Each month, we ask our bloggers to share the best thing they’ve read (or things, plural, if our bloggers declare a tie ’cause they just can’t choose). It doesn’t have to be a new book, as evidenced below; just something that made the month sparkle a bit more.
Without further ado, here’s the installment for April 2014 (and if you’ve missed any, be sure to check out past recs via the Related Posts section at the bottom of the post):
How To Misbehave by Ruthie Knox is that rarest of birds for me - the small town contemporary romance that didn't set my teeth on edge. Nice banter, a sheltered heroine who doesn't behave like ninny, a blue-collar hero, and a tornado employed as a “meet cute.” I finished this sexy little novella and immediately wanted to drop everything and read all the Ruthie Knox I could get my hands on.
For me, a First Look lead to the book of the month—Fool Me Twice. I read the novella (Your Wicked Heart) and first/related book (That Scandalous Summer) and was rather happy to finally read Olivia's story. Her appearance at the end of the novella gives us a tease to the woman who has the hutzpah to stand up to the rather forbiddable Duke of Marwick who looms overly large throughout the proceeding book. Those who enjoy a fairy tale retelling will also be able to pick out the Beauty & the Beast elements within as the heroine posing as his housekeeper browbeats, cajoles, teases and challenges the Duke into putting aside his beastly ways and comes once again into society.
I loved the first in Naomi Hirahara's Ellie Rush mystery series, Murder on Bamboo Lane. It's a mystery, but with a romantic current running through it that sets the stage for what I hope is plenty more down the road. Ellie is a LAPD bike cop who winds up investigating the murder of a former college classmate. She's also trying to get over her ex boyfriend and start up a relationship with the lead detective on the case, a hot single father. This truly multicultural story set across different LA communities is a page turner.
Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine: Told from the perspective of Benvolio, cousin to Romeo, this fantastic novel focuses on the characters other than Romeo and Juliet in the famous story, also providing a top-notch premise. Recommended for both teens and adults.
Charlotte Stein's Beyond Repair. Stein returns to the New Adult genre and does not disappoint. Her latest work is as strong, if not stronger than her NA hit, Sheltered
My favorite books this month have actually been novellas/serials: Beyond Solitude by Kit Rocha and Five Miles by Lili St. Germain. One is a May-December interracial erotic novella set in the gritty “Beyond” dystopian universe, and the other is the third of a serial revenge drama set in the gritty world of the Gypsy Brothers MC. “Solitude” has a proper HEA that those characters worked hard for, while “Miles” dangles the HEA carrot oh-so-close this time around. These two pieces of work are so different, yet any of the characters could survive in the other's worlds...if they survive in their own.
Reading Cara McKenna's Hard Time was such an involving experience, I almost felt like it literally got under my skin. A convict and the new prison librarian share a forbidden desire made all the more intense by how impossible it is... but what will happen if it becomes possible? McKenna puts you right there amidst all the heightened emotions of desire, fear, and yearning.
The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa: Gah. This book. Fans of books that send you on an emotional rollercoaster ride need to be familiar with Julie Kagawa. The Forever Song is the final book in her Blood of Eden series and it gave the same great highs—love!—and those gutting deep lows—deaths!—that I've come to expect from her. The journey is what matters, and when you hit the end of The Forever Song, you'll be sated and all the more in love with the Blood of Eden characters.
My best read for April is The Blood of Roses by Marsha Canham. Set during Scotland's Jacobite rebellion, this is the second book dedicated to English heroine Catherine Ashbrooke and her Scottish hero, Alexander Montgomery. Wed out of neccessity, their union turns to a passionate love, tested and tried by the rigors of a war that threatens to impact both of their homelands. As usual, Canham pulls no punches, treating the reader to an intense romance with a you-are-there historical plot. Catherine and Alexander's love story began in Canham's classic A Pride of Lions, so the books are best read in tandem for maximum effect.
My best of this month is Hard Time by Cara McKenna. Likely others have chosen it too - it's extremely well written, and features one of the most dichotomous romantic heroes ever. I loved seeing how the relationship developed.
In The Light Who Shines by Lilo Abernathy, Abernathy has created a world in which humans, magically Gifted Humans and two varieties of Vampires (Daylight and Dark) live side-by-side. Although they live in the open, Vampires and Gifted are treated with prejudice and often subject to violence. The central plot revolves around the torture and murder of a magically gifted teen. What makes Bluebell so endearing is that she is an accidental kick-ass heroine. Her magical Gift is the ability to sense souls, which does not lend itself to preternatural super abilities, but she works it. She can hold her own with her uber hot Vampire boss, Jack Tanner, while solving a brutal hate crime and fending off someone bent on killer her. Abernathy has thrown in some sexy-time with said boss and an added complication – Jack has some serious secrets he has kept from Blue. The sexual tension between Blue and Jack sizzles. Throw in a cast of likeable supporting characters and this was a wonderful book.
The Undercover Professor by December Gephart hit so many of my reading buttons – in a good way – like I love lists of rules never-to-be-broken when deciding on a new beau. Those are always fun and heroine Lucy Benoit has a great one. Top two: 1. Must not lie. 2. Must not live with parents. But when you meet cute in the laundry room and the guy is a rumpled geeky Teddy bear, maybe that not living with mom rule isn’t that important.
Another reading hot button for me (as in, I press 1-click Buy Button) is mistaken identity because Andy Sullivan isn’t actually down on his luck, he’s the Undercover Professor. Sexy, funny, a great romp with some serious underpinnings.
Why Kings Confess by C.S. Harris was a satisfying addition to a series that's still going strong after nine books. The author kept me guessing “whodunnit?” until nearly the end, and the characters continue to grow and develop in ways that makes them feel fresh and alive, not stale and hashed over. There are still plenty of secrets in Sebastian St. Cyr's life, and I can't wait for the next novel!
Last week, while on staycation, I read Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. It's a graphic novel, winner of multiple awards (including the Hugo), and at its heart it's a romance, with two entities from two warring worlds falling in love and having a child together. It's got great artwork, fantastic writing, immediately intriguing characters, and a lot of tension as people from the two warring worlds try to hunt down the couple and their offspring. My son only reads manga and graphic novels, and offered this to me to bridge the reading gap between us, since it's a graphic novel, but it's also romantic. I'd recommend it highly for fans for romantic fantasy, science fiction, and Romeo & Juliet stories.