Jen’s 2012 Top Picks: Romance and Urban Fantasy Recommendations

Jen’s Top Picks for 2012

I didn’t read as much in 2012 as I did in 2011 but I was still well over 200 books.  I know for a normal person that is a crazy number!  I would consider it a fairly good year with some really excellent books.  I really dove into the self-pub books this year and I think that opened up a whole new world to me.  They may not have the same type of editing but I have been extremely impressed with some of the new authors I have been lucky to find.  Without further ado….

Iced Karine Marie MoningIced by Karen Marie Moning ** [AMZBNSK]
Iced might be my book of the year.  Go figure since it was only book 1 in the trilogy.  But Iced inspired Sophia and I to write not one, but two long posts: What the Feck We Think and How the Feck We Felt.  I now own this book on ebook, hardback and audio.  Obsess much, Jen?  Well yes, when it comes to this series, I do.  With a normal book I can read words on a page and take them at face value.  With a KMM book there is always something else going on and the something else in Iced just about slayed me.  And if reading Iced didn’t slay me the wait for the next book will.

Favorite Quote:

“One day, kid, you’ll be willing to mortage your fucking soul for somebody.”


Exposed to You by Beth Kery Exposed to You by Beth Kery ** [AMZBNSK]
It is no secret that I am a huge Beth Kery fan.  I love everything she writes but I think Everett and Exposed to You fell into a another category for me.  Like the super duper love category?  I might have to rethink that name but this book was easily my favorite of hers to date.  Everett used tantric sexual practices.  Holy hotness folks.  The sex alone was worth the price of the book.  But it was so much more than sex.  The relationship that was formed between Everett and Joy was beautiful.  It wasn’t about simple courtship.  It was also about evaluating feelings in the face of potential loss and grief.  It was so well done, in my opinion.  So well done.  See Amy’s review here.

Favorite Quote:

“I wouldn’t want you to suffer,” he said with calm deliberation .“Who would ever want that for someone they care about? We can’t choose our fates, though. We can only choose how we respond to them. I would choose to be with you. I want to celebrate your existence,
Joy. Every day that’s available to me, I want it. I’ll cherish it.”


Damaged Goods Lauren GallagherDamaged Goods by Lauren Gallagher ** [AMZBNSK]
Damaged Goods was the book I pondered over for days afterward.  I wasn’t going to write a review but something compelled me to.  The book took a situation that I know I could not have done and portrayed in a very realistic light.  Even now when I think about some of the scenes I just shake my head.  Damaged Goods was so perfectly written to make the reader consider how they would handle the situation.  See my review here.

Favorite Quote:

“Just remember one thing: regardless of how anyone chooses to define what I do for a living, I’m not selling what I’m giving you. If this isn’t something you can handle, I’ll understand, but I swear to you. I’ve never given this to anyone. I wouldn’t dream of selling it, even if I could.”


Consequences Aleatha RomigCONSEQUENCES by Aleatha Romig ** [AMZBNSK]
My initial thoughts on this book pretty much say it all “WHAT THE BLOODY HELL. I am having issues. I am pre-programed to like the male leads in books. I am so lost because I hate Anthony. I HATE him. So how can I hope they end up together? What a freaking book. Bravo to Ms. Romig for surprising the hell out of me. I don’t even know how to rate this book.”  Amazing how my knee jerk reaction can still hold true!  See my review here.

Favorite Quote:

Now to change into his kind of clothes, get back to his real life, prepare for his scheduled meetings overseas and decide Claire’s future.  He flashed a private smile-the acquisition was complete.


Reflected in You Sylvia DayReflected in You by Sylvia Day ** [AMZBNSK]
Goodness gracious…he did WHAT??  Oh Ms. Day, how I love Gideon and Eva.  I spent most of this book railing at Gideon for what he was doing to Eva.  At one point my chest was starting to ache I was so upset for her.  I should have known better.  The scenes where Gideon tells her to wait for him?  Ack, I was gasping.  Crazy, crazy ending to this book and I CANNOT wait to get my hands on Entwined to You.  I am very anxious to see where Eva and Gideon go from the shocking revelations at the end of Reflected.  See my review here.

Favorite Quote:

“People get over love.  They can live without it, they can move on.  Love can be lost and found again.  But that won’t happen for me.  I won’t survive you, Eva.”


Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell #1) by Kristen AshleyHeaven and Hell by Kristen Ashley ** [AMZBNSK]
I have read a lot of Kristen Ashley books but this was far and away the best for me.  I think it was the first KA book where the heroine is successful in leaving our hero and that right there made the book.  Sam needed a bit of a wake up call and Kia leaving was the perfect thing.  Sam was an awesome KA hero but Kia stole the show.  She knew when to get out and when she couldn’t handle being on her in the relationship.  I felt that she is one of the stongest heroines KA has written for us.  Of course, now that I have talked about a KA book I feel compelled to go read one.  Sigh.

Favorite Quote:

“You got one life, never use it just to breathe.”


On Dublin Street Samantha YoungOn Dublin Street by Samantha Young ** [AMZBNSK]
I loved the emotional depth and the hot sexiness to this book.  I think it had it all.  I was impressed with the realistic feel to Jocelyn not wanting to committ.  I didn’t think she was just being wishy washy.  Loving someone was a serious issue for her.  I just wish Ms. Young had a backlog of books for me to dive in to.  See Amy’s review here.

Favorite Quote:

“I know you love me, Jocelyn, because there’s no fucking way I can be this much in love with you, and not have you feel the same way. It’s not possible.”


Captive in the Dark CJ RobertsCaptive in the Dark by C.J. Roberts ** [AMZBNSK]
I ached for Livvie and Caleb, both so tortured in different ways.  I know this is a dark subject and will put a lot of people off but I still highly recommend this book.  I never felt that Caleb was 100% evil just that he was put into a situation where he couldn’t stop the tide.  What made him redeemable was his eventual fall for Livvie even if he knew he shouldn’t, even if he knew it would do no good.  See my review here.

Favorite Quote:

He leaned over me, kissing away the tears on the side of my face. And still he didn’t move. It wasn’t enough to fuck my body, he wanted to mindfuck me too. It was working. I wanted him to be nice to me. To kiss me. To make it nice for me. I was scared it would hurt and I once again looked to him for protection. How messed up was that!

Then he fucked me.


Lothaire by Kresely ColeLothaire by Kresely Cole ** [AMZBNSK]
Lothaire is the book that everyone was waiting for.  There is usually one in each series that readers anticipate more than the rest and this was it.  How could KC make Lothaire, an evil, ancient being, turn into someone that we could love?  That was the question.  I think we were all happy to say that she was able to do just that.  But the best part of the book was that she did it without changing him into something that wouldn’t be believable.  He had a story that stayed true to who he has always been and considering he was a giant arse how cool that we could still love him and his HEA.  See the discussion between Sophia and I here.

Favorite Quote:

As Lothaire lifted the lid with a sense of dread, Nïx murmured, “Hint: it’s the middle one.”

Elizabeth’s fragile finger.  Seeing it severed like this brought on a visceral reaction—pain shooting through his own hand, radiating throughout his regenerated heart.  He closed the lid with a swallow, sentimentally pocketing the package.

“You gave her your heart, and she gave you the bird.” Nïx sighed. “Songs will be written about this.”


The Black Hawk by Joanna BourneThe Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne ** [AMZBNSK]
I lost track of how many times I would see this book recommended and I would just pass on by.  So when I finally picked it up I could kick myself for not reading it sooner.  Adrain now ranks up there with some of my favorite heroes.  Justine and Adrian had a long road to travel to finally end up with each other.

Favorite Quote:

He knew what she was. Knew what she had done. There was no condemnation in him. He had done terrible things, himself.  He kissed her eyelids, closing her in the darkness with him. He was there with her. In the heat and solidity of his body.  In his breath on her face. In kisses on the corners of her eyes, that did not hurry. He went deep into her mouth. When men kissed her that way, she must –

“Stay with me, Owl.” His finger closed tight around her face. “Me. Not the damned ghosts.”

He tangled his fingers into her hair and held her while his mouth took hers. This time, he was not careful and gentle.


Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet Darynda JonesFourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones ** [AMZ – BN – S – K]
This is really a recommendation for the series as a whole.  Charley and Reyes are one of my favorite couples or non-couples as they are.  These books are snarky and hot.  The humor makes me lol and the secondary characters are the best of any series around (other than In Death).  For the next book I really want to see them solid though.  I need to seem them together, together.  We have had enough time with them apart and I don’t want to lose the love for this series!  See my reviews here and here.

Favorite Quote:

“There is a fine line between love and hate, or haven’t you heard? Sometimes it’s hard to decipher exactly which emotion is strongest.”

I raised my chin. “I don’t love you either.”

He lowered his head and watched me from underneath his dark lashes. “Are you certain? Because the emotion pouring out of you every time I’m near you is certainly not disinterest.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s love.”

“It could be, I promise you. Take off that sweater and give me ten minutes, and you’ll believe beyond a shadow of a doubt you’re in love.”


  1. says

    I am mother to two crazy teenagers and feel the same way about books. Esacpism is so necessary in our busy lives. It doesn’t hurt to have that alpha male/rogue either!!
    I have Jo Bourne’s books downloaded and started the Black Hawk. Will definitely finish it when I have a good chunk of time to devote to it! it looks amazing.
    Happy New Year!

  2. Angela says

    I’ve got Captive in the Dark sitting on my Kindle, which I bought after reading your wonderful review. I’m just a little afraid to start it.

    Completely agree with Heaven and Hell. I love KA. Three of her books made my top reads of 2012.

    • says

      Captive in the Dark is not an easy book but I am glad I read it. I had several books like that this year.

      I do love my KA. Sometimes I wish I had never started.

  3. Krista says

    I am starting my new year off with a re-read of Iced. I’m discovering lots of potentially sneaky things :)

  4. says

    I have several from your list that made mine as well. Looking forward to trying a few more from your list now!

  5. Tess says

    Can The Black Hawke be read as a stand-alone, or should I read that series in order?? Great list too Jen!!

  6. Kini says

    Good call on KA’s Heaven and Hell as tops. I think that book is overshadowed by her other books that are part of a series. This book was fantastic and so emotional. Kia is definitely one of my favorite heroines from KA books. It is my favorite KA book.