Jen’s Favorite Books of 2015

It’s hard to believe we’re leaving another great year of reading behind us. In 2015, I found it more difficult to find books that suit my taste. I don’t care to read about billionaire bachelors, rock stars, step-brothers, biker gangs, or BDSM. Take a minute and think about how many titles fell into those categories last year.  I did a lot of backlist reading to fill in the gaps.

There were some really good new releases that I did enjoy; they were just more scarce. Here’s a look at some of the 2015 releases that really satisfied.

radianceRadiance by Grace Draven – This sci-fi/ fantasy romance came highly recommended by some of my fellow bloggers and I am so glad I was able to look past the cover and give it a try. This is a slow burn between two members of very different alien races who come together for the good of their people. Each finds the other physically repulsive, but through mutual respect and friendship, they manage to fall in love.

Click to purchase: Radiance

Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost – If you’re a fan of Frost’s Night Prince spinoff of her Cat and Bones books, this latest installment will definitely satisfy. Vlad and Leila may be married now, but their story is nowhere near boring. This book gets darker than anything I have read from this author before, but I didn’t want to put it down for a second.

Click to purchase: Bound by Flames

Soulbound by Kristen Callihan – Callihan artifully set up the story for Adam and Eliza in earlier installments of the Darkest London series, and this lived up to its promise 100%. Adam has been such an idiot in how he tried to force a relationship with Eliza, but here, I loved him so much. The ending of this book went somewhere I never expected it to go, but it was an amazing journey.

Click to purchase: Soulbound

duke and the lady in redThe Duke and the Lady in Red by Lorraine Heath – I cried harder with this book than with any other thing I read all year. I expected a light story about about a rich rake, falling for a canny con artist.  But what I got was so much more. I loved the heroine and the lengths she will go to protect what she loves. I would recommend this book without reservation to any historical romance fan.  And bring your Kleenex.

Click to purchase: The Duke and the Lady in Red

Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt – The Maiden Lane series is one of my favorites in Historical Romance. They are sexy and emotional and this one is no exception. The romance is between Phoebe, a blind Lady, and Captain James Trevillion, the bodyguard who knows how far below he is to her in station. Phoebe’s reactions to James are so sensual. Such a great payoff to the sexual tension.

Click to purchase: Dearest Rogue

magic shiftsMagic Shifts by Ilona Andrews – I know I sound like a broken record every time I talk about a Kate Daniels book, but that’s only because they are all so good. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to acknowledge that I beta-read for this book. But its awesomeness has absolutely nothing to do with me. Kate and Curran have really turned a corner in this book, making a life together apart from the pack. But their story is just as action packed as it ever was. Maybe more so with Kate’s dad in the mix. It has all of the trademark wit and well drawn characters you can always expect from Andrews.

Click to purchase: Magic Shifts

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare – What I remember most about this book is how it made me laugh. It has great lighthearted moments, but it also has a fantastic romance. The heroine makes up a betrothed to keep her family from forcing her to marry. She even writes him letters. Imagine her surprise when a man actually shows up, claiming to be her lost love. This book is charming and sexy and romantic. Fantastic.

Click to purchase: When a Scot Ties the Knot

highwaymanThe Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne – If you’ve read more than a handful of my reviews, you know that I am a sucker for a tortured hero. And let me tell you, this book has a fantastic one. He can’t even stand to be touched. Dorian Blackwell went through hell in prison, but Farah is the one light that helped him make it through. Now that he is out, he wants her, but at the same time, can’t bear to have her. It’s dark and poignant and it swept me up completely.

Click to purchase: The Highwayman

Shadows Strike by Dianne Duvall –  It’s highly unusual for me to jump into a series in progress, which is what I did with this sixth book in the Immortal Guardian series. And I am so glad I did. I loved it so much, I went back and read the entire backlist to the series. There was obviously a lot of backstory, but I think it’s seriously impressive that Duvall could bring me so completely into the action. I read the book again after my backlist read and it was even better. Ethan isn’t the most exciting hero of the series, but the romance here is solid and the worldbuilding is outstanding. If you’re looking for an action-packed PNR series, I would definitely recommend.

Click to purchase: Shadows Strike

drafterThe Drafter by Kim Harrison – This is such a departure from The Hollows series. But one of the things I really love about this book is how different it is from anything else I read this year.  It involves time travel, but not in the way we’re used to. Drafters can only go back for a few seconds and the repercussions are serious. Our heroine, Peri, is a Drafter who discovers everything she thought she knew about her life may be a lie. There were moments in the book where I didn’t know what to think or who to trust… but I think that’s the point. It’s not a romance, but it has romantic elements. It’s action packed, fast paced, and never predictable.

Click to purchase: The Drafter

The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne Long – This is the book that Pennyroyal Green fans have been waiting for. The reunion of Lyon Redmond and Olivia Eversea. It was everything I hoped it would be. Could you still enjoy this historical romance without reading the other 10 books in the series? Yeah. But it’s been the building anticipation and all the little nuggets that have come along the way that make this resolution so very satisfying. Go ahead and read all the Pennyroyal Green books. They’re worth it.

Click to purchase: The Legend of Lyon Redmond

sweep in peaceSweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews – Yes, another Ilona Andrews story. This time, it’s the second book in her Innkeeper series. These stories appear first on her blog as a serial, but I always wait until the end to read the finished piece. I love the vast, growing world the story is set in. And our heroine, Dina, is really coming into her own as she hosts some important peace talks at her inn. But what really put the book over the top, was the surprise appearance of Jack and George from the Edge series. I love them so hard. The book was already good, but they were the icing on the cake. Don’t worry, though, if you’re not familiar with the other series. You won’t be lost, I promise.

Click to purchase: Sweep in Peace

Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews – I am aware this is the third Andrews book on the list. I’m not sorry. Because Derek and Julie. This is only a novella, but I have high hopes for more from these two. No Kate Daniels fan should skip this one.

Click to purchase: Magic Stars

Honorable Mention:

  • Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh – The latest Psy-Changeling book finally gives us Aden’s story and I ending up loving him more than Vasic.
  • Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh – This Guild Hunter story solves the mystery of what Nassir is, while expanding the series arc of the Cascade.
  • Edged Blade by JC Daniels – This Kit Colbana book is finally moving the main character toward healing. It is a fast paced story, chock-full of violence, character development, and emotional resonance, but it was over too soon.
  • Sweet Ruin by Kresley Cole – This 16th installment of the Immortals After Dark series opens the door to the next major arc as we meet the “other side” in the Ascension. Plus a sexy love story featuring two new characters.
  • Blood Kiss by JR Ward — Restores my faith in the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Feels like we’re going back to basics. You don’t have to be up to date on the main series to jump in with this spinoff!

Did you see something I missed? What were some of your favorites of 2015? Be sure to check out Carrie’s favorites, Shelly’s top reads and Janell’s favorite list too!

Comments

  1. My review partner Helyce LOVES Dianne Duvall…I really need to try her!

    We have so many similar books we loved. I’d add Land of the Beautiful Dead by R Lee Smith and Him by Sarina Bowen.

    I’m SO glad I read Radiance by Grace Draven – brilliant book

    • Jen at Red Hot Books says:

      Thanks for the recs, Mandi! You really must try Dianne Duvall. Helyce knows what she is talking about. 🙂

  2. Of all the books listed, I’ve only read the Lorraine Heath but holy cow that was a good book. A damn good book. I’m putting the rest of the books on my TBB list.

    I love reading people’s best of lists.

    • Jen at Red Hot Books says:

      It was SOOOO good. I still get misty eyed if I think about it too hard. I hope you enjoy some of the other books if you give them a try.

  3. Jen, I have been reading all of your recommended books since I came across a great review of yours on Goodreads. It was actually a bad WTH review! It’s like we have the same taste in books! I would just add Darynda Jones series! How I love Reyes!

  4. Great list – we have very similar tastes. I’m still hoping The Highwayman will drop in price because I’m sure I will love it. For 2016, I can’t wait for the sequel to Radiance. I know it will be great. Plus, isn’t the Night Prince series going to continue? I’m hoping there will be more Vlad and Leila in 2016. I’m so bummed that White Hot, the sequel to Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews, was pushed back to 2017.

    • Jen at Red Hot Books says:

      I am looking forward to Eidolon too! Just a few more weeks until it comes out. –And yes, Night Prince will continue with Into the Fire, but it’s not out until October.

      I beta-read on White Hot. I don’t know if it makes it better or worse to tell you that it’s really good, but I promise that it’s worth the wait. It really sucks that it got pushed back. 🙁

      • I’m so jealous that you have gotten to read White Hot! I hate that because of the vagaries of large publishing companies, books that are finished and ready to go sometimes end up sitting on the shelf for a year or two before they are released. I guess I’ll just have to do another reread of Burn For Me to tide me over.

        • Jen at Red Hot Books says:

          The good thing is that the Andrews are so great about giving us content year round! I’m sure they’ll have plenty of great stuff for us in the year ahead.

  5. Just wanted to say great list! I’ve read most of the books, and seeing your list makes me nostalgic. I’ll have to reread them again. I look forward to reading the ones you introduced. They sound right up my alley. Thanks again!

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