Favorites of 2017
The books we just couldn’t put down this year, in no particular order! Click to see reviews (where available).
Sanctuary (A Tale from the Mercy Hills Universe) By Ann-Katrin Byrde
This was by far my favorite book of the year, and since Ann-Katrin always makes my favorites lists that’s no big surprise. A friends-to-lovers book that follows two shifters, Ori and Patton, this book is full of sweetness and adventure. Ori and Patton have always been best friends and in their heart of hearts they know they’ve always loved one another, but omegas like Ori can only mate with alphas not betas like Patton. When Ori’s parents plan to mate him to someone he doesn’t want, the two decide to defy their pack and families and run away to Mercy Hills, where it’s rumored omegas have more options in life then just being married off and having babies. This is a story set in the same universe as her Mercy Hills series, though the books in this series aren’t tied into the main plot line. I’d still recommend reading the other books in the first series before this one but you don’t necessarily have to to understand this book.
How to Save a Life (Howl at the Moon Book 4) by Eli Easton
This isn’t a new series to my favorites lists, either. This is just such an adorable and fluffy series that always makes me feel better when I ‘m having a bad day, and this book is no different. As full of heart as the other books in this series, this book follows dog shifter Sammy and rescue shelter owner Rav. Ever since some strange people came and helped him find dogs lost in the desert, Rav has been curious about what’s going on in the town of Mad Creek and this curiosity only increases when a rescue dog Sammy runs away straight to the little town. Sammy’s life has been very difficult, but he feels safe once he makes it to the dog shifter sanctuary Mad Creek. But then Rav follows Sammy to Mad Creek and everything changes. A wonderful feel good novel for cold days!
Feral Dust Bunnies (Offbeat Crimes Book 4) and Jackalopes and Woofen-Poofs (Offbeat Crimes Book 5) by Angel Martinez
I love the Offbeat Crimes series, and I honestly think these two books are the very best of the series so far. I think the reason I love these books in particular so much is because I ADORE Officer Alex Wolf and Jason Shen. They are both just wonderful! Wolf is so sweet and innocent, and I really loved learning his backstory. And his relationship with Jason was lovely and built up so nicely over these two books. That’s just the characters, and it doesn’t even include the adorable kitten that comes into Wolf’s life! This quirky, fun, and smart series is a must read that is full of great characters and interesting ideas. I wasn’t as fond of the third book, but don’t let that stop you from continuing the series because these books shouldn’t be missed!
Mick and Michelle by Nina Rossing
This was an amazing and thoughtful young adult novel. I loved the way this book handled a young transgirl coming to terms with her life and coming out to her friends and family. Michelle decided that she’d tell everyone that she’s a girl during the summer, but other things keep coming up. But her body is changing and she knows she doesn’t have much time left. This book is full of great and fun characters, both good and bad, and all the interactions were realistic. This was a fun and insightful coming of age story that I highly recommend.
Slow Heat by Leta Blake
Shelter the Sea by Heidi Cullinan
Risky Behavior by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.
Reading is probably my favorite hobby, which always makes these lists so challenging, so I try and remember to make a list in my Kindle of my favorites as I read them (and sometimes only remember with the books I review until I see other lists!). That said, it is rare that I can make a list of only 10, especially if a favorite author releases more than one book in a year! As I have said before, Hearts has given me the opportunity to read a lot of great books and for me, that means getting pulled into a story and not wanting to leave, which happened with most of the books on this list!
This was the first book I read for a review in 2017 and it immediately went on my favorites list! There was the element of seemingly opposites attracting, characters getting a new start but I really enjoyed how the author managed to create a balance between the characters of Max and Jake, step away from assumed roles and also include not only the progression of their relationship, but the ones with others in their lives.
A hopeful romance where the supporting characters are equally as important as the lead characters made this a 5 heart review for me this year. In my review, I commented on Stan getting the best line in the book in a conversation with Tone, who is Ben’s coworker and bandmate who is a key component in this book, when Stan says to him “He sees the girl and likes her, and can touch the boy and like him too. He doesn’t try and make me ‘fit’ into any tick box category”, I still love that line. The story is told in two parts and while the second part definitely requires tissues, it is very much worth it!
Angel Martinez – Angel Martinez as an author has been on my favorites list since 2015, simply because I love her writing and generally, with each year, I cannot pick just one book that I love more than another of hers! The reason being, she has an amazing imagination for characters and worlds, yet writes in such a way that the stories, characters and worlds seem very real – and yes, it is very disappointing to realize that sadly, no, you will not be able to go to Philadelphia to find the 77th Precinct, the paranormal police department of Offbeat Crimes that were the focus of Angel’s 2017 writing. The first two stories were rereleased in 2016 and were on my favorites list for last year. This year brought Skim Blood and Savage Verse; Feral Dust Bunnies then Jackelopes and Woofen-Poofs! We somehow missed reviewing the three books released this year, another comes out in January, so I definitely have to get a review done for that one! Amongst the characters, you have the vampire who cannot handle whole blood (hence the skim blood reference), the officer who once was a wolf, now a man and no, not a werewolf as he cannot shift and the various special officers of Leather Jacket (L J), Hunter, Tim and Audacity the kitten! While the series (and their fun titles) suggest they are humor, I find that the characters and the world they are in are so well put together, that there is so much heart in here and some very serious situations, even if they are odd, to me it is a complete mix of adventure and humor set in the paranormal. She also released a science fiction holiday story that I did get to review, Safety Protocols for Human Holidays, where again, she displays her ability to create all these different species who work together on a ship and how the emotions of their one human crew leads to a wonderful bonding of the entire crew just because one Growlan security officer wanted to make one Human feel better and they unexpectedly found a whole lot more – and isn’t that what you want in a holiday story?!? I am in awe of the imagination that is Angel Martinez and as a reader, that is why she is always on my favorites list!
Lissa Kasey – This author had three releases this year and no, I could not just pick one! In 2017, she released Painting with Fire (Survivors Find Love #1); An Arresting Ride (Survivors Find Love #2) and the final book in the Haven Investigations series, Model Exposure. All contemporary books this year, the Survivors series deals with characters who have experienced or witnessed abuse, so readers should know about that, but how that shapes them, how they live their lives and how they come to find love. Model Exposure is the final book in the Haven Investigations series and as with all the books, the path for Ollie and Kade to happiness is never a straight road for these two, but as with the Survivors series, is so wonderfully written, I would recommend them all. All of these books were tough to put down and will remain favorites for me.
A.M. Arthur – another favorite over just a book listing for this year, A.M. Arthur has also been here before! She released quite a few books this year, but I did manage to trim my list to my four absolute favorites! As I Am (All Saints 3), where we finally get Will’s story, who first made an appearance in the book Getting it Right and all us readers have been wanting his story ever since…not disappointed at all! Their Lives as They Live It (Perspectives 4) is another one fans have been waiting for, the story of Bear and Richard, Gabe’s dads, being able to learn about their love story was a lovely surprise. Heard: An Omegaverse Story (Breaking Free Book 3) was one of the new directions the author took this year with writing paranormal and this book was my favorite of the series so far as I just fell for the character of Jax, the omega for this story. My absolute favorite for the year was Uniquely Us (Us #3) as I’d already grown to care for the character of Del in the Here for Us and Sound of Us books so his journey in this book of learning his value, identifying as asexual and how he and Taro develop their relationship, it was wonderful! As I have said before, such great characters, imperfect and vulnerable with challenging situations that come across as so real that you really wish for them to find their happiness.
Another great character driven story I really enjoyed reading by another new to me author this year. While it seems the main character of Cam is unaffected by the loss that takes him back to the island where he used to spend his summers and he is tough to figure out, but at the same time, he is following the terms he was given in his Aunt’s will. It is a story of new beginnings and going back home at the same time. I highly recommend it.
This is a bittersweet one to add, we lost the talent that is Eric Arvin in December of 2016, but he had finished this book before he had been hospitalized. Eric is a visceral writer where you get to fully immerse yourself in his stories. This is a fantasy story with a mix of challenging and amazing scenes, but as always, he uses these challenging experiences to take you to a meaningful place or lesson, which seemed to be his legacy. I would not only recommend this book, but if you have not read his other books, please do!
I will be honest that I was hesitant about this book at first because I was afraid I would not be able to properly appreciate the story and give it a proper, in depth review as many fans of the genre do. And I think I even stated that in my review, but I really enjoyed this story and while there was a lot of action going on, it was incredibly well paced and hard to put down. The world building was fantastic as I felt I was right in the scenes I was reading and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book!
With holiday stories, particularly around Christmas, I have been enjoying the different stories authors have been doing of traditions of other faiths in recent years. Freddy MacKay has taken that idea just a bit further, although it is set just before Christmas, this story explores the celebration of Shab-e Yalda, an Iranian tradition of the staying up to see the light come up after the dark. This celebration is very symbolic for the two men in the story. I found it to be a very hopeful story, both for the tradition itself as well as for the characters of Amir and Esmail. The author is also helpful in adding a description of the celebration and the traditional foods that are part of it.
House of Cards (Porthkennack Book 4) by Garrett Leigh
I bought this book based on Barb’s review back in July, describing an author who gets to the heart of a character so the readers are engaged quickly – she was right! I loved it and have started reading other Porthkennack stories as a result. They do not have to be read in order, but this one has gotten me started on this author as well, which is part of why it’s on my favorites of 2017 list! (thanks Barb!)
Runner by Parker Williams
Sadly, we did not review this book, but I loved the character of Matt, who has a strictly controlled life after surviving a terribly betrayal at sixteen and now lives with both OCD and PTSD and just when he thinks he’s found a measure of comfort, a stranger begins to run on Matt’s road, who we later find out is Charlie. Matt is sweet and brave and trying to find a way to live and for the most part, his family and the town have been trying to help him in whatever way they can. It is a beautifully written story that definitely requires tissues!
The best time is when I get to sit down and read, particularly after a long and stressful day. I read a lot, from cookbooks to how to’s to my favorite thing – MM romance. This year’s favorites have little in common except for the fact that they made me want to not put the book down, that I have read them all more than once already and that in whatever way, they each made me feel.
Love is Heartless (Love Can’t Book 2) by Kim Fielding
Step by Step by K.C. Wells
Enemy Within: Executive Office #3 by Tal Bauer
Any Given Sunday (Southern Scrimmage Book 6) by Mercy Celeste
A Worthy Man (Men of Halfway House Book 5) by Jaime Reese
The Master Will Appear by L.A. Witt
City Boy (Hot Off the Ice Book 1) by A.E. Wasp
Illegal Contact (The Barons) by Santino Hassell
Kidnapped By the Pirate by Keira Andrew
Guys On the Bottom (Guys Book 3) by Darien Cox