I think last year I started my Best of 2016 list by saying I felt that I hadn’t read as much that year and so I had fewer great books to choose. Well, if I thought 2016 was a tough reading year, I did not have a clue what 2017 would be like. The amount of time I’ve spent each day keeping up with the news cycle is seriously eating away at my casual reading time. I also read more children’s books and graphic novels (for my job), as well as some excellent older titles. That said, I do have a handful of books I loved in 2017 to share (in no particular order).
Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
This one snuck in just under the wire. Meaning, I only finished it less than two weeks before the end of the year. I picked it up because so many others had it as a favorite for the year and they were not wrong! Hate to Want You is all sorts of delicious angst, longing, and forbidden love. I am a sucker for a character(s) who is pining hard for someone and can’t have them. Livvy and Nicholas, with their Romeo and Juliet-esque history, are the perfect example of this. I wanted to smoosh their faces together and say “Just love each other!”, but I also wanted them to keep suffering because it’s so good. I’m currently reading Rai’s Wrong to Need You and it probably could have made the list as well, if I read it sooner.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
I have a full review of this book where I gush about how precious it is, but I’ll reiterate that here. I loved it! I am not a YA Contemporary reader, but it won me over. Both Dimple and Rishi are great characters – adorable yet flawed. They juggle first love, first time away from home, and cultural/familial expectations like real teenagers. For bonus enjoyment, get the audiobook. The narration is fantastic and I was glad to hear how to pronounce some of the names and Hindi phrases.
The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky by Summer Heacock
I’ve been recommending this book like crazy, and I don’t think I’ve gotten anyone to read it yet. So here I am. Recommending it again. Would you guys just read it? This is a Women’s Fiction debut from Heacock and it is super funny, and also unique. The main character is suffering from vaginismus that makes intercourse painful for her. Her plans to fix her broken lady parts are laugh out loud cringe-worthy. Plus, her love interest, Ben, is a sweet nerd that is worth falling for. If you like beta male love interests, he should be up your alley.
Mature Content by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
There may be no book from MegTino that I will hate, individually or as co-writers. I think they both have a voice that I connect to as someone who is, probably, younger than the average romance reader. The Cyberlove series is all about love in the digital age, and specifically people who meet online. Zane and Beau are both YouTube celebrities who, in the past, have hated each other. Or at least hated the persona each puts out online. When they meet up in person sparks fly, both sexy and angry ones. I like the more modern feel to this entire series and how the characters actually act like people in their twenties, even if these boys are internet superstars.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Okay, so, this is not a romance, but I would be remiss if I left it off my list. If you haven’t at least heard buzz about this book this year, I would be surprised. The Hate U Give is about a teenage girl whose friend is shot by the police, and how her community reacts to police brutality against one of their own. Thomas tackles so much about the real world of violence against black men and women, as well as the dynamics between friends and family when there is a tragic loss. It is powerful, it made me cry, and I think future generations will be reading it in their classrooms to learn about race relations today.
Forbidden Promises by Katee Robert
I’ve enjoyed all of the O’Malley series, but of the two that came out this year, Forbidden Promises was my favorite. I really liked Sloan and Jude, and it is much more unusual to have a virgin heroine these days. You have to love virgin lady who knows what she wants, though. It was also a nice respite from the rest of the O’Malley family, since Sloan has fled the mob lifestyle. It meant getting to know the couple away from the the other characters we got to know in previous books, which I think is what tipped it over Uncover Attraction.
His Convenient Husband by Robin Covington
I like when a trope gets turned on its head in a great way, and Covington does that here. This is the story of a marriage of convenience between two men. Specifically, a Chechen ballet dancer is afraid he will have to return home, where gay men are being persecuted. To help him stay in the U.S., a single dad football player agrees to marry him. I really liked the premise, as well as Isaiah and Victor. I like when a book feels up to the moment and is willing to address current issues, while still being a great romance.