This was damn hard. However, there was only one book that I re-read twice this year.
Down and Out by Kelley R. Martin. Just seriously loved this book, mostly because I love the banter between the two. They’ve known each other for a little over a day at this point. After giving her a job the day before, he’s discovered she’s living in her car and brought her up to his place to feed her and make sure she has a safe place to sleep. This conversation takes place during that dinner.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
Laughing, I shake my head. “No. I don’t do relationships.”
Declan grabs his beer, preparing to take a sip. “You know, most girls who say they’re not looking for a relationship actually are.”
I shrug, smiling coyly. “I’m not most girls.” That was quick, even for me. He forgot all about asking me how I ended up in my car after only a few suggestive moves.
He takes a sip and asks, “So why don’t you do relationships?”
My brow lifts as I stare at him. “Are you telling me you do?” No. No freaking way does this beautiful, tattooed god prefer monogamy over an endless stream of women who would jump at the chance to jump him.
“Why does that sound so preposterous?” he asks, frowning.
I blink as my eyes widen marginally. Apparently he’s going to make me spell it out for him. “Well…look at you,” I say, gesturing to the sleeves of ink sticking out from the sleeves of his plain white tee. “You don’t really look like the relationship type.”
“What type do I look like?”
The reckless type who specializes in amazing sex.
I shrug, instinctively licking my lips as I look him over. “Short-lived fun.”
He leans back in his chair and folds his hands behind his head. His shoulders lift in a lazy shrug as he gives me a cocky smile. “Well, you’re not exactly wrong. I don’t do relationships either, only casual hookups.”
My lips press into a thin line, trying to suppress my smile. I knew it. I freaking knew it. “You’re giving me shit when I was right? You ass,” I say, playfully kicking him under the table.
He laughs, deep and throaty, as his head tilts back. I kind of like the sound. When he looks back at me, his green eyes are alight with warmth. “So tell me, Kitten, why don’t you do relationships?”
My eyes narrow on him as I pick up my sandwich and take another bite. I shouldn’t like that nickname at all, but it’s kind of growing on me. After I chew and swallow, I say, “Why don’t you?”
His lips twitch in amusement. “I asked you first.”
My eyes roll at the immature response, but this conversation’s turning out more entertaining than I thought, so I throw him a bone. “Because it’s a waste of time and perfectly good mascara. I say, save yourself the heartache and the drama. Buy a vibrator instead.”
Declan’s chair tips forward as his elbows lean on the table, his face growing animated. “Wait—do you have a vibrator? Can I see it?”
I nearly choke as laughter erupts out of me. “No! And hell no.” I’d never show it to him. I’d rather die first.
My face heats under his gleeful gaze. I should’ve known he’d take this whole vibrator thing and run with it.
“Just answer one question for me. How big is it?”
Now that is my kind of crack.
Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz. It’s not one of her Sinners books, which I also love, but that happens to be why I like it more. (I’m more a fan of comedy than drama, and the Sinners stuff can be awfully heavy.)
At that moment his phone buzzed. He picked it up and smiled at the text message from Beatriz. It read, What are you wearing?
Ben, as usual, had slept naked.
Leather chaps, he wrote back. And a clown nose. Don’t ask.
What are you doing? Beatriz texted.
Soliloquizing, which Autocorrect tried to change to “solo quizzing.” Ben changed it back.
Is that what they’re calling it now? We used to call it masturbating.
The last book in this trilogy came in just over the 2014 wire, so it counts.
The Fixed Trilogy from Laurelin Paige floored me.
What I love is how she teases out exactly how unsympathetic the hero is, fully revealing how awful he was (before the series started) near the end of the trilogy. And yet, he still feels believable as the protag despite that. As a writer, I’m in awe of how the information is doled out and how well it works. The other thing is that she actually managed to really surprise me, which is quite unusual.
In no particular order (more or less most to least recently read).
Living in Shadow by Jackie Ashenden. This is my second-favorite novel of the year, in part because it just struck so deeply for me. She’s on my auto-buy list as well. I’m saving Mine to Take for after I finish my current book.
Draw Me In by Regina Cole. She’s an art student. He’s a tattoo artist. Loved this new adult romance.
The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen. For a while, this looked like it would stay my favorite book of the year, and I wondered which Sarina Bowen would wind up my favorite. Also on the HM list: The Understatement of the Year, The Year We Hid Away, Coming In From the Cold, and Falling From the Sky. She’s an auto-buy for me, and I’m thankful to Dear Author for pointing me her way.
Damaged (1 & 2) by H. M. Ward. I was trying to figure out which of H. M. Ward’s books to add, and this was one of my favorites.
Second Chances by H. M. Ward and Stacey Mosteller. This one hit hard because of it opening with a widow.
Real, Mine, and Remy by Katy Evans. I didn’t like this quite as much as Kelley R. Martin’s book. Nor did I enjoy the later books quite as much as the first one. Loved the characters, though.
Singe and Crash by Ruby McNally, which I’ve previously written about.
Disengaged by Lauren Gallagher. I think I’m actually more behind on Gallagher/Witt books than I was at the start of the year, even though I bought most of her backlist. In this book, she works a thankless job at a jewelry store, he’s shopping for an engagement ring—for the wrong woman. I also enjoyed All the King’s Horses and I’ll Show You Mine. She’s one of my favorite authors, quite prolific, just most of her work published this year was M/M, which I read more slowly.
Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James. First of her books I’ve read. It was a Twitter read-a-long that I missed out on somehow, so I read it about a month later.
Tease by Sophie Jordan. It’s part of an NA series set in college. I’ve read all three, but this particular one was my favorite.
Take a Chance on Me by Jennifer Dawson. I have to admit, the runaway bride or groom is one of my favorite tropes, even though I think that’s way too late to have that level of reservation about marriage. This one worked better than most.
Lick by Kylie Scott. Waking up married is also one of my favorite tropes, and this one was one I particularly liked. Also nods for Lead and Play in the series.
Talent to Burn by Laura Welling. The only paranormal/UF to rank this year, and maybe even the only paranormal I read this year. I kind of overdosed on them last year, and found how much I loved NA, so my reading shifted a lot.
Last, but not least!
The Au Pair Affair by Bonnie Dee. He’s a nanny. He’s the nanny’s employer and a Hollywood producer. What could possibly go wrong?
I didn’t read enough LGBT this year (sorry), and my TBR pile includes about 50 LGBT books (many of them from a Samhain sale), so that may be a lot of next year’s reading.