From hyper-real author Ainslie Paton:Ancillary Justice – Anne Leckie. The lead character Breq is, well Breq is an artificial intelligence and a space ship and – it’s out there, challenging and mind blowingLast Hour of the Gann – R Lee Smith. The heroine, Amber crash lands on a strange planet. The hero, Meoraq is holy warrior. He’s also a lizard man. Hard to imagine
how you can fall in love with a lizard man, but you do.Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell. Eleanor is the awkward new girl, Park is the coolest boy on the school bus. Beautifully told YA.
From coastal romance queen Jenny SchwartzWelcome to Oberon: – PG Forte. A boxed set of three amazing novels that mix magic, women’s fiction and romance in the beautiful wine country of California. Absolutely addicted to this drama of adult lives.Indonesia, etc. – Elizabeth Pisani. It’s non-fiction but awesome. Indonesia beyond Bali. Written with humour, insight and love.The Honeymoon Trap – Kelly Hunter. This is how good a romance novella can be – real, raw and a celebration of love.
From contemporary romance author Susanne Bellamy:What a Duke Dares – Anna Campbell. Delicious characters, witty repartee, and irresistible conflict in this third Sons of Sin series. Love me a great series! Under Cover of Dark – Juanita Kees. Down to earth, caring characters who make being part of a community and falling in love against the odds so appealing. Shadows on the Nile – Kate Furnivall. A range of points-of-view, including the brother with mental health issues in the 1930s (scary how it was handled then) is deftly handled and the mystery set within the period of labour marches and political unrest is intriguing.
From New Zealand Historical author Mary Brock Jones:Checkmate – Dorothy Dunnett. An oldie but a goodie. Dorothy Dunnett wrote fabulous, richly layered and addictively complex historicals. This is the grand finale to her Lymond series and is set in fifteenth century France, England and Scotland. Rock Addiction – Nalini Singh. A fun, delightful and unforgettable story that is guaranteed to cure any fit of the blues. The Fire Prince – Emily Gee. The second of Emily Gee’s The Cursed Kingdom’s fantasy trilogy. A classic journey type saga, her writing is just beautiful.
Special mention to Ainslie Paton’s Detained.
From wine-spiked contemporary romance author Lily Malone: Unrestrained – Rhyll Biest. How did a November title sneak in up top? Well, Rhyll knows I have a thing for blue-collar boys and she knew her teutonic stonemason hero, Stein, would tickle my fancy (and everything else). She sent Unrestrained to me mid-year and I licked it up! Unrestrained is amazing. You will never look at washing dishes the same again after you’ve read this book.Floored – Ainslie Paton. For sheer gut-wrenching emotion, I love Ainslie’s style. Plus I adored the section of the book where the characters ‘date’ before they leap into bed. Sexual tension overload.The Wedding Season – Su Dharmapala. This was my surprise packet read of 2014 and I rated it 5 bloody big stars. A print book with Simon & Schuster, I won this in a competition with Book’d Out on Australia Day. It features a Sri Lankan heroine who tolerates cricket, and had lots of cricket references (all of which as a cricket tragic, I got.) Cricket, food and romance, this book had all three for me.
Honourable mentions: Irrepressible You & Unforettable You by Georgina Penney; Voodoo Dawn by Greg Barron; Fields of Prey and Silken Prey by John Sandford; Under Cover of Dark by Juanita Kees; Watching You by Michael Robotham.
From romantic horror author Daniel De Lorne:City of Thieves – David Benioff. About two men in Leningrad during World War II who need to find 12 eggs or else face execution. Not as dreary as it sounds (even amusing and light-hearted in places), the story was beautifully written, and the author layered in his research seamlessly and with great effect.Something Like Summer – Jay Bell (and the other books in the Something Like… series). A YA gay romance about – obviously – young love. This book was from Ben’s perspective, and the others take a different characters’ and tell the same story but from their point of view. The books are sweet and brought more than one tear to my eye, I think because it stirred memories of my first loves.Wicked Gentlemen – Ginn Hale – a paranormal detective m/m romance about a demon descendent called Belimai, and a human called Captain William who join together to solve a couple of grisly murders. Beautiful world-building in this story, not too heavy on the love stuff, gritty and thoroughly enjoyable.
From medical contemporary romance author Amanda Canham:Imaginary Lines – Allison Parr. A sweet surprise that still gives me the warm and fuzzies months after finishing it.
Lick – Kylie Scott. Frank, raw, and delicious – who doesn’t love a rockstar with heart?
From rural romance author Louise Forster:
Clean Sweep – Ilona Andrews. What I love about this book is its eccentricity. Dina has a broom that is a deadly weapon. Her Inn/B&B, can change shape at will. A creature with talons and fangs makes her world a deadly place. It’s a brilliant stage for exchanges between Dina, and two handsome alpha guys competing for her attention. Sean Evens, an alpha werewolf, and Arland, a vampire soldier, are both sabotaging each other’s plans and using smart arse quips to make the other look inept. It’s scary and great fun. Love it.Lord of Scoundrels – Loretta Chase. I love the building tension between the characters.
Sebastian Ballister has a dark history when it comes to women. He’s a debauchee living the high life in Paris. Jessica Trent meets him several times, and though his reputation has preceded him she is drawn to this debonair, handsome rogue. She fights his world with a sharp wit and a pistol. The way his lordship undoes the buttons on Jessica’s glove would have to be one of the most sensual scenes I’ve ever read. Superb. Lady Luck – Kristen Ashley. The opening scene had me hooked. Lexie Berry has to collect Ty Walker from prison, he’s a big mountain of a man, an alpha, but also a gentleman. And from then on it just gets better. She agreed to a fake marriage. In private keeping her distance, while acting like newlyweds in public. This becomes increasingly difficult for both of them. I love little things they do for each other, which builds brilliantly into the bigger picture of them falling in love. There are so many wonderful touching scenes. Wonderful.
From action-adventure author VK Black:Hindsight – Sarah Belle. Hindsight had two things I adore – a-go-back-in-time-and-fix-everything theme (I’ve seen Back to the Future a thousand times), and a wonderful light tone that made the book so easy to read.Lost in Kakadu – Kendall Talbot. Loving Bear Grylls as I do, Lost in Kakadu captured my imagination and interest from the start and kept me firmly wedged to the couch till I finished it.Irrepressible You – Georgina Penny. This had everything I love in a romance – a flawed, sweet, vulnerable heroine who learns to be strong, and a charming bad boy hero who learns, almost too late, how to behave towards his lovely lady.
From sexy and sweet author Sami Lee:Ain’t She Sweet – Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I’m slowly working my way through the backlists of my favorite authors. I loved loved LOVED Ain’t She Sweet because SEP managed to make a heroine who seemed at the outset to be truly irredeemable, likeable. I love when authors take risks like that and in this case it paid off. The book is funny, tragic, emotional, sexy… it’s simply the best thing I’ve read in a long time. SEP is basically my idol.
All I Ever Wanted – Kristan Higgins. The best I’ve read by her, and I tend to like all of them. There’s a hit-and-run scene involving a turkey that had me weeping with laughter.Anonymums – Anonymums. Three new mothers anonymously discuss their deepest thoughts, feelings and fears with each other, and dare each other to take back their lives with small personal challenges. It was very poignant in parts, hilarious in others, and it rang very true for me and the two other mothers who read it with me as part of our mothers/book group. We saw ourselves in those anonymous women and it forced us to examine our own lives, which is powerful writing.
From rural romance author Kate Loveday:
Finally, from best-selling, award-winning contemporary author Amy Andrews:Unsuitable – Ainslie Paton. Wow! Fabulous read. Beautifully written. Heart wrenching and sexy all at once. Ainslie Paton has an amazing way with language.The V-Spot – Wendy Marcus. Another wow read! The heroine in this Cosmo Red Hot Read is a plus size woman, a real plus size woman, not “curvy” or “voluptuous” or any of those euphemisms authors use to make her size less of an issue and more palatable to the reading public. I freaking LOVE how Wendy didn’t shy away from describing Emma in all her glory and giving her a big beefy, muscly hot guy who just adored the pants off her. And I could totally relate to Emma’s internal critic!Truly – Ruthie Knox. This was my first Knox and wont be my last. I stayed in bed until 2 in the arvo to finish it! I loved these two characters and I REALLY loved how she bought New York alive for me. The city felt like another character – I swear I could smell it as I was reading!