Jul 30 2015 10:00am

H&H Bloggers Recommend: Best Reads of July 2015

Playing with Trouble by Chanel Cleeton

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 July 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):

Janet Webb:

My favorite book of July 2015 is Playing with Trouble: Capital Confessions Book 2 by a new-to-me-author, Chanel Cleeton. Will I read her again? Most definitely. The plot, a law student falls in lust and fantasy with her law professor, or is it he who falls into constant mesmerizing about her? Cleeton deftly shows Blair and Gray interacting in class, in a shared pro bono activity and more, through the addictively readable method of alternating first person.

Adults fall in love. They do so in myriad ways and a classroom is not sacrosanct. Did I say adults? Blair and Gray realize that a professor/student relationship is not on, no matter the feelings, during the length of time the class is in session. Do they engage in massive foreplay? Oh yeah. Blair is one of three sisters and her story is the second in the Capital Confessions trilogy. It is to Cleeton’s credit that it’s easy to grasp the story that came before (and still want to read it!). If a preppy princess falling for a brilliant bad boy is a trope that interests you, you’ll love Playing with Trouble.

Sahara Hoshi:

 Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

Bad Wolf by Jennifer Ashley  - As a casual reader of this series, I was desperately hooked by this installment and cannot wait for Ashley's White Tiger.

Flawed Love by Bella Jewel - You'll either love or hate or love hate this book. I don't know I just can't even get over the feels this gave me.

Kate Rothwell:

I just listened to Ticker by Lisa Mantchev. It’s steampunk YA, with all the standard bustles, cogs, goggles and other props that I thought I was tired of reading – but the story is exciting and the unique twists on the theme made it fresh. There’s a heroine who doesn’t allow ill health to slow her down, lots of magical aspects that fit the world, and a romance I rooted for. Even the villain, who does terrible things, is sympathetic. I bet Mantchev was inspired by cliches like “her heart skipped a beat” or “her heart stood still” Every time that sort of phrase was used in the story, it was describing a potential mechanical malfunction of the heroine’s artificial heart.

Anna Bowling:

The Detective's Dilemma by Kate Rothwell

This one is easy. The Detective's Dilemma by Kate Rothwell. Take one reluctantly crooked cop, one society widow fallen on hard times, a child's welfare in the balance, family secrets like you wouldn't believe, add a gaslight era New York setting with the trademark Rothwell flair, skip all the polite niceties, and put under extreme pressure. Can true love happen in less than a day? In this case, absolutely, and that's only the beginning of an energetic and original historical romance. Highly recommend this one. 

Maggie Boyd:

A Light to My Path by Lynn Austin is a 2004 Inspirational release that I just pulled off my TBR this week. It's a complete treasure. The story of two young slaves, Anna and Grady, this tale could easily be depressing. And there are moments when it is. There are also moments when it is horrifying and tragic. What raises it above all those things is the beauty in the tale. It shows the indomitable nature of the human spirit, our ability to love and hope under awful circumstances and the joy found in faith and friendships. Tracing a path from slavery to freedom and from hate to love this romance really packs a punch. 

This is one of the few books that I've read that doesn't romanticize the south during the Civil War era but shows the awful price of the antebellum life style. The author wisely doesn't paint all masters with the same brush, showing how some were cruel some kind but she does show how all were wrong. An intense, love story told against a harsh background this is a book that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. 

Darlene Marshall:

July was a tough month only because I read so many good books. I have to put Tiffany Reisz' novella The Headmaster at #1. It had all the feels, and you may find yourself sobbing ugly as you read it. I have to give a shout-out to Vicki Pettersson's SWERVE too. Definitely not a romance, but more suspense/horror with a high gore quotient. It was amazing. Pettersson's best known for her Urban Fantasy, so this is a complete switch for her.

Nicole Leapheart:

The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward is a sultry Downton Abbey-esque take on the modern American South and was the best thing I read, hands down, this month. Yes, Lane is rich, sexy, and relentless in his second-chance pursuit of the beautiful and intelligent Lizzie, but the world Ward has created makes you excited about the stories to come, especially with Kentucky featured as one of the main characters.

Victoria Janssen:

Persona by Genevieve Valentine is a near-future science fiction story in which diplomats have been replaced by celebrity Faces and paparazzi are the only independent journalists left. I love the complexity and relevance of the worldbuilding, but even more than that, I loved the way Valentine toys with and subverts the tropes of romance novels.


The Taming of the Billionaire by Jessica Clare

It's gotta be Jessica Clare's The Taming of the Billionaire. I can't get enough of her billionaire series. The characters are fun, have real issues, and well, this one has cats. Lots of cats. And a sweet ending that is original and perhaps maybe some real life billionaire or mega millionaire might emulate for the love of animals? Have I caught your attention and ignited curiosity? Hope what are you waiting for?

Julia Broadbooks:

I adored everything about Uncommon Passion by Anne Calhoun. Watching the power balance shift between the naïve yet brave Rachel and the experienced and damaged Ben makes for a compelling read that stayed with me long after I finished the last page.

Jessica Moro:

My best of July has to be Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley. I've been catching up on old books in my kindle and this one blew me away. Set in a Gothic mansion in England, it has ghosts, funny inhabitants and a hot brooding hero; basically a perfect read. Douglas is lord of manor and due to tragic circumstances gets custody of his sister's children, along with Julia. Julia is American, warm, funny and awesome, she's everything the children (and Douglas) need. The story pulls at your heartstrings while delivering a passionate, fun romance. It has that amazing Kristen Ashley familiar feel with a British twist. Highly recommend for even the non-paranormal readers.

Wendy the Super Librarian:

I finally got around to reading 2013 Contemporary Romance RITA winner Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O'Keefe.  I'm a sucker for a good reunion story, and here O'Keefe reunites high school sweethearts whose marriage imploded when the hero's hockey career took off.  The heroine has made herself over into a polished local TV star with her eye on making it to the big leagues.  She finds her plans potentially in danger when her producer wants to feature her ex, not realizing he's her ex, on their show.  The hero is loathe to be the subject of a social experiment, but to get close to his ex, who he has never gotten over, he'll do just about anything, even subjecting himself to a televised makeover.  Fun, emotional, serious, and heartbreaking.  It's easy to see why this one was an award winner.


I'm going to sneak in Being Mortal by Atul Gawande as my best book of the month, because it is very much about love: how do we care for those we love when they become dependent on us, how do we help them to live meaningful lives, not just “safe” ones, and how do we assist them to get what they want at the very end. Dependence and death are scary topics, but this is a beautiful book because it's also about what makes life with living.


Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

I finally started reading Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series a couple of months ago and fell in love with the first book. I declared it would be a “Summer of Nalini Singh.” I read book two, Visions of Heat, this month and...*swoon* Stellar worldbuilding. Sizzling chemistry. And one seriously hot jaguar. Don't be surprised if my August pick is another in this series. 

Jennifer Proffitt:

Sometimes you read those books and discover those authors that just make a lightbulb go off for you and say “Yes, this is exactly why I love romance.” My picks for July therefore have to go to The Mistake by Elle Kennedy and The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan. Both of these books knock it out of the park on their own, but when read together are even better with the little Easter Eggs each author leaves for the other. I'll also have to tip my hat to Suzanne Wright's Burn. Within the first chapter I was already thinking it was the best paranormal romance I read all year and it held up. 


Learn more about the books mentioned in this post: 

Playing With Trouble by Chanel Cleeton  
Bad Wolf by Jennifer Ashley  
Flawed Love by Bella Jewel  
Ticker by Lisa Mantchev  
The Detective's Dilemma by Kate Rothwell  
Headmaster by Tiffany Reisz  
Persona by Genevieve Valentine  
The Taming of the Billionaire by Jessica Clare  
Uncommon Passion by Anne Calhoun  
Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O'Keefe  
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande  
Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh  
The Mistake by Elle Kennedy  
The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan  
Burn by Suzanne Wright  


















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