Wednesday, January 1, 2014

D & Em's Top Reads of 2013

Top Books of 2013
We both started out with the intention of each doing a Top 10 list. But when you read HUNDREDS of books throughout the year, it is hard to narrow it down to just 10 books. I speak for both of us when I say that we could easily pick a “top however-many” books for each category we read. Not only were there some AMAZING reads this last year, a lot of them were so different and so unique that it is hard to compare. D & I have VERY different tastes in books, so we definitely couldn’t do one list. I like to think that this gives all of our followers a nice blend of books to choose from. That adds a whole new complication to compiling our lists of “bests” for the year. But we did it. We didn’t stay with just 10 books each. In fact, I included series as “one” book and STILL didn’t keep it at 10. Hopefully if you haven’t already enjoyed some of these, you will get on it!


D’s Top Books
The top 10 post is always hard for me to do. I often have a hard time picking my favorites.  That being said, there are always a few books that I'm so passionate about and connected to, I can't wait to add them to this list.  I know two of these books, as soon as I finished reading them, were going to be on here.  And one of them I read back in March! There were a few books that I couldn't wait to come out this year and there are a few still sitting unread on my Kindle (a travesty, I know).  Unfortunately, I didn't read as much as I would have liked.  I came in right around 80 books.  Putting my house on the market, selling and moving really cramped my nightly Kindle sesh cuddled up on the couch or in my bed.  Before I get to the titles, I just want to thank all of our amazing fans and the fabulous authors.  Also, you will notice a theme here, I was definitely embracing my dark and dirty side this year ;)
xo, D

Being Me  by Lisa Renee Jones, (#2 of the Inside Out series)
This story consumed me! I could not put it down. It was intense, desperate, passionate and surprising. Christ Merit seriously rocked my world!!! I love the power struggle between the men. The mystery of Rebecca. The obsession of her journals and her life. I absolutely love this series and Lisa Renee Jones' superb writing. If I could give more than 5 stars, I would!!! 

The Valentine's Arrangement by Kelsie Leverich
This was the author's debut novel and I fell in love with it!  I love Kelsie Leverich too because she is super sweet and I can tell she loves her fans.  Her stories are about hot alpha men and the strong women that they fall in love with.  Add in some supes hot sex scenes and there you have it!  Well, not all of it, but you get it.  Great characters, great writing and great sex.  I loved the review Em and I wrote for this one, check it out!  The Valentine's Arrangement review. 

 Up In the Air series by R.K. Lilley (In Flight, Mile High and Grounded)
I became an R.K. Lilley superfan this year!  Holy shit, this series was my obsession for awhile.  And the icing on the cake was that I read all 3 of these in a row.  James Cavendish is the Dom for 2013. I was so excited to read a BSDM book, with a Dom seeking out a sub (yes, similar to another series but SO different) and they were not petulant and whiney and sullen. They were hot and sexy and smart and strong and hot! Did I say hot? Also, James didn't hold anything back and was commanding and scary at times.  All 3 books are amazeballs!

The Girl in 6E by Alessandra Torre

I freaking love her!  No, not the girl in 6E...Alessandra Torre!  She's obsessed with sex, is foul mouthed and dirty as hell.  Her books are unique and amazing.  The Girl in 6E is no exception.  It is dark and full of suspense.  This book has had 2 titles so far and getting it's 3rd cover AND a lot more added.  I can't wait to revisit this story and see what new additions there will be.  This is suspense and erotica with an ending that will bring you to tears!  Here is the full review.

Hot Ticket by Olivia Cunning

Hot Ticket is book 3 in the Sinners on Tour series.  Can I get a dominatrix?  Yes, please!!!  Aggie/Mistress V is fantastic and Jace is sensitive and sensual!  The sex scenes might push you to your ahem, limits, but I will assure you the whole book is smoking hot!  Here is my review .

Never Have I Ever by August Clearwing

When I started this book, I was hoping for a good read.  I never expected it to be amazing or a contender for my top 10 of the year!  Piper is literally a genius but wants someone to control her in the bedroom. She's a self proclaimed nerd, but I think she's super cool. She was never annoying and never afraid to speak her mind. Noah is a hot Alpha male with just the right sweetness ;). Yes, this story was about sex and a Dom/sub relationship but you also got so much more. Enter, Ethan, a trip around the world, a dead ex submissive and the explosive last 30% of this novel! I should also mention that August Clearwing's writing was so sharp. I couldn't believe that I was reading erotica but felt smarter doing so!

Bad Things by R.K.Lilley
So we already know I fell in love with the Up in the Air Trilogy.  I was really excited to read this spinoff about Tristan and Danika.  I thought I knew the genre, R.K. Lilley, BDSM writer, right?  Wrong!  This was sweet, tension filled, erotic romance!  Read my review to get the full idea of their story!

My Unexpected Forever by Heidi McLaughlin
Harrison is my man for the year!  If he were real, I'd set out on an expedition to find him.  (kidding, of course)  but he is something pretty special.  This is book 2 in the Beaumont series.  The build up of Katelyn and Harrison's story is oh so sweet and stunningly slow. I can't even put it into words, but I said it felt like I was drinking the warmest, silkiest smooth cup of hot chocolate. It was comforting, sweet, innocent, seductive and angsty all in one. I felt each emotion with them. For me, if a book has me all wound up before we even get a real sex scene, that author is damn good! I couldn't put it down and felt butterflies and had goosebumps so many times.  Gorgeous!

Accidentally On Purpose by L.D. Davis
 I really didn't know what I was getting myself into when I started this. I knew it was a love triangle story but I didn't know it was a heart wrenching mind fuck! It's been awhile since I read a story that drew such emotions from me. This one surely was the icing on the cake. I FREAKING loved it!  There are 2 more books following this one in this series!

Sex. Love. Repeat. by Alessandra Torre
It's erotic and sexy as hell, but mostly a love story. A slightly fucked up one and very unconventional, but I think most romance lovers would connect to it. Madison is in love with two men. She has two seperate relationships.  The things that unfold during this story will shock you and keep you glued to it.  I absolutely loved this!  Read my review!

My numbers 11 and 12, if I'm allowed to have them ;)  are: Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki and Tangled by Emma Chase!

Em’s Top Reads
 So, I didn’t have the hindrance of moving like D did, but work decided to get in the way. And then there was this whole pregnancy (while working full time AND having 3 others who are 6, 4, & 2!) that knocked me off of my fee. So, while I still read an insane amount of books that I refuse to count how many because I don’t want to admit it. My husband would probably die if he realized exactly how many books I’ve read. And to think… I have SO. MANY. MORE left unread on my Kindle.

Despite how many amazing reads there were, there were some that just moved me. Whether it was because they were funny, sad, or so romantic; they moved me. They left an impression on me. So without further ado, here is my list. They aren’t really in order, but I did list series first and single books following.

The Beaumont Series by Heidi McLaughlin – Forever My Girl, My Everything, My Unexpected Forever & Finding My Forever – What can I say about this series that I haven’t already? We met Liam first at the very end of 2012. We thought it couldn’t get any better. Nick came next and he was certainly NOT the guy we thought he was. For many of us, we went in to My Everything not liking the guy and came out with a new found respect for him. Then there was Harrison. And he was AMAZING. He was gloriously romantic and patient. He captured my heart instantly and just wouldn’t stop. Then we were just introduced to Jimmy in Finding My Forever. While everyone loves Liam for coming back to Beaumont and Harrison for being so amazing, I’m partial to Jimmy. I love that wild Brit and how passionate he is. With each book she puts out, Heidi McLaughlin is raising the bar even higher!

Mended Hearts Series by L.B. Simmons – Running on Empty, Recovery & Running in Place.
Ahh. L.B. Simmons. Where do I start with this? Running on Empty had me ugly crying LAST JANUARY! All year long I thought about Alex and Blake. Right away their journey rocked me. It hit a little too close to home with it being about a mom with 3 kids. But watching each of the characters grow through the story and then watching Alex come in to her own in Recovery, really impacted me. Then we met Tatum & Noah. They are NOTHING like Alex & Blake. It takes a very strong author to be able to write such a wide variety of characters so well. I can’t wait to see where this group of broken souls goes next.

Connected Series by Kim Karr – Connected & Torn.

Talk about being ravaged. I experienced so many emotions throughout both of these books. When I thought it couldn’t get better than Connected, Kim Karr releases Torn. Talk about being totally mind-fucked. I honestly don’t even know where to start. If you’re looking for a love triangle that is unlike any other, read this RIGHT NOW.

Love Notes Series by Heather Gunter – Love Notes & Heartstrings
These stories are more YA than the others, though the content in them definitely needs a more mature reader. There is a sweet romance in each of these stories, but that isn’t what left the impression on me. It was the strength of the characters in each of the stories. The girls had some really serious issues to work through and their strength was admirable. The guys in the story were so very supportive of their love interests. I really enjoyed the dynamics of these stories. Heather was able to incorporate many emotions in to their stories. I cannot wait to see where the companion novels take us in 2014!

Shattered Heart Series by Cassia Leo – Relentless, Pieces of You & Bring Me Home. (Links not currently available)
Another love triangle that completely wrecked me. I finished book one being about 70% towards one guy and 30% the other and the 2nd book I was about 90% the other guy and 10% my original. Going in to the 3rd book, I definitely had a preference, but I would have been ok either way as long as everyone was where they needed to be in the end. I felt Cassia really hit the nail on the head with where everyone needed to be. Even if I was skeptical at some parts! There were many moments during the 3 books where I found myself holding my breath and waiting for the next scene. Great job, Cassia! I am excited that we’ll get more of all of these characters coming up!

The One Left Behind by Lena Nicole
Talk about a book that took me by surprise. We were contacted by the authors before the book came out and honestly, I had so much going on that I completely forgot to respond. I wouldn’t realize until I actually sat down and read it how much I’d regret forgetting to respond! Another author told me to put down whatever I was reading and check this one out. I wouldn’t regret it. And I didn’t. It’s dual authors and switches between 2 points of view. I cried, held my breath, and experienced quite a range of emotions. This story came out of nowhere and knocked me off of my feet. To say that I am waiting with baited breath for the next one to come out would be an understatement!

Stubborn Love by Natalie Ward
I think that Natalie Ward is one of the most understated authors out there. I just finished this book about a week ago and WOW. The story was so captivating and left me reeling for days. Last year her story I Love You to Death made my top list, too. What an amazing writer. Her ability to capture and project emotions with words is out of this world. I cannot wait for more from her.

Out of Breath by Rebecca Donovan
I’m always skeptical of the 3rd book in a series – especially if it is the conclusion. MANY are lacking. Many fail to meet the mark, in my opinion, with the characters. Most are rushed in tying up loose ends. I was VERY nervous considering how amazing the first 2 books were. However, it is one of the best conclusions I’ve read yet. There was no rushing. There was no head scratching. Everyone was where they needed to be at the end of the story. There is room to expand, but there definitely is no need to. I started this book and had a VERY hard time setting it down. Once I started it, I wanted to know where Emma and Evan ended up. I wanted to know how Jonathan played in to the story. I need it all. And I got it all. PHENOMENAL read.

If You Stay by Courtney Cole (link currently unavailable)
When I started this story, I knew very little about the author. I happened upon her and her story and decided to give it a chance. Little did I know, that chance would leave me captivated. The story had just enough sass and enough emotion to keep me glued to it. Then I found out it would be a series. Since this was released, there have been 2 more in the series come out. I cannot wait to sit down and read those!

Losing Hope by Colleen Hoover
When this book came out, I was a little bit resistant to reading it. I held off until I saw the reviews. I have just failed to get on this trend of re-writing a story from an alternate point of view. Then reviews started pouring in so I decided to check it out. It was SO *not* just Hopeless from Dean’s POV. It was a whole different story that incorporated various aspects of Hopeless. It was AMAZING. I had no idea there was so much more to this story! Then after I read it, I got the audio version to listen to when I had a long car trip by myself! Yea… I kinda liked it.

Lovely by Beth Michele
We were signed up to participate in the blog tour for this one. I read the synopsis and thought, “oh this looks good. I have nothing to lose anyway…” I knew about 5% in that this book had me hook, line, & sinker. I was texting an author friend to put the release date on her calendar and make sure she read it immediately. It was that good. I not only ugly cried, but I ugly SOBBED. I connected with this story on so many levels and did not realize just how emotional a story could make me! WOW. Seriously… I was left speechless after reading this.

So that was 11… and honestly, I have 2 more that I would absolutely have included in this list. Those 2 are Branded (A Sinners Series) by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki – absolutely PHENOMENAL new Dystopian. Not my everyday genre and I would imagine VERY hard to write and they nailed it! The other would be Wait for You by J. Lynn. A lot of depth in this story that left me wanting more!

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