Best Of · Review

Christine’s Top of 2017

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2017 was a great year in romance.  I read a little over 125 works of art and these 15 touched my soul.  I laughed, I cried, I cheered & I cursed and overall I fell in love with reading a little more this year because of this beautiful stories.  Thank you!

33671835Gravity by Lauren Runow is a beautifully told friends to lovers story told over 20 years. Weaving a tale of two kids friendship that turns to romantic feelings with time, it’s poetically heartbreaking at times but utterly breathtaking in equal parts. Trevin life hasn’t been easy, raised in an abusive household he had always found a safe place with his best friend and neighbour Lily. Lily holds her relationship with Trevin close to her heart and she wants nothing but to see him succeed in life. As time passes friendship turns into love and lines are blurred. Dreams are followed, success is had but when you follow someone else’s dream do you lose yourself in the process?

Oh man, did I ever love this book! This is so different than anything Lauren has published before and I was addicted from the first chapter. Gravity pulled me in and didn’t let me go till the final page on an emotional roller-coaster ride. Trevin’s story broke me and watching him struggle to find himself and love Lily the way she deserves affected me to the core. Lily love for Trevin is so raw and pure that she’s willing to forgo her own dreams until she starts to lose herself in the journey and question the end game. Gravity and one of those stories that stick with you and 5 books later I’m still thinking about it and these moving characters. 5 Stars for Gravity by Lauren Runow

33860257My Image of You by Melanie Moreland is a fresh, original romance that shattered my heart and slowly pieced it back together. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to connect with the story due to a male POV and I was dead wrong. I couldn’t put down this stunning romance with a twist.

Adam Kincaid always lived on the edge as a freelance photographer. After injuring himself on a job Adam can’t help but be drawn to the quick wit nurse at a Toronto ER. Alexandra Robbins doesn’t feel like she’s living life for herself until she meets Adam. Adam brings out her true self and encourages Alexandra to live her life as she wants until he takes one last freelance job overseas and everything changes when Adam comes home.

Wow, Melanie has blown me away yet again! I couldn’t put this story down. I was so gripped to these characters I needed to know what happens next and will Adam and Alexandra get a HEA. Alexandra and Alex’s chemistry ignited off the page from the very beginning and you can’t help falling for Alex’s swoon worthy ways. Do yourself a favor and grab this must read of 2017! 5 Stars for My Image Of You by Melanie Moreland

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Altercation by Mignon Mykel is a passionate, emotional tale of two souls connection against odds. This story should be read after enjoying Troublemaker (Porter’s Story) & Breakaway (Asher’s Story) which Altercation picks up right where these two novella’s leave off and spans 4 years flawlessly.

I love slow burn romances that really let you feel what the characters are going through and connection they feel for each other. Mignon has nailed that down to the T in Altercation. The perfect amount of angst, heat and at times humor, Altercation is a rollercoaster of a romance. Porter is a swoon worthy hero who cares so deeply for Asher he puts aside his own sexual desires to love her the way she needs to be. Asher’s life has changed so much and being welcomed into the Prescott family finds her healing from her past and looking towards the future – possibly a future with Porter. We are left with a cliffhanger but with Holding due out in days we won’t suffer long. I had high expectations after reading the prequel novella’s and Altercation met and exceeded everything I hoped for in this story. Now to sit tight for Holding – I’m literally in a holding pattern! 5 Epic Stars for Altercation by Mignon Mykel

Holding by Mignon Mykel is heartbreaking tale of love & loss and the odds stacked against them with the hope that in the end love will concur all. Holding is the send half of Mignon’s Playmaker Duet and picks up right after Altercation left off and jumps right into the action. I normally give a little blurb of the story but I honestly don’t wanna give away a single thing about this story. Reading Holding put me on a roller-coaster of emotions and I couldn’t put it down and read it entirely in one sitting. Even though at times I wanted to give the main characters a smack to smarten them up I understood why each did what they did throughout the story. I felt their reasons for and enjoyed the ride this story took me on over this duet and loved seeing more of the Prescott family we’ve grown to love. Mignon has created an outstanding duet that compliment each other perfectly and will keep the reader glued to the story till the end. 5 “Always” stars for Holding by Mignon Mykel

34328945 At times you read a book that touches your soul. One that hits all the bases for a number one romance and Claudia Burgoa has done it again with Until I Fall. Claudia has written a stunning love story set around heartbreaking loss and overcoming grief but with hope and promise of tomorrows. Aspen & Anderson have such a strong connection and a way of healing each other that you’ll get drawn into the their story from the first chapter. Aspen is a strong female lead but so broken that she’s thrown herself into her work and forgot to live for herself for far to long. When Anderson comes into her life, Aspen doesn’t want to love but love finds her. Anderson is a swoon worthy Hero that anyone would be hard pressed not to fall for. Strong, ex-military turned tattoo artist, Anderson heals Aspen but also finds that she grounds him when he least expects it. I loved this beautifully layered romance that didn’t follow the stereotypical formula. Once I picked up this story I was hooked and wanted to know how Aspen & Anderson’s story would end. I did squeal like school girl when Mason and the men of HIB Securities! I love that we are now seeing characters from Claudia’s Unexpected series showing up in her new stories and weaving together new and characters we already love. I know I won’t be the only one waiting on the edge of my seat for the next installment of HIB Securities… 5 “M&M” Stars ~ A top Read of 2017 for Until I Fall from Claudia Burgoa

 

35177600Grown Woman by Jen Luerssen is a feisty, hilarious & sweet journey to find love and and purpose in life. Lia is looking for purpose and change in her life after what seems like everyone around her is starting to settle down. At almost 30, Lia decides to go back to school to change careers and switch up her motto for dating and focus on herself. That’s until she makes fast friends with some classmates and can’t resist Javier charm but the age difference is throwing Lia off. What the heart wants is what the heart wants…

I simply adored this story and at times I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. Jen has a way of weaving a beautiful story that grips you and the perfect amount of humor to keep you glued to your Kindle. I felt for Lia, as at her age I was single and wondering if I’d ever find my soulmate and the horrors of dating. The connection between Lia & Javier heated up my Kindle and I loved following their journey. 5 “Poppy” stars for Grown Woman by Jen Luerssen ~ a must read for 2017!

 

35436554Broken Lyric by R.B. Hillard broke me and then mended my heart back together all the while I couldn’t put this stunning story down! The second installment in the Meltdown series blew me away and it’s hard to top Fractured Beat but Nash is my new book boyfriend. Not only we have a stunning romance but these books always have a twist with a crime element/mystery and Broken Lyric gripped me from page one. Rowan’s backstory was heart breaking and reading her evolution and opening herself up to Nash warmed my heart. Secondary characters are just as interesting ~ Nash’s Mom is a complete sweetheart. Rowan & Nash’s chemistry is off the charts and I was cheering them on and honestly did a happy dance when it finally happened. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series and see who’s next. 5 Stars ~ deserves 10 Stars ~ for Broken Lyric by R.B. Hillard

 

26148519Don’t Speak by Katy Regnery is a emotionally charged modern day twist on “The Little Mermaid”. Laire, from a fisherman’s family on the outer banks of North Carolina, has dreams bigger than the small community she’s grown up in. When Laire bumps into the handsome governors son, Erik, she can’t help to give in to his charm. With one look Erik fell for the feisty strawberry blond beauty with mesmerizing eyes but winning her over will be a challenge like he’s never experienced before in this love story for the ages.

This was my first read from Katy Regnery and I’m hooked! I want to go back and read her other fairy-tales retold now that I’ve enjoyed this book so much. Even though we know the classic story Katy’s twist on the tale was gripping and fresh I couldn’t put the story down from 45% on. Laire’s evolution from young naive 18 year old to strong, independent woman who reaches for her goals in just a few years. Erik’s emotional reaction to events broke me – I truly loved his character and fell for him hard. How could you not? He’s a prince. These two characters had me from the first moment they met and I enjoyed the slow burn romance with stunningly beautiful sex scenes, so well written with complete care for the characters. I laughed, I cried, I screamed and I fell in love all over again. 5 forever stars for Don’t Speak by Katy Regnery

 

29622102Letters to Lincoln by Tracie Podger is an emotional story of loss, healing and learning to love again. This was my first read by author Tracie Podger and I’ve been gutted. Tracie has created a beautifully layered story that had a couple of twists and turns I never saw coming. I don’t want to give anything about the story away but the blurb is spot on and gives you an excellent idea of the story.

Dani is broken by a horrific event at the beginning of this story and follow her journey to healing throughout the story. Meeting characters who will impact Dani’s journey, some for the better some causing more pain. I personally don’t know what I’d do if the events of Letter to Lincoln happened to myself but I hope I’d have Dani’s strength to carry on. 5 Honesty Box stars for Letters to Lincoln by Tracie Podger

 

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Wanderer by Janine Infante Bosco is a heartbreakingly emotional second chance romance between childhood sweethearts who’ve experienced more pain in their short lives than most see in an entire lifetime. Twists and turns will shock and surprise readers either new to the series or long time fans of Janine’s work. Wanderer can be read as a standalone to new readers though I think it’s better enjoyed if you’ve read Janine’s previous series “Temptations” and the earlier novel “Drifter” in the “Nomads” series as story lines are entangled and layered.

Cobra, known in his previous life as Jagger Richardson, has led a painful life. Losing his sister and parents have changed the path he wanted for himself to a darker road. With revenge in his heart, Cobra gave up that what was closest to him and has haunted him for years. Returning home and joining Satans Knights – Brooklyn MC chapter, he forced to face his past and a glimmer of a future. Celeste grew up loving Jagger and even though their youth was marred by violence and pain she stuck by him, the man she gave her first’s too. Living with the guilt of the loss of her best friend, Celeste chose to live her life as her friend would have which has weighed her down over the years. A bad date, a rescue and night of passion change her life forever but will Cobra’s return be what she needs or will old wounds be opened up again.

Oh my God! This book destroyed me. So many twists and turns layered into the complex (not in a confusing way) story which spans 12 years. Janine is a master at interweaving her past work and laying the groundwork for new surprises. I ran the range of emotions while reading Wanderer and found this story to be an emotional roller-coaster of a ride. Cobra was my ultimate bad boy and Celeste was beyond perfect match to his alpha ways. 5 “Mine” stars for Wanderer by Janine Infante Bosco ~ a top read of 2017!

Roamer by Janine Infante Bosco is the third installment in her Nomad series and it will blow your mind. I’ve been hooked on Janine’s writing since Forbidden Temptations and with each new story I’m blown away with how beautiful layered and interconnected each additional story is. Connecting not only the previous books story-lines but giving us glimpses of what we thought we already knew but from the point of view of other characters. Roamer is a heartbreakingly emotional tale of two lost souls who connect through each others pain. I knew this story was going to be intense but I didn’t expect to be knocked off my center following Ally & Deuce journey. Their chemistry is beyond epic and even though I think this was a tamer story for Janine and it fit these characters perfectly. Hands down this story is a must read for 2017. 5 “Match Burning” Stars for Roamer by Janine Infante Bosco

 

businessman working on laptop  in black suit Pucked Off by Helena Hunting is an emotionally gripping with all the feels we love in great romances. Did we think we’d get anything less than that with Lance “Romance” Romero story? H-E-Double Hockey Sticks NO! Lance has a reputation for excess with partying and women topping that list. With a painful past behind him and a career he loves, Lance should have it all but something is missing. She’s missing, the one who grounds him, the one who balances him. Will his darkness cloud her light and overwhelm her or will she bring out his true self?

Beyond my wildest expectations, this story was. I had a feeling Lance’s story would blow me away but I never expected to fall for Lance this hard. I can’t even count the number of times I wanted to give Lance a hug and tell him it would be OK. Pucked Off was finished in one sitting, I couldn’t put it down and if I tried I couldn’t get Lance off my mind. Lance’s heroine was a perfect match for him. Don’t worry you’ll find out who she is by the 4th chapter. I loved the back and forth verbal play these two characters do throughout the story, it’s almost like a dance. I could go on and on about this book but honestly just go grab it. 5 Gummy Bear Stars for Pucked Off by Helena Hunting

 

32597335 Because It’s You by Lindsay Paige is a sweet, emotional read with just the right amount of heat. This is the second book in Lindsay’s Carolina Rebels series and can be read as a standalone even though we met Marc Polinski in Back To Me, book one in the series.

Marc Polinski, hockey player with NHL’s Rebels, doesn’t do flings. Marc is more of the relationship kind of guy but after a Halloween party one-night stand he can’t get “Poison Ivy” off his mind. Always a fun loving guy, Marc can’t believe he’s found her but his charms aren’t working like he thought they would. Elizabeth Boyd has scars which have found her morning the loss of her high-school sweetheart husband for years. A night of lost inhibitions has Elizabeth head spinning because as much as she enjoys Marc the guilt of moving on is confusing her and making her wonder if she should be happy with someone else.

Wow, this book was like a gut punch in the emotional department. Elizabeth’s guilt and demons are so rough that it would be hard for anyone to over come them but if anyone can it’s the fun loving Marc who can make that happen. Marc is just as lovable as when we first met him in Back To Me and that love only grows more as you read his story. Over coming his own demons and helping heal Elizabeth only rises his book boyfriend status to epic. This book was beyond my expectations and kept me glued to my kindle. 5 Marco Polo stars for Because It’s You by Lindsay Paige

 

32879795 True Abandon by Jeannine Colette is a beautifully poetic second chance romance that deals with timely issues about privacy and social media. Two high school sweethearts who haven’t seen each other in years are thrown together, forced to face the truth that one mistake years ago changed their lives but didn’t change their hearts. True Abandon has such a beautiful setting which is like another character in the story which allows us to feel like we are right there along side the characters as they travel around Hawaii. I adored this story! You’ll laugh, cry and maybe just wanna punch Jackson a few times but I highly recommend taking a chance on this story if you are new to Jeannine’s writing but I’m sure you’ll want to read the entire series (all standalone titles). 5 Stars – a must read of 2017 – for True Abandon by Jeannine Colette

 

33027488 Tainted by Love from Gillian Jones is a emotional tale of friendship, love and living life to it’s fullest with a hint of angst. This story deals with a dark topic, HIV & AIDS, and may possibly have emotional triggers for some readers so please be aware this story might not be for everyone.

Trinity Adams fell in love in University for the first time and trusted her boyfriend implicitly. Years pass and a youthful risk will forever change Trinity’s life turning her down a different path. Even with medical advancements Trinity finds it hard to see a picture perfect future and would she find someone willing to risk their own life too? Hendrix Hills feels like it’s time to settle down and focus on his future. Hendrix has always wanted to own his own repair shop and when Ignition Inc. becomes available it’s too good to pass up on the chance. Agreeing to take on it’s employee’s Hendrix didn’t expect to fall for Trinity but her feisty nature drew him in and she consumes his thoughts. Will she let him in or will Hendrix be friendzoned?

Oh my this book destroyed me. Tainted by Love is beyond beautiful, gut wrenchingly painful and a story that needed to be told. The blurb and the cover sold me on this story but I didn’t expect to be so moved. I honestly had to take tear breaks at the end – I couldn’t read my kindle through the tears. I could see myself in the young Trinity taking chances just getting lucky on the other side. Hendrix is beyond swoon worthy – hands off he’s mine! I couldn’t put this book down and when I finished it not only was it hard to stop the tears it took me over an hour to calm down. This isn’t your traditional HEA but I couldn’t have pictured it go another way. 5 Fruitloop Stars for Tainted by Love from Gillian Jones

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