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Top Reads of 2021

This has been a tough reading year. Usually, I read about 300 books a year. In 2021, I’m struggling to make it to 200. There has been a lot of times where reading just hasn’t been appealing or I scroll through my TBR with nothing interesting me. My goal going into 2022 is to rediscover my love for reading for reading’s sake.

That being said, I did a lot of rereads of books this year. I’m in an Immortals After Dark book club and we were already half way through the series when Munro’s release date was announced. IAD was a series I haven’t reread a lot, some of the books only once. It was very interesting this time around to see how my thoughts about some of the books drastically changed. As a teenager, the angst of Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night spoke to me but now I honestly couldn’t stand Bowen. In contrast, I never had any desire to reread Dreams of a Dark Warrior but actually looked at it very differently this time around.

This year, I found myself missing historical non-fiction a lot. I was a history major in college and I definitely missing learning about new time periods and people. I started reading a lot more non-fiction books, usually focused on royal women. I see this reading trend continuing into 2022.

Overall, there have been some really phenomenal books in 2021 and I’m constantly amazed that authors can write in this crazy world.

What were some of your top reads?

Contemporary Romance

All The Feels by Olivia Dade

Description:

Following Spoiler Alert, Olivia Dade returns with another utterly charming romantic comedy about a devil-may-care actor—who actually cares more than anyone knows—and the no-nonsense woman hired to keep him in line.

“An absolutely witty, swoon worthy behind the scenes romp! Delightful from beginning to end!”–Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’

Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, Gods of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he’s dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.

Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to mention his Cupid fanfiction habit.

When another scandal lands Alex in major hot water and costs Lauren her job, she’ll have to choose between protecting him and offering him what he really wants—her. But he’s determined to keep his improbably short, impossibly stubborn, and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. And on a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves: anything at all.

Notable Reads:

Reel by Kennedy Ryan

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker

Managed by Kristen Callihan (reread)

The Professor Next Door by Jackie Lau

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Paranormal Romance

Archangel’s Light by Nalini Singh

Description:

Nalini Singh returns to the world of the Guild Hunters for the most highly anticipated novel of the beloved series—a love story so epic it’s been half a millennia in the making…

Illium and Aodhan.  Aodhan and Illium. For centuries they’ve been inseparable: the best of friends, closer than brothers, companions of the heart. But that was before—before darkness befell Aodhan and shattered him, body, mind, and soul. Now, at long last, Aodhan is healing, but his new-found strength and independence may come at a devastating cost—his relationship with Illium.

As they serve side by side in China, a territory yet marked by the evil of its former archangel, the secret it holds nightmarish beyond imagining, things come to an explosive decision point. Illium and Aodhan must either walk away from the relationship that has defined them—or step forward into a future that promises a bond infinitely precious in the life of an immortal…but that demands a terrifying vulnerability from two badly bruised hearts.

Notable Reads:

Last Guard by Nalini Singh

Dark Skye by Kresley Cole (reread)

Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole (reread)

Don’t Hex and Drive by Juliette Cross

In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston (reread)

Historical Romance

The Devil Comes Courting by Courtney Milan

Description:

Captain Grayson Hunter knows the battle to complete the first worldwide telegraphic network will be fierce, and he intends to win it by any means necessary. When he hears about a reclusive genius who has figured out how to slash the cost of telegraphic transmissions, he vows to do whatever it takes to get the man in his employ.

Except the reclusive genius is not a man, and she’s not looking for employment.

Amelia Smith was taken in by English missionaries as a child. She’s not interested in Captain Hunter’s promises or his ambitions. But the harder he tries to convince her, the more she realizes that there is something she wants from him. She wants everything. And she’ll have to crack the frozen shell he’s made of his heart to get it.

Notable Reads:

The Brightest Star in Paris by Diana Biller

The Hellion’s Waltz by Olivia Waite

Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas

Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins

Erotic Romance

Wicked Passions by Nicola Davidson

Description:

Scotland, 1504
Bold and wild, Lady Isla Sutherland disguised herself as a lad to hone her gift of sword fighting. But when she is discovered and dragged to court, it is decreed she must wed at once. To gain time and a chance at finding love, Isla proposes a royal tourney—to the victor her richly-dowered hand in marriage—and the king agrees.
After constant raids, laird Callum MacIntyre’s small but prosperous clan is now on the brink of ruin. His only choice is duty; to set aside his private desires and secure an alliance with a powerful Highland family. Winning the week-long tourney would solve all his problems…if only he was a warrior not a scholar.
Squire Alastair Graham yearns for a wife and children, yet he cannot forget one torrid, forbidden night in his laird’s bed, unspoken of since. Alastair dreads losing his closest friend, but meeting the beautiful Isla is a revelation. She offers to train Callum in secret, and when sword lessons lead to scorching passion for the trio, both men know Isla is the unconventional woman of their dreams.But the battle for her hand is fierce…and their enemies will do anything to win…

Notable Reads:

The Nanny by Brandy Bush (reread)

Door of Bruises by Sierra Simone

Rake I’d Like to F… stories by Nicola Davidson and Joanna Shupe

Fantasy Romance

What A Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken

Description:

“Expect a lot of humor, snarky remarks, and great chemistry” in this fantasy adventure from the New York Timesbestselling author of About a Dragon (Under the Covers Book Blog).

Only for those I love would I traipse into the merciless Northlands to risk life, limb, and my exquisite beauty. But do they appreciate it? Do they say, “Gwenvael the Handsome, you are the best among us—the most loved of all dragons?” No! For centuries my family has refused to acknowledge my magnificence as well as my innate humility. Yet for them, and because I am so chivalrous, I will brave the worst this land has to offer.

So here I stand, waiting to broker an alliance with the one the Northlanders call The Beast. A being so fearful, the greatest warriors will only whisper its name. Yet I, Gwenvael, will courageously face down this terrifying . . . woman? It turns out the Beast, a.k.a. Dagmar Reinholdt, is a woman—one with steel-gray eyes and a shocking disregard for my good looks. Beneath her plain robes and prim spectacles lies a sensual creature waiting to be unleashed. Who better than a dragon to thaw out that icy demeanor? 

And who better than a beast to finally tame a mighty dragon’s heart?

Notable Reads:

The Champion’s Desire by Marie Lipscomb

The Dragon Who Loved Me by G.A. Aiken

Mystery

I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

Description:

International superstar Yrsa Sigurdardottir has captivated the attention of readers around the world with her mystery series featuring attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir. Now, with I Remember You, Yrsa will stun readers once again with this out-of-this-world ghost story that will leave you shivering.

In an isolated village in the Icelandic Westfjords, three friends set to work renovating a rundown house. But soon, they realize they are not as alone as they thought. Something wants them to leave, and it’s making its presence felt. Meanwhile, in a town across the fjord, a young doctor investigating the suicide of an elderly woman discovers that she was obsessed with his vanished son. When the two stories collide, the terrifying truth is uncovered.

In the vein of Stephen King and John Ajvide Lindqvist, this horrifying thriller, partly based on a true story, is the scariest novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, who has taken the international crime fiction world by storm.

I Remember You won the Icelandic Crime Fiction Award and also was nominated for The Glass Key Award.

Notable Mentions:

Miss Moriarty, I Presume by Sherry Thomas

Murder Most Actual by Alexis Hall

Nonfiction

Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots by Nancy Goldstone

Description:

The thrilling family saga of five unforgettable women who remade Europe.

From the great courts, glittering palaces, and war-ravaged battlefields of the seventeenth century comes the story of four spirited sisters and their glamorous mother, Elizabeth Stuart, granddaughter of the martyred Mary, Queen of Scots.

Upon her father’s ascension to the illustrious throne of England, Elizabeth Stuart was suddenly thrust from the poverty of unruly Scotland into the fairytale existence of a princess of great wealth and splendor. When she was married at sixteen to a German count far below her rank, it was with the understanding that her father would help her husband achieve the kingship of Bohemia. The terrible betrayal of this commitment would ruin “the Winter Queen,” as Elizabeth would forever be known, imperil the lives of those she loved and launch a war that would last for thirty years.

Forced into exile, the Winter Queen and her family found refuge in Holland, where the glorious art and culture of the Dutch Golden Age indelibly shaped her daughters’ lives. Her eldest, Princess Elizabeth, became a scholar who earned the respect and friendship of the philosopher René Descartes. Louisa was a gifted painter whose engaging manner and appealing looks provoked heartache and scandal. Beautiful Henrietta Maria would be the only sister to marry into royalty, although at great cost. But it was the youngest, Sophia, a heroine in the tradition of a Jane Austen novel, whose ready wit and good-natured common sense masked immense strength of character, who fulfilled the promise of her great-grandmother Mary and reshaped the British monarchy, a legacy that endures to this day.

Brilliantly researched and captivatingly written, filled with danger, treachery, and adventure but also love, courage, and humor, Daughters of the Winter Queen follows the lives of five remarkable women who, by refusing to surrender to adversity, changed the course of history.

Notable Reads:

Royal Witches: Witchcraft and the Nobility in Fifteenth-Century England by Gemma Hollman

Isabella: The Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey

The Rival Queens: Catherine de’ Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom by Nancy Goldstone

The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer by Caitlin Murray

Top 5 Reviews of 2021

  1. Don’t Kiss the Bride by Carian Cole
  2. My Kind of Love by Nikki Ash
  3. The Rakehell of Roth by Amalie Howard
  4. Abel by Katee Robert
  5. The Hellion’s Waltz by Olivia Waite

New To Me Authors

Alexis Hall

Constance O’Banyon

Lucy Parker

Stephanie Laurens

Jessa Kane

Adriana Anders

Christina Britton

Arnaldur Indridason

Thien-Kim Lam

Cate C. Wells

Sabrina Darby

Juliette Cross

Caitlin Murray

Elizabeth Amber

Diana Quincy

2 Comments »

  1. Yes, I love Jackie Lau, and Olivia Dade. Also, Yrsa Sigurdardottir who writes very creepy books.
    Jackie lau is a new-to-me author this year, and I am working through her back list.
    I also discovered Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, and Lady Astronaut by Mary Robinette Kowal.
    Gill

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