It’s that time of the year, and I am so thrilled to bring these forward again. Truly my friends. These are the loves of my life, this year… and for all time. If you’re looking for THAT read… 5-star awesomeness that encompasses all the feels, with that incredible writing delivered via realistic characters and stories we can relate to, here they are. I swear by these!
I haven’t placed them in order of preference because I prefer them ALL equally. These are the best of the best, and each one for different reasons.
You’re in for an addictive ride, no matter which one you choose. But I must insist, choose them ALL.
These are my 2017 MUST-READS!!!! :D!!!!
Drive by Kate Stewart <— BEST ANGSTY LOVE TRIANGLE BECAUSE I LOVED BOTH CHOICES (BUT I LOVED ONE MORE 😉 ) THAT I’VE READ IN AGES! Ooooooooofffff you guys. This one kicks you right in the gut. A few times, and HARD, but OMG it’s unputdownable because you just have to know how it’s going to end. It’s got all of our original indie angsty-romance feels (from a super-slow burn with someone she never thought she’d be in to, to falling for THE ONE, to ultimate heartbreak, to well… I’ll let you read the rest ’cause oh boy does it take you there).
This author doesn’t hold back with some scenes and events that are jaw-dropping and devastating, and infuriating and distressing, and yet the whole time, you are just so hard in love, that you GET her. You feel her. You ARE her. Yep. This is one of THOSE. Here’s my 5-STAR PLUS Book Review
Wait for It by Mariana Zapata <— BEST SLOW BURN I’VE READ IN AGES! HOLY MOLY I WAS PINING FOR HIM SO BAD… as if I were HER. Now THAT is what I’m always looking for. Neighbors with the touch of animosity ’cause he’s completely (and I mean COMPLETELY uninterested in being hit on, or hitting on). But in time, he notices that their something fun, and silly, and hard to ignore about his new neighbor (especially as unwittingly helpful as she is, despite her own hardships). And so he slowly lets her in… they slowly become friends.
But here’s my favorite part of all. ALL of this, throughout the entire read, you are in HER head only, experiencing him (and others) from her eyes, her heart, and her own strength and insecurities. She’s one of my favorite heroines ever, and I felt every single second of her life (and I loved every moment of it). Even when I cried with her. It’s a MUST READ!!!! My favorite Mariana Zapata book yet, and you know we love this author! Here’s my 5-star Book Review
Until It Fades: A Novel by K.A. Tucker <— BEST FAMOUS STAR/REGULAR GIRL I’VE READ IN AGES!!! This was my “Hurricane Irma read” and it took me away from the power-outages and scary situation, into my ultimate fantasy world. From the exciting, edge-of-your-seat start (a single mother pulls someone out of a burning car at an accident scene – freaking out the whole time) to finding out she saved a HUGELY FAMOUS hockey star, to realizing her quiet, even reclusive life (she was the small-town pariah) is now over.
HOLY MOLY this book takes you on an intoxicating ride. EVERYONE wants to know who saved him (THE sports star superstar!), and while the police (one being her best friend) try to keep her name out of the news, even the famous hockey star wants to meet her. Her life will never be the same, and through her eyes, this was MY fantasy come to life. Strictly from her POV, I was in ecstasy experiencing and uncovering everything as she did as she got to know him. Here’s my 5-star Book Review.
The Opposite of You: An Opposites Attract Novel by Rachel Higginson <— BEST ENEMIES TO FRIENDS TO LOVERS THAT I’VE READ IN AGES!!!!How can I possibly explain my love for this awesome AWESOME AWESOOOOOOMMMME STORY? This author is one of my favorites, ’cause she gives us everything we want but doesn’t rush to get there. With her signature brand of humor, relatable insecurities, and regrettable attraction, I was HOOKED from the very start. Her characters are real, they go through realistic struggles, annoyances and personal victories, find love and all with the help of the enemy’s crew… it just can’t get better than this!
This book, this story, EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER and the ENTIRE PROGRESSION was just SO good, so realistic, so EXACTLY what I LOVE to read, that I fell in LOVE with this bearded, brooding, bad-ass so hard. Nope. Not “bad boy”. This guy’s got no TIME for “bad boy”. He’s full on the best of the best and makes no qualms about it. And I believe every single word. I know. I already said that. And now I said it twice. But you guys. YOU. GUYS. THIS BOOK IS MY ROMANCE BOOK PERFECTION. One of my absolute favorites of the year, but also, of ALL time. Here’s my 5-star book review!!
Ghosted by J.M. Darhower <— BEST SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE WITH A FAMOUS STAR THAT I’VE READ IN AGES!!!How amazing was THIS book? He was the love of her life, became famous, got lost in the world of Hollywood (and the parties and BAD habits that go along with that), and she had to walk away. Pregnant with his baby. And while he his star rose, his personal life kept sinking further into a downward spiral. His daughter was his biggest fan (he was a superhero after all)… even though she had no idea he was her daddy. And then one day, he shows up… and she loses her hero-worship mind!! LOL!!! AWESOME. Just. Plain. Awesome. Here’s my 5-star Book Review!
Mists of The Serengeti by Leylah Attar <— MOST INTENSE, THRILLING, CRAZY LOVE STORY WITH SO MUCH HEART (& TERROR!!) I’VE READ IN AGES!!! OMG this one had so much meaning. From feeling like I was living in another country, experiencing another culture, learning a whole other lifestyle and government and meeting the ultimate hot-yet-surly man… I was utterly captivated! I WAS THERE, you guys. I could see it. I could feel it. I could smell it. I could taste it. I was living it. And I never wanted to leave.
In fact, this book had me sobbing, wholeheartedly, and that’s when I knew, I was connected, heart and soul, to these characters, and to this land. To their plight. To their roots. It may be in a different setting than our usual contemporary romance books, but Africa’s modern lifestyle merging with the traditions and customs of the various tribes will absolutely fascinate you. So many intense moments. And so many chuckle-worthy ones, too. This is HER BEST YET!!!! Here’s my 5-star Book Review!!
The Darkest Sunrise Duet by Aly Martinez <— HOLY MOLY REVEAL ALERT!!!! INCREDIBLE!!! Absolutely, unputdownably incredible!!!!! It’s intense, romantic, shocking, deep, funny, and so real. I devoured this one, and gasped at that jaw-dropping moment that had me clapping with glee, delighting in the trouble that was about to ensue!
The feelings and reactions are intense, and I just know if I had videoed myself while reading, my faces would have been hilarious. DARNIT!!! I should have!!! What an opportunity for a reaction video, is a series like this. Goes to show you, I was so into it, I didn’t even think of coming out. Nope. You will NEVER forget this duet. EVER! P.S. Here’s my 5-STAR review of book #1 and review of book #2. 😀
The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre <— MOST SURPRISING PSYCH-THRILLER BECAUSE IT READS… GENTLY. I almost forgot that I was in for a twisty-wallop. And what a wallop it was (Alessandra Torre style)! It’s the twist that has us gasping, but the bittersweet narration, that has us feeling love and light again. Soothing us with friendship and warmth the whole way through. So much so, that we forget we’re coming up on a big reveal!
This one is not so much scary as it is painful, and yet enlightening. Relieving. An angry, bitter, tortured woman (a famous author) and she’s dying. She has one more book to write, and it’s her own. Her confession. The journey she takes us on, opens us all up to realization that not all is what it seems. Even the very things that haunt us. Provoke us. I won’t say more, because it’s all in the discovery (good and bad) that will have you feeling this like I did. Here’s my 5-star book review!
Gwendy’s Button Box: A Novella by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar <— BEST SUPER-CREEPY YET ENLIGHTENING READ! You’d think because it’s Stephen King, it’s horror, but no. While the creep-factor and fright-factor (that eerie constant feeling) follows you throughout the read, this one is loaded in heart. Emotion. Revelations. Humanity. Juts plain awesome and I was in awe when I finished it. Well rounded with plenty of feels. Here’s my 5-star Book review!
God-Shaped Hole: A Novel by Tiffanie DeBartolo <— OLDIE BUT SUCH A TEAR-JERKING GOODIE!!!!! I’ve been a HUGE fan of this author by one book alone (“How to Kill a Rockstar“), and so many told me THIS one was just as good. They were right. But I was scared (because of certain… things I thought I knew about the story). But I finally holed up with this one, and a huge box off tissues, and let myself go. WOW. WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!!!! Oh how I cried.
Yet, it doesn’t matter that I held off reading this book for years, because I read a potential “spoiler”. Nope. It doesn’t matter that I thought I knew would happen, or what actually happened, and whether I was right or wrong. Because I FELT this love story the whole way through. This is one of those where spoiler or no spoiler, the writing is so poignant, so real and raw and pure (without fear of what a reader might think – this one is PURELY author-inspiration/character driven) that you’ll live it, the entire way. Here’s my 5-star review!!!
Sustained by Emma Chase <— COMEDY ROMANCE HILARIOUSNESS (but with so much feeling!) This book is something else!!!!! Like… the BEST kind of something else. The perfect amount of EVERYTHING, with every single thing we fall in love with, in a love story. Plus… the perfect kind of funny, too. OMG this one has my heart!! Every single character (including ALL of the children) were believable, and unique and exactly what I love in a well-rounded love story – from start, to finish. This one had it all. Here’s my 5-star book review!
Egomaniac by Vi Keeland <— BEST OFFICE ROMANCE W/ A JADED YET KIND OF HILARIOUS HERO I’VE READ IN AGES!! Plus! He’s a single dad AND a divorce lawyer… and SHE’S a marriage counselor. TEE HEE!!!! It had me chuckling, it had me growling, it had me nervous, it had me fuming, it had me hurting… and well. It just had me.
A friendship forged in constant arguing, especially when she realizes he’s pretty much her opposite, career-wise. And so the FUN begins! These two can’t stop arguing and appalling each other with their views on life and love, and of course, Drew and his antics… the foul-mouthed, super jaded lawyer-turned-comedian can’t help but mess with her. And I LOVED every moment of them! Here is my book review!
Cruel & Beautiful (A Cruel and Beautiful Book Book 1) by Terri E. Laine & A.M. Hargrove <— ANGSTIEST, PLOT-TWISTIEST, DIDN’T SEE IT COMING READ, THAT I’VE READ IN AGES! I must say HOLY PLOT TWIST BATMAN!!!!! OMG. I thought this was going to be your typical, angsty, tumultuous, big secret, second chance romance book (by what I was reading in the first half), but nope. Nope. It’s so much more than that… I’m thrilled. So unique, I have NOT read anything like this before, and while I had a HUGE WTF moment, I can say it all makes so much sense, and totally works. Here’s my 4.5 star book review!
Riven Lissa Del <— PSYCH-THRILLER ROMANCE FROM ONE OF MY FAVORITE AUTHORS UNDER A NEW PEN-NAME!!! Yep! My beloved “Rainfall” author wrote this one!!! Total TOTAL love story, and true to her psychological intrigue, it had that *oomph* reveal that I didn’t see coming. The kind of thing that I had to analyze from both sides of the fence. And that I could TOTALLY “get” from both… angles.
There’s a definite psychological theme that factors in deeply, in regards to falling in love… and difficult love stories as a whole. Thrilled me, and chilled me and warmed me. But best yet, it haunts me. Here’s my 4.5 star book review!
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis <— BEST VILLAIN/VIGILANTE BOOK I’VE READ IN AGES & MY BOOK-TWIN AMY RECOMMENDED THIS ONE!!! Is she a villain, or a hero? I guess it all depends on how you take this one in. There is so much real life in here. The ugly kind (and always the kind that we’ve ALL been around, all been amidst, all been a part of in some way shape or form). What an eye-opener this story was.
This whole book is about the amazing emotional growth that was borne of circumstance, the life journey already at a pinnacle, for some so young, and just about to start in the real world. Her decisions, and even those “normal” reactions of typical teenage angst can bear consequence. Life, love, and ramifications are bumped up a notch, become heightened, even dire, when there’s a villain/vigilante in the group. Here’s my 4.5 star book review!
Disorderly Conduct: The Academy by Tessa Bailey <— THE BEST GUILTY PLEASURE I’VE READ IN AGES!!! Tee hee. Oh for sure that cover almost put me off the book itself (it portrays a more… potentially fluffy-fun erotica than anything else), but I decided to give it a go. I was hoping for a nice, light read during Hurricane Irma and I was pleasantly surprised (although now I question my surprise, since I love this author’s style of writing and witty, believable banter). It has everything I love in a contemporary romance, including the cocky alpha male (all intense, protective, jealous and even a little vulnerable). *sigh*
And loaded in funny AND sweet, authentic moments. Trust me. You will be laughing your heart out. Charlie is delightfully and infuriatingly obnoxious.
And the reason I loved it so much? Sure, it’s somewhat predictable and (theoretically) it’s might seem like your typical steamy romance, but there was just something more about this story and these characters and their push-and-pull that had me hooked. It hasn’t faded in my memory amongst the tons of others I’ve read like it. It stands out for me and I remember every fun (and heartachy) moment. Yep. It’s a nice, light, and yet incredibly fulfilling snack. 😉 P.S. I crushed HARD on this cop (and his affectionate name for her), and wished for one of my very own. Here’s my 4.5 star book review!
The Gravity of Us by Cherry Brittainy <— THE BEST ANGRIEST HERO EVER THAT I’VE READ IN AGES ALERT!!! WOWOWOWOW!!! This love story is EXACTLY what we’re looking for. What will have us feeling, falling in love, AND incensed! 😉 And it reads seamlessly. Even the occasional back and forth, from the past to the present served to slowly reveal the “why” of certain character flaws, and boy does it go deep.
My heart ached, my eyes welled up in tears for so many reasons (good and bad), but mostly, my heart brimmed to the top with happiness and basked in the glow of this very touching and healing love story. It’s funny, infuriating and everything in between!! Here’s my 4.5 star book review!
Wrecking Ball (Hard To Love Book 1) by P. Dangelico <— BEST SLOW-BURN, WORKING FOR A JERK-FACE SPORTS-STAR READ THAT I’VE READ IN AGES!!!! It’s not all that much different (storyline-wise) than some of our favorite “assistant with a jerk boss” romances. But you know how some just seem to stand out, above the rest? The kind of books that even if it’s a new-to-you author, you just know you love her voice, her writing style, and want to read her backlist? This is one of those.
The writing, the story flow, the character development, the inner dialogue and the realism (quirky life moments) that make it all come to life. If you’re in the mood for a good sports romance with a guy that is NOT a player (no matter how coveted he is), in fact he’s almost intolerable, you will LOVE this journey!! Here’s my 4.5 star book review!
The Memory Watcher – A Psychological Thriller <— BEST OBSESSED, CREEPY, CONNIVING STALKER THAT I’VE READ IN AGES!! But not the kind of stalker that you’re thinking of!!! Still though… oh yes. All sorts of trouble comes to light. 😉 It ticked each and every one of my psych-thriller needs. Great writing, enough character and story development to have me feeling it every step of the way (panicking when they were, thrilled with things I shouldn’t be thrilled with, nervous and dreading certain situations, incensed with others). In fact, as everything was coming to a head, my stomach was in knots, and my mood was shot (but in a good way). I was upset. I was nervous. I was disturbed.
Twists and turns along the way, plus a gently jaw-dropping ending that boggled my mind. I say “gently jaw dropping” because it wasn’t the most crazy-clever ending I’ve ever read, and yet, it was plenty out there to make my eyes bug out and my eyebrows raise in interest! It had me backtracking through what I had just read and thinking and gasping when it all came together. Here is my book review!
Atheists Who Kneel and Pray: a romance novel by Tarryn Fisher <— MOST GENTLE TARRYN FISHER READ I’VE READ IN AGES! OR maybe ever? LOL!! That hardcore cover and title might give you the impression that you’re in for Tarryn’s incredibly moody, yet rich writing, and you do get the richness, but it’s a lighter version of her heavy love stories. Oh don’t get me wrong. We’re still talking Tarryn Fisher here, and the heroine causes herself more heartache and trouble than she deserves to (and well… she hurts herself and others in the process).
There’s still much personal growth that is signature to Tarryn Fisher’s love stories. No crazy twists (but definitely plenty of self-inflicted heartache). So gooooooood (especially if you’re into this kind of personal drama)!!
Exasperating, exhausting, yet exciting and enriching (as is all of Tarryn’s writing, if you ask me). So much is explored AND revealed when it comes to the human psyche, and THAT is why I love this author so much. Here is my 4.5 star book review!
The Difference Between Us: An Opposites Attract Novel by Rachel Higginson <— LATEST MOST SEXY, MOODY, BROODING CHEF HERO😉 Thank goodness Rachel Higginson keeps releasing hit after hit, because she’s MY kind of romance story teller. Witty, fun, believable and just the right amount of angst, too! There’s so much more to these stories than just the romance, but OH how that love story blossoms, and everything together makes these books so fulfilling. There’s no forcing the story, here. It flows as if it’s happening in real life, and you totally forget you’re reading. Here’s my 4.5 star Book Review!
The Brave Line by Kate Stewart <— SUPER-STEAMIEST BOOK THAT I LOVED, EVEN IF IT MADE ME BLUSH & MY EYES BUG OUT BECAUSE IT’S GOT EXTREME EMOTION TOO!!! For such a STEAMY (and I meant steamy spelled D-I-R-T-Y) steamy, this book has SO much emotion, intense feels, and backstory (and current story) that I fell in love with everyone in it. This book ripped my heart out (such heartache and even terror for some), had tears spilling out of my eyes TWICE (for two very different reasons, such as… OH NO HE DIDN’T!!!!!!! THAT JERK!!! <— My favorite even though it breaks my heart. It was the range of “feels” that kept me connected and not just reading it. Devouring it. Here’s my 4.5 star book review!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid <— YET ANOTHER TURBULENT LIFE/LOVE STORY BY ONE OF MY FAVORITE AUTHORS EVER!! This is the story of a shrewd and designing (read: somewhat manipulative) 50′s starlet/pinup/one of the most famous actresses ever that started from the bottom and worked her way to the top, in any way she could. Without shame, without reservations, she uses everything she has (yes, even the casting couch plays into this), making deals with the “devils” (aka: some of the worst in the industry) to get everything she’s ever dreamed of.
This IS an epic love story, but there’s so much expected of her, and so much that she has to give up to keep what she has, and continue on her rise to the top, that she finds she’s slowly losing herself in the process. And everyone else. Her life is a series of successes and failures, both professional and personal, but it’s in her retelling of it, that it all comes to fruition. It all comes full circle. And boy is it turbulent!! And you KNOW I love that! 😉 Here’s my 4.5 star book review
Hidden Bodies: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes <— THE ULTIMATE CREEPY-STALKER PSYCH-THRILLER THAT I LOVED EVEN MORE THAN THE FIRST ONE! Joe is KING of all stalker-freaks, just looking for love. Er… and doling out justice where HE thinks it’s warranted. this one will keep you guessing, and biting your nails right to the very end. It’s different ’cause it’s subdued, and not so in-your-face-scary. But it still manages to creep you out like no other. Because who knows if we have a “Joe” in our own entourage?
There is a TON of story here. Getting to know him. Getting to know those he hates. Getting to know those he loves. And some of them are one and the same. But this one made Joe real to me, and had me FINALLY connecting with him. I’ll tell you. There’s something incredibly disconcerting in clapping with *glee* and relief when things go RIGHT… for the bad guy. Here’s my book review!
Also check out:
➔ My Best Books of 2019
➔ My Best Books of 2018
➔ My Best Books of 2017
➔ My Best Books of 2016
➔ My Best Books of 2015
➔ My Best Books of 2014
➔ My Best Books of 2013
➔ My Best Books of 2012
➔ My Best Books of 2011
➔➔➔ Looking for more of our favorite recommendations? Browse our “Ultimate Favorites Lists” here. Are you in the mood for a certain kind of story? Browse our favorite “genre/trope categories” here and our reader favorites lists too.