I read just short of 300 books this year…some of them more than once… even some of them more than twice. One of them, I actually went right back to the beginning and started it again the moment I was finished (Law Man.) Asking me to pick just a few books to put at the top of my list was like asking me to choose which one of my kids I like more. There were so many books I loved for different reasons. In the end, it was impossible for me to pick 10… so I tried 15 and that wasn’t happening either. So, I have 26 on my list. A few of them are part of a series, but all in all, these are the books I couldn’t stop thinking about after I finished and just wanted to absorb when I was reading them. I came back to these books time and time again and when finished, wanted to shout from the rooftops how much I loved them. So here you go… my top books of 2014
1. Law Man by Kristen Ashley : Mitch Lawson… a name worth repeating. Mitch Lawson. He is the ULTIMATE book boyfriend. Mara Hanover’s neighbor is a 10.5. Too bad he would never take a second look at a solid 3, like Mara. Little does Mara know that Mitch has been looking….. a lot. When Mara’s past catches up to her in multiple ways, Mitch is there to help her out and he has no plan to walk away. It’s no secret that Kristen Ashley is my all-time favorite author, but she has outdone herself with Law Man. In fact, I think I might go read it again.
2. The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen : I have never read an m/m book before this one. I really enjoyed the first two books in the series, The Year We Fell Down and The Year We Hid Away and knew that I loved Sarina’s writing. Holy freaking crap. Talk about angst, longing, and wanting. My heart spent 70% of the book in my stomach. It broke time and time again wanting so badly for Graham and Rikker to work it out, but knowing that their past just might prove to be too difficult. After I finished this book, I didn’t start another one for an entire day… I just couldn’t get out of the heads of these guys. I just reread it about two weeks ago and had all the same feelings. This is a must read. → My Review
3. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover : Once I hit about 40% in this book, I locked myself in my bedroom, completely ignored my family and any basic needs and just read. Colleen Hoover has always been a favorite of mine, but she completely outdid herself with this one. It was FULL of angst and anger and frustrating characters. I equal parts loved and hated Miles. The writing was some of the best I have come across. The chapters from Miles POV were so breathtakingly beautiful, I reread them. The poetic nature of his words felt like an entirely different novel. We were treated to two different Miles. This was a book that once finished, I stared at my laptop for a solid hour before I could actually formulate words to write a review. Grab a pack (or case) of tissues before you start. → My Review
4. Until You by Penelope Douglas : I am a sucker for the male POV, and Until You was one of the ultimate ones. It seems like a lot of authors take a popular book, and retell it from an alternate POV. Thankfully, Until You was not just a retelling of Bully from Jared’s side. It was a completely new book. Sure, we saw some of the same scenes that were in Bully, but coming from Jared, they were all the more powerful. In Bully, it was hard to get behind Jared and root for him, because he was a complete and total ass…. but in Until You, we get incredible insight in to what made Jared tick, and why he tortured Tate the way he did….and it was devastating. The entire Fall Away series is fantastic, but Until You will always be the standout for me.
5, 6, 7, 8. The Infinity Series by Layne Harper : I discovered this series about a football star, his college girlfriend and their road back to each other by accident… and am I ever glad I did. Charlie and Colin’s story is as real as it gets. It’s not instant love and the love the eventually find isn’t the key to a perfect relationship. As in love as Charlie and Colin are, they break up and move on….but fate has a funny way of working things out. When Colin and Charlie find their way back to each other, it’s not all sunshine and daisies. Regardless of how successful they are, they have to fight and claw for everything they want. When you are in the public eye, people will try and ruin you, and Charlie and Colin have to trust and rely on each other to make it to the other side. I loved getting to come along on their journey. → My Review
9, 10. Room For You/Room For More by Beth Ehemann : This is another series that came in a random, “Amazon Recommends” e-mail. I love books about single parents and athletes. This book not only had both, it also had two adorable twin girls who completely steal the show. Brody is a stand-up guy who just wants to settle down and make life for himself and his family. Playing professional hockey is awesome, but he wants more. He gets it when a terrible storm leads in to a bed and breakfast where he meets Kacie and her daughters. Kacie and Brody’s love story is one of the best I’ve read. The slow build is incredible, and Brody’s utter devotion to his family was a theme carried throughout both books. This is another must read. → My Review
11, 12, 13, 14. The Wrecked and Ruined Series by Aly Martinez : I originally had these listed separately, but I ending up putting them together because even though they are techincally standalones, I believe they have to be read in order or you completely miss out on the beauty of the story. The characters in these stories, Brett, Caleb, and Sarah are all linked together by one horrific, tragic night. Some of them are trying to move on, while others are stuck there. Each of these books, Changing Course, Stolen Course, Among the Echoes (Originally a complete standalone, until Aly ROCKED us with the last line of the epilogue) and Broken Course, tells the stories of these people and their chance at redemption and moving on. These are powerful, outstanding books and they are not to be missed. I still think about them. → My Review (AtE) → My Review (BC)
15. The Force of Gravity by Kelly Stevenson : I love student/teacher books, and when done properly, they are some of the books that have the most angst, longing and heartbreak around. The Force of Gravity was one of best student/teacher books I have read. I was absorbed from the very start. This was one of those books that I was sneaking in chapters during lunch and between class periods. I would race home after school and read as much as I could before my kids came home. I remember at the time telling my friend, Bethany, the “feels’ in this one were off the charts! Kaley and Mr. Slate just had that “it” factor. The writing was exceptional and the reader is transported into the mind of girl on the cusp of graduation, questioning everything she has grown to accept as normal. She is breaking free of tradition and what is expected of her. While her friends and boyfriend are not understanding, there is one person who is…. Mr. Slate. → My Review
16, 17, 18. The Love Series by Melanie Codina : I actually just did a 2 1/2 day reread of this series and remembered why I loved it so much. The first book, Love Realized starts with Gillian telling us about her perfect family, surrounded by all their loved ones, celebrating her son’s birthday…a few pages later, it’s all blown to pieces when the mistress of her husband, Logan, walks into the backyard. These are stories about getting a second chance at love, and in some cases, a second chance at life. Each story is a standalone, but this is a completely connected family, so you want to read all of them, and in order; Love Realized, Love Resisted, and Love Required. In 2015, Logan will be getting his own story, Love Redeemed, and I cannot wait to see Logan get his shot at happiness.
19. Unspeakable Truths by Alice Tribue : I watched as this book was teased for a quite some time before it was released. The teasers kept getting better and better, I thought, there is no way for this book to live up to the hype. Damn, was I ever proved wrong. I love books where hate becomes love, and that was Unspeakable Truths. Luca had everything I look for in my guys… protective, strong and completely unwilling to accept no for an answer. Everly is understandably broken after her husband’s death, and believing Luca is the reason? Well, that just makes her all the more angry at him. Luca is going to do all he can to break down those walls. This is wasn’t just a love story, but also a story about getting back on your feet and living again.
20. Stepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward : I’m a sucker for the forbidden and this book was just that. This was a book that I was nervous about starting because I just wasn’t sure it was going to be what I wanted it to be. I started it when I should have been shutting the kindle down for the night, thinking I would read a chapter or two… I ended up reading the entire book. Both Greta and Elec are an absolute mess. They fight for and give up on each other so many times, you never know what way they are going to go. I knew there was no stopping until I got to the end, and it’s one of those books that I keep thinking about and am quick to recommend when something wants something that is going to knock them on their behind. This is that book. → My Review
21. Stay by B.a. Wolfe : I love and hate B.a. Wolfe in equal measure. When I finished the first book in this series, Away, there had to yet to be words invented to explain away the devastation I felt. I was completely crushed and spent the next few days with puffy eyes. I couldn’t even talk about the book without getting choked up. I was not exactly sure how to feel about a book that just left me utterly destroyed. When B.a. sent me an advanced copy of the next book in the Keaton series, I was hesitant to start it. Not that I didn’t want to read it, but I was kind of against having my heart ripped out of my chest again. Stay had me glued to it from start to finish. Oh, it was just as heart wrenching and had me crying what felt like every 10 pages, but the writing is so phenomenal that you put up with all the angst and heart break. Cassie doesn’t bounce back after the first book, she still struggles in Stay. You would think the story gets repetitive, but it’s anything but. It is perfect, and devastating, soul shattering and simply wonderful, all wrapped up into 400 + sensational pages. → My Review
22. Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor : I was sold on this book at 2%. 2%!!!!!! The writing is exceptional. Matt was the perfect book hero. There is something about a man who loves kids that are not his own flesh and blood. Once again, I was sucked into a story about a single parent and the man who just wants to take care of her and her family. This was another slow building relationship and that was a real draw to the book. Sometimes, it’s just not necessary for the couple to jump into bed right away. Matt and Abby took the time to get to know each other. Both of them had a past marred by demons that needed to be dealt with before they could fully give themselves to the other. I really loved how the relationship progressed. It was a sweet, heartwarming story that stayed with me long after I finished. → My Review
23. Locke by Harper Sloan : I feel like I have been waiting for Maddox and Emmy’s story since first picking up Axel. Harper gave next to nothing away about Maddox’s back story in the books preceding Locke, so you just knew, you just KNEW, that is was something incredibly heartbreaking. You also knew that Emmy loved him in spite of his demons, but he just wouldn’t let her in…. until it was too late. Once Maddox gets his head out of his ass, he will stop at nothing, and I mean NOTHING, for his girl. Locke had all of the elements of the other books in the Corps Security Series, but kicked up a notch; Suspense, action, and scorching sex scenes. It felt like there was so much at stake with this story and I wanted desperately for Maddox and Emmy to get their happy ending. → My Review
24. Boarded by Love by Toni Aleo : It is no secret I am a Toni Aleo addict. Not only do I think everything she writes is golden, but I read them over and over. There are only a few authors I do that with, and she is at the top of the list. Boarded by Love is a spin off of her outstanding Assassins Series. In Boarded by Love, we see Claire head off to college, and hotly pursued by the university’s hockey star. Boarded by Love had an element that I usually avoid in books; InstantLove. In this case, it was 100% believable. There was no doubt that Claire and Jude fell in love so quickly, because it was all there in the exceptional writing. This had all the hotness that accompanies Toni’s books, but the extra sweetness of watching two people experience their first love. LOVED it! → My Review
25. Assumption by Aurora Rose Reynolds : This book is the opposite of InstantLove… it’s instant HATE!! Kenton Mayson is a side character is Aurora’s other outstanding series, The Until Series, but he gets his own story here and boy, does he shine. Kenton is pure alpha male and Aurora knows how to write them. The writing in Assumption is just as flawless and page turning as her other books. The suspense keeps you on your toes and the love story underneath it is hard-fought. The secondary characters also add a lot of depth to the story. Assumption is definitely darker and grittier than her other books, but that goes with the nature of the story. Kenton and Autumn fight and claw for their relationship and the slow growth of their love was stunning to watch. → My Review
26. The Promise by Kristen Ashley : What would a list featuring the top books of 2014 be without another Kristen Ashley book… empty, that’s what. Benny and Frankie’s story was one of the best to come out of the ‘Burg series. We had to wait for it, but it was completely worth every second. The ‘Burg series is all about second chances and The Promise is no different. Frankie and Benny just came alive on the page, and even with their history, I knew they were going to make it. There are so many emotions running throughout this book. I felt heartache, fear, sadness, joy, happiness and even those little stomach drops (Benny is one heck of a talker.) There is one thing The Promise has that I can honestly say was the best of any book that I read this year, and it’s the epilogue. The epilogue is hands down, the best one I have ever read in a book. Kristen doesn’t give us a few months or a year into the future… she gives us year after year. Benny and Frankie’s story felt completely tied up and left you feeling fully satisfied. → My Review
Picking 26 books that I loved was impossible, and a ton of incredible books were left off the list. Here is a list of books that just missed the cut.