Hey all! Patti here, barely sliding it in under the end-of-year deadline (as usual, lol). I’ve been absent from the PJV of late, but I’m determined to make the New Year a fresh start.
2015 was off to an excellent start and I had an amazing time at RT in Dallas in May, but about halfway through the year things in my personal life started to get complicated. By September I wasn’t pretending anymore – I was overwhelmed by life and couldn’t even find joy in reading or blogging. I think I read about six books between September -December. New releases I had been looking forward to held no interest to me and I DNF’d almost everything I tried to read. I decided that wasn’t fair to authors so I stopped reviewing, too.
BUT, I am determined to start new in January, and there were several books I really enjoyed in 2015 before life kicked my ass, so I thought I’d take a moment to share. Without further ado, I give you my Top Reads of 2015:
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
I loved The Martian, which is weird for me because there’s no romance in it. My husband read it first and convinced me to read it. The audiobook is spectacular. If you saw the movie and weren’t impressed – the book was better; I don’t think the humor translated onto the big screen very well. My Rating: 5 stars.
Graduate student Vivienne Charles is afraid of her own desires—ashamed to admit that she fantasizes about being taken by force, by a man who will claim her completely and without mercy. When the magnetic, mysterious Jonah Marks learns her secret, he makes an offer that stuns her: they will remain near-strangers to each other, and meet in secret so that he can fulfill her fantasy. Their arrangement is twisted. The sex is incredible. And—despite their attempts to stay apart—soon their emotions are bound together as tightly as the rope around Vivienne’s wrists. But the secrets in their pasts threaten to turn their affair even darker… Reader Advisory: Asking for It deals explicitly with fantasies of non-consensual sex. Readers sensitive to portrayals of non-consensual sex should be advised.
Asking For It was an unexpected treat – it was dark, it was different, and I devoured it. The subject matter may be difficult for some readers, but if you don’t have triggers, I highly recommend – definitely read the blurb first. My Rating: 5 stars.
Can Evie convince her rival loves to work together? Their survival depends on it in this third book of #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles, a nonstop action tale of rescue, redemption, and a revenge most wicked. Heartbreaking decisions Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her—until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, the Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts…and stolen glances from a former love. Uncertain victory Despite leaving a part of her heart behind with Death, Evie sets out into a perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland to meet up with her allies and launch an attack on the Lovers. Such formidable enemies require a battle plan, and the only way to kill them may mean Evie, Jack, and Death allying. Evie doesn’t know what will prove more impossible: surviving slavers, plague, Bagmen and other Arcana—or convincing Jack and Death to work together. Two heroes returned There’s a thin line between love and hate, and Evie just doesn’t know where she stands with either Jack or Death. Will this unlikely trio be able to defeat The Lovers without killing one another first…?
I love this series. I get frustrated that Kresley Cole isn’t writing it faster, until I remember that she’s also writing the Immortals After Dark series and the Game Maker series, both of which I also love. I listened to Dead of Winter and the audiobook narration was excellent. My Rating: 5 stars.
Lydia Kincaid’s shipping back to Boston, but she’s not happy about it. She left to get away from the firefighting community—her father was a firefighter, her brother’s a firefighter and, more important, her ex is a firefighter. But family is number one, and her father needs her help running the pub he bought when he retired. Soon, Lydia finds it hard to resist the familiar comfort and routine, and even harder to resist her brother’s handsome friend Aidan. Aidan Hunt is a firefighter because of the Kincaid family. He’s had the hots for Lydia for years, but if ever a woman was off-limits to him, it’s her. Aside from being his mentor’s daughter, she’s his best friend’s sister. The ex-wife of a fellow firefighter. But his plan to play it cool until she leaves town again fails, and soon he and Lydia have crossed a line they can’t uncross. As Aidan and Lydia’s flirtation turns into something more serious, Lydia knows she should be planning her escape. Being a firefighter’s wife was the hardest thing she’s ever done, and she doesn’t know if she has the strength to do it again. Aidan can’t imagine walking away from Boston Fire—even for Lydia. The job and the brotherhood are his life; but if he wants Lydia in it, he’ll have to decide who’s first in his heart.
I was a little hesitant to read this – I love Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski family books, but I didn’t care for her ‘Under the Lights’ series, so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed ‘Heat Exchange’. Having a husband and brother who are career law enforcement, and the kids I grew up with are now firemen, I feel like Ms. Stacey really ‘got’ the mindset of first responders. I have the second book in my purse and ready to read as I type this. My Rating: 5 stars.
Is it possible to expose Chicago’s hottest player—without getting played? This is the story I’ve been waiting for all my life, and its name is Malcolm Kyle Preston Logan Saint. Don’t be fooled by that last name though. There’s nothing holy about the man except the hell his parties raise. The hottest entrepreneur Chicago has ever known, he’s a man’s man with too much money to spend and too many women vying for his attention. Mysterious. Privileged. Legendary. His entire life he’s been surrounded by the press as they dig for tidbits to see if his fairytale life is for real or all mirrors and social media lies. Since he hit the scene, his secrets have been his and his alone to keep. And that’s where I come in. Assigned to investigate Saint and reveal his elusive personality, I’m determined to make him the story that will change my career. But I never imagined he would change my life. Bit by bit, I start to wonder if I’m the one discovering him…or if he’s uncovering me. What happens when the man they call Saint, makes you want to sin?
I loved Manwhore – it was a twist on the Billionaire hero trope and it felt fresh and modern. My Rating: 4 stars.
From New York Times bestselling author Alice Clayton, the first in a brand-new romance series telling the humorously sexy tale of Roxie, a private chef who gets a taste of love—but is it to stay, or to go? After losing almost all of her clients in one fell swoop following an accident involving whipped cream, private chef to Hollywood’s elite Roxie Callahan gets a call from her flighty mother, saying she’s needed home in upstate New York to run the family diner. Once she’s back in the Hudson Valley, local organic farmer Leo delivers Roxie a lovely bunch of walnuts, and soon sparks—and clothing—begin to fly. Leo believes that everything worth doing is worth doing slowly…and how! But will Roxie stay upstate, or will the lure of West Coast redemption tempt her back to Tinseltown?
I am a huge Alice Clayton fangirl, and ‘Nuts’ did not disappoint. Funny, sexy, and it made me want to look into my local farmer’s market and ‘buy local’ food movement. My Rating: 5 stars.
~THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE~ Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined. ~THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE~ Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light. Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.
A wonderful fantasy romance. If you liked The Last Hour of Gann, you’ll like this. If you thought Gann was too long or too violent, try Radiance instead. (If you haven’t read The Last Hour of Gann, you need to. Seriously. Click here for my raving review.) I loved the hero and heroine and their sense of humor about their situations. I also loved the slow, sweet romance that neither of them expected. Also, Radiance has great worldbuilding. My Rating: 5 stars.
New York’s Finest Blogging as *The Socialmedialite* April 22 LADIES AND GENTS! I have an announcement! You know that guy I featured on my blog a few months ago? The really, really hot Irish rugby player who plays the position of ‘hooker’ in the RLI (Rugby League International)? The one with the anger management issues, the body of a gladiator and the face of a movie star? The one with the questionable fashion choices leading me to ask whether he was the lovechild of a leprechaun and a hobbit? Ronan Fitzpatrick? Yeah, that guy. Well, I have a confession to make… THE HERMIT Annie Catrel, social media expert extraordinaire at Davidson & Croft Media and clandestine celebrity blogger, can make anyone shine in the court of public opinion. She is the Socialmedialite, anonymous creator of New York’s Finest and the internet’s darling. Virtual reality is Annie’s forte, but actual reality? Not so much. THE HOOKER Ronan Fitzpatrick, aka the best hooker the world of rugby has seen in decades, despises the media—social or otherwise. The press has spun a web of lies depicting him as rugby’s wild and reckless bad boy. Suspended from his team, Ronan has come to Manhattan to escape the drama, lay low, fly under the radar. Only, Ronan isn’t easy to overlook, and he can’t escape the notice of the Socialmedialite… THE PLAN When Ronan is sent to Davidson & Croft Media to reshape his public image, he never expects to cross paths with shy but beautiful Annie, nor does he expect his fierce attraction to her. He couldn’t be happier when her boss suggests pairing them together. What lengths will Annie take to keep her virtual identity concealed? And what happens when the hooker discovers who the hermit really is? The Hooker and the Hermit is a collaboration between authors L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid, is a full length 100k word novel, and is a standalone.
You guys, Penny Reid seriously took over Romancelandia this year – in addition to ‘The Hooker and the Hermit’, I also read and loved her ‘Elements of Chemistry’ trilogy (my review here), and ‘Truth or Beard’ (review here) – a Winston Brothers book that is a spin-off of her Knitting in the City series. My Rating: 5 stars.
On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.
A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.
Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.
I haven’t been much for historicals in quite some time, but this has me jonesing for more. Super cute, light and entertaining, I’m ready for more hot scots!! I used my Christmas gift card to buy three more historicals thanks to Ms. Dare! My Rating: 4 stars.
And an additional shout-out to a few reads that I should probably also mention:
- Sacked by Jen Frederick
- Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews
- The Master by Kresley Cole
- Caisey Quinn’s Neon Dreams series
Even though it’s not a book, I’m including a TV show in my list – Have you seen Netflix’s Sense8 yet? You need to. Seriously.
(Some brief nudity in the video, so probably NSFW)
I love the diversity of the cast and the originality of the show; there’s really nothing else like it on TV right now (that I’m aware of). This scene makes me swoony and happy every time I hear the song and I watch the video when I need cheering up.
What were some of your favorite reads in 2015? What are you looking forward to in 2016?
Share in the comments!