Welcome to the time of year when many of us give gifts to friends and relatives. Hopefully we take a moment for ourselves. I enjoy finding, and occasionally making, gifts. I also pick up a few small finds for myself, usually in the form of small treats or necessities. Often that means indulging in a new book or two!
This fall I haven’t done any extra reading because I am in the middle of producing an audio book. The editing process takes forever. When it is ready you all will be some of the first to know! I have, however, been able to read some excellent books over the course of the year and have a sneak peek on another one.
What follows are several of my favorites from this year, in case you are looking for a little indulgence for yourself or a thoughtful gift for a loved one:
The sneak peek is Romancing the Kicker by Catherine Lane. This is a bit of self-promotion as I was a beta on this book. This is another sports romance from Lane and is her sweetest book yet. It takes place inside the sport of American football, which is not my favorite sport. Don’t let that stop you if you also don’t enjoy Am. football. You can read this while other people in the family watch the sport on TV. Parker and Carly are both women in a masculine world, brought in by a forward-thinking team owner. They face the inherent sexism and end up supporting each other through it. Parker is rich in money and poor in family and Carly is the the opposite. Personality-wise, however, they match. They are both kind and driven, although Parker’s natural kindness has been flattened by her inability to find acceptance by her parents and her search for comfort in the wrong places. Available December 5.
I have mentioned Breakthrough by Kris Bryant before. This is one of my favorite books of the year. Set in Alaska and featuring a relationship between an avowed “city girl” and a park ranger, the book takes you on a ride from humor to passion to excitement. Kennedy’s trials are so very funny. I was laughing from the first chapter. Brynn is the sweet and oh-so-sexy butch who saves her several times. Brynn has the best roommate possible and my favorite secondary character of the year – Wally the raccoon. Kennedy accidentally gets herself mixed up in fighting some poachers, making the last part of the book a bit of a thriller as she figures out how to keep from being harmed.
I recently read Breaking Character by Lee Winter. Winter writes well in multiple subgenres. Breaking Character is an excellent celebrity romance. Summer is cast as a smaller role in the show featuring her idol, and longtime love-interest-from-afar, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is underemployed working on the show, but it pays the bills and she used to enjoy it. Summer can’t seem to keep herself together around Elizbeth, making for some very funny scenes, right from the opening one. I was laughing out loud and quickly realized I could not sneak a read during the workday. My job does not lend itself to laughter.
Rachel Spangler’s Love All is a sports romance, with a twist. Instead of two participants finding love, Love All features an older tennis player, staging a comeback, and the mother of an up-and-coming star. Jay and Sadie find their way to each other as Jay and Sadie’s daughter, Destiny, learn to play together. Destiny is one of my favorite secondary characters, a true to life teenager who wants to be an adult and makes the mistake teenagers make, including interfering inappropriately in her mother’s life. A story of redemption and hope, you don’t need to enjoy tennis to enjoy the book.
Against All Odds by Bryant, Cummings, and Ullrich. I don’t like thrillers in general, but I gave in to some peer pressure and tried it out. It is not for the faint of heart as the opening scene and any of the Bradley chapters are difficult to read. It is an incredible piece of work. It doesn’t feel like it was written by three separate authors. The romance is well developed around the aftermath of the incident and it gave me warmth and sweetness to cling to as the story moved around finding the perpetrator and showing us the demons inside Bradley’s head. If you are a thriller lover, this should be right up your alley. If you are thinking about trying a thriller, this one os beautifully written.
Language of Love, an anthology from Ylva contains a wonderful selection of stories featuring holidays in a variety of cultures and countries. I thoroughly enjoyed each story. Some focus more on family and some focus more on romance. All have a warmth about them that will seep into you. A perfect book for reading with a warm cup of your favorite beverage. I found hot chocolate to be the perfect accompaniment, I’m sure others prefer coffee or tea. It pairs well with anything. Aussies may want to go for the lemonade or iced tea.
My Lady Lipstick by Karin Kallmaker is a complete treat to read. Featuring a mistress of disguises and a reclusive author, Diana and Paris make their convoluted way to a satisfying ending. This is one of those books that makes you hungry, hungry for more story and hungry for some of the incredible baked goods that come out of Paris’s kitchen. As with all Kallmaker books, the protagonists are smart, capable women who have their flaws. Diana is one of my favorite characters this year. She’s doing good work, but it’s not exactly legal. She is confident and clever and kind. She works her way into Paris’s life and heart and I just love them together.
The Goodmans by Clare Ashton is a family journey with multiple threads running through it. Each family member is unique and fully formed giving us great insight into the family dynamics. There are some incredibly funny scenes. My favorite character is Maggie and I know others love Jude, or Abby or any of the other characters the best- except perhaps the neighbor. Filled with humor and the emotional situations wrought by family togetherness, this book kept me enthralled.
For the science fiction lovers, Outcaste by Fletcher DeLancey is magical. I read it in one sitting. Rahel’s journey from a kid who can’t please her rigid parents to a competent adult goes through several dark and dangerous places where you aren’t certain she will make it. Sadly, some of her companions don’t. Others do. We see how a person can make the wrong choices with the best of intentions. I loved Rahel. I know others struggled with her. Her life is “in the grey”. She’s good, she’s bad, and she’s everything in between. Untimately, she is loyal and driven and that both gets her into trouble and makes her dreams come true.
I read many other excellent books this year, but you all probably stopped reading paragraphs ago. Share your favorites below!