Welcome to Smugglivus 2017! Throughout this month, we will have guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2017, looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2018, and more.
Our next Smugglivus guest is writer Cathy Yardley with a lovely list of OTPs and a sweet giveaway.
Please give a warm welcome to Cathy, everybody!
I remember when we thought 2016 was the “worst year ever.” (Sweet, summer children that we were.) Then 2017 hit. Politically, environmentally, whatever, things seemed to be either shaken up, on fire, or underwater. Barring anything else going on, I got diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring, had surgery and radiation during the summer, and then recuperated during the fall and winter.
During all that time, I read romance novels like I had corporate sponsorship. (Well, that, or played Elder Scrolls Online like a noob-boss.) Why? Because reading heals me, keeps me grounded, and most importantly: it gives me hope. Hope that there are good things in the world. Hope that there’s beauty, and kindness, and love, and support. Hope that I might feel like crap one day, but I wouldn’t always.
So here, in no particular order, are five book OTPs that I shipped like crazy this year.
1. Porter and Iris, Three Little Words, Melissa Blue.
I am a sucker for series, and #dirtysexygeeks is both hawt and chock full of quotes and Easter Eggs for those who indulge in nerdery (like myself.) I’ve been dying for this book! Porter’s sister Ash was the heroine of my favorite book in the series, Down to Ash. Porter hooks up with Ash’s best friend Iris at the wedding, turning their previous sparks of irritation into a different kind of friction altogether. Iris winds up getting pregnant, and Porter finds himself chasing a very reluctant woman who is intent on running from his help, his attention… and his love.
2. Beau and Shelly, Beard in Mind, Penny Reid.
Penny Reid is an auto-buy for me, and the fourth book in the Winston Brothers series had me gleefully rubbing my hands together in anticipation. We know Beau from previous books in the series, and Shelly from brief appearances in Penny’s Knitting in the City series. Still, it was great to see Shelly’s mental illness treated in a well-researched and compassionate manner, with no magical cure at the end but still plenty of hope. And her interactions with her family, which Beau helps facilitate…. Sigh. Swoon. Repeat as necessary.
3. Jackson and Sadia, Wrong to Need You, Alisha Rai
Speaking of auto-buy… Alisha. Rai. All. Day. Long. Scorching stories with diverse characters and strong feminist principles? Sign me up. I enjoyed the first book in the Forbidden Hearts series, Hate to Want You, but I think I enjoyed this second book even more. Sadia’s just struggling to make things work as a single mom who can’t quite live up to her impressive family’s expectations, especially when she doesn’t share things like her panic attacks and her late husband’s debts. Jackson is her late husband’s brother – the one who has always loved her, the one who everyone in town suspects of a years-old arson. She’s always believed in him. And now, he’s got a chance to help her – and maybe be with her, if he can just get out from under the past. Jackson is strong, silent, and a chef, which rings my chimes. And the way he takes care of her, sexually and otherwise, is delicious.
4. Courtenay and Julian, The Ruin of a Rake, Cat Sebastian.
To my chagrin, I’d never read Cat Sebastian before this year, but once I found her I binge-devoured her backlist with lots of sighs. The Ruin of a Rake was the first one I read, and it’s one of my favorites. Courtenay is the ultimate Regency rake: dissolute, debauched, an utter sexual adventurer. But there’s something about the buttoned-up and respectable Julian that draws him. Likewise, Julian can’t help but be drawn to the reckless rake. When Julian reluctantly agrees to help give Courtenay social respectability, so he can regain visitation privileges for his beloved nephew, the two of them find more and more reasons to interact. The results are just as steamy as you’d expect. Beyond that, Julian’s childhood (or lack thereof) and his joy in accounting, of all things, made me gleeful. (Love me a good Excel spreadsheet – Julian, I get you.) And the way Courtenay melts into Julian’s attention and care, since Julian takes the time to see to his needs rather than simply taking sexual advantage of him, is just lovely.
5. Zach and Delia, Let’s Get Textual, by Teagan Hunter.
This was a frickin’ delight. It’s a slow burn story, since the couple doesn’t meet face to face until about the 40% mark. But the text exchanges between these two had me literally laughing out loud, and that doesn’t happen often. I had so much fun watching these two falling in love. And extra points for them being two geeks falling in love. This was my ultimate cup of tea.
I’m looking forward to finding even more OTPs in 2018… and I’m always on the lookout for new reads. What were your favorite OTPs this past year?
Cathy Yardley needs to get out more. When not writing, she’s usually lurking on social media, playing Elder Scrolls Online, or watching D-list movies and adding to her unnatural mental store of character-actor trivia. She’s a fangirl of Supernatural, Doctor Who, Sherlock, LOTR, and too many others to name. She lives with her family in Seattle. They are considering performing an intervention for her addiction to pop culture.
Courtesy of the author, we are giving away a two-audiobook set of the first two of the Fandom Hearts series, LEVEL UP and ONE TRUE PAIRING. Use the form below to enter and good luck!