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 September 2015 (and if you’ve missed any, be sure to check out past recs via the Related Posts section at the bottom of the post):
A blistering hot reunion romance, Unforgiven by Anne Calhoun also packed an emotional wallop for me. I really enjoyed the complexity of the characters: both are admirably strong and capable, yet heart-wrenchingly haunted. The heroine's unabashed love of sex is also a plus.
Scandal of Scandalicious Book Reviews:
Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren
Nerd love is the best love. The pacing of this story kept me reading at a fast clip, never once wanting to put it down. Our heroine Lola is beautifully geekish and completely relatable, even in the throes of an extraordinary circumstance. The overwhelming sensation of her introverted personality slamming straight into a brick wall of celebrity was expertly portrayed. And Oliver, oh, Oliver - he is deliciously nerdish but never once does he come across as beta which makes for very interesting reading.
and then, I know I’m a little late to the game but…
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
When I picked this book up, I was in a terrible reading slump. A retire-my-eyeballs-I-can’t-go-
Only a Kiss by Mary Balogh—When I read a top-notch Mary Balogh novel I feel like I'm getting the additional bonus of a class in “How To Write Really Good Romance With All The Feels”. Balogh's use of subtle body language, spare description, slow builds and real, adult characters makes reading her books not only deeply, emotionally satisfying, but also illustrates what a good romance novel can be in the hands of the right author.
My best read in September was Kristan Higgins’s August release If You Only Knew. Narrated by two sisters in alternating chapters, this book is a departure from the small town romance we’ve come to expect, but it’s a truly wonderful surprise. Higgins 2.0 is women’s fiction with some good romance thrown in. It is written in Higgins’s delightfully recognizable voice and includes her trademark humor. This will go on my re-read pile.
One of my best reads for September is Craving Flight by Tamsen Parker. A thought provoking and intense erotic romance that highlights a woman's emotional and mental journey as she attempts to understand her need for pain in her sexual pleasure while striving to complete her transition to Orthodox Judaism. Her internal thoughts are at times heartbreaking as you watch her struggle to understand and accept herself as she straddles the world as an academic and a new wife. Parker does a wonderful job of explaining the nuances of the religion and the heroine's feelings of failure and fear as she tries so hard to conform and be accepted by the community she longs to call home.
I read Badger by Cara McKenna in one sitting (and it’s not a short book) because the language is so fresh and the ride with the POV character is such a roller coaster. The story is neo noir story and has some very dark overtones which might disturb some readers, but I loved it in all it’s glorious, gritty f*cked-up-ness and the characters are fantastic. There’s the heroine recovering from Percodan addiction (she stole her twin sister’s wedding ring for a fix which makes family dinners with the sister’s hubs a wee bit uncomfortable) and enjoying the ups and downs of job hunting, and the vigilante hero on a bicycle scarred by a childhood so awful it’s hard to believe he survived. The city itself is kind of a third character. Though there’s no HEA for Badger and the heroine (it’s neo-noir, not romance) I liked the hopeful ending.
Hands down, it has to be Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh. I'm a little late to join the Psy-Changeling bandwagon (I have no excuse other than I'm a dolt) and am making amends by reading the rest of the series. The world is brilliantly fleshed out and multi-faceted while our love couple's development and chemistry (Kaleb and Sahara) is like melted Irish butter on fresh baked bread, dipped in Nutella. Yeah, it's that good.
Jurassic Heart by Anna Martin
If you couldn’t guess from the name this is a romance book revolving around dinosaurs. More specifically the conflict between the lead palaeontologist on a dig and an eco-conservative looking to save the natural beauty of the site. Being a huge dinosaurs nerd I adored this m/m romance.
My best read of September was Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes. It is the story of Laia, a young slave girl who is also a spy for the rebellion, and Elias, a young man very possibly destined to lead the empire. Elias and Laia meet numerous times and each time they are drawn together by a powerful force. But they are on opposing sides of an epic conflict and each wonders what can possibly come of their attraction. This YA fantasy novel covers familiar ground but it throws in some new twists which make it an entertaining read.
I am going to go with Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre. An engrossing read and a refreshing take on what defines a small town romance, Summer is sure to be a heroine you'll come to love.
Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren - As my first foray into the writings of this dynamic duo, I have to say I'm team Loliver all the way, a great slow burn, sexual tension romance that puts the fine line between friends and lovers.
Claimed by Elle Kennedy. Who knew the end of the world could be so hot? I didn't know what to expect when I received a copy of the new erotic dystopian novel by Elle Kennedy. As a fan of Ms. Kennedy's other works, I was game. What I got was great world building, fabulous characters and enough hot sex to turn me into a doomsday prepper.
Kiss the Sky by Krista Ritchie was just an entertaining read. Rose is this intellectual, perfectionist who is in a competitive and celibate relationship with the very sexy Connor. She also has some scandal prone sisters who could give the Kardashians a run for their money. Facing scandal, Rose decides to film her personal life for reality TV in order to promote her fashion line (as you do). As an obsessive fan of televised dysfunctional families, trashy bachelors and housewives, it was awesome to delve beneath the reductive labels and stereotypes and here we have a whole cast of characters: virgin, sex addict, daredevil, alcoholic, smartass and jackass. With this formula, things got dramatic and I shamelessly lapped it up like the YA-binging book whore that I am.
My best read of the month was the utterly breathtaking Rachel Vincent series-starter Menagerie. I just could not put it down. I'm predisposed to liking carnival and circus stories because of haunting TV shows like Carnivale and Sara Gruen's exquisite 2006 novel Water for Elephants, and Vincent carries on the tradition while adding her own distinct spin. The hapless exhibits at her menagerie are creatures of legend, like werewolves, mermaids and minotaurs. Delilah Marlow studied cryptozoology and thinks she knows as much as there is to know about these wondrous beasts...until a fateful visit to the menagerie shows her that she doesn't even know herself. Weaving in issues of conservation, genocide and social justice, Rachel Vincent crafts a magical and also very real tale about how fighting for what's right exacts a high price.
Learn more about the books mentioned in this post: