The Ultimate “Cara McKenna Is Awesome!!” book list.

by Maryse on August 3, 2014 · 24 comments

in Book Recommendations, My Favorites

Tee hee!! I couldn’t help myself. I am a Cara McKenna addict and I’m so excited for her upcoming book! Lay It Down: A Desert Dogs Novel <— This TUESDAY!!! It just seems that I love everything that I have read by her, so far, and I have just discovered a plethora of her books still waiting to be read. In fact, I just found out she writes under yet another pen name!!!!

Betty: Loved loved loved loved loved! Your review of After Hours introduced to Cara McKenna and I’ve read all her books, even those under Meg Maguire. Curio is great!

Maryse’s Book Blog: Meg Maguire, you say??!! I had no idea. Ooooooh now I gotta look those up.

*squeeee!!* Now there’s even MORE for me!!

So, I couldn’t help myself. I just HAD to make this list. I had to find anything and everything by her, and compile it right here, in an “easy to use” list format. Usually, when it comes to authors, I make “reading order guides”, but to my knowledge, Cara only has a few “series” (like this one —> Cara McKenna – Curio Series Reading Order).

But what about all of her others? I just HAVE to collect… I mean “catalog” them here. ;)

And so many of you (us) here love her stories like CRAZY!

Marina: Just finished After Hours. Loved it!! I love Cara’s writing. LOVE it. I could read her character’s internal dialogue/thoughts all day because it’s so unique. Her descriptions, metaphors… just make you feel. She’s def my new fave author!!! Thx for recommending her Maryse!!!

Michelle: Loving this book. I have 10% left. The secret l****s to each other are so well done. Agree about the description of his voice. Also, the way the author describes his eyes. I’ve highlighted tons of the book and stayed up way too late, but thanks for the recommendation:)

Georgia: Oh my god. I read Unbound first …. awesome and then Willing Victim. Both were awesome and not my typical reads either. But I’ve become a fan of Cara Mckenna. She truly is gifted in her writing. I could not help but fall in love with her characters.  In Willing Victim, Maryse you were soo  right!!! The dark part which in fact is not for everyone was done so well that .. you did not feel traumatized (nor did the character) but you felt a mutual bonding  and growth between the characters. Can’t wait for more from Cara Mckenna.  A new favorite. Thanks again !

Shrimalya:  I actually should thank you Maryse because I came to know about CaraMcKenna from your review of After Hours and now I love her!!

Victoria: it is MUST READ material! It is so hot! The letters back and forth, both sensual and sexy. The dirty talk… OMG. LOVED IT!

Darla: I’ve gotta say…you got me hooked on a hermit – Curio by Cara McKenna.  Love.

Mara: Just read Willing Victim by Cara McKenna and I kinda hated Flynn at first. He rejected the heroine at first *gasp* how rude. But her heroes always get me in the end. She writes the best blue-collar-real-tough guys.

Siana: I just finished this myself, and loved it!  I found it surprisingly sweet and touching, given the subject matter.   I”m a big CaraMckenna fan, and as usual, she didn’t fail me. :)

Teri: It is not something that I would normally pick up after reading the synopsis but got it after reading your review.  I just finished it and am sitting here on the couch, near tears and in a total state of melancholy.  Not because it didn’t end well but because it was so beautifully written and poignant.  I really wanted more but it seemed fitting to end at the point that it did.  I had to put a review on Amazon because I want to support this amazing author and really look forward to reading more of her work.

Pamelia: So refreshing to read about people who aren’t impossibly rich or even upper middle-class.  Plus it’s set in Michigan (which is where I live) and she really had that SE Michigan feel going. I think it had the perfect blend of angst and anxiety and funny and sexy.

Camille: McKenna is absolutely one of my favorite authors in this genre. Loved the Curio series, too!

JenM: This was my first read of hers, and I’m definitely going to be getting her backlist. I loved how real it was – imperfect people just trying to do their best in an imperfect world.

Minha: Curio is another example of a book I would never have read if it was not for you Maryse, And wow!!  Didier is something else. I have read the second book as well and yes, it was a much shorter encounter but it did not diminish the pleasure of being inside Didier’s head. It impresses me how Cara McKenna can make us readers have this emotional connection with her characters… Definitely reading the whole series. Thank you again Maryse for making me brave enough to read this kind of book, and finding out it’s possible to find deep emotion in a HOT read… :)

Jo: I was stuck in an airport yesterday and read the whole thing… I swear, I had to keep adjusting the letters on my kindle smaller and smaller, because I was sure someone would look over my shoulder and see that AMAZING hotness and I’d be exposed, LOL. Great book!!!!! …when he was writing her letters? I nearly combusted. Hottest thing i’ve read in FOREVER.

Mary Jo: Oh my….I can’t….just…WOW. I just gobbled him up! I loved the way they interacted. Flynn is definitely on the list!

Betty: I started with After Hours and then bought her ENTIRE catalog and went through a Cara Mckenna craze. Then I moved on to Charlotte Stein…

Maryse’s Book Blog: Yes Betty!!! To me… Bonnie Dee, Cara McKenna and Charlotte Stein all have that amazing quality to their stories. That certain “feel” to them. Unique and absolutely consuming. Intense love stories, some… unconventional and soooooooo steamy!! And not the steamy that I “skim” either. ;) I read each word… *waggles eyebrows*

You guys… for those of you that haven’t jumped in yet, you MUST!! Cara McKenna rocks my reading world with a little “unconventional/slightly forbidden” romance… and TOTALLY HOT!!! TOTALLY REAL. TOTALLY UNIQUE. And soooooo excitingly *gasp-worthy*. When I read her stuff, I have a constant secret thrill running through me, ’cause I just know… I’m in for something delightfully different, deep, and dangerously delicious.

She’s got such a UNIQUE voice. A rousing writing style. She just sucks you right in, and spits you out on the other side, delighted. Exhausted. Amazed. Fulfilled. Leaves you thinking about them for days after. Love stories that are unconventional, some with clever twists, and some that even border on the taboo. Male escorts, reclusive hermits, prisoners, fighters with *eeeep-worthy* “fetishes”, and just plain awesome “bad boys” (but true bad boys… bad asses, if you will). ;)

Characters that feel so real, you forget you’re reading. You become the main character and feel everything (and I mean EVERYTHING!! ;) ) that they go through. So far, to me? Her books are a reader’s dream!

Yep. She is no doubt, one of my FAVORITE authors. She has SO many books that I loved (back when I first started reading this genre in 2011), and she continues to release books that I love, JUST AS MUCH, today!

Her books have made many of my favorites lists, like…

And here are a few of my book reviews:

Yep… I’ve read a bunch so far, and loved every one, but it would appear I have MANY more to go! So let’s check out her entire repertoire, shall we?

Most of these are STANDALONES (and some of ‘em are “shorts*). P.S. Series listed beneath these…

  • Lay It Down: A Desert Dogs Novel <— coming out this Tuesday!! “Finally free of a controlling ex, Kim Paget’s not looking to be taken for a ride—not on the back of some tattooed roughneck’s bike and definitely not in his bed. But when she finds evidence that her bosses are rattlesnake-dangerous, Kim must entrust her safety to the man who threatens danger of a whole different kind.
  • After Hours: (InterMix) <— one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITES! They both work in a psychiatric hospital. (my Book Review). HOT HOT HOT!!!
  • Hard Time <— he’s in prison… she’s the librarian in the prison outreach program! ;) Ohhh exciting ’cause it’s supposed to be soooo wrong! (my Book Review)
  • Unbound: (InterMix) <— reclusive hermit that suddenly has to deal with someone. Her. ;) (my Book Review)
  • Willing Victim <— This one has quite the taboo-freaky edge! (my Book Review)
  • Her Best Laid Plans (Cosmo Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin)
  • Skin Game <— “Seven days, seven challenges. Twelve strangers. Eight thousand cameras. Only one winner.”
  • Ready and Willing <— “She places an ad in a newspaper and goes in search of men willing to help her conceive the good old-fashioned way.” And she meets two men…
  • Dirty Thirty <— “Despite his scrappy punk packaging, Evan’s got a submissive streak in him that’s just screaming to be indulged. So on the eve of his thirtieth birthday, Evan’s wife Margie arranges for them to ring out his twenties by realizing his darkest fantasy—inviting another man into their bedroom.
  • Don’t Call Her Angel <— “…the sweet, deferring Southern bride and her cold, self-possessed, ex-military husband. Peer into their bedroom and the scene grows starker still. Domineering man, submissive girl, a sex life not for the faint of heart. But peer inside their heads? That’s another matter entirely.
  • Brazen <— “Caroline’s plans for maintaining a harem of eager young men are going as smooth as could be, until a troublesome newcomer arrives and throws her tidy kingdom into disorder. He seems perfect at first…”
  • Convenient Strangers <— M/M romance! “At his favorite bar, he spots that cure in the form of a six-foot-something muscular man, custom built to Adam’s fantasy-rebound specifications. But his hopes for a therapeutic one-night stand are dashed the second he approaches the decidedly surly English stranger.
  • Ruin Me <— *eeeeep!!* This one is definitely taboo sounding. Her boyfriend proposed, but she can’t get the guy that “saved’ her out of her mind… “More attached to Robin than the idea of her being faithful, Jay gives her the green light to go after Patrick in the hopes that it will demystify the man and get him out of Robin’s system. It begs the question—if you’ve got permission, is it still cheating? And which will ultimately sway the heart—reason or attraction?”
Her other pen name (Meg Maguire)
  • Trespass <— “Sarah Novak hates lying to such a kind, handsome man, but if an upstanding citizen like Russ finds out why she’s been three weeks on the run, he’d surely turn her in. Yet she can’t refuse his offer to let her stay until she heals, no questions asked.
  • The Reluctant Nude <— “…when a lecherous developer plans to bulldoze her old home to make room for a strip mall, the practical, ordered life Fallon has built for herself is threatened.Then he makes a twisted proposal. He’ll leave the land alone if she poses nude for a sculpture…”
  • Thank You for Riding (Strangers on a Train) <— “At the end of the line, neither can seem to let their chance meeting end—until their extended flirtation finds them facing the prospect of spending a frigid winter night locked in an unheated subway station.”
  • Caught on Camera <— “Wilderness survival television star Dominic Tyler (Ty) and his assistant Kate Somersby are stranded in a remote cabin during a freak winter storm. Things look pretty bleak—until they make a fire and strip off their wet clothes….”
  • The Wedding Fling <— “It’s been a busy week for actress Leigh Bailey. The stunning starlet reportedly ditched her cheating groom on her wedding day and ran off to enjoy a honeymoon-for-one at a secluded tropical island. But rumor has it that she’s not alone…”

Wilinski’s Series (MMA fighters!):

  • All or Nothing (previously published as “Making Him Sweat”) <— “In this corner is Jenna Wilinski, who’s inherited a rather seedy boxing gym from her estranged father. With it, she can realize her dream of launching an upscale matchmaking business…provided she can take on the very intimidating—and wickedly hot—boxer who stands in her way!”
  • Going the Distance (previously published as “Taking Him Down”) <— “He’s a gorgeous, flirty mixed martial arts fighter. When they find themselves heating up during an unexpected—and superintense—make-out session, Lindsey is ready…until Rich ends it with no explanation. “
  • Takedown (previously published as “Driving Him Wild) <— “Recently retired pro MMA fighter Steph Healy is through having rough-and-tumble romps with sexy blue-collar dudes. Unfortunately, Wilinski’s Fight Academy has hired an electrician with a body built to make a gal weep…”
Curio Series:

Shivaree Series:

  • Backwoods <— M/M romance!! “Shane thinks he’s simply auditioning a new musician for his bar, but when Gabriel saunters into the Shivaree it becomes clear the man has more to offer than just his talent… What follows is not a love story. This is a story about an unforeseen attraction that brings a strong, sane man to his knees, and about lovers tangled up in each other too deep to know who’s in control and who’s helpless.”
  • Shivaree <— she breaks down near a bar… and meets the Gabriel & Shane…
  • Getaway <— the sequel…

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren August 3, 2014 at 9:44 PM

Omg I had no idea she was also Meg Meguire! Caught on camera is one of my all time favs and I has just stumbled upon it.

Maryse August 3, 2014 at 9:53 PM

YAY Lauren!! So then that’ll be the first “next” one I try from her. :D

Shenita August 3, 2014 at 10:11 PM

The 2 I’ve read (After Hours and Hard Time) I’ve loved. Definitely looking forward to Lay it Down.

Melissa August 4, 2014 at 9:06 AM

I feel a hge spending spree coming on! I loved Unbound, but haven’t read anymore of her work. Now I have to change my TBR list!

Jean August 4, 2014 at 9:26 AM

I have only read Hard Time which I loved, but have heard so many great things about After Hours!!!

MichelleS August 4, 2014 at 10:52 AM

One clicked “Lay it Down” – looking forward to that one! “Hot and sexy bikers in the southwest”… oh yeah!
AFTER HOURS was one of my favorites. It totally lived up to it’s swoon worthy cover (one of my favorite covers too). The author created so much sexual tension and chemistry it was off the charts. And she managed to do it in very ordinary situations. No kidnappings, red rooms, near death experiences. Nope. Nada. Just a guy and a girl. They could just be in the same room together and you felt the chemistry. It just oozed out of the book. I also really liked HARD TIME, not quite as much as AH, but still good. Had no idea she wrote under another name. Thanks for that tid-bit.

Teri August 4, 2014 at 11:15 AM

I just finished Finding Home by Bonnie Dee. I’m a bit of a mess this morning. Thank you Maryse for the perpetual state of ‘hangover’ I have been in since discovering your book blog last year. God help us all :-)

Maryse August 4, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Yeah Michelle agreed!!

She can take “normal” and make it intense and unique in it’s normal way.

And Hard Time wasn’t my absolute fav but it still gave me that forbidden thrill, and was so much fun!

Maryse August 4, 2014 at 11:23 AM

YAY Teri!!! My love for Bonnie Dee is right in line with my love for this author.

Maryse August 4, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Oh Jean!! Jump on After Hours ASAP!! Even better than Hard Time! :D

Tracy August 4, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Teri – I had such a book hangover from Finding Home too. Also finished Thoughtless this weekend and had another book hangover! I think I’ll try After Hours next.

Jean August 4, 2014 at 11:36 AM

I am on it! Especially with all the recommendations from my friends here!

Jean August 4, 2014 at 11:52 AM

I just bought After Hours and am putting Taunting Destiny aside for now….so excited to start this book!

Cheryl August 4, 2014 at 12:46 PM

Haven’t read any books by this author. You said Hard Time wasn’t your absolute fav, and in your reviews you said you can’t pick a fav, BUT, which one would you recommend to read first?

Maryse August 4, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Cheryl, I’d say “After Hours”. That seems to be the most “normal” (albeit very consuming) story. ;)

Maryse August 4, 2014 at 12:50 PM

But then again… Curio had my heart SO HARD through the whole read, and then… there was a twist that had me going WHOA! FUN!

Cheryl August 4, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Ok. After Hours it is; although Willing Victim may be a close 2nd.

Cat @ Breakfast to Bed August 4, 2014 at 3:48 PM

weird. I don’t think I’ve read a single one of her books! soosososo strange!

bev August 4, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Has any one finished the curio series? I enjoyed the first one and keep thinking I should read the others. I loved that twist and wonder how it plays out.

Maryse August 4, 2014 at 5:03 PM

I’m curious about the others too, Bev. I loved how #1 ended!

Marguerite August 4, 2014 at 7:02 PM

I have been wanting to read her books for a long time! Are they anything like Kristen Ashley’s because i am ADDICTED to her books.

marina August 4, 2014 at 9:20 PM

I am so thrilled you made this list!!!! Can’t wait to read “Lay it Down”. Hope it appears at midnight! And Curio. Had no clue she wrote so many!! Yahoo!!

bev August 4, 2014 at 10:29 PM

I find Mckenna’s books, the ones I’ve read, to be more somber than KA books. If that is the right way to say it. They both do blue collar H/h well. But I want to say that maybe KA puts a sheen on it that CM does not. I would say her books can be grittier than KA and the love relationships take longer to build. They are both great at giving you that sense of place. You are in the apartment in Curio or the bar in Shivaree just like you are in Lavender House or the bar in Sweet Dreams.
I have never read her under the name Meg Maguire and some are amazing at changing their style with the name change. I’d be curious if people that have read her as both see a difference.

Kelli Collins September 23, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Someone sent me this link, because they thought I’d like to see all the love for Curio. They were right. :) I edited several of Cara’s EC books, including Curio and Curio Vignettes, and the series will forever be one of my top 3 personal favorites. The scene in Curio [SPOILER] in which Didier strokes himself while he and Caroly sit on the bed, foreheads pressed together, stands as one of the most intimate scenes I’ve ever read in an erotic romance, and I’ll never forget it. (Common misconception: *not* all erotica is intimate. Cara’s books are excruciatingly so.)

Thank you for loving this series, and all of Cara’s books. And thank you for introducing a series that is often misunderstood to so many readers!

P.s. Fun fact – Cara’s original choice of title for Curio was “Rue des Toits Rouges” … the street on which Didier lives. :)

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