YEAR IN REVIEW: 2020

This year has been absolutely shitty but the one good thing is the amount of time I had to read. I’ve read around 200 books and selecting my top 10 books was not an easy feat (which is why I mention 2 series 😂) as I read so many amazing books this year. Here you go, not in any particular order:

Criminal Intentions series by Cole McCade

To say I love this series would be an understatement. I cannot even describe how Malcolm and Soeng-Jae makes me feel. Criminal Intentions is hands down one of the best romantic suspense I’ve ever read. It is structured like a TV series with seasons and episodes and endings that leave you craving for more. Especially if you’re a fan of shows like Criminal Minds! I absolutely adore crimes solving duos and this is such a binge worthy series. Cannot wait for the next book in the series! (currently 20 books)

Synopsis of book 1

When a string of young queer men turn up dead in grisly murders, all signs point to the ex-boyfriend—but what should be an open-and-shut case is fraught with tension when BPD homicide detective Malcolm Khalaji joins up with a partner he never wanted. Rigid, ice-cold, and a stickler for the rules, Seong-Jae Yoon is a watchful presence whose obstinacy and unpredictability constantly remind Malcolm why he prefers to work alone. Seong-Jae may be stunningly attractive, a man who moves like a graceful, lethal bird of prey…but he’s as impossible to decipher as this case.

And if Malcolm doesn’t find the key to unravel both in time, another vulnerable young victim may end up dead.

Charlie Sunshine by Lily Morton

This is one of the best childhood-BFFS-to-lovers!! Add in everyone shipping them together and lots of sarcasm, witty banter with a slowburn romance, you’ve got a winner!

Synopsis

Sometimes love is a lot closer to home than you think.

Charlie Burroughs can’t keep a man. All he wants is a good relationship like the ones he sees his friends having, but none of the men he picks ever work out. Despite him trying to be the perfect boyfriend, the men are either threatened by his looks or his epilepsy or a combination of the two. It’s lucky that he has his best friend Misha to turn to. The two of them are closer than peas in a pod and fiercely loyal to each other. He can’t imagine his life without Misha in it.

Misha Lebedinsky is the complete opposite of his best friend. Being the support system for his mum and twin sisters leaves Misha with neither the time nor the inclination for a relationship. Quick and frequent hook-ups are his favourite means of communication and any other pesky emotional needs he has are met by Charlie, who he’s devoted to. He lives a life of happy compartmentalization with no intention of ever changing.

All of this changes when the two best friends move in together. Being in close proximity means that they suddenly start to see each other in a very different light. But Charlie struggles when his drive to be the perfect partner clashes with the fact that he’s in love with a man who knows every little thing about him. And even if he can get past that, can a relationship ever work with a man who’d need a dictionary to tell him what love means?

From bestselling author Lily Morton comes a love story about a sunny librarian who has relationship written all over him and a cynical banker who doesn’t even have it in his blurb.

Tiān Guān Cì Fú by Mò Xiāng Tóngxiù (Heaven Official’s Blessing/ TGCF)

Next is a Chinese web novel that completely stole my heart. Thank you so much to translators for their hard work in translating the novel so beautifully. It is a fantasy novel about a fallen god and his last worshipper. It also has a gorgeous manhua and a stunning donghua on Bilibili, Funimation and YouTube. All links are available here.

Play Dirty by Neve Wilder

Assassins, PowerPoints and Knives!!! I love both Bad Habits and Play Dirty but I love Az and Madi a tad bit more. I devoured this book and if you love danger, assassins, betrayal and an action packed romance, then this is for you.

Synopsis

“When you talk, chaos follows and I forget who I am.”

Madigan has spent his life indulging in the world’s most hedonistic pursuits, his skills as a sharpshooting killer-for-hire paying his way.

Azrael, an assassin referred to as the angel of death, is a chemist and a loner, his poisons as lethal as they are undetectable.

A chance encounter leads to a passionate night and a heated rivalry that spans years, but after they’re both offered a chance at big money by taking out elite targets on a mysterious hitlist, they find themselves once again in each other’s way. And then in each other’s arms.

Trust doesn’t come easily for either of them, but no matter how far they stray, fate always seems to pull them back together. In a profession where your partner is just as likely to kill you as kiss you, maybe trust is as close to love as they get?

Play Dirty is a steamy, action-packed thrill ride of a romance with a HEA and no cliffhangers. It features two stubborn rival assassins who can’t seem to stop tempting each other, a bit of knife play, a Die Hard-style Christmas, plenty of dark humor, and true love. Because even assassins deserve their soulmates. This is book 2 in the Wages of Sin series. Each book will follow a new couple.

Metahuman Files series by Hailey Turner

I am a huge fan of the author’s Soulbound series and I regret not starting this earlier. This is a Sci Fi MM romance series with superheroes and tons of action, missions, mystery, found family and smoking hot sex! If you like X men or superheroes in general, definitely recommend this one!

Synopsis of book 1

A Marine with honor.

After surviving a horrific chemical attack that turned him into a metahuman, Captain Jamie Callahan got a second lease on life. For three years he’s been working for the Metahuman Defense Force and leading Alpha Team—all against the wishes of his family. The job requires his full dedication, so it’s no surprise Jamie doesn’t have time for a relationship. An enticing one-night stand with a gorgeous stranger is all it takes to show Jamie exactly what he’s been missing. When a mission to take down a terrorist cell brings that same stranger back into his world, Jamie’s life gets complicated.

A soldier with secrets.

Staff Sergeant Kyle Brannigan was only looking to relieve some stress after a long mission. He didn’t know the hot guy he picked up at a bar was the leader of the MDF’s top field team. When Kyle and his partner get seconded to Alpha Team to help fight a terrorist threat, he has to balance his desire for Jamie against his duty to keep his secrets safe. That gets harder and harder to do amidst regulations both are tempted to break.

Two men trying to survive.

Giving into passion could cost both their careers. Abiding by the rules will only result in heartache. An attack on MDF headquarters brings with it a choice Jamie and Kyle can’t escape—duty, or love?

In the Wreckage is a 100k word steamy m/m sci-fi military romance with a HFN ending. There is military violence within the story that may not be suitable for everyone, as well as explicit intimate scenes not suitable for readers under 18.

Screwed by K M Neuhold

Is this my list without at least one fake dating novel?! Screwed is utterly romantic, steamy, swoony and my favourite in the series! Also it’s refreshing to see that both MCs are older. (40+)

Synopsis

I’ve had my fair share of less than proud relationship moments, but waking up married to my brother-in-law’s best friend is a new low.

A drunken wedding to a man who already rejected me once? Check. A hefty bet about how long it will last? Check. My feisty new husband, determined to make our friends pay up? Double check.

I’ve never managed to make a real relationship last nearly a year, there’s no way Daniel will stick around long enough to win this bet. The only problem is the longer he stays, the more the lines blur between what’s real and what’s for show. Does he feel it too or am I totally screwed?

***Screwed is a woke up married, faking it to their friends but also totally hooking up, sweet, STEAMY love story that happens to be the fourth book in the Four Bears Construction series. There are no bear shifters in this series, only the OTHER kind of bears.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T J Klune

I don’t think I’ve to say anything about this book but if this has somehow escaped your radar, all I can say is, trust me and read this right now!! It’s written so beautifully that you’d feel as if you were right there with all the amazing characters. Truly an unforgettable gem.

Synopsis

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Enemies to lovers, pining and drama! It’s heartwarming and funny and just perfect. Alex and Henry will definitely steal your heart!

Synopsis

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

When Death Frees the Devil by L J Hayward

By now you must have realized my love for romantic suspense, especially assassins! This is the last book in the trilogy and what an ending!!! I love Jack and Ethan so much and my emotions were all over the place when I finished it! Highly recommend this series!

Synopsis for book 1 – Where Death Meets the Devil

Jack Reardon, former SAS soldier and current Australian Meta-State asset, has seen some messy battles. But “messy” takes on a whole new meaning when he finds himself tied to a chair in a torture shack, his cover blown wide open, all thanks to notorious killer-for-hire Ethan Blade.

Blade is everything Jack doesn’t believe in: remorseless, detached, lawless. Yet, Jack’s only chance to survive is to strike a bargain with the devil and join forces with Blade. As they trek across a hostile desert, Jack learns that Blade is much more than a dead-eyed killer—and harder to resist than he should be.

A year later, Jack is home and finally getting his life on track. Then Ethan Blade reappears and throws it all into chaos once more. It’s impossible to trust the assassin, especially when his presence casts doubts on Jack’s loyalty to his country, but Jack cannot ignore what Blade’s return means: the mess that brought them together is far from over, and Ethan might just bring back the piece of Jack’s soul he thought he’d lost forever.

 Mó Dào Zǔ Shī by Mò Xiāng Tóngxiù (The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation/ Founder of Diabolism/ MDZS)

Yes, it’s another novel by MXTX!! This is how I discovered danmei and I’ve read all three of her works.(Obviously I’m addicted!) You might have heard of The Untamed, which is the live action adaptation of this novel, which is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I have seen all the various adaptations (donghua, manhua, audio drama, chibi donghua) and I can say with certainty that I’ll never get over Wèi Wúxiàn and Lán Wàngjī. All links are available here.

Synopsis

As the grandmaster who founded demonic cultivation, Wèi Wúxiàn roamed the world in his wanton ways, hated by millions for the chaos he created. In the end, he was backstabbed by his dearest shidi and killed by powerful clans that combined to overpower him.

He incarnates into the body of a lunatic who was abandoned by his clan and is later, unwillingly, taken away by a famous cultivator among the sects—Lán Wàngjī, his archenemy.

This marks the start of a thrilling yet hilarious journey of attacking monsters, solving mysteries, and raising children. From the mutual flirtation along the way, Wèi Wúxiàn slowly realizes that Lán Wàngjī, a seemingly haughty and indifferent poker-face, holds more feelings for Wèi Wúxiàn than he is letting on…

Honorable Mentions

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Fence: Striking Distance by Sarah Rees Brennan

Upside Down by NR Walker

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

What about you? Did I mention any of your favourites? Let me know! Thank you to all the incredible who write fascinating stories. And thank you all the readers who support this blog. Hope we have an amazing 2021 and happy new year!!

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