Some years it’s easy to narrow down my list of favorite books, but this year I really struggled with my choices. When it came down to it, there were 14 books (including two series) that made a lingering impression on me. Here are my picks for Best Books of 2017, listed in no particular order. Click the cover or link to read my review.
Best Books of 2017
Ghosted by J.M. Darhower. If you have a weakness for second chance love stories, this will be your Kryptonite. J.M. Darhower skillfully navigates the reader through a clever and emotional plot, throwing in quite a few surprises along the way. If the romance, humor, and constant anticipation aren’t enough to draw you in completely, there are some very eccentric characters to sustain your interest.
He’s a troubled young actor, Hollywood’s newest heartthrob, struggling with fame as the star of the latest superhero franchise. Through scandal after scandal, addiction on top of addiction, a flurry of paparazzi hunt him as he fights to conquer his demons.
She’s a single mother, assistant manager at a grocery store, existing in monotony with her five-year-old daughter. Every day when she goes to work, lurid tabloids surround her, the face of a notorious bad boy haunting her from their covers.
A man and a woman, living vastly different lives, but that wasn’t always the case. Once, they were just a boy and a girl who bonded over comic books and fell in love unexpectedly.
When Kennedy Garfield met Jonathan Cunningham back in high school, she knew he had all the makings of a tragic hero. With stars in his eyes, and her heart on her sleeve, the pair ran away together to follow their dreams.
But dreams, sometimes, turn into nightmares.
Now, years later, the only thing they share is a daughter—one who has no idea her father plays her favorite superhero. But Jonathan is desperate to make amends, and at the top of his list is the woman who gave up everything for him and the little girl he hasn’t yet met.
Forever Right Now by Emma Scott. Emma Scott slayed the heck out of this book. It’s worthy of all the stars. Be prepared to pull an all-nighter because I have a feeling that when you start reading, it will be difficult for you to stop.
Darlene Montgomery has been to hell and back…more than once. After a stint in jail for drug possession, she is finally clean and ready to start over. Yet another failed relationship is just the motivation she needs to move from New York to San Francisco with the hopes of resurrecting her dance career and discovering that she is more than the sum of her rap sheet. As Darlene struggles in her new city, the last thing she wants is to become entangled with her handsome—but cranky—neighbor and his adorable little girl…
Sawyer Haas is weeks away from finishing law school, but exhaustion, dwindling finances, and the pressure to provide for himself and his daughter, Olivia, are wearing him down. A federal clerkship–a job he desperately needs–awaits him after graduation, but only if he passes the Bar Exam. Sawyer doesn’t have the time or patience for the capricious—if beautiful—dancer who moves into the apartment above his. But Darlene’s easy laugh and cheerful spirit seep into the cracks of his hardened heart, and slowly break down the walls he’s resurrected to keep from being betrayed ever again.
When the parents of Olivia’s absentee mother come to fight for custody, Sawyer could lose everything. To have any chance at happiness, he must trust Darlene, the woman who has somehow found her way past his brittle barbs, and Darlene must decide how much of her own bruised heart she is willing to give to Sawyer and Olivia, especially when the ghosts of her troubled past refuse to stay buried.
The Queen and the Cure by Amy Harmon. I loved The Bird and the Sword so hard, and I’m amazed that The Queen and the Cure filled me with equal joy. Once again, Amy Harmon spins a tantalizing tale of love, bravery, sacrifice, and magic. She just may turn me into a lover of fantasy after all.
There will be a battle, and you will need to protect your heart.
Kjell of Jeru had always known who he was. He’d never envied his brother or wanted to be king. He was the bastard son of the late King Zoltev and a servant girl, and the ignominy of his birth had never bothered him.
But there is more to a man than his parentage. More to a man than his blade, his size, or his skills, and all that Kjell once knew has shifted and changed. He is no longer simply Kjell of Jeru, a warrior defending the crown. Now he is a healer, one of the Gifted, and a man completely at odds with his power.
Called upon to rid the country of the last vestiges of the Volgar, Kjell stumbles upon a woman who has troubling glimpses of the future and no memory of the past. Armed with his unwanted gift and haunted by regret, Kjell becomes a reluctant savior, beset by old enemies and new expectations. With the woman by his side, Kjell embarks upon a journey where the greatest test may be finding the man she believes him to be.
Beard in Mind by Penny Reid. I. Loved. This. Story. All the books in the Winston Brothers series are highly entertaining, but I think this one might be my favorite. It contains all the humor that I associate with the series; however, at the center is a complexity that is marvelously atypical.
All is fair in love and auto maintenance.
Beau Winston is the nicest, most accommodating guy in the world. Usually.
Handsome as the devil and twice as charismatic, Beau lives a charmed life as everyone’s favorite Winston Brother. But since his twin decided to leave town, and his other brother hired a stunning human-porcupine hybrid as a replacement mechanic for their auto shop, Beau Winston’s charmed life has gone to hell in a handbasket.
Shelly Sullivan is not nice and is never accommodating. Ever. She mumbles to herself, but won’t respond when asked a question. She glares at everyone, especially babies. She won’t shake hands with or touch another person, but has no problems cuddling with a dog. And her damn parrot speaks only in curse words. Beau wants her gone. He wants her out of his auto shop, out of Tennessee, and out of his life.
The only problem is, learning why this porcupine wears her coat of spikes opens a Pandora’s box of complexity—exquisite, tempting, heartbreaking complexity—and Beau Winston soon discovers being nice and accommodating might mean losing what matters most.
Grip and Still by Kennedy Ryan. This series is a fabulous mosaic of passion, sacrifice, angst, understanding, and hope. It’s a love letter to the dreamers, the disillusioned, and the oppressed. The multi-faceted characters and addictive plot challenged my opinions and completely enraptured me.
Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out. I know. I’ve been doing it for years.
I may not have a musical gift of my own, but I’ve got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary. And Marlon
James – Grip to his fans – is nothing short of extraordinary.
Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I’ve thrown away the key. All that’s left is friendship and work.
He’s on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true. I manage his career, but I can’t seem to manage my heart.
It’s wild, reckless, disobedient. And it remembers all the things I want to forget.
The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan. I’ve been a huge fan of the Game On series, so I approached this book with excitement and a bit of hesitance. There’s always the chance that your favorite series will go downhill. Kristen Callihan pulls out all the stops with The Hot Shot and it exceeded my expectations on every level.
First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…
What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.
No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.
I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.
Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.
Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?
When Life Happened by Jewel E. Ann. This is one of Jewel E. Ann’s strongest novels to date, and that’s really saying something. I’ve been a huge fan of her masterful storytelling, so it should not come as a surprise that this addictive book left me conflicted and entirely enthralled.
Parker Cruse despises cheaters. It might have something to do with her boyfriend sleeping with her twin sister.
After a wedding day prank involving a strong laxative, that ends the already severed relationship between the twins, Parker decides to grow up and act twenty-six.
Step One: Move out of her parents’ house.
Step Two: Find a job.
Opportunity strikes when she meets her new neighbor, Gus Westman. He’s an electrician with Iowa farm-boy values and a gift for saying her name like it’s a dirty word.
He also has a wife.
Sabrina Westman, head of a successful engineering firm, hires Parker as her personal assistant. Driven to be the best assistant ever, Parker vows to stay focused, walk the dog, go to the dry cleaners, and not kiss Gus—again.
Step Three: Don’t judge.
Step Four: Remember— when life happens, it does it in a heartbeat.
Ruckus by L.J. Shen. It’s official. I am unequivocally addicted to the Sinners of Saint series. After reading the first book, Vicious, I suspected I’d found a new favorite series. Ruckus sealed the deal.
They say that life is a beautiful lie and death a painful truth. They’re right. No one has ever made me feel more alive than the guy who serves as a constant reminder that my clock is ticking. He is my forbidden, shiny apple. The striking fallacy to my blunt, raw, truth. He is also my sister’s ex-boyfriend. One thing you should know before you judge me; I saw him first. I craved him first. I loved him first. Eleven years later, he waltzed into my life, demanding a second chance. Dean Cole wants to be my bronze horseman. My white knight has finally arrived. Hopefully, he isn’t too late.
They say the brightest stars burn out the fastest. They’re right. She sets my mind on fire. All smart mouth, snarky attitude and a huge heart. In a world where everything is dull, she shines like fucking Sirius. Eleven years ago, fate tore us apart. This time, I dare it to try. Getting to her is a battlefield, but man, that’s why they call me Ruckus. Rosie LeBlanc is about to find out how hard I can fight. And conquering her will be the sweetest victory.
The Darkest Sunrise and The Brightest Sunset by Aly Martinez. This duet had my heart pounding in my chest. I’m not kidding when I say I had to take a Xanax while reading. Aly Martinez nailed it with this gripping series that takes you on an inspirational, breathtakingly emotional journey and never lets you go.
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.
Whoever coined that phrase is a bald-faced liar. Words are often the sharpest weapon of all, triggering some of the most powerful emotions a human can experience.
“It’s a boy.”
“Your son needs a heart transplant.”
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.
Syllables and letters may not be tangible, but they can still destroy your entire life faster than a bullet from a gun. Two words—that was all it took to extinguish the sun from my sky.
For ten years, the darkness consumed me. In the end, it was four deep, gravelly words that gave me hope of another sunrise.
“Hi. I’m Porter Reese.”
Royally Endowed by Emma Chase. I appreciate romances that have a slow burn, and this story takes its precious time developing the couple’s forbidden attraction from simmering to smoldering. I enjoyed every crackle, sizzle, and pop of their relationship along the way.
Logan St. James is a smoldering, sexy beast. Sure, he can be a little broody at times—but Ellie Hammond’s willing to overlook that. Because, have you seen him??
Sexy. As. Hell.
And Ellie’s perky enough for both of them.
For years, she’s had a crush on the intense, gorgeous royal security guard—but she doesn’t think he ever saw her, not really.
To Logan, Ellie was just part of the job—a relative of the royal family he’d sworn to protect. Now, at 22 years old and fresh out of college, she’s determined to put aside her X-rated dreams of pat-downs and pillow talk, and find a real life happily ever after.
The Queen of Wessco encourages Ellie to follow in her sister’s footsteps and settle down with a prince of her own. Or a duke, a marquis…a viscount would also do nicely.
But in the pursuit of a fairy tale ending, Ellie learns that the sweetest crushes can be the hardest to let go.
Logan St. James grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, in a family on the wrong side of the law. But these days, he covers his tattoos and scars with a respectable suit. He’s handsome, loyal, brave, skilled with his hands and…other body parts.
Any woman would be proud to call him hers.
But there’s only one woman he wants.
For years he’s watched over her, protected her, held her hair back when she was sick, taught her how to throw a punch, and spot a liar.
He dreams of her. Would lay down his life for her.
But beautiful Ellie Hammond’s off-limits.
Everybody knows the bodyguard rules: Never lose focus, never let them out of your sight, and never, ever fall in love.
Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen. If you’re a fan of M/M romance, you should read this book. If you believe in love being a beacon in the darkest of moments, give this book a try. If you just want to escape and feel encouraged for a few hours, I highly recommend Goodbye Paradise.
Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.
In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.
But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.
It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.
Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.
Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?
Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.
Hooking Up by Helena Hunting. Cheers to Helena Hunting for creating such a seductive, sweet, and wickedly funny treat. It was the perfect cure for the angst fog I was in. I loved this rom-com like crazy.
Amalie Whitfield is the picture of a blushing bride during her wedding reception–but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of proclaiming his undying love, her husband can be heard, by Amalie and their guests, getting off with someone else. She has every reason to freak out, and in a moment of insanity, she throws herself at the first hot-blooded male she sees. But he’s not interested in becoming her revenge screw.
Mortified and desperate to escape the post-wedding drama, Amalie decides to go on her honeymoon alone, only to find the man who rejected her also heading to the same tiny island for work. But this time he isn’t holding back. She should know better than to sleep with someone she knows, but she can’t seem to resist him.
They might agree that what happens on the island should stay on the island, but neither one can deny that their attraction is more than just physical.
Filled with hilariously scandalous situations and enough sexual chemistry to power an airplane from New York City to the South Pacific, Hooking Up is the next standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from Helena Hunting, the New York Times bestselling author of the Pucked series and Shacking Up.
Best Books of 2017 Giveaway
Would you like to win a paperback of one of my favorite books of 2017? Join the Best of 2017 Blog Hop Giveaway on Facebook. 14 blogs are participating which means 14 chances to win some great books! It’s open internationally and ends January 2, 2018 at 9:00 am EST.
Be sure to check out these Best of 2017 lists from my friends around the blogosphere!
About That Story | Alba and Her Secrets | Book Twin Reviews | Feeding My Addiction | Foxy Blogs | Rachel Reads Ravenously | Read More Sleep Less | Relentless Romance | Smokin’ Hot Book Blog | Stacey is Sassy | Totally Bex | Vanilla & Spice Books