December is almost halfway over (!), which means Christmas is just around the corner (!!), so I figured I’d do a roundup of my favorite reads of 2016.
I went through my 5-star reads from this year and my list had around 20 books on it. That’s a lot of good reads! But I’ve somehow managed to whittle the list down to my top five favorites from this year. They are:
Cara McKenna is a master of erotic romance. In Crosstown Crush, she somehow manages to take a very specific type of kink (cuckolding) and weave an intricate story for all three characters. Although their arrangement began as something casual, it becomes far more complicated once emotions get involved. That scenario would be intense enough with two people; now imagine it times three. McKenna delivers 100% with this book.
With her follow-up to 30 Days, Christine d’Abo brings all the feels with 30 Nights. As the heroine is dealing with the death of a loved one in combination with a lack of direction in her life, she embarks on the 30 Nights project: the fun sex cards first introduced in 30 Days. The hero comes along for the ride, which is at times filled with humor–and other times, super emotional and personal. This book can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading both together for twice the wallop to your heartstrings.
I read a handful of books by Lauren Blakely this year. Well Hung has to be my favorite–and not just for the title alone, as I do appreciate a punny title. (The hero works in construction, so you can say he’s well hung in more ways than one…slow wink.) My love for this book stems from Blakely’s knack for combining wit, sexy times aplenty, and those darned feels. Well Hung takes multiple tropes–employer/employee as well as accidental marriage–and wraps them up in a sweet but truly sexy package that made me cry at the end.
One of my absolute favorite reads ever, but I don’t have a review for it because I read this during my review hiatus at the beginning of the year! *Darth Vader nooooooo* There’s so much going on in this story, but I’ll attempt a brief summary: through a series of unexpected events, the girl with a grand Life Plan meets an actual p*rn star and they fall in love. There’s way, way, way more to this story than just the surface plot, so settle in and prepare to stay up late until you finish reading because you’ll be hooked. Written by the author of one of my other favorite books, Archer’s Voice, Mia Sheridan takes you through the emotional wringer, picks you up on the other side, dusts you off, and gives you a giant bear hug when it’s all over. A book so good, I’ve read it twice so far.
And my favorite book of 2016 is:
I discovered Mia Hopkins for the first time this year, via Twitter recommendations. I remember being intrigued when I heard that Cowboy Player features a Filipino heroine because who does that?! Who actually writes heroines who look like me? Mia Hopkins, that’s who. On top of that, the hero is a cowboy and I am nothing if not a sucker for a darn good cowboy.
There’s so much to love about this book: friends to lovers, a sweet but strong heroine, a reformed ladies’ man hero. Beyond this, Cowboy Player really resonated with me for the reason I mentioned above: for the first time since I started reading romance years ago, I actually read about a heroine who has similar cultural touchstones as me. That sense of familiarity, of belonging, is the very reason why so many of us go around, shouting from the rooftops about how We Need Diverse Books. To really see yourself in a book–even just bits and pieces–is quite a profound, meaningful experience. When you’re not used to seeing this at all, you want to tell everyone about it.
As for the writing itself, it’s a combination of humor, tender moments, and some seriously dirty sexy times. What could be better than that?
So, for me, even though I’ve read a couple other books by Hopkins this year, Cowboy Player is my favorite because it was the first book by her that I read and I’ve got a special spot for it in my bookshelf and my heart.
That’s a wrap for 2016! I’m sure I’ll finish another couple of books before the year is out, but I wanted to post this before the holiday mayhem rush. I hope you’ll check out these books because they all made an impression on me, in different but lasting ways.
Happy reading! 🙂