I can’t believe we are already faced with the end of 2013! This has been a great year for book lovers and trying to narrow down my favorites for the year has not been easy. I think I have them “short listed” but some of the books could fit in to more than one category so I tried to keep it to two for each one.
Shades of Gray by Maya Banks – I am a HUGE fan of the KGI series (well let’s be honest I’m a total Maya fan girl and am a huge fan of all her books) but I’m not going to lie I was not looking forward to this book. For some reason I had not been drawn in by P.J. and Cole and was kind of meh about reading their story. Since Maya is an auto-buy for me the book downloaded to my ereader at midnight and I was wide awake so I figured I would start it. I literally could not put it down and finished the whole thing that night. There were some difficult to read scenes but it was so emotional and such a journey for P.J. that this quickly became one of my favorite books in the series.
The Elephant Girl by Henriette Gyland – the blurb from this book caught my attention because I am raising my nephew who witnessed his mother’s murder. I’m not sure what I was expecting from it but Ms. Gyland did a fantastic job of showing the struggles that someone who has seen such a horrific thing goes through. I loved that she had the heroine move on from her anger and grief and accept that it is okay to live and be happy, and the secondary characters were just as interesting. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this may become a series because I would love to read the stories of some of the other characters. I think there is a lot there to be discovered and I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style, pacing and plot.
Lover At Last by J.R. Ward – if you are a Black Dagger Brotherhood fan then chances are you have been waiting for Qhuinn and Blay’s story and it was definitely overdue. In terms of the actual core couple I’m not really sure Ward did the hardcore fans justice with their story, but the overall book did wonders to set up future stories in the series, as well as really get us intrigued by some of the characters we will no doubt learn more about later on. I hope that in future books we get to see more of the progression in the relationship of Blay and Qhuinn because I felt a tiny bit let down on that front, but at the same time I was satisfied with it overall – if that makes sense.
Unconditional by Lauren Dane – the Cascadia Wolves series was my first exposure to Ms. Dane’s work so I was really excited to get back to that group. Yes we have seen glimpses of them in the de La Vega Cats series, but my heart was still with the wolves and I was not disappointed! From a kick-ass heroine, a hot hero who didn’t try to control her and excellent story telling, Unconditional had all the elements I love in a Lauren Dane book. I really hope we haven’t heard the last of this series!!
Ours To Love by Shayla Black – I wasn’t really sure how I was going to like a menage book that involved two brothers but I should have known that Shayla would not disappoint! Xander is on a mission to save his brother Javier from himself and drags him down to Louisiana where the other characters from this series live. Desperate to save not only his brother, but the family business as well, Xander sets up a temporary office down there while he tries to get Javier sober and determined to live again. He hires London to assist in the office and it becomes clear that both men are drawn to her. The sexual chemistry between London and each man was sizzling hot and a large part of what made Xander love her was the way she cared for his brother. I think that big plot point helped me get over my misgivings of a menage relationship involving brothers.
Theirs to Keep by Maya Banks – this book is the first in the Tangled Hearts trilogy that Maya is self-publishing. Unlike most of her series, this one will revolve around Cade Walker, Merrick Sullivan and Elle rather than a group of people. When Cade and Merrick respond to an alarm at the business of one of their security company client’s, they find a badly beaten Elle hiding in fear. After taking her in to help her heal, both men quickly fall in love with her. One of the things I loved most about this book was that it was so emotional. Typically menage books are very sexual, but given what Elle had been through it would have completely ruined the story if there had been sex scenes just for the sake of it. By the time any sex scenes took place we were already invested in the characters and although the sex was smoking hot, it was also incredibly sweet. I cannot wait for the next one to release!
Drawn Together by Lauren Dane – this book is the final book in the Brown Siblings series and while I am so sad that its over, Lauren saved the best for last. For me, Erin’s story had always been the most emotional and my favorite but after this I have to say I think Raven has knocked Erin back to second. Readers of the series “knew” there had to be an incredible story lurking behind Raven and there definitely was. It takes a lot for me to cry while reading a book but this one had me crying in a few places. Raven was so strong, yet so vulnerable and Jonah was her perfect counterpart. He didn’t put up with her crap, he loved her but didn’t let her run all over him and he didn’t fight what he felt for her. The series had the perfect ending.
Sweet Revenge by Rebecca Zanetti – while this one is probably more romantic suspense I added it here because I loved the romantic part of the story just as much as the mystery. After reading the first book in this series I was really looking forward to watching this story progress and Ms. Zanetti has me all in for this series. I cannot wait to see what comes next! Matt and Laney were so sweet together, both with their past seemingly standing in the way of any possible future. I loved that while Laney may not be a physical bad-ass, in fact she faints at the sight of blood, she was an emotional bad-ass which is exactly what anyone who is going to love one of the Dean brothers is going to need to be. The fact that the Dean brothers are close means that there will be plenty of opportunity to see more of Matt, Laney, Shane and Josie. Nate’s story is next and I really cannot wait to dive into that one.