We’ve all relied on distractions this year. I know I have. Books have been a lifeline and have taken us to other places, far away from the world we’ve had to live in.
I have read so many wonderful books over the past twelve months, so choosing a Top Ten has been extremely difficult. Only three have been pure romance and each of the three were exceptional. Two were mystery and crime stories and among the best I’ve ever read in that genre. The remaining books on my list veered into other genres – science fiction, fantasy and the supernatural. I needed some escapism it seems.
I recommend each and every one and hope that you will have a look at my reviews and maybe try them for yourselves. Here are my Top Ten, in alphabetical order
Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton
The Lost Templeof Psiere by K Aten
The Thing About Tilly by G Benson
Never Too Late for Heroes by A.L. Brooks
Spirited by Julie Cohen
Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star by Fletcher Delancey
‘Addie Mae’ hits the sweet spot when it comes to lesbian romance. Maddy is ending an awful marriage but her husband and his family aren’t going to make it easy. How can she escape with her dignity and finances intact, when her rich in-laws have the means to make her suffer? Will she spill the beans on her unfaithful husband and his philandering ways? All that matters is the love and respect of her son. What will his reaction be?
As she adjusts to her new life, gorgeous butch Jessie appears on the scene. Can Maddy take a chance on love? Is Jessie all she seems?
It’s a well-written and engaging story, with a fascinating setting and premise. I really liked the main characters, and those around them. There was ultimately a feel-good vibe. I loved it.
‘Sliding Doors’ by Karen Klyne is one of those surprising books that makes the reader ask “What if?”.
Gemma Tennant is so unhappy. She hates her life and feels worthless with no way out. When she’s offered the chance to change all that, through a sliding door to a parallel existence – will she take it? This intriguing start really piqued my interest . I wanted to see where the author was going with it. The unfortunate woman who ends up swapping lives with Gemma, Alex Gambol, doesn’t have a clue that it’s going to happen. Let’s just say she’s none too happy. Her own life had been pretty mundane and if she thought about it, she was just going through the motions. Nevertheless, swapping lives with someone against your will is going to cause some problems and a certain amount of resentment.
I must admit I did not like Alex at all at first, but by the end she was my favourite character in the book. Ms Klyne’s skilful storytelling took me on a journey where my preconceptions were turned on their head. I really liked Reece too. She was sweet and understanding and her kindness really shone through. I really enjoyed seeing how each of them adjusted to their new lives. And changed for the better. It’s a fantastic story that had me on the edge of my seat at some points. It’s about second chances, being true to yourself and finding a way to live that feels right. It was a wonderful story, full of magic and wonder and mystery. It was also, ultimately, beautifully romantic and I defy anyone not to have a wee tear in their eye. I absolutely loved it.
‘Once In Sweden’ is the story of two women, both hurting and confused. Nurse Aubrey has made a decision that has caused so much pain. Did she do the right thing? Looking back she’s not so sure. Elina is in a dark place after a break-up and her friends decide she needs a break away from it all to recover. Will she let them help her? Does she have the strength to get over it?
I like the Swedish setting. It was so refreshing to read a story set somewhere different. I was fascinated to learn about life there, the customs, the differences. The story was emotional and tear-jerking at times but also passionate and loving. It includes one of the most intense sex scenes I’ve read. It was pivotal to the story and written with such feeling. The story was about heartbreak, and realising that opening oneself up to love can sometimes mean risking that heartbreak. But it can also mean the chance for true love. Beautiful, empowering love.
Do you ever read a love story and feel immediately that it’s meant to be? Well that’s exactly what happened when I read ‘Love On The Night Shift’. I love the Rivers series with a passion. Every single time, I’m convinced the one I’m currently reading is my all-time favourite and can’t be topped. But they get better and better as the series progresses. Blaise and Grady’s story pulled at my heartstrings again and again, and by the end I was on an emotional high.
Charge Nurse Blaise Richelieu has spent seventeen years raising her daughter alone, keeping all admirers at a safe distance. When hot new attending Grady McClure starts to show an interest, she goes into shields-up mode as usual. But there’s something endearing about Grady and maybe this time it won’t be so easy to resist. She has her reasons to be wary of attachments, but Grady’s charm might be beginning to wear her down.
Blaise was strong, intelligent and brilliant at her job. Caring for her daughter has been her top priority. Maybe she has forgotten that she’s a woman with needs and deserves find that special someone. I could see exactly where she was coming from, but Grady was an irresistible force. Who could resist? I loved seeing them begin to get to know one another. Their gently flirting was beautifully done. The attraction was intense and hot and so was the sex. Interweaving the stories of the Rivers clan, their kids and the townsfolk pushed this novel up even further in my estimation. I want to know what is happening to them and the impact their stories have on each other.
When I finished this book I had all the feels. It was emotional and important. Their story was important. And not just for them as a couple. It was romantic and sexy but above all it felt right. They were meant to be together . I adored it. Highly recommended.
‘Cake’ by Jove Belle is a really enjoyable story partly set in Bitterroot. It’s the story of what happens when you meet the first women to turn your head in a long time – but there are so many complications. Kelly Miller makes wedding cakes and when he brother asks her to make one for his unexpected wedding to a woman she’s never met, things start to get interesting. Elena Verdad is a psychologist with some emotional problems of her own. When she meets the sister of the groom sparks fly. They really shouldn’t go there, but something is pulling them together and neither feel able to resist.
It’s a lovely story of a connection that should never work. Even Kelly and Elena can see that. But sometimes the person you need is the one you least expect. The emotional element between them was powerful and the sex was scorchingly hot. Off the scale. A really enjoyable novella.
KJ has done it again! When I reviewed her last book, ‘Coming Home’ I declared it was my favourite novel of 2019. ‘Kick Back’ is just as inspiring. I loved it.
Sophia Lindstrom is one of the more experienced players in the South Melbourne Women’s AFL team. She’s strong and determined and a fighter. She’s willing to get involved and help anyone – but when it comes to her own happiness she won’t take that final step. Cam Weathers is a reporter tasked with writing fluff pieces on the league. Her boss expects her to toe the line and ignore the fact that the women are exceptional athletes, with an important part to play in the sport. Let’s just say Cam has other ideas. She’s also drawn to the fiercely protective Sophie, a woman who is determined to make her see that the women’s league has merit and importance. But both women have barriers and lines they won’t cross. Can either of them get past that, as they are pulled into something increasingly complex and confusing. Something that requires them to join forces if they are going to find out the truth.
‘Kick Back’ had me feeling so many emotions. KJ made me really care about her characters. Within her fantastic story she made me angry and sad and she made me want to scream at the misogyny the women had to fight against. But I knew Sophie and Cam had this. They were warriors. She also had me ecstatic and joyful in this beautifully observed piece of writing. KJ knows how to write emotionally intense prose. I adore her style. Highly recommended.
What a ride! Mix alien soulmates, Area 51, and a government agency set up to deal with hybrid humans and you have one truly amazing book. You can tell that K Aten loves sci-fi. It certainly shows in ‘Children of the Stars’. Her story starts with a bang and never lets up. It is exciting and adventurous and takes the reader on a journey of a lifetime.
Amari and Zen were saved from certain death by being sent to Earth as babies. When their adjacent worlds were attacked, the only option their respective parents could see was to send them to safety on another planet. They are bonded to each other, but do not know that the other exists. When their adopted world is about to face its greatest peril, they have to take a stand, even though they risk exposure.
The author uses a really interesting storytelling style. Not at all conventional, but it works so well. The narrator speaking straight to the reader at some points in the novel is a brilliant touch. It contrasts perfectly with the third-person narrative of the rest of the novel. ’Children of the Stars’ is a thrilling story with an emotional connection beyond anything either woman could imagine possible. But there’s a fear of being found out and exposing their origins to all. With super-power enhanced Chromodecs all over the world, one is never sure who is on the side of good – and who is one of the baddies. It certainly keeps the reader intrigued throughout. There is a mention of another K Aten book which was a lovely touch and made me hope for more from this particular universe in the future. As you can probably tell, I loved this book. It was about working together as a group and fighting against the bad guys, but there was also a beautifully romantic and passionate element. It was exciting and tense and exhilarating all at the same time. Wonderful!
Ali Lennox is the thirty-five year old daughter of Jeffrey Lewis, CEO of Lennox Breweries, one of the most important companies in America. When she’s called home from a 10 year hiatus, she realises it’s time to buckle down and take her place in the company. Jill Gold is the fifty-something COO charged with getting her ready to take over. An attraction develops that both realise could cause enormous problems for their business relationship. Will they act on their feelings? Or will business have to come first?
‘Next In Line For Love’ is an interesting take on the age-gap romance trope. Family dynamics and professional responsibilities clash in this lovely romance. Ali comes across much younger than her age at first, but when we find out her family history it is easy to see why. I liked her. She was willing to step up when it mattered. Jill was a dedicated business-woman whose life revolves around her job. But she was also a kind, thoughtful and caring person. Not what one would expect from someone who has made it to the top in her industry. She has avoided becoming hard and jaded. I enjoyed seeing the two
women navigate their feeling for each other whilst taking into account the needs of the company. An enjoyable story.