When I began this endeavor, I really was not sure I would have enough books for a top reads post for 2014. I think I read so many mediocre books that I lost sight of how many excellent reading experiences I had. As I looked over my Goodreads shelf, I realized that I had several contenders for favorites, which, of course, made me want to go reread them immediately. Here are a few that topped my list:
Play by Kylie Scott – I enjoyed Ms. Scott’s debut last year with Lick, though I wasn’t completely enamored by it. I liked the character of Mal though, and was intrigued enough to want to read his story. Any lady who could bring Mal to heel would be okay in my book. I’m glad I gave it a shot as I found Play to be delightful and great fun, much less emo and serious than Lick. You can find my review here.
Night Broken by Patricia Briggs – This Mercy Thompson series installment could possibly be my favorite so far. Adam’s ex-wife Christy has reappeared and opened up a huge can of worms, leading trouble straight to Mercy and Adam’s door. Not only does she cause problems by getting mixed up with a creepy stalker, she also causes more of a rift between Mercy and the Pack. It was nice to see the villain be not only the standard supernatural baddie, but a flesh and blood woman as well. I loved how so many elements from prior books were woven throughout – the walking stick, Coyote, a little crossover with Alpha and Omega. It all came together beautifully and I’m looking forward to the next book.
It Happened One Wedding by Julie James – Books by Julie James just work for me, but this one was exceptional (review here.) The plot, the characters, the humor all blended to create a superb reading experience. I related to Sidney’s hilarious online dating experiences and enjoyed the extreme friction between her and Vaughn upon their initial meeting. Of course that friction leads to plenty of sparks. This pair had chemistry to burn and I loved every word.
Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley – I am an unapologetic, squeeing Susanna Kearsley fangirl, hence my opinion may be slightly biased. But this reprint of a previously released title (review of original release here) struck all the right notes with me. I adored the Italian villa setting, the theatre aspect, the depth of characterization, and the mystery of what happened there in the 1920s. This book was different, robust, and made me gasp aloud with wonder, love, and dismay in varying turns.
Off the Edge by Carolyn Crane – I’m including this in my Best of 2014 list as it was published the last week of December 2013 and we typically consider those January releases (review here.) The author has crafted a true romantic suspense novel, striking the right balance between romance and suspense/action. Thailand, creepy bad guys, a smoky-voiced heroine, and a nerdy-cool hero equal utter delight for me. This is film noir for your mind.
Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare – This book was a romp through a rundown castle with a blind, scarred hero and a plucky heroine determined to do what it takes to survive (review here.) They match wits, each trying to keep a step ahead of the other. I howled with laughter more than once during this little gem.
Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt – I’m a relative newcomer to the Maiden Lane series, but I’ve devoured each book and wanted more more more. Darling Beast is no exception (audiobook review here.) This is a rare case in which I loved each of the main characters as much as the other. Lily is a strong, witty, resourceful heroine and the perfect foil for Apollo.
Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews – I’m a fangirl of the Kate Daniels series and hotly anticipate each new book with a mix of trepidation and delight. Because how can the series keep getting better and better? I don’t know, but it does. Magic Breaks delivered on my (admittedly high) expectations and pulled the rug out from under me several times. Humor, grit, emotion – it’s all here.
Never Been Kissed by Molly O’Keefe – This book was pitch perfect for me. I already had designs on Brody Baxter from the previous Boys of Bishop novel, Wild Child, so I was eager to get my paws on his story. It did not disappoint, providing me with complex characters to love and strong emotion (review here.) Finding love while negotiating the sometimes rocky waters of family bonds is a theme that resonates with me. Here it is done beautifully.
As mentioned in our previous favorites of 2014 column, my favorite book of the year was Into the Shadows by Carolyn Crane. This book left me breathless in all the right ways. The action, the villains, the tough as nails heroine who loves fiercely, and hero Thorne were an exhilarating combination. Seriously, go glom the Associates series.
For more fun, check out my honorable mentions. The Bastard by Inez Kelley (review here,) High Seduction by Vivian Arend (review here,) and Bound by Night by Larissa Ione (review here) all received B+ grades from me.
Do you see any of your favorites from 2014 in the mix? And it is definitely a mix. Are your reading tastes as eclectic as mine? Did anything catch your eye that you would like to add to your TBR pile? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! May we all have another great reading year in 2015. Cheers!