I read a lot of good books this year, some really great ones, and a lot of okay ones. This is purely subjective list of some of my favorite books from this year. Not all the book on this list were 5 star books for me, but they are books that I still think about & I am genuinely glad I read in 2014.
- Private Politics by Emma Barry:
Friends (or friend of a friend) to lovers story, Liam is a beltway blogger who has unrequited crush Alyse a fundraiser for girls' literacy non-profit. He tries to hide the extent of his crush so he can help her unravel a possibly dodgy donation scam at her non-profit without it getting truly awkward.
Why is it a favorite? Liam was my favorite hero this year. He is shlubby, earnest, smart and hugable. His quiet competence is the anti-dote to every alphahole hero out there.
- Satisfaction by Sarah Mayberry.
Maggie has never had an orgasm & wants to use Rafael for sex and is scared of wanting more with him since he might not be over his ex.
Why is it a favorite? It has one my favorite romantic scenes. I just loved that Rafael wanted read the heroine's favorite book (a romance) because he wants to get to know her better. My husband did the same when we first started dating. We still trade recommendations 20 years later.
- Think of England by KJ Charles:
Opposites attract, historical romantic suspense where country-house mystery tropes are up-ended.
Curtis has come back from the war maimed and determined to find out who responsible. When he first spots DaSilva he can't stand him, seeing in him everything he mistrust as Daniel is dark, jewish, gay & a modernist poet, but as the novel progresses Curtis comes to realize that DaSilva is a true hero of great worth and has to rethink ing his prejudices and assumptions about himself.
Why is it a favorite? I smiled so much reading this book, loved the wit and language in the book. I loved that we only had Curtis POV, and that he had to grow and rethink his whole life.
- The Kraken King serial by Meljean Brook:
I am just going to be honest and say that I have yet to read a book by Meljean that I haven't loved.
Zenobia is spinster writer, who has decided to go on the run, traveling the world under an assumed name to stay ahead of kidnappers who would love to use her against her brother, Archimedes Fox, a treasure hunter whose adventures she has made famous in her books. When Ariq, the Kraken King, rescues her from her sinking ship, she is launched into her greatest adventure.
- Why is it a favorite? Action, Adventure, Romance! I love that Meljean keeps expanding her sprawling, diverse & vibrant world.
- Hard Time by Cara Mckenna:
Anne Goodhouse is a outreach librarian in a depressing Michigan small town. Every week her job brings her to the Cousins Correctional Facility where an inappropriate infatuation with an inmate turns into secret scorching epistolary relationship that neither is sure can survive once he is released.
Why is it a favorite? The letters! They are simply amazing. Anne was sure she couldn't want or desire again, but Collier reawakens her. The letters are beautiful,romantic, raw, intimate and hot.
- Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett:
Winter Magnusson is a bootlegger, rich, powerful, & dangerous in 1920's San Fransisco. But when an unknown rival curses him with a plague of ghosts, he turns to Aida, a nomadic medium, who can see ghosts and repel them, to save him. Together they must figure out who is trying to kill Winter before they succeed.
Why is it a favorite? 2014 is the year where I tried to and tried to fall back into love with historicals, which meant I read a lot of non-regency historicals. I loved the time period, setting & multicultural cast. I also enjoyed Grim Shadows (Book 2) & I can't wait for the 3rd book coming next year, with a Chinese American hero.
- Countess Conspiracy & Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan.
Both this novel and novella featured women who have passions for science & math but work in obscurity and the men who recognize how brilliant they are & do all they can so they shine. The obstacles these couples face are huge, the stakes felt real and I was very invested in their HEAs.
Why are these a favorite? Loved Sebastian in Countess Conspiracy, his patient/sacrificial devotion for Violet was so romantic. Rose Sweetly was a fascinating character, smart, guarded & determined. I loved that the book gives us a glimpse of a little featured segment of British society, the black Victorian middle class.
- Code Runner & Binary Witness by Rosie Claverton:
Book 1 & 2 of the Amy Lane Mystery series, the books are set in modern-day Cardiff and follow Amy, an agoraphobic hacker and consultant for the Cardiff police force and Jason Carr her house-cleaner/Guy Friday, who is a former street tough and felon. They have a gentle and unlikely partnership.
Why is it a favorite? The mysteries are smart and engaging. But what sold me on the series was the relationships. I loved watching Jason and Amy grow to depend on each other and how their relationship challenges and strains their relationships with others. I can't wait to read more from Claverton because I don't think she is scared of letting the relationships continue to grow and change.
- Into the Shadows (The Associates #3)by Carolyn Crane:
Nadia, the daughter of a deposed crime-boss, is searching for her mother by raiding her father's former holdings with the help of her former bodyguard and some mercenaries. Thorne is her former lover, a double agent within the most dangerous of the gangs who claimed her father's crime empire.
Why is it a favorite? I was trying to break up with tortured heroes and then Crane upped the ante, with Thorne & sucked me into a secret baby story (which I normally hate). Nadia and Thorne are broken in such interesting ways. They are both looking for redemption while fearing they can never earn it. I couldn't help but root for these two souls to find love & acceptance with each other.
- The Others by Anne Bishop.
This is sort of a cheat because only one of the three The Others novels I read this year was actually published in 2014, Murder of Crows, Book #2, (Written in Red, was published March 2013 & Vision in Silver will be out March 2015) but I loved this series too much to leave it off my list.
This Urban Fantasy/Alternate History series, this is the story of Meg Corbyn, a blood prophet who flees an institution where rich and power humans cut into her for profit, claiming a name and life for herself. She is taken in by a community of Terra Indigene, the elementals and shape-shifters who rule vast portions of Thasia. Her interactions with the Terra Indigene, and with Simon Wolfguard in particular will change the history of humanity in their world.
Why it is a favorite? The friendship and budding romance between Simon and Meg is lovely. I have no assurance they will have a HEA but I have grown deeply attached to them, and I love seeing Meg curiosity and desire for life transform her world.
I hope you had a wonderful year of reading in 2014 and I hope you find books that inspire, comfort and awaken you in 2015.