Saturday, December 31, 2016

Yvette's Top 10 Favorite Reads of 2016


I've read more than 200 books this year alone so narrowing down a list of ten favorites was quite a daunting task! I could've easily chosen twenty or more books but ultimately picked the books that resonated with me the most - whether they made me laugh or cry or left me with an unshakable book hangover. 2016 was truly a year for some unforgettable reads.

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This was undoubtedly the quirkiest, most intriguing book I've read this year. Thanks to protagonists, Cletus and Jennifer, this book is riveting. It's thought-provoking. It’s hilarious. It’s sensual. And it's flat-out entertaining. Penny Reid's books are delightfully weird, consistently amusing, and wholly unique. The author has truly outdone herself with Beard Science, writing a story that readers can relate to and identify with, using a combination of wit, comedy, heat, and heart to ensure her audience will be captivated from start to finish.

Beard Science by Penny Reid:

Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?

Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate.

And desperate times call for Cletus Winston.

Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So... what’s a maniacal mastermind to do?

Likely, the last thing you expect.

'Beard Science' is the third book in the Winston Brothers series, is a full-length romantic comedy novel, and can be read as a standalone.

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I've never met a Jill Shalvis book I didn't love and her novel, Sweet Little Lies, is the perfect example of this author's spell-binding writing. The eclectic and lively cast of characters whose tightknit friendship and effortless rapport had me smiling from start to finish and the chemistry between Pru and Finn had me fanning my face. Sweet Little Lies is a swoon-worthily romantic, heart-meltingly sweet, feel-good romance that should absolutely be on everyone’s must-read list.

Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis:

Choose the one guy you can’t have . . .

As captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru can handle rough seas—the hard part is life on dry land. Pru loves her new apartment and her neighbors; problem is, she’s in danger of stumbling into love with Mr. Right for Anybody But Her.

Fall for him—hard . . .

Pub owner Finn O’Riley is six-foot-plus of hard-working hottie who always makes time for his friends. When Pru becomes one of them, she discovers how amazing it feels to be on the receiving end of that deep green gaze. But when a freak accident involving darts (don’t ask) leads to shirtless first aid, things rush way past the friend zone. Fast.

And then tell him the truth.

Pru only wants Finn to be happy; it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But wanting him for herself is a different story—because Pru’s been keeping a secret that could change everything. . . .


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Is it strange to want to become best friends with a fictional character? Because I *think* I may have a bit of a girl crush on Natalie Grayson. The heroine in Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton had me laughing so hard at her thoughts and antics, I had tears streaming down my face. This book has characters that are lovably quirky and irresistibly charming, a romance that will have you dissolving into a puddle of swoon, and a narrative that’s outrageously funny and gut-wrenchingly emotional. It will make you laugh, make you blush, and teach you more than you could possibly want to know about cheese.

Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton brings her trademark blend of funny and sexy to this second contemporary romance in the brand-new Hudson Valley series!

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is...cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be...love?


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I could've chosen any one of the rom-coms Lauren Blakely came out with this year because they're all equally amazing. Romantic comedies are my weakness and, when they're as humorous and steamy as Well Hung, they're pretty much an instant favorite. An accidental marriage and an office romance? That’s two awesome tropes combined into one book! Reading Well Hung was like being transported to my happy place – a place filled with flirtatious banter, a blush-inducing romance, and characters that are both lovable and down-to-earth. Every element of Well Hung – the storyline, the humor, the romance – comes together so flawlessly, I don’t think it’s possible for me to have adored this book more. Honorable mention: Big Rock | Mister O | The Sexy One

Well Hung by Lauren Blakely:

From the NYT Bestselling author of MISTER O, comes a hot and hilarious new standalone...

Here's what you need to know about me -- I'm well-off, well-hung and quick with a joke. Women like a guy who makes them laugh--and I don't mean at the size of his d*ck. No, they want their funny with a side of huge... not to mention loyal. I've got all that plus a big bank account, thanks to my booming construction business. Yup. I know how to use all my tools.

Enter Natalie. Hot, sexy, smart, and my new assistant. Which makes her totally off limits...

Hey, I'm a good guy. Really. I do my best to stay far away from the kind of temptation she brings to work. Until one night in Vegas...

Yeah, you've heard this one before. Bad news on the business front, drowning our sorrows in a few too many Harvey Wallbangers, and then I'm banging her. In my hotel room. In her hotel room. Behind the Titanic slot machine at the Flamingo (don't ask). And before I can make her say "Oh God right there YES!" one more time, we're both saying yes--the big yes--at a roadside chapel in front of a guy in press-on sideburns and a shiny gold leisure suit.

But it turns out what happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas. And now, my dick doesn't stay in my pants when she's around. I try to resist. Honest. But the more we try to keep our hands to ourselves, the more we end up naked again, and the more time I want to spend with her fully clothed, too. The question now is...do I take this woman to be my ex-wife?


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Samantha Young has the ability of making you feel like you've known a character forever within moments of being introduced to them and that’s exactly how I felt when I met protagonists, Jessica Huntington and Cooper Lawson, in The One Real Thing.What I loved about this couple’s dynamic (and the book in general) is that there’s a perfect balance between serious and lighthearted. We get all of Cooper and Jessica’s deepest darkest secrets and we get the fun, flirtatious rapport they share. Yes, there are moments of gut-wrenching angst, but there’s also overwhelming sexual tension and no-holds-barred passion. I loved everything about The One Real Thing. The setting…the storyline…the characters…everything comes together flawlessly in one heartfelt, enchanting tale about fate, love, and belonging.

The One Real Thing by Samantha Young:

Welcome to Hartwell, a quiet seaside escape where uncovering old secrets could lead one woman to discover the meaning of a love that lasts…


While Doctor Jessica Huntington engages with the inmates at the women’s correctional facility where she works, she’s always careful to avoid emotional attachments in her personal life. Loss and betrayal taught her that lesson long ago. But when she comes across a set of old love letters in the prison’s library and visits the picturesque town of Hartwell to deliver them to their intended recipient, she finds herself unable to resist the town’s charm—and her attraction to the sexy owner of a local bar proves equally hard to deny.

Since his divorce from his unfaithful ex-wife, Cooper Lawson has focused on what really matters: his family and the boardwalk pub they’ve owned for generations. But the first time Jessica steps into his bar, Cooper is beyond tempted to risk his heart on her.

Yet as their attraction grows hotter and Jessica remains stubbornly closed off, he begins to realize it will take more than just passion to convince her there’s only one real thing in life worth fighting for…


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With laugh-out-loud humor courtesy of Sam’s plentiful puns, characters that are both relatable and engaging, and a romance so sexy, it’ll scramble your brain and make you lose the ability to process complete sentences, Worked Up is utter perfection from start to finish. One pouty man bear + one quirky artist + one raging case of insta-lust = the makings of one seriously sexy story. Sam made me laugh. Duke made me swoon. Together, they’re an irresistibly lovable combination.

Worked Up by Tessa Bailey:

Factory mechanic Duke Crawford just wants to watch SportsCenter in peace. Unfortunately, living with four divorcee sisters doesn’t provide much silence, nor does it change his stance on relationships. But when a fellow commitment-phobe stumbles into his life, getting him good and worked up, he can’t deny his protective instincts.

Samantha Waverly’s brother just put her in an impossible situation. The only way out? Marry huge, gruff, gladiator look-alike Duke—for show, of course. She doesn’t make promises—she knows too well how easily they can be broken—and this is no exception.

As the blistering attraction between them grows, the lines around the no-strings relationship blur. But Duke and Samantha’s marriage is only for show…or is it?

Yvette's Review | Buy Worked Up

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Do you ever just start a book and know instantly that you’ll love it? Within only a few pages of Levi’s Blue, I felt a certain energy…a giddy kind of excitement from realizing everything was coming together – the characters, the storyline, and the romance – to create pure magic. One of my favorite things about this book is the banter between Evie and Levi. Good dialogue is always essential to my enjoyment of the book but the back-and-forth, His Girl Friday-style, fast-talking, wise-cracking zingers exchanged between these two characters is just plain fun to read. Levi's Blue is one of the most unique and unexpected books I've read this year but I can't say much else without spoiling the plot. You'll just have to read it and see for yourself!

Levi's Blue by M. Leighton:

Four beautiful days. Three steamy nights. One breathtaking love.

Levi Michaelson. He caught me when I fell. Literally.

He wanted four dates. Four opportunities to prove I could trust him. Four chances to change my mind about him.

I agreed.

Probably not my smartest decision. He was everything I knew to avoid—gorgeous, charming, sexy as hell—but I couldn’t help myself. When he touched me the whole world disappeared. I should’ve known I could lose myself to him, that he could be the one man to destroy me.

I guess it’s true what they say—some things are too good to be true. And Levi Michaelson might just be one of them.

Yvette's Review | Buy Levi's Blue

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You know when you read a book and you get this feeling, this indescribable certainty that it's going to crush your heart? Well, I think Jennifer L. Armentrout set a new record for the shortest amount of time it took for a book of hers to obliterate my heart with The Problem with Forever.
With characters that manage to be both complex and relatable, a narrative with so much depth that new revelations are unveiled with each chapter, and a romance that's breathtakingly beautiful in its innocence, The Problem with Forever is the type of book that leaves a lasting impression.

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes a riveting new story about friendship, survival, and finding your voice.

For some people, silence is a weapon.

For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield.

Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory must make a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.


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With Swear on this Life, Renee Carlino once again delivers an extraordinary second chance romance that I guarantee will resonate with you long after the book’s final sentence. Not only is the concept wholly unique, but it’s innovative and so intricately detailed, you don’t realize the extent of how much thought went into this narrative until everything comes together. This book is a breathtakingly beautiful, hopelessly romantic story about taking chances and creating your own destiny and I must say, I enjoyed every word of it.

Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino:

From USA TODAY bestselling author RenĂ©e Carlino (Before We Were Strangers), a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J. Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?


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Out of all the books on the list, It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover left me with the biggest book hangover. This is not a lighthearted read, but rather an intensely emotional, impactful read. The storyline…the characters…everything about this book resonated with me. It Ends with Us is a book that makes you think, makes you feel. This book is heartbreaking. It's raw. It's real. It's unexpected. It's painful. It's powerful. It's evocative. It'll push your boundaries and have you in tears, but it's undeniably a must-read.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover:

Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.


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