The Heir by Grace Burrowes (2010)
This book is a few years old, but it was new to me this year, and it has one of my favorite tropes: woman goes undercover as housekeeper. In a nice twist, the Earl of Westhaven doesn’t immediately lust after his new employee. Instead, he appreciates her competency and her baked goods. Anna performs her role well, and she only slowly develops a familiarity with her employer. Let me emphasize “slowly.” This is a long book with a slow burn, which I really enjoyed.
Click to purchase: The Heir
Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex (2012)
This older book features another of my favorite tropes: woman disguises herself as a boy and goes on a ship. Yes, apparently I am all about women in disguise. Sally Kent is the most joyful midshipman on the planet. She lives to be on a ship. I loved her mastery of the sails and rigging, and the way she fit in with the rest of the crew so well. She even remains in disguise for most of the book, which is impressive. I almost felt like she loved the ship more than the hero, but he made a good play for her affections.
Click to purchase: Almost a Scandal
A Scandal to Remember by Elizabeth Essex (2014)
This book was released this year. It also features a woman on a ship, but sadly she is not disguised as a boy. Still, Jane is the most kick-ass conchologist you’ll ever see, and she doesn’t care who doesn’t want her on this research expedition; she’s going anyway. Lieutenant Dance is a responsible man, totally professional on the outside while inside he’s cursing and ranting. I loved his control. Jane studies him closely and figures him out, and their small, hidden moments together were full of all that repressed longing that I love.
Click to purchase: A Scandal to Remember
Both of these books came out this year, giving me an abundance of hot British rugby players. What’s amazing about this series is that the author writes sweet and sexy heroes, but her heroines are even more amazing. They have cool jobs, they stand up to people, and they always point out that girls aren’t weak and that feminine terms should not be used as insults. In Playing it Close, Tess is involved in a sexual harassment investigation after she blogged about her misogynist work environment. She meets Liam in a broken elevator in Venezuela where they’re both hiding from reality. In Tempting the Player, Libby is a freaking airplane pilot, and she’s best friends with insecure rugby player Matt. They strike a temporary friends-with-benefits bargain that ends with a very romantic gesture.
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Saving the CEO by Jenny Holiday (2014)
I thought I was burned out on alpha billionaires, but then I read this book about a CEO with discalculia who’s trying to figure out who’s robbing his company. Barmaid Cassie helps him crunch the numbers. There’s a very sexy seduction early on, when they’re just messing around, and it leads to some sweet hanging out, and then another hot scene in his office, and then more sweetness with the office Christmas party, and I need to go read it again.
Click to purchase: Saving the CEO
Play by Kylie Scott (2014)
I’m copying Carrie on this one. Mal, the drummer for Stage Dive, just makes me happy. He doesn’t seem to take anything seriously, and Anne just rolls with it. She lets him move into her apartment and call her Pumpkin. At first it’s because she’s kind of a doormat and she doesn’t stand up for herself. But as Mal pushes her buttons, she learns how to relate to him, and then she keeps letting him do crazy stuff because it makes him happy and she wants him to be happy. Mal, bless his heart, just needs to be loved. Oh, I love him. When I finished this book I immediately flipped back to the beginning and read it again.
Click to purchase: Play
Third Degree by Julie Cross (2014)
This book came out of nowhere and knocked me down. Izzy is a child-prodigy-turned-doctor at the age of 18, but she has a terrible bedside manner. Her career is put on hold when she’s told to experience some age-appropriate milestones, so she moves into a college dorm and tries to be a standard freshman. Her resident advisor Marshall is not fooled, but he’s also not put off by her nearly robotic demeanor. Marshall offers to help Izzy adjust socially, and they slowly find ways to connect to each other. Izzy narrates the whole thing, and it was really cool to see her feelings sneak up on her. I fell in love with Marshall right along with her.
Click to purchase: Third Degree