Our Top Picks of 2014!

Yes – it’s that time of the year! Time to pause and reflect over the past year and make a bunch of resolutions that won’t make it to the end of Jan! I’m feeling festive and reflective and so this post is dedicated to the best books Judith and I picked up this year.

On the down side, only six books really stood out for us this year, which is a shame – however I know am partly to blame for some dodgy choices!

In at number 6:

Scientific methodKris Ripper’s A Scientific Method series

Judith read the WHOLE series in the space of a week and could not get enough. Every conversation started with “Have you read it yet? Did you read it yet? Why not?!” It’s a crazy good series featuring MM, MMF, MFM and the combinations go on and on. So why was Judith so enamoured with it? I quote: Will’s story is ultimately a journey of self-discovery that doesn’t start out as pure smut. We see Will transform from a weak, unsatisfied boy into a man who knows what he wants and goes after it. The sex is also ho-ho-HOT!

In at number 5:

Nana Malone’s London BoundLondon Bound

I’ll read a good book by anyone, but occasionally it is refreshing to get a perspective from a heroine or hero of colour. High quality stories dealing with interracial relationships are kind of thin on the ground, so I enjoyed this story of US girl and Brit playboy immensely. The slang and the dialogue was spot-on. I’m the first to cringe when authors shoehorn UK slang in a way we just wouldn’t use – although, it can also be hilarious too! This book had heart and was very sexy. I am patiently waiting for book two in the Chase brothers series. I hope I’ll get to read it in 2015…

In at number 4:

S.L. Jennings’ Light Shadows

I recently reviewed this book and yes I’m still of the opinion that it was a great conclusion to a thrilling series. It had everything – smut, intrigue and adventure. Three of my favourite things! There were twists, turns and some shocks along the way. Dorian Skotos continued to smoulder and he proved that there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for love. I can’t wait to re-read the entire series as it’s such a ride!

In at number 3:

BeneathBeneath the Stain by Amy Lane

Hands down one of Judith’s faves of the year! Don’t let the impressive page count daunt you (it’s 482 pages), this book will be over in the blink of an eye as it is MM at its finest. Mackey and his brothers have hit the top of the recording game even while Mackey himself is spiraling out of control. Under the heavy weight of pressure to constantly produce inspired rock music and the crippling depression of losing his first love, Mackey has let himself get addicted to drugs. When his record label sends Trav Ford to help him clean up his act, it’s the thing Mackey needs to get a new lease on life. But just as he finally comes clean and is happy for the first time in years, that old love reappears and Mackey is left wondering whether what he and Trav have found is the real deal. Their passion is intense and the will they/won’t they aspect of their relationship will keep you on the edge of your seat. The sex scenes are smoking hot and so explosive you might just need to fan yourself…or at least read out of the vicinity of others!

In at number 2:

Alessandra Torre’s Black Liesblack_lies_official_cover
I’m still reeling from this book and it’s been months since I read it! I had a few preconceptions about the plot at the beginning of the story (it sounded as though it would be a little like Tarryn Fisher’s Opportunist) but I was completely wrong. Then something happened in the plot to turn everything on its head. I sped through it as I just had to know what was going on and why she was doing what she was doing. It was clever, well-structured and sexy as all get out. I will read anything by this woman any day of the week.

And the winner is…[fanfare please]

Samantha Young’s Before Jamaica LaneBJL
One of the first books I read this year and it set the bar HIGH for the rest of the year. Nate the hero, instructs Olivia his friend, in the ways of seduction. What the pair don’t bargain for is the heat they will generate together and the fact that their friends-with-benefits deal has a shelf life. I loved Olivia – she had body issues but she wasn’t a whiner. Nate is drop-dead gorgeous and a bit of a man whore. He’s also witty, funny and a damn loyal friend. How could a girl resist? The answer is – she can’t. I love Samantha Young – I’ve read every book in the Dublin Street series and this one was one of my favourites. Pick up a copy, if you haven’t already done so.

So – what do you think? Did we get it right? Are you furrowing your brows thinking “idiots!” – well, we want to know. What was your top read of 2014?

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and a great New Year. Happy reading!

Onnica & Judith.

Take It – DJ Stone and B.E. Raj

take it pt1Book: Take it (#1 & 2)

Author: DJ Stone and B.E. Raj

Series: Take It series

Review by: Onnica

Sometimes, you come across a book and don’t really have any expectations for it. At all. You just take it at face value and think – sounds interesting, I’ll give it a go. This is what happened for me with Take it Book One.

Basic story: Jenny Collins is young, attractive and very driven. Unappreciated in her male-dominated world of pharmaceuticals, she’s climbing the greasy pole of success, convinced that her hard work will be rewarded some day.

When she meets Harrison Burke, a very important client, she begins to question her self-imposed celibacy. Maybe all work and no play is making Jenny a very dull gal indeed. Only problem is that her company has a very clear policy on non-fraternization. She can’t afford to get tangled up with him. Can she?

Harrison is enigmatic, fun-loving and determined to get Jenny to live a little. He encourages her to demand respect at work and take what she wants from him, but will she have the courage to do it?

Why you should read it: The banter between Jenny and Harrison is fun, witty and sexy. Harrison is a right-on, playboy with feminist sensibilities. I loved the chemistry between these two. Jenny is a very likeable character, who is struggling to work hard, be respected and still be ‘likeable’ in the workplace. A situation many of us can probably identify with. There are plenty of sexy times which are off the charts hot. It’s a great introduction to the series.

Take it pt2What you might hate: Part two for me was a different kettle of fish. Jenny completely loses her way, her sense of self and her fire. I realize this must be a plot device to enable her to get her mojo back in part three, but it was painful and annoying to sit through. I want my heroines to kick ass! I’m going to stick with the series, because I know that there’s a good story here. Despite the creepy roommates, the overbearing mothers and sexist colleagues.

Rating: I’m giving the series 3/5 so far – only because book 2 did not hit the spot for me at all. I’m looking forward to the story’s conclusion as I’m sure Jenny will be taking names and showing the world she’s no pushover. I’m also looking forward to seeing more of Harrison.

Light Shadows by S.L. Jennings

Book: Light Shadows

Series: The Dark Light Series #3

Author: S.L. Jennings

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: If Gabriella thought that life would become less complicated when she ascended to both her light and dark destiny, she was greatly mistaken. She’s twenty-one; in possession of some new and terrifying abilities; reunited with Dorian, love of her life and the man sworn to protect her come what may. She didn’t quite bargain for her ‘dead’ birth-father turning up on her doorstep and furious that Dorian, his former-best friend is now her significant other.

Elsewhere, she has to worry about the dark elements who seem hell-bent on hurting her friends and family in order to get to her. She’s about to face the biggest test of her life and whether the prophesy is fulfilled or not depends on whether she can find the strength to battle whatever comes her way. Those who stand with her will make her strong, but will they all be left standing at the final battle?

Why you should read this: I have waited and waited and waited some more for this book! I can honestly tell you that it was worth the wait! There is angst and high-drama a-plenty, but there’s also a very exciting story to be had too. Dorian is back in technicolor glory! There’s a fair bit of sexy times to keep you satisfied and the action flows well. The writing is so good – the author conveys the mood, the environment and the atmosphere perfectly. Niko, Dorian’s younger brother, figures prominently in the book too. You’ll be spoilt for choice!

What you might hate: Ok – I’m going to be honest. Gabs can be a whiny brat at times and she does wallow in it. She knows Dorian loves her yet, at the first sign of trouble she’s ready to think the worst of him. Faithless girl! Also, as the supposedly most dangerous and powerful being on earth, I was looking forward to her kicking ass a bit more than she did. Instead, she had the tendency to let others do the saving. That disappointed me a bit and would have mitigated her whinging!

Rating: 4.5/5 – I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the mythology and the roller-coaster ride of this book. It was a great series and one I’ll come back to again and again.

Light Shadows is out now.

Captivated: Letting Go/Seize the Night by Megan Hart and Tiffany Reisz

captivatedBook: Captivated

Authors: Megan Hart/Tiffany Reisz

Publisher: Cosmo Hot Reads

Format: Kindle ARC

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Letting Go – Colleen goes to the same bar every week, staring at the tumbler of whiskey that she’ll never drink. Jesse the bartender is intrigued by her. She’s always polite and friendly enough, but beneath the surface there’s a sadness that he can’t fathom.

Having control is important to Colleen. Her ex-husband called her controlling, frigid and useless. She knows this isn’t true, but she’s also aware that her needs aren’t ‘normal.’ After getting snowed in at the bar and chatting to Jesse, she impulsively invites him back to hers. Their night turns into a weekend of discovery for the pair and Jesse is determined to show Colleen that it could be so much more…

Seize the Night: Remi O. Montgomery and Julien Brite are the offspring of Kentucky’s two major horse-rearing dynasties. Arden Farms and Capital Hills have been feuding for years and the two are forbidden from making contact with each other again. Despite not seeing each other since the night they were caught together, Remi can’t stop wondering about Julien. As the manager of her family’s stables, she notices some things aren’t adding up. Why do the two families have so much money all of a sudden? When the only person she can turn to to investigate is Julien and her assistant, Remi’s about to be reminded exactly why she couldn’t get over him.

Why you should read this:  If you’re a fan of these two power houses, I think you’ll enjoy these quick reads. Megan Hart is true to form with this tale of a heroine with issues and a caring hero. I loved this story as I have a thing about male-submissive stories that are realistic. Tiffany Reisz is always fun – with in-jokes from her Original Sinners series. She has been quite ambitious re-telling Romeo and Juliet and re-setting it in modern-day Kentucky. It’s quirky, fun and for me, her assistant Merrick stole the show.

What you might hate: A huge fan of both authors, I may have been a little guilty of setting my expectations a little too high. These are short reads so don’t have the depth of their usual novels – be aware of this. They’re fun, sexy and they do their job. No more, no less.

Rating: 3/5 I really enjoyed Letting Go as it was deeper than your average quick read. Seize the Night made me chuckle and it’s fine if you can suspend your disbelief and accept it for what it is.

Captivated is out now.

Night Fever by Jessica Hawkins

night feverBook: Night Fever

Series: Night Fever Serial  book #1

Author: Jessica Hawkins

Format: Kindle ARC

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Lola Winters leads a very simple life. It’s not perfect but she has Johnny Pace, her steady boyfriend who has been part of her life for the last eight years. Together, they are getting through life, working at Hey Joe, a bar that had its heyday in the 80s, but is now shabby and worn down. When the owner decides it’s finally time to sell up and move on, Lola and Johnny know they have to do something. Lola would do anything for Johnny and knows that if they’re ever going to live life (get married, live beyond pay check to pay check) instead of waiting for the situation to improve – they’ll actually have to make it happen.

Enter Beau Olivier. Wealthy, enigmatic and apparently smitten with Lola the minute he sets eyes on her, he decides to make the couple a deal. If she agrees to spend a night with him, submitting to his desires, then the bar is theirs. Lola is disgusted and so is Johnny. However, when reality dawns, the pair knows that this could be the only chance to getting the future they always wanted. It’s only a few hours after all. How bad could it be?

Lola believes she can put her disgust and her misgivings to one side for the payout. What’s one night of humiliation and submission compared to their dreams finally coming to fruition? Somewhere, deep down though, Lola fears it won’t be that simple and maybe she’ll learn some uncomfortable truths about who she truly is…

Why you should read this: Ok – I know what you’re thinking. You’re concerned that I’m advocating you read yet another story where the heroine sells herself in the style of Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal. True to a certain extent, however, Jessica Hawkins has written a story which incorporates some very uncomfortable themes but makes it a compelling read all the same. Yes, the feminist in me was hesitant about reading this story. Lola essentially agrees to hire her body to Beau in exchange for the answers to her problems, but it is more complex than that. Lola’s about to learn a lot about her relationship with Johnny, who she is and also whether she’ll ever be prepared to go after what she wants. For me, this is a story about self-discovery. It’s hot, it’ll mess with your head a bit and I don’t think you’ll always know who to root for.

What you might hate:  You could be sick to death of the rich-man-poor-girl trope – I know I am, as I’ve read so many mediocre stories which verge on the ridiculous. HOWEVER, this is not one of them. It’s thoughtful, smart and I cannot wait to read the rest of the story, as I truly have no idea how it’s going to end up.

Rating: I’m giving Night Fever 5/5 for the up and down of my emotions while reading it and the engaging writing style that drew me in immediately. More please!

Night Fever is out on November 4th.

Third Time Lucky by Pippa Croft

Third time lucky

Book: Third Time Lucky

Author: Pippa Croft

Series: Oxford Blue, #3

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Lauren is preparing for her final term at Oxford and has more to worry about than her studies. After things ended badly with Alexander, she didn’t expect to be drawn back into his life so quickly. Following a mission that went wrong, he teeters on the brink on life and death and Lauren is listed as the person to call in an emergency. Scared for his life and what she’ll do without him, Lauren is once again tested. Is her love for him enough to see them through?

As Alexander recovers slowly, Lauren is relieved, yet anxious not to lose her heart and control of her life to him. Establishing boundaries and focusing on her work are paramount to her, yet the pull of Alexander is too strong to resist for long.

Amidst the idyllic surroundings of Oxford, Lauren is once again faced with Valentina – the ex from hell and her machinating ways. Cousin Rupert is also keen to do Valentina’s bidding and ruin Lauren’s life. Will Lauren end up with her man, or will life back in Washington pull her back to the life waiting for her?

Why you should read this: If you read The First Time We Met and The Second Time I Saw You and liked them, you’ll definitely want to check out the third and (perhaps) final installment of the series. I really liked Lauren even more in this book. She’s focused and despite being young, she has learnt not to spend all her time with Alexander. He’s been selfish in the past and she’s gone along with it. It was good to see her backbone. Alexander continues to smolder and brood, but he’s also more of a person in this book. He’s hot and delish – everything you want in a hero, but he’s also imperfect and Lauren enjoys taking him down a peg or two. He needs it!

What you may hate: I’ve seen a couple of comments from readers not happy with the way it ended. I guess it’s not an ending for some readers if the characters haven’t been married off with a corny wedding ceremony with a whole troop of kids! I disagree with that. I liked the ending. It was full of hope and leaves the door open to another book, but what’s wrong with readers using their imaginations?

Rating: I was happy to see the bad guys get what was coming to them and the couple in a good position for their future HEA. I love not knowing what’s going to happen. I give this book 4/5.

Third Time Lucky is out in the UK now – print copies in the US will be out in November.