In the grand tradition of December, let’s do some wrapping up. Wrap some presents. Wrap-up your holiday shopping. Write lots of wrap-up lists. Wrap-up small, misbehaving children Krampus style to mail to . . . haha . . . ooops. Don’t do that. Got carried away there.

Number Of Books I Read: 265

Left unsupervised again. Plus, worldwide pandemic, quarantine, and stress-reading to the maximum amount possible. I’m talking reading a probably unhealthy amount from March to May.

Number of Re-Reads: Zero. Ish.

I know I re-read a bunch of books #becauseofbookstagram, but I refuse to count the actual number. If I count my re-reads, I might feel a tinge of TBR guilt, and this will not do. So the official count is zero. ish.

Genre I Read The Most From: Romance!

Yet again, I let my horror reads go. To be brutally honest 2020 was basically a mashup of terror tropes in real life and I was not in the right mental space to want to add fictional horror to the daily fun of watching my country implode from the top down.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a world of HEAs? Especially during 2020. That’s my defense.

Best Books I Read In 2020:

The Master, Kresley Cole

Sworn to the Shadow God, Ruby Dixon

Cyborgs on Mars Series, Honey Phillips

Demon Lover, Heather Guerre

Strange Love, Ann Aguirre

How to Catch a Wild Viscount, Tessa Dare

Hearts in Darkness, Laura Kaye

The Wedding Night, Kati Wilde

Favourite new author I discovered in 2020:

Heather Guerre was a pleasant surprise find. Amazon suggested her book Demon Lover to me and the blurb sounded fun, so I one-clicked it and it BLEW ME AWAY. So sweet! So emotional! Such high stakes! I love when that happens.

I also tried Loretta Chase and Suzanne Enoch for the first time in 2020 and…yeah. I am SO late to this party but I am here and ready to devour entire backlists. The benefit of being late is that I have big, huge backlists to work through!

Book I can’t believe I waited until 2020 to finally read:

Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase. This book was published in 1995. Twenty-five years ago, SE, what is wrong with you? ::Hides head in acute shame::

It was worth the wait, though. And the best part about books? They never go away. They’re always waiting for a new reader to discover them.

OTP of the year:

Riv and Lauren from Riv’s Sanctuary, A.G. Wilde.

Riv is a wounded, silent grump, just trying to avoid all sentient interaction and maintain his creature sanctuary in peace. So, of course, a homeless (illegally obtained) human woman is dropped on his doorstep for him to shelter because she has to be re-homed (the backstory is kinda hilarious here). The relationship develops at a realistically slow burn and gave me just enough anxiety wondering ‘will he realize in time? will he admit it?’

The good: Lauren (the sunshine one) recognizes and respects Riv’s clear need for space and time to process the changes she’s bringing. The better: Riv, like an emotionally mature being, faces up to the past traumas standing between him and his happy ending, realizes he wants to do better/be better, and chooses to seek change. Y E S, emotional fluency is so refreshing. The best: the sexy times in this book are well-earned and so dang emotionally satisfying.

Book that stomped all over every emotion ever:

Claimed by the Horde King, Zoey Draven.

I can count on one hand the number of times a book has made me cry. Kati Wilde can do it [see; The Wedding Night]. Sally Thorne did it. And now Zoey Draven joins the shortlist of authors who have made SE sob like a teenager watching Titanic for the first time. Y’all, this story. The beautiful, beautiful pain it brought me. There’s a Found Family element, a dash of Ugly Duckling Finds Their True Niche, class and culture obstacles, the ‘ohhh-I-done-fucked-up’ realization followed by some excellent groveling, and then the most wonderful catharsis moment. Please, if this wrap-up convinces you to read nothing else, read this one book.

“You call me a demon’, he said quietly, ‘because you believe I am stealing your soul away. But I already told you, Nelle, that if I am a demon, then so are you. Because you are stealing more of mine right at this moment.”

Book(s) that I wanted to throw against the wall the hardest:

Queen of Twilight, Octavia Kore. Starts out as a pretty typical alien abduction story (just trust me when I say I’ve read enough SciFi romance to say this one is typical). But red flags start flying right out of the gate and just get worse. The heroine is abducted with a small child and just kinda…calmly flows with the enforced parental role she didn’t choose. Okay? She’s the fated mate of two insect-ish aliens who aren’t even convinced they want her at first and she just kinda…calmly goes with it. DP is definitely in her future with complete strangers who seem completely uninterested in getting to know her but…um…okay? There’s a lot of plot whiplash. Then decisions which make zero sense, especially the almost textbook Too Stupid To Live moment from the heroine. Not okay anymore. Random big bads doing horrible random Villain ThingsTM which include some seriously disturbing medical experiments and then we get into the very dubious consent portion of the evening which doesn’t even involve the two heroes, but some other random aliens who are…fuck if I know what they are, reluctant allies? Whatever they are: NOT OKAY. I could handle everything up to that, but the date-r*pe drug overtones of the whole encounter ended my journey with this book. All done. DNF.