GraveTells Official Book Awards: See our top romance picks for 2013!
Each year, in addition to our annual Readers Choice Awards, the GraveTells team recognizes our picks for the top romances of the year in our official Book Awards. Read on to see who received the honors in 2013!
Book of the Year
Of all the books reviewed on GraveTells in 2013, Striking Distance stands out as the most memorable and, well, striking. What sets it apart is more than just a hot romance (although it does have that) and an action-packed plot (which is also a plus), but in author Pamela Clare’s ability to weave together political, personal, and religious elements to paint a picture of the atrocities of war in a way that really brings home the brutal and unforgiving realities, and encourages readers to think, research, and come to our own conclusions.
From our review of Striking Distance…
[quote]Fast-paced and addicting, Striking Distance will keep you chained to the pages long after the story has ended. […] The camaraderie between all the couples and friends amps up the feel-good quotient of the story and makes you want to keep on spending time with these remarkable individuals. Striking Distance is an absolute “must-read”, easily one of the best romantic suspense stories of the year![/quote]
A close contender for Book of the Year, Alexis Hall’s Glitterland is a remarkable read, with larger-than-life personalities and characters that leave you wanting more long after the last word has been read. The narrative is told in first-person male perspective, and the depth of Ash’s elegantly penned neurosis and self-hate is as palpable as Darian’s ebullient whimsy and joy of life. Both men are so opposite yet so perfect for the other, and their romance is a sparkling story of love and healing and getting past prejudices.
From DaVinciKittie’s review of Glitterland…
Glitterland is a game changer. It is poignant and life affirming, a celebration of what it means to be alive and to make those necessary, healthy intimate connections with people regardless of their IQ or sexual orientation or where they grew up. It’s also sad in some very personal ways that will make you reassess your own friendships and color the way you see your own personal failures. This story shines a light on the debilitating sickness that is depression and shows us both the dark underbelly and the magic highs and how making the right connections can help temper life into an experience you want to keep on living.
Glitterland is easily one of the best books of the year.
Also told from first-person male perspective, Emma Chase’s Tangled is unforgettable. Drew, the lovably conceited hot-shot banker protagonist, is adorable and amusing and so over-the-top, he’s hard to get out of your head. Tangled feels real, not like a woman trying to imitate a man’s thoughts and personality (as so many male-perspective female-penned romances are), but as the reader really is living the events of the book along with Drew. This book stood out for months, and now that there are sequels, we can have even more fun hanging out with Drew and laughing along with his crazy romantic antics. *grin*
From DVK’s review of Tangled…
[quote]This is one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a long time. It takes a special talent to turn a conceited self-obsessed businessman playboy into a likeable protagonist that women actually want to live inside the head of. Not only is Drew fun to be around, he’s got just the right mix of confidence (okay, arrogance) and charm to keep things interesting and his ability to recognize and rectify his mistakes makes him a character you can almost trust to do the “right” thing. The fact that he screws up, royally, and has downtime just like any other guy makes him that much more adorable. Add in some searingly-hot sex scenes and no-frills (sometimes crass) inner monologue and this book is an absolute must read for any romance fan![/quote]
Reviewer Top Pick
Nalini Singh is always a reviewer favorite, but Archangel’s Legion was more powerful than even her usual addicting stories. 2013 saw excellent new releases in both the Guild Hunter and Psy-Changeling series, and the GraveTells review team selected the most recent GH book, Archangel’s Legion, as one of our Reviewer Top Picks of the year…
This series, folks, is urban fantasy at its finest. Throughout the story, I couldn’t get enough of Elena and Raphael and Illium, but I was also thrilled to get to know a few of the other members of The Seven better.
The action in this book is beyond intense and the last 30 pages just about killed me, my heart was racing so fast the entire time. Ms. Singh really amped up the danger level for ALL the characters in this one and held off on revealing the big development until right at the end. It made me crazy and jittery and glued to the pages!
Laura Kaye‘s Hearts of the Anemoi series has been a GraveTells award winner every year since the first installment was released, and 2013 carries on the tradition with Chrysander’s story, South of Surrender…
[quote]Sweeping and unexpectedly poignant, South of Surrender is a pivotal chapter in the Hearts of the Anemoi saga. Chrysander is everything I hoped he would be and more, deeper in mind and spirit, and his lady is the perfect compliment, down to her love of horses and survivor spirit. This is a “must read” for any fan of paranormal romance, but you really should start with North of Need to get the full impact of the storyline. Ms. Kaye absolutely lives up to her potential, breathing life and spirit to a story that will break your heart and leave you wanting more, more, more![/quote]
Series of the Year
What makes the All the King’s Men (AKM) series unique is that, even though each individual story focuses on a different couple, the series as a whole is essentially about one man… err, vampire. AKM has many of the addicting qualities of the early Black Dagger Brotherhood books without the distracting crass language. It hits hard and fast, both emotionally and in the action sequences, and author Donya Lynne is not afraid to take risks and let her characters stray outside traditionally accepted romance rules and behavior. The series has a feeling of grittiness and reality about it, despite the fact that it’s full of centuries old vampires and shapeshifters. 2013 was an excellent year for AKM, vaulting Ms. Lynne’s fandom to new heights and daring to push boundaries in the Paranormal Romance genre.
From our review of Rise of the Fallen, the first book in the AKM series…
[quote]Donya Lynne is a ruthless storyteller, in the best possible way, and the AKM books just keep getting better. Even if you know how events will ultimately end up (this is PNR, folks, a happily-ever-after ending ain’t exactly a state secret), the story takes you on such a complex, well-crafted emotional ride, you can dive into the story and completely immerse yourself in the deep friendships, loyalty and camaraderie, the passion and despair that are so intimately penned.
If you’ve been waiting for the next Black Dagger Brotherhood, this is it, but with a story arc and featured characters that stand on their own merit and writing that is as complicated and talented as J.R. Ward’s without the abrasive, almost gangster style. I dare you to read Return of the Assassin and remain completely unmoved by the events in this book. And to think, this series has so much potential awesome left to explore!
Author of the Year
Heroes don’t get much hotter than author Rebecca Zanetti’s alpha badasses, and in 2013 she treated us to new stories in THREE different story universes! A romantic suspense series about four genetically modified soldier brothers, a set of contemporary westerns set in a tight-knit Montana ranching community, and two books placed late in a well-established and spectacularly popular paranormal romance series have kept Ms. Zanetti and her publishing teams plenty busy this last year. How much more can one woman do in 2014? I’m not sure how she’ll top this lengthy list of excellent titles, but we are eagerly looking forward seeing what goodies Ms. Zanetti has in store for us this coming year.
If you like your romantic heroes ripped & lethal and large & in charge and you haven’t yet treated yourself to a Rebecca Zanetti book, check out the links below and take your pick of soldiers, cowboys, or vampire royalty. Trust us, any pick is good – you can’t go wrong with this lineup!
Debut Author of the Year
The name of 2013 debut author Tessa Bailey is quickly becoming synonymous with down-and-dirty-talking heroes and sex scenes so hot they’ll literally curl your toes. Even in this new age of digital publishing, it’s unusual for an author to release 4 high quality books in one year (three of them full-length) and still keep up the kind of consistent momentum that gains you loyal a loyal and rapidly growing fan base, much less to do it in your very first year as a published author. Even if not all of them were written in 2013, each story still had to go through the full editing and publishing process before reaching bookstores, and every book showcases Ms. Bailey’s ballsy, hot-as-hell style. Tessa Bailey doesn’t just pen white-hot romance, she writes it with gusto and guts and vulnerability. Her men are hard-headed and compelled to be in charge, and her women are stubborn and self-sufficient… the perfect storm of sexy alpha males and modern strong women.
Have you met author Tessa Bailey yet? If not, let us be the first to introduce you to the first of two 2013 GraveTells Debut Authors of the Year and some of the steamiest romance you will ever read. Go on, take a peek & check out the review links below!
Picking one Debut Author of the Year was tough, but having to choose between our top two picks was just too close to call. Meet the second of our two Debut Authors of the Year: Tonya Burrows!
In her first year as a published author, Tonya Burrows took the plunge on not just one, but two exciting new series, releasing the first two books in her sexy Wilde Security romance series and the first story in her HORNET military romantic suspense series. Where the Wilde brothers are steamy and their stories packed with sexual tension and a side of action, the HORNET stories are edgier, fraught with danger, and feel far less “safe”. The men of HORNET are more deeply flawed (both physically and emotionally) and there’s an underlying current of psychological stress at play that takes Ms. Burrows’ work to the next level. One of the best things about these two story universes is that they are loosely connected, and some of the main characters in one serve as minor characters in the other and vice versa. It’s a brilliant way to bridge the gap between the differing story types and bring together fans of each under one umbrella. Ms. Burrows’ men are sensitive and a little quirky, well-trained yet vulnerable, and none of them fall easily… in love or in war!
If you are new to author Tonya Burrows‘ work, you will adore the Wilde (particularly Jude and his saucy, sarcastic attitude) and your heart will break for Gabe Bristow’s struggle to feel whole again.
Each year, GraveTells spotlights outstanding authors of romance. Our goal is to help you find the stories and authors that are right for you without playing the book lottery or breaking the bank buying every story with a hot tempting man-candy cover (I know, some of them are really hard to resist!). As the owner and executive editor of the site, I do many of the reviews myself, but without my ace team of dedicated reviewers, there is no way we could even begin to scratch the surface of the list of amazing authors and stories out there today.
When a reviewer on the GraveTells team reaches the 25 published reviews mark, s/he joins the All-Star Reviewer club and gets this snazzy gold seal as my way of saying thanks. We awarded our first Team GraveTells All-Star Reviewer in 2012 (Rachel), and this year two more fabulous ladies join the roster. Congratulations to Buffy and Molly on this accomplishment, and THANK YOU for all your hard work throughout the last few years. GT wouldn’t be the same without you! <3 *hugs*
I want to give a huge thank you to all of my review team members who have worked hard to read and review books for GraveTells in 2013! Much <3 to…