~**MY TOP READS OF 2020**~

A Happy New Year wish!

It has certainly been a challenging year for us all across the globe and I do not think I just speak for myself when I say that the I am eternally grateful to the authors who create the wonderful stories and worlds I can escape into. In this post I thought I would highlight my favourite book of the year and then list what I consider my other top reads (in no particular order). As I read a number of different genres I have found it impossible to create a shorter list! 🙂

~**My Top Read of 2020**~

Steel Rose (The Cardinal Winds #1), by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

Must read enemies-to-lovers Steampunk Romance

Enemies-to- lovers romances are my favourite bookish trope and the fact that the story takes place in a dystopian steampunk world just added to my enjoyment of this quirky and hot read which contains moments of humour and some darker themes. I loved the author’s world building – Viktor, aka the East Wind, presides over a communist style society where each gives according to their abilities, for the good of all, contrasting with the society inhabited by Rose and her fellow rebels.

The romance is a slow burn, but when it does ignite it does so in stellar fashion and continues to deliver in terms of hotness! I absolutely adored Viktor the anti-hero/villain – at first he comes over as an unlikeable, albeit fascinating figure – cold, manipulative and controlling, but slowly we learn, as Rose does, that there is a lot more to him…  Rose’s character is a delightful contrast to Viktor – freedom loving and chaotic, wearing her heart very much on her sleeve. Viktor is determined to solve the mystery of this captive rebel pilot. #enemiestolovers #scifi #steampunk #dystopian #villainromance My Review

The Flame and the Blade, by Meredith Hart 

Superb Start to Fantasy Series

I literally inhaled this fantasy debut from author Meredith Wild – I was riveted from beginning to end. It contains adventure, romance, a quest (what fantasy novel would be complete without one?), magic and monsters . Once more the world building is just sublime.

Not only that but the main couple rock!  – Lyria is a woman who knows how to look after herself and wield a sword, and Vethe has  abilities far and above your average spoiled aristocrat, which Lyria initially thinks he is. Although the couple are just made for each other it is not immediately obvious to them. Indeed, their romance is a slow burn and so much the better for it. There are plenty of scenes of danger and suspense which afford the couple numerous opportunites  to get to know each other better and also some humorous moments – the repartee between the couple and their inner dialogues are  superb. #Fantasy #Adventure #Romance My Review

A Wanton Indiscretion (Wild, Wicked and Wanton Book #5), by Natasha Blackthorne

Moving, sensual & erotic – beautifully done

A Wanton Indiscretion, by Natasha Blackthorne, is a thoroughly emotional, sensual and erotic read. It is the 5th instalment in the author’s Wild, Wicked and Wanton series, but can be read as a standalone.

I  adored that Isaac and Abigail are such opposites when it comes to their characters: Isaac is a handsome philanderer, notorious for his affairs and reviled by many in society despite his wealth. Abigail is a respectable governess who has eschewed marriage and her own children, to instead support her brothers through her job as a governess, their own parents long gone. The scene where Isaac and Abigail first met is pure perfection. I enjoyed reading how single minded Isaac was in his pursuit of Abigail as he slowly breaks down her defences. Will he win this game of seduction and if he does what next for them both? Society’s expectations weigh heavily on them and I was eager for them to find a satisfactory resolution. Abigail is unlike any other woman Isaac has met and his obsession grows to an extent that he must have her, whatever the repercussions… #HistoricalRomance #EroticRomance #AmericanHistoricalRomance My Review

Salvation: Paranormal Angel Romance (Realm of Flame and Shadow, book 3), Christina Phillips

Captivating Enemies to Lovers Romance

I make no secret that the enemies to lovers trope is one of my favourites when it comes to romance and Christina Phillips delivers in spades with Salvation, book 3 in the Realm of Flame and Shadow series. This super read has a plot containing secrets, danger and deception and a hero and heroine who kept me entertained throughout with their lively  banter and sizzling lovemaking scenes. Although the book includes characters who feature in the earlier books (whom I loved meeting again), it works perfectly well as a standalone, Nate and Isabella’s relationship being at its core. #ParanormalRomance #Angels #Demons #SciFi My Review

Bright Lies, by AA Abbott

Gritty and realistic 

Well done AA Abbott for penning this thoroughly engaging read. It is both gritty and realistic, not only in how it portrays the sensitive issues of abuse, but also the difficulties faced by those who are compelled through one reason or another to live on the streets.

Emily’s relationship with her step-father David is toxic almost from the off, and finally his inappropriate actions cause her to flee from her wealthy home, finding herself on the streets in the heart of Birmingham. It is here  she meets Jack, who has his own difficult past to cope with. #pstchologicalthriller My Review

Moth (Dragon Triad Duet #1), Lana Sky

Twisty and Suspenseful Perfection 

Lana Sky has penned yet another addictive read in Moth, the first of her Dragon Triad duet. This Romantic Suspense has a deliciously dark and sexy as f*** anti-hero in the form of Rafe, a Triad enforcer and broken bookish Hannah, the heroine, who hides from the world. When their paths cross, something starts to give in both of them, their lives becoming ever more entwined despite their differences: Rafe seeks to torment Hannah and Hannah finds herself drawn to him despite the danger he represents. I found the title of the book perfect, conjuring up the image of the proverbial moth circling the flame, knowing that it may get hurt but powerless to resist the attraction. #RomanticSuspense #New Adult #Interracial My Review

Search and Rescue, A Contemporary Reverse Harem Romance (The Dreadnoughts #1), by Lucy Felthouse

Fabulous start to series 

This action packed Reverse Harem by Lucy Felthouse is a fab start to her new series The Dreadnoughts. It contains Kim, a confident and feisty heroine, four gorgeous ex Special Ops –Jason, Aiden, Taylor and Joshua and an astonishing discovery that took me, the reader, completely by surprise!

The read kicks off when the four guys embark on a retrieval mission to a remote Scottish island. They soon encounter a lot more than they bargained for after being engulfed by a very special energy, and find it difficult to walk away from their mission once it is accomplished. Kim is a woman who is not used to relying on others and I loved how she slowly grows to trust her rescuers as the plot unravels. #reverseharem #adventure #romance #superpowers My Review

A Governess should never…. Tempt a Prizefighter (The Governess Chronicles #1), by Emily Windsor

A beautifully crafted and uplifting romance 

I  loved this uplifting Regency Romance, the first book in Emily Windsor’s new series, The Governess Chronicles. It’s warm, witty and sensual and the hero and heroine, are just so perfect for each other, despite initially appearing to have so very little in common.

The ex-prizefighter Seth, a single parent, is finding it extraordinarily difficult to find a suitable governess for his daughter. In steps Matilda, a member of the ton who is masquerading as a governess to escape the nefarious plans of her guardian. Despite appearing to be his opposite in every way and having no experience for the post, he employs her nonetheless. I was smitten with him from this moment on! #Sensual #Regency #Romance My Review

Sin of Silence (Sinner’s Empire #1), Nikita Slater

Amazing mafia romance 

Sin of Silence, the new Romantic Suspense from Nikita Slater  is a super start to a new series. I was hooked on the premise of the book as soon as I had read the blurb and glued to my Kindle throughout. Mafia romances are amongst my favourite reads and this is a powerful read, containing a strong, principled heroine and a brute of an anti-hero.

After her abduction by mafia enforcer Josef, the heroine Shaun is catapulted into a world of wealth and excess funded by organised crime. The author does an excellent job of describing the brutality of the kidnap and how Shaun and Josef respond to the evolving attraction between them.  There is plenty of tension between Shaun and Josef, as well as other members of the Koba family and the lovemaking scenes between the main couple sizzle. #MafiaRomance #EnemiestoLovers #RomanticSuspense My Review

Dream Reaper, Alistair Cross

A battle between good and evil in another modern Gothic masterpiece 

Alistair Cross once again excels himself with another of his modern Gothic masterpieces, this time set in the seemingly sleepy town of Prominence in California. I am a real sucker for books pitting angels against demons, as I just love tales of good versus evil. I therefore jumped at the chance to review the author’s latest novel Dream Reaper, which blurs the lines between paranormal romance, urban fantasy and horror and is an absolute delight for fans of these genres. 

When a handsome and mysterious stranger saves Madison O’Riley from a fatal fall, little does she realise that her life and that of the inhabitants of the town of Prominence will soon descend into the depths of the Twilight Zone. It is not long before Madison and others start to realise that the amnesiac who calls himself Alejandro, has powers which defy comprehension…  Horror, Fantasy, Thriller, Romance My Review

Verik’s Price, Alpha Barbarians #3, Leann Ryans

Sinfully hot but sweet Omegaverse romance 

Verik’s Price is a sinfully hot but sweet contribution to the author’s Alpha Barbarians series which is set in an Omegaverse world. It is essentially a captor-captive romance featuring Verik, a passionate and powerful Alpha and Iris, a strong-minded Omega who has been torn from her village and gifted to him.

I was entertained by the interplay between the two – sparks fly and although Verik, as Alpha and leader of the Andtay clan has all the power, I respected that although Iris he gives Iris no option but to submit, he chooses not to totally go overboard on how he goes about taming her. That is not to say he is not dominant – indeed there is no absence of extremely intimate moments, but Verik is tortuously devious when it comes to seducing Iris to admit she desires him too – after all he wants her willing. #fantasy #omegaverse #erotic #romance My Review

Summer Warrior The Clan Donald Saga, Book 1, Regan Walker

A Spellbinding Tale 

In Summer Warrior, the first book in the Clan Donald Saga, Walker weaves a spellbinding tale of heroism and adventure coupled with a touching love story.

The backdrop to the tale, encompassing Scottish, Irish, Norse and English history, is an expansive one, worthy of the title saga. For me the writing conjured up vivid images of royal courts, battles and the ever present windswept coast and sea that surrounds the isles.

As with the author’s previous works, the novel is meticulously researched, breathing life into characters and events from history. In this instance it is the little known Somerled, the Summer Warrior of the title, who, through his valiant actions, comes to be crowned Lord of the Isles, a Kingdom independent of his Scottish allies and from the Norse he vanquishes. #HistoricalFiction #Histfic #ScottishFiction #NorseFiction My Review

Omega Awakening, The Controllers #0.5, by L V Lane

Loved this read so much!

 A prequel to the author’s Controllers series, it is a twist on the Cinderella trope but set in a dystopian Omegaverse, where the anti-hero Woodrow bears little resemblance to a Disney Prince! This alpha male is one who is utterly single-handed in his pursuit of the heroine Verity – he will make her his whatever it takes and he does not play fair. Having served his time in the military, he is now a Special Ops Director, who wants an Omega of his own and Verity becomes his obsession. #Omegaverse #Dystopian #Fantasy #Romance My Review

Not Just My Heart, Em Taylor

Sexy and heartfelt romance

This second chance romance is a heartfelt read with oodles of heat. It Is a story about finding yourself and your soulmate but also a tale of the importance of friends and family. Lacey and Rory have a lot of baggage to sort out and I enjoyed how they resolved their personal challenges and those they had as a couple, before they could contemplate their HEA.

The read, which is set in Scotland, contains some extremely sexy adult themes plus  emotional and sometimes humorous scenes and dialogue. The couple’s physical chemistry is assured but Rory soon realises just how hard he broke Lacey’s heart with his abrupt departure from her life six year’s previously. He knows he will have an uphill struggle to win over the girl he so carelessly discarded but what he doesn’t initially realise is that his actions had ramifications which went far beyond Lacey… Can he put things right and can he win the girl?#contemporary #secondchanceromance My Review

 

About Tina Williams

Book reviewer and blogger and co-organiser of Tamworth (UK) Literary Festival

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