Kati’s Best Reads of 2014
I had a pretty decent reading year this year. Altogether I kept right on average, reading a total of about 260 books, though many were re-reads. I’ve compiled my list in reverse order, with my favorite reads of the year appearing at the bottom of the list.
I’m a huge fan of rock and roll star themed books, and count Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series among the best being published these days. Lead is the story of Jimmy Ferris, past douchebag, druggie, and all around jerk. He’s outraged when, after a stint in rehab that got him headed down the straight and narrow path, he’s forced to hire Lena Morrisey as his sober companion. He never expects to fall for her. What I love about this book is that the relationship between Jimmy and Lena is fraught with organic tension from her role in his life. But they circle around to a grudging respect for each other, which blooms from friendship to love. Lena is the one constant in Jimmy’s life and soon she’s his anchor. It’s a wonderfully angsty, emotional romance and my favorite in the series.HQN
I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. I found it to be a beautiful rendering of a culture that I didn’t know much about, plus it took well known to me romance tropes and handled them deftly and with a delicateness that made them feel fresh. I picked the book up because of the beautiful cover, but I’ve re-read it because the love story is sweet and fulfilling.
Jayne’s review here.HQN
Stephanie Perkins is among my most reliable Young Adult book authors. She writes beautifully nuanced characters, and she often sets her books in my favorite city in the world, Paris. Isla and the Happily Ever After tells the story of quiet and studious Isla Martin and Joshua Wasserstein. At the time I reviewed the book, I said, “This book is ridiculously sweet. It captures all of the things about teen love that I remember fondly: loving from afar, the intensity of teenage love affairs, the passion of the anger, the drama. Isla is a wonderfully complex character, with smarts and insecurities and charm. Josh is a dreamboat of a boy, full of rebellion and art and moods. They have a wonderful chemistry and their relationship doesn’t shoot off like a gun, it’s a charming slow build that captures all of the things I remember with affection about being a teenager (and living with one now).”
My review here.HQN
I came very late to the Kate Daniels series, reading all of the past books within a two week period this summer. It’s among my favorite gloms I’ve ever conducted. I was hesitant to start the series because I was sure that it would feel too Urban Fantasy and the romance wouldn’t fulfill me. Boy, was I wrong. I adored the series so much, I’m now in the process of listening to it on audiobook. Magic Breaks does a terrific job of bringing to a satisfying close one overarching storyline in the series while opening doors to new and exciting options. This series has leaped over many others to be among my favorites and Magic Breaks is my favorite entry in the series.
My review here.HQN
After a crazy weekend in Vegas, Mia Holland finds herself married to a hot Frenchman she’s just met named Ansel. Rather than seek the annulment she probably should get, she ends up agreeing to spend the summer in Paris with him. As we get to know the couple, we watch them fall in love, explore Paris, act out some seriously sexy fantasies, and become adults. It’s a wonderful New Adult romance featuring a fully formed heroine and a sweet, caring beta hero. Plus, it’s set in Paris and gives a terrific look at some of the lesser known sites in Paris. This was a fantastic, entertaining read that I really loved.
My review here.HQN
It almost wouldn’t be a Best of List for me without a Lauren Dane book on it. Dane provides among the most consistent of reading experiences for me. What I love about her books is that her heroes tend to be alpha, the sex is always hot, and the story is driven by the relationship, rarely a bunch of external drama. The Best Kind of Trouble, book 1 in her Hurley Boys series features the “hero in hot pursuit” trope, which is my very favorite romance trope. In Lauren Dane’s deft hands, the romance sings, offering plucky heroine, Natalie, who has very real reasons to not be with Paddy, and a hero who is bound a determined to have her reciprocate his growing feelings. The book is charming and hot as hell.
My review here.HQN
Full disclosure, I beta read the Woodlands series for Jen Frederick. But not this book, which was published as a serial novel over months in Frederick’s weekly newsletter. In fact, I’d never read so much as a sentence of it until she published it as a complete book. What I found was a long, satisfying, sweet book full of emotion. I love the long standing relationship between Nate and Charlotte and how their lives inextricably intertwine. The romance is delightful, featuring two characters that know each other inside and out, yet, Frederick is deft enough to make the reader question how the two will find their way back to each other. It’s a delightful, nuanced romance that I really adore and have recommended often.HQN
Without a doubt, my favorite read of the year. I’ve re-read this book probably six or eight times since the first time I read it. I’ve gifted it to at least six other readers, I feel so passionately about it. I’d never read Kristen Callihan before, but this book, with its fabulous, smart, curvaceous heroine, Anna and it’s utter dreamboat, Drew (another hero in hot pursuit) not only was my favorite read of the year, but I’d count it in my Top 20 favorite romances of all time category. There was literally nothing about this book I didn’t like and I can’t recommend it enough.
Jane’s review here.