Have you ever read a book that you cannot erase from your mind? It gets inside you. Joins your soul. Makes you wish you lived like them . . . and there. Below are LadySmut’s list of “books we can’t stop thinking about.” They may not have been published in 2015, but we read them this past year. And, we just can’t let them go!
From LadySmut Blogger G.G. ANDREW: Badger by C.M. McKenna (a pen name for erotica and romance writer Cara McKenna).
Though not technically a romance, it tells the love story of a former pill addict and the Boston vigilante she’s obsessed with. This book (which should come with many, many trigger warnings) made me feel at different times intrigued, amused, delighted, and completely disturbed. I couldn’t put it down, even when I really wanted to. It’s definitely a story that will stick with me for years.
From LadySmut Blogger MADELINE IVA: For Real by Alexis Hall.
Hot older, more experienced sub gets together with inexperienced, smaller, younger dom. This book really spoke to me. So romantic, but also full on BDSM-y too, and done so well. The prose reminded me of Charlotte Stein (who you all know I lurv) and I found it to be a cleanly written, emotional, hot m/m journey.
From LadySmut Blogger ALEXA DAY: Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight by Alyssa Cole.
It’s a historical novella based on the very real Tournament of the Black Lady. The story is set in the court of King James IV; the king is hosting a tournament with a kiss from Agnes, who is black, as the prize. Turns out that an extremely hot Highlander is dead serious about winning that prize. The story isn’t long, but it doesn’t feel rushed at all. I definitely got to know Gareth (that hot Highlander) and Agnes very well. This is a short but quite well developed romance, and Alyssa Cole doesn’t spare the heat! I remember it so well because I don’t see many interracial romances set during that historical period, and this one is written beautifully. And it’s super hot. And I would read another fifty stories like this. How can I get Alyssa Cole to write fifty more stories like this one?
S.E.C.R.E.T., book one of the S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy, came out in 2013 but is an erotic novel I return to over and over. It’s about a group of women who help other women who are down on their luck fulfill their top sexual fantasies. It sounds outlandish, but in Adeline’s hands it almost sounds plausible. It’s got erotica, romance and female empowerment, all full of such sexiness I swoon each time I read it. Confession: Now that I know the plot, I re-read the sex scenes.
From LadySmut Blogger ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: The Master (The Game Maker Series) by Kresley Cole.
Not only do you get a hot Russian mafia billionaire and one sassy heroine in this story, but genuine heat and a plot(!). I also genuflect before this author’s ability to throw in THREE languages — English, Russian and Spanish — that didn’t have me confused for a second but rather colored the story with texture beyond anything I’ve read in a while.
From LadySmut Blogger ISABELLE DRAKE: The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore.
From LadySmut Blogger KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM: Serving Pleasure (Pleasure Series) (Volume 2) by Alisha Rai
Even after writing about Serving Pleasure on Lady Smut last June, I still cannot recommend it enough. Here’s what I said then:
Alisha Rai writes some of the best diverse, feminist, erotic romance out there today, a fact also on display in her novel A Gentleman in the Street. Her heroines ooze agency and revel in their sexuality; her heroes are complex and often surprisingly against stereotype. Her books are gutsy and original with sizzling, emotion-filled sex that will leave you buzzing for days.
With every stroke that conjures Rana and Micah’s depths and their significant emotional stakes, Ms. Rai brings these fully-fleshed, complicated people to life through words that are polished and witty, engrossing and poignant. At times funny with a touch of screwball comedy, Serving Pleasure explores the themes of family expectations and failures and the struggle of trauma recovery with grace and care through pages of sensual pleasure threaded with tender scenes of self-discovery and forgiveness.
Also from KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM: Make You Burn by Megan Crane
The first in the Deacons of Bourbon Street series from Loveswept, Make You Burn was my gateway motorcycle club romance book, a rabbit hole from which I still have not emerged. I had a fabulous chat with the Bitches of Bourbon Street—aka Megan Crane, Jackie Ashenden, Rachael Jones, and Maisey Yates—while at the Romance Writer’s of America’s national conference in June. This is what I had to say about Make You Burn and its fantastically filthy hero, Ajax:
[Ajax] knows exactly who and what he is and makes zero apology for it, which is its own kind of sexy. His confidence is intoxicating and anyone who encounters him knows he’s good for whatever he says he’s going to do. He puts a capital A on Alphahole and you just want to thank him for it as you test the durability of the nearest flat surface while taking off your pants and that’s before you get to his dirty, dirty sex skillz.
On the surface, Make You Burn is a smokin’ hot, MC erotic romance and holycrap, does it deliver on that promise. But it’s also a story about dealing with immense loss and struggling to find purpose and balance in the face of excruciating grief–and what happens when the life you thought you hated is the person you can’t possibly live without.
Another from KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM: Walk Through Fire (Chaos) by Kristen Ashley
I didn’t review Walk Through Fire specifically (as dramatic, sexy, and emotional as it is, it’s not an easy or perfect book, but I do recommend it given I’ve read it oh, about eight times) my MC romance rabbit hole dive took me to Ashley’s on-going Chaos series: Ride Steady, Fire Inside, Own the Wind, and Walk Through Fire. (The first in the series is actually Motorcycle Man, last in Ashley’s Dream Man series.) Since then, along with the Chaos and Dream Man series, I’ve also read (and re-read) Ashley’s ‘Burg series, Colorado Mountain Series, and Unsung Heroes series. I went on and on and on about why you do not want to start reading Kristen Ashley’s books (if you want to, say, keep having a life, that is) in my post WARNING: Do NOT Read Kristen Ashley. Here’s a sample of why:
Do not read Kristen Ashley books if you aren’t prepared to stay up until 4 AM wondering when the hell the damn book is gonna end because you need to sleep and then not caring because the need to finish it outweighs all other considerations like the fact that you have to get up in three hours and capably perform your freaking job that you’re now seriously considering quitting because it means you won’t be able to continue reading Kristen Ashley books for about 8 to 10 hours.
Do not read Kristen Ashley’s books if you have “just one more chapter” disease or its symptomatic brethren, “just one more page” syndrome, which are both a short trip to the dreaded “Dead Reader Walking” epidemic. That sucker spreads like damn and wow with the speed of a “buy with 1-click” button. I hate that button. I need that button. But I hate that button.
And, that’s that. Get those one-clicking fingers going, my lovely ladysmutters.
Happiest of Holidays to you and yours. May you find only stellar reads in the new year. (Tell us if you find something particularly fabu. We’re all ears, er, eyeballs.)