Saturday, December 31, 2011

Favorite Books read in 2011



I’ve read over 100 books this year and have found some amazing new-to-me authors this year. Many of the books on my list are by some of my must-read authors. About half of the books on the list are either from new-to-me authors or debut authors. I have to thank so many of my twitter peeps and blog friends for helping me find some of my new favorite books/series. 



1. Serendipity by Carly Phillips is not only my favorite contemporary romance I read this year, but my favorite book I read all year. In fact, the entire Serendipity series might be my favorite series of books ever by Carly. 
2. Cold Touch by Leslie Parrish is my favorite Leslie Parrish book ever. Might even be my favorite book written by Leslie as either Leslie Parrish or Leslie Kelly.
3. Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison is my favorite book by a new-to-me author. Love the entire Elder Race series so far.
4. Night After Night by Janelle Denison is my favorite book written by Janelle ever!
5. The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton is her first romantic suspense and she totally rocked it.
6. Because of You by Jessica Scott is her debut novel and I can't wait to read more books from Jessica in the future.
7. The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis is my favorite in her Lucky Harbor series and my favorite of her books I read this year. 
8. The Legendary Lovers series (loved all 3, but Danny is my favorite brother) by Julie Leto is one of Julie's best series ever.
9. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones was a find thanks to twitter. So glad I found this book and series.
10. The Renfield Syndrome by JA Saare feeds my Disco love. I met Jamie at the Lori Foster get together in June and only acted a little fan-girl.
11. Real Men Will by Victoria Dahl is the 3rd book in her Donavan Brothers Brewery series and my favorite of her books I've read so far.
12. Sweet Tea & Secrets by Nancy Naigle is the 1st book in her Adams Grove series. I met Nancy at Lori's event in June and bought her book that weekend. Loved this book.
13. Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey and all the other Kowalski books. Really hoping we get more Kowalski books in the future.
14. One Dance With a Duke by Tessa Dare is my favorite historical romance I read this year. I've loved every book of hers I've read.
15. New York to Dallas by JD Robb is the latest book in the In Death series and was gut-wrenching, but wonderful.
16. Spider’s Revenge by Jennifer Estep is the 5th book in the Elemental Assassin series and was my favorite of the series so far. I've listened to this entire series and can't wait for the next book in this series.
17. Can’t Help Falling In Love by Bella Andre is the 3rd book in her Sullivan series. Loved me some Gabe so much. Already plan on going back and reading the first 2 in the series.
18. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh is the 1st book in her Psy/Changeling series. I found this series with about 10 other books to follow. Was lucky enough to meet Nalini at Lori's event in June. 
19. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter is the 2nd in her Heist Society series and just as wonderful as the 1st book in the series. My favorite series from Ally is her Gallagher Girl series. Out of Sight, Out of Time is set for release on March 13, 2012.
20. Sin Undone by Larissa Ione is the 5th book in her Demonica series and was so awesome. Loved Sin so much.


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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Xavier's Loving Arms


Xavier’s Loving Arms is the latest release from author KT Grant. From the author’s website.~

Synopsis: Xavier Marks has the looks, great job, and more than enough money to throw around. The only thing missing is a woman by his side. He hasn’t had much luck in love since he caught his fiancĂ©e cheating on him, and isn’t too happy about his current bachelor status. But that may all change when a cute barista from a coffee shop catches his eye. Perhaps she can help him lick his wounds?

Life hasn’t always been too kind to Rebecca Price. With a grandmother suffering from dementia, and the threat of foreclosure on her childhood home, she may have no choice but to turn to a possessive ex-boyfriend who won’t settle for anything less than marriage. She hides a shameful secret that still threatens to destroy her. She’s ready to give up all hope when a suave, yet seemingly kind-hearted man enters her life and comes to her rescue.

Rebecca is wary of placing her trust in Xavier, who wants to be more than a shoulder for her to lean on. But as the two grow close, Rebecca’s guilt over her past discretions continue to haunt her. Xavier wants to show Rebecca that the one place she can feel whole and at peace is in his loving arms.

I’ve wanted more of Xavier’s since he first appeared in The Claiming of Suzy, and the author was kind enough to send me a copy of Xavier’s Loving Arms for review. Xavier stole a little bit of my heart from the moment I met him. I like that he didn’t seem to judge others based on their appearances, but on their actions. Xavier hasn’t been very lucky in love in the past. First he catches his fiancĂ©e with another man and just when he thinks things will work out with Suzy, she falls for someone else.

Xavier is attracted to Rebecca from the moment he meets her in the coffee shop across from his office. Rebecca has had a very rough time since her father’s death three years before. She is barely hanging on financially and still has to deal with her ex-boyfriend Devdan, who will only help her out of her financial mess if she marries him. Becca at first compares Xavier just a bit to Devdan, since they both have family money. However, Xavier soon proves he is nothing like Devdan. Devdan is a real ass in this book. In fact, I couldn't figure out what Becca could have possibly ever see in Devdan. Becca is attracted to Xavier, but fights her attraction to him at first. As I’ve come to expect from KT Grant, Xavier and Becca are super hot together once they finally give in to their attraction. In fact, each time they make love, they are some of the steamiest scenes I’ve read.

Becca trust Xavier with her body before she gives her total trust to him. Once she begins to trust him, she shares the fact that she is recovering from an eating disorder. Becca still struggles with eating three years after she was released from in-patient treatment. The stress to her finances, her grandmother’s health, and Devdan’s actions make it hard for her to be able to eat right, or actually keep food down. Xavier will do pretty much anything to take care of Becca and support her in any way possible.

Xavier is such a great character. He is very strong and only wants to find someone to share his life with. Becca is also a strong character, but doesn’t realize how strong she is until she has someone to help her move forward in her life. I liked that we were able to see someone who was recovering from an eating disorder move to a successful life. Never having suffered from one, it helped me to understand that it is something the individual always has in the back of their mind. 

I enjoyed Xavier’s Loving Arms and look forward to reading more stories in the future from KT Grant. The official release date is December 30, but I've seen it available for order on a few sites already. I’m really hoping to get stories about some of Becca’s friends and even Devdan at some point. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Exclusively Yours


Exclusively Yours is the 1st book in the Kowalski series by Shannon Stacey. Originally released from Carina Press in digital format, the paperback release is set for release on December 27 from Harlequin (HQN line).  From the author’s website. ~
When Keri Daniels’ editor finds out she has previous carnal knowledge of reclusive bestselling author Joe Kowalski, she gives Keri a choice: get an interview or get a new job.

Joe’s never forgotten the first girl to break his heart, so he’s intrigued to hear Keri’s back in town—and looking for him. Despite his intense need for privacy, he’ll grant Keri an interview if it means a chance to finish what they started in high school.

He proposes an outrageous plan—for every day she survives with his family on their annual camping and four-wheeling trip, Keri can ask one question. Keri agrees; she’s worked too hard to walk away from her career.

But the chemistry between them is still as potent as the bug spray, Joe’s sister is out to avenge his broken heart and Keri hasn’t ridden an ATV since she was ten. Who knew a little blackmail, a whole lot of family and some sizzling romantic interludes could make Keri reconsider the old dream of Keri & Joe 2gether 4ever.

I first read Exclusively Yours when it was released from Carina Press. When I saw the paperback version was being released from HQN, I couldn’t wait to add this book to my keeper shelf. With the help of NetGalley, I obtained an early copy and loved it every bit as much when I read it the second time as I did the first time.

I loved both Joe and Keri and it was fun to watch all they had to go through to get back together. I'm a big fan of reunion stories, even with those being reunited aren't excited about it at first. Joe and Keri’s reunion, although not either of their ideas, helps them both to find what had been missing from their lives. Since neither one had ever forgotten anything about the other, it was fun watching them fall in love all over again. The smexy chemistry between them is really off the charts too.
Joe's family totally cracked me up. Between the pranks and just being the Kowalski’s, they all made me want to be a Kowalski too. I absolutely love the entire Kowalski family and can't wait to add both Undeniably Yours in February 2012 and Yours to Keep in March 2012 to my keeper shelf. I admit I’ve asked..okay begged Shannon for more Kowalski stories. Really hoping we get to read all about the rest of the Kowalski cousins in the future.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Can't Help Falling In Love


Can’t Help Falling In Love is the third book in Bella Andre’s Sullivan series. From the author’s website.~

Get ready for another Sullivan bad boy to fall in love in the third book of Bella Andre's bestselling contemporary romance series!

Gabe Sullivan risks his life every day as a firefighter in San Francisco. But after learning a brutal lesson about professional boundaries, he knows better than to risk his heart to his fire victims ever again. Especially the brave mother and daughter he saved from a deadly apartment fire...and can't stop thinking about.

Gabe Sullivan risks his life every day as a firefighter in San Francisco. But after learning a brutal lesson about professional boundaries, he knows better than to risk his heart to his fire victims ever again. Especially the brave mother and daughter he saved from a deadly apartment fire...and can't stop thinking about.

Megan Harris knows she owes the heroic firefighter everything for running into a burning building to save her and her seven-year-old daughter. Everything except her heart. Because after losing her navy pilot husband five years ago, she has vowed to never suffer through loving - and losing - a man with a dangerous job again.

Only, when Gabe and Megan meet again and uncontrollable flames of desire ignite between them, how can he possibly ignore her courage, determination, and beauty? And how can she deny not only his strong bond with her daughter, but the way his sweetly sensual kisses are challenging her to risk everything she's been guarding for so long?

This winter, if one - or both - of them aren't careful, they just might end up falling in love.

I was sent a copy of Can’t Help Falling In Love from the author. I actually have the first 2 books in the series on my kindle in my TBR folder, but hadn’t read them yet. I absolutely loved Can’t Help Falling In Love! Both Gabe and Megan are such strong characters, yet they have each had a bad experience with relationships in the past. Megan lost her husband to a horrible accident and Gabe had a relationship turn sour with a woman he had rescued in a fire. Gabe swears never to date another fire victim and Megan swears never to get involved with someone in a dangerous job again.

After Gabe saves Megan and her daughter Summer from their burning apartment building, Megan and Summer come to the hospital to thank him. Both Megan and Gabe are attracted to each other from the moment they meet in the hospital, yet the promises they made to themselves are always in the front of each of their minds. Of course, both promises go out the window because of the explosive attraction between them. Megan’s daughter Summer makes it her goal to get her mom and Gabe together at every possible moment. Each time Megan and Gabe are alone together, neither can seem to keep their hands off of the other. They are so hot together, I really thought my Nook might start sizzling as I was reading. Gabe and Megan have some of the sexiest scenes together and yet there is still a sweetness to them as well, as I could see both falling for one another.

Gabe is able to move past his past experience much faster than Megan. He figures out very quickly he is in love with her and is willing to take things slow to have Megan and Summer in his life. Megan is such a strong woman, but had been burned so badly in the past, she had such fear of a real relationship with Gabe. Megan knows in her heart she loves Gabe, yet must get her head to see clearly before she too can admit her feelings.

I usually don’t read books in a series out of order, but felt like Can’t Help Falling In Love reads as a stand alone title well. I really loved spending time with the Sullivan family and can’t wait to read the rest of the family’s stories. I plan on going back and reading the first two books in the series as soon as possible, and really can’t wait for Sophie’s story to be released in February 2012.



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Desired


Desired is the latest release in The Scandalous Women of the Ton series by Nicola Cornick. From the back cover.~
Her wicked ways were the talk of the ton

Teresa, Dowager Marchioness of Darent, is rumored to have exhausted her four deceased husbands with her insatiable needs. So it's no surprise that every rake in the ton wants to bed her. If they only knew…through clever marriages to men who would ask nothing of her physical self, Tessa has remained rather innocent in the ways of the bedroom. But now she's on the verge of losing everything and wants to take care of the stepson she's grown to adore.

Enter Captain Owen Purchase. The handsome American adventurer has come into the title of Viscount Rothbury. And the rumors surrounding his injuries at sea suggest that he could fit Tessa's requirements. But little does Tessa realize that the gossipmongers are wrong. She just might lose her heart, and her desires, to the most unlikely of men…

Desired is the first book I’ve read by Nicola Cornick, but won’t be my last. I was lucky enough to get an early copy from NetGalley. I usually don’t read books in a series out of order, but when I read about Desired, I knew I had to break my own rule. Personally, I think it stands alone pretty well, but I do see myself reading the other books in the series in the future, so I can learn more about each of the couples.

I liked the characters in Desired very much, especially Tess and Owen, and I loved Owen called Tess by Teresa rather than her nickname. Tess had never loved any of her other husbands, and after her second husband’s abuse, she never had an intimate relationship with another husband. In fact, when she marries, she searches for men incapable of an intimate relationship. In fact, Tess picks Owen because she needs to make sure he can’t give evidence about her connections to the Jupiter club, and she’s heard he can’t have marital relations. Owen also is aware that Teresa needs his protections about the Jupiter club, but really hopes she will come clean with him about her involvement. However, her intel is a little bit off when it comes to Owen, who she discovers on their wedding night he is not only willing, but able to have an intimate relationship.

Owen thought Teresa might have had a bad experience with a man in her past, but it is only after they spend more time together and she starts to trust Owen does he find out the whole truth. Teresa has been attracted to Owen from almost their first meeting. Owen decides they will take things slow, until Teresa finally admits she wants him. Owen is so tender with her and it was just as sexy to see the tenderness as their later more intense moments. It is obvious to everyone that Owen and Teresa have fallen in love with one another. There are still some trust issues between them, but each soon has no trouble admitting their real feeling for one another.

Desired was released on December 1 and can be found at your favorite bookstore or online retailer. The 6th book in the series, Forbidden, is set for release in 2012.




Sunday, December 11, 2011

Simply Irresistible


Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis is the 1st book in her new Lucky Harbor series. From the back cover.~

Maddie Moore's whole life needs a makeover.

In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother-a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.

Starting over won't be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career-if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too. 

The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes-and mouth-are making it hard for her to remember that she's sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie's struggles to overcome the past, though she's about to discover that there's no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.

I’m a huge fan of Jill Shalvis. I visit her blog every single day and buy her books the day they come out. In fact, many times I buy both the print and digital copies of Jill’s books. I really loved Simply Irresistible and think it was a great start for the new series.

Maddie, Tara, and Chloe are so different from one another, it was so much fun watching them learn to be sisters. Since the 3 sisters all have different fathers and weren’t raised together, it takes longer than Maddie really wants for them to start acting like a family. I’m the middle child, so I totally got Maddie’s tendencies to be the peacemaker (although I have an older sister and younger brother, so a little different) of the group. Maddie is also known as “the mouse” of the 3 sisters.  However, something about Lucky Harbor makes her strong.

Part of her strength comes from being with her sisters and part comes from within her. However, meeting Jax Cullen seems to help her become stronger. Maddie is attracted to Jax from the moment she sees him. However, she has sworn off all men because of the last guy she dated. Jax wants Maddie from their very first meeting and soon recognizes Maddie has suffered in the past and starts off slow with her. As long as slow is bone-melting kisses that make Maddie forget her name.

The chemistry between Jax and Maddie is off the charts. It’s almost like no one else is in the room when they are together. Even with all the work Jax and Maddie need to do to the inn to help get it up and running, neither seems to be able to keep their hands off the other. I loved watching Maddie fall for Jax. Jax was pretty open about his feelings from the first. I really think Maddie needed to feel like she had a family and home before she was secure enough in herself to admit her feelings for Jax.

I also loved the chemistry between the sisters. They really are pretty much strangers when they all show up at the inn. However, as they fight, share meals, work on the inn, and even all share one bed, they go from strangers to sisters. They are sisters, so there will always be fights, but the fights become more picking on each other as only siblings can do.

I really loved Simply Irresistible and have already read and loved The Sweetest Thing, which is the 2nd book in the Lucky Harbor series (blog post to come very soon). Up next for me is Head Over Heels, which is the 3rd book in the series. Jill announced on her blog recently that we will get 3 more Lucky Harbor books in 2012 and I can’t wait to read each of them.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Hidden Summit


Hidden Summit is the newest release from Robyn Carr’s wonderful Virgin River series. From the author’s website.~

Sick of running into her cheery ex-husband and his new wife, Leslie Petruso accepts a job at the Virgin River branch of Haggerty Construction and takes the high road right out of town. Now she's got Paul Haggerty's business running like a well-oiled machine. In fact, things are so busy Paul jumps at the chance to hire an extra set of hands.

Just like Leslie, Conner Danson has been burned by love. But if Leslie was disappointed by her relationship going bad, Conner was decimated. He's got no time for women…although he spends an awful lot of time pretending not to notice Leslie. And she's pretty busy "ignoring" the chemistry between them.

According to Conner and Leslie, they have only one thing in common—they're done with love. But everyone in Virgin River can see that things are heating up at Haggerty Construction. And as far as Paul Haggerty can tell, the best thing he can do is hang on to his hard hat and watch the sparks fly!

I love each and every visit to Virgin River. I get to see so many of my favorite characters from past books and we always get to meet someone new. Leslie and Conner are the newest residents to Virgin River. Conner is in Virgin River waiting to go home to testify against a murderer. Leslie is in Virgin River trying to get away from her ex-husband who thinks they should still be friends, even though he cheated on her and is now re-married with a baby on the way.

Conner was told not to start up any relationships while in hiding, and since he has trust issues when it comes to women, he didn’t expect it to come into play. However, he is attracted to Leslie from the first time he sees her, and Leslie seems to be just as attracted to Conner. Conner and Leslie take things slow for a while, but soon can’t keep their hands off one another.

Of course Leslie’s ex keeps showing up in town and Conner still has to go back home to testify as the only eye witness, but  Leslie and Conner both know they have finally found the one. Conner knows he has to share the truth about his past with Leslie before he has to leave town to testify, and Leslie keeps his secret for him. Leslie and Conner have the full support from everyone in Virgin River as soon as they move to town. I love how welcoming everyone in Virgin River is to new people.

Robyn Carr gives her readers another winner with Hidden Summit. Once again, we will get 3 books from the Virgin River series starting with Hidden Summit on December 27, 2011. Redwood Bend is set for release in March 2012 followed by Sunrise Point in May 2012.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Because of You


Because of You is the debut novel my author Jessica Scott, and the first book in her Coming Home series. From the author’s website.~

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there's more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he'll never see again- until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.  

Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there's a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels - for the first time in a long time - like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty -it's a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected - her deepest desire.

I love finding both new authors and new-to-me authors. I’ve talked to Jessica Scott on twitter for a while and even got to meet her at RWA in Orlando in 2010 (ran into her at a book signing while in line together). When Jessica announced her book would be released in the revived Loveswept line, I knew I had to read this story. I pre-ordered Because of You for my kindle as soon as there was a release date.

I absolutely loved Because of You! Both Jen and Shane are such strong characters. Jen is a breast cancer survivor who finally starts to feel like a woman again after meeting and kissing Shane. Shane has always put his men first, even about himself. He meets Jen the day before he and his men are scheduled to deploy to Iraq. They share one amazing kiss, that neither one is able to forget the other once Shane is deployed.
When Shane is injured and sent home, Jen is one of the nurses who care for him daily (FYI, sexiest catheter removal scene I've ever read). The attraction is still there after all this time, and only grows as they spend day after day together. Shane is one of those super strong men who don’t like to rely on anyone. However, his injuries leave him no choice, and Jen is more than happy to care for him.

Jen find herself getting stronger each day as she cares for Shane. She also starts to feel like a woman again for the first time since she first lost a breast to cancer. In fact, her battle helps her be able to help Shane move forward with his recovery. The attraction between Shane and Jen just gets stronger with each passing day, and they were so hot together when they finally gave into their attraction.

Jessica Scott has an amazing voice and made it easy for me to feel both the pain and the joy from her characters. I loved so many of the characters from Because of You, but especially Jen's best friend Laura. We get to read all about Laura and her husband Trent in Jessica's next book.The second book in her Coming Home series, Back to You is set for release from Loveswept in February 2012, and I’ll again pre-order as soon as it’s available. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

It Happened One Christmas


It Happened One Christmas is the latest Blaze release from Leslie Kelly. From the back cover.~
Baby, it’s cold outside…

Six years ago, Ross Mitchell and Lucy Fleming shared a hot holiday weekend in Manhattan, back when he was just a hard-bodied guy in a tool belt and she was an impulsive photography student.

Fast-forward a few Decembers: Ross and Lucy meet again, by chance, at his office Christmas party. And when they find themselves alone and snowed in after hours, it’s not long before they’re making their own body heat – again. Only this time, the sex is better than ever! But is it just another holiday romp between the sheets? Or will Lucy and Ross finally get to keep what they really want this year – each other!

I’m a huge fan of Leslie Kelly and was so excited when I saw she had a Christmas story coming out. I love Christmas stories and knew that any Christmas story Leslie wrote would be both super fun and sexy, and Leslie totally delivered with It Happened One Christmas.

Lucy and Ross first met six years ago when Lucy was contemplating how to get back at her ex-boyfriend for cheating on her…more how to remove what he was using to cheat on her. Ross is attracted to Lucy from the minute they start talking, and even is her knight in shining armor when her ex tries to attack her. Lucy and Ross end up spending a hot weekend together that is cut short by a family emergency for Ross.

Six years later they meet again at Ross’s office Christmas party. Fate steps in again and they end up spending another hot weekend together where they quickly pick up right where they left off …in bed. This time they are older and the chemistry is even hotter than it was six years ago. Lucy and Ross have both changed a great deal since they last saw each other, but the desire for one another is just as strong as ever.

I loved that each chapter of the story when back and forth between the present and the past. The reader got to see Ross and Lucy remembering their past as they lived in the present and got to know each other again. I really loved that both their lives came full circle to bring them both back to their hometown, Chicago.  It Happened One Christmas is the perfect story for anyone looking for a fun and sexy read.

It Happened One Christmas is currently available in print and the digital release is set for December 1. Since it is a Harlequin Blaze, it will only be on the bookshelves for a limited time. However, it is available online from http://www.harlequin.com/, http://www.amazon.com/, http://www.bn.com/ and other online retailers for much longer.