We had such a great time talking about the Books We Couldn’t Put Down that we were up for another round! These are the books AAR staffers have read recently that captured our attention from start to finish and left us feeling bereft when we finished.  What have you read lately that kept you glued to the pages or reading late into the night?  Drop by and let us know in the comments.


Anne:

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

Shannon gave this new psychological thriller by Liz Nugent a DIK review, and I agree. I was reading it at lunch and dinner (apologies to my family) and even when we went out to eat (blush). The characterizations are in-depth, and the resolution was devastating. On top of that, the story made great use of Irish cultural and socioeconomic issues such as the horrible way pregnant girls were treated.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes and Noble/iBooks/Kobo


BJ:

Archangel’s Assassin by Barbara Elsborg

Barbara Elsborg is British, has a huge back catalogue, and I was unaware of her books until now.

I wanted a story with Angels, don’t ask me why – I felt in an angelic mood. I bought this and to my surprise, I was gripped from the outset. Tao finds himself on a bench in Hyde Park with no memory of who he is or how he got there. He has nothing except the clothes on his back and a bracelet that says Tao (before it is stolen) and so he adopts that name for himself.

He drifts into a life in squats, and on the streets until, whilst begging wearing glittery cardboard wings, an incident brings him to the attention of West. Handsome, mysterious and not overly welcoming, West has a ghoulish contract to fulfil but is on the side of right, he hopes. Against the backdrop of a contemporary London unaware of the existence of Angels, Faeries and Demons, and amidst lots of sex and danger, we discover all about West, his mission to save his brother from Hell and humorous, gentle Tao. Can they all be saved?

I felt drawn to this couple, as they seem to be at the opposite ends of the spectrum where gentleness and kindness is concerned and yet the author makes you care. Towards the end, one event made me sniff, and not because of Hayfever. If you liked Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, I think you will like this.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Caroline: 

The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin

I hadn’t realized until I started The Jade Temptress that there was a sequel to Jeannie Lin’s The Lotus Palace, or that Jade was it. This book had everything I loved about The Lotus Palace, from the unusual setting to the unpredictable mystery, but with a fantastic lead couple that made Jade my new favorite Jeannie Lin. Mingyu, the beautiful, ice queen courtesan, can’t let herself be tempted by Wu Kaifeng, the meticulous and blunt lower-class detective who is the only person who can help when she discovers a dead body. A connection to Kaifeng would not only complicate the investigation, but would also put Mingyu’s life of influence, power, and luxury in jeopardy. All of this, plus twists and turns in the crime case, kept me up late and got me up early until I finished. Highly recommended!

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Em:

Him/Us & Good Boy by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen

I re-read/binge the series whenever I need a pick-me-up (and before playoffs), and I enjoy it every single time.  I always read them together, and lately, I follow them up with Good Boy, the first book in the offshoot Wags series, featuring a pivotal secondary character from Us.

The series stars Jamie Canning and Ryan Wesley, best friends after spending summers together as roommates at an elite hockey camp.  When Him opens, they’re competitors facing each other in the college hockey championships.  They haven’t seen each other since they were eighteen, four years ago, when Ryan abruptly dropped Jamie as his friend after an awkward late night.  Jamie has never understood why – and Ryan has never forgiven himself for treating his best friend so badly. The duology tracks the pair as they reconnect as best friends…and eventually become more.  Over the course of the two books, their relationship goes through highs and lows as each man matures and evolves within the confines of their commitment to one another.

I love everything about the Jamie/Ryan partnership – their friendship, the passionate sexual relationship that eventually consumes them both, their hopes and doubts and fears, and the individual/mutual concerns they both have about navigating a future together.  The principal characters are supremely well realized, the pacing perfectly captures the ebbs and flows of the relationship, and the happily ever after is well earned and pitch perfect. Featuring two of my favorite tropes – second chance love; friends to lovers – Him and Us are two of my favorite binge/comfort reads.

Buy HIM at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo

Buy US at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo

As a mega-fan of the Him series, I was well-familiar with Blake Riley, Jamie’s neighbor and teammate; in Good Boy we finally get his backstory (we already love him) when he falls hard for Jamie’s younger sister Jess.

Good Boy is laugh out loud funny and Blake Riley is my most favorite contemporary romantic hero ever.  He’s been burned by love and is wary of letting anyone back into his life, but he can’t resist Jess.  Jess, on the other hand, tries very hard to resist Blake.  After several wrong turns career-wise, she’s finally found her calling and moves closer to her Jamie and Ryan to attend nursing school.  She doesn’t have time for Blake or his sexy body and his (AWESOME) silly made-up words…and she knows Wesmie (Blake’s nickname for Jamie and Ryan) will freak out if she hooks up with a player like Blake…but Blake is relentless (also, don’t forget – he’s AWESOME) and she falls for him anyway.

I binged this book so hard, laughing all the way through it.  Blake is charming and funny and romantic and the perfect antidote to Jess’s constant worrying; Jess is sexy and smart and protective and devoted – everything Blake’s ex wasn’t.  She’s fierce and wonderful and the combination of the two is fantastic.  The secondary characters – Blake’s family, the other hockey wives, Ryan and Jamie – are similarly excellent, and everything about this novel sparkles.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Haley: 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I just finished this one and it completely sucked me in from the beginning. It was my first time reading a book with an autistic character told by an author who identifies as on the autism spectrum, and I thought it was really interesting seeing Stella’s perspective on life and love and how it is colored by her disorder. I adored Michael and the romance is so precious but sexy I couldn’t put the book down. The story also features a lot of moments of Michael’s Vietnamese family and it was nice to see the authentic diversity as part of his story. I wholly recommend this book.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Hollis: 

Seven of Spades series by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Yeah, I know we’re supposed to only be recommending one book but guys this series! I binged all three of them over the course of a weekend so that counts as one, right? That said, this series isn’t even over yet so as satisfying as it was.. I still want more. But don’t worry, it’s coming. The Seven of Spades series is an m/m police procedural style story that deals with a serial killer vigilante. Between the killings, the validation for them, and the chills and thrills, it’s gripping and intense and challenges you (and the characters) on right vs wrong. And when it comes to the couple, oh man. These are grown up men with compelling backstories that are diverse and very real, with identifiable struggles (addiction, rage), and I want them to have a happy ending, okay? I say that because Kingsbridge finally got them together (the series opens with one of them in a relationship) but keeps throwing wrenches in their path but I mean that’s to be expected in a multi-book romance journey. Honestly, it’s so good. If you haven’t discovered this series, do it now! Book four is out in September and because the author is a saint she’s giving us the fifth before the end of the year, too. Get on this series.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Keira: 

From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

This is a young adult contemporary romance. I really enjoyed Menon’s début When Dimple Met Rishi, and I really enjoyed this story of a wallflower who comes to believe strongly in herself and claims the love of the boy who believes strongly in her. Right from the beginning, I was struck by the joy in the story. The overall impression of Twinkle is one of happiness. Twinkle is passionately in love with movies and with the idea of becoming a filmmaker, and this epistolary novel is written as a series of dated letters by Twinkle to various notable female film directors, such as Sofia Coppola, Mira Nair, Ava DuVernay and Jane Campion, among others. Her confiding honesty and emotional intensity in her diary let the reader really understand her, who she is and what drives her, her successes and her failures.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Lisa:

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

This is a lovely story about Portia, a socialite who decides to take control of her careening mess of a life and apprentice herself to a Scottish swordmaker.  She ends up irritating – and then becoming quite attracted to – her boss, Tavish McKenzie, who is not here for this rich American girl telling him what to do…well, at first.

Cole has such a gift for romance, and her work is always a delight!   I carried this one around with me on a beach weekend and was sad to turn the last page by the end of the day.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Maggie:

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

I read this book for review and once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. I wrote the review and re-read it “just to make sure I had my facts straight.” I sent the review in and read the book again – just to make sure I loved it. I’ve read it five times now and at 480 pages, that’s a lot of rereading. I finally had to force myself to quit and clean my house! The tale of Miryem, a young Jewish girl in a village bordering the Staryk King’s woods, this charming, atmospheric and chilling retelling of Rumpelstiltskin  is an absolutely wonderful, clever and thoughtful tale. I fell in love with the characters and was enchanted by the fantasy from the very start. If you read no other fantasy tale this summer, read this one.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Maria Rose:


Stand and Deliver by Rhenna Morgan

I was in the mood for something with action scenes and sexy times when I picked this one up. It’s the fifth story in the author’s Men of Haven series, but the first of hers I’ve read. I started it not knowing what to expect (other than that the blurb sounded great) and by a few pages in I was all “Where have the Men of Haven been all my life?!” It’s got a kickass heroine Gia who runs her own security company and a hero Beckett in the same trade who’s the protective sort but also the kind to support his partner 100%. Someone is out to get Gia and discredit her so there’s a mystery to solve, people to protect, and the added complication of Gia and Beckett and their unrequited (until now) lust for each other. The secondary characters are strong and dependable sorts (the men and the women) and the whole effect was one that made me glad to have found a new series to glom over the summer!

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo


Shannon:

The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

I’m a huge fan of everything Tiffany Reisz writes, so the fact that I fell completely in love with her latest novel was no surprise to me at all. The Lucky Ones is a super intense romantic suspense novel where the romance and the suspense are perfectly balanced. Of course, since this is Tiffany Reisz we’re talking about, the romance is on the forbidden side, and I think that played a part in my inability to put this book down. I read it in a single sitting, and I want everyone I know to do the same thing.

Buy it at: Amazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Kobo