The Best of Summer 2014
As the dog days of summer come to an end, we’ve asked our bloggers to pick the pages that got them the most hot and bothered this beach season. Together, they’re sharing their picks for: Best Hero, Best Heroine, Best Debut Novel. Best Continuation of a Series, Biggest Surprise, and Best Cover. Get ready to add a few things to your TBR!
Best hero: Jay Fields from Six of Hearts by L.H. Cosway. Because he’s intense, alpha and possessive. When he focuses on his woman his attention is all consuming. But he’s also funny and sweet in a way that makes you want to be the one just spending time and hanging out with him.
Best continuation of a series: Dark Skye by Kresley Cole – You will absolutely love this latest installment. It’s action packed and full of sexy; it’s a ride like you haven’t experienced before in this series. You will definitely find your next book boyfriend.
Biggest surprise: The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre – This book is so different from the norm that I couldn’t help but to be absorbed by it. I was especially surprised being that the heroine is sort of a psychopath with murderous tendencies. This will appeal to all Dexter lovers.
Best hero: Nathan from Lara Adrian’s Crave the Night.
Best heroine: Loretta Bailey from Long Hot Texas Summer by Carolyn Brown
Best continuation of a series: Crave the Night by Lara Adrian
Biggest surprise: Hawk (Sons of Sangue #2) by Patricia A. Rasey
Best cover: Hawk (Sons of Sangue # 2) by Patricia A. Rasey
Best Hero: Vince Grossier from Cara McKenna’s Lay It Down is by far the best anti-hero I’ve read in a very long time. He thinks he’s not a good man, he wears his bad boy image like a shield but deep down, he is the best man and most certainly the man you’d want on your side if things ever go south! He’s rough and gentle, salty and sweet, a perfect contradiction that you can’t walk away from.
Best Heroine: Lacy from The Bastard by Inez Kelley – it takes a special woman to take on The Baddest Boys in History and Lacy handles them like a seasoned mother hen. The Bastard kicks off a paranormal series that promises to be one of the good ones. You can sense the extensive research Kelley put into this book, her world building is as immense as it is immaculate. Mark my words, The Baddest Boys in History will be one of the great paranormal series and is a go to recommendation for me now, right up there with Immortals After Dark.
Best Debut novel: His End Game by R.B. Hilliard – not only is this her debut novel, she’s self published and really checks off all of the boxes you need to kick off a series and introduce yourself to the writing world. Hilliard gives you everything you could want in a romance and I look forward to reading more of her.
Best Continuation of a series: The Saint by Tiffany Reisz – Reisz’s The Original Sinners is one of my all time favorite series, ever. This is book #5 but it’s also book #1 of the spin off, The White Years. Yes, these books are erotic and they deal with a subject matter that might make some people uncomfortable but the story, the history of the characters, the character growth and development, the pacing, and the straight up skill displayed in writing this series, leaves me speechless every damn time. (It’s also a runner up in my Best Cover pick!)
Biggest surprise: The Girl in 6E by A.E. Torre – I went into that book blind and I was blown away. It’s very different from your standard romance story but there is a romance brewing beneath the surface. The suspense, twists and character development kept me on the edge of my seat.
Best Cover: Burned (Ignite #1) by Tara Sivec…graphically speaking, all of the elements pop and grab my attention. The fine details, even in the grain of the leather of the sofa are beautiful. It’s impossible to not linger on the pretty.
Best hero: Grayson Wyatt, from Only With You by Lauren Layne. Because he’s sexy and awkward.
Best heroine: Captain Joelle Quint, from Mutiny of the Heart by Jennifer Bray-Weber. She’s a tough, smart, believable pirate captain!
Best continuation of a series: Playing it Close by Kat Latham, her second in the London Legends series, because she makes me care about rugby players. Also LEAD by Kylie Scott, the third Stage Dive novel. These books make me drool!
Biggest surprise: I read a book called Who Wants to Marry a Doctor? by Abigail Sharpe and it wasn’t as silly as the title had led me to believe!
Best cover: I’m going with Mutiny of the Heart, because I like the pose! (Second place to Lead because, yeah, it’s Jimmy, but he’s not shirtless.)
Best Hero: Devinshea Quinn from Steal the Night by Lexi Blake- Dev is my ultimate summer hero because he fakes his own death to save his wife. She has no idea he is not dead.
Best Heroine: Kara Johansen from Claiming Kara by Caitlyn O’Leary- Kara is that she is very independent woman that knows what she wants and will stop at nothing to get it.
Best debut: Corrupted by Natalie Townson and Alicia Taylor-Talk about a woman scorned. This time the woman is the villain and this read is so intense I stayed up half the night to finish it.
Best continuation of a series: Fall to You by Lexi Ryan- This series is about a woman who wakes up from a coma to find that she has everything she has ever wanted in her life and has no clue as to how she got it.
Biggest surprise: One More Night by Lauren Blakely- The Seductive Nights Series had come to end and Clay and Julia had their Happily Ever After until Lauren yells surprise, and we get a whole new adventure with Clay and Julia in the city of sin.
Best Cover: The best cover of the summer has to go to Sugar On The Edge by Sawyer Bennett. That man is gorgeous.
Author Julia Tagan
Best hero: The Earl of Ashby from Kate Noble’s The Game and the Governess.When he switches places with his secretary as part of a bet, Ashby learns a valuable lesson about status, luck and love, but also enjoys himself immensely.
Best heroine: Olivia from A Wedding in Provence by Ellen Sussman. Because it’s nice to read about a woman in her 50s who’s gunning for lasting love the second time around.
Best debut novel: Sofia Tate’s Breathless for Him New York City, a hatcheck girl, and a billionaire with a side of opera and suspense.
Biggest surprise: Juliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen. Shakespeare’s bawdy nurse gets to weigh in with her own perspective in this retelling of Romeo & Juliet.
Best cover: Enticing Miss Eugenie Villaret by Ella Quinn. Because who doesn’t love a woman in an exquisite violet gown and a dashing man in Regency period dress?
Best hero: Liam Blake in Devil’s Game by Joanna Wylde. He was willing to stand up to his motorcycle club for love and put his girl before everyone else. Plus, he was hot, dirty, and possessive!
Best heroine: Jess Thomas in One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. She was such an optimist in the face of so many daunting problems. She loved her kids with her whole heart and made sure they knew it. The unexpected romance that came her way was beautiful, satisfying, and much deserved.
Best debut novel: I didn’t read any debut authors this summer, but I’ll name one that was new to me: Lorelei James with Hillbilly Rockstar. The story was thrilling and super hot!
Best continuation of a series: Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker. I didn’t think I’d fall for Ben quite so hard with his man-whoring past, but boy was he ever sweet, charming and hilarious! It was my favorite of the series.
Biggest surprise: Prototype by M.D. Waters. This is the second book in the Archetype duology and wow, I couldn’t put these books down! I read both back to back in one weekend.
Best cover: Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker. The cover is perfect for this story. The girl shown is completely Reece with her blond hair and black cherry ends walking up to the Bernard/Morris family’s grove. So pretty. Love it when the cover matches the story!
Best hero: Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield, from Elizabeth Hoyt’s Duke of Midnight.
This was actually published last fall, but I read it this summer, so I’m counting it. Maximus is Batman. When he was a child, he witnessed his parents’ murder when they walked home from the theater through a bad neighborhood. As an adult, he dons a costume at night to fight crime and avenge their deaths. See? Batman. And everyone knows Batman is the greatest.
Best heroine: Gillian, the Countess of Greendale, from Grace Burrowes’s The Captive.
Gillian is still reeling from her terrible first marriage when she ends up sharing house with the wounded Duke of Mercia, just home from being rescued from being tortured by the French during the peninsular war. Gillian is assertive and fully actualized in a way historical heroines so rarely are, fully in control of what she wants and what her goals are, and though she’s recovering from trauma, when she and Mercia begin a relationship, it’s largely on her terms.
Best debut novel: Splinters by Thorny Sterling
I hope Thorny keeps writing because there’s a lot of potential for greatness here. Splinters is on the short side, but it packs a pretty big emotional punch. Allan is a somewhat androgynous male model who wakes up one morning in the middle of a field in Texas, naked and tied to a board with his long hair shaved off. He has no memory of what happened the night before or how he got here. He’s rescued by a cowboy named Duke. And that’s just the first scene. Allan and Duke are instantly taken with each other, but in addition to needing to work out the mystery, they (almost literally) live in different worlds. The best part of the book is Al’s voice; the book is written in first-person present, which I get is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it really works here because Al is such a dynamic character.
Best continuation of a series: Enlightened by Joanna Chambers
Chambers wrapped up her Enlightened series with this last book in the trilogy, which further develops the relationship between David and Murdo while also resolving the crisis that developed in the second book. I don’t want to spoil anything, as you really need to have read the first two books to make sense of the third, but the series ends in a satisfying way.
Biggest surprise: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
I’ve had this book sitting on my ereader for a while and finally read it in June. It’s just as great as everyone says it is. Don is unique among romance heroes.
Best cover: I love the rich covers for Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series. I read No Good Duke Goes Unpunished in July, and it definitely deserved its recent RITA win.
What are your favorites from this summer? Let us know!