My goal was, as it always is, to read 100 books. I ended up hitting 80, which includes DNFs and audiobooks. Real Life was busy this year, so the fact that 80 books touched my hands is pretty amazing. Here's how the numbers breakdown:
A Grades = 10
B Grades = 28
C Grades = 26 (3 Stars on GR, which also included "low" B-)
D Grades = 6
DNFs = 10
Audiobooks = 16
A grades were up, as were DNFs. The rest of these numbers are pretty par for the course with what I normally do. The bulk of my reading consistently seems to land in the B/C range.
But let's get on with the good stuff, after the short disclaimer that these books represent multiple publication years. I'm forever perpetually behind and why should a great read not get mentioned just because it wasn't a 2015 release?
Title links take you to full reviews
A Soldier's Heart by Kathleen Korbel
- Twenty year old category romance about a former Army nurse heroine suffering from PTSD and the hero, one of her former patients in Vietnam. Korbel has self-published some of her older books, but not this one (yet). Here's hoping it's available in digital soon.
- I could of sworn I read this as a kid, but I don't think I actually did. The plan was to listen to the rest of the books this year, but I didn't quite get there. There's always 2016!
- My first single title read by O'Keefe and man, what a book. I got gut-punched in the second half and stayed up way past my bedtime to speed read to the finish line.
- Addicted. I was completely, hopelessly addicted to (and obsessed with!) this historical mystery series which turned out to "only be a trilogy" and ::sob:: Wonderful, amazing, historical detail. They're dark stories (trigger warnings all over the place), but holy mother I think historical romance fans would dig this series.
- A gentle read that sizzled with sexual tension (but no actual insert-tab-A-into-slot-B) and an amazing Americana vibe. Historical romance fans may have lost Pamela Morsi but we have gained Gist.
- Anderson writes some damn fine category romance and this one was a showstopper. A heroine determined to not repeat her mother's mistakes, a hero figuring out life now that he's "new money" and OMG - actual class issues! Class issues are part of the conflict. Ignore the baby on the cover people, just read this book already!
- A second appearance my Anderson, this novella is a dynamite example of how the format works well in the right author's hands. Sexy, fun, emotional, and a perfect happy ending for a the short page count.
- Remember when erotic romance was about more than just whatever kinky crap the author could throw on the page? Yeah, I miss those days too. Stein has certain writing tics that won't be for every reader, but OMG - this book! The tension! The desire! The passion!
- It wasn't everything I wanted it to be, but the emotional heft of this novella was really striking. Dahl excels at writing heartbreak and dialogue and I spent the entirety of this story having my guts ripped out. Also she makes the happy ending work in a realistic manner, which is no small feat given the characters and plot.
Glitterland by Alexis Hall
- A wonderfully emotional m/m romance about a clinically depressed (and intellectually snobby) writer and a wannabe model with a spray tan. Trust me, it's good.
- Nail-biting suspense that almost found me chain-smoking through the last couple of CDs. King won an Edgar Award for this book and dude. Totally deserved it. I couldn't wait to get stuck in traffic on my commute to listen to more.
- I've enjoyed other books by Lohmann, but I think this might be her most accomplished work to date. She avoids the pitfall of turning her paraplegic hero into a trope, she doesn't whitewash the heroine's past mistakes, and she gives us a believable romance.
- Historical women's fiction that is a Tearjerker with a capital T (in bold, outlined in neon) about two sisters and their experiences in Nazi-occupied France. Bad things happen. People die. It's not a romance. But it's dynamite women's fiction and my #1 with a bullet suggestion if you're looking for a book club read.
- I've pimped this book all bloody year long. Former prostitute heroine turned mistress to crime lord heroine falls for the hero, hired muscle and boxer. The longing, the angst, the emotional ache of this story. Happy, happy sigh.
- OK, so it ends on a cliffhanger, doesn't stand alone, and I'm the only person on the planet who wasn't in love with the second book (The Truth About Him). But this book? Oh man, it's great. A near perfect blend of women's fiction, suspense and erotic romance. O'Keefe may have broken the mold with this one.
- Oh look, my third mention of O'Keefe in this Best Of round-up. I swear, she's not paying me. This is her second historical western featuring a heroine who desperately wants to be more as society is holding her back, and a hero struggling to find a way to tell her how he feels, even as he questions his ability to be everything she needs and deserves.
- Bliss delivers in turning Zander into a full-fledged romantic hero and pairs him up with a fantastic heroine, who is a scholar and writer. I never thought I'd find a rock n' roll romance that would work for me, but this one does. Better yet? Bliss has set the stage to turn this into a series. The secondary characters here are fantastic.
- Not gonna lie - there are problematic elements in this story that, I think, may stop some readers cold (there's some pretty disturbing violence in the second half of the story). But - how often does one come across a historical romance (post-WWI) that takes place in Kentucky hill country? Yeah, like never. Plus I'm a sucker for beta (virgin!!!) heroes and heroines who are desperately trying to live down their disreputable pasts.