**MY TOP READS OF 2021**

We are still living in strange times and once again reading has been a welcome escape and at times a balm to my senses. That authors have continued to create such amazing stories in the middle of a pandemic is  definitely something to be celebrated. In this post, I have highlighted my top reads of the year (in no particular order), followed by extracts from the blurb for each book and from my review. Click on individual book titles to read its review in full and find out more, including author and purchase links.🙂

Her Baseborn Scot (The Highland Warrior Chronicles #3), Christina Phillips

A warrior with cursed royal blood. A princess who will never submit to the enemy. A forbidden love that could cost them everything…

Romance, Secrets and Intrigue – Romance, secret identities and royal intrigue abound in the latest instalment in Christina Phillip’s Highland Warrior Chronicles. Enemies-to-lovers is one of my favourite tropes when it comes to romance so I just loved the pairing of a Scottish warrior with a Pictish princess and the push/pull of their relationship. There is also a supernatural element to the story which adds depth and interest. #Scotland #HistoricalRomance

The Isle of Sin and Shadows, by Keri Lake

This island alone boasts more ghost stories than all of Louisiana combined.
And I’m one of them.

Southern Gothic par excellence – If you fancy a walk on the dark side, The Isle of Sin and Shadows by Keri Lake, a standalone Southern Gothic Romance fits the bill perfectly. This suspenseful and atmospheric read features ghostly goings on, voodoo, crime lords and a slow burn/tension filled romance which set alight my Kindle when the couple finally get it together. I loved it!  #Romance #SouthernGothic #Mystery #Suspense

Ensnared: The Spider’s Mate #1, Tiffany Roberts

He’s spent years as a hunter, but now he’s the one ensnared in a creature’s trap.

Original, Sexy and Fun! – When I started to read this book, it was not without some trepidation as I am a HUMONGOUS arachnophobe. Yet, whilst the male lead is well and truly spider-like, the author writes in such a way that by the end of the story it mattered not as his character and his relationship with Ivy transcended any physical attributes and differences between them. #MonsterRomance #Romance #SciFi #Fantasy

The Last Hour of Gann, R Lee Smith

It was her last chance: Amber Bierce had nothing left except her sister and two tickets on Earth’s first colony-ship. She entered her Sleeper with a five-year contract and the promise of a better life, but awakened in wreckage on an unknown world. For the survivors, there is no rescue, no way home and no hope until they are found by Meoraq—a holy warrior more deadly than any hungering beast on this hostile new world…but whose eyes show a different sort of hunger when he looks at her. 

In a word EPIC! This sci-fi/fantasy is a long and intense read and one to truly savour. The tale, which also contains a beautiful love story, is mind blowing and emotional and I was totally sucked into the world and the characters created by the author. #DarkFantasy #Scifi  #Epic #Romance #LoveStory

The Rake of Hearts (A Lady to Suit #2), Emily Windsor

Sensual Regency romance with warmth and wit, this tale also includes a seductive rake, an icy widow, a castle, a disreputable aunt with a secondary love story, Cotswold country fairs, sinful masquerades and…a goat.

Beautiful – I absolutely adored Hebe and Ernest’s story. It is full of wit, charm and romance and such an emotional read – It brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion, but also a gladness to my heart as it is such a love affirming tale.

The young widow Hebe despises rakes and she has very good reason to. She has decided that Lord Ernest Brook, a shallow and self-confessed libertine, is a man to avoid at all costs. Ernest is attracted to Hebe and sees her icy demeanour as a challenge. Yet as soon as the couple inadvertently find themselves spending the summer together at Ernest’s childhood home in the Cotswolds, it becomes clear that both are not what they seem and the scene is set for a heartfelt and unforgettable Regency romance. #RegencyRomance #HistoricalRomance

Cut and Run. A Contemporary Reverse Harem Romance Novel. (The Dreadnoughts #2), Lucy Felthouse

Kim’s on track to save the world—but will she pay with her life?

Kim Medhurst, ex-British military intelligence officer turned scientist and climate activist, has a vitally important project on her hands. The mysterious object she set out to retrieve from the remote Scottish island has the potential to power the entire planet. All she needs to do is figure out exactly how to make it happen, and the Scottish Highlands seems the perfect place to complete her research in peace—as well as enjoy the company of the gorgeous Greig twins.

Superpowered and sexy! – Cut and Run is the second book in the Dreadnoughts series and I found it to be a suspenseful, sexy and action-packed read. I recommend that you read the first in the series, Search and Rescue, before this one to get maximum enjoyment as this instalment starts off where the previous one ended: Chastain goes missing in London and Kim and the Greig twins go all out to rescue him, calling on their recently acquired superpowers to do so – I just loved these scenes! #Romance #ReverseHarem #Suspense #Superheroes

Blood Money, Dinero de Sangre #1, Lana Sky

In this twisted dark cartel romance, revenge and hate collide with the past… Ten years after a devastating betrayal, revenge has come back to bite Ada Pavalos. Literally. Once her family’s trusted bodyguard, Domino Valenciaga is out for blood. Or her heart. Whichever goal takes more violence to achieve…

An Emotional Tsunami – This book is DARK, an emotional tsunami of hate, anger, despair, violence and lust and I LOVED it! I am familiar with the author’s work, having read most of her back catalogue, and it is one of the darkest reads she has penned to date. I devoured it as soon as I got my mitts on it, in one single read. #DarkCartelRomance #TwistedRomance #RevengeAndHate 

Stolen Lust: A Diamond Magnate Novel (Beauty in the Stolen Trilogy #1), Charmaine Pauls

Ian Hart is the most notorious criminal in the country. Like the thief he is, he came in the dark and stole a night of my life. He left me with souvenirs. Disaster and fear are my new realities. I’ll forever look over my shoulder, terrified he’d return, because when he took me, he stole more than just a few hours of my time.

Hot and Intense – Hold on to your hats! This is one hot and intense ride from start to finish and as a huge fan of the dark romance genre, I lapped it up! I loved both the heroine Cassandra (Cas) and the anti-hero Ian. Cas is vulnerable in so many ways, but despite this she stands up for herself and does so with plenty of sass and is nobody’s fool. Due to Ian’s actions, her life speedily spins out of control as the truth of who he is and his deeds come to light I hugely enjoyed the story and their evolving relationship and found Cas to be a plucky character and a perfect match for Ian. #RomanticSuspense #Crime

Flame to Frost (The Last Triton #1), Myra Danvers

The Last Tritan is perfect for fans of the Grishaverse. Those who fell completely in love with the Darkling―a smoldering villain we wanted to see win… 

Amazing Dark Fantasy – I absolutely inhaled this amazing dark fantasy read. It is the first book I have read by the author Myra Danvers and  is one of her earlier works, reworked as part of her Triton Evolution series. I have now found another awesome author to add to my list!

I loved the central character of Mila and her journey from a pampered and orphaned escapee to when she becomes a thorn in the side of her enemies, until she is finally captured. She is strong, empathetic and kick-ass, but with a secret that she is at great pains to conceal, lest it lead to her downfall. The contrast between her frugal existence in hiding in the forest and the debauched life of the world she is thrust into is well done, as is the worldbuilding. #DarkFantasy

Dirty Dealings (A Zeta Cartel Novel #3), A J Adams

Enrique ‘Quique’ Ramas is having a bad time. Back in Mexico his marriage has fallen apart and his wife has made him a laughing stock by cheating on him. Now he’s in London and out of his depth with a complex commercial deal. To make things worse, Natalia Truelove, a chef and pub manager, is blackmailing him. Quique is ready to commit murder and he’s pretty sure who his first victim will be.

Dirty Dealings is an enthralling tale of deceit, murder, cartel violence and finding love in the darkest of times.

One crazy cartel read – loved it! – I just inhaled this crazy cartel read and I found it impossible to put down. If you are a fan of this genre and alpha heroes who develop a soft spot for strong and feisty heroines with a vulnerable side, than you too will love this enemies to lovers romance. It has oodles of suspense and action, great banter and sexual tension between the main couple and some super sexy scenes. #CartelRomance #Crime

*REVIEW* – Logistics: A Christmas Story, by Chris Coppel

#ChristmasRead #Mystery #Fairytale #SciFi #Romance

Blurb

After being abandoned at the age of two and a half, Holly Hillman was raised without whimsy or fantasy. She was taught that there were no such things as Santa Claus, fairies, elves or any other accepted fantasies that help a child deal with the harder realities of life. Now in her forties, she is the CEO of a Fortune 400 company. She rose to the top through hard work, but also by living without distractions or social attachments. Despite her rigidly ingrained dedication, Holly was content with her life, having never lived by any other tenet. Everything was perfect until she was required to give her DNA as part of a health check leading up her company’s merger with an Asian conglomerate.

The results of her test unlocked the secret of her unique ancestry, leading to her having to confront a fantastical truth that would forever change her views on life and reality itself.

Goodreads

My Review

Uplifting and Original – Loved it! – 5 stars

In Logistics: A Christmas Story, author Chris Coppel seamlessly blends mystery and romance with a sprinkling of humour to create an original and page turning read which I loved. The protaganist, businesswoman Holly Hillman, has her life upended, after the results of a simple DNA test reveal her unique ancestry, in what is one of the most surprising plot twists I have ever read. This leads to her re-evaluating her own existence and the world around her – indeed, the book also ventures into the world of physics, but not as we know it!

I do not want to give the plot away as Holly’s origins are truly fantastical and it would take away the pleasure of reading the book. Suffice to say I enjoyed the personal and life changing journey she goes on and how she interacts with the other characters as the story unfolds. At the start of the novel, I found her to be a rather singleminded but colourless character with a tragic back story, and I was heartened by how she was slowly but surely transformed by events and her interactions with those from her past, present and future.

Logistics is a modern-day fairy tale which speaks to the reader on many different levels. I found it to be an uplifting read which underlined that it is never too late to seize what is truly important in life.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of the book was given to me by the author and I am voluntarily leaving a fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

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*REVIEW* – Delirium (Atom and Evil #1), by Myra Danvers

#Sci-fi #Romance #DarkHumour

Blurb

Living on the fringe of deep space, Iris is nothing like the woman she was Before.
She’s broken. A shadow. Running from a shady past filled with trauma and unspeakable pain, she’s lost and trying not to be found. Numbing her anguish with boredom and opium.
Because she knows he’s coming.
A vicious criminal.
The enemy she used to love.
Her biggest mistake.
Fifteen years wasn’t nearly long enough to dull the ache of what they lost. Scars branded too deep, wounds that never healed.
They say pain is temporary, that it leads to personal growth. But Iris is a creature remade in blistering agony. Forged by a drive to wreak havoc. He should have known better than to abduct and blackmail her.
She will claim vengeance, or die trying.
There are no heroes here. Only a pipe full of the good stuff and villains fighting over scraps.

My Review

Action-packed and crazy tale of vengeance – 5 stars

This is one crazy ass read from start to finish and I certainly enjoyed the ride. Iris, the protagonist, has little sense of self-preservation and even less concern for the lives of others, the men who have dared to kidnap and blackmail her. Vengeance will be hers and I just loved how the read contains scene after scene of destruction and mayhem, steeped in dark humour.

I was glued to the pages to see what she had planned next for her abductors who want to use her for her technical wizardry. There are a number of laugh-out-loud moments – her methods are certainly twisted and violent and designed to take no prisoners. If you have ever dreamed about taking revenge on your enemies then this book will feed your fantasies!

Big Evil, her ex lover, now  her sworn enemy, with whom she has a history, is the only one who understands her version of crazy and he too does not appear to be of sane mind. We are given snippets of Iris’ past and their relationship, gaining more understanding as the book progresses and I found myself trying to work out what had happened to propel her to her drug filled and solitary existence and make her despise him so.

The book ends on a cliffhanger and I am looking forward to the next instalment to see how the plot and the intense relationships unravel.

Recommended for fans of sci-fi reads who like strong, crazy anti-heroes and heroines.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of this book was given to me by the author ad I am voluntarily leaving a review.

Goodreads

Purchase Links

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Author Links

https://myradanvers.com/

*NEW RELEASE* – Shopping for a Turkey (Shopping for a Billionaire Series Book 18) by Julia Kent (@jkentauthor

#romanticcomedy #romance #contemporary #contemporaryromance #holiday #holidayromance

Description:

I don’t understand Americans.

Or, as we say in Scotland, I dinna understand ye eedjits.

And I definitely dinna understand the crazy mother-in-law of my cousin Declan. Who in their right mind names a wee dog Chuffy?

I’m stuck in New York after ma agent makes a bloody mess of an otherwise good endorsement contract for a sports towel company, and this crazy American holiday–Thanksgiving–is in two days.

The invitation to spend it in Mendon, Massachusetts, with the Jacoby family is about as appealing as rotten haggis. As far as I can tell, Thanksgiving is about stuffing yerself silly, watching pathetic American “football,” while fighting with relatives ye only see once a year.

If I wanted that last one, I’d head back to Scotland, where we dinna need a holiday to be salty to each other.

Ma firm answer is nae.

Until I remember Amy is part of the family.

Suddenly, I’m available.

Eager, even. Perhaps she’ll pull ma wishbone. I hear that’s part of the Turkey Day festivities, aye?

What I canna admit, though, is how she pulls ma heartstrings, too.

Which shouldna feel better than the wishbone, but it does.

And here comes Amy’s mother with another holiday tradition, this one a bit early.

A sprig o’ mistletoe, dangling right above Amy’s bonnie head.

Shopping for a Turkey features Scottish football player Hamish McCormick and Amy Jacoby as they navigate unusual cultural norms, new traditions, and the undeniable attraction between these two characters, who have appeared as supporting players in Julia Kent’s New York Times-bestselling Shopping series.

It’s their turn to have their own all-new spinoff series. And to pull the wishbone. 😉

Excerpt: 

Amy

He’s been in his birthday suit on sports magazine covers. Done endorsements for regional breweries and energy bars. I know from Declan that he’s close to making it big.

He’s already big.

My eyes dart to his feet.

How big is he?

Heat fills me at the thought, a combination of self-loathing and desire. Which is nothing new for me when it comes to Hamish McCormick.

Why did he have to be here? Now? Of all times, when Mom has a broken leg, Declan’s brother Terry is filling in for her as yoga instructor, and we’re already in disarray? I’m finally finishing my MBA, working another co-op at a venture capital firm. My last one was disrupted by scandal after the high-profile associate gunning for partner turned out to be married to a massive conman. I think I might have gotten my new co-op just for my potential gossip supply.

But my life is smoothing out now. It took me eight years to earn my bachelor’s, but with Declan’s help, the MBA has been full time, which is so much easier. I’ve told him straight out I don’t want any favors, and I refuse to work for Grind It Fresh! Or Anterdec. No nepotism.

Though I’ll certainly network and accept help making connections.

I’m on the cusp of a new life, moving into adulthood at last. I finished a major project yesterday, excited for the Thanksgiving break. I was at the gym, fresh off submitting my group work to our professor, when Dad called about the –

Well. You know.

And now Mom and Dad broke her leg and half their bedroom, my sisters and I have to manage Thanksgiving dinner from scratch, and I can’t stop ogling Hamish’s backside.

That’s too much input.

“Let go of troubling thoughts,” Terry says in soothing, deep dulcet tones as we do triangle pose, our breathing syncing with slow movement. Hamish’s arms stretch out and down. He has muscles on top of muscles, with fine ginger hair all over his arms, darkening as it tapers to his wrists. When we all go into a partial squat, his hamstrings pop like cello strings under his skin, each tiny muscle and tendon in stark relief across a body I could watch forever.

Too bad he has the emotional maturity of a hedgehog.

And that might be giving him too much credit.

“Fine form,” Hamish whispers to Shannon, who blinks fast.

“Thanks. I’ve been doing yoga on my lunch breaks. Even fifteen minutes makes a difference.”

“Aye. People think it’s about doing long workouts but smaller amounts of time really do add up.”

Insane–they’re driving me insane. How can they just idly chat like that while every inch of my skin is on fire? Every breath turns into a proto-orgasm as I watch him stealthily.

Or maybe not stealthily enough. He turns around, catches me watching, and winks.

I hate this. I hate reacting to him like this. I hate that he knows he’s doing this to me, and he revels in it. I hate that he’s so smarmy and overconfident and…

Tantalizing.

I’m going to assume that when all the blood in my body rushes to the surface of my skin and between my legs, it means my IQ drops a bit; lack of oxygen to the brain is the only explanation I have for finding him so attractive. This is a purely physiological response, driven entirely by evolution.

This is not my fault.

He’s big and strong, and his physicality signals virility and protection. Biology is an amazing science, its processes optimized to drive us to reproduce.

My blushing, my throbbing, the zings running across my arms and legs–it’s just electrical impulses, a response shaped over hundreds of thousands of years to produce the right outcome: hot, sweaty, reproductive activity to repopulate the earth.

It’s really just that simple.

I don’t emotionally desire this guy. Not one little bit. My heart isn’t attracted to Hamish McCormick.

My eggs are.

Bad ova. Bad, bad ova.

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Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. Since 2013, she has sold more than 1.5 million books, with 4 New York Times bestsellers and more than 16 appearances on the USA Today bestseller list. Her books have been translated into French and German, with more titles releasing soon. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three children in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down.

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Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services

*RELEASE BLITZ* – Blood Bound (Dinero de Sangre #3), by Lana Sky

#DarkRomance #CartelRomance #MafiaRomance

Release Date: October 30th

BLURB

In this twisted dark cartel romance, revenge and hate collide with the past…

Hunted by a dangerous enemy, Ada Pavalos is forced to place her faith—and her life—in the hands of the man who has been holding her captive in his own twisted bid for revenge.

But the truce they’ve forged between them is fragile, impeded by Ada’s struggle to trust where Domino’s loyalties lie—because what if the deadliest threat isn’t Jaguar after all?

What if it’s Domino who will destroy her in the end?

All Retailers ➜ https://books2read.com/DDS-BloodBound 

Read Book One: All Retailers ➜ https://books2read.com/BloodMoney

#NewRelease #DarkCartelRomance #NewSeries #LanaSky #TwistedRomance #RevengeAndHate #NeedToReadItNow #ReadMoreRomance #Bookstagram #RomanceBookAddict #Romancelandia #BookWorm #BookObsessed #RomanceBooks #SteamyReads⁠ #DarkRomance

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lana Sky is a reclusive writer in the United States who spends most of her time daydreaming about complex male characters and parenting her Cockapoo Joey. She writes dark, twisted romance across several genres. Her titles include everything from mafia romance to vampires.

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