~**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! ūüôā

~**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‚Äôs world building ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď at first he comes over as an unlikeable, albeit fascinating figure ‚Äď cold, manipulative and controlling, but slowly we learn, as Rose does, that there is a lot more to him‚Ķ¬† Rose‚Äôs character is a delightful contrast to Viktor ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď 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!¬† ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď 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‚Äôs 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 ‚ÄďJason, 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 ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď 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 ‚Äď 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‚Äôs 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 ‚Äď 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

 

Caroline’s Top Reads of 2013

1483293_10201261455993754_1572058602_nHello readers, I hope that you have all had a great year in 2013 and have had a chance to bury your head in many a good book this year. It has been a great first year for Tina and myself at A Reader’s Review Blog and we have made many online friends with authors and¬†readers alike, as¬†well as have a steady growth in followers. Thanks, guys. I hope that you all have a fantastic Christmas and a very Happy New Year!¬†x

I would like to take you on a journey through my favourite reads of this year. Initially I was going to pick ten but soon realised that there have been more than ten to leave an impact on me. However, some of them are part of the same series and so I have given the whole series a mention. In all there  are about 14/15 titles and they are in no particular order. (It would be impossible for me to number them!) Most genres are covered, including paranormal, fantasy, dystopian sci-fi, romance, comedy, thriller and horror. Romance is a theme that runs through many of them quite strongly.

Please click on titles for our full review and blurb!

Romantic comedy

the-debt-the-doormat_1Well, I had to begin with a rom-com. I absolutely LOVED The Debt & the Doormat by Laura Bernard. The comedy elements to this great book reminded me that of the style of Helen Fielding’s ‘Bridget Jones’ and Miranda Hart’s ‘Miranda’! With a fantastic love story making up the focus of the novel there are so many other aspects to this book, with various family members and work colleagues providing sub plots and more comedy. It is also very heart-warming. A perfect read for anyone who loves a great chick-lit! I am over the moon to hear that there will be a sequel next Spring!

Romantic paranormal

Unscathed

Unscathed is a collaboration by two of my favourite authors, Tim O’Rourke and C.J. Pinard. Initially a contemporary romance, this story is sweet and¬†heart-warming, with two young people falling for each other. However, Unscathed is unique. As you read on there becomes a paranormal element that raises it’s ugly head at times and causes some trouble between our two young lovebirds. I enjoyed the unpredictability of this story and in many of the author’s¬†solo books too. They¬†both provide¬†the element of surprise!

Paranormal/Fantasy

Vampire Seeker (Samantha Carter #1)I’m going to have to begin this genre with possibly my favourite book since the beginning of A Reader’s Review Blog. Tim O’Rourke’s Vampire Seeker’ is the ultimate action/adventure, fantasy/paranormal and sci-fi all rolled into one for me! From a vampire seeker in London, following a possible Jack the Ripper copycat in 2012, to a cowgirl in the Wild West in 1888, Samantha Carter is a brilliant heroine. With plenty of action¬†and gore, as with all of Tim’s stories, this is a thrilling, rollercoaster-like quick read with a little sexual tension too! Now signed to Little Brown/Piatkus publishing, the hard copy will be released in January 2014. However, it is available¬†as an e-book for the Kindle at Amazon.

Now, if one is to mention Tim O’Rourke it is impossible to not bring up his Keira Hudson series. Keira is a young policewoman and is taken out of her comfort zone when she goes to work at The Ragged Cove, where there have been people going missing and some turning up dead.¬†It isn’t too long before the reader is opened up to a fantastic world of vampires, Lycanthrope and follow Keira on a¬†journey like no other. Again, Tim’s writing is complete with punchy lines, high impact action scenes, comedy and romance.¬†The Keira Hudson series is followed by many and Tim will soon be writing his third series under the Keira Hudson title! Please click on the links below to read all of our reviews thus far on the Keira¬†adventure.

Vampire Shift (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 1), Vampire Shift ‚Äď The Graphic Novel (Volume One) (Keira Hudson Series One)¬†– ¬†illustrated by Craig¬†Twyman, Vampire Wake (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 2), Vampire Hunt (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 3), Vampire Breed (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 4), Wolf House (Potter‚Äôs Story) (Kiera Hudson Series 1¬†Book 4.5) – novella, Vampire Hollows (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 5), Dead Flesh (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 1), Dead Night – Potter’s Secrets (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 1.5) – novella, Dead Angels (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 2), Dead Statues (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 3), Dead Seth (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 4), Dead Wolf (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 5)¬†and Dead Water (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 6).

Control (The Soul of Voodoo, #1)With Control (The Soul of Voodoo #1)¬†by M.C. Lavocat we begin to go a little darker into the paranormal. In many ways the first part of Control can appear to be a romantic love triangle situation but as the reader gets sucked in too, by the spell, we realise that it is so much more; where lives are at stake, time is not as it seems and people‚Äôs destiny‚Äôs are affected! There is nothing we can do to prevent it ‚Äď or so it seems ‚Äď but we have to find a way! A curse, a spell, voodoo even is considered when darker events take place and the ‚Äėcontrol‚Äô or lack of it goes to a complete extreme. This is a must-read for those that love dark, paranormal horror, mixed with comedy and romance!

The Mating (Law of the Lycans, #1)Earlier this year Tina and myself focused on a Werewolf theme. During this time I read two fantastic books that I have been longing to read the sequels to. The first, Nicky Charles ‘The Mating (Law of the Lycans #1)’,¬†was recommended by a follower of our blog. I was grateful for the recommendation as The Mating was gripping from the beginning. It is a romantic suspense and the tension is apparent almost immediately as the main character, Elise, is mated to an Alpha of a neighbouring pack. However, this was not her choice.

Cursed: A Werewolf's TaleThe second of my werewolf stories is Cursed (A Werewolf’s Tale #1), also known as ‘Frostbite’,¬†by David Wellington. Cursed concentrates on the survival of a werewolf who finds herself lone in an Arctic forest, where a pack of others is trying to track her down. It is rather a chilling paranormal which includes some ferocious and horrific attacks, making this a bit of a horror too. It is gripping and the Arctic setting fits in nicely with the characters as they seem too cold to air any romance. It is a case of can they learn to live separately or must they try to eliminate the other in order to survive?

BorealAndJohnGreySeason1Box-v5_mediumBoreal & John Grey (Complete Series One)¬†by Chrystalla Thoma is one of the best paranormal/urban fantasy series I have ever read. There is definitely something for everyone with this magical story of the human world having Gates appear from another world, where it brings Shades, snakes, dragons, dwarves and goblins, not to mention sexy elves! The story itself is complete with action and adventure, mystery and romance. And what’s more is that you can purchase all 5 books under the one title.

Horror

on-the-lips-of-children_1One of the most chilling¬†stories I have read is Mark Matthews On the Lips of Children! This is definitely one to read under the covers as we follow the horrific ordeal as a marathon runner and his family are held captive by some scavengers. Mark Matthews‚Äô writing is so clear, the reader doesn‚Äôt miss a thing ‚Äď even though they may wish they had at times. For the taste of the heebie jeebies and a good scare this one is highly recommended!

TatterdemonTatterdemon by Steve Vernon was our Halloween Horror. There is so much going on in this book, but at the same time it’s enough to handle. Tatterdemon focuses on a cursed town of 300 years, where now some of the townsfolk turn on each other. This horror¬†holds it all, from witches, ghosts, zombies and killer scarecrows and complete with resurrections, spells and voodoo. It is a little crazy as well as being a fantastic fearsome horror!

Horror/Dystopian Sci-fi

Stilts ResizedStilts¬†(Tessa Dark trilogy #1)¬†is the latest book released from author Tim O’Rourke. It is also Tim’s first dystopian. I was so curious to read this one as it completely different from anything else I have ever read. Stilts is a story of survival. The only place that remains save is the prison that Tessa has been serving time in. However, outside the prison the world is not how she remembers it and the only living creatures outside appear to be similar to melting zombies, ‘scorchers’! It won’t be too long before the prison supplies run out and so the only hope they have is for some to leave the prison to bring back supplies. To prevent the scorchers from touching and melting them they find a way to travel with the use of stilts. With a romantic story running parallel with the survival story this proves to be a brilliant read.

And my last genre, but certainly not least is ………………..

…………….. Thriller

16150880[1]Although an avid reader of romance and the paranormal, I do love to read a great thriller. And my following thriller favourites really stood out to me this year. One of my first reads of 2013 was A Presence in Russell County¬†(The Organization Book 1)¬†by¬†S.J. Sprague. In a County where police corruption is high, Samantha Biggers finds herself in a vulnerable situation. After¬†chatting online to a guy for two years she leans on him for support. He is an ex-military man who is part of The Organization. An organization targeting corrupt law enforcement officers. Once The Organization are involved, Samantha’s safety is a priority as well as bringing down the corrupt officers.Mulberry_WEB.sm I do love this series as not only is there the crimes and¬†the thrills but there is also romance amongst the main characters. Later this year I also read the sequel, Mulberry (The Organization Book 2). Mulberry again has a great crime story involving corrupt police and continues with the romance surrounding Samantha. The main difference being that Samantha is now a member of The Organization! I do like the characters and the whole idea of The Organization. The Organization can deal with these corrupt officers swiftly through the justice system. This is definitely a series to look out for. And Jesse Butterfly (The Organization Book 3) will be released in early Spring 2014!

17617578[1]-001Now for this little treat, Tina and myself both reviewed Addicted by JoAnn DeLazzari for Blue Star Books. Set in a Colombian jungle, journalist Nikki Bradley is trying to find sufficient evidence to bring down a high and mighty drug trafficking operation. However, when she gets captured by these organised criminals the tension mounts as they have the potential to do with her as they please. One of her captors, King, although fearsome and rugged, he does prevent the others from harming her and the intensity and passion grows between them. Nikki desires him in ways she knows she shouldn’t. The chemistry and tension between these characters, as well as the setting in the jungle, reminds me of ‘Romancing the Stone’ and/or ‘Crocodile Dundee’ – although perhaps more adult-based. A very sensuous read. Hmmmm, I will certainly have to read this one again!

The Hourglass Killer Trilogy - All 3 BooksAnd finally, but again, certainly not the least, I have The Hourglass Killer Trilogy by LR Potter. Consisting of three books: Dwindling Sands, Shifting Sands and Cascading Sands. I am glad that I read the whole trilogy together as each story combines together perfectly with the following one. This one is a dark crime thriller, concentrating on Tess Champion, a female detective who has been subjected to a violent sexual crime. However, when she returns to work, she and her partner are faced with the murder of a woman who has been seriously sexually harmed in similar ways that she has. Is she being paranoid, or could there be a connection between this case and her own? Each step of this trilogy is quite adult-based, especially given the crimes committed. The reader is also aware of how each step of the case affects Tess and the people around her. However dark it gets, once you are gripped you really can’t put this book down!

And so as we move on into 2014 I am looking forward to reading some more great reads by some great authors. Where possible I am hoping to follow the series’ I have begun as well as begin some new ones.

I hope that I have intrigued you enough to take a peek at our full reviews. (Reviews can be seen by clicking on the titles). And if you are really keen we also have the links to Amazon UK and Amazon US.

If you have any great reads of this year that you would like to share with us, please feel free to comment below! We’d love to hear some of your favourites ūüôā

Be sure to keep a look out for Tina’s Top¬†Reads of 2013, coming shortly. And again, we both wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Caroline ūüôā