2018 – Part 1

My Yearbook of Awesome Books has come around again. I hope you find some favourites or some potential next reads. (Please note, when talking about a series, I’m only using the blurb of book 1, to avoid spoilers for the series)

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Lavender Shores 1-8, by Rosalind Abel

Confident businessman Joel Rhodes sees the small California town of Lavender Shores as nothing more than a business opportunity and a final stepping stone to the position he’s been working toward his entire life. It was supposed to be just one night in town to close the deal, and sleeping with one of the local men, no matter how gorgeous, meant nothing more than a few hours of fun.
Andrew Kelly is perfectly content with the life he has in his hometown. So much so that the only thing missing is someone to share it with. Going to bed with a tourist was never meant to be the answer to his dreams, just a beautiful distraction. He could get back to looking for Mr. Right the next day.
Both Andrew’s and Joel’s worlds are turned upside down when a few hours of pleasure get extended to a couple of days. Even that shouldn’t have been a big deal. You can’t fall in love in that amount of time. That isn’t how it works. However, if destinies collide, a few short days may be all it takes to find your soul mate. Even so, when secrets and motivations get tangled, fate may do nothing more than leave two hearts in pieces.

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Review:

“I could prattle on and on about the chemistry between the characters, the brilliantly orchestrated plot and how, even though I knew the final fall had to happen, I was still shocked, crying and gutted when it did. I could tell you that I was surprised, that I fell in love, that I grieved, that I broke and it wouldn’t make a difference. Not until you read it yourself. Because, quite honestly, I spent 50% of this book smiling so much it made my face hurt, while I spent the other 50% crying. This is a kick-your-feet, blush-while-giggling, I-promise-to-ship-Andrew-and-Joel-until-the-day-I-die kind of read. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll be all the better for it, because this is one story – one couple and one series – you don’t want to miss.”

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Incubus Adored, by Ki Brightly

Peirs had accepted his life of servitude to an angel. His keeper asked only for a willing body, and in exchange his needs were met and he was fed and clothed. Peirs might have served the angel forever—it was the only life he knew—but one day Peirs discovered something he had no way to plan for. After two millennia, he was pregnant. Peirs now must summon the courage to escape his master and the unbendable divine law that declared no half-breeds should live, but running into an angelic soldier in the back room of a bar wasn’t part of his plan.
After years of begging to go to the battlefields on Earth, Tabbis, the youngest angel in Heaven, finally got his assignment. Ready for heroics and bloodshed, he was stunned when he found enchanting and seductive Peirs instead. Tabbis was duty bound to kill Peirs, but Peirs’s very existence challenged everything Tabbis thought he knew.
Tabbis needs answers. Peirs wants nothing more than to save his baby and live in peace. Can they band together to help each other? Or will the wrath of Heaven tear them apart?

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Review:

“the world building and characterisation were spot on, for what I look for in a novel, and the general plot was well written, well paced, and had a satisfying ending. The dual POV allowed us to get to know both characters and see events from both sides, while also showing events that only one of them was present for. I felt fully immersed in the contemporary world, angels and demons fight, while slowly learning more about how they functioned, blended, and where the incubus fitted in. And I can’t wait to read the next book, which I hope will pick up the story of Hadrian and Lucifer’s journey, and hopefully offer a HEA/HFN for one or both of them.

I’ll definitely be reading more of this series.”

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Port Lewis Witches 1-2, by Brooklyn Ray

Port Lewis, a coastal town perched on the Washington cliffs, is surrounded by dense woods, and is home to quaint coffee shops, a movie theater, a few bars, two churches, the local college, and witches, of course.
Ryder is a witch with two secrets—one about his blood and the other about his heart. Keeping the secrets hasn’t been a problem, until a tarot reading with his best friend, Liam Montgomery, who happens to be one of his secrets, starts a chain of events that can’t be undone.
Dark magic runs through Ryder’s veins. The cards have prophesized a magical catastrophe that could shake the foundation of Ryder’s life, and a vicious partnership with the one person he doesn’t want to risk.
Magic and secrets both come at a cost, and Ryder must figure out what he’s willing to pay to become who he truly is.

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Review:

“Just as the characterisation and world building were expertly done, so was the chemistry between Liam and Ryder. I loved every minute of their relationship. From Liam discovering and teasing away Ryder’s secrets, to watching Ryder navigate this half world he lived in while trying not to hurt Liam in the process of exploring his birth-given gifts.
Overall, I loved it. It made me smile and cry and feel happy all at once. It reminded me of The Secret Circle books, in a good way, and is going to make a great addition to my favourites shelf.
Can I get Donovan’s book next, please? Pretty please?”

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The Devil You Know, by Camilla Quinn

Tom used to be a lot of things: assassin, interrogator, sadist. But for the past decade he’s worked on being a better person, a good father to his loving daughter. But for a man with his past, a bullet is the only end he can expect—he just hopes his daughter will survive the inevitable fallout.
Doro has no illusions about himself: provocateur, infiltrator, killer. Even though he’s one of the youngest assets the Vaylen Crime Family puts in the field, he’s skilled and eager to prove himself.
After years of civil war, the Family has finally settled, and their leader wants to tie up loose ends. That includes sending Doro to get rid of the only man to ever walk away from the Family, the man once known as The Devil.

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Review:

“This was a refreshing and original take on the whole assassin/mafia enforcer theme. Overall, it was a great exploration of the genre, with originality and great characters. I’d love to read more with these characters, but I also really love the perfectly ambiguous and HFN ending.”

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The Wanderer, by Rowan McAllister

After centuries of traveling the continent of Kita and fighting the extradimensional monsters known as Riftspawn, mage Lyuc is tired and ready to back away from the concerns of humanity.
But the world isn’t done with him yet.
While traveling with a merchant caravan, Lyuc encounters Yan, an Unnamed, the lowest caste in society. Though Yan has nothing but his determination and spirit, he reminds Lyuc what passion and desire feel like. While wild magic, a snarky, shapeshifting, genderfluid companion, and the plots of men and monsters seem determined to keep Lyuc from laying down his burden, only Yan’s inimitable spirit tempts him to hang on for another lifetime or so.
All Yan wants is to earn the sponsorship of a guild so he can rise above his station, claim a place in society, and build the family he never had.
After hundreds of years of self-imposed penance, all Lyuc wants is Yan.
If they can survive prejudice, bandits, mercenaries, monsters, and nature itself, they might both get their wish… and maybe even their happily ever after.

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Review:

“I loved the story and the characters, how it all came together and felt like a complete novel as well as the beginning to a series. The characters stole my heart right from the beginning – Lyuc with his weary-of-the-world mentality and Yan because of his feisty nature – and I never really got over it. Through all the action and the Rift plot, I was so engrossed in their relationship that I didn’t mind the HFN ending. Though the Rift plot line isn’t finished, it was pretty well rounded off for what Lyuc and Yan had experienced so far that it made sense not to rush it. It will continue in the next book and I can’t wait to read that.”

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Earthly Pleasures, by Sera Trevor

Prince Paurick is a hedonistic degenerate—or at least that’s what his father and the rest of the royal family thinks of him, and he’s happy to live down to their expectations. But when the crops of their kingdom start failing, the king commands that Paurick be joined to Brother Laurel, a monk, in order to combine Paurick’s royal magic with that of the Goddess, and thus bring fertility back to the land. The union is only meant to be temporary, but Brother Laurel is so ugly and prudish that it might as well be an eternity. However, as they get to know one another, Paurick realizes he has misjudged Laurel and finds himself falling for the thoughtful and sensitive young man. The fate of the kingdom relies on their sexual union, but as time goes on, it becomes clear that the fate of their hearts is in jeopardy as well.

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Review:

“Earthly Pleasures was a beautiful story about love, growth, faith, and not judging others by their outward appearance. The beautiful thing about Paurick and Laurel isn’t just their romance, but the fact that they don’t change for each other, they don’t seduce each other, and they don’t compromise who they are for each other. They simply find in each other something they never knew they wanted or needed. And they’re strong enough to accept that, to embrace it, and to welcome the love that falls into their laps, by the grace of the Goddess.

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New Heights, by Quinn Anderson

After attending a friend’s wedding in New York, James Thompson is eager to go home, even though no one will be waiting for him at the gate. He has no expectations for his trip back to Charleston other than long lines, security, and bad airplane food. But when an annoying—albeit hot—stranger cuts him in line, James is determined not to be a pushover for once.
For Mika “It’s Mee-kuh, not Micah” Bailey, today’s just another day of boring work travel. That is, until his flight gets delayed, and some irritating (but handsome) guy keeps hogging all the good power outlets. Which means war. In the middle of an airport. In New York. What could go wrong?
Eventually, they declare a truce, and as they get to know each other, their attraction overwhelms them both. Terrified of what he’s feeling, Mika suggests a no-strings hookup, but serial-monogamist James wants more. If they don’t fight for what’s right in front of them, their romance might be canceled before it ever takes off.

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Review:

“Adorable. Sweet. Hilarious. Snarky. Brilliant. All inadequate ways of describing this book. These boys dove deep into the dark end of the secret pool and helped each other deal with some real issues. There was great chemistry, right from the first stolen charger to the last boat ticket. Characterisation was spot on. And I want to add a huge Thank You to the author for that Epilogue. I know that I could have been perfectly happy with the ending as it was, but the Epilogue added a little something special that had me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. So thanks for that.”

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Studies in Demonology 1-3, by T.J. Nichols

Angus Donohue doesn’t want to be a warlock. He believes draining demons for magic is evil, but it’s a dangerous opinion to have—his father is a powerful and well-connected warlock, and Angus is expected to follow the family tradition.
His only way out is to fail the demon summoning class. Failure means expulsion from the Warlock College. Despite Angus’s best efforts to fumble the summoning, it works. Although not the way anyone expects.
Angus’s demon, Saka, is a powerful mage with his own need for a warlock.
Saka wants to use Angus in a ritual to rebalance the magic that is being stripped from Demonside by warlocks. If Angus survives his demon’s desires and the perils of Demonside, he’ll have to face the Warlock College and their demands.
Angus must choose: obey the College and forget about Demonside or trust Saka and try to fix the damage before it’s too late. Whatever he does, he is in the middle of a war he isn’t qualified to fight.

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Review:

“With a well plotted, exceptionally written and unique storyline, T.J. Nichols impressed me to no end. Not only is this story intriguing and the characters thrillingly engaging, but it was an excellent first foray into their novel writing (as I’ve only read a short story before.) I will eagerly be returning to more of their work. There is a perfect balance of detail, action and description that allows the reader to sink deep into the story and the world, without feeling any more out of place than Angus first felt when he entered Demonside.
Powerful. Moving. Stunning.”

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Tremontaine Seasons 1-2, by Ellen Kushner

Welcome to Tremontaine, the prequel to Ellen Kushner’s beloved Riverside series that began with Swordspoint! A Duchess whose beauty is matched only by her cunning; her husband’s dangerous affair with a handsome scholar; a foreigner in a playground of swordplay and secrets; and a mathematical genius on the brink of revolution—when long-buried lies threaten to come to light, betrayal and treachery know no bounds with stakes this high. Mind your manners and enjoy the chocolate in a dance of sparkling wit and political intrigue.
Tremontaine is an episodic serial presented by Serial Box Publishing.

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Review:

“This collection sucked me right into the world of Riverside and Tremontaine. Through all these characters – all of whom provide a POV scene of their own, at some point, no matter how large or minor – have a bearing on the overall plot. Through their eyes (sometimes omni-present) we watch the mystery of the Tremontaine house unfold. And potentially disintegrate. And I absolutely love that it’s Ellen Kushner who bookends the season, writing the first and last chapters. Although, I do have to admit that Episode 10, by Joel Derfner gave me a book hangover.”

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Murder Takes the High Road, by Josh Lanyon

Librarian Carter Matheson is determined to enjoy himself on a Scottish bus tour for fans of mystery author Dame Vanessa Rayburn. Sure, his ex, Trevor, will also be on the trip with his new boyfriend, leaving Carter to share a room with a stranger, but he can’t pass up a chance to meet his favorite author.
Carter’s roommate turns out to be John Knight, a figure as mysterious as any character from Vanessa’s books. His strange affect and nighttime wanderings make Carter suspicious. When a fellow traveler’s death sparks rumors of foul play, Carter is left wondering if there’s anyone on the tour he can trust.
Drawn into the intrigue, Carter searches for answers, trying to fend off his growing attraction toward John. As the unexplained tragedies continue, the whole tour must face the fact that there may be a murderer in their midst—but who?

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Review:

“This was a roller coaster of classic murder mystery who-dun-it. Full of twists, turns, and misdirects, it can stand up there with some of the best in the genre. I can’t wait to read more.”

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Struck, The Lightning Project #1, by Victoria Kinnaird

Capes are stupid.
Superheroes are just wishful thinking.
True love doesn’t exist.
I’m not a hero.
Well…not yet.
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A seventeen-year-old hacker, a group of teenage superheroes and one hell of a family secret come together to form the perfect storm.
Are you ready to get struck?

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Review:

“Struck is the Marvel-worthy origin story where ‘The Runaways’ meets ‘Riverdale’. All the snark, sarcasm, awkward flirtations, and the reality of being an angry teen, wrapped up into a YA story that is all plot and substance and no filler. Oh, and a special cameo by Forever Fading Echoes, a band of Kinnaird’s creation that appear in her Keswick Chronicles novels. What’s not to love?”

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#lovehim, Books 1-4, by S.M. James

Dance Academy reject, Archie Corrigan, resents the stereotype guy ballet dancers are gay. Because he isn’t. At all. Forced to reassess his life goal at Camp Crystal Cove, it’s by sheer dumb luck he meets Landon Summers, who turns everything Archie was sure of into chaos.
Poor boy turned teen heartthrob, Landon Summers, is the name on everyone’s lips. With his unexpected leap to fame, his agent advises him to keep his bi status on the down low. Not a problem! Until Landon meets Archie.
Their unexpected friendship leads to an inevitable kiss, but their moment is caught in high definition and used as fuel for blackmail. If the truth gets out, Landon’s career could be over, and Archie will be forced to acknowledge the one thing he’s fought to deny.
But how do you go back to your average life once you’ve experienced That Feeling When … you’re finally happy?

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Review:

“I cried. I loved it. It was perfect. Adorkable. Sweet. Ridiculously beautiful. And exactly what I needed.
That Feeling When…is an adorkable story of young love, blushing romance, self discovery, and growing up, wrapped in a summer camp, teen angst, and the absolutely awful hormones of teen life. I can’t wait to read more.”

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