If I tell you right up front, right in the beginning that I lost him, it will be easier for you to bear. You will know it’s coming, and it will hurt. But you’ll be able to prepare.
Someone found him in a laundry basket at the Quick Wash, wrapped in a towel, a few hours old and close to death. They called him Baby Moses when they shared his story on the ten o’clock news – the little baby left in a basket at a dingy Laundromat, born to a crack addict and expected to have all sorts of problems. I imagined the crack baby, Moses, having a giant crack that ran down his body, like he’d been broken at birth. I knew that wasn’t what the term meant, but the image stuck in my mind. Maybe the fact that he was broken drew me to him from the start.
It all happened before I was born, and by the time I met Moses and my mom told me all about him, the story was old news and nobody wanted anything to do with him. People love babies, even sick babies. Even crack babies. But babies grow up to be kids, and kids grow up to be teenagers. Nobody wants a messed up teenager.
And Moses was messed up. Moses was a law unto himself. But he was also strange and exotic and beautiful. To be with him would change my life in ways I could never have imagined. Maybe I should have stayed away. Maybe I should have listened. My mother warned me. Even Moses warned me. But I didn’t stay away.
And so begins a story of pain and promise, of heartache and healing, of life and death. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and never-endings. But most of all…a love story.

Warning: Only read my review if you want a heads up on what to expect. For those that like to be surprised or don’t want a single thing to be spoiled, just go into the book 100% blind.

First, I am a reader who needs to be given a heads up on certain things before I read about them. Call me picky, OCD, or whatever but when it’s my time and money on the line, I don’t have the patience or luxury to go into every book completely blind and expect to be happily surprised by plot twists. And especially when I draw the line at certain things and am not sufficiently warned by the author or most other reviews, that’s when I get annoyed and frustrated.

Had I known beforehand this book contained a heavy paranormal aspect with many biblical references I would’ve liked it a lot more than I actually did. In the author’s own words, I would’ve been able to prepare ahead of time. I definitely would’ve started the book with a different mindset. Instead, I spent the first 25% of the story feeling confused – was Moses insane? Did he have a mental illness? I finally had enough and got a friend to tell me what his deal was: Moses can see the dead. He sees ghosts. He hears their voices. And then he paints them. I mean, just looking from the blurb that aspect is so not obvious! After discussing with a few readers, we all agreed that seeing ghosts + dead people = paranormal. So for those that think this book shouldn’t be categorized under this genre, it’s your prerogative to think what you want, but for other like-minded readers’ reference, I feel it’s imperative to give everyone the option to fully know what to expect, not deliberately omit such a crucial aspect in fear it may ward away potential readers.

Being honest with you, it shouldn’t have to matter what ‘genre’ this book is because loyal fans of this author will still want to read her books regardless. Instead, I felt like the omission was a very subtle but manipulative marketing move, and those leave such a sour taste in my mouth.

Please don’t think I based my 2 star rating entirely on this one issue. It’s a part of the reason for the low rating but I also had major problems with the plot and characters.

Characters: Maybe it’s because both books were set in the same town but the main characters here felt like carbon copies of the characters from Running Barefoot. I had just finished the former a couple days ago in preparation for this book so the similarities are jarring. The hero Moses is a misunderstood loner with parents from different worlds and he doesn’t belong in either, sort of like Samuel Yates. And the heroine Georgia is a sweet girl loved by all who sees the hero and wants to ‘fix’ him, be his friend, and make him smile, no matter what it takes, sort of like Josie Jensen. Quite frankly, Moses was a jerk (once again, like Samuel AND is a jerk in the exact same way). He had his shining moments but when it came down to testing his feelings for Georgia, he turned chicken and used the classic ‘I’m not good enough’ excuse to step back and create conflict. As for Georgia, I do admire her resiliency and for the most part I loved her character, but she was definitely a doormat when it came to Moses and part of me really wanted her to grow a backbone sooner than later in the story.

Plot: With the story being more inspirational fiction than romance, I got bored several times in the book and had to push myself to finish. It was even tougher to stay invested because two plot devices I absolutely cannot stand were present. There is a very big time gap that I felt crippled the second half of the story. It’s tricky with time jumps because I always wonder…why that certain number of years? Why 3 or 5 or 10? The author really has to convince me time jumps serve a purpose rather than be a shortcut to a happy ending and sadly, the very long time gap in this book did nothing but piss me off. And right before the time jump, there is a quick reveal about Georgia that was a huge pet peeve. I do think blurting out what it is can be a spoiler so if you want to know, message me privately.

At times, the writing was evocative and the 5 Greats theme was wonderful. I do know fans of this author will find another winner with this story that oozes positivity. As for me, I’m just going to move on now since I’m starting to feel like the Grinch who stole Christmas…

Pressing the boundaries of both the psyche and the heart, Sam and Holden embark on a dangerous journey that will test the limits of love.
Sam Wintry’s life used to be almost perfect. She was engaged to her childhood best friend and high school sweetheart, Tyler Marks, planning an amazing cross-country honeymoon during her college break. But after a hit-and-run leaves her in ruin, she begins seeing Tyler’s fractured, ghostly presence, and her family believes she’s losing her mind. Not until she completes their journey, stopping along the way to scatter Tyler’s remains, will Tyler be able cross over. Only…is Sam ready for him to leave her?
When the black sheep of the Marks’ family, Holden Marks, returns to check on Tyler’s case, Sam convinces him to give her his brother’s ashes. Despite their shaky history, she needs him…plus, he owes it to Sam and his brother. What she doesn’t count on is Holden’s relentlessness to go on the trip.
On the road, Holden realizes just how unhinged Sam has become. Dealing with her psychosis forces him to confront his dark past, making it harder to keep secrets hidden that should remain buried. Especially from Sam, the only woman he’s ever loved. And as Sam starts to unravel the truth, she begins to question if the brother she’s unwillingly falling for again is in an even darker place than her.

3.5-4 stars!
I’ve been in a book funk lately and since none of the recently released books were appealing to me at the moment, I dug deep into my TBR list and found this little gem. The blurb really grabbed my attention: a mentally disturbed heroine who had not one but two guys in love with her, plus…they’re brothers?! Add in a ghost, a road trip, a mystery, and a lovely second chance romance and I pretty much decided that this would be my next read. Both the plot and writing were compelling and kept my attention from the very beginning to the very end and the sexual tension between the hero and heroine crackled in the air. I did, however, have some issues, like the timeline switching back and forth between past and present I wasn’t too fond of, and the ending along with the suspense aspect was a little anticlimactic but when taken as a whole, this story is a solid NA romance that I’m glad I picked up.
Sam Wintry had the perfect life: she was engaged to her childhood best friend and sweetheart Tyler Marks, settled in college, and getting ready for the road trip of her life with Tyler. All that changed when he’s killed in a hit and run and Sam’s left shattered and barely able to pick up the pieces. All her life she’s relied on Tyler: first as friends, and then when they were together, as a couple and now with him gone, she struggles with self-identity. In fact, her mind is so fragile she believes she can see Tyler’s ghost lingering on Earth and hear his voice. Her parents, friends, and doctor all are convinced she’s mentally unstable and put her on meds to stabilize her, but Sam knows she’s not crazy. She’s not lying. And she can see Tyler. See that her fiancé valued the road trip they were supposed to go on. In an impulsive gesture, Sam decides to go on the road trip and scatter his ashes at major checkpoints Tyler would’ve liked. Her plan goes off without a hitch, except for one thing. Holden Marks is back, and he’s here to stay and go with Sam no matter what.
Holden is Tyler’s older brother and the black sheep of the family. What’s gradually revealed is that Sam and Holden had a past before she was involved with Tyler, a past that includes infatuation, love, and heartbreak. For years, Sam and Holden’s relationship is strained but with Sam going on a road trip with his brother’s ashes, Holden insists on going with her to honor him, to protect her, and to solve the mystery he’s been trying to do for a while now: find the bastard responsible for the hit and run.
There is absolutely NO cheating or a love triangle. The relationship timeline between the three goes in the order of: Sam + Holden, Sam + Tyler, and then Sam + Holden again. Never did I feel like the age gap between Sam and Holden was inappropriate nor did I ever think Tyler was second place. Sam loved both of the Marks boys, but in very, very different ways and at different times of her life. Tyler was a true love. But Holden was her first love. And from early on, it was very obvious to me who she belonged with and who she had the deeper connection to.
The first couple of chapters alternated between past and present and since I’m not a fan of that kind of book setup, I was a little disconnected with the story at that time but it didn’t make me lose interest in the overall plot. There is a secondary suspense element weaved into the story and when it all came to light towards the end I was slightly disappointed with how easily all the ends were wrapped up, considering how hard the protagonists were wanting Tyler’s case to be solved for a while now.
This is a book that kept me on my toes and led me down memory lane with all the aspects of teenage life. It’s both a love after loss romance and a second chance romance, two of my favorite kind of love stories combined in one. With so many NA romances out there, it’s really refreshing to read one that’s slightly different from the norm.
The Darkest Part is the first book in the Living Heartwood series but a standalone. There is a slight paranormal aspect as the heroine ‘sees’ her dead fiance’s ghost but other than that this is very much a contemporary story.
Rating: 3.5-4 stars!

The day started like every other day…
Bianca London finds herself kidnapped and locked up in a van with a strange man. Ten hours later, they’re dumped on a deserted island. Bianca has no idea what’s going on and her attraction to this stranger is the only thing keeping her fear at bay.
Jakob Bradley wants only to figure out why they’ve been left on the island and how they can get off. But as the days go by, he can’t ignore his growing fascination with Bianca.
In order to survive, Bianca and Jakob must figure out how they’re connected, but as they grow closer, secrets are revealed that may destroy everything they thought they knew about each other.

I’m not familiar with this author’s work so I had no idea what to expect but judging from the blurb I had hoped it would be good. While the premise itself is an intriguing one, the execution fell below ground zero for me and for most of the book I was so frustrated I made mad cow sounds because of the idiotic heroine and the plot that seemed to run in circles. As for the ending, I can’t say I didn’t see it coming, but it finally made the book much more interesting. The only positive thing I have to say is that the suspense and desire to know the mastermind behind the hero & heroine’s kidnapping is what made this story a page-turner; all the other parts I had to force myself to finish.

The heroine Bianca is convinced her mother’s death wasn’t just an accident and armed with papers her late father left her, seeks out answers that lead her all the way to the elusive owner of one of the most powerful business corporations in the country. But before she can confront him, she gets kidnapped and taken to a remote island with another guy, the hero Jakob. Not knowing who he is, where they are, and why they’re there, Bianca reluctantly teams up with Jakob to get off the island and find the mastermind behind their kidnapping, all the while being ridiculously attracted to him.
Like I said before, this book was a real page turner because the suspense was solid. Other than that, however, everything else fell flat…starting with the awful heroine and her best friend. Literally every other page I could pick on something they did or say that drove me bonkers, whether it was Bianca’s terrible survival skills, her completely unnecessary spouting of random & useless movie facts, or both of their stupid commentary.
Here are but a few examples (spoiler-free quotes):
“It’s so pretty here. Whoever kidnapped us all really chose a beautiful spot.”

Isn’t the kidnapper so considerate? *rolls eyes*

“My dearest Rosie (Bianca’s best friend), you don’t know me yet, but I very much want to know you. Accept this gift as a token of my friendship.
Who’s it from?
Who knows?…Who cares? I just got a bracelet from Tiffany’s.”


“You seem like you’d have a lot of ladies.
Why would you think that?
You’re so handsome. And you’re rich.”

^I need a drink.

“Let me get this straight. You told your ex-boyfriend that your father created multiple products that made his family company one of the largest corporations in the world. And then you told him you were doing research on said company, and you expected that he’d be cool with that?”

^Finally a voice of reason. At this point I just wanted to punch Bianca in the face and call it a day.

Now for the hero. I think he could almost be the saving grace of this book, except he has terrible taste in women. And by women I mean Bianca.
If she really is his match in everything, then good luck and good fortune to them both.
As for the plot, it was pretty obvious what Jakob’s role was in the whole kidnapping scheme. If the blatant clues dropped in the story don’t give it away, then the blurb for this book does (see his last name).
I will rarely rate books 1 star even if it was terrible to the point I wanted to DNF multiple times but my rationale is if the writing was solid I can give 2 stars. Sadly, not even the writing in this book is worth giving it a shot. The quotes I pulled for my graphics are the best of the crop and even that is a little amateur. I’m a reader who fully utilizes the highlight function on my iPad and normally I’d be highlighting quotes – funny, breathtaking, beautiful quotes – from left to right but in this book, I had more quotes that annoyed the crap out of me than ones that stirred any positive emotion. Maybe for longtime fans of this author, this book will be a smashing hit but for likeminded readers, perhaps it is best to skip this one, or at least until the second one releases since this first one ends on a massive cliffhanger.
Illusion is book 1 in the Swept Away series and not a standalone. There is giant cliffy at the end and the story will continue on in book 2 Disillusioned.
ARC provided by Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I think everyone has that book (or a few) that we stowed away at first glance, skipped over because of some reason, or plain just wasn’t interested in but we gave it another look, read it, and berated ourselves thinking ‘why didn’t I read this earlier??’ Believe me, I’m guilty of this and in fact, my latest TOP recommendation Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn would fall under this category. I’ve had this book for a few months now and only recently did I decide to read it, discovering a hidden gem with this one. It got me thinking….what other books did I read this year would fall under this same category? I came up with 8 of the most memorable reads and made a list here. They weren’t all 5 star reads, but they all made a significant impact on me and I think about them from time to time.

(Listed in the order I read them in)
1. Then There Was You by Melanie Dawn. Okay. Being honest here….I never, ever expected or wanted to read this book because I wasn’t a fan of the first one (both are interconnected standalones). But I gave it another glance and holy hell, that is one heck of a blurb! So yeah, I read it. I pulled an all-nighter for it. And I wanted to re-read all over again. I emailed the author at 6 AM a blubbering mess. So moral of this little story for me is to always, ALWAYS give authors a second chance. I’m glad I did. By the way, here’s my review for Then There Was You.
2. The Deep End of The Sea by Heather Lyons. At the time of reading, this author was a newbie to me so I didn’t know what to expect from her. Also this premise is mythology and the retellings I’ve read I was all pretty disappointed in…so what if she butchered it? I gave it a shot anyways and this right here is a 5 star hidden gem. I literally smacked my forehead for waiting this long to read it and messaged one of my reading buddies telling her to tell me ‘I told you so.’ By the way, here’s my review of The Deep End of The Sea.
3. Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson ($.99). Okay, another confession: I can’t do novella-length books. I mean, I’m a big book lover mmkay? So the short length of this one made me skip over it but alas, a big number of friends urged me to read this one and I caved (thank god I did!!!). Another 5 star winner and this story packed an emotional punch in so little pages. Here’s my review of Puddle Jumping.
4. After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Okay, this one I first avoided for a while because of the not-so-attention-grabbing cover and the price tag!! I mean, $10 (if you include tax) for an ebook is way beyond expensive for me. It better be some Pulitzer Prize material there. And OMG it really was!!! This was a 6 star read and one of my favorites from the summer. Literally everyone who read this (married or not) can take away something meaningful from this mindblowing
5. Thin Love by Eden Butler. Another confession (sheesh I feel like we’re in church haha): I cannot stand angst. And this book has extreme angst (push/pull couple dynamic, obstacles that prevent them from being together or they’re having problems, whatever). I’ll be honest, I was never more terrified of a book than this one but one of my closest reading buddies adored it and I trust her implicitly…so I went for it. And I am so thankful I did!! This is one of the most unforgettable, unputdownable books I’ve ever read, and I couldn’t pick up another book for days after this one! Here’s my review of Thin Love.
6. With The Father by Jenni Moen. Another case of a newbie author to me, and I remember at the time of reading this book, there were so many books with great blurbs that didn’t live up to its promise for me and I was so afraid that this book would fall under that category. But I guess I was feeling bold or whatever and I went in completely blind. This is a 5 star book that made me question everything I thought I knew and it was like a story hidden within a story. Easily one of my top favorites of the year! Here’s my review of With The Father.
7. Love Like Crazy by Megan Squires. This book has one of the cutest covers I’ve ever seen, but it’s YA and I’m really picky with my YA reads. Nevertheless, I just had that ‘feeling’ that it’d be a goodie from the blurb and I read it. It had a slow, simmering start, but wow! By the end I was really feeling the emotional impact. This book was such a breath of fresh air – quirky, individualistic characters and a heartfelt romance! Though it wasn’t a complete 5 star read, the writing was amazing and I highlighted like crazy!
8. And last but definitely not least, Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn. This is my latest TOP recommendation, a 5 star read that rocked my world, and a book that I simply cannot stop thinking about. I’ve had this one for a few months as well but never thought to read it, I forgot about it and every time I saw it in my library, the, um, not so great cover made me look the other way. I am so ashamed of falling for the old judging books by the cover thing because what a gem this book was!! You might think this an exaggeration but I meant what I said with ‘if there is only one book you can get this year, it HAS to be this one.’

They say in every guy’s life there’s a girl he’ll never forget and a summer where it all began. Well, for me, 1999 is that summer, and Brooke Sommerfield is that girl. But that was nearly nine years ago. And what they don’t tell ya is that you’ll blink, and both the summer and the girl will be gone.
I have no idea where Brooke ended up. She disappeared that same summer I met her. And kind of like when you move something on a wall after it’s been there for a long time and everything around it is faded, that’s how I feel about Brooke. She wasn’t there very long, but when she left, everything around her memory sort of dimmed. That is until a letter postmarked the year she left mysteriously resurfaces. And call me crazy—everyone else has—but I have to find her. I have to know what became of the green-and-gray-eyed girl who stole my last perfect summer. I have to know if she believes in second chances—because I do—even if they do come with good-byes.

Upon reading the blurb for this book, I knew it was one I had to read as soon as I got the opportunity. Some of my favorite books are second chance romance stories that take my emotions for a spin and through the ups and downs of these characters’ lives, somehow finding their way back to each other again gets me every. single. time. So as much as I was expecting to love this one, I just couldn’t because the author employed a clichéd and unrealistic plotline that lead me to wonder just where the romantic connection was, and on top of that inserted multiple time gaps (not a fan of those) to substitute for the story. Perhaps those looking for an overly sweet and cheesy romance will enjoy this book, but as a reader who loves romances where both the ‘sweet & sour’ sides of love are portrayed in order to make the story believable, this book was a letdown.

First love, first crush, first anything usually leaves a powerful and lasting impression and that’s the case for the hero River Asher. At 13 years old, he’s sure he just met the girl of his dreams and the one who he’ll eventually marry. The same is true for the heroine Brooke Sommerfield, and in that one unforgettable summer, they spend those months together baling hay and hanging out at the creek. But when summer ends and Brooke’s family is moving, she and River tearfully say goodbye, promising to write each other and eventually meet up one day. Unfortunately, life gets in the way, letters are lost, and both move on.
The story is told entirely from River’s POV and so as the years pass, he seems to live like any normal teenager but all along, he’s carried memories of Brooke with him.
I think I would’ve been more invested in the story if not for two things: the age at which both characters professed their ‘love’ and the time gaps that gave me whiplash. I’m more of a cynical romantic and so when you have two thirteen year olds professing their love for each other after a day, talking about marriage, etc…it really makes me grimace. They didn’t talk or act like thirteen year olds, and if the author hadn’t told me their ages from the beginning, I would’ve guessed that they were both in their mid-twenties. Still, the writing was exquisite and while I wasn’t buying the love, I could still overlook the cheese and let myself be carried away by the torrent of emotions evoked from her writing.
Which brings me to #2 – time gaps.
I’m really not a fan of them. One or two is fine but when almost every chapter is ‘___ months/years later’ I want to hurl myself off a cliff. Where was the story?? The book spans 9 years but to me it honestly felt like 1. Just because a time gap is smacked at the beginning of a chapter doesn’t convince me that time has passed. The story does that. You know, events going on in these characters’ lives besides their longing for each other.
From beginning to end, this book was a big block of cheese but I admit, very well-written cheese and because the last 10% was 5 star worthy I rounded up to a 3 star rating.
This is definitely a book for hopeless romantics, dreamers, and any one just wanting a nice, sweet read with no real story. I like my stories to have an edge so unfortunately this wasn’t a winner in my book.
A copy of the book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3 stars!

Her past is a secret—even to her.Discovering it will be the most dangerous move of her life.
TV reporter Laura Nilsson, known as the “Baghdad Babe,” spent eighteen months in an Al Qaeda compound after being kidnapped live on the air. Two years later, she’s still wondering why.
No rescue mission in Javier Corbray’s fourteen years as a Navy SEAL affected him the way Laura’s rescue did. No woman has stirred his protective instincts the way she has. And he wants her more than he’s ever wanted anyone.
As Laura and Javier’s passion ignites, so does Laura’s need to discover the mystery of her past. Especially when she learns that her abduction was not random—and that she’s still a target for a killer with an impenetrable motive. Now Javier will have to rely on his skills to keep the woman he loves from being struck down before she dares uncover the truth.

Pamela Clare is an author to behold in the romantic suspense genre. Utilizing her background as an investigative reporter and adding her experiences in her stories brings a gritty realism in each and every one of her books in this series. Her swoon worthy alpha male heroes and smart, sassy heroines combined with intricate, intense plotlines are what makes her books winners for me again and again. So only being able to give Striking Distance 3.5 stars cuts me because I love her characters, I love her writing, but several clichéd moments along with a weak romantic connection and mediocre suspense crippled this book for me.

Branded as the ‘Baghdad Babe,’ renown reporter Laura Nilsson was captured on air by terrorist forces and spent the next 18 months as a captive, repeatedly raped and brutalized. After being rescued by Navy SEALs and spending time recuperating and healing, she still doesn’t know why she was targeted.

Javier Corbray has seen and done things in his 14 years of being a Navy SEAL, but no operation or event has gutted him more than Laura’s capture and later, her rescue. Having spent a wild ‘no-strings-attached’ weekend together with Laura right before her capture, Javier’s harbored immense guilt for not being able to be there for her when she was taken, and unknown to Laura, was the masked SEAL who rescued her 18 months later.
Over two years has passed since the day she’s rescued and Javier’s on a brief leave from the SEALs visiting his old friend while Laura is a reporter on the top-notch I-team for the paper and their paths collide once again. As events fast-forward with a monumental trial and social media all dying to get a piece on the Baghdad Babe’s ordeal, unknown and belligerent forces are threatening Laura’s life and the only thing standing between her and death is Javier.
This book really did have all the ingredients for a 5 star read but somehow the combination fell flat. The most prominent of my complaints is the weak romantic connection between the two main characters: I just didn’t feel it. This may sound harsh or uncaring but one no-strings-attached weekend doesn’t constitute as relationship development and enough of a thread to connect these two characters. They had sex, both had terrible ordeals for the years in between, and with one chance encounter their connection is just rekindled? Not buying it.
The first half of the book I was a little bored and while there was some suspense it was nowhere at the level of the previous books and didn’t get my heart pounding. There were also a few out-of-character descriptions about Laura that really bothered me. Near the end there was an unexpected but welcomed heart-in-throat moment that really hit me in the feels but then that part was ruined by the unrealistic and rushed epilogue ending.
This book was definitely not a bad read by any means, and I’d say it’s actually much better than most romantic suspense books I have read; however, when compared to the other outstanding books in this series, it certainly falls flat, at least for me it did. I did enjoy catching up with the rest of the gang and revisiting my favorite couples and heroes though (shoutout to Marc Hunter and Gabe Rossiter).
Striking Distance is the 6th book in the I-team series. All of the books are interconnected standalones but I highly recommend reading them in order to get the full reading experience.
Rating: 3.5 stars!


I think it’s a true testament to the author’s writing when we can read a book over and over again and never get tired of the story or characters, almost as if re-reading the book for the 10th time is like the first. I know I have those special books that I can go back to and read and just know for sure that it’ll take me out of my book funk, inspire and invigorate me to read new books again, and provide me with 100% total escapism. If you’ve been following me on Facebook you’ve probably never heard me mention some of these books…most of these I read years ago and isn’t anything recent (so not many reviews I’m afraid since I hadn’t started blogging then), but special enough that reading them once just isn’t enough.

Listed in no particular order of importance
1. On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves. This book is one of my all-time favorites with such a unique, exciting premise: two people so different from each other with different goals in life get stranded out on an island after their plane crashes. This book is an exotic adventure tale with an unexpected romance! Here’s my review of On the Island.
“I don’t fit in your world.”
“Neither do I,” he said, his expression tender yet resolute. “So let’s make our own. We’ve done it before.”

2. Where I End and You Begin by Andra Brynn. I think of this book and my stomach gets flutters. The story is actually a chip off the author’s real life story (SO much admiration for Andra) and is equally heartbreaking as it is heartwarming. It’s a romance alright, but more importantly, a book about 2 people finding just what it is they want out of life and finding the courage to face their past fears to get it. It’s a very heavy read though (see quote below). Just be ready to feel.

“And just like that I’m falling and it all comes crashing back in like the bursting windows of a sinking ship and I’m drowning in the terror and the helplessness, the cold, and the despair, and I’m on my knees and I can’t breathe, and I’ll never get past it, it will always come back, I will never escape, never escape never escape, never never never never never never never fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK.”
3. After the Night by Linda Howard. This author’s writing is just magical. I could probably sit here all day spouting off different adjectives but I’m just going to go with magical. Though I love all of her books, I have to say that this particular one grabbed me. I love it when the main characters come from different backgrounds (in this case he’s rich, she’s poor) and they fall in love with each other years later. Mind you, the guy’s a big jerk and the girl’s a big sweetie but it’s romance! Forget the current stuff that’s climbing up the romance charts, go with this oldie author and get swept off your feet! You swoon, you sigh, you fall in love

“It was just a kiss – “
“Yeah, and King Kong was just a monkey.” 

4. Lethal by Sandra Brown. For me, this book is like the Bible of the romantic suspense genre. You are sorely missing out if you love your reads with tons of action, a thrilling plot with complex characters and a toe-curling romance. Her books are more on the suspense side than the romance, but when things do start to heat up, watch out! The emotional impact hits home.


“You don’t have to give me flowers, Coburn. You don’t even have to hold me. Let me hold you.”

5. Slammed by Colleen Hoover. Oh.My.God. The FEELS! I think this was one of the first New Adult romances I read and I totally fell in love. With a book. It’s a forbidden romance that’s so inspirational and a life story hidden within. It’s the first book in a trilogy but honestly, this can be read as a standalone.

“Don’t take life too seriously. Punch it in the face when it needs a good hit. Laugh at it.”

6. Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare. Another book that’s a must-read for romantic suspense fans! Actually this entire series is outstanding but this book? It’s the pinnacle. A man on the run from authorities grabs the reporter heroine as a hostage but wait! They actually know each other….long before they each got caught up on different paths, they spent one night together under the stars baring their souls. What are the chances?

“It’s not so much where I want you, Sophie, as it is how. Nothing tastes quite like a woman, and no woman tastes like you.”

7. Surrender by Pamela Clare. This one’s from the same author but it’s historical romance, one of my all-time favorite genres. This is the first book and a standalone within her MacKinnon Rangers series revolving around 3 Highland brothers forced to fight for the British on the American frontier and how one of these brothers falls for the woman he rescues. This story was so sensual and whether or not you’re a fan of historical romance, you’ll be captivated by the alluring setting and characters just the same.

“She reached up, held his face between her palms. “How can I help but fret? You live wi’ death on your heels.”
“For your sake, lass, I promise to stay one step ahead.” 

8. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare. This is the 6th book in her Mortal Instruments series and not a standalone so you’d have to read the first 5 but can I just say something? It is SOworth it. Very few authors can make me feel like I’ve been transported directly into the fictional worlds they’ve created but Cassandra Clare does it again and again, with this series and the Infernal Devices series (see #9). Mark my words: you will cry reading these books. You will cry, you will feel, and you will wish that you never, ever had to leave the Shadowhunter world and return to reality. Do yourself a favor and pick up this series. Or the Infernal Devices series (see #9). Or both.

“There are memories that time does not erase… Forever does not make loss forgettable, only bearable.”

9. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. This is the 3rd book in the Infernal Devices trilogy and not a standalone so you need to read the first two but once again, it is SO worth it. If anything, this trilogy was even more well-written than the Mortal Instruments series (see #8) and made me feel every emotion possible while reading. This is the one and only series that has a love triangle that was 100% perfect and made me feel nothing but respect and love for these characters. Pick this one up too!! I actually have a series review for this trilogy if you’re interested!

“They say you cannot love two people equally at once,” she said. “And perhaps for others that is so. But you and Will—you are not like two ordinary people, two people who might have been jealous of each other, or who would have imagined my love for one of them diminished by my love of the other. You merged your souls when you were both children. I could not have loved Will so much if I had not loved you as well. And I could not love you as I do if I had not loved Will as I did.”