by Kristen CallihanIt's part historical, part paranormal, part faerie tale and all good. This original take on the Beauty and the Beast theme was a big winner for me at the beginning of the year. It appears to be just a marriage of convenience between Miranda (the daughter of a merchant) and the enigmatic Lord Archer... but it's so much more. Our hero, Archer, is dark and mysterious. He wears a mask covering his face and he is deliciously tortured. The heroine is strong and loyal and the perfect woman to help tear down his walls and save him in every way that matters.
Click to purchase: Firelight
by Darynda JonesThis third installment in the Charley Davidson series is easily the best yet. It's action packed, sexy and so funny! If you're not familiar with the series, Charley is the grim reaper and a PI. She is irreverent and snarky. And she is in love with Reyes, someone --er-- more than human. Theirs is a rocky road, but it's so great to watch them stumble toward each other. A great twist at the end of this story has me panting for book 4.
Click to purchase: Third Grave Dead Ahead
by Jennifer EstepI was really worried when I finished Spider's Revenge. After all, that book resolved the major conflict facing Gin Blanco throughout the course of the series. It was the perfect swan song... the logical conclusion to Gin's story. But then Jennifer Estep delivered this: the best book yet in the Elemental Assassin series. The story follows our favorite assassin as she takes her little sister on vacation and learns that the Spider never truly takes time off. It's fast paced, emotional and unpredictable. Very, very good.
Click to purchase: By a Thread
by Thea HarrisonAs much as I loved Dragon Bound and Storm's Heart, this latest edition of the Elder Races series is officially my favorite of the bunch. It centers on Khalil the djinn and his unlikely relationship with Grace, the young Oracle raising her sister's children. It's not a big, epic action book. It's a love story. It's sexy and it's romantic. Khalil is a fabulous hero. Harrison doesn't even try to make him human, and perhaps that is part of the reason why he is so captivating. I'd recommend this for fans of the series, but it would still be enjoyable for new readers.
Click to purchase: Oracle's Moon
by Stacia KaneI want to kick myself when I think about the fact I almost gave up on this series during the first book. Because it is now one of my top UF series of all time. This book proves once again what an amazing talent Stacia Kane has. She has created a heroine who is fundamentally broken in a way that may not ever heal. And Kane stays true to that, never giving in and simply fixing her. Here we see Chess trying to just be happy, now that she has accepted her love for Terrible. But they have many more twists and turns --and obstacles to overcome. Throughout the story, I feel what Chess feels. I watch her running toward her own destruction and basically turn my insides into something resembling a pretzel. But I couldn't put the book down and I mourned it when it was over. (Not to mention, I think I may be in love with Terrible, myself.)
Click to purchase: Sacrificial Magic
by Abigail Roux
The Cut and Run books are, hands-down, my favorite m/m series. And this book proved that Abigail Roux has what it takes to knock my socks off, even without longtime writing partner Madeleine Urban. It has such fleshed-out characters, they almost feel like real people I know. There is tenderness, rocking-hot sex, action, danger, mystery and humor. This story brings Ty and Zane to a whole new level in their relationship, while incorporating characters from the Urban & Roux book Warrior's Cross... a genius idea that pays off in spades. If you want to give m/m a try, start at the beginning of this series. If you're already a fan, I promise you, this installment does not disappoint!
Click to purchase: Armed & Dangerous
by Larissa Ione
If you asked me before I read this whether I thought I'd ever find pregnancy sex, sexy, I would have given you an unreserved "no." But Larissa Ione manages to do it here. And the sexy times are only a small part of what makes this book so good. The world-building is amazing, the characters are engaging, and the plot kept me on the edge of my seat. This is easily the best installment in the Lords of Deliverance series to date. Ione makes it even better as she incorporates her fantastic characters from the past. It's really, really good.
Click to purchase: Lethal Rider
by Jeaniene Frost
Part of me will always hold a soft spot for my beloved Cat & Bones, but the last few books haven't really jumped out and grabbed me like the older ones. I am happy to report that the magic I have missed is firmly in place with this Vlad spinoff. Vlad is a sensational hero; cocky without ever being a dick to his heroine. The pacing is great and the sex is HOT. Fans of the Night Huntress world won't want to miss this one. And I think it would be an easy jumping in point for new readers as well.
Click to purchase: Once Burned
by Elizabeth Hoyt
I didn't just love this book because it had a virgin hero. Or because he was a mild-mannered school-master by day and a masked vigilante at night. It wasn't just the off-the-chain sexual tension or the uber-hot lessons in seduction. It was all of those things and more that made this historical romance a book that I could not put down. I loved watching the stoic and repressed Winter break out of his shell as he fell in love for the first time. (*swoon*)
Click to purchase: Thief of Shadows
by Michelle WillinghamThis is another story made amazing by a fantastic hero. I say all the time that I am a sucker for a tortured hero and that's true, but some are done better than others. And Callum is done right!! He spent the past seven years in captivity. His torture ravaged his body and stole his voice. But the kindness showed to him by his captor's betrothed saved his sanity. Once he becomes free, he never gives up on the woman who touched his heart and changed his life. Go buy this book. Seriously.
Click to purchase: Tempted by the Highland Warrior
Stars & Stripes
by Abigail Roux
Stars & Stripes
by Abigail Roux
I debated with myself about adding this one since I already have one from this series on the list. But the God's honest truth is that I loved this book so much that I couldn't live with myself if I left it off. The feel is very different than Armed & Dangerous. There is external conflict, but this is so much more a romance. I am so invested in Ty & Zane and in their relationship and I feel like this book is a payoff on all the drama up to this point. The sex is as hot as ever. And it made my heart all mushy. Excellent.
Click to purchase: Stars & Stripes
by Anna Campell
I am such a sucker for a good Beauty & the Beast story. Jonas Merrick is such a wounded and broken, scarred hero. Branded a bastard and living a solitary life, his heart is awakened by the beautiful, innocent Sidonie. She agrees to give him seven days to seduce her, in order to clear her sister's gambling debts. There is no way either of them can know how deeply they will change each other's lives forever. It's sexy and it pulls on the heartstrings. A fantastic historical romance.
I'll keep adding as the awesome books come in. Please share your 2012 favorites in the comments below!