2016 has been one crazy year, and I can barely believe it’s already over. I don’t know if it’s just me, but time is seriously flying by so fast. It’s already been a year since the last time I made the “Best Books of 2015” post – which means it’s been another year filled with incredible books! And I apparently read over 300 of them 😂 So here are my top 16 reads of 2016 (in no particular order, except for the first), books I highly recommend everyone read if they haven’t already. These are the unforgettable books, the ones that have stuck in my head and stayed in my heart. What have been your favorite reads of the year?
1. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
THE HATING GAME!!! It was a tough decision, but my absolute top favorite read of 2016 is The Hating Game. I was SO impressed with this debut novel – it was everything I wanted in a romance and more. It’s funny, romantic, adorable, sexy, and did I mention funny? This is probably the book that has made me laugh the most I’ve ever laughed while reading. It’s an enemies-to-lovers office romance that is H I L A R I O U S. It was a pure joy to read this novel, and I’m dying to see what else Sally Thorne has in store for us. P.S. JOSH TEMPLEMAN IS EVERYTHING!!!
“I hope it’s not too forward of me to say, but your eyes are incredible, Lucy. I die when you blink.”
2. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me & Wait for It by Mariana Zapata
OBVIOUSLY I had to include Mariana Zapata, my new favorite author ever. Winnie is a close second to The Hating Game (though neither have been able to surpass the ultimate fav, Kulti). This is sports romance at its finest, so if you love anything in that genre, especially football romances, Winnie is your thing. And, if you’re a fan of the fake marriage trope, READ THIS! Aiden is the perfect grumpy hero and Vanessa is such a relatable, genuine heroine. Mariana Zapata never ceases to amaze me with her stories, and Winnie was a total winner in my book.
Like football and art, like anything that anyone in the world has ever wanted, love was a dream. And just like a dream, there were no assurances behind it. It didn’t grow on its own. It didn’t blossom without food to feed it.
It was the greatest in its subtleties.
It was the strongest in its selflessness.
And it could be forever with someone who wasn’t afraid to never give up on the possibilities it presents.
And then there’s Wait for It – which only cemented Mariana Zapata as a favorite author of mine and the queen of slow burn. It was beautiful, heart-wrenching, and everything in between. I loved all of the characters, especially the kids. I honestly don’t know what to say about Wait for It besides the fact that it was an unforgettable read I loved so damn much and that everyone needs to read it.
There was a lot of things about love that you could only learn after you’d faced the real kind. The best kind wasn’t this soft, sweet thing of hearts and picnics. It wasn’t flowery and divine. Real love was gritty. The real kind of love never quit. Someone who loved you would do what’s best for you; they’d stand up for you and sacrifice. Someone who loved you would face any inconvenience willingly. You didn’t know what love was until someone was willing to give up what they loved the most for you. But it was also never letting them make that choice, either.
3. Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn
Unbreak My Heart is probably my most reread book of 2016. This book is the literal definition of angst, and it was one of the few books this year to make me cry. I don’t even have the words to describe the tumultuous emotions the author wrung out of me while reading this. It was an experience, to say the least, and one everyone has to try. You’ll probably hate the hero (like me, lol) but even so, it was totally worth the read.
It had always been Kate. My hands shook as the truth seeped into my pores. It had been her since I was just a stupid kid.
4. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Rhysand aka THE LOVE OF MY LIFE! This book destroyed me in the best way possible. I honestly don’t know why I ever held back on reading the ACOTAR series, but I’m so glad I finally succumbed because it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This series alone is the reason why I’ve gotten back in YA fantasy, and even into NA fantasy. The writing, world-building, and characters is beyond fantastic. But now I’m DYING for the third book!
“To the people who look at the stars and wish, Rhys.”
Rhys clinked his glass against mine. “To the stars who listen—and the dreams that are answered.”
5. The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz
The Siren: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
The Angel: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
The Prince: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
The Mistress: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
If there’s one series that has messed with my mind completely and I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s the Original Sinners series. Tiffany Reisz changed my entire outlook on BDSM and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Y’all, these books are unforgettable masterpieces, so beautifully yet simply written I bow down to TR. If you’re not afraid to step out of your comfort zone, I highly recommend reading this series (and yeah, I know I’m totally late to the game with these books, but I’m just glad I finally read this). Nora is my all-time favorite heroine – I kinda wanna be her when I grow up.
“I know people think erotica is just a romance novel with rougher sex. It’s not. If it’s a subgenre of anything, it’s horror.”
“Romance is sex plus love. Erotica is sex plus fear.”
6. The Player by Kresley Cole
The Master was one of the best books I’d read in 2015, so to say my expectations were high for The Player would have been an understatement. But thankfully, Kresley Cole didn’t disappoint and I got another alpha, heroine-obsessed Russian billionaire hero to fall head over heels for. The con artist heroine couldn’t have been more different than the hero, but together they were explosive. This was such an addicting read – if you were a fan of The Master, trust me, you’ll love The Player.
“Imagine a pitch-black room with a single candle lit in the center,” he said, his voice gone low. “The room is the world. You are the candle.”
A shaky breath escaped my lips. “How can you be so sure about me?”
He leveled his spellbinding gaze on my face. “When you’ve been in the dark as long as I have, moy ángel, there is no mistaking the light.”
7. My American Duchess by Eloisa James
This is one of my all-time FAVORITE historical romances ever! It was my first Eloisa James book but judging by how much I loved it, it for sure won’t be my last. The duke hero is beyond perfection – the way he adores his American duchess made me swoon madly. And the heroine herself is so quirky and adorable (I totally fell for her myself). If you love historical romance (and even if you don’t – I’ve made a lot of non-HR readers read this book), you absolutely must read My American Duchess!
“You are my American duchess,” Trent said gruffly, his finger tracing the shape of her cheek. “You pour milk into tea at the wrong time, but you do everything else the right way. I love the way you speak. And I love what you say. I’ve never met another woman who is as fascinating.”
8. Beast in Shining Armor by Cassandra Gannon
A friend on Twitter rec’d this book to me, and I’m beyond glad she did. The A Kinda Fairy Tale series a humorous twist on fairy tales, and Beast in Shining Armor focuses specifically on Beauty and the Beast. This book is stinkin’ hilarious – it’s up there as one of the top books that have made me laugh the hardest. The hero is just so sardonic and sarcastic, and the stuff that happens is the laugh-out-loud kind of ridiculous that I love. Also, the hero is a “Bad” prince who’s been in love with the heroine since kindergarten, but they’ve also been enemies since kindergarten (long story) and she’s currently usurped his throne yet he’s trying to win her heart. Swoon, right!?
“I have longed for you my whole life. There is nothing in this world or any other that I want more than to be with you, Belle.”
9. Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen
This is one of those books that made me so HAPPY while I was reading. It was charming, hilarious, sexy, and utterly heartwarming – and it’s about farmers! Apple farmers!! Ugh, I loved this book so much, especially Griffin. He is so adorable and all big, sexy, protective, and caring. He and Audrey made such a cute couple. And hello, do you see that cover!? You need this book for that alone (but I promise, the inside is just as good as the outside 😉 )
Whether it was convenient or not, Audrey and I just fit. We’d always been good together. It’s just that I’d never allowed myself to imagine a future where we shared everything. A bed. A home.
Hell. That got me panting. I wanted everything. There was nobody else who got under my skin like she had. To think of her as mine seemed like an impossible luxury.
It’s the only luxury I’ve ever been greedy for.
10. Into the Blue by Chanel Cleeton
This is the PERFECT second chance romance/military romance! I’m usually picky about both tropes, but Into the Blue hit all the right buttons for me. There’s some good angst, good grovel, and the hero is desperate to win back the only woman he’s ever loved. I love this series SO much – if you’re ever in the mood for some good military romances, the Wild Aces series is a must read!
You couldn’t fake what we had. Couldn’t duplicate it. We were so fucking lucky to have found each other once, and even as I’d always suspected it, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that letting her go was the biggest mistake of my life.
Now I needed to fix it.
11. Fast Connection by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell
Fast Connection surprised me in the best way, because I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about one of the heroes. He was a total dick in the first book, but he was completely redeemed in this one. The romance gave me all the squishy feels – I felt so much for Dominic and Luke. The authors write seamlessly well together and the characters blew me away. The silver fox and his adorable (former) player made me laugh and swoon. I totally need more Megtino books!
“He’s completely complicated. And lost. And frustrating. But we do something for each other.” I intertwined my fingers. “We fit. We need each other.”
12. Next to Never by Penelope Douglas
I know this book doesn’t come out until 2017 but I read it this month so I’m counting it! And it’s only a few weeks away from release 😉 Reading this novella made me realize how much I’ve missed the Fall Away characters. Next to Never was the perfect way to introduce the second generation of characters while still rewarding fans of the Fall Away series with cameos of the original characters. Honestly, there’s so much to love about this novella – Quinn, Lucas, Jared (aka my love) but now I’m dying for more!
13. Managed by Kristen Callihan
This book was so much better than I expected, especially after the okay first VIP book, but Kristen Callihan upped the ante in Managed. I loved the endearing characters, the sweet romance, the delicious chemistry, everything! Sophie is a sweetheart of a heroine, and uptight, closed-off Gabriel has definitely met his match in her. This was the perfect opposites-attract read, and there’s the added bonus of sexy rock stars to make things more fun 😉
“I’ve lived my whole life denying myself what I truly want. And yet I cannot turn from you. Haven’t you realized it yet? I am yours. I will always be yours, whether I touch you or not.”
14. The Fallen World series by Laura Thalassa
I got SUPER into NA fantasy this year, which I’m so happy about. I need more books in this genre! Laura Thalassa had been on my tbr for a while and I finally got to her Fallen World series, which I pretty much read back-to-back, non-stop. I was utterly addicted to the post-apocalyptic world the author created, with the hero as a villain and the heroine who hates him, sent to marry him for peace. The story is unlike any other that I’ve read – it’s dark and violent, but such a gripping read! I also highly recommend Laura’s newest book Rhapsodic, which is another fantastic NA fantasy romance!
Once upon a time we were innocent, and then we were not.
15. Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid
Has there been a Penny Reid book that I haven’t enjoyed? She always writes such smart, adorable romances. Grin and Beard It charmed the pants off me – it’s a sweet, slow-burn romance between a Latina celebrity actress and park ranger Jethro Winston. Jethro has no idea who she is and some mad flirting and banter ensues. This was such a fun, light-hearted read with adorable MCs.
Pleasing her—my woman—cherishing her, loving her had no comparison. Satisfaction, desire, fulfillment were woefully inadequate words. So responsive. So incredible. So . . . mine.
16. Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt
Elizabeth Hoyt is becoming one of my favorite historical romance authors! I’ve only read a few of her Maiden Lane books, but I love the series so much already. Duke of Sin is the best I’ve read so far – it has the perfect anti-hero duke who falls for his tough, proper housekeeper. The story is wicked, funny, sexy, complex… the MCs are able to match each other intellectually, which made for some fun reading.
“This is who I am, Séraphine. Naked, with blade and blood. I am vengeance. I am hate. I am sin personified. Never mistake me for the hero of this tale, for I am not and shall never be. I am the villain.”
I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year’s and an even better 2017!