The end of the year is naturally a time for reflection, and for writers and readers that often means looking back at the year in books. This year I'm rounding up my top 10 reads of 2016. I've already talked a bit about four of my favorite books from the year over on my First Draught podcast. You can give it a watch here if you're curious (and want to hear me gush about The Hating Game):
A couple caveats before I start. I'm not great at keeping up with new releases, so every year I read a smattering of books that have come out in the last couple years as well as older titles. I also read pretty widely across genres and always pick up a lot of British history every year. It turns out 2016 was no different.
So, in no particular order, here they are my favorite reads of 2016!
The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne (Contemporary Romance)
This was hands down my favorite book of the year. I actually read it via a wonderfully narrated audiobook, and I couldn't stop listening. It's the story of a workplace battle of the sexes romance and it's jam-packed with snappy banter, a slow burn love story, and a smart, sharp heroine. I highly, highly recommend it, especially if you're looking for an escape this holiday season.
Royally Screwed, by Emma Chase (Contemporary Romance)
Another audiobook with a great narrator (Shane East, your voice is delicious). This was a fun fantastical romance with a very dirty-minded yet dutiful prince and a coffeeshop waitress who fall in love over pie in Brooklyn. While Nicholas's perspective sucked me into the narrative, it was Olivia's POV that kept me engaged. She gets to be strong and sexy, vulnerable and stubborn. I'm now eagerly anticipating the next book, Royally Matched, which is set to come out early next year.
Fire Me Up, by Kimberly Kincade (Contemporary Romance)
I have a weakness for romances that center around restaurants and bars because they so often feature heroes who are chefs. This book sizzles with Adrian, the damaged motorcycle-riding chef, at the center of it, and the hero, Teagan is just the sort of strong, take-no-shit heroine to go toe-to-toe with him.
Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, by Sarah MacLean (Historical Romance)
I've really enjoyed MacLean's Rule of Scoundrels series—so much so that I was really hesitant to pick up this last book and close out the series. I needn't have worried. I don't want to summarize what happens in this book for fear that I'll give away some major series secrets, but I will say that this book has the only indoor swimming pool I've ever read about in a London-set historical romance and it's put to good use.
Right Wrong Guy, by Lia Riley (Contemporary Romance)
Full disclosure, Lia Riley is a friend and represented by my agent.
You always want your friends books to be excellent, and it's so satisfying when that's exactly what you get. I love a reforming hero book, and this book opens with Archer waking up after a threesome he can't remember in a Vegas hotel room. That was my first clue that this was going to heat up the small town contemporary romances that I've come to expect. Sure enough, the sex scenes sizzle and the characters pop off the page. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.
Perv, by Dakota Gray (Erotic Romance)
In case the cover and title weren't big enough hints, this book is very, very hot. But while sex drives the plot, it's the relationship between the characters and the ways they encourage/force each other to grow that drives its emotional center. Yet another book where the heroine stood out for me.
Uprooted, by Naomi Novak (Fantasy)
So let's talk about covers for a moment. I hate the American one and love the British one (which is the version that my sister sent me from the UK). Now that my admittedly petty criticism of the marketing choice is out of the way, I talked a lot about this book in this month's First Draught episode so all I'll say is this is a briskly paced adult fairytale filled with action. It was another book I couldn't put down.
The Blackhouse, by Peter May (Mystery)
I like my mysteries bloody, depraved, and emotionally scarring. The first book in Peter May's Lewis series is all of those things. It follows an Edinburgh detective facing his own personal tragedy who gets recalled to his native Lewis to solve a brutal murder on the island. While the mystery serves at the backdrop for the book, it really focuses on the people who live on island—a world that is strangely and wonderfully rendered so that it feels almost like its own character.
His Bloody Project, by Graem Macrae Burnet (Historical Fiction)
Centered around another brutal murder in Scotland (apparently this was a reading theme for me this year), you already know who did it when you begin reading this book. Instead the mystery lies in the why. His Bloody Project is told as though it's a collection of medical documents, court room testimony, and the murderer's confession, and it makes for a riveting read.
The Mistresses of Cliveden, by Natalie Livingstone (British History)
The best nonfiction I read this year, The Mistresses of Cliveden tells the story of a historic house through the women who lived there and/or owned it. It's a collection of fascinating biographies that highlights women who were significant to British history as politicians, de facto royal advisors, and trendsetters.