DGR’s 2018 Favorites: Lana’s Picks


I can’t believe that 2018 is almost done. I swear, it went by even quicker than last year. We’ve had such an amazing year here with so many incredible reads. I had the hardest time narrowing down my list for this year’s top favorites post. Seriously, guys, it was almost impossible. I had so many amazing 5 star reads. But these sixteen definitely stand out among the best of the best. These are the books that I know will stay with me for long after and I’ll be shouting from the rooftops about. These are not just books that were released in 2018, but simply books that I read this year. Some are really oldies but they were new to me. So without further ado, behold my top 16 reads of 2018!


LANA’S FAVORITES OF 2018



ALMOST HEAVEN by Judith McNaught


“There are four steps separating us and a year and a half of wanting drawing us together,” he said. Elizabeth swallowed. “Couldn’t you meet me halfway?”

I’m ashamed to admit that I had never read this author prior to this year. And after I read my first book of hers, I went on a two-week long binge. I’m talking mad addiction here people! If you like historical romance that’s full of swoons, angst, and redeemable alphaholes, you need to experience the magic that is Judith McNaught.

But this book?

*flails happily*

This was easily my favorite of hers.

Almost Heaven is the story of a young beauty just entering London society in search for a husband that will save her beloved estate, and a man that’s always been the source of most gossip within it. Ian is known as a scoundrel, a gambler, anything but the titled husband Elizabeth needs. He’s also a beautifully dangerous enigma that draws her like a moth to a flame. Until she gets too close and they both get burned.

This was a delicious tale of secrets and betrayal, of mistakes and forgiveness, but ultimately of a love that prevails against all odds. It was WONDERFULLY swoony.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


KISS AN ANGEL by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

“I take thee… to be my awful wedded husband” 

Considering I’ve practically read this woman’s entire backlist, I was shocked to discover that the one book every SEP lover recommends wasn’t one of them. So I decided to rectify this mistake and dove right in.

And OMG you guys! I don’t have the words to describe everything this book was. It was magic. Pure SEP magic!

It is hands down my favorite contemporary romance, not only from this author, but period. Yes. It was THAT good.

Actually, no. It wasn’t just good. It was brilliant.

It was enchanting, sigh inducing, heartwarming, funny, swoony, PERFECTION.

If you love the arranged marriage trope, you will LOVE the story of Alex and Daisy.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


JOSH + HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING by Christina Lauren

“Sometimes your lack of filter kills me,” he says. “It’s not even like you lack a filter; you lack a funnel.”

Oh my gosh! I loved this book! If you’re looking for a fun, quirky, put-a-smile-on-your-face-and-keep-it-there rom-com, this book is it!

I was immediately hooked from the first page and stayed glued to my kindle until the end. It was the most fun I’ve had reading in a while! Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating was a refreshingly different take on friends to lovers and I loved every adorably quirky page!

Seriously, guys. This book was SO much fun. The heroine was adorably quirky…and I really DO mean quirky. The woman was hilariously over the top, but man did I love that about her. Combine that with a serious hero, a one-of-a-kind friendship, and a slow burn romance? WINNING!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


BIRTHDAY GIRL by Penelope Douglas

 

“You make my heart pound so hard it hurts, Jordan. You, your mouth, and who you are, it all makes me want to touch you. It makes me not want to stop this.”

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with all of the words Penelope Douglas ever writes. This woman can write angst like no other. And her new adult romance is my crack of choice.

Then she went and had a surprise release and entered the forbidden romance arena and I was a goner! GONER I tells ya! We’re talking falling for your boyfriend’s father here, people. I was salivating through every page.

Birthday Girl is a story of forbidden romance, yes. But it’s so much more than that, too. It’s a story of strength and forgiveness. Of making mistakes and learning how to write them. It was raw, and sexy, and unique. I loved every single page of it and cannot recommend it enough.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


THE FALL by Kristen Callihan


“Stella Button, the moment you ripped that ice cream out of my hand, you knocked me off-balance. All I could do was fall.”

This was, hands down, my favorite Kristen Callihan book to date.

A poignantly written, slow burn, friends to lovers romance that was brimming with emotion; Fall owned my heart from beginning to finish.

It sucked me in from the beginning and kept me glued to the pages with two incredibly multi-layered, raw, and endearing characters. Jax and Stella were everything. Simply everything!

Oh how I loved this book. If you haven’t read the VIP series, no worries, because you can easily enjoy this as a standalone. But I highly recommend the first two books simply because they’re fantastic!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES by Aly Martinez

Lies—I needed them more than oxygen. I was never going to be able to survive the truth. Not again.

Look, there’s a reason this woman somehow manages to always make it onto my year favorites reads, and that’s because she can write the hell out of a book. I’ve loved her entire backlist for goodness sake! But I knew from the very first chapter, that this will be unlike any other book that I’ve read from this Aly. And having had read her entire backlist, that’s saying something.

The Truth About Lies is not a sweet story. It’s not a light and sunny romance. It’s spine-tingling good and oh so gritty. I had goosebumps from the first few pages, and that told me immediately that I was in for one emotional ride!

If you’ve ready any Aly Martinez book before, then you already know that she knows how to pack one hell of an emotional punch. Her duets absolutely slay you, but nothing prepared me for what I was about to experience with The Truth About Lies.

AMAZON | GOODREADS | MY REVIEW


BUCKLED by Pam Godwin

Wild and molten, wet and volatile, her fight is beautiful, but her surrender is goddamn exquisite. I consume it with everything inside me, feeding on it and fueling a desire that has never felt this out of control.

There is nothing that Pam Godwin can’t write that I won’t love. A love triangle? Yep. The sadist made me love it. Dark romance? Devour it. A suspenseful trilogy with kinky cowboys? OH MAMA!!!

Ever since I read Knotted, sparks flew, I was instantly hooked on Jarret. I couldn’t wait for his book. I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was. I devoured this story in one sitting. It kept me squirming on the edge of my seat, starved for each new revelation and totally captivated by the story. It was this magnetic combination of mysterious and kinky with a dark edge that Pam Godwin is oh so good at weaving into her writing.

If you love a kinky enemies to lovers tale with a spunky heroine that has a smart mouth and a hero that knows exactly what to do with a rope, you need this book in your life! (Not meant to be a standalone. You need to read all three books in order)

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


HEARTBREAK WARFARE by Kate Stewart

She’s handed my heart back to me, and I’m unsure of how I’ll handle its new broken rhythm. 

Kill me slowly with words, why don’t you, Kate and Heather! Because MY HEART! MY HEART!!!

This book WRECKED me. It absolutely wrecked me. It owned me, shattered me, and put me back together. It was one of the best books I read this year. PERIOD.

I love a story that can take me out of my comfort zone and make me feel. And Heartbreak Warfare is certainly a book that will make you feel. It’s a gut-wrenching, rip-your-heart-out, cry like a baby, unforgettable story that owned me from beginning to finish.

As a reader, I don’t like love triangles. I don’t enjoy fabricated angst and drama for the sake of drama. I hate rooting for the guy that turns out not to get the girl in the end. I just don’t do it. It makes me ragey. But in the case of this book? Man. I’m speechless. It totally worked here. I don’t care who you are or what your likes are, this is simply a must read.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


BANE by LJ Shen

We weren’t a boy and a girl. We were two lonely, fucked-up souls. It made wanting Bane in my life acceptable. I wanted him to fix me.

Look, there’s a reason that this author makes my list without fail every year. And that’s because she writes my crack of choice. LJ Shen can write angst like no other. And her alphaholes? OVARY TINGLING. And when I realized that the bad boy Bane will be getting a book? I didn’t even need a blurb before jumping on this book!

And the queen of angst did it once again. She gave me a hero that I fell head over ovaries for, and I couldn’t stop thinking about. Bane is so different from the heroes we’re used to from LJ Shen, but he’s no less potent. He’s not the typical alpha-hole that she writes oh-so-well. But he’s also not quite a nice guy either. Bane is that somewhere in the middle, that gray zone of sex appeal and criminal. And this girl absolutely loved it!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH by Stylo Fantome

The man was trouble. Always would be. He was vice and sin wrapped into a ridiculously sexy package, with a healthy sprinkling of damaged-dickhead on top.

This year I read my very first Stylo Fantome book…

And promptly kicked my own ass for not reading her sooner. For someone who claims to love alphaholes and anti-heroes as much as I do, I’m as shocked as you are that I’ve only just discovered this author. But boy am I glad I did!

Landon Edenhoff is in a category all of his own. This man was the alphahole to beat all alphaholes, and he makes no qualms about it. He owns it. He knows it. He even enjoys it.

Neighborhood Watch was a deliciously sexy and utterly riveting story from beginning to end. If you like bad boys and watching them fall for sassy women that give as good as they get all wrapped around a gritty and addicting story, this book is simply not to be missed!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


THE GOVERNESS GAME by Tessa Dare

“You are the worst example of false advertising. I was led to believe I was hiring a prim scold. Then I learn you’re remarkable and bold and interesting.”

Historical Romance fans, this book is not to be missed. Seriously! It’s an absolute must read.

I absolutely LOVED The Duchess Deal, but I was so unprepared for just how phenomenal this book would be. I kept thinking nothing can top the first book for me, but this one managed to blow it right out of the water! The banter, the romance, the characters, I adored absolutely everything about it. This just may be my favorite Tessa Dare book now. I loved it so hard!

What starts as a bit of unrequited love with the heroine’s crush on a mysterious stranger she once bumped into at a book store, soon turns into one of the most sizzling romances. The Governess Game was one of my favorite historical romances of the year! It was everything! Just everything! Funny, swoony, and full of banter that’s sure to put a smile on your face. I loved every single page of it and cannot recommend it enough!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang

“I don’t want just a night or a week or a month with you. I want you all the time. I like you better than calculus, and math is the only thing that unites the universe.”

If ever there was a book that needed to be on absolutely everyone’s radar, it’s this one. Trust me. If you read just one book from my list, then let it be this one. You’ll thank me.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it would have been hard to miss all of the raving about The Kiss Quotient. Well believe the hype, people, because this book was absolutely magnificent!

The Kiss Quotient was quite possibly the most charming, addictingly satisfying romance I’ve read all year! It was everything. ALL. OF. THE. THINGS. And I was on cloud 9 after finishing it!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


THE PAPER SWAN by Leylah Attar

“You can either choose love or you can choose hate, because where one lives, the other will die.”

How I only read this book this year, I have no idea. I was questioning all of my life choices after finishing it. I couldn’t believe I waited this long to read it.

And I didn’t just read a book, I experienced one. I fell head over heels for an all-encompassing, gritty and emotional romance that kept me glued to the pages from start to finish. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve had this phenomenal story on my kindle for over 2 years and only now just read it. I’m kicking myself for it fully for only now discovering the raw talent that is Leylah Attar writing. It was devastating, passionate, beautiful and dark. It was flawlessly written and entirely unforgettable.

The Paper Swan is a stunning story of vengeance and sacrifice, of regret and forgiveness. It was passionate. It was gritty and raw. It was absolutely, positively unforgettable and a story I’ll take with me for a long time to come.

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


RUNAWAY GIRL by Tessa Bailey

This is it. This is the kiss I’ll think about for decades to come, maybe longer. I can feel it ruining me with every mash of his lips against mine…

A quirky & witty southern belle that’s as proper as she is endearing?

A grumpy, sexy and possessive Pouty Man Bear?

Enough sexual tension to makes your loins tighten?

A sweet and sizzling romance that will put a smile on your face and keep it there?

This book was everything I’ve come to expect from the amazing Tessa Bailey and so much more. I thought I loved Getaway Girl, but this book was even better. It was full of swoony feels, sizzling sexy times, incredibly endearing characters, and Bailey’s patented dirty talk that will make any ovary within a 50 mi radius quiver at the mere mention of Jason. True story. After meeting the heroine as the runaway bride in Getaway Girl, I couldn’t wait to get Naomi’s book and I’m happy to report it was EVERYTHING I hoped it would be and so much more!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


PRETTY VENOM by Ella Fields


If someone has control over your heart, the worst thing you could do was make an enemy out of them. And like a fool, I had.

Another new to me author that I was seriously kicking myself for not discovering sooner? Ella freaking Fields.

Holy mother of angst, this book!

I MEAN, THIS BOOK!
I.
Can’t.
EVEN

First of all, that warning is no joke. I wanted to cry, yell, rip my hair out, and throw my kindle at the wall. This book wrung every emotion out of me, most of all consuming rage. So much rage. Like ALL OF THE RAGE. But it was also all-consuming. This book took over my entire existence for the hours that it took me to devour it, completely unable to put it down for even a second. I’m a sucker for some devastating angst, and if the blurb didn’t lure me into reading my first Ella Fields book, that warning ultimately did the job.

I may have come out of it with stubs for nails and a bald spot on my head, but damn was it worth it!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


BALLISTIC by Keri Lake


We were as tragically beautiful and fragile as a dead rose. Two souls, broken beyond redemption.

Of course no top favorites list of mine would be complete without the queen of dark romance, Keri Lake. The woman managed to blow me away yet again with the much awaited and highly anticipated installment in her Vigilantes series. And if you guys follow my reviews, you know how obsessed I am with this series.

Ballistic was a dark and twisty page turner of a story filled with blood, vengeance, and a love amongst the ashes. It sucked me in right into the dark underbelly of the worst sort of underground crime imaginable and those that rose out of the ashes of the pain it brought. It was deliciously twisty. It had me a ball of anxiety with my heart in my throat the entire time. It made me cringe. It made me cry. It made shiver in anticipation. I loved that we had an anti-heroine for the revenge seeker in this story. And in a word? This book was UNPUTDOWNABLE!

GOODREADS | AMAZON | MY REVIEW


That makes it for me, dirty birds! I’d love to hear about some of your top year favorites in comments below. And may 2019 bring us all plenty of books to rave about.

Comments

  1. chareexnicole says:

    Fantastic list! I realized most of them are still on my tbr shelf that I need to read asap and the ones I haven’t heard of, I immediately added to my pile! 🙂 I’ve read so many amazing books this year, but here are the top ten that stood out most to me (in no particular order):

    1) Forever Right Now by Emma Scott
    2) Ruckus (Sinners of Saint, #2) by L.J. Shen
    3) Kulti by Mariana Zapata
    4) Beautiful Hearts duet by Emma Scott
    5) Someone Else’s Ocean by Kate Stewart
    6) Grip series by Kennedy Ryan
    7) Cracks duet by L.H. Cosway
    8) Midnight Blue by L.J. Shen
    9) The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott
    10) Ghosted by J.M. Darhower

    • I need to read the Emma Scott duet! It sounds amazing! And I loved Midnight Blue and Ghosted. They were on my top list from last year 🙂 Someone else’s Ocean and Ruckus was amazing too!

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