Best Reads of 2017


I started reading at a very early age. I was that girl in 2nd grade with her nose stuck in a book while her friends were playing dodge ball (yes, I realize I’m aging myself here). By the time I was in junior high, I was reading all of the Harlequin Romances my mom passed down to me (this was back in the day when nothing physical happened between the two main characters and it was all about the build-up). Proper G-rated reading nonetheless and exactly what I needed to propel me into a lifelong love of reading romance novels.

Writing styles – and what is more acceptable as a whole – has changed dramatically in the MANY years that I’ve been obsessively reading. In general, I will read 1-2 books a week. Sometimes more, especially if my brain is taking a hiatus from writing. In general, I will still read even though I might have a juicy work in progress. Only when I’m really struggling with a particular manuscript do I stop reading.

Clearly, reading is my favorite subject/hobby/obsession. On that note, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of my favorite reads of this past year. Please note that my recommendations are not necessarily books that were published this year, but rather books I consumed (er…read) this year.

One last thing…I love to write, but when I try to write a review of any kind, I fail. Big time. So if you’re looking for a detailed review of each book, better go to your favorite retailer for that.

Tate – Ella Frank (the entire series too)

Let me state here and now that this entire series is freaking amazing. Ella Frank makes you fall in love with Logan and Tate over and over again over the course of her 5-book Temptation series. She makes you cheer for them and (in this book particularly) cry with them. I can always tell how good a book is when my waterworks start and I have to put the book down to wipe away the tears. If you love M/M romance, get this series.

Wrecked – JB Salsbury

The Final Fight – JB Salsbury

JB Salsbury is one of my favorite authors who never disappoints. Her Fighting series is brilliant, and The Final Fight was the perfect end to a series I will read again and again. In case you’re wondering, book 3 of the series, Fighting to Forget is my favorite.

With Wrecked she brings us another lovable, broken, endearing main man and the woman he meets. Aden, an Army Veteran, is someone you will fall in love with and cheer for.

Strong Enough – Melanie Harlow

Another fantastic M/M romance. Harlow continues to be an author I follow again and look forward to her next book.

Trust – Kylie Scott

Scott is one of those authors I keep going back to time and time again. Trust is a wonderful story with strong characters you will adore. I particularly love her Stage Dive series, which I’ve read more than a few times.

The Player & The Catch – K. Bromberg

Like Salsbury, K. Bromberg never disappoints. This series, about a baseball player and the woman he loves, is one you won’t be able to put down. Although she’s known for her Driven series (which is damn amazing, by the way), this series is one you’ll read repeatedly too.

Speechless (Pier 70 Series) – Nicole Edwards

I loved this entire series, but Speechless was my favorite. Told through the eyes of the speechless Hudson and Teague, one of 4 owners of Pier 70 Marina, this book was astounding. Writing M/M love is challenging. Writing M/M love when one of the characters doesn’t speak….brilliant. Bravo Nicole Edwards!

Locked in Silence – Sloane Kennedy

I’m a big fan of Sloane Kennedy and book 1 of her Pelican Bay series will certainly be a forever favorite of mine. This story brings us two endearing, big-hearted male lead characters in Nolan and Dallas. If you love M/M romance as much as I do, check out this author and this book. I cannot wait for book 2!

Preppy, Part Three – TM Frazier

The Outskirts, book 1

What I love most about any TM Frazier book is that she’s not afraid to be raw…dirty…gritty. She always shows us the forbidden side of life; poverty, drugs, violence. In doing so she gives her characters life. And trust me on this… there is no one more full of life than Preppy; the guy you want to drink a beer with but never turn your back on.

Her newest series, The Outskirts, continues with the same theme of telling life as it is, with all the beautiful and ugly walking hand in hand. I look forward to any and all new projects by one of my favorite authors.

Beneath The Truth – Meghan March

The entire Beneath series is well worth taking the time to read. Like Frazier, March’s characters are tough, Alpha males that are easy to love.

The Understatement of the Year – Sarina Bowen

I have a girl crush on Sarina Bowen. She’s amazing and her books are SO character-rich you feel like you know each one as you would a “real” friend. Everything she writes is beautifully executed, and this book stands at the top as one of my all-time favorites of hers.

Shiver – Ella Frank/Brooke Blaine

At the end of this book, I found myself saying, “What the hell was that?” The duo of Frank and Blaine goes where no one else does…into a world of an obsessive stalker and his prey. Like the Amazon synopsis warns, it is not about love or romance, but it is a brave piece of writing that I applaud.

In addition to the bestselling authors I’ve mentioned above, I’ve read some wonderful books this year by great indie authors (and Twitter pals). Do yourself a favor and give a new author a try and check out these recommendations:

Jigs and Reels – Leigh M. Lorien

Leigh is one of my Twitter buddies who I adore. With her vivacious personality, and unapologetic honesty, I expected all of that to come across in her writing. And it did. Jigs is a short book, but well worth the time. I anxiously await her next book.

Follow Him Home – PW Davies

This is my first PW Davies book and let me say I’m so happy to have discovered his writing. This book features a gay triad of men who I fell in love with individually. The writing is best-seller worthy and I look forward to PW’s next book with great anticipation.

Ilavani: Volume 1 – Kaelan Rhywiol

Admittedly I’m not much of a fantasy reader. I like good, raunchy romances any day. But Kae is one of my Twitter pals who inspires me with her frank talk and honesty, and so I just had to see what kind of writer she is. She made her world and its characters come alive, and I was brought to tears by one line in her work: “Grief is the last true gift of love you can give someone.” Bravo Kae!!

Thank you to all these brilliant authors for sharing their work with us and for keeping romance writing in all its various genres alive!

Happy reading!

AJ

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