It’s that time again!! Time to re-hash my *squee-worthy* favorites and punish myself by choosing only twenty five out of 144 books that I completed in 2012 (with an actual 162 total on the list). And as FUN as it is to reminisce and choose my favorites, it is… in way… punishment, ’cause it’s so hard to choose just 25, and even harder to order them. ACK!! How to decide!!?? Okay well, you know me. You totally know I’m gonna cheat a bit. Tee hee!! Hey, what? Some books, no matter how different they are… I love them equally. It just can’t be helped, and I’m going with it!
So here we go. These are the books that either rocked my world right on the spot, and/or or stayed with me for days/weeks.
Sidenote: Okay and now that I’ve finished my list, I can say, there isn’t really a favorites “order” to any of these. I kept switching ‘em around, backtracking, trying to find my perfect order, but I love so many of ‘em equally that I think I ordered them more by “genre” relevance, than anything else. Just know that these are my favorites for 2012, and I think that’s good enough.
And yes, I totally cheated. I think there are 32 books listed. Er… and that’s if you don’t count the actual books in a few of the “series” that I listed, as a whole. *giggle* What can I say? This was an awesome reading year. Oh and you’ll notice there’s an overall key word “theme” to my book preferences. The words intense, steamy, angsty, tortured and emotional show up again and again. Ah well. It is what it is. Apparently I really like it when books rip my heart out. That’s my favorite! I’m such a sucker for punishment. LOL!
ALSO NOTE: The first four books listed below (and their respective installments) are essentially … in my #1 spot. I can’t choose. They all made me cry, sigh, and high on life as I read ‘em. Shocking and pivotal moments, intense romance, and endings that had me physically reacting (whether it be smiling like a fool until my cheeks hurt, sobbing & shaking, or both). These are in a class of their own. For me… absolute shout-them-from-the-rooftop perfection.
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
FANTASTIC READ!! So deep and introspective, so tentative and gentle in it’s romantic growth. Intense, but delicately so. Two gorgeous souls that have learned to cope with their depressing pasts, but are practically hurting themselves in the process. Until they meet each other and develop one of the most honest and pure friendships I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. But as with all broken souls, the inevitable push-pull torments them, as they try to stick to their original plan, and in the process, torments us. BEA-U-TI-FUL!!! PERFECT! LOVED!! Check out my review!
Slammed by Colleen Hoover (and book #2: Point of Retreat)
This one had me swooning from the start but then it sucker-punched me in the most delightful way, right when I wasn’t expecting it. I. WAS. HOOKED!!! I can’t think of a more perfect mini-romance build-up and OH NO moment, and when it hit I was floored. And THRILLED!! And then the story built perfectly, slowly, believably and it became so much more than an angsty love story. It was about family, connections, love and growth… and I sobbed my eyes out. Heartwarming perfection, and a forever favorite. Check out my reviews: Slammed and Point of Retreat
The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski
This was a wonderful, last minute TBR shift (and for no particular reason cause nobody had recommended it to me yet, other than a fellow reader just letting me know it had just been released and was on super sale). But for some reason, it… was calling to me. I downloaded the sample, shrugged and thought… hrmm. Not bad. I could take it or leave it, but I think I’m in the mood to see how this plays out, and so I bought it. It was a rainy gloomy day, and I just settled in with it. And it absolutely FLOORED me. It didn’t take long from just a bit past the sample point for me to connect and be happy with my reading choice, and it didn’t take long after that for me to know I was in love. And then… my whole world was flipped upside down, and I will venture to say that I have never had such a brutal physical reaction after a read, in my life. Oh sure, I’ve fallen head-over-heels in “love” over some book heroes, all foggy-headed for days (and still, LOVE them with my entire book-heart ). But this one? I fell in LOVE with it as a whole. Everything about it was just so HUGE to me, and I just… I can’t explain it in words, but if I could let you into my fond memories of this book, you’d understand where I’m coming from. Better yet. Read it yourself and let it take you away. Whatever you do… DO NOT stop reading. If you need a break, take it (you’ll see why I say this). But keep going. And embrace that physical reaction. It is one you’ll never forget. Check out my review.
Experiment in Terror Series by Karina Halle
I’m featuring the latest book in the series here, because it was a 5 star plus for me, but the entire series is my favorite series of the year, and one of my favorite series EVER. Admittedly the books get better and better as they go (#1 and even #2 were good for me), but by #3 I was so deeply entrenched and crushing on Dex SO HARD and by #6, er… no. By #4 I was in LOVE… *swoooooon*. But not ’cause he’s your typical “book-hunk”. He’s not that kind of hero. Obnoxious, cocky, unapologetic and OMG sometimes just soooo UGH!!! But… in all of his imperfection, he’s just PERFECT. But wait… this is not all about Dex. Admittedly, so many of us Experiment in Terror die-hards (and there are tons of us) are Dex-centric, but Perry rocks, too! Every one of us can relate to her, feel for her, feel her… we are her. And with all of the awesome Dex-Perry tension and angst, this one has some of that fear-factor, too. ‘Cause they have a “ghost-hunting” internet show on Youtube that is picking up speed, and in each installment, we investigate a new “paranormal” phenomenon. FAN-TASTIC!!! Check out my reviews and everything else I’ve written about this series, here.
Bared to You: A Crossfire Novel by Sylvia Day
My absolute guilty pleasure that indulged my need for that new “Fifty genre”. And I’m not talking about the “darker” side of erotica. I know that’s been the focus for many of the recent “What to Read After Fifty Shades” lists (and many of those are great!), but THIS to me, epitomizes that “feeling” I had when I read Fifty Shades. More than just spanks, straps, and sex. This was about that magnanimous wealthy, seemingly perfect man, that could have everything he wanted, and yet, all he wanted was her. Breaking down all his previous barriers to get to her. But he’s broken, and so the emotion, heartache, misunderstandings and incredible desire become the focus of these novels. And in this one… she’s broken, too. Ohhh the insecurities and jealous spats. *squee* so fun! It gave me my Fifty fix… but… who’s gonna be my Gideon fix? Check out my review.
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
On the lighter side of the “wealthy alpha male” scale, Braden will make you swoon, too. In fact, he just maybe… the most perfect of ‘em all in this genre. Sweet, funny, sexy, possessive. Perfect. And where he doesn’t seem to be as troubled by his past (as our other favorite billionaire heroes) his love interest is. And he just may be her perfect match. If only she’ll let him. Let the angst and heartache begin! Check out my review.
Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines
My most recent BIG GUILTY PLEASURE that made me absolutely loopy in love (and angst) by the end. So loopy that I reviewed it in my Cookie Monster pajamas and moaned about my “Rush-crush” and how I didn’t think I could go one without more just like it. And then y’all moaned and cried with me, and everything was right with the world. After all, we only have… what? Two? Three months to wait? Ohhhhh nooooo that is SO far away. GAH!!! I’m moaning again. *sigh* Er… and *blush* to be honest, I’m always reviewing in pajamas. Tonight it’s “Hello Kitty”. *smirk* Check out my review.
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
Another recent stroke of Colleen Hoover writing genius! Incredibly emotional, intense, and steamy, but first, you’re going to torment yourself with trying to figure it all out. Tortured brooding hero, disconnected girl with bad dreams. New school, new friends… new revelations. There are some serious twists in this one, and I almost had it, but she still managed to surprise me in the end. And what an end it was!! Check out my book review.
Easy by Tammara Webber
Another fun “new adult” book with a special twist and even better, a sexy reclusive “bad-boy” that saves the day (and I mean… a true hero). But he has… a secret. Or two. And there was nothing better than trying to figure him out, and worry about losing him in the process. A wonderful story with a touch of that “forbidden” love aspect, and I couldn’t get enough of Lucas. He’s perfect for me. I mean her. Her. Loved this one! Check out my review.
Losing It by Cora Carmack
THIS ONE totally hooked me. I was so addicted ’cause again… it had that delicious forbidden love aspect. Teacher/student (in college, so that’s okay. Er… well… I mean in “my world” LOL!). But you know. They are just so into each other and doing their best to stay away… or to keep it on the down low. And I loved the torture! I want more like this!! The quality of the writing, the funny/sweet/realistic story – everything was just… perfect for me. Check out my review.
Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
Another “new adult” read that was right up my alley. Sort of had that Sea of Tranquility and Edge of Never feel to it. You know… that moody, “running away from your past, and being very selective with your future” feel. Finding yourself in a brand new “home” and making a brand new family in an apartment complex full of misfits. Maybe even falling in love… but. What is HE hiding? Beware of twists!! Oh what am I saying? Those are the BEST part!!! This one has ‘em. So good!! Check out my review.
Leave Me Breathless (Leather and Lace) by Cherrie Lynn
One of my most favorite bad boys of the year! Ghost was right up there with his best friend, Brian, for me. Well… close. Ohhhhh SO close. Brian made my list last year (and is one of my forever favorites), and I’m so happy his partner in crime (er… well… tattoos) made this one. Where, last year, I found Ghost to be crass and obnoxious, his book proved that he is so much more than his attitude. Gorgeous and tough, yet so very very sweet. Everything we love about our bad-boys (the way he speaks, his reactions, his cocky swagger, his past, his FTW attitude) but especially his personal growth. His journey that made him the amazing person he is today. *sigh* Check out my review.
The Mighty Storm by Samantha Towle
This year’s ultimate rock star read!! It had everything I look for in my rock stars. Super famous, super gorgeous, super talented and super bad boy. Tattooed (just had to throw that in there ). Overflowing with groupies and fans, and yet… there’s that one girl that just might have his heart. Easy right? Heck no!! How would you like watching one of the most famous frontmen in the industry surrounded by gorgeous woman? How would you like to watch him maybe… indulge…? Why’s he still indulging in other women if he wants you? ‘Cause YOU, my dear, already have a boyfriend… at home. Just sayin’. This one’s FUN! Angsty, steamy, angsty, sad (I cried), steamy and then a few WTF moments thrown in for good measure! Check out my review.
Love Unrehearsed: The Love Series, Book 2 by Tina Reber
Let’s go with one more uber-famous guy in love with the normal (yet gorgeous) girl. This is everyone’s ultimate fantasy and the author’s highly anticipated sequel, full-on indulged us in their whirlwind romance. But we like our fantasies turbulent, don’t we? We want to read about our “dream-man” and how much better can it get than a hunky A-list actor? But we also thrill a bit when turmoil and insecurities get in the way. That’s something we can relate to. Who out of us could date a famous actor and not get caught up in the highs and lows of the industry? And worse yet, struggle with his “intimate scenes” and leading ladies. Whoa! That scene, and the aftermath, was one of my all time favorite scenes ever. So good!! Check out my review.
Motorcycle Man (Dream Man) by Kristen Ashley
This one sent me on a frenzied search for more biker club books. We had a good dose of it with her character (and my beloved) “Tate” (from the author’s Colorado Mountain series) and I was hooked. I had never heard the expression “back of my bike” let alone knew what it meant to be on the “back of his bike” but after this one, I knew I was a “literary biker chick”. Tee hee! Tack is swoon-worthy and I know he’d probably eyeroll and say a choice word or two at my reaction. Which would only make me love him more. *grin* Can’t wait for more “Chaos”! Check out my review.
Undeniable by Madeline Sheehan
And while I’m on a motorcycle kick, I HAD to point out this book. It prompted me in making a full-on biker romance reads list. I had to have more like it. Where Tack (above) and his motley biker crew are pure bad boys with “good guy” hearts, these guys are 100% bad-boy (doing mostly bad stuff) with a few moments of good. The author holds no punches, in fact, there are some extremely cringe-worthy scenes. What you see on Sons of Anarchy, you’ll read (and visualize) in this. A tawdry, oft offensive, over-the-top biker drama but still oh sooooo addictive. So fun to read, and I delighted in my appalled reactions. Bring on more of your bad boys, Madeline! Definitely a guilty pleasure. Check out my review.
The Lux Series by Jennifer Armentrout
Another favorite series (and it’s paranormal!!) that has me as addicted, as I was back in the day when I was reading strictly that genre. I thought I was sort of… “burned out” on paranormal, but apparently not, ’cause I’m devouring each installment and loving them equally. So I’m not just listing one book as a favorite, I’m listing the entire series. Didn’t think you could fall for aliens? Think again. Aliens… but OH SO us. So gorgeous, so sexy, so moody, so alpha… and so infuriating. I heart Daemon! And he doesn’t heart us back. LOL!!! Well… you’ll see. Check out my review of book #1
The Bronze Horseman with Bonus Material by Paullina Simmons
An amazing tale of love, heartbreak and unbelievably dire circumstances, that will have you absolutely suffering with the heroine. This love story is so BIG… so EPIC, that you’ll wonder how you managed to make it out alive, in the end. But let me tell you, every sweet detail, every longing look, every selfish moment, and even more… every self-sacrificing act will have you so deeply entrenched, so personally invested that you’ll be thinking about this book… forever. Oh and, luckily, it’s not over after this one. There are TWO more in this series. Don’t let the “historical” aspect scare you away. Do yourself a favor and lose yourself in these characters. You’ll fall so deeply in love (and become so unbelievable incensed) with Alexander (an amazing protector, that occasionally let’s his alpha side get the best of him). So moving! Check out my book review.
Broken by Megan Hart
So deep and thought provoking. Incredibly romantic, but moody, too. Pining, aching, heartbreaking… shocking. It made me gasp, and made me cry tears of true heartbreak. And through it all… my heart wanted. This author knows how to make her readers feel, and experience every moment of elation and pain with her characters. And that’s exactly what I’m looking for in a read. Check out my review.
Sempre (Forever) by J.M. Darhower
What a thrill ride this was! A mafia boss that takes in a modern-day slave into his home. “Saves” her from her horrid conditions, sure, but you start realizing she might not be so safe after all. And while his sons (mafia princes) are living a very extravagant and indulgent life, this slave girl can’t quite connect. Until one of the sons takes a very personal interest in her. Let the crazy begin, as revelations and heartbreaking situations snowball. In the mood for a few adrenaline spikes? This’ll help. Check out my review.
Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet: Book 1) by CJ Roberts
Both books in this “duet” took me out of my comfort zone, and then turned around and stomped my comfort zone into the ground, just to make sure I didn’t retreat back into it to hide. NICE!! I had nowhere to go but forward with this one. But don’t let me fool you. I loved every moment of it (and was appalled at myself for it). I LOVE an addictive, crazy, unconventional love story, and this is it. Although “love story” is stretching it, a bit. A lot. Tee hee! This epitomizes guilty pleasure, because there is NO logical reason why we should “feel” for the bad guy, yet the author’s writing is such that… well. *smirk* Some of us do. We don’t wanna, but we can’t help it. Stockholm Syndrome? Meh.. maybe. But I’d rather call it entertainment, and since I do enjoy my adrenaline rushes, this one did the trick! Oh and book #2 (Seduced in the Dark (The Dark Duet: Book 2)… that one did the trick, too! Check out my reviews: Captive in the Dark and Seduced in the Dark
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
This one freaked me out!! Tame in comparison to a few of our darker “kidnap reads” but this one had all of the elements and mental anguish, just… not as much “detail”. And you’ll find yourself falling for the bad guy and wracking your brain as to why you are succumbing to Stockholm syndrome. And then… the ending. Whoa!!! I love to “mix it up” a bit and this one did it. A shocking, unforgettable, totally unconventional read, and I LOVED it. Check out my review.
Taken (Give and Take)
One more to add to my “scary thrill” section, but I’ve got to say, this one’s the most romantic out of the Stockholm Syndrome bunch. It’s a touch “Fifty/Gideon” (’cause he’s a gorgeous unattainable wealthy billionaire who won’t take no for an answer) and a touch “Stolen” ’cause he “takes her” for love. Or… “obsession”. Tomato, to-mah-to… *shrug* (tee hee!!) I know… I know… there’s a big and very important difference between love and obsession, but this is fiction and every once in awhile, I want a romance read with a side of crazy. Just go with it.
The Opportunist (Love Me With Lies #1) by Tarryn Fisher
A delightfully obnoxious love story. Deceit, cheating, manipulation it abounds, all in the name of love. And there’s PLENTY of that, but there is no rest for the wicked, and it’s up to us to figure out just who the good guys & bad guys (of love) are in this one. Amazing writing, incredible attention to emotional detail. We really get into the character’s heads. You’ll fall so deeply in love, you’ll hope, you’ll be elated and then… maybe… You’ll have your heart crushed in the process. Or maybe not. Depends on what you wanted to happen. And no worries… there’s still one more installment to go. Check out my book reviews: The Opportunist and Dirty Red.
Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway
This one was my last official read of 2012, and boy did it have impact! Another of those pleasant surprises that may not have been my usual read, but was totally for me anyway. Unconventional, and yet so relatable. Sometimes somber, mostly funny… a tormented soul both looking to connect and doing his best to avoid connections. Struggling with his desires and his fears, and hiding behind his painted faces. But he can’t help connecting to the heroine and the friendship that ensues stole my heart. Stole hers, too. And that’s the problem. Cue my favorite part… the angst. This one is loaded in it, but it’s done perfectly. PERFECTLY! And I felt every moment of it. Check out my review.
Sheltered by Charlotte Stein
This was another one of those darker, somber reads that took my breath away. As two very opposite people come together, I experienced every moment of their intensity. I dunno what it is exactly that had me connecting as hard as I did. It could be the writing (loved it!), could be the dark cloud hovering over them and the fear that they could get caught… the forbidden aspect. Her inexperience, his super bad-boy persona. But there was something about their very intimate moments together that was magic. Even when they were just… talking. There was just something about this one that had me gasping lightly, dare I say panting, both in romantic anticipation and dread. Check out my review.
Bone Deep by Bonnie Dee
Another deep, somber unconventional love story that seemed to weave some kind of magic on me. I fell so deep and couldn’t stop thinking about this sweet gorgeous tale. A historical romance about a tattooed (from head to toe) male that escapes a traveling sideshow and is aided by a pretty small-town widow. His appearance ensures that he would be spurned by society, so she hides him in her home, and as they become friends and learn to trust each other, the intensity builds. Not my usual “fluffy romance” fun, but incredible romance nonetheless. Check out my review.
Happy Hour (Racing on the Edge) by Shey Stahl
I have never read a “sports star” romance novel as of yet, until I read this one. And even though the hero is a Nascar race car driver, I think it still counts. I mean, he’s kind of a superhero when you think about it. What he’s controlling, and the danger he faces each time he races. He’s a rock star in a race car. And he wins. Oh boy does he win. Especially my heart. Jameson rocked my world. Fame, fortune, bad-boy temper tantrums and best of all… LOVE!! But there’s angst before we get it, and that just made getting there all that much sweeter. Probably one of the steamiest, sexiest, most “guy-guys” I’ve read in a long time, and I get to indulge in him for 3 more books! Who knows what I’m in for next? Eeeeeep! I’m so excited Check out my review.
Defying the Odds (Battered Hearts)
Oooooh!! I need to add another one! ACK! I HEART this hero so bad. He’s a UFC fighter, and at the top of his class. And he’s brooding. *sigh* Hulking, powerful, quiet and moody. He’s no-nonsense. The best at what he does, and what a protector. AND!! He doesn’t like pumpkin pie, but if you give him a slice, he’ll eat it anyway, ’cause he’s sweet like that. Awwwwww!!! No but really, you just don’t understand how into him I was, while reading this. Still am, now that I think about it. Kind of like an older, calmer, moodier Travis. Check out my review.
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton
A very recent sweet delight, that was 100% light and fluffy, and laugh out loud funny. Sometimes, I just want to laugh, while swooning and this provided the perfect dose of both. Her seemingly promiscuous gorgeous neighbor keeps her up at night, and while at first they struggle to co-exist, they eventually become friends, and then find themselves struggling with “other” things. Laughs, tons of steam, sugar sweet “normal” moments and throw in some good ol’ angst for the perfect book recipe! Yum! Check out my review.
Perfection (A Neighbor From Hell) by R.L. Mathewson
These were a delightful surprise, and are a perfect blend of funny and romance. I loved how badly the characters irritated each other, I loved their banter, and how consistently annoying (and sweet) the guys were. There was no “smooth” and “suave” here (okay maybe a little). These guys may be hot, but they’re absolute brats and make no apologies for their “very guy” ways. They’ll get under your skin before they worm there way into you heart, but it’s a blast in the process! Check out my reviews: Playing for Keeps and Perfection (A Neighbor from Hell)
Seduction and Snacks (Chocolate Lovers #1) by Tara Sivec
Ohhhh more comedy romance that had me laughing out loud and excitedly re-reading so many parts to my husband thinking that he’d totally find it funny too. Yah… well… while this is obviously hilarious, apparently the whole “I guess you had to be there” pertains to reading, too. ‘Cause he’d just stare back at me while I snorted. *sigh* Ah well, I promise you’ll get it. Need something awesome and funny and romantic? This is the one! Check out my review.