In an effort to blog--and read--more in 2019, I've decided to keep track of the books I've read and loved every month. In some cases, they're books I've read before, whether only a few months ago, or years. Because there's not many sub-genres of romance I won't read, keep an eye out for your favorites, because chances are I'll get to them.
As always, I want to hear from YOU. What you're reading, what you've loved, and what you think of my picks of the month.
You can follow along with what I'm reading by following me on Goodreads.
Okay, so technically, I didn't read this book in January. It didn't release until February 1st, but I may have stayed up all night binge-reading it. So it counts, right?
Anyway, if you read my Top 5 Romance Books of 2018 post (if you didn't, go ahead. I'll wait), you'll know I fell in love with Pippa Grant with Beauty and the Beefcake. I wasn't exactly subtle about my love for Ares.
Immediately after finishing BatB, I went and started her entire backlist from the beginning, with Mister McHottie. I took a small break after Zeus's story (The Pilot and the Puck-Up) to re-read Ares story, before I went back to Royally Pucked and got caught up with the rest of the books.
*Side note: Ares (Beauty and the Beefcake) is still my favorite, because he's my absolute FAVORITE hero, ever, and I don't think anyone will knock him off the top of the list for a long, long time. But alllll of Pippa's books are amazing. I mean...READ THEM NOW amazing.
Charming as Puck, Pippa's latest Thrusters book, didn't disappoint. While I kind of wanted Nick and Kami to get together while I was reading Beauty for the first--or second--or third--time, I trusted Pippa enough to put Nick with the perfect-for-him woman, even if it wasn't Kami. But, ohmygod, I'm so glad it was. These two were so perfect. Nick's an ass, and you know how I love my bad boys, but what I really loved about him was that he didn't usually mean to be an ass. Most heroes-and I'm looking at you dragons--are proud of their asshole-ness. And most of the time, they're entitled to it. They've seen enough, done enough, they get to be jaded dicks to most of the world. And while I loooove me an asshole hero who has a soft sweet spot for his heroine, Nick blew me away because he genuinely didn't want to hurt anyone. Ever. He didn't particularly set out to cause problems*, or forget birthdays, or hurt anyone. Because he never meant it and he was always generous and caring to the people he loved, everyone forgave his self-absorbed tendencies.
I know. That makes him sound bad, right? I mean, I'm not saying he was perfect from the beginning. He totally screwed up big time. And it takes him awhile to realize it, and even longer to realize why that bothers him so much. But when he does realize it, holy mother-pucking YES. His single-minded obsession with Kami, her happiness, and deserving her just blew me the hell away.
And as always with her books, I walked away believing that Kami was the absolute perfect woman for him. It's been a really long while since I identified with a heroine so strongly, but as the sweet sometime-doormat who no one ever wants to upset, I was so firmly in her corner from the very beginning. Her backbone was never bitchy, never mean, never careless. She just finally realized what she was worth and what she deserved, and she simply refused to settle for anything less, no matter how much her heart wanted her to.
*Pranks on Zeus don't count. Does anyone really doubt at this point that the Berger twins can take care of themselves?
It's never a good thing when I close a book for a night, and see it on my Kindle the next day and cannot remember what it was about, or what the main characters' names were.
And honestly, I'd forgotten I'd read this until it showed up on my Goodreads Challenge.
It's not that it was bad. It wasn't. It was cute. It's my first book from Abby Knox, and I'm meh about whether I'll read another one or not.
The problem for me was that it just wasn't memorable. At all. If you've read Madison Faye or Alexa Riley, you've read this book. (I know that sounds like a dig, but it's really not. If I hadn't read so many of their books, I probably would have loved this one a bunch more.)
Normally, I can ignore plot holes when reading contemporary romance novellas like this one. Let's face it, I'm not reading it to get wrapped up in details. But occasionally, they pull me out of the story completely. The one thing I can't forgive and move on from? A heroine who makes stupid decisions because she's 'innocent' or poor. That doesn't mean the poor girl doesn't have a brain in her head, it just means the author wanted a quick, easy way to get the hero to rescue her.
If you've read any of my blog posts before, you know how I feel about Tessa freaking Bailey. I pretty much worship the ground she walks on. I've yet to 'meet' a hero of hers that doesn't make me full-on swoon.
Just like every Tessa Bailey book, Kyle is the perfect hero, and Cameron is freakin' adorable. Which--side note--is one of the reasons I love her books so much. I waaay prefer adorable, sweet heroines with backbones of steel than snarky, bitchy ones.
Instead of telling you all the reasons you should definitely read this book immediately, I'm just going to give you a quick glimpse of their meeting, so you can see for yourself just how perfect these two are for each other.
And Cameron looked up into the face of the earth’s most beautiful male. Rather than the tall, dark and handsome she’d always thought she preferred, this man was tall, with sunbaked blond hair and a weathered face. In other words, she’d been completely wrong about her type. Until today. Here it was.
“What? No. No way.” She slapped a hand to the center of his monumentally broad chest and had a good laugh. “Okay, when I showed up to the joust and found out I’m the prize, I kind of thought I might be dreaming. This confirms it. You are definitely a side effect of the Xanax I took last night.” She reached up and tugged his dark blond beard. “Holy hell. My imagination did good.”
Humor danced in the fathomless blue eyes of Dream Stranger. “You’re awake, ma’am. This is happening.”
“That’s what you would say.”
His lips twitched. “If I wasn’t real.”
“Exactly.” Although, when she looked around at the flag-topped turrets in the distance, her confidence in the dream theory began to waver. Her dreams weren’t usually quite so…vivid. She could feel the softness of the man’s cotton T-shirt under the palm of her hand. Could see the individual bristles of his beard. “Hypothetically, if this was real life, what would your name be?”
“Officer Kyle Musgrave, at your service.”
“Oh God, you are real.” She pushed off his chest. “I’m not that creative with names. When I fantasize, I usually give the guy a name like Bob or Chris.”
He threw back his head and laughed, the strong column of his throat on display in the sunlight. When he finished, Cameron remained transfixed by the twinkle left behind in his eyes. Absurdly handsome with a sense of humor? She thought they’d discontinued men like him.
“And what’s your name, sweetheart?” He stroked a hand down his beard. “In case I’m ever in the mood to fantasize.”
Bailey, Tessa. Renaissance Man . Tessa Bailey. Kindle Edition.
SEE? I told you it was a must-read. So, what are you waiting for?
Okay, so I'm going to be perfectly honest right up front. You'll never, ever hear me say a bad word about Julie Garwood. Ever.
So maybe she head-hops a lot. And maybe some of her more recent contemporary romances have been too heavy on plot and a little light on romance.
Do I care?
NOT EVEN A LITTLE.
Because next to Judith McNaught, Nora Roberts, and Johanna Lindsey, she's the reason I write romance books. And while all those mentioned have influenced me strongly, Julie Garwood stands out because she didn't just influence my writing, she's pretty much THE reason I write big, possessive, alpha, asshole heroes. Because BRODICK, ya'll.
It's been years since I've read any of Julie's books, so I decided at the start of this year I was going to make my way through her historicals again. These were some of the very first romance books I ever read, the first Highlanders, and I've missed these characters and her worlds so much. No one writes humor in historical romance quite like she does.
Okay...sure. There are a few faults in the book. It wasn't the quick, easy read I'd remembered it to be, but that's not a bad thing. Because being back in Alec and Jamie's world was like coming home, and after the 2018 I had, I needed that feeling more than you can imagine.
If you're in the mood for a light, hilarious, Highlander historical romance, you'll never, ever do worse than Julie Garwood. (Any of her books, honestly.)