characters terribly endearing (Birdie!), banter done with taste and punch and a delicious slow burn burning the pages. HOT!
And of course,  Tessa doesn”t disappoint, earning once and again her Queen of Dirty Talk title.

Player

He’s a player.

He plays the bass with expert fingers. He plays women with intoxicating charm. And he’ll play me with the ease of a virtuoso.
Who better to teach me to play than the master himself?
I’m his model student, front row, pencil sharp. Pick up lines? I’ve got them. Free drinks? By the dozen. Kissing? Let me grab my chapstick.
But the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that there’s so much I don’t know. Like why his touch sets off a chain reaction straight to my nethers. Or how I’m certain each kiss is the best I’ll ever have, until the moment his lips take mine again.
There’s so much I don’t know.
Like the fact that I’m only a bet.
But we are what we are. He’s a player, through and through.
And I’m the fool who fell in love with him.

Player by Staci Hart

A pretend relationship with its lot of unrequited love, sharp banter, the chemistry between the heroine and the hero is —EVERYTHING—, secondary characters you only wish they’d have their own book already…
To put it simply, this book is the prescription of happy feels you’ve been looking for.

Accidental Tryst

Two strangers accidentally switch cell phones in a busy airport in this edgier You've Got Mail, sexy romance for the smart-phone era ...

Emmy

What a disaster! I only just made my flight to New York to help my uncle, and the phone I’m holding is not mine! It seems to belong to some commitment-phobic serial dater who’s never made it past four dates (according to the constant notifications he's getting from his fake dating profile...) And worse? I have a sinking feeling it’s that hot suit-monkey with the arctic grey eyes I just had a run-in with at the airport. Somehow, I have to persuade him not to get a new phone until I get back. My whole life is on that phone. I knew I should have backed it up. It’s only a few days. Surely, we can handle it. 



Trystan

This is a joke, right? My life could not get more f*cked up. I’m in the middle of selling my company and on my way to a funeral and that hot mess hippie-chick stole my freaking phone. I’m not sure how she convinced me not to immediately walk into a smart phone store and get a new one, but now she’s going to have to play stand in and distract me while I deal with my long-avoided and estranged family. I don’t have my dating apps after all, and frankly she’s pretty funny. And sexy. And why can’t I stop texting her? And now we’re talking. And … look, I’ll admit that I usually run for the hills the morning after, but the morning after phone sex? That’s not really real, right?

Accidental Tryst by Natasha Boyd

Texting and emailing DONE RIGHT. In a romance.
Two strangers swap phones at the airport : ensues flirty texts and witty come-backs.
This meet-cute lured me in, I stayed for the banter and chemistry between Trystan and Emmy. Absolutely delicious, this romantic comedy had plenty of steam, humor and lovely romance!

Deal Maker

Sometimes your mouth makes deals that your heart can’t honour.

Jude is a highly successful model, but a very reluctant one. His life is full of casual hook-ups with pretty men in glamorous locations, but it’s still empty. However, circumstances decreed a long time ago that this was his path, so he’s resolutely stayed on it and accepted his fate with good grace. He made a deal with himself and his hook-ups. Get in, get out and no ties with anyone.

However, an accident at home one night leads to him making a new deal and accepting the offer of help from an unlikely source. It leads to an unexpected summer of falling in love with a larger than life man and his child.

But by the end of the summer his reasons for not staying are still valid. Will he turn away? Can he?

Asa is a talented actor who has spent time away from the scene to look after his son. But now he’s back, and the last thing he needs are complications from the gorgeous man who is staying with him. Scarred from too many betrayals, he has no intention of forming a lasting tie with anyone. However, he can’t resist the beautiful man with secrets, and to his horror he develops feelings.

But a deal’s a deal and they said it was just for the summer. What can Asa do with a man who has forever in his eyes and goodbye on his lips?

From the Amazon bestselling author of ‘Rule Breaker’ comes another scorchingly hot romantic comedy.

Deal Maker by Lily Morton

#AllTheFeels for this single dad meet cocky smart male model. It’s just the perfect brand of funny, sweet and sexy.
I nearly devoured this M/M romance in one day, SO good!
Imagine one second a Jason Momoa doppelganger, single dad, celebrity actor and book lover, falling for his imposed witty new PA in the most excruciating slow burns…
No but seriously. READ. THE. BOOK.

Team Phison

For 55-year-old Phil Hutton, finding a new boyfriend is tough, especially since he’s still hurting from his ex leaving him for a younger man. Online dating has been a soul-crushing experience for the restaurant owner. Too many meat-haters interested in microbreweries or something called geocaching. His matches in the multiplayer for his favorite video game have been equally sucky too.

One night, he encounters a newbie who is so helpless, Phil can’t help showing him the ropes. It doesn’t take long for Phil to become interested in his enthusiastic teammate. 28-year-old Tyson Falls from Georgia loves working as a server in a rinky pizza joint and sees the best in everything. As Phil’s online dating matches get worse and his in-game matches with Tyson get better, he finds himself wanting to pursue the easygoing chatterbox with a thick, sexy drawl.

But Phil can’t get past the fear that Tyson could possibly want a fossil like him. If his brain doesn’t stop being so damn insecure, it might be game over for his heart.

Team Phison by Chace Verity

Long distance/online romance are my favorite thing EVER. And you guys, this little book made me grin the whole time, I loved everything about it! The age gap, the nerding over video games, the best friends to lovers, the tip-toeing around new feelings, the insecurities and fears of not being enough, of not pleasing enough coming with a new relationship… SIGH, Phil and Tyson were cute and perfect together, as friends and lovers. Loved this M/M romance! My friend Mirjana (bookstagram: @dtr_downtoread) made me read and she never steers me wrong when it come to M/M recs. This one is #HappyFeels only!

Moonglow

Once the seeds of desire are sown . . .

Finally free of her suffocating marriage, widow Daisy Ellis Craigmore is ready to embrace the pleasures of life that have long been denied her. Yet her new-found freedom is short lived. A string of unexplained murders has brought danger to Daisy's door, forcing her to turn to the most unlikely of saviors . . .

Their growing passion knows no bounds . . .

Ian Ranulf, the Marquis of Northrup, has spent lifetimes hiding his primal nature from London society. But now a vicious killer threatens to expose his secrets. Ian must step out of the shadows and protect the beautiful, fearless Daisy, who awakens in him desires he thought long dead. As their quest to unmask the villain draws them closer together, Daisy has no choice but to reveal her own startling secret, and Ian must face the undeniable truth: Losing his heart to Daisy may be the only way to save his soul

 

Moonglow by Kristen Callihan

What happens when one gets trapped in a carriage with a *beast* of a Lord? HOLY SMOKES!!!
THIS BOOK! I’m loving every second of it, the historical setting mixed with paranormal and the best kind of slow burn romance!
The world building, the mystery, the bantering foreplay between the MCs, the chase, and some thrilling erotic scenes. Kristen Callihan made me a very happy reader!

Beneath the Scars

Josie doesn’t need any help raising her son.

Pregnant at sixteen, Josie learned the hard way about men and their empty promises. She picked herself up and is raising her eleven-year-old son. By herself. And that’s the way she intends it to stay. Unfortunately, her impressionable boy becomes fascinated by the scruffy, intimidating biker who lives next door.

The scars on Holt’s face are only the most visible of his wounds.

Out of the hospital after being attacked in his own damn house, Holt is coming to terms with the fact that his scars frighten people. Like his now-ex-girlfriend who ran after one look at him. Like his redheaded neighbor who hauled her boy away as if Holt was a serial killer. Fine. He’ll give the pretty bartender all the space she wants.

The Shadowlands will bring them together…

When Josie starts bartending in the exclusive, private club, she discovers her neighbor is a member. And a Master--a skilled powerful Dom who can make her fantasies come true. Slowly, the firefighter breaks down the walls around her heart, teaching her how to trust. How to love...

But when her son’s choices lead to disaster, can their relationship survive?

Beneath The Scars by Cherise Sinclair

When I need all the feels of a romance and the spice, Cherise Sinclair is my go to choice. Her “Masters Of The Shadowlands” series is the perfect mix of sweet romance and BDSM kinks and the perfect gateway for romance readers curious about BDSM erotica. (Book 1 is actually #FREE on AMZ ☞  Club Shadowlands ) 
This is book #13 in the series, single mom meets next door neighbor, he’s a biker and Master at Shadowlands. Josie will soon have to reassess her preconceived ideas while she takes her first steps at Shadowlands. I love this one, it was super sweet and the HEA so satisfying!

Hooked On you

The steamy Chicago Rebels series returns with this racy and sassy tale of embittered hearts, second chances, and going for the goal—on and off the ice.

Violet Vasquez never met her biological father, so learning he left his beloved hockey franchise—the Chicago Rebels—to her is, well, unexpected. Flat broke and close to homeless, Violet is determined to make the most of this sudden opportunity. Except dear old dad set conditions that require she takes part in actually running the team with the half-sisters she barely knows. Working with these two strangers and overseeing a band of hockey-playing lugs is not on her agenda…until she lays eyes on the Rebels captain and knows she has to have him.

Bren St. James has been labeled a lot of things: the Puck Prince, Lord of the Ice, Hell’s Highlander...but it’s the latest tag that’s making headlines: washed-up alcoholic has-been. This season, getting his life back on track and winning the Cup are his only goals. With no time for relationships—except the fractured ones he needs to rebuild with his beautiful daughters—he’s finding it increasingly hard to ignore sexy, all-up-in-his-beard Violet Vasquez. And when he finds himself in need of a nanny just as the playoffs are starting, he’s faced with a temptation he could so easily get hooked on.

For two lost souls, there’s more on the line than just making the best of a bad situation… there might also be a shot at the biggest prize of all: love.

Hooked On You by Kate Meader

A troubled, bearded, brooding scot, hockey player, single dad thrown against a vibrant heroine/nanny hiding insecurities behind a tough armor. Banter heaven and burning slow burn, Hooked On You is the best you can read if you’re partial to hockey romances, single dads in romance. DO IT. you know you want to.

The Duke and I

Can there be any greater challenge to London’s Ambitious Mamas than an unmarried duke?

—Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, April 1813


By all accounts, Simon Basset is on the verge of proposing to his best friend’s sister, the lovely—and almost-on-the-shelf—Daphne Bridgerton. But the two of them know the truth—it’s all an elaborate plan to keep Simon free from marriage-minded society mothers. And as for Daphne, surely she will attract some worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable.

But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, it’s hard to remember that their courtship is a complete sham. Maybe it’s his devilish smile, certainly it’s the way his eyes seem to burn every time he looks at her… but somehow Daphne is falling for the dashing duke… for real! And now she must do the impossible and convince the handsome rogue that their clever little scheme deserves a slight alteration, and that nothing makes quite as much sense as falling in love…

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Yes, this was 2018 and it was my first Julia Quinn to date… AND I LOVED IT!
(I’m sure I was probably the last person on earth finally reading this)
A regency romance with its lot of deceit and manipulations, where the heroine is truly and endearingly clueless about sex!

Rise

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes. So bad-boy rock icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir. Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions–manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic and morally ambiguous. In short, everything she seeks in a biography subject. When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another. Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed devil is only too willing to stoke. She thought self-control was in her DNA; after all, she grew up a minister’s daughter. She thought wrong.

Rock star Zander Freedman has been an outlier–many would say an outcast–for most of his life. But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the breakup of his band to the inevitable damage to his reputation. His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph–if his golden voice holds out. Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz. Elizabeth’s integrity is the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats. All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not force him to think. Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out. And certainly not make him fall in love for the first time in his life. Turns out he is scared of something: being known.

Phenomenal banter and so much verbal foreplay, I actually died a little when Elizabeth and Zander toppled over.
This Rockstar romance was a definite slow burner, steering away from the usual clichés by focusing in depth on two mature adults dealing with reminders of sins from the past and insecurities issues.
A great balance of humor, heartwarming romance, intense feelings and portraying of a rock legend.
I didn’t want this book to end, ever!

The Great 2018 Binge

Colorado High Country by Pamela Clare

Let’s start with the fact I adore this author’s work. Her I-Team series and historicals are truly amazing. Nevertheless, I read book 1(FREE) of Colorado High Country a couple years back and couldn’t get into it. It actually made me disregard the rest of the series until this year.
Then earlier this past year, Zoe York someone suggested I try book 2, and HOLY SMOKES. Not only I loved Slow Burn (enemies to lovers trope and HE’s a firefighter) but I ended devoring the whole series in less than 3 days. ADDICTED. IN LOVE. HAPPY READER.
Lovers of small town romances, I highly recommend this one, brave and caring heroes, loyal and strong heroines and plenty of chemistry to tide you over until the perfect HEA the author offers to her romance readers.
Oh and guess what? A  7th book just released a week ago : https://amzn.to/2ApWcBo

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Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost

I’ve been meaning to read this series FOREVEEER. Not even counting how many book friends have been raving about Cat and Bones through the past years. For some obscure reasons, I’ve done my best to ignore all the rave and all the buzz until now. MY MISTAKE.
This series is addicting AF. I started book one and couldn’t stop reading until my blood lust was well over satisfied. All 7 books in a row, suspensful, action packed, plenty gory (hey what do you expect vampires books to be about? Shimmering teenagers?), sexy (hot as hell. really. I’d even say filthy hot.) and hilarious. If you’re in the mood for some very good paranormal erotica romance, grab this series! (the spin-off series about Vlad is amazing too! HERE )

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The Boss series by Abigail Barnett

Am I ever in the mood to read BDSM? Hardly. Mainly because SO many books out there are riding the Fifty shades effect, branding their content BDSM but lacking anything good beside some spanking scenes.
Yes I love me some erotica, kink and everything nice, but you know what I need to make it worth my while? A STORY. Developed characters, multidimensional even. Emotions. Chemistry. ROMANCE.  ALL THE FEELS.

Yes, BDSM novels including these elements exist. The Boss series is proof enough.
Neil and Sophie’s relationship was #GOALS. I couldn’t get enough of the exquisite humor between them, the playfulness infused in their D/s scenes.
The Boss series is an epic erotic romance portraying with great realism the multiple facets of a D/s relationship, I’m urging you to give it a try, book 1 is currently FREE on AMAZON. I ended reading all 7 books in 3 days.

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First Wives series by Catherine Bybee

After reading 3 ‘First Wives’ books in a row (when I find something good, I splurge on it: #GreedyReader), I was thrilled to have found myself a new “Happy Place” author. I have a few already sharing this personal category… Jill Shalvis, Sarah Morgan, Kristen Ashley—to only name a few. My happy place books are those fulfilling my romance reader heart, the books I know I will happily reread whenever in a book slump or just for the sheer pleasure of it.
I simply adored this series, think a pack of wealthy women sharing a secret and going on a cruise to perfect their bond, only danger lurks in the dark and troubles seem to follow them. Friendship +Romance + Mystery!

Book 1 : anal, work driven, over protective lawyer of the group, Lori falls for the PI in disguise… Reed’s deception was easy to forgive though, he’s such a dreamy guy.
Book 2 : The reserved and shell shock widow of the group, Trina Petrov falls for famous and charming country singer, Thomas Wade. Danger follows and both will have to dodge deadly threats.
Book 3 : Reformed man-eater after her attack a year ago, Avery is doing her damndest to stay away from nice and caring Liam… She’s got revenge on her mind and she isn’t inclined to share her goals with anyone, friends or new acquaintances. Liam is thankfully a very persistent and caring man.
Book 4 : To be released March 2019!

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EVERYTHING Lorraine Heath

With over 20 Lorraine Heath books read this year alone, I guess you could say I’ve have somewhat developed some sort of an addiction. I’ve recently started reading historicals and hers are ALWAYS working for me. I’m not really sure why. She has a formula going and it just works for me. I’m loving the romance, the angst, the hate to love you tropes, the marriage of convenience, the reformed rakes, the empowered wallflowers… and of course the steam. Lorraine Heath books aredefinitely on the steamy side and I’m loving everything in them.
The following were all 5 stars reads, some series are connected but I believe you can read the books in any order you want.

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Favorite books read in 2018 by Camille, a.k.a “The Angry Reader“.
We share a common taste for awesome books and blunt reviews. Check out her blog at The Angry Reader  where the motto is “Painfully Honest Book Reviews“!

2018 was a gratifying reading year for me. I found some new to me authors, finished up the SEP read-through, cozied up to a new reading buddy and got a book-related tattoo! Here’s my efforts to take an organized look back at the roughly 250 books that I read this year!

ACOTAR
Welp. This was the year I finally read the A Court Of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas. It was an emotional read that pretty much took over my life for a few weeks. All I did was read these books and find unsuspecting victims to force into book-related convos with me. I even joined secret FB groups where I could obsess over the books with other like-minded readers. I don’t think that another series of books has so seriously taken over my heart and mind. I had a good time, but I’m thankful it’s over. See my review here.

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Favorite ARCs
I prolly read about 50 ARCs this year. Most of them ranged from godawful to okay. But two of them made me thankful that I signed up for Netgalley. Alexa Martin’s Intercepted  and Shelly Laurenston’s Hot and Badgered were both light and funny and romantic and everything good in the world of non-soul-wrecking-romance. I’ve signed up for ARCs from both of these dynamic authors for 2019, and I cannot wait.

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SEP ( Susan Elisabeth Phillips)
This year I wound up the SEP-splosion. I am in love with the woman. I think she’s amongst the most genius, talented human beings on the planet. Each unique book that brings me down to the pits of despair (with humor and light) and then up to the pinnacles of the romance mountaintop. I adore her heroines, and I wanna kiss her heroes little faces. This year in particular I loved Bobby Tom Denton. I gave his book 4 stars, but months later Bobby Tom remains the stick against which all heroes are measured. And he’s just so awful (and wonderful) no one has come close. I also enjoyed literally everything about Call Me Irresistible. I alternated between laughing my ass off or getting enraged while I read this one. And it is probably my favorite SEP of all time.

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Historicals
One of my favorite romance genres – I had a good year with historical in 2018. The best historical I read this year was The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran. It was heartbreaking in all the best ways, well-written and completely consuming. It was my first book by this author, but I am overjoyed to have her in my repertoire because I’ll be reading a lot more by her. I also loved loved loved Eloisa JamesToo Wilde series. I thought it was the perfect combination of heart and humor. It wasn’t a series that took a lot out of me, but it was a series that gave a lot back. I suspect it’s going to have a ton of books in it because of the set-up, and I am thrilled at the prospect.

Somewhat in keeping with the historical but also sporting a total old school vibe – Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen OConnell is one of the most moving books I’ve read. Ever. It had passion and social issues and kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire read.

 

Late in the year I hit the historical romance jackpot. So this list wouldn’t be complete without Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran (all of Meredith Duran), The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (i bought 20 books of hers off of eBay when I finished this one), and The Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase – which was probably the most conprehensive old school historical romance I’ve ever read. 

 

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Athlete Romances
I read a lot of athlete romances this year because I love them. (TBH – I sometimes violently loathe them. Holy smokes this is a genre of romance that can be absolutely butchered by bad authors). I found two series that I ate up with a spoon – and ironically they couldn’t be more different. Kennedy Ryan’s Hoops series brought me to my knees. The angst and suffering in the first book was enough to have me in the fetal position rethinking all my book decisions. Such a delicious bad feeling. The second book in the series was sweeter but also compelling. And then there’s Sara Ney’s Jock Hard series – which had absolutely no angst and was like reading a hug. (I read Ney’s How to Date A Douchebag on December 29, 2017. I’m not sure if it made the 2017 Best Of list so I’m giving it a shout out now bc it’s one of my favorite romances ever.) These athlete romances are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but they stood out for their readability and relatability.

Kristen Callihan’s The Hot Shot totally snuck up on me this year. Someone asked in passing if I’d read it, and when I saw that I hadn’t it I grabbed it to kill some time. I wasn’t expecting to love it like I did. Surprises are the best! I think Callihan is an insanely talented writer, and she’s a must-read for me now.

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This Random Series
I have no idea how I ended up reading the first book in this series about a hitman with OCD. But once I started I was obsessed. Camilla Monk’s Spotless Series wasn’t particularly romantic. And then suddenly it was. I inhaled the entire series grinning like a dork the whole time. This is my 2018 rare jewel for sure.

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Non-Romance
The First Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders was hands-down my favorite non-romance this year. Creepy as hell with the best writing and SO MANY SANDWICHES. I think I read 3 or 4 books in this series – and they’re not an easy read. But they are a welcome, smart diversion from the wide world of romance when my heart and brain just need a break.

Smart Romances
I read a few “feminist” romances this year. And it’s a genre that I plan on exploring hardcore in 2019. Finding a sexy book that empowers woman is akin to finding a diamond on the side of the road. I celebrate pretty heartily when it happens. This year —after waiting forever for it to become available in the US — I read Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar. Edgy and Riot Girrrrrrl and a perfectly reflection of everything I was from 1995-1998. This thoroughly enjoyable book deserves respect and recognition. 

And just this week I found Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn. I will be devouring the rest of this series as soon as I can finish typing up these notes. Filled with affirmation and realism and ownership and sexy times —this is my favorite romance of 2018. It appealed to everything in me.

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Best of 2018
As mentioned above—Beginner’s Luck was my favorite romance of 2018. However, my favorite book(s) of 2018 weren’t romance at all.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor and The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne were everything that books should be. Brilliantly written. Compelling. Infuriating. Soothing. Like a good relationship – they challenged me and made me a better person and reader. And then tenderly held me in their arms as they crushed my soul. StD is a YA fantasy and THIF is a coming of age epic set in Ireland. They have nothing in common beyond being two of the best books that I have ever read. I’m a better person because they came into my life.

Here’s to 2019, readers!

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