2017, where did you go? I can’t believe it’s already time to do a “best of” list for 2017. I read so many amazing books this year and it was tough to narrow down my favorites. Last year, I had a top five list, but this year I have my top twelve. In no particular order, here they are!
Favorite Reads of 2017
Sushi chef Eve Ono finds herself without a job when her father abruptly fires her from his restaurant. Desperate, Eve takes a job as a deckhand on a fishing boat with the intent that it’s just a temporary gig to tide her over until she finds another chef position. She doesn’t expect to fall for deep-sea fisherman Sam Lamont.
As much as this book is about two broken people, it’s also about how love and family–both the kind you’re born into and the kind you make for yourself–have the power to heal you.
Driven to Distraction features Constance Chen, Bookmobile manager and all-around badass, and her enemies-to-lovers relationship with Sam Wolcott, resident geek and sexy lumberjack-esque IT guru. Throughout the Lovestruck Librarians series, Constance and Sam have typically been at each other’s throats. In this book, that tension comes to a head when they decide to call a truce and acknowledge their mutual attraction.
I absolutely loved how this does not have a stereotypical ending (but fear not, still a happy one!). This book brought all the feels for me with its humor, emotion, and super hot sexy times.
On the run from an abusive past, Uma flees to a small mountain town in Virginia. She takes a job as live-in help for a cantankerous widow. Living next door is Ivan: blacksmith, ex-con, and dichotomy of burly, imposing physicality combined with quiet tenderness.
Ivan’s unconditional acceptance and loyalty bolsters Uma during her struggle to regain the sense of self that was stolen from her. Uma truly goes on a journey in this book. That journey takes her through hell, but she emerges on the other side so much closer to being whole again.
Lydia is the victim of assault after a home invasion in which she was nearly killed. Consequently, she’s left traumatized and constantly afraid. Lydia begins attending a therapy group, where she meets Isaac, a mysterious and intense man to whom she’s drawn immediately. As Lydia and Isaac form a friendship, Lydia starts to let down her guard and open up to another person for the first time since her assault.
Isaac is basically a romance reader’s dream. A tortured, conflicted hero who has a love for romance novels and who’s fiercely protective of the heroine? Yes, please. Never Better is another fantastic read from Charlotte Stein, whose stories always manage to put my emotions through the proverbial wringer and lovingly dust them off when it’s all over.
Sonny lives in fear of men due to trauma from her past, so she doesn’t have much interaction with people. Tal has just moved into town and into the apartment next door. Tal is an imposing, muscular, tattooed guy whose appearance usually scares women away. But underneath his rough exterior, he wants to find a woman who will accept him just as he is.
Sonny and Tal’s first meeting is abrupt but there’s definitely a spark between them. However, Sonny is too afraid and quickly runs away from their encounter. But Sonny has a dirty little secret that no one knows about…and it turns out that Tal has one, too.
Carew hit me right in the feels with Sonny’s vulnerability and Tal’s unending sweetness. His devotion to her is positively swoonworthy. Favorite romance hero of 2017, your name is Tal.
Absolve Me by Morgaine Cameron is the definition of taboo. It’s also erotic romance at its finest. Sex surrogate Liza takes on client Dominic, who’s working through issues of physical intimacy. However, things take a huge turn when Liza discovers that Dominic is a priest.
I loved this book and recommend it to anyone looking for taboo erotic romance that pushes boundaries and isn’t afraid to cross the line.
Two of my favorite authors, Charlotte Stein and Cara McKenna, got together and made a book baby. The result is Way Down Deep—a sexy, unique novel written entirely in text message format. That’s right—text messages. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this format, but I knew the story itself would be amazing, coming from these authors. This is an emotionally charged romance that left me smiling and still, craving more.
Way Down Deep is a unique twist on the epistolary novel: one that’s brutally honest, raw, and scorchingly sexy. Fans of Stein and McKenna will recognize each author’s distinct voices in Maya and Malcolm. Together, it’s a combination that I adored. When it was over, I didn’t want it to be—I wanted more from these characters I’d fallen in love with.
Before the death of her mother, Mona Lisa St. James promised her that she would do anything to save her mother’s art gallery, The Red. Now deeply in debt and still suffering from the loss of her only family, Mona doesn’t know where to turn. Despite the promise she made, she can’t see a way that the gallery can possibly be saved…that is, until she meets Malcolm: a handsome, mysterious art connoisseur who turns up at The Red late one night.
This book won’t be for everyone. It’s straight-up erotica, it’s decidedly dirty–to the point where some will probably find it shocking. As a romance and erotica reader, I like having my limits pushed. When a writer can unnerve me deeply yet somehow do it in a comforting way, I know I’ve found something special.
Like the art featured throughout the book, Reisz creates a decadent, delightfully smutty story between Mona and Malcolm. Part fantasy, part paranormal, and completely filthy, The Red is a book that I couldn’t stop thinking about, even after I turned the final page.
The Duke of Ashbury needs a wife. More importantly, he needs an heir so that the dukedom doesn’t pass to his prat of a cousin. When seamstress and vicar’s daughter Emma Gladstone turns up in his library wearing the wedding dress designed for Ash’s now-former intended, Ash offers her a deal. He’ll make Emma a duchess, thereby securing her a life of wealth and privilege. In exchange, she’ll give birth to his heir.
Emma accepts Ash’s proposal and they are soon wed, with a few of Ash’s rules in place: no lights, no kissing, no excuses until she’s pregnant with his heir. But Emma negotiates her own conditions in return: they’ll have dinner together every night, complete with stimulating conversation. It quickly becomes apparent that Emma gets under Ash’s skin, in all the best ways.
The Duchess Deal made me smile, cry, laugh, and swoon. It also filled me with hope: the idea that love can bring you back from the edge, that it can truly make you a better person. That kind of hope is something we can all use a bit more of these days.
The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre is a dark, haunting story about secrets and lies. It’s a story about obsession and loss. And ultimately, it’s a story about forgiveness and love.
Helena Ross is a successful, bestselling romance author. She’s at the peak of her career. But her next novel will be her last. Helena has a shocking secret that she has kept hidden for the past four years. But in her final book, all will be revealed.
Torre’s writing is both lyrical and poignant. Her words soar off the page. I found myself engrossed in the story, but frequently had to pause, go back, and re-read because the writing is so beautiful—and, in many cases, heartbreaking. As I read the final chapters, I had to set the book down at one point because I couldn’t see past my tears. It’s that good.
Most of All You by Mia Sheridan is perfection. In this deeply emotional story, two broken people find each other—find love—and find themselves. I was both surprised and captivated by Crystal and Gabriel’s tale: how it begins with the most tentative of friendships, progresses to a sweetly slow burn, and evolves into the deepest form of love.
Their respective paths, though, are hard-fought and rough. They have each suffered specific tragedy and loss in the past. In many ways, it’s that pain that binds them in their shared grief. But it’s their inexplicable connection that draws them together: beyond a feeling, it’s more of a knowing that somehow, some way, some things are just meant to be. As painful as the lesson can be while it’s being learned, ultimately the truth remains the same: love is worth fighting for.
Lord Alaric Wilde has returned to his homeland of England after years away as an explorer and writer. But his reputation precedes him: unbeknownst to him, a sensational play about his life, Wilde in Love, is all the rage. Despite the fact that the play does not portray him accurately in the least, masses of fine English ladies are in love with the infamous Lord Wilde.
Immune to the hype is Willa Ffynche, whose sharply brilliant mind intrigues Alaric. Add the fact that she couldn’t care less about the great Lord Wilde’s reputation, and he’s doubly fascinated. As determined as Willa is not to become infatuated like all the other ladies, she finds her resolve increasingly weakened…because Alaric is falling more and more for the enchanting Willa Ffynche.
Wilde in Love might be the perfect historical romance. Its keen blend of wit, humor, and swoon-worthy moments had me drawing out my reading for as long as possible. I simply didn’t want the book to end.
That’s a wrap on 2017! Here’s to 2018 being an amazing year for books. I can’t wait to get started. 🙂