The last time I wrote one of these “Hello, New Year” posts was before the world took a nosedive into chaos.
I was honestly shocked to realize that I had set aside the childlike wonderment of what it means to countdown to a new year and celebrate the new birth of shedding last years woes and releasing all the misery that it can bring and I think right there is the problem…I hadn’t. For the past two years, as a country, a nation, a world, we have all been living in this constant cycle of, “is it over yet?” Holding onto all the grief, misery, and turbulence that our world was struck down with. I know I personally retreated hard into reading and read more books than I ever have in my entire life, but even as I enjoyed the escape it caused sacrifice in things like dusting (not a big deal I hate dusting), or exercise (okay, I should do that more, but ehhhh), or writing (now this is something that I greatly enjoyed-soooo now I needed to rethink things).
So while I hate resolutions, because I hate making promises that I know I will never keep…I prefer looking at the new year with new promise and hope. With that not-resolution in mind – I am making a promise to give myself grace in easing back into this thing called life. The very thing I know I have been avoiding for the past couple of years, but here goes.
I realize it’s yucky out there and the world has turned into a dark place. However, with that knowledge I hope to discover my joy for writing again (and not dusting, because ewww) and allow myself the grace to just sit in the chaos of the world instead of instantly retreating to all of the fiction that I love.
Sooooo, enough with the heavy and on to the good stuff….My top picks for 2022. I read a lot of books this past year. Not quite as many as 2021, but still it boiled down to almost a book a day. Considering I work, had a daughter who was married earlier this year, and I keep up with this blog, fitting all of that reading in shows just how much I escaped.
Thank you to all of the authors who helped me escape. I loved every moment of it ❤️.
If you’d like to visit any of the places I visited in the past year feel free to read all the reviews for books I’ve read in 2022 under Book Reviews
Please check out all the books released this past year listed under New Releases
I hold all of the books I read near and dear to my heart and it really is hard to pick just a few favorites, but as I went back and sifted through what I read a few titles jumped out. So let’s get to why they did…here are my favorite books of 2022!!
The Best Of 2022 by Kay Daniels
*Every category is totally and completely picked by Kay Daniels Romance and all opinions are my own*
1. The Best Book of 2022:
The Devil of Dublin, by B.B. Easton
Aside from the drop dead gorgeous cover, because I know, don’t judge a book by one-but come on….am I right?🔥🥵….but aside from his gorgeous eyes…The Devil of Dublin had everything that I like to call the “IT” factor when I read it. Witty humor, intriguing/suspenseful plot, virgin hero with a dark past, just a touch of the supernatural, a true anti-hero with a heart of gold, but put into dark situations kind of story, and best of all it allowed me to travel to the lush landscape of Ireland. I could practically hear the Irish accents jump off the page when I read it. I don’t purchase many paperbacks, as I hate dusting, but this was one story I felt compelled to own. That is how much I loved this book. I was drawn in, entranced, and completely blown away by this magical tale.
Devil of Dublin, a dark mafia romance drenched in Irish folklore!!
☘️ Broken boy turned mafia hitman
☘️ Dreamy Irish scenery
☘️ Forbidden love
☘️ Folklore/fated mates
☘️ Us against the world/couple on the run vibes
☘️ White knuckle suspense
☘️ Heart racing 🔥🔥🔥
☘️ Deeply romantic and hauntingly dark!!
I can’t remember anymore if my grandfather’s eyes were blue or green, but I’ll never forget the way they wrinkled at the corners when he laughed at one of his own jokes. Or the way they sparkled with mischief when he told me tales about the magical creatures that dwelled in the forest behind his humble Irish sheep farm—shy fairies who liked to eat tea biscuits, cruel witches who liked to eat children, a moody lake spirit with a taste for expensive gifts.
As a child, I believed every fantastical word. But when he warned me about the mute boy who also lurked in those woods, the one the priest had declared to be the spawn of Satan himself, I refused to listen. Kellen wasn’t evil. He was kind, and beautiful, and special, and hurting. He was my friend. And with every summer I spent stolen away with him in those enchanted woods, he grew to become so much more.
But when I return to Glenshire as an adult, grieving and engaged to someone else, all those legends quickly morph into nightmares.
My grandfather had been right about everything, especially the boy.
If only I had listened.
WARNING: If you are a sensitive reader or find certain topics to be emotionally triggering, please exercise self-care and select a different book. Devil of Dublin is intended for mature audiences who enjoy dark subject matter, tortured anti-heroes, explicit adult content, graphic violence, heart-pounding suspense, fairy-tale worthy love, and gorgeous Irish scenery. If that sounds like you, then welcome to Glenshire!
2. The Best Romance that also broke my heart in 2022:
Runaway; Empire High #5 by Ivy Smoak
You are probably scratching your head at this #2 spot. Give me chance to explain…as I scrolled through my list of books, Runaway stood up and smacked me in the face with all the feels all over again. It still had the power to evoke tears because the story is just that powerful. Even though it is the fifth book in a continuing series, it is, as Ivy explains, a bubble of a story where Brooke (the female MC) gets to live the perfect life with a man who loves her, adores her, and gives her everything without all of the hate, backstabbing, and lies that she had been tormented with before escaping into that bubble. You see prior to this interlude Brooke had lost everyone or been betrayed by everyone in her life. This bubble sounds pretty great right?? Who wouldn’t want to live in this bubble?? Hold your britches because even as a fan of the series I was in awe of how Ivy made me fall in love with this book. Like totally in complete love for how this little bubble was so ultimately perfect…until it popped and those are when the tears hit. Big fat ugly ones. That is why this book in on my list. I honestly can’t think of another series when I’ve been totally ALL in for this kind of bait and switch and then was a total emotional mess over the inaliation and yet, I still want more. Yes, please, may I have another, and pass me a tissue while you do……but, seriously, I love when authors twist things up and this was a great one!!
To the first boy I ever loved.
I intended to keep my promises to you. I swear. I loved you, Matthew Caldwell. With my whole heart. I think a piece of me will always love you.
But it all came crashing down when I realized you didn’t keep your promises to me.
I refuse to take any of my days for granted. I learned that the hard way.
So I’m sorry. But I can’t keep my promises to someone who didn’t keep theirs.
3. The Best Book To Read Going In Blind In 2022:
Requiem by Callie Hart
I love reading…well basically everything. So reading reviews before I purchase items is pretty much automatic for me. Need a new pillow; read a review. Need a new vacuum; read a review. Want a new book; read a review. You see where I’m going with this…however, there are also authors that are just a one-click no matter what they write I buy it because I love everything they write. There are also books, based on plot, that should also be one-clicked. No questions asked. I want to state that Requiem fits into both of those categories. It’s a book that plagued me for days, weeks, months even after I finished it. I wouldn’t shut up about this book with those in my close circle because it blew my mind. So while I won’t give even the slightest hint as to what the plot is about I will say it is one of those books that will cause discussion at the dinner table because it certainly did at mine.
Here is the synopsis for Requiem:
He’s going to pay for what he’s done…
Theo Merchant was born into a kind of privilege I’ve never known.
He has everything I don’t: Money. A private school education. Popularity. A bright and shiny future, full of success to look forward to. He took the only thing I had going for me—my best friend, Rachel. Now that she’s gone, I have nothing left to lose.
I will infiltrate his world.
I will cradle his worthless heart in my hands.
I will burn down his entire life and destroy everything he holds dear.
I haven’t enrolled at Toussaint Academy to learn.
I’ve come to destroy a monster…
…and I won’t leave until he’s dead.
She has no idea what she’s getting herself into…
Sorrell Voss is intelligent, caustic as hell, and quite possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. She’s also going to get herself f#cking killed.
She’s a fool if she thinks I’ll go easy on her just because she’s broken.
You don’t venture into the lion’s den and walk away unscathed.
She has her secrets. That’s fine.
*My* secrets will unravel her until she comes apart at the seams.
She will bow to me, and she will break.
Then, and only then, will I make her mine.
REQUIEM is a 110,000-word, full-length enemies-to-lovers dark high school romance standalone. Some scenes within this book may be considered triggering to some readers, and it is therefore recommended for an audience 17+.
4. The funniest, hottest, holiday book in 2022:
A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone
Holiday stories, a lot of times get the same settings as our favorites Hallmark movies, or they go the total opposite and everything goes wrong. Imagine both of those mashed together with all of the sexy times you can handle. That is A Merry Little Meet Cute in a nutshell. The story is hilarious, fun, and also full of holiday whimsy. I loved that it was full of body positivity and had a color cast to boot, which always makes for great reading. The entire book was a total joy to read and don’t get me started on the hotness factor…or maybe do. The female lead is from the porn industry and I adored her, want to be best friends with her. Yes, she’s a total catch. I don’t normally pick a holiday book for my list, but this book had that something special that I just couldn’t shake and it still makes me chuckle when I think about it.
Cowritten by #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Murphy and USA Today bestselling author Sierra Simone—a steamy plus-size holiday rom-com about an adult film star who is semi-accidentally cast as a lead in a family-friendly Christmas movie, and the former bad-boy pop star she falls in love with.
Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn’t ask for more. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he’s making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee’s career is about to take a more family-friendly direction.
Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhile when she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom.
But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he’s a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel’s execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan’s singing career comes snooping around—and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee.
And if Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.
5. The Standout Book(s) of 2022:
Beyond My Darkness by R.C. Boldt , When It Ends by Penelope Black , Pen Pal by J.T. Geissinger
I had three books that I circled for this last spot and they all had a similar theme making it hard to pick just one. What was that theme? The Supernatural/paranormal and impending death. Cheerie subjects for the beginning of the new year, am I right?
I think with the way the world has been turning the past few years…I was drawn to this subject matter quite a bit – either through dystopian worlds, rebuilding worlds, the end of the world, death upon whole world…you name it…I loved it, craved it and fell in hard core love it. Hence, the titles listed above. While Pen Pal and Beyond My Darkness don’t necessarily fall into the total world enialition theme, they are unique in within their own rights. If you decide to check them out, I hope you love the dark themes contained within as much as I did.
P.S. I also don’t mind reading books that create a little controversy…if you get my drift and one of these titles definitely did that, so beware if you enjoy reading reviews 😉.
Here is the Synopsis for Beyond My Darkness:
USA Today bestselling author RC Boldt delivers a seductively unique romantic suspense with a paranormal twist in Beyond My Darkness…
Twelve years ago, I fled, vowing to never again use my power. But everything changes when I break that vow and bring two bodies back to life in the morgue.
It sends me spinning directly into his orbit.
Arrogant. Menacing. Enigmatic. That’s Bronson Cortez, the notoriously violent gang leader who remains elusive to authorities.
He breaks the law at every turn and answers to no one. But when he offers me an alluring glimpse of what lies beneath that iron-clad exterior, I realize there’s more to him than meets the eye.
The man who fiercely guards his heart somehow manages to claim mine.
But he doesn’t know the truth about me.
I wonder if he could be the first to accept me for who I am—what I am.
I wonder if he’ll be the first to see beyond my darkness.
Here is the Synopsis for When It Ends:
WHEN IT ENDS by Penelope Black is a contemporary, adult, apocalyptic, reverse harem, romance story line focusing on Amelia, Cole, West and Gray.
Told from four first person perspectives (Amelia, Cole, West and Gray) WHEN IT ENDS follows twenty-two year old Amelia Christensen in the days prior to the literal end of the world. After a one-night stand in Vegas with a man she knows only as Sonny, Amelia returns to her grandmother’s home, where she will embark on a journey with her past.
Enter Cole Armstrong and West Campbell the two boys Amelia had fallen in love with years before, two boys lost in the foster care system, never to be heard from again but an environmental disaster is about to ravage the world, and along with another foster brother Gray aka Sonny, our foursome head for places unknown in the wake of an apocalyptic meltdown.
Amelia’s father works for the government, and has offered a place of sanctuary but our heroine refuses to leave behind the men with whom she is falling in love. What ensues is the quick rebuilding relationship between Amelia and Cole, West and Gray, and the potential fall-out as the end of the world beckons.
WHEN IT ENDS follows the foursome as they must overcome the ensuing chaos and panic of a world about to implode. People are panicking, lives are lost, and only the chosen few will survive.
WARNING: Due to the nature of the story line premise there may be triggers for more sensitive readers.
Here is the synopsis for Pen Pal:
The #1 international and Amazon Charts bestselling novel
The first letter arrived the day my husband was buried. It was postmarked from the state penitentiary, and contained a single sentence:
I’ll wait forever if I have to.
It was signed by Dante, a man I didn’t know.
Out of simple curiosity, I wrote back to ask him what exactly he was waiting for. His reply?
I told the mystery man he had the wrong girl. He said he didn’t. I said we’d never met, but he said I was wrong.
We went back and forth, exchanging letters every week that grew increasingly more intimate. Then one day, the letters stopped. When I found out why, it was already too late.
Dante was at my doorstep.
And nothing on earth could have prepared me for what happened next.
This novel contains content intended for a mature audience only. Due to explicit language, graphic sex, detailed depictions of death and grief, intense power play dynamics, and other possible triggers, it is not suitable for sensitive readers. (Full list of TWs on author’s website.)
Thank you to everyone who follows or reads my blog I appreciate you more than you know. I look forward to a new year and many more reading adventures. Happy New Year!
*Every category is totally and completely picked by Kay Daniels Romance and all opinions are my own*