**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

*COVER REVEAL* – Stolen Love, a Diamond Magnate Novel: Beauty in the Stolen #3, by Charmaine Pauls.

Genre: Dark Romance

Cover Design: Okay Creations

Photo: Wander Aguiar Photography

Models: Cassidy & Zack

Release Date: June 22, 2021

BLURB 

Once upon a time, a thief stole me in the middle of the night. He took what he wanted, gave me an illusion, and ripped it all away to claim his ultimate trophy. My heart may be physically weak, but fighting to live made me stronger. I won’t perish as easily as that. I’m turning the tables on him. After all, I learned from the best. I’m robbing him of what he stole from me.

*Stolen Love concludes the trilogy.

Other books in the Diamond Magnate collection:

Beauty in the Broken (Standalone)

Diamonds are Forever trilogy

Diamonds in the Dust (Book 1)

Diamonds in the Rough (Book 2)

Diamonds are Forever (Book 3)

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EXCERPT

I suck in a breath. His back sports a new tattoo. An orange tree runs from his flank up to his shoulder. The roots branch out over his lower back and side. It’s so well drawn it looks as if the network of roots are grafted with his skin. A branch with orange blossoms runs up to his shoulder. The petals curl over the arch, only the tips of a flower visible on the curve as he faces me again.

Why did he get it? The answer is obvious. The truth stares me in the face. He never said it, but he declared it in permanent ink on his skin next to the values that govern his behavior, his life.

“It’s not some kind of gravestone,” he says in a quiet voice.

My gaze slips to the pendant on the leather string that hangs in the center of his breastbone. “What’s not a gravestone?” I ask, pretending not to know what he’s talking about. It’s too deep, too personal. We don’t share that kind of intimacy any longer.

“The tattoo. It doesn’t symbolize grief.”

I can’t help from asking, “What does it symbolize?” 

“Love.” His gaze intensifies. “The kind that gets under your skin.”

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AUTHOR BIO

Charmaine Pauls was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. She obtained a degree in Communication at the University of Potchestroom, and followed a diverse career path in journalism, public relations, advertising, communications, photography, graphic design, and brand marketing. Her writing has always been an integral part of her professions. 

After relocating to Chile with her French husband, she fulfilled her passion to write creatively full-time. Charmaine has published over twenty novels since 2011, as well as several short stories and articles. Two of her shorts have been selected by the International Literary Society for an anthology from across the African continent.

When she is not writing, she likes to travel, read, and rescue cats. Charmaine currently lives in France with her husband and children. Their household is a linguistic mélange of Afrikaans, English, French and Spanish.

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GIVEAWAY

There is a giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card. CLICK HERE

*COVER REVEAL* – Stolen Life: A Diamond Magnate Novel. Beauty in the Stolen Trilogy #2, by Charmaine Pauls

CR Banner

Stolen Life Ebook Cover

Genre: Dark Romance
Cover Design: Okay Creations
Photo: Wander Aguiar Photography
Model: Cassidy
Release Date: May 18, 2021

BLURB

Ian Hart stole a night of my life but he took so much more. His obsession pinned a label on me. His lust put me in an impossible situation. Now I have to choose sides. I have to decide between right and wrong. Only, no matter what choice I make, each comes with dreadful consequences. There’s only one way this can end—how every tragedy ends.

*Stolen Life is Book 2 of the Beauty in the Stolen trilogy and ends on a cliffhanger. Book 3 will be released on 22 June 2021.

Stolen Life Teaser 1

Other books in the Diamond Magnate collection:
Beauty in the Broken (Standalone)

Diamonds are Forever trilogy
Diamonds in the Dust (Book 1)
Diamonds in the Rough (Book 2)
Diamonds are Forever (Book 3)

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EXCERPT

His voice lowers with intent. “Know this, if you do run, I’ll slap a pair of ankle cuffs on you so fast you won’t have time to say my name. There’ll be no more playing nice. I’ll tie you to my bed if that’s what I have to do.” Cupping my jaw, he delivers the threat with a soft kiss on my lips. “The choice is yours.”
The heavy blow is dealt with tender words. They sift down like snowflakes to settle cold in my heart. I tremble as he pushes me down onto the hood and leans over me.
“What will it be, Cas?”
He’s not asking if I’m on board with this limited version of freedom. When he unbuttons my jeans, he’s asking a different question, and, as always, when he slips his hand into my underwear, he gets the truth.

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Stolen Lust Ebook Cover

#1 Stolen Lust

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COMING SOON

157177253_10158632086629022_4009798352234707574_n

#3 Stolen Love – Releasing June 22

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AUTHOR BIO

Charmaine Pauls Logo 1

Charmaine Pauls was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. She obtained a degree in Communication at the University of Potchestroom, and followed a diverse career path in journalism, public relations, advertising, communications, photography, graphic design, and brand marketing. Her writing has always been an integral part of her professions.

After relocating to Chile with her French husband, she fulfilled her passion to write creatively full-time. Charmaine has published over twenty novels since 2011, as well as several short stories and articles. Two of her shorts have been selected by the International Literary Society for an anthology from across the African continent.

When she is not writing, she likes to travel, read, and rescue cats. Charmaine currently lives in France with her husband and children. Their household is a linguistic mélange of Afrikaans, English, French and Spanish.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website
Facebook
Facebook Group
Amazon
Goodreads
Twitter
Bookbub
Instagram

GIVEAWAY

There is a giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card

*COVER REVEAL* ~ Stolen Lust by Charmaine Pauls

 

A Diamond Magnate Novel
Series: Beauty in the Stolen Trilogy #1
Author: Charmaine Pauls
Genre: Dark Romance
Cover Design: Okay Creations
Photo: Wander Aguiar Photography
Model: Zack
Release Date: April 13, 2021

BLURB

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.

His crime has consequences neither of us could’ve imagined. If I’m to escape the nightmare of my life, I have to outsmart him. If I’m to survive, I have to outwit every enemy he’s turned against me, including Ian himself, the most dangerous and cleverest man I know.

*Stolen Lust is Book 1 of the Beauty in the Stolen trilogy and ends on a cliffhanger. Book 2 will be released on 18 May 2021 and Book 3 on 22 June 2021.

Other books in the Diamond Magnate collection:
Beauty in the Broken (Standalone)

Diamonds are Forever trilogy
Diamonds in the Dust (Book 1)
Diamonds in the Rough (Book 2)
Diamonds are Forever (Book 3)

GOODREADS LINK

BOOKBUB LINK

 

PRE-ORDER LINKS

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READ AN EXCERPT HERE

COMING SOON

#2 Stolen Life – Releasing May 18

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#3 Stolen Love – Releasing June 22

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AUTHOR BIO

Charmaine Pauls was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. She obtained a degree in Communication at the University of Potchestroom, and followed a diverse career path in journalism, public relations, advertising, communications, photography, graphic design, and brand marketing. Her writing has always been an integral part of her professions.

After relocating to Chile with her French husband, she fulfilled her passion to write creatively full-time. Charmaine has published over twenty novels since 2011, as well as several short stories and articles. Two of her shorts have been selected by the International Literary Society for an anthology from across the African continent.

When she is not writing, she likes to travel, read, and rescue cats. Charmaine currently lives in France with her husband and children. Their household is a linguistic mélange of Afrikaans, English, French and Spanish.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website
Facebook
Facebook Group
Amazon
Goodreads
Twitter
Bookbub
Instagram

GIVEAWAY

There is a giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card

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