Whoa. Halloween decorations are already popping up everywhere. How am I so late with this, you ask? LOL!!! Apparently, the end of summer has officially arrived… a week or so ago. *whoops* I don’t think Florida received the memo yet… (87° right now) and ’cause of that, I er… “missed” the memo, too. Hey if it looks like summer, and feels like summer, it’s summer! And October in Florida didn’t get the memo either, ’cause I’m still not getting that cold blast of brisk air in the morning. Or the smell of wood burning. *sigh* My favorite time of the year. *taps foot at October* Cool it down, will ya?
But nonetheless, I had an AMAZING summer. It wasn’t even all that crazy here in Florida, weather wise and probably the best summer ever! Book Bash, hanging with my favorite authors, my best friends, visiting with my mom and my aunts… going to Texas (now THAT was hot!!) and my reading buddies! Creating and spending time in my gorgeous flowery-reading nook on my deck (that as it turns out, I wasn’t able to use much ’cause it got too hot and sticky for me to be cozy reading)…
Speaking of which, I also had an awesome reading season. Some steamy books kept me flushing even more that the summer heat, and while normally, these “best summer reads” recommendations generally list “great beach reads”… ummm. I dunno that these are good for the beach. Or for vacations. Why? Well
- ‘Cause I’m an “emotional intensity” addict and there is nothing “light and airy and easy and romance summer-y fun” about these reads. These ones’ll make you react, so if you don’t want to cry in public, or fume in public, or groan in ecstasy… in public… er… save these for alone-time. Oh. And…
- While these are GREAT entertainment, I can attest that they are so entertaining, you just might shun your “family vacation activities”. So if your idea of a perfect vacation is hunkering down in your fluffy hotel room for hours on end with a book-hunk or two (while the rest of the world enjoys the outdoor festivities)… than these are for you! And…
- These are a vacation on their own, so who needs to travel, anyway?
Either way, I read a bunch this summer and these were my favorites!
MY TOP FIVE SUMMER READS (plus an extra 5 “honorable mentions” – ’cause I loved ‘em too!).
A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers
<— Biggest thrill ride!
Taboo on two levels, but not too crazy to make you terribly uncomfortable. Just… “uncomfortable enough” but mostly ’cause you’re hot under the collar, and glancing around making sure nobody just heard you moan in delight! Taboo, I say? What’s it about? Right before she leaves for Italy, she… gets it on with her best friend. Who also happens to be her step-brother. Ah wait. By marriage. No need to freak out, too badly. And OMG the feelings these two have for each other. *whoo*. Except… when she gets to Italy, she meets a handsome young priest. Yeah… you’re gettin’ it. Wait wait!! He’s not a priest… yet. Sure, he’s made his vow of celibacy, and yes, he wears the robe and collar… okay. *giggle* Well. What? I told you it was taboo, didn’t I? (see my Book Review)
Surviving Raine by Shay Savage
<— Best alpha-jerk male that still made me fall for him!
This one pulls no punches on the despicable, hateful man front. It’s not that he’s that bad, per se (we’ve read more hateful antiheroes in our past), but he’s got all of his looks going for him, and none of his personality. Brash, uncaring, selfish and oh SO rude. Addicted. Coasting on life, and now… coasting near death as he and a pretty young woman he unwittingly saved, float on the sea, hoping to reach land before they dehydrate. Sounds awesome right? It totally is!! ‘Cause once you get past his rough, gruff exterior, you will fall HARD. Our favorite alpha males a la “Kristen Ashley” and even somewhat Travis-like… he’ll be in that group! (see my Book Review)
Arsen. A broken love story
<—Made me ugly cry!
This one made me do what I don’t usually do in a love triangle. It made me root for the original guy (and not the sexy contender). And not only did I root for him, I FELL for him HARD. One of my favorite male characters this year, because, I dunno. To me, he felt so lifelike. Redeeming qualities (the best a husband could have if you ask me), and yet, when things got tough, he was all-human. All feeling. All love. All pain. All anger. All hate. He was so perfect and so imperfect (but I loved him as both). He was all-consuming to me, and every time I see the author post a picture of “him” (her inspiration of him) I swear my heart skips a beat. It’s a bit obnoxious at first (and for a good portion of the first half), but this book will put you through the ringer and squeeze you tight, and you’ll come out wrinkled and stretched and maybe even torn. Does it end well? I guess it depends on who’s “team” you’re on. (see my Book Review)
Lick: Stage Dive 1 by Kylie Scott
<— Best rock star read and most fun!
Just enough “…the famous guy wants me??” excitement, steam and angst to make me connect 100%. And nothing too over-the-top once the angsty parts get rolling. Plus, this author knows how to write an intimate love-scene that totally has me fanning my flushed cheeks with the top of my shirt. And of course, while the initial premise is a touch “much” (how they met and… the rest). But really, though… is it? After all, they *were* in Vegas. Anything goes, there. Rock stars do crazy stuff after all, and drunk girls do, too! (see my Book Review)
Left Drowning by Jessica Park
<— Most well-rounded, deep, emotional drama.
Had that wonderful emotional, friends-to-family feel of growth and healing. An absorbing read that includes dark pasts, a few twists and a heartfelt ending, and one that has you caring and connected to ALL of the characters. It kept me guessing… and I can’t wait for more!! Lots to explore with this one. (see my Book Review)
HONORABLE MENTIONS because I absolutely loved these too (and a couple of them *just missed* my summer reading timeframe)…
All of You: (InterMix) by Christina Lee
<— Sweetest/steamiest read!
Steamy and sweet? Oh YES!!! Total twist on our usual “innocent girl/bad-boy” ’cause it’s the opposite here. But don’t get me wrong… he’s hotter than hot (and he’s a tattoo artist). And he may not be our usual bad-boy, but he’s “no saint” as he says, and I must agree. It’s hard for me to explain just how much I connected to him, how much I melted, what a torturous tease this was but so perfectly, exquisitely detailed and I FELT every single moment. I think this one ranks equal (in regards to my own extreme craving and pining) to “A Little Too Far“. In fact, it’s been a couple of weeks since I read this, and I’m still so into Bennett that I’m thinking of changing the 4.5 stars I gave it, to 5 stars. Any non-bad-boy book that has me loving (and feeling) it this much still? Yep… must be a 5-star read for me. P.S. Why didn’t it make it up there? ‘Cause it, too… just missed my “summer” mark (I read it after). *sigh* still though, it’s a “summer” read ’cause officially, it came out during the last week of summer, so it belongs here! (see my Book Review)
Unbeautifully (Undeniable: Book Two) by Madeline Sheehan
<— Best dark & gritty! (this goes for the one beneath it, too)
One of my favorite reads of the year, but it just missed my “summer mark” by a few weeks (it was a spring read). I FELL HARD for “Ripper” and he is EXACTLY my type when it comes to true “bad boys” in books. Dirty mouth, dirty attitude, dirty past, but a pure broken heart & soul that needs mending, and boy did the author indulge us with him. I still remember every detail of this one, and since I read it last spring, I think it counts! Plus I gave it 5 stars so it’s a must read if you like gritty! (see my Book Review)
Unattainable (Undeniable: Book Three) by Madeline Sheehan
LOVED it but it *just* missed my summer mark by one day. So… it still makes the list While this wasn’t my favorite book of the series, one of the characters in it, certainly had my rapt attention. I don’t think I’ve ever been so into the plight and self-destruction and potential healing of a certain character since “Z” from BDB. One of the most tortured men I’ve ever read and what a story his was! These books might not be “for everybody” but they are definitely for me! (see my Book Review)
Good (Too Good series) by S. Walden
<— Most Taboo.
And that’s putting it lightly. Student-teacher romance (and not the much “safer” college-aged kind). I usually avoid the ones that skirt just under what I consider a “legal age” (actually, in this book and the state in which it takes place, this “17 year old” is considered legal)… but I digress. Legal or not, there were so many squirm-worthy issues that beat me up, along the way. This one also put me through the ringer but I loved that I couldn’t get a handle on if I was “supposed” to “like him” or not. I mean, I know officially, in real-life NO WAY!!! It’s just wrong. But I read this book through her eyes, and lemme tell you, I suffered and felt everything. So “her-me” was all *swoooon* and “me-me” was all oh No. NOOOO. ICK! But no matter what I thought at what part of the book, the author detailed it just so. And I couldn’t put it down. I still cringe as I say I really enjoyed it. But hey. I did. *shrug* And if you want to read something that will make you squirm uncomfortably while you have butterflies in your stomach as the main character, well. This. But just remember, it’s risqué and not for everybody. (see my Book Review).
Protecting What’s His (A Line of Duty Novel) by Tessa Bailey
<— best typical alpha-male and ultimate protector!
This one is “safe” all around, that is… IF you like ‘em mega-alpha and demanding. He’s bossy, arrogant, and likes to dole out spankings (tee hee! No worries, his Dom tendencies aren’t too overwhelming). And the plus? He’s a cop! Totally different from my usual “criminal” bad guy, and bad boy reads, and yet I connected to him big time! There’s nothing too crazy/angsty/twisty or surprise-y in this book, no, but it just had an overall great feel. Good pacing, great conversations, funny, realistic dialogue, super-steam and butterfly inducing romance! A great “in-between” read that you’ll not soon forget. At only 160 pages, it packed a punch! (see my Book Review)