Y’all it’s February. And while it normally isn’t cold here in Bama, lately it has been downright frosty. In an effort to stave off the cold, I have taken to reading day and night. Curled up in my favorite chair with my comfortable blanket, I’m working my way through a number of books that have been on my TBR list forever, as well as some advanced copies of books coming out this year. Here is a list of my best reads so far. Some of these are straightforward romance, while some are full of action and adventure with a romance building in between—either way, there is something for everyone.
It’s true. I am a bad book lover. All these years I thought I had actually read this book. When a friend told me about her Jane Austen class and I asked if I could follow along, I quickly realized I had some things very wrong. Since (finally) reading P&P, I’ve noticed a ‘Darcy’ in literally every book I’ve read. Sometimes Darcy stays that arrogant uptight jerk, but more often than not he is the character we are hoping for. There is a Darcy in pretty much each of these books—sometimes very obviously, what can I say? I was on a roll.
Yes, I read this because it said ‘Romanov’ in the title. Yes, I am obsessed with Anastasia and hold a very small amount of hope that she survived. No, this book doesn’t fill every plot hole in Anastasia’s escape, as it’s not a historical account. However, it is compelling and deals with more than just a missing descendant of a royal family. Royally Romanov was sweet and just romantic enough to make me forgive some of its failings.
This book was just released on Tuesday, and it is wonderful. I adored Nina and West’s story. It wasn’t the typical hate-turned-love-story. Nina’s penchant for debating (aka arguing) and their shared love of reading was what threw these two unlikely neighbors together. While no romance could be complete without drama, both Nina and West carry an appropriate amount of angst over their family lives. Nina chooses to focus on the things she can control: not lying, reading obsessively, and being more like her dog, West has chosen isolation in an effort to protect his mother’s secret. West is the epitome of a good book boyfriend, making The Dating Debate the perfect antidote to stupid boys on dating apps.
Right now this series is only three books, but I sincerely hope there will be more. The first book, Burn for Me, sets up the main cast of characters and explains the world full of magic. A serum created during the Victorian Age has given magic to people and has since continued for generations. Since the serum’s creation, power has become the currency and the most powerful type, Primes, are sought after. Nevada Baylor is a PI trying to keep her family and family’s business afloat. Soon she and her family are given a case that puts them in the line of fire. It took me a few chapters to get invested, but this series more than delivered some well thought out consequences when one tiny thing is changed in the past, and I can’t wait for more of Nevada’s story.
Bookish Boyfriends (coming May 2018)
This book was so heartfelt. I will be honest I was three chapters in and ready to quit given the main character, Merrilee’s, insistence on thinking Romeo and Juliet was a romantic story, but soon after, the book found its rhythm. As it turns out, nothing is as easy as it seems for middle child Merrilee as she starts a new prep school. Merrilee’s older sister is marrying into politics and her new mother-in-law wants the girls at Hero High. Merrilee’s younger sister is no Lydia or Kitty, but she is an incredibly talented artist with a mean streak. Merrilee and her friends have their share of hijinks as she tries to navigate a new school and search for her prince charming. Fielding (our Darcy copy) could use a better name, and poor Toby and Eliza (Merrilee’s best friends) need actual plot lines, but I loved the sisters dynamic and Merrilee’s intelligence and wit.
Bloodlines is a spin-off of The Vampire Academy. I liked TVA a lot when I first read them, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve loved Sydney Sage’s adventures a little more. There are still vampires and bad guys and magic, but Sydney is the epitome of a intelligent badass who is more organized than I could ever hope to be. Adrian provides all the swoons and romance you could want, but at its core, this series is full of action. You’ll find your heart racing…a lot. If you liked TVA, but haven’t read Bloodlines, you need to read them immediately. If you’ve never read TVA that’s okay too—Mead does a good job of explaining the backstory if you don’t know or forgot what happened!
Have you ever wanted to run off to the circus? Well Caraval isn’t so much a circus as it is a magical, giant, island-wide mystery, but still. Scarlett has wanted to escape her father for years. When she and her sister, Donatella, get an invitation to Caraval—after much cajoling and trickery—they decide to go. Now Scarlett is on the island, but she must find her sister because this year’s mystery is finding Tella. Despite dreaming for years to come to Caraval Scarlett is a unwilling participant and fears her father’s wrath when he realizes she has run away. This book is full of romance, magic, and betrayal. It is the perfect read for someone feeling stuck in their office everyday. The sequel, Legendary, comes out in May of 2018.
Chemistry Lessons (coming June 2018)
This book did a really good job of not dumbing down a smart girl. Maya is intelligent, friendly, pretty, and conflicted like all normal teenagers are. She has baggage from the death of her mother and her life is changing with college starting at the end of summer, but she doesn’t excuse herself from participating in her life. Even after her boyfriend dumps her, she doesn’t wallow in misery, though she is obviously sad. She keeps participating in life until she comes up with a plan to get him back using her late mother’s research. I really enjoyed this book. It was funny, quirky, and complicated. I just wish I got to know Macy’s best friend Bryan better—I want more story about him!
My Lady’s Choosing (coming April 2018)
I have to admit: I have never been a huge fan of choose-your-own-adventure books. When two choices for a character lay before me, I have a hard time knowing which choice will lead me to the ending I want. It’s taken me a while, but I finally understand that is the whole point. A book that can be different each time you read it? That’s pretty much the dream. My Lady’s Choosing isn’t just a regency era romance book (it definitely is that as well), but it’s also a book full of possibilities. You are the main character, you make the choices, and you choose what the right course is, so ‘happily ever after’ is all in your hands. If you don’t like where you end up, try again and make better choices.