Thursday 1 January 2015

Best Romance Books of 2014

Happy New Year Everyone!

The first day of 2015 means we get to announce our favorite romance reads of 2014! These are books that were published in 2014 and stood out amongst the books we read last year.

Here goes!
Best Contemporary Romance - Falling for Max by Shannon Stacey

Our Thoughts:
Falling For Max is the last in the Kowalski series, which is a great collection of standalone, but related, contemporary romances. Set in the small town of Whitford, these are the sort of romances that simply make you feel good. Falling For Max is a particular favorite of ours, though, because Max is a more unique hero than those we usually see in mainstream contemporary romance and this quirky hero holds a special place in our hearts.

You can find our full review here

From the Blurb:
Max Crawford has reached the point in life where he's starting to think about settling down. Unfortunately, he's always been a little awkward when it comes to socialinteractions, and working from home doesn't help. He spends so much time alone,painting beautiful, historically accurate model trains that half of Whitford has begun to joke that he may be a serial killer. Not exactly prime husband material.

Tori Burns has found happiness in Maine, thanks in large part to her shifts at the Trailside Diner. She likes the work, and she loves the local gossip. When shy, geeky Max Crawford becomes a regular, she's intrigued. When she finds out he's in the market for a wife, she's fascinated…and determined to help.

Molding Max into every woman's dream turns out to be much easier than expected. But has Tori's plan worked a little too well? As she turns his comfortable life all sorts of upside down, she'll have to find a way to show just how she's fallen for him…the real him.

Falling for Max by Shannon Stacey is a contemporary romance, released by Carina Press on July 29, 2014.

Find this book at: Amazon | Book Depository | The Publisher | Goodreads | Our Review
Best Erotic Romance - Unrestrained by Rhyll Biest

Our Thoughts:
Unrestrained is an incredibly witty contemporary erotic romance. While not particularly kinky, it has a heat level that's off the charts and it manages to be hilarious, dark and sexy at the same time. It's a rare combination done wonderfully well. Plus, Stein is one of the sexiest goddamn book boyfriends around - a gorgeous stonemason who gets bonus points for reading Holly's romance novels.

You can find our full review here

From the Blurb:
From the dark mind of Rhyll Biest comes a story about a Teutonic god, a guarded recluse, some dirty pictures, and the spark of curiosity that leads to a dangerous attraction.

When the reclusive Holly Unthanks finds some very naughty photos, both the subject of the photos — a muscular Teutonic god with some serious ink and a knack for knots — and the way he’s tied his lady friend to his four-poster bed, make her more than a little curious.

But to get to know the big, built stonemason better, Holly will have to overcome his vengeful ex and her own inhibitions...and pray that the walls she’s built around her guarded heart, as well as her dark secret, remain safe from a man who has a way with stone.

Unrestrained by Rhyll Biest is an erotic romance, released by Escape Publishing on November 8, 2014.

Find this book at: Amazon  | Amazon AUS | Goodreads | The Publisher | Our Review
Best in Fantasy Romance - A Furious Muse by AJ Nuest

Our Thoughts:
A Furious Muse is the first in The Golden Key Legacy, an offshoot from The Golden Key Chronicles. The Golden Key books are romances for anyone who sat in their wardrobe as a child, hoping against hope that they'd end up in a magical world, and who have grown up wondering why they never got their Disney prince. Faedrah is a kick ass princess and Rhys is an over protective painter. Together they are omg-hot!

You can find our full review here.

From the Blurb:
Since the day of her birth, Princess Faedrah Austiere has been defined by her place within the kingdom. As the single heir to the half-blood gypsy king and his prophesied white queen, she is fiercely protected, shuttered inside an ivory castle and well-trained in the art of war. Yet neither her obligations as future queen nor the black infestation threatening her kingdom fail to hinder the mysterious pull of the antique armoire hidden in her parents’ bedchamber. And stealing the golden key for a leap through time is the only way to confront the dark lord haunting her dreams.

One face. The image of one defiant, relentless woman has been stuck in Rhys McEleod’s head ever since he was old enough paint her luscious curves on the canvas. But the day she walks into his life off the street—sexier than hell and itching for a fight—he’s not convinced she’s the same women he’s envisioned since childhood. That is, not until he spots the golden key around her neck—an object he’d never fully shown in any of his paintings.

Now if he could just persuade his lovely muse he’s not the enemy. Unless the elusive Faedrah Austiere learns to trust him, he’ll never have her in his bed—the one place he’s convinced she belongs.

A Furious Muse by AJ Nuest is a fantasy romance, released by HarperImpulse on November 27, 2014.

Find this book at: Amazon | Goodreads | The Publisher | Our Review
Best Historical Romance - Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh

Our Thoughts:
Mary Balogh is a favorite writer of many historical romance readers, but The Survivors Club series is something particularly special. Focusing on the experiences of characters wounded in war, and the relationships they develop on their return, this series is a really lovely collection of standalone historical romances. Unlike so many romances with disabled characters, The Survivors Club series avoids disablist traps and instead includes beautiful historical escapism with some wonderfully diverse characters. Only Enchanting is our favorite in the series so far.

You can find our full review here.

From the Blurb: 
The Survivors' Club: Six men and one woman, all wounded in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendship forged during their recovery at Penderris Hall in Cornwall. Now, in the fourth novel of the Survivors' Club series, Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, has left this refuge to find his own salvation—in the love of a most unsuspecting woman.…

Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, was devastated by his fiancĂ©e’s desertion after his return home. Now the woman who broke his heart is back—and everyone is eager to revive their engagement. Except Flavian, who, in a panic, runs straight into the arms of a most sensible yet enchanting young woman.

Agnes Keeping has never been in love—and never wishes to be. But then she meets the charismatic Flavian, and suddenly Agnes falls so foolishly and so deeply that she agrees to his impetuous proposal of marriage.

When Agnes discovers that the proposal is only to avenge his former love, she’s determined to flee. But Flavian has no intention of letting his new bride go, especially now that he too has fallen so passionately and so unexpectedly in love.

Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh is a historical romance, released by Signet on October 28 2014.

Find this book at: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads | Our Review
Best Steampunk Romance - Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster

Our Thoughts:
We are both pretty obsessed with the London Steampunk series by Bec McMaster. Each book has a standalone romance, but there is an overarching political storyline linking each of the books together. These books are all steampunk and paranormal creatures, action, mystery and hot as hell sex. Forged by Desire was the awesomely compulsive read we expect from Bec McMaster and now there's only one more to go, Of Silk and Steam, coming out in March 2015.

You can find our full review here.

From the Blurb:
Ten years ago, Perry fled her thrall contract to find sanctuary among the Nighthawks. In that time, she's become a respected woman of the Guard, and she's wanted Garrett Reed for as long as she can remember. But when a new case takes a chillingly familiar turn, Perry finds herself once again in the path of a madman...only this time, there's nowhere left to run.

Out of their depth and racing against time, Perry and Garrett must learn to trust the desire sparking between them...or risk losing themselves forever to the darkness stalking London's streets.

Forged by Desire by Bec McMaster is a steampunk romance released by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 2, 2014.

Find this book at: Amazon | Book Depository | The Publisher | Goodreads | Our Review

We only review adult titles on Love Reading Romance, but we're both huge fans of Young Adult Speculative Fiction, so we also want to share our favorite YA SFF Romance titles of 2014. Unfortunately, we couldn't settle on only one, so here are our favorite two in no particular order.
Silver Shadows (Book 5 of The Bloodlines Novels) by Richelle Mead

Our Thoughts:
Both of us were huge fans of the Vampire Academy Series (terrible movie adaptation aside), and were a little nervous about this offshoot series. We needn't have been, however, because it's YA fantasy crack at its best. Sydney and Adrian are a lot less perfect than Rose and Dimitri, which makes them so much more fun to read. This series has vampires (but not the sparkly kind) and teen angst (but not the insufferable kind) and is basically perfect. Silver Shadows is Book 5, but Sydney and Adrian's romance begins in Book 1, Bloodlines, and you need to start there.

From the Blurb:
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead is a young adult fantasy romance, released by Razorbill on July 29 2014.

Find this book at: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Find Book 1 of The Bloodlines Series: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
Cress (Book 3 of The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer 

Our Thoughts:
We don't agree on everything, but we both agree that this is one of the best series we have ever read. Ever. Yeah. Big call, right? It won't be to everyone's taste, but if you like YA SFF with unique world building (probably most comparable to the futuristic styling of Blade Runner, if you add in more fantasy elements like magical beings who live on the moon), awesome characters (strong heroes and heroines alike, wherein strong means active and empowered, not traditionally 'strong'), fabulous romances (though you won't get an easy HEA), in the format of fairy tale reimaginings, then this series will probably rock your world. Cress is Meyer's reimagining of Rapunzel, if Rapunzel was a hacker chick locked in a satellite - YEAH. But you need to read this series from the start. While each book contains its own romance (HEAs not always included at this point in the series), they are all part of one bigger story of a gang of teen misfits bent on saving the world.

From the Blurb:
Cress is the third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, following Cinder and Scarlet.

Incarcerated in a satellite, an expert hacker and out to save the world - Cress isn't your usual damsel in distress.

CRESS grew-up as a prisoner. With only netscreens for company she's forced to do the bidding of the evil Queen Levana. Now that means tracking down Cinder and her handsome accomplice Emperor Kai. But little does Levana know that those she seeks, and the man she loves, are plotting her downfall . . .

As paths cross and the price of freedom rises, happily ever after has never seemed further away for Cress, Scarlet and Cinder.

This is not the fairy tale you remember. But it's one you won't forget.

Cress by Marissa Meyer is a young adult fantasy romance, released by Puffin on February 6, 2014.

Find this book at: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Find Book 1 of The Lunar Chronicles: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
That's it! There were so many other wonderful books we read and loved in 2014, so this list could have gone on forever, but those are the books that really stood out for us last year. Here's to more like them in 2015!

What were your favorite reads in 2014?