Tag: Rowena’s Best of Lists

Best of 2019: The Series

Posted January 10, 2020 by Rowena in Features | 3 Comments

Casee

Guild Hunter by Nalini Singh: This series has been on my list for the last 5+ years. All the characters in the series are fascinating. The dynamic of Raphael and his Seven is fabulous. This series has layers upon layers and it’s so wonderful to discover something new. Nalini just makes this series fresh and new, I can’t help but be obsessed. Yes, obsessed.

Fight for Me by A.L. Jackson: This series was amazing. The relationships between the characters was so pleasing to read. The series started out with the parents and ended with the kids. It also went full circle and I was so satisfied when I was done reading it.

Chaos MC by Kristen Ashley: I am ever so grateful to Holly for recommending this series. Ride Steady (Joker) was so amazing. I loved every book I read in this series. It was very compelling.

Dream Man by Kristen Ashley: After reading the Chaos MC series, I had to know about the characters that were already established. Tack, Hawk, Mitch, etc. My favorite book was Tack’s. I just adore him.

The Others by Anne Bishop: Holly also recommended this series and she got a big hug for doing so. The narrator for this series is phenomenal. I love everything about the world of The Others. Everything.

Honorable Mentions: True North by Sarina Bowen, Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs, and Getting Some by Emma Chase.

Holly

Mystic Bayou by Molly Harper: I’m not generally one for lighter paranormals, but Molly Harper’s books are so fun I can’t help but love them. They aren’t campy or ridiculous, just..fun. I always finish each book with a smile on my face. I can’t wait for the next installment.

Demigod of San Francisco by K.F. Breene: I adore K.F. Breene as a whole, but this series has a special place in my heart. The Characters, Setting and Overall Story-Arc work for me in a big way. I highly recommend these if you haven’t already tried them.

The Ravenels by Lisa Kleypas: Kleypas is a long time favorite and one of the few historical romance authors I continued to read even while I was on a years-long hiatus from the genre. I have enjoyed every book in this series and I’m looking forward to the next (Cassandra and Tom!).

The Others by Anne Bishop: Bishop has such an amazing talent for writing fully immersive novels. I get swept away each time I read one. I loved the original Others novels, and I’m anxious to see where she takes us in this new spinoff.

Getting Some by Emma Chase: Sometimes I just want a straight-forward, contemporary romance novels featuring two adults who are falling in love. Not a lot of angst, not a lot of drama or miscommunications, just two adults who act like adults. That’s what Emma Chase has given us with this series. I love it.

Honorable Mentions: The Palace of Rogues by Julie Anne Long, Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews and Southern Eclectic by Molly Harper. I loved all of these as well, and look forward to more in the coming year.

Rowena

The Hoops Series by Kennedy Ryan: This series has been hitting me in my chest real hard the past couple of years and I’m so here for it. I loved August and Iris’ story when I read it last year and I completely adored Keenan and Lotus’ story this year. I cried so much reading both books that they’ve stayed with me this entire year. Of course, this series was making this list.

The All the King’s Men Duet by Kennedy Ryan: I’ve only read the first book in this series and it fucked me up. It was everything that I’ve come to love in a Kennedy Ryan book, complete with ugly crying and a hot hero and a fierce heroine. This series is going to be the death of me and I’m here for it.

The Bridesmaids Behaving Badly Series by Jenny Holiday: I bought all of the books in this series last year, I believe at the recommendation of a few book bloggers (I believe this was Nick’s recommendation) and then I finally read them this year and boy was I glad that I did. I really enjoyed all of the books in this series but my favorites were It Takes Two, and Merrily Ever After. This was one of my favorite series of 2019.

The Ravenels Series by Lisa Kleypas: I’ve been a long time fan of Lisa Kleypas’ work and when I read West and Phoebe’s story this year, I couldn’t get enough of it. I loved it so much that I’m pretty anxious to read Cassandra and Tom’s book, Chasing Cassandra. I have it for review and I cannot wait to jump right in. My anxiousness is why this series made my top 5 list for 2019.

The Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs: This was the one series that I binged to catch up. Even though I was pissed to high heaven while reading some of the books, I couldn’t get enough of the world that Briggs created for Mercy Thompson and her friends. This series just gets me.

Honorable Mentions: The Briar U Series by Elle Kennedy, The Palace of Rogues Series by Julie Anne Long, and The Company Series by Sarina Bowen. I loved each of these series a whole bunch and I’m stoked to continue them in the new year.

What were some of your favorite series from the year? Any series that we should add to our TBR piles in 2020? Share your favorites in the comments!


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Best of 2019: The Authors

Posted January 9, 2020 by Rowena in Features | 2 Comments

Casee

Nalini Singh: I would read a grocery list written on a paper bag by this woman. It should surprise no one that she’s on my list this year.

A.L. Jackson: I discovered A.L. this year and am so glad that I was open to try new authors. I’ve glommed almost her entire backlist. I just couldn’t quit her.

Kristen Ashley: For years I heard of KA from Holly & Rowena. It was just this year that I was ready to jump in and sweet baby Jesus, this woman is like book crack.

Meghan March: Meghan March is another new-to-me author this year and I listened to quite a few of her books. I love that she writes trilogies and duets. Her books aren’t for everyone, but they sure were for me.

Ilona Andrews: This year I discovered the Kate Daniels series as well as the Innkeeper series. I love this amazing duo and am so glad that I finally started reading their books.

Honorable Mentions: Anne Bishop, Lauren Blakely, and Emma Chase. All new-to-me authors in 2019 and they are all amazing.

Holly

Lauren Blakely: Lauren Blakely is a new go-to author for me. When I’m not sure what to read or listen to, I head for one of her books and almost always come away feeling happy.

Molly Harper: 2019 was the year of lighter reads for me, and Molly Harper was just what I was in the mood for. Harper writes fun characters, witty dialogue and a lot of humor.

K.F. Breene: I anticipate every new release Breene puts out. If you haven’t tried her, you really must.

Simone St. James: I discovered St. James in 2019 after a recommendation from Wendy, The Super Librarian. I haven’t loved every single book I’ve read from her, but I walk away from each wanting to immediately pick up another.

Ilona Andrews: As everyone knows, I re-read a lot. And most of what I re-read in 2019 came from Ilona Andrews.

Honorable Mentions: Kristen Ashley, Patricia Briggs, Helen Hoang

Rowena

Kennedy Ryan: My favorite author of 2019 goes to Kennedy Ryan. I read 3 books by her, all new releases, and two of them made it into my Top 5 books of the year. She’s doing everything right and I cannot wait to read more of her stuff next year. She writes angsty romances that make me ugly cry but I don’t even care. All of her 2020 releases can Come.To.Mama.

Patricia Briggs: I haven’t binge-read an author in a while. I only did it once in 2019 and Briggs was the author that I read. Her Mercy Thompson series is one that I really enjoy but there were times when I wanted Mercy to kill every damn person in Adam’s pack, Adam included and even when I finished my binge-read of like the last 10 books in this series, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop talking about it with Holly. I even browsed a couple of the books again, just so that I wouldn’t have to depart from Mercy yet. I’m like, obsessed with this series and that’s a credit to Briggs.

Ilona Andrews: It’s been over a year since I started reading Andrews (Thanks to Holly and Ames) and I continue to be completely obsessed with the Hidden Legacy series. Of course they were going to be included on this list. My love for their work continues to grow. I have so much love for their writing style and 2020 is the year that I catch up on the Innkeepers Chronicles and Kate Daniels series.

Helen Hoang: Helen Hoang kept the party going in 2019. When I first read The Kissing Quotient in 2018, I was pumped for more of Hoang’s story telling and though I didn’t enjoy The Bride Test as much as I enjoyed The Kiss Quotient, I still really enjoyed Hoang’s writing style and I’m super excited to continue my reading adventures in the new year with Quan’s story…or you know, whenever it comes out.

Sarina Bowen: I read a few books by Sarina Bowen in 2019 and she continues to shine with her hockey romances and with her new contemporary series, The Company? Yeah, I’m all on board for more romances from those characters. I adore Sarina Bowen’s writing and I have every faith that I will continue to love her books in 2020. She’s such a rock star!

Who were some of your favorite authors in 2019? We’d love to hear all about them in the comments!


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Best of 2019: The Heroines

Posted January 8, 2020 by Rowena in Features | 2 Comments

Casee

Lauren Grahame from Sweet Dreams by Kristen Ashley: I wasn’t sure about Lauren at first, but as I got farther along in the book I couldn’t help but admire her. She’s forty years old and is reinventing herself in a new town with a new job. I couldn’t help but love her.

Elena Devereaux from Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh: Elena is a bad ass bitch. I love how hard she was about work and protecting Raphael, but so soft when it comes to loving Raphael and her family. I adore Elena. Adore.

Keely Black from Wild Like the Wind by Kristen Ashley: I really disliked Keely at the beginning at the book. I didn’t like how she treated Hound and the MC. Then I realized how strong she was. Keely went through one of the worst things when she lost her husband. She’s ready to move on, but the club won’t accept her and Hound together. She comes to Hound’s defense so swiftly it shows how truly loyal she is. I ended up really admiring and liking her.

Kate Daniels from Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews: Kate speaks for herself. She’s very Elena-esque. She’s strong and capable. She takes care of herself and those she loves. She’s magic.

Lainey Burrows from Getting Played by Emma Chase: I liked how self-sufficient Lainey was. While she fell hard for Dean, she didn’t need him in her life to be happy. I loved that about her.

Holly

Angelique and Delilah from Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long: Delilah is the heroine of Lady Derring, but it was the friendship between the two women that really drew me into the story. While I loved Delilah on her own, I loved the two of them together more.

Clementine Johns from Repeat by Kylie Scott: Clem was nowhere near perfect, but I really loved how hard she worked to accept her new reality, how she grew into herself and how self-aware she became.

Phoebe, Lady Clare from Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Klepyas: Phoebe was kind of quiet in the previous books, but she really shone in her own. As a mother, friend, daughter and lover, she set aside her grief to do what she needed to. I loved her.

Elena Deveraux from Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh: Elena has always been a kickass heroine, and that was even more true in Archangel’s War. I love her strength, her heart and how fierce she is in her love for Raphael.

Sabrina Cross from Hard Sell by Lauren Layne: I freaking loved Sabrina. She was strong and confident in herself and her job, stood up for herself when needed and still managed to show vulnerability enough to give her added depth. I kind of want to be Sabrina when I grow up.

Rowena

Lotus DuPree from Hook Shot by Kennedy Ryan: Lotus DuPree rocked my socks. She was so fierce and so strong and right from the very beginning, I liked her. I thought she was awesome in Iris’ book but once she stepped into the spotlight of her own book, she really shined. I didn’t think that I would like any heroine more than I liked Iris but I was wrong. DuPree is one of my top heroines of the year. She was flat out awesome.

Lennix Moon Hunter from The King Maker by Kennedy Ryan: Lennix Moon Hunter is another example of a strong woman. This girl was running peaceful protests and activism runs when shew as seventeen years old and she grew up to become an even stronger person. She wasn’t perfect but holy cow was she relatable and I admired the hell out of her.

Kate Henley from Huge Deal by Lauren Layne: I loved and adored Kate in the previous two books in this series but I wasn’t prepared for how much I was going to love and adore her in her own book. There is just something about Kate and the love she had for Kennedy (and his blind ass) that just hit me in all of my feels. I loved how strong she was despite the fact that she knew Kennedy didn’t feel the same way…but boy when he finally does start seeing her??? Boiiii….Kate really shined putting him in his place. I loved her.

Mercy Thompson from The Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs: Mercy Thompson continues to be one of my favorite women in books. She is one of a kind, who loves with her whole heart and never leaves anyone behind. She fights for those who can’t fight for themselves, even when the odds are stacked against her. She may be down, but she’s never out and I completely love her.

Catalina Baylor from Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews: Catalina Baylor has a lot to learn about being a Prime, but she’s also got a lot to learn about being the Head of a House. She’s nowhere near the person she’s meant to be but I’m really interested in seeing her grow into her own. In the first full-blown book in her part of the series, Catalina proves to be made of stern stuff and I loved being a part of her journey. I can’t wait for the next book. Catalina was a highlight of the year for me and that’s why she’s on this list.

Who are your favorite heroines from 2019? Any heroines that kicked ass and took names that you fell in love with over the year? Share your favorite heroines in the comments!


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Best of 2019: The Heroes

Posted January 7, 2020 by Rowena in Features | 5 Comments

Casee

Raphael from Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh: Series, how can you not have Raphael on your list? He is so intense, as is his love for Elena. Raphael is so devoted to Elena that he will die for her and die without her. Sigh.

Evan Bryant from Hold on to Hope by A.L. Jackson: Evan was an amazing hero. He was so strong despite the hardships he has faced in his life. His devotion to Frankie was so sweet, I just couldn’t. Well, I could and did.

Kane “Tack” Allen from Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley: Tack was a man’s man. He was insufferable at the beginning of the book and I honestly didn’t expect to like him. When he decided Tyra was for him, he was all in. He didn’t play games, he didn’t jerk her around. It was just hot.

Carson “Joker” Steele from Ride Steady by Kristen Ashley: Sweet, steady, and alpha. What more do you want in a hero?

Curran from Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews: I’m honestly surprised that I love Curran as much as I do. I haven’t read the Curran POV stories, only the books. There is no POV from Curran, but I know exactly what he was thinking about Kate. The Beast Lord is everything I like in a paranormal hero.

Holly

Dean Walker from Getting Played by Emma Chase: Oh man. I loved Dean so much. He was such a stand-up guy. Comfortable with himself and his place in the world, Dean really stepped up to the plate when needed. I adored him.

Ed Larson from Repeat by Kylie Scott: First, I swear I could stare at the cover of this book all day. So hot. Anyway..Poor Ed got his heart broken, but that didn’t stop him from stepping up when Clem needed him. His steadfast loyalty and determination to keep Clem safe really worked for me.

Flynn Parker from Come As You Are by Lauren Blakely: Flynn is a billionaire tech genius, but you’d never know it. His down-to-earth personality and nerdy ways really grabbed me. I loved that he just wanted to be loved for himself.

Zach Nolan from Never Have I Ever by Lauren Blakely: Zach is a single dad and a lawyer. He was so fierce in his protection of his kids and his clients I couldn’t help but fall for him.

West Ravenel from Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas: I loved watching West come into himself as the series progressed. I loved how strong he was, how quick he was to recognize his faults and how support of Phoebe he was.

Honorable Mention: Khai Diep from The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. I loved Khai. Full stop. Period.

Rowena

Keenan Ross from Hook Shot by Kennedy Ryan: Man, my heart hurt for my boy Keenan. He was that gentle giant that made me go all soft for him. He was a good man who loved fiercely and was completely loyal to his loved ones. No matter how famous he got, how much money he made, Keenan was still one of the most down to earth rich guys that I read about this year. I freaking loved him.

Khai Diep from The Bride Test by Helen Hoang: Khai is a hero that I wasn’t expecting to love as much as I did. He was a unique hero, for sure. When we first met him in The Kiss Quotient, his blunt personality rubbed me the wrong way and I’ll admit, I didn’t even know that he was going to get his own story but man, getting to know what makes Khai, Khai? He won me the fuck over. I ended up loving the hell out of him and I cannot wait for his brother’s book.

Alessandra Sagredo from Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews: Alessandro Sagredo is one fine ass you know what. We don’t know very much about him right now, just that he loves him some Catalina Baylor and I don’t care about any of that. I have a good feeling about Alessandro. I look forward to getting to know about him in the next Hidden Legacy book. Mad Rogan is still my top hero but I don’t know, Alessandro might just overtake him…I loved me some Alessandro and I can’t wait for more of him in 2020.

Maxim Kingsman Cade from The King Maker by Kennedy Ryan: Maxim’s book is the last book that I read in 2019 so he’s the freshest in my mind. I loved his book so much, even though it ripped me to pieces but man, the amount of love that Maxim had for Lennix just hit all of my melty bones buttons. He was so intense and so in love with Lennix that it was hard not to feel some type of way about him as a man. We see him grow from a young man to a full-grown man who knows his own mind and is comfortable in his own skin and through it all, he loved him some Lennix Moon Hunter. And I loved him.

Kennedy Dawson from Huge Deal by Lauren Layne: Kennedy Dawson. My man, Kennedy Dawson. I loved him in his friend’s books and I looked forward to reading his book so much. Lauren Layne is one of my favorite authors and she didn’t disappoint me when I finally got my grubby little hands on Kennedy’s book. Kennedy was everything that I wanted him to be and seeing him blind to what was right in front of his eyes? Frustrated me but oh man did he make up for all of that frustration when he finally gets it. When he finally sees Kate and the passion that blooms right in front of his eyes? Gah, I’m complete trash for him. I freaking love him.

Who were some of your favorite heroes of 2019? Any heroes that melted your panties and warmed your heart? Share your favorites in the comments!


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Best of 2019: The Books

Posted January 6, 2020 by Rowena in Features | 11 Comments

It’s that time of year where we take stock of the books we’ve been reading. We take a look at the books that we loved, the books that we liked and the books that we hated. We put all of those books onto lists and then spend the first couple of weeks of the new year, sharing those lists with you guys. It’s always a lot of fun for us so here are the best of the books that we’ve all read in 2019. Check it out.

Casee

Archangel’s War (Guild Hunter #12) by Nalini Singh: I adored this book. I love Raphael and Elena. Reading about the how their relationship evolves always makes me a little squishy inside. I love seeing Elena’s strength throughout this book. I just loved it.

Hold on to Hope (Fight For Me #4) by A.L. Jackson: This book. Evan. Frankie Leigh. Sigh. These two were childhood sweethearts and their bond throughout the book showed that. They have to fight their way back to each other. When they did, it was magic.

Ride Steady (Chaos #3) by Kristen Ashley: Omg. Joker. He was everything. This is a reunion book. I loved, loved Joker and Carissa’s story.

Sweet Dreams (Colorado Mountains #2) by Kristen Ashley: I was blown away by this book. First, Lauren is in her forties. I loved that. I loved that Tate and Lauren were older and still got their HEA. Seeing Lauren come alive after such devastation was really uplifting.

Wanderlust by Lauren Blakely: This was my first Lauren Blakely book and I was pretty much blown away. I listened to it on audio and not only did it have the best narrators, it was just a feel good story. There was no game playing with these two. They were upfront with each other from the beginning. I really appreciated that.

Honorable Mentions: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, Show Me the Way by A.L. Jackson, and Wild Like the Wind by Kristen Ashley. I did love all these books.

Holly

Repeat by Kylie Scott: This was my most re-read book of 2019. I believe I read and/or listened to this book every month this year. Sometimes more than once in a month. I really loved Clem and her journey to finding herself after she’s attached and ends up with amnesia.

Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long: I was ridiculously exited to see JAL return to historical romance and this book was everything I wanted. Although I loved the romance, it was the relationship between the two women in the book – Angelique and Delilah – that really got me. They were fabulous.

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James: I don’t know that this was really a perfect book, but it was exactly what I was in the mood for when I picked it up. I loved the creepy atmosphere of Portis House and the narrator, Mary Jane Wells, did a great job of pulling me into the story.

Never Have I Ever by Lauren Blakely: Rowena and I have been craving Single Dad Romances for ages, and this is the first one I’ve come across that had everything I didn’t even know I needed. I adored the entire book, from the kids to their relationship with their dad to the romance. It was fabulous.

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan: I haven’t reviewed this book yet, because I haven’t figured out how to talk about the book without blathering on like an idiot. Needless to say, I loved it. And if you haven’t read it, you really should. It’s wonderful.

Honorable Mentions: Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder, The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith and Bayou Born by Hailey Edwards.

Rowena

Devil’s Daughter (The Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas: I still remember how much joy I had while reading this book. I know that I enjoy a book with how many *squee* texts that I send Holly during my reading of a book. Holly received plenty of texts from me while I was reading this. I freaking loved it. West and Phoebe are such great characters and Kleypas did their romance justice. Good stuff.

Huge Deal (21 Wall Street #3) by Lauren Layne: This is probably my favorite book of the year. I’ve read it three times since it came out and I’ve listened to it once on audiobook. I also made my book club read it and they loved it too. Kennedy and Kate’s story is my jam and I adored this one to pieces.

Hook Shot (The Playbook #3) by Kennedy Ryan: Kennedy Ryan makes her way onto my Best of List this year twice. I loved the hell out of Hook Shot and thought that both Lotus and Keenan were fabulous characters. I cried a lot while I read this book and I think Lotus is my favorite character of the year. She was just all of the good things. Their romance wasn’t an easy one but man was it a satisfying one when they finally figured out how to be together. Gah, this book was so freaking good.

The King Maker (All the Kings Men #1) by Kennedy Ryan: This book was not an easy read but man did I love both Lennix and Maxim. They were such strong characters on their own but were a force to be reckoned with together. I love how much Maxim loved Lennix and how fiercely Lennix fought her true feelings for Maxim. They are the definition of meant to be together. Kennedy Ryan writes fantastic novels and this is one of my top reads of the year. It’s also the last book that I read in the year. I’m going to jump right into The Rebel King just as soon as I can.

Brazen and the Beast (The Bareknuckled Bastards #2) by Sarah MacLean: Sarah MacLean writes fabulous historical romances that never fails to get me all up in my feels. That was no exception with this book. Hatie and Beast were such a great couple and I adored their romance. I was so here for the Year of Hattie and I loved seeing Beast fall in love with her with every passing page. Gah, this was so good.

Honorable Mentions: I also really loved The Risk by Elle Kennedy and Merrily Ever After by Jenny Holiday. Those were fantastic reads and I loved them too.

What were your favorite books of 2019? Anything we should know about and add to our TBR Piles for 2020? Share your favorite books in the comments!


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