Helen’s Five Favorites from 2014

This entire week we’ve been highlighting our five favorite reads from 2014 in the genre that each of us write. In case you want to visit/revisit any of the previous posts, here’s the breakdown:

Today: My Five Favorites (Young Adult Fantasy and New Adult Contemporary Romance)

Some of my book picks were published this year, some earlier, but I’ve enjoyed reading each and every one of these in 2014! At the end of this post, I also have a special excerpt to share from one of my favorite romance reads.

Aurora Sky (Vampire Hunter #1) by Nikki Jefford
(Upper Young Adult Fantasy)

If there is one thing eighteen-year-old Aurora Sky wants, it’s to get off the iceberg she calls home. Being kissed before she graduates wouldn’t hurt either.

Then a near-fatal car wreck changes everything. Government agents step in and save Aurora’s life in exchange for her services as a vampire hunter. In Alaska. Basically she’s a glorified chew toy. All thanks to her rare blood type, which sends a vampire into temporary paralysis right before she has to finish the job… by hand.

Now Aurora’s only friends are groupies of the undead and the only boy she can think about may very well be a vampire.

This is a great read for anyone who enjoys upper YA paranormal. The main character is a heroine who’s forced to make the transition from a typical high school teenager to a vampire hunter. I loved how Nikki Jefford captured both Aurora’s paranormal challenges as well as her typical high school struggles. Compelling story with great humor, awesome action, and super cast of characters! Loved it.

Awaken (Awakened Fate #1) by Skye Malone
(Young Adult Fantasy)

Running away from home was never Chloe Kowalski’s plan. Neither was ending up the target of killers, or having her body change in unusual ways. She only wanted a vacation, someplace far from her crazy parents and their irrational fear of water. She only wanted to do somethingnormal for once, and maybe get to know her best friend’s hot stepbrother a bit better at the same time.

But the first day she goes out on the ocean, strange things start to happen. Dangerous things that should be impossible. Things to which ‘normal’ doesn’t even begin to apply.

Now madmen are hunting her. A mysterious guy with glowing blue eyes is following her. And her best friend’s stepbrother seems to be hiding secrets all his own.

It was supposed to be a vacation. It’s turning out to be a whole lot more.

This was a fun YA read! Skye Malone spun a creative story revolving around mermaids and other mythical creatures, and I loved the lore connected to the various characters. The story had plenty of action and Malone kept the intrigue factor high as she unfurled secrets and threw in unexpected twists. It does end on a semi-cliffhanger, but the other books in the Awakened Fate series are already available. I already bought book two and can’t wait to hop into it!

Her (Him #2) by Carey Heywood
(New Adult Contemporary Romance)

You know her side of the story, now learn his.

“It was useless. I felt branded beneath my skin by a girl who left without even saying goodbye.”

When Will Price was assigned a partner for a sixth grade class project he had no idea she would become his best friend. After years of friendship, she eventually became so much more. Then, one day she left with no explanation. 

Will’s life shattered right before his eyes and he was left alone to pick up the pieces. Floundering, Will must figure out a way to carry on, to find a way to exist without her. 

Seven years later, a chance encounter leaves him desperate to get her back. He has one week to make her his again. Not everyone gets a second chance with the love of their life and Will is determined to never lose her again.

 If you like friends-to-lovers stories, this book is for you! Her is Will Price’s side of the story and is based off Carey Heywood’s NYT Bestseller Him, which tells the story from Sarah Miller’s point of view. I actually read this one first because I enjoy reading stories told from male points-of-view, and I adored it. Carey Heywood did such a great job portraying Will’s emotions, angst, and inner turmoil as he tries to win back his old friend and love.


Charade (Games #1) by Nyrae Dawn
(New Adult Contemporary Romance)

Nineteen-year-old Cheyenne tries to portray the perfect life to mask the memories of her past. Walking in on her boyfriend with another woman her freshman year in college threatens that picture of perfection.

Twenty-one-year-old Colt never wanted college and never expected to amount to anything, but when his mom’s dying wish is for him to get his degree, he has no choice but to pretend it’s what he wants too.

Cheyenne needs a fake boyfriend to get back at her ex and Colt needs cash to take care of his mom, so they strike a deal that helps them both. But what if Cheyenne’s past isn’t what she thought? Soon they’re trading one charade for another—losing themselves in each other to forget about their pain. The more they play their game, the more it becomes the only thing they have that feels real.

Both Cheyenne and Colt know life is never easy, but neither of them expect the tragedy that threatens to end their charade and rip them apart forever.

Nyrae Dawn has such an amazing gift for writing authentic characters with real issues. For me, the emotional development of characters in new adult stories are key, and I loved being part of Colt and Cheyenne’s journeys as their relationship progressed and became something meaningful. The books in this series may be read as standalones, and I read this one after buying a signed copy from Nyrae at an author event *cue fangirl scream.* Without providing any spoilers, you might want to include a box of tissues if you give this one as a gift.

The Untamed Series by Jinsey Reese and Victoria Green
(New Adult Contemporary Romance)

Rich, beautiful, and wild, Reagan McKinley has everything she needs…but nothing that she wants. That is, until she spends one hot night in the arms of sexy, unbridled Dare Wilde.

She’s a girl trapped in a rigid world she desperately wants to escape, and he’s an untamed artist with an attitude, hell-bent on freeing her–body, mind, and soul. But Reagan’s life is not her own, and Dare is not welcome in it. She can’t include him in her carefully-controlled, extremely public lifestyle…and yet she cannot give him up.

Will a shared passion for art–and, increasingly, each other–be enough to keep them together? Or will it be the thing that ultimately tears them apart?

The epic saga is just one click away…

Available for the first time: all 5 books in the Untamed Series collected into this special omnibus edition–a $13 value, over 1,000 pages long! Get ALL of Dare Wilde–wrapped up in a big, red bow–just in time for the holidays.

Reagan McKinley is a damaged soul in the guise of a woman who has everything, and her journey with artist Dare Wilde is emotional and action-packed. This isn’t just a story about finding your true love, but it’s also about finding courage and inner strength to stand alone. I loved each of these novellas and am looking forward to reading more from these authors!

I’m also happy to be able to share a short excerpt from the authors Jinsey Reese and Victoria Green, two very lovely and FUN women that I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know this past year.

EXCERPT

The light of early morning sunshine woke me. Or maybe it was the heat of Dare’s gaze. I felt it on me before I even opened my eyes. It was a weird sensation—both familiar and unnerving. Slowly lifting my eyelids, I found him sitting on an armchair off to the side of the bed, watching me sleep. 

No, not watching. Drawing. 

Eyebrows knitted together and lips pursed in deep concentration, his gaze flitted from me to the sketchpad propped on his bent knee. His hand moved across the surface and the only sound in the apartment was that of pencil on paper. Up and down and side to side, with long, sweeping strokes. 

It sounded beautiful. And almost made me forget where I was.

In bed.

Naked.

After a night of mac and cheese and Dare.

What are your favorite reads from this past year? Comment below!

________________________________________________

Helen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. She credits her dad, an avid fiction reader, with encouraging her to read ALL OF THE BOOKS on his shelves from the time she was a teenager. An author of both urban fantasy and contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all. She is the author of YA urban fantasies MYTHOLOGY, THE WICKED, and NA contemporary romance LOSING ENOUGH. 

Find out more about Helen at www.helenboswell.com.

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