*Top Reads of 2017*

Well I’ve done it! I’ve finally put together a list of my top reads of 2017. I read some fantastic books last year and it was certainly no easy task selecting my top reads. I intended to stick to a ‘Top Ten’ but it was just far too difficult! Here’s the list (16 in total), in no particular order. It contains a mix of genres:  romantic suspense (sometimes dark); erotica; thrillers, historical romance; erotic romance; sci-fi; post-apocalyptic; drama; black comedy;horror and humour. What they all have in common is a compulsive plot with characters whose story I became totally invested in. 

The Found: A Crow City Novel, by Cole McCadeDark and Deliciously Twisted… the contract killer Priest and Willow his captive, a tale which examines dark and disturbing themes including non consent, violence and sexual assault. …one of the darkest novels that I have read … Both the hero and the heroine are broken before they meet and their coming together is pyschologically intense and explosive… Priest is a dark and tortured anti-hero and throughout the read I was unsure if he could ever redeem himself as he is so damaged. Willow’s fate certainly hung in the balance and the read kept me guessing until the finale.

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Dirty Ugly Toy, by K Webster  ~ A Down and Dirty Dark Read. Brax, a wealthy billionaire, has a twisted side – taking girls from the street and transforming them into his ‘toy’ for 6 months before disposing of them… his modus operandi … it is brutal. … when Brax ‘rescues’ Jessica … it soon becomes apparent that she is like no other. She is not just the dirty, drug addicted whore she first appears to be… she also stands up to her tormentor, playing Brax at his own game. I was glued to my Kindle to see if Brax would break his addiction to his ‘toys’ or if Jessica would meet the same fate as the others…

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A Different Kind of Cosplay, by Lucy Felthouse ~ Role Playing Smutfest with a Superhero Twist! … If you have ever wondered what it would be like to get up close and personal with your fave superheroes then here’s your chance to find out in this fast and furious erotic read! Reese is certainly one lucky girl when Zach her estate agent partner, who is not usually an Avengers fan, takes her and her libido completely by surprise, when he proceeds to ravish her in a series of deliciously kinky and lust filled role playing scenes, the likes neither of them has ever encountered before…

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Payback: Viking Bastards MC #2, by Christina Phillips ~ Revenge is sweet… I just love novels with revenge as a theme, especially when combined with a sizzling plot. To Amelia it sounds easy – get a job working the bar in Odin’s, gain the owner Gage’s trust, find evidence of the illegal activities the Viking Bastards MC are involved in and then ensure the authorities know. She can then walk away knowing that payback is hers. Landing the job was easy but once she meets Gage, the owner, all bets are off with the rest of the plan. Not only is he smokin’ hot, but he will not take no for an answer and will break all his rules to have her…  The truth is a major deal for them both and it will take a strong relationship to survive. I enjoyed both their verbal and physical sparring and the scorching lovemaking scenes are down and very dirty.

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Reckless: Planet Alpha #15, by Lily Harlem ~ Sizzling Sci-Fi Ménage! … standalone erotic sci-fi romance… Aurora Zenitha… fleeing Earth to save her life and two hot blooded Alphans who are hell bent on making her theirs, even if she is an illegal alien…scorching scenes of ménage, voyeurism, self-pleasure and more… stowing away on an alien ship bound for Planet Alpha is not a safe option, especially when she is travelling with false papers and she has already attracted the attention of the ship’s captain…  The stakes are high and the sex is off the Richter scale… Aurora is the lucky recipient of some alien loving from Captain Ciro and Luc! Be sure to have plenty of iced drinks on hand as the read hits the spot again and again.

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The Passage of Desire: French Summer Prequel, by Laurette Long ~ Compelling and Flawlessly written…Juliet, Alexandra’s childhood friend invites her and her daughter Caroline to stay with her in her family home… Alexandra, whose husband is away on business, is going through a low point in her life but soon begins to bloom again and … begins to heal herself. The setting for the story, the wild and untamed Yorkshire moors, where emotions become freed and passions can often come to a head, is a metaphor for the tale itself… It touches on all which makes us human; the different stages of life; family dynamics; intimate relationships and unexpected desire. The book is … written, with insight and sensitivity as the events, which will have life-changing repercussions for some, unfold.

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Zenka, by Alison BrodieSheer brilliance … and a guarenteed pick me up… I just loved the pairing of the mild mannered and gentle nurse Nicholas and the fiery and unpredictable Zenka, the Hungarian pole dancer and friend of the gangster Jack. The novel contains madcap and side-splitting antics galore, contrasting starkly with a host of gory and violent scenes. The plot explores the very worst of the human condition – greed, deceit, violence and the abuse of trust, and also the very best – love , friendship , honour and loyalty. This dichotomy plays out in a deliciously devilish exposé that sweeps the reader and characters along into a vortex of black comedy and emotionally charged scenes.

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The Silver Wolf: A James Ryler Thriller, by Rob Sinclair ~ … high octane revenge thriller… revenge is the name of the game in this rip-roaring spy thriller… Ryker, a man tormented by his wife Lisa’s disappearance…his determination to make those who hurt her pay the ultimate price. Ryker’s quest for vengeance takes him from Mexico, to London and beyond as he becomes embroiled in a tangled web of illicit criminal activity and the covert work of government operatives, including his old colleagues at the Joint Intelligence Agency… all roads lead to the elusive Silver Wolf who appears to have not only played a pivotal role in Ryker’s recent past but the JIA’s current problems…There are scenes of blood and gore aplenty and a number of plot twists, including one major one which I did not see coming…

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Blair: Dark Romance, by Anita Grey ~Totally Amazing Dark Psychological Read…. an original plot line and in Blaire and Charlie the author has created a truly awesome couple – their relationship is complex and intense and the scenes between them range from deliciously dark to sweet. Blaire is one of the most kick-ass and lethal females I have come across of late yet she is so vulnerable. I wept for her as the plot unfolded and little by little we leared about her history… I ADORED Charlie – just what is his game? What hold does he have over Maskim? Can Charlie protect Blaire or is he just exploiting her too? Will Blaire overcome Maskim’s conditioning or is it too ingrained in her psyche? … I was fascinated with the psychology of the relationships in his book…

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A Scarlet Woman (The Fitzgeralds of Dublin #1), by Lorna PeelBewitching Victorian Romance… the lives of a fallen woman and an idealistic young doctor become unexpectedly intertwined after they meet in the most inauspicious of settings, a brothel. Their ensuing relationship challenges both their own future and society’s mores… I became totally immersed in Isobel and Will’s lives. Although at times it brought a tear to my eye, the book also contains some humorous scenes. A predominently sweet romance, it has some frank sex scenes (and) explores the double standards between men and women… (and) the differences between the lives of domestic servants and those ‘above stairs.’ I enjoyed how the author explored these themes and also how she delved into the underbelly of Dublin and the sexual preledictions common amongst all classes.

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Commodity, by Shay SavageBrutal and love affirming romantic suspense set in a post-apocalyptic world… only a few women have survived and as such have become little more than a commodity used in the worst possible way by those who covet power and influence. Prior to the apocalypse Hannah… was en route to give evidence in a major people trafficking trial… She had been assigned her own protector, Falk, a bodyguard… even though circumstances have changed and the world is no longer what it was, he is going to protect this woman come hell or high water… how far he will go to protect her and why becomes evident as the story unfolds… Their romance is far from instantaneous. Both characters have complex back stories … there are some horrific scenes of violence in the book (some of it sexual) and a number of twists in the tale, including one huge curveball – Shay Savage style!

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Death and Beauty, by Samantha McLeodSeductive and Spellbinding…beautifully written erotic novella which presents the reader with a highly original twist on one of my favourite tropes – Beauty and the Beast, this time delving deep into Norse mythology. Baldr the Beautiful awakes to find himself in the realm of the dead and is desperate to return to his life… He sets out to petition the terrifying half-skeletal Queen Hel with this in mind. However, the queen is not so easily persuaded and sets him the task of teaching her something new about the living word before she will grant him his wish… I  loved the verbal sparing and the growing sexual tension between them as Baldr strives to meet Queen Hel’s task… he has no knowledge to impart that she cannot already know about he embarks on the one thing that may just work – the seduction of Hel, which has unforeseen consequences for them both…

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Disenchanted, by Heide Goody and Iain Grant ~Magic and mayhem collide in riotous fairy tale romp. The premise of the novel – where the heroine very definitely does not want a HEA, despite the meddling of a host of formidable magical creatures … appealed to my sense of the perverse… I found the read to be a real tonic… Magical creatures really exist, although Ella the heroine would much rather they were not quite so fixated on controlling her life… Her efforts to resist the fate her fairy godmother and her associates have planned for her drive the plot forward and the conflict makes for some hilarious scenes as the authors expertly turned the usual HEA fairy tale tropes on their head… Ella veers from one adventure to another in her quest to avoid her prospective suitors at all costs and at the same time unravel issues from her family’s past. ..with an indomitable heroine and a series of larger than life characters, it’s a fast-paced, laugh-a-minute, feel good read, with some excellent one-liners.

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The Angel Alejandro, by Alistair Cross ~ A battle between good and evil in another modern Gothic masterpiece…blurs the lines between paranormal romance, urban fantasy and horror… 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… Madison and others start to realise that the amnesiac who calls himself Alejandro, has powers which defy comprehension… When the strange and compelling Gremory Jones and his associates arrive in town the book gets increasingly darker as Gremory’s intent becomes clear as he begins to ensnare the townspeople in his machinations. Add to the mix a psychic, a local priest, and the new chief of police, who is a recovering alcoholic, and the scene is set for a series of dastardly, dark and depraved scenes…chaos and carnage, with its inhabitants merely collateral damage in a battle between good and evil… the read also contains plenty of scenes of humour and romance giving relief from the ensuing horror.

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Alaska Wild, by Helena NewburySexy Romantic Suspense with a whole lot of sass. I LOVED this read…which pairs Kate, a dedicated FBI agent and Mason, a wanted criminal, an ex-Navy SEAL. When their paths literally collide and the plane they are in crashes in the wilderness, Kate finds that her survival depends on this man whose military record has been tainted and who is due to be court marshalled. Can she trust him to return her to the safety of civilization when his return there will lead to his capture and incarceration in prison? Is he innocent or guilty? The attraction between them sizzles off the page…Kate and Mason soon find that they are involved in a desperate fight to survive in the wilderness. Will they survive? Can Kate trust Mason?… the true danger comes from those that are hunting them, men who would prefer that they had not survived the plane crash.There are many superb and thrilling action scenes and vivid descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness. I was totally transported there by the power of the author’s writing.

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Dark Horse (Class 5 #1, by Michelle DienerSuperb…works as a standalone read… an original and suspenseful premise and plot… with strong characterisations and world building….Rose has been abducted… and has been held on an alien ship where she has been treated abominably by her over inquisitive alien captors, the Tecran… Sazo, an artificial intelligence has taken steps to prevent it happening again … most of the Tecran crew on her vessel are dead and Rose must escape the ship to survive…but is then taken by the Grih, headed by Captain Dav Jallan….Dav would like to trust this human called Rose but fears that she is not being entirely truthful about her part in the Tecran’s demise…(and risks)…putting the fate of his people and the other races in the alliance in danger? (Rose’s) safety could well be compromised if and when she is compelled to reveal what she knows. The fate of Sazo, the AI is closely linked to the couple’s future and the story develops in an unexpected way. An original read and highly recommended.

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*REVIEW* ~ Dark Horse (Class 5 #1) by Michelle Diener

#spaceopera #scifi  #adventure #romance

I’ve been having a real binge on out of this world romances lately and Michelle Diener’s Dark Horse is just one of the books I’ve read in the sci-fi genre! Thankfully books 2 and 3 in the series, Dark Deeds and Dark Desires have also been released, so I will be able to get my fix of the series in the near future.

The series is considered a space opera – I wasn’t too sure what space opera meant and how it differed from sci-fi but according to Wikipedia it is defined as:

” a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, as well as chivalric romance, and often risk-taking. Set mainly or entirely in outer space, it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, and other sophisticated technology. The term has no relation to music, but is instead a play on the terms “soap opera

Dark Horse certainly fits the bill as it has a fair amount of battle and adventure scenes using sophisticated technology, plus a romance between the respective female and male lead. The romance is on the sweet side and the focus is on the female leads and her character development. I really enjoyed the read as Michelle Diener is an accomplished and talented writer, weaving an original plot line with great character development and world building – I particularly liked the focus on AI’s (Artificial Intelligence). The series is certainly one of note for fans of the genre.

dh

Blurb

Some secrets carry the weight of the world.

Rose McKenzie may be far from Earth with no way back, but she’s made a powerful ally–a fellow prisoner with whom she’s formed a strong bond. Sazo’s an artificial intelligence. He’s saved her from captivity and torture, but he’s also put her in the middle of a conflict, leaving Rose with her loyalties divided.

Captain Dav Jallan doesn’t know why he and his crew have stumbled across an almost legendary Class 5 battleship, but he’s not going to complain. The only problem is, all its crew are dead, all except for one strange, new alien being.

She calls herself Rose. She seems small and harmless, but less and less about her story is adding up, and Dav has a bad feeling his crew, and maybe even the four planets, are in jeopardy. The Class 5’s owners, the Tecran, look set to start a war to get it back and Dav suspects Rose isn’t the only alien being who survived what happened on the Class 5. And whatever else is out there is playing its own games.

In this race for the truth, he’s going to have to go against his leaders and trust the dark horse.

My Review ~ 5 stars TOP READ

Superb

Dark Horse is the first instalment in Michelle Diener’s Class 5 series, but also works as a standalone read just as the other books in the series do. The book is a compelling introduction to the series. It is flawlessly written with an original and suspenseful premise and plot, with a strong female lead and a swoonworthy male counterpart, with strong characterisations and world building.

In it, Rose has been abducted from Earth and has been held on an alien ship where she has been treated abominably  by her over inquisitive alien captors, the Tecran. We don’t actually witness the torture she has been subjected to first hand, as by the time we are introduced to Rose, Sazo, an artificial intelligence has taken steps to prevent it happening again. Rose is unexpectedly plunged into a very dangerous situation, when the ship she is incarcerated on confronts a ship of the Grih fleet.  Not only that, but most of the Tecran crew on her vessel are dead and Rose must escape the ship to survive. She manages to escape to the adjacent planet but is then taken by the Grih, headed by Captain Dav Jallan.

Dav would like to trust this human called Rose but fears that she is not being entirely truthful about her part in the Tecran’s demise. The unexplained deaths of the Tecran crew are worrying. Can he trust her or is he putting the fate of his people and the other races in the alliance in danger? On board Dav’s ship Rose is not exactly being held captive but neither is she trusted by some of Dev’s crew and other s in the alliance. In fact her safety could well be compromised if and when she is compelled to reveal what she knows.

The read is full of adventure, suspense and intrigue. I particularly liked the interplay between Rose and the AI Sazo,  how their relationship developed and how it impacted on Dav’s relationship with Rose. Dav’s race the Grih are not unlike humans, apart from being more technologically advanced and I loved how he defended Rose from those from his race who viewed her as just another ‘orange’, his race’s term for a sentient alien being.

Rose is a character to admire. Abducted from her home planet and thrust into a life where aliens are very much a reality, she gives as good as she gets and is very willing to learn and adapt. I enjoyed reading how she grows in stature as the plot develops as she tries to secure a future in her new reality, a future which she only dare hope will include Dav for whom she is developing feelings for. As to Sazo, her saviour, she is compelled to put her trust in him and his agenda. However, Dav’s loyalty is truly torn. Dare he risk his career for a woman who is hiding the truth and whose knowledge could endanger his kind? The fate of Sazo, the AI is closely linked to the couple’s future and the story develops in an unexpected way.

An original read and highly recommended.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25615831-dark-horse?from_search=true

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http://www.michellediener.com/

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