Best of 2016

2016 was a big year for my romance reading hobby.  I signed up for Kindle Unlimited, downloaded Overdrive for library books, and of course, started this blog which led to even more books.  So, without further ado, here are my favorite books that I read in 2016. (Not all books were released in 2016, but all were read by me in 2016.)

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Best Closed-Door Romance

Although I usually read romance that is very open-door, sometimes I enjoy a sweet story that doesn’t need to give me salacious details in order to be a very good romance.  My favorite romance in this category this year was “Her Unexpected Engagement” by Kyra Jacobs. It’s a very uplifting come-back story that left me feeling like no matter how bad things can get, there is still hope.

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Best Erotica

I also don’t tend to read erotica, and although I’m not sure this is technically classified as such, it should be. Friends, this is everything they said that 50 Shades was, but with much, much better writing. Why, oh why was this book not made into an international sensation and movie? I would watch that movie. This book is crazy-pants, that’s for sure, with the Russian mafia, sweat lodge bdsm, and some other insanity that I don’t want to ruin. A roller-coaster ride of a book that is totally worth it and impossible to put down.

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Best New-Fave Genre Book

Before this year, I had never read steampunk, and oh boy, did Bec McMaster provide an amazing introduction to this romance sub-genre for me with “Kiss of Steel”. McMaster is the “master” of the anti-hero, and this one is a doozy.  For literally like the first quarter of the book or so, I was like, “who is going to be the hero because, surely it can’t be this guy?” But it was. And it was so, so good. I loved this book and its sequel, and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series and start the next series and so on and so forth. McMaster has a fan for life. If you like paranormal or historical, try the steampunk genre. I think you may just love it as much as I do.

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Best Medieval Romance

It’s no secret that I love historical romance. In fact, I love it so much and read so much of it, that I had to create some sub-categories to include more of my historic faves. Sarah Hegger’s “Conquering William” was definitely my favorite medieval romance of the year.  Her world-building is so solid, which is not normal for medievals, and her characters are compelling- flaws and all. This was such a fast read with a plot that never let up and kept me engaged to the very end.

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Best Regency/Victorian Romance

Oh my goodness, I had so much trouble selecting my favorite for this category. I was between this one and Tessa Dare’s “Any Duchess Will Do”, but gave the tie to this book because it was actually released in 2016.  I love a good house party story, and this one with an identity swap and chocolate and bosoms accidentally spilling out at dinner had me in stitches, while still providing the heat.  Bell’s focus on character and comedy made me an immediate fan, and just writing this snippet has me wanting to revisit this one.

Best Fantasy Romance

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Juliette Cross is one of my favorite authors, and her Vessel series would be my best paranormal if I had read it this year, but I also love this fantasy series with hot half-dragons called Morgons.  Her first book with a Morgon heroine was wonderfully fresh and is a great continuation to this captivating series. Her world-building is second to none, and her continual reveal and tease of secrets and deeper plots is addicting. I recommend reading “Waking the Dragon” first, and you are in luck because I have decided to give away 5 copies of this book. Enter the giveaway by clicking on this link.

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/7f756ccc03e143d9

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Best Paranormal Romance

Rhenna Morgon who, by the way is also my favorite new author of the year, hits it out of the park with the finale to her Eden series.  Morgon writes alpha males like no other, but just when you think she’s gonna zig and have this alpha save our broken heroine, she zags and totally surprises the reader in delicious ways. Yes, it is the 4th in a series, so if you want to catch up on all her amazing world-building, you need to read “Unexpected Eden” first, but I think this one can also stand on its own.  Hot, hot, hot sex and such wonderful characters will keep you coming back for more with Ms. Morgon. Speaking of…

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Most Anticipated of 2017

Ok, I’ve already read this one, but you should be anticipating it. Hard. This book is everything, and I can’t wait for you all to read it so we can fangirl together. Jace is one of the most drool-worthy alphas I’ve ever read, and Vivienne is so relatable that you will just want to let your hair down right along with her and cozy up to the Haven Brotherhood for as long as possible.  More books are coming in this series in 2017, and I cannot wait!

So that’s my list of 2016’s best. How many have you read? I am super-excited for 2017 and all the romance I’ll read along the way. I’d love to hear all of your suggestions in the comments below. Happy Reading!

Here’s another link for the Waking the Dragon Giveaway in case you missed it above!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/7f756ccc03e143d9

 

Heart of Iron- Bec McMaster

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Heart of Iron is the second book in Bec Mc Master’s London Steampunk series.  I’ll admit: I had to actively hold off on reading this book after finishing the first one in the series in order to read other books for review.  But after a couple of weeks, I had to give in, and I am glad I did.  The focus in this book has switched from vampires/blue bloods to werewolves/verwulfen, and while it wasn’t what I expected, I enjoyed it immensely.

The Story

Will has always been a bit of a lone wolf.  Despite his loyalty to Blade, he has never had strong connections to anyone else.  New threats in London cause unlikely alliances to forge, and Will is called upon to help.  Lena is doing her best to fit into the world of the blue bloods, but something keeps holding her back.  When she is called upon to prepare Will for his new role, old feelings resurface and both face danger.

My Thoughts

McMaster did such a thorough job of creating her world in the first book, that I really thought the second book would be a continuation of that story.  Little did I know, Ms. McMaster had way more in store for this world than I expected.  The romance is a very hot slow burn that pays off in very satisfying ways, but every little step along the way is smoldering.  There was one scene in particular where I could actually feel myself blushing and started looking around to see if anyone noticed, and it wasn’t because it was explicit, it was just pure heat.  The conflict(s) involve so many players and facets that I am even more eager to complete the series.  The steampunk is expanded in this book with more fun creations and details. I loved the addition of the new characters, and even though there were quite a few, I felt like they were fully developed.

The Good

The hero is very appealing in a simmering-below-the-surface kind of way: the kind that you can’t wait to see what happens when he finally lets go.  He’s also a virgin which adds to the intrigue.  The verwulfen backstory and lore are wonderful.  This is honestly one of my favorite kinds of love stories where it is pretty much impossible for the hero and heroine to be together, and I loved the unexpected surprises of the plot.

The Bottom Line

If you enjoyed the first book, this is a no-brainer.  This is one of those series where you really should read the preceding books to understand all the wonderful plot developments and characters.  And you should read the preceding book, as well as this one, if you like paranormal or steampunk or historical or if you are just willing to take a chance on a great series and author.  Maybe it is my catnip: both paranormal and historical at the same time, but I also recognize great writing when I see it, and this is great writing. 5 stars

Kiss of Steel- Bec McMaster

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“Kiss of Steel” is the first book in Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk Series, which she has recently expanded to a spin-off series with “Mission: Improper”.  This was my first steampunk read, and while some “true steampunk” readers have critiqued this for not being representative of the genre, it was an excellent introduction to steampunk for me since I already love romance and paranormal. Oh yeah, did I mention that this book has a great paranormal storyline? Let’s dig in!
The Story- Honoria is struggling to keep her family fed after the death of her father and their escape from the cultured world of the Echelon.  When she is summoned to the rogue who dared to rebel against high society, she fears that her safe seclusion is at an end.  Oh, and there are vampires, robot arms, werewolves, and mechanical soldiers.

My Thoughts- I always have trouble writing a story synopsis for books I really enjoy because I hate giving anything away that the reader would have a much better time reading in the book itself.  I had no idea what to expect coming into this book, and I liked it that way.  I had trouble putting this book down.  It was one of those captivating books where you want to read really fast to find out what happens next, but you know that if you read too fast, you’ll miss some great writing and details.  Like a plate of cheese fries you want to devour, but you have to remind yourself to breathe. Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, I loved this world, I really enjoyed the characters, and the story clicked along just right.

The Good- World-building: each layer is revealed like an onion, and the reader is like “oh! That’s what’s happening.”  The author also has an amazing vocabulary, which is often lacking in these books, and her attention to detail and description is masterful.

The Bottom Line- I had so much fun reading this book.  The author swept me up in her world, and I felt like I was along for the ride.  If you are open to steampunk and paranormal, I highly recommend this book, and I intend to finish the series. (So many books; so little time!) For me, this is 5 stars for pure enjoyment.