Friday, January 5, 2018

Jen's 2017 Favorites

Now that 2018 is well underway, it's time for us to share our 2017 favorites. I've broken this up into three posts, one for each of our lists. You can find mine and Pat's lists HERE and HERE.



First off, Jen is sharing her favorites romances from 2017:






Am I the only one who never knows how to handle this “Best of the Year” list business---can I include any books I read this year, or should I stick to books published this year?  THE STRUGGLE. So here are the rules I made for myself, just to narrow down the field.



  1. I decided to include books from 2017 + December of 2016. As Maria Rose from Straight Shootin’ Book Reviews pointed out, no one ever remembers to put those poor December books on their lists.
  2. Not more than one book by the same author. Difficult choices must be made. 
  3. I’m putting this list in alphabetical order by title. Ranking *within* the list is impossible and there is literally no way. Don’t @ me.






Deacon by Kit Rocha
Jen's Review



Why?

Ana is a kick-ass heroine who never puts duty before love. As the first female Rider, she feels the need to prove herself and everyone else that women can be just as tough as men. So how to deal with the feelings of lust and desire she has for Deacon, the leader of the group? Ana is only a half-step behind Lex as my favorite heroine in the KREU (The Kit Rocha Extended Universe. JK. I just made that up, but I think we’d all be better off adopting it into common Romancelandia usage). I love the world of these books, but I especially love that they are deeply, profoundly, and unrepentantly feminist. This is a world where women are strong and vital and necessary. There is nothing like the charge I get from immersing myself in the world of these books.








The Fixer by HelenKay Dimon



Why?

Is there anything more delicious than a heroine who is smart and capable and uncovers the secret identity of a man who thought he was invisible? Is there anything sexier than when that man finds her irresistible? I loved that Wren is more attracted to Emery’s brain than her body. I love that she is his match in every way. The Games People Play series by HelenKay Dimon is one of my favorites. The romances are center stage, but each mystery is suspenseful and compelling. The follow-up volumes have been strong, but The Fixer is still my favorite.












Hamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole
Jen's Review


Why?

2017 has been a massive struggle for me and for a lot of us. This book, which contains 3 beautiful, perfectly crafted love stories set during the Revolutionary War, made me remember what it is I love about America---the individuals who believe that freedom is not just for some people, but for all of us. The best historical fiction should always be engaged in an urgent conversation with now. This trio of romances made me feel patriotic and gave me the will to keep fighting. I couldn’t pick a favorite if I tried. They are all dazzling, heartbreaking, and inspiring.












The Hard Way by Annika Martin


Why?

You know when you hear a book’s premise and every cell in your body screams YES? That’s what happened to me when I heard the series title Taken Hostage by Kinky Bank Robbers. This is the 5th in the series, and maybe not the best one, but I don’t care. Isis and her band of men are up to their same wacky hijinks, what with the bank robbing and non-stop sexy times. These books are ridiculous and over the top and fucking bananas. I know they are problematic---white criminals are cool!--- and would only improve if we’d all stop pretending the *bank robbers* aren’t getting it on, too. Doesn’t matter. The heart wants what it wants.  I love every silly, implausible minute of them.










Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell
TBQ's Review


Why?

Talk about an illegal maneuver. I finished this book on December 30th and came back to add it to my list. Gavin is an NFL player, completely out of sorts and surly as fuck at his present circumstances. After an altercation, he’s been suspended for a season and put on house arrest. He can barely take care of himself (this is somehow charming instead of infantilizing) and his manager hires him a PA. Enter Noah, a young Clark Kent look alike. These two. My God. Yes, this book is completely over-the-top sexy. But it’s the emotional tenderness between them, the way that Gavin wants to be a better man for Noah, and the way that they love each other that makes this a perfect romance.












Merry Inkmas by Talia Hibbert
Jen's Review


Why?

This is a new to me author that I discovered in December, and her characters are so wonderful. In this one, Bailey is a barista who has her eyes on a cute customer. Cash comes into the coffee shop every day because he has a huge crush on her, too. He only drinks black coffee and he lets her make all those frothy, foamy drinks for him so he can just gaze upon her and it is ADORABLE. She ends up working for him and all that simmering sexual tension is just delicious. They each have difficult pasts to overcome on their way to an HEA, but they way they work on it feels real. I especially love how Bailey is so strong and self-assured. This book is body positive, sex positive, sexy as hell, and overall just plain delightful.









My Lady’s Lover by Nicola Davidson
Jen's Review


Why?

I’m a sucker for a perfectly crafted story. We are quickly introduced to our heroines, Lady Amelia and the maid who is wildly in love with her, Beatrice. Nicola Davidson gives them both interesting backgrounds, creates a real and compelling conflict, writes a ton of super-hot sex, and on top of that introduces a secret society devoted to sexual freedom---and all in sixty pages. It is tight as a drum. A sexy, sexy drum. Come on, what more could you ask for? The only possible answer is more pages, I get it. This is a perfect little tart of a romance.












Sanctuary by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Jen's Review


Why?

Both books in this series were good, and I’ve gone back and forth on which is my favorite. But the more I think about it, it’s this one. Liz takes refuge with Silas after an attack in her apartment. Liz never imagined she’d be hiding out with an introverted farmer and his five dogs, and Silas never imagined he’d ever find someone as fascinating and beautiful. They are so different, so it complicates things in the most delicious way to think about whether they will have a future together. There is not a better book this year that explores the difference between physical and emotional intimacy. It is just pitch perfect.











Sydney Smoke Rugby series by Amy Andrews
Jen's Review


Why?

I absolutely adore this series about a rugby team in Australia. (I know nothing about rugby so I’m going to leave it at that before I say something stupid.) Playing the Player and Playing with Forever, the 3rd and 4th books, came out this year and I loved them both. I like the characters, which tend to be cocky athletes undone by these amazing women they find.  The series strikes a good balance between funny and steamy, and they are completely sex positive. That being said, my hands down favorite is the 2nd book in the series, Playing It Cool (September 2016. I’m totally cheating!). I am a complete sucker for a plot where a woman realizes she deserves better and acts accordingly. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series!











Take the Lead by Alexis Daria
Jen's Review


Why?

Every little thing about this book was delightful. Gina is a dancer on a Dancing with the Stars type reality show, and her partner, Stone, is the star of his family’s reality show about living in the Alaskan wilderness. Gina has never wanted to be part of a showmance, but she can’t resist her urgent attraction to Stone. I loved these characters and how their family ties shape who they are and what they want out of life. The reality TV show backdrop adds drama, conflict, and interest to their growing romance. This was a story where I truly wondered how it would all turn out, and the fact that Gina and Stone had to work so hard for the HEA makes it all the sweeter.










Three Little Words by Melissa Blue


Why?

This is the fourth book in the #DirtySexyGeeks series, which is one of my all-time favorite series. I just love these men and the close bond of friendship that brings them together. In this installment, Porter hooks up with his sister’s best friend after a wedding. 3 months later, Iris announces she’s pregnant. Iris is prickly and stubborn and terrified and I loved her. These characters and conflicts are so messy and real, I would find myself physically rubbing my hand over my heart as I read. No one does a better job than Melissa Blue of exploring all the ways we hurt each other; but that also means no one does a better job of exploring all the ways we love and forgive each other. Also, a million fucking cheers for a non-secret baby.









Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai
Jen's Review


Why?

That Alisha Rai is on this list is no surprise to anyone. Of course the first book was brilliant, but Wrong to Need You just wormed its way into my heart. I don’t think I have ever just wanted to hug characters like I wanted to hug these two. Sadia and Jackson are so hurt and broken and battered by life, and yet they bravely move forward. There’s such dignity and grace in each of them, so it’s no surprise how they healed each other. Wrong to Need You is the absolute best of what romance can do: it makes the reader truly believe that love is the answer.

















Great list, Jen! Many of these are either on my list to read or on my list of favorites, too. Clearly we have good taste. :)




What books made YOUR list for 2017?





Enjoy!





Until Next Time,

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