I read 307 books this year, so narrowing my favorites down was extremely difficult.
I was introduced to some amazing new to me authors and my tried and true authors continued to captivate me with their stories.
It was a great year of reading for me, and I can’t wait to see what books 2007 brings my way!
5 Poison Apples Favorites for 2016
Born Sinner by SL Jennings
I absolutely adored Born Sinner; S.L. Jennings does a tremendous job of showcasing each one of the Se7en as well as the other worldly beings who are called upon to help as well as hinder the group’s actions. Each demon on the team has his/her own set of beliefs and own backstory that has driven them to take on the sins of the world, and by coming together, they’ve pledged themselves to the cause and fight themselves as well as any others who don’t agree with their calling.
Nothing is black and white in this world of men and monsters, sinners and saviors, and the gray area allows for each decision and each action to be as complicated and deceptive as possible. Battle lines have definitely been drawn in the fight to not only save Eden’s soul but also to allow the Se7en a chance at returning to heaven, but even those situations are manipulated and questioned by those who pledged their lives and those who no longer have anything else to lose.
Eden and the Se7en’s story has only just begun and with the choices made by three of them at the end of the book, payback is coming and hell hath no fury like one pissed off demon!
Dark Notes by Pam Godwin
Pam Godwin is truly a gifted writer; she crafts dark, complex, and troublesome issues and experiences in a way that vividly displays the light underneath the shadows. Readers can’t help but be drawn into the dangerous and unorthodox settings she portrays because they’re so thoroughly described, and even if the scenes leave our hearts shattered and our stomachs in torment, we have a clear picture of all that occurred and the reasons for the actions.
Dark Notes is an exquisite story full of passion, surrender, and submission. It’s about learning who you are meant to be and feeling protected enough to be that person without fear. It’s about understanding how sex is supposed to be, and even if it’s still outside the norm, it’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.
A teacher/student relationship may be inappropriate in a number of ways, but Emeric and Ivory’s bond is essential for their happiness in all facets of their lives, which makes the boundaries that try to confine them inconsequential and makes it easy for readers to look beyond their difference in age and the nature of their school connection and simply feel consumed by how much they give one another.
Goodreads link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28435457-dark-notes
The Royals series by Erin Watt
Paper Princess: AMAZON ➔ http://amzn.to/1XgN1pz
Erin Watt has created an amazingly complex and intricate society of the rich and powerful. There’s a lot of players to contend with in this world, but none as commanding as the Royals. Nothing is what it seems to be and secrets and deception rule in this place because everyone seems to have something to hide as well as lose.
I was told the Royals would ruin me, and they absolutely have in the best possible ways and knowing that there are still some big revelations headed my way, I’m sure when I finish Broken Prince, I’m going to need to take a valium to continue in a society that seems to want to ruin everyone and everything in it.
Broken Prince is a superb follow-up to Paper Princess; it’s the story where Reed Royal and Ella Archer show themselves, each other, and the students at Astor Park Prep what they’re made of…it’s where Reed finds a bit of redemption through Ella and Ella finds her inner Avenger and fights back against those who look to knock her down by their words and their actions.
Book 2 in the Royals series is masterfully crafted. All of the characters are dynamically portrayed, offering much needed insight into their secrets and fears. There are significant revelations in Broken Prince that readers will have to wait for full disclosure on and although it might ruin them, it definitely will be worth it when they see how it all plays out in book 3.
Happily Ever Ninja & Beard Science by Penny Reid
Beard Science was a perfect story because all of Cletus’ hypotheses and conclusions were turned upside down due to one woman’s attempt to find herself and be set free from how the whole town views her. And, as Cletus learns who Jennifer truly is, readers do as well as, which helps us to recognize just how much Cletus and Jennifer complement one another and balance each other’s oddities.
Just like Cletus, there’s a method to Penny Reid’s madness and even though, at first, her pairings might not make sense to some readers, as soon as we’re allowed to investigate a bit more and truly understand the chemistry between the heroes and heroines, it’s more than clear that Reid’s conclusions are accurate and even perfect given her specimens and their attributes!
Happily Ever Ninja
Happily Ever Ninja showcases the struggles of marriage compounded by two people who extremely stubborn, pragmatic, and intelligent. Fiona and Greg’s relationship will resonate with a lot of readers and the fact that Reid was able to write a story of a couple who have been married for 14 years and not compromise their relationship by adding the usual romantic angst speaks to the type of writer Reid is and how she refuses to stay inside a box to sell books. And the most amazing thing about that is that she still sells an immense amount of books.
Can’t wait for more from the nerdy goddess!
The Holly Wood Files by Emma Hart
Droelle is out in full force in Twirled Bond, and while Drake and Noelle still have their arguments and still butt heads when they work the same case, they definitely have reached a good place in their relationship. Not only do readers get to see how big Noelle’s heart is and how much she cares for her family and friends, even when she tries not to get in the middle of everything, we also get to witness the tender moments between Drake and Noelle. The times that they are simply there for each other, giving one another exactly what they need when things get too stressed and too overwhelming. Drake and Noelle may seem like an unlikely couple but they work because their personalities complement each other, balance one another out and they have what it takes to stay happy and in love because they are 100% invested in what they have.
A Holly Woods Files book isn’t complete without Nonna’s crazy antics to marry her grandchildren off in order for them to stop living in sin or Gio’s colorful greetings to everyone who enters Noelle’s parents’ house. There’s also a side story line that deals with Bek’s conflicted feelings, which is the perfect set-up for Book 6 – Burning Bond.
I absolutely love this series! The driving force of each book is Noelle and her need for answers when it comes to a case that just won’t seem to be solved. Surrounding that plot line is a great look into relationships – both familial and friendships. The Bond family absolutely has each other’s back, even though they seem to fight more than anything else, and the bonds that Noelle has formed with the people who work for her as well as Drake continue to pull me in, in each book because besides solving the case, I’m always eager to see what drama and mystery Emma Hart delivers along the way.
Holly Woods may not have Noelle’s antics to help solve the newest case to hit the quiet town, but when Bek finds herself ensconced in a Noelle sized messy situation, she moves forward knowing she has an FBI agent and a HWPD detective on her side, regardless of their Fred Flintstone behavior.
Emma Hart’s Holly Woods Files Series continues to seduce readers with the perfect blend of suspense and romance as well as fierce heroines and kickass alpha males who understand that their leading ladies are independent and head-strong, which means that they’ll fight right alongside their men, instead of cowering behind their heroes waiting for them to save the day.
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/29CoZnN
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/29FNKSI
Twined Bond solidifies several Bond relationships and also proves to Drake and Noelle how perfect they are for one another and it also teaches them a lesson about why some risks are just too great to take; because despite the best of intentions, things can go wrong and jeopardize everything that’s essential in their lives.
Emma Hart created one hell of an outrageous, over powering, and highly entertaining family in the Bonds. No other supporting character will ever compare to Nonna and her meddling ways, and Droelle will always be one of my favorite story couples because they’re complex characters who bring out the best in one another despite annoying the crap out of each other.
Coast by Jay McLean
Coast is very much Becca’s story; Josh plays a pivotal role, which he should, but Becca is the one who needs to push herself and find where she, Josh, and Tommy can exist together, seeing one another through the lens of love, forgiveness, and compassion.
I loved Becca’s journal entries – they were raw and cathartic, exposing her tormented soul but also allowing her a means to process everything that’s happened in her life and to reconcile her past in order to move on to her future.
Jay McLean’s stories always leave a lasting impression on me because the issues that are explored and the emotions that are conveyed speak to all that life offers people on a continual basis. There’s never been a book by Jay that hasn’t captured more heart, but Becca and Josh’s duet will forever remain in my top 10 reads of all time because their story shows life’s reality and how people cope, not sugar coating anything because ultimately, there’s going to be a hell of a lot of kicking and pushing in order to figure out how to coast, and even when coasting is obtained, there’s still an uphill battle because that’s how life works; people just need to furiously fight to find the place where the land meets the sea for them and those who mean everything to them.
#Amzn → http://amzn.to/1TgZ9q6
iBooks → http://apple.co/1TgZeKi
Kobo → http://bit.ly/1TgZlW8
B&N → http://bit.ly/1XyMt0O
Wicked Heart by Leisa Rayven
Ever since being introduced to Leisa Rayven’s writing in Bad Romeo, the dramatic world she’s created and continues to use as the setting for her other books in the series has captivated me due to the complexity of her characters, their interactions, and the issues and complications that she crafts for them. It’s so easy to get swept away in Rayven’s characters’ drama and feel each and every emotion that they go through as they journey through the highs and lows of their personal relationships because every aspect of their struggle is meticulously showcased through the characters’ reactions and internal diatribes. I usually am turned off by a high level of angst, but not in Rayven’s Starcrossed series and that’s due to her ability to make it feel like all of the drama the couple goes through is necessary, allowing for growth in a way that’s realistic instead of easily manufactured. I’ll admit that sometimes my heart and stomach can’t take everything the characters struggle through, but I also know that if I can just hold on and weather the storm, just like the protagonists, the payoff will absolutely be worth it!
Get WICKED HEART here:
Amazon US: http://goo.gl/mgSFEO
Amazon UK: http://goo.gl/VmkvfG
Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/iVpVoK
Collecting the Pieces by LA Fiore
I’ve always enjoyed L.A. Fiore’s stories because she creates realistic and complex characters who readers can relate to and champion for when the hero or heroine needs some encouragement or strength to persevere despite the dire circumstances or lack of faith.
Collecting the Pieces is an absolute gem of a read; it’s emotional, steamy, dramatic, and there’s also a bit of suspense in the mix, which means that it will captures readers’ hearts and minds, and if readers don’t walk away with a love for two very different men – Jake and Abel – then they’ve definitely missed out!
Legend by Katy Evans
I can’t even put into words how perfect the ending of the Real series was. Remy’s role in the book was so essential to the conclusion and I, for one, think the final fight was the ultimate homage to Riptide for being the best mentor he could be and leaving his legacy in the ring!
Katy Evans is an amazing storyteller who creates heroes and heroines whose flaws make them fighters…whose missteps make them human…whose strength and determination make them champions.
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1TFo2L4
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1JYmeal
Amazon PB: http://amzn.to/1TFpRrb
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1HDokuT
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1HyXaYg
Rushing the Goal by Toni Aleo
Rushing the Goal is exactly what I wanted from Lucy and Benji’s story. Healing doesn’t happen overnight, and even when a good thing is standing right in front of someone, there’s no guarantee that it will work out, and with how much both characters have had to endure, it’s amazing that they’re even willing to put themselves out there again.
The Sinclairs are an amazing family; the support and love they show each other is unconditional and their closeness is essential for all of the highs and lows their lives have dealt with over the years.
Benji Paxton is definitely up there on my list of book boyfriends. I adore his geekiness and he’s unbelievably caring and considerate even when Lucy is giving him shit. Benji faced his demons and even though he felt undeserving for so many years, his actions with Lucy, Angie, and even Jordie prove the true man Benji is, and Lucy couldn’t ask for a better man to stand by her side and provide her daughter with the father figure she deserves.
Honor by Jay Crownover
I absolutely adored Nassir and Keelyn’s story. Jay Crownover did an amazing job of characterizing just how anti-heroic Nassir is in a way that actually allowed him to be a man of scruples just on his own terms and in his own way. The storyline was exactly what I was hoping Crownover would give her readers. Nassir has already been through hell and he continues to dominate that setting with a multitude of enemies gunning for him, but Crownover doesn’t create any elaborate power plays against him or exacerbate situations that put Nassir and Key in any greater risk than they already are just because of who they are. The issues and events that do occur are justified and make sense due to Nassir’s position and Crownover clearly illustrates how sins of the past can easily damage the present/future in ways that were never recognized, forcing Nassir to realize that there is always a choice to be made and consequences to deal with regardless of which path is taken.
Deep Redemption by Tillie Cole
Tillie Cole’s Hades Hangmen series is such a well written and captivating group of books because Cole vividly shows readers the complexity of her characters and the dark and dramatic aspects of their lives. Readers experience the unbearable and demonstrative acts that are done to her main characters right along side of them because her writing concretely illustrates everything that occurs, and while some of those moments are difficult to endure, readers can’t help but dive deeper into the darkness with the characters in order to find out how they will rise above it all and reach a place where they don’t have to battle those demons alone.
Prophet Cain’s soul is turned sinister due to the atrocities of his faith, and when he is reborn into a devilish man, he works to redeem and liberate his conscience so that he no longer has to pretend to be someone that he truly isn’t, which is exactly what redemption is.
Amazon US ~ https://amzn.com/B01IAAIP5S
Amazon UK ~ http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01IAAIP5S
Amazon AU ~ http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01IAAIP5S
Amazon CA ~ http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01IAAIP5S
Banking the Billionaire by Max Monroe
Thatch and Cassie’s relationship may be unconventional, but that’s why it works. They wind each other up, push each other’s buttons, and get each other off in both comical and sizzling ways. They fuck with each other in every sense of the word and as they keep each other on their toes, one upping the pranks and plotting devious ways to mess with each other, readers get to experience Thatch and Cassie’s crazy but perfect relationship turn into so much more than a prank war.
Thatcher Kelly is a whole lot of man and every part of him is delectable. He’s got swagger…he’s got charm…he’s got an insane sense of humor and he’s got a Supercock that he definitely knows how to use. But Thatch is so much more than sex and ego. He’s insanely smart, passionate, adventurous, and unique, which is why a commitment phobe like Cassie can’t help but be swept away with the “Jolly Green Giant.”
Cassie Phillips is as crazy, wild, and as inappropriate as they come, but that’s what makes her perfect for Thatch because they push each other to live life to its fullest and experience all that it has to offer. Her freak outs and ramblings fit her personality perfectly and Thatch knows how to handle every part of her quirky disposition, which isn’t easy to do, but he has his own playbook for his Crazy and he makes up the rules as he goes.
Max Monroe knows how to write witty, humorous, charming, and sexy romantic comedies, and I can’t get enough of them. Wes and Winnie are up next and I can’t wait for her to bust his balls and have her girls at her back pulling their pranks and finding any and all opportunities to mess with the loves of their lives.
Amazon US: https://goo.gl/zCGP2T
Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/4KvCKR
Amazon CA: https://goo.gl/BeXIas
Amazon AU: https://goo.gl/ZzqZDy
Wait by AL Jackson
Google Play http://smarturl.it/WaitGoogle
Wait is definitely a story about second chances…about growth and redemption…about making one’s own choices without being afraid of the past. But it’s also about fighting to live in the light…fighting the hollowness and the worthlessness that constantly torments and finding a way to live above it.
AL Jackson mesmerizes readers with her words because she writes in a way that allows readers to FEEL everything that her characters do. The anguish, the fury, and the pain resonates off of every page and helps create an emotional connection between readers and characters – one where the characters’ struggles as well as their victories are felt in readers’ hearts and souls, allowing them to be much more than unattached spectators in a love story, which is exactly the kind of bond readers want to have with books and characters because that’s why they read them…that’s why they escape their own lives to experience others’ highs and lows and that’s what makes readers have must read authors, and I can say unequivocally that AL Jackson is one of those authors for me!
Pennie$ by Pepper Winters
Pimlico is a true Winters’ heroine because despite all that’s done to her…all that’s stolen from her…all that she must give up when she is stripped of her freedom, she’s still able to dictate her internal/external responses and have some sense of power in the weapons she chooses to wield.
For much of the story, readers must endure Pim’s mental and physical mistreatment right along with her, and while some actions are not vividly described, it’s still clear the abuse she suffers at the hand of her master. Through Winters’ powerful diction and her highly descriptive scenes, the painful process of Pim’s brokenness – both in body and soul – is felt down to the core. As every piece of her humanity is stripped away, readers can only question how much more Pim can take until her last bit of strength dwindles away with everything that she’s tried to keep locked away from her hellish existence.
So far, no one, Elder Prest is a wild card, an elusive man whose lifestyle has been inferred but not explicitly explained. It’s clear that Prest is a man of many nefarious talents, and in terms of right/wrong and good/bad, he unequivocally resides on the darker side of both. Pim intrigues him and he wants to steal her secrets and use them against her, but what that means for Pim remains unclear because her thoughts are worth more than a penny and even a dollar, so what it will take break the silence will be determined by more than just pieces of paper.
I have no idea where this series is headed, no one, but I do know that Pepper Winters’ storytelling continually leaves me spellbound, and even though Pim and Elder’s story is only just beginning, I’m already invested and intrigued with how a slave and a thief’s journey will take them to millions.
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/29X94mE
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/29T7cqO
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1Plgtvw
Wicked Bond & Sugar Daddy by Sawyer Bennett
Wicked Bond is a bumpy ride, but with a man like Bridger, I wouldn’t expect anything less because as toned as his body is and as hard as his head is, anything beyond what he knows and needs to remain in control is going to throw him off balance and have him questioning everything about himself. Sawyer Bennett does a fantastic job of illustrating Bridger’s struggles to come to terms with his past in order to have more than a sexual relationship with Maggie – one that is completely under his control. There were definitely times I wanted to throttle him and force him to truly see who he is beyond what he was made into by someone else’s sick and twisted preferences, but no one was going to lead him in a way that he didn’t want to go himself, so even though the path bent and curved and even digressed, everything that happened had to be done or else the bond of his past wouldn’t be broken and a new connection couldn’t be made.Get Wicked Bond now!
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2ctq593
#SaveAHorseRideACowboy #WickedHorse #AvailableNow
I’ve always loved Sawyer Bennett’s stories, but Sugar Daddy is in a class of its own. It’s innovative and layered and there’s never a lull in the story line because readers are considering every character’s motive and actions. The connection between Sela and Beck radiates off of the pages of the story as does Sela’s need for vengeance.
Sela has infiltrated in order to trap her prey, but does she have it in her to murder one of the men responsible for her warped perception of sex and the damaged woman she’s become or does the man who has come to mean everything to her showed her a new plan for justice – happiness and love?
Retrieval & The Spiral Down by Aly Martinez
In Retrieval, Aly Martinez truly defines what it means to be a storyteller; readers can’t help but be lured into the story because her intensely poetic words and the complexity of her characters demand readers’ attention. There cannot be any distractions as readers consume Roman, Elisabeth, and Clare’s story; every part of it has to be felt and experienced as its most basic level because as the storyline strips its characters’ bare, exposing their hopes, fears, and ultimately, their strengths, every action they take builds from one to the next, forcing readers to keep a tenuous hold on their emotions as Roman and Elisabeth reunite two years after their life together imploded, helping them to see and understand that their undeniable connection is strong enough to repair the past and drive back the grief and bitterness as long as the present doesn’t force their hands in a way that will leave them irreparably broken.Retrieval (Part One):
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2aMnW74
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2aW07Yb
The Spiral Down
The Spiral Down is Aly Martinez’s first M/M story, and let me tell you, she owned this new genre…OWNED it. The chemistry between Henry and Evan resonates off of the pages, and the passion that ignites with each sexual or loving embrace exemplifies just how good they are together and what could happen between them if Henry stopped worrying about labels and Evan gave in to breaking his rules, knowing that even if he got hurt at least he gave it his all.
Aly Martinez’s storytelling always consumes me; she has the ability to make me feel EVERY emotion throughout the duration of the text, and each and every time, I feel seduced by her words and controlled by the way the characters speak and act, wanting to understand everything that makes them who they are and witness them get their hearts desire. Henry and Evan deserve unconditional love and I adored witnessing their journey to get it, despite labels…despite their pasts…despite their fears.
Download your copy of this M/M Standalone TODAY!
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1Xuy9Go
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1TVGmAx
The True North Series by Sarina Bowen
Bittersweet is a fantastic start to Sarina Bowen’s True North series. Griffin is not your typical farm boy and there is definitely nothing wrong with that because he is every woman’s dream guy even if he’s a bit too focused on work. Audrey complements Griffin well because he feels more at ease and relaxes when she’s with him, and it’s that connection that shows them both that their lives are meant to be together even if there has to be some adjustments and compromises along the way.
Because Steadfast is told through both Jude and Sophie’s perspectives, readers are privy to all of the brokenness that they hide inside. They’re both in dark, empty places, and even though Sophie shouldn’t still want the man responsible for her brother’s death, Jude has always been the only person who truly listens to her and soothes her soul, so as much as she knows reconnecting with Jude is not going to end well, she’s addicted to him and needs him to feel whole again.
I have to admit that I was worried about Jude’s story. I knew that it was going to be emotional and heartbreaking, but the thought of him giving into his cravings completely tore me up before I even started reading. And, while there are extremely low points in the book where Jude has to fight with everything inside of him to beat back the cravings, Sarina Bowen realistically illustrates the struggles of an addict and the highs and lows that constantly occur just to make it to through the next minute…the next hour…the next day.
Sarina Bowen continues to pull me into her stories with her dynamically round characters and plot driven text. I felt like I was right along side both Jude and Sophie fighting to keep them above water…above the demons fighting to bring them down, and while it was a terribly difficult journey, both characters faced it head on and I was blown away by their tenacity and their heart in overcoming the obstacles that kept them apart.
I also love that the Shipleys still played a major role in helping Jude cope regardless of the fact that he no longer worked on the farm or lived under their roof. The Shipleys are definitely the kind of people I want to have on my side when my back’s against the wall because it’s clear they’ll step up no matter what.
Perfect Rage by Nashoda Rose
I’m absolutely addicted to Nashoda Rose’s storytelling and the way she weaves the darkness and light of the world in stories that are filled with both anguish, deception, and treachery as well as love, honor, and sacrifice. Rose’s characters are multifaceted; she portrays her heroes in a way that illustrates their entire character – the demons and vices they have as well as their commitment to right the wrongs that are done to the lives of those they love and the lives of the innocent. Her heroines are strong, dedicated, and determined to stand by their man’s side even when it may not be the safe choice because they know that their world is incomplete without their other half, regardless of how imperfect he may be.
I can’t write my review for Perfect Rage without mentioning my love for Deck and his oath to get all of his men home by any means necessary. Deck has proven time and time again that he’s the man you want in your corner when your back’s against the wall and he also has shown how badass he and all of his associates are in righting the wrongs of the world. Rose’s Unyielding series may be complete, but I know that there are a number of badasses who deserve their stories to be told, and I can’t wait to see what she creates for those tortured heroes and the women who will help them heal.