The other day I sent an email to one of my BookTrib editors (and fellow writer), Beth. “UMM I started reading The Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day and I can’t stop,” it read. “I only got two hours of sleep last night!”
After she chastised me for just now discovering the sexiness that is Crossfire, Beth and I commiserated over what it’s like to stay up until dawn because we’re physically unable to put a book down. Sometimes it feels like we go into a trance while reading, the rest of the world fading away until the birds chirping outside remind us that an entire night has gone by. Other times we’re perfectly aware of the time, but we just don’t care. “I’ll stop when I get past this good part,” we tell ourselves. Only with certain books we never get past the good part, and we can’t stop until we read that last page, finally satisfied but also very stressed about that meeting we have in three hours.
I’m sure every avid reader has a list of novels they’ve stayed up devouring until dawn. Here are a few from our lists — those books that Beth and I just couldn’t seem to put down.
Blue-Eyed Devil, Lisa Kleypas (St. Martin’s Press, 2008)
I’ve always loved romance novels, but at this point I’ve probably read 10,000 of them. It takes a lot for one to knock my socks off and to make me remember why I fell in love with the genre in the first place. Enter: Blue-Eyed Devil. I’ve read most of romance novelist Kleypas’ books (who hasn’t??) and she’s a reliably good storyteller. Some of her stories have sucked me in more than others, but Devil was on a whole other level. I could not stop reading about Haven, the daughter of the mega-wealthy Travis clan who ends up in an abusive marriage. She’s starting down the long road to recovery when she connects with Hardy, a formal rival for her brother’s wife. There are no words to describe the tender passion between the two, or how sweetly and naturally they find themselves in each other. This is hands-down one of the best romances I’ve ever read, which is why I was forced to read it all in one sitting.
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013)
When I read Rowell’s hit young adult novel Eleanor & Park, I thought she couldn’t possibly write a better love story. Romantic, dark, addictive. It was everything I was looking for in a novel about first love. But then I read Fangirl and I had to eat my words. I instantly connected with Cath, who struggles to fit in at college and often finds escaping to fantasy worlds easier than living in reality. She’s a wildly popular fanfiction writer, but doesn’t quite know how to translate those skills – or that sense of community – into the real world. It doesn’t help that her twin sister and lifeline, Wren, is fitting in so well and seemingly leaving Cath behind. Slowly, Cath starts to open up, in part due to a sweet and dynamic romance. I won’t give away the name of her suitor, but he’s everything I would want in a YA hero and more. This is a romance, yes, but it’s also a family drama, a story of friendship and a coming-of-age tale that will stick with me forever.
Bared to You (Crossfire Series), Sylvia Day (Berkley, 2012)
Holy. Crap. This book is so intense. I know I gave the series a shout-out above, but it’s more than worth mentioning twice. Or 10 times. Or 300. I have not slept at all the past week and it is 100 percent due to Day’s Crossfire series (I’m up to book three at this point). It’s marketed as “similar to Fifty Shades of Grey,” but that doesn’t do this smart, complex series justice. Gideon and Eva have both faced horrific trauma in their lives and their recovery is tenuous and flawed. They’re insanely drawn to each other, with crazy chemistry and sex scenes that leave you blushing. But the attraction is the easy part; trying to make a relationship work between two extremely damaged people is where things get tricky. The characters make horrific, human mistakes over and over and are pretty hard to like at certain points. Other times, I find myself rooting for them unconditionally. It’s a real roller coaster. Will they be able to make it work? I honestly have no idea. Luckily for me, now that the final book, One With You, has been released I’ll be finding out SOON.
Kaleidoscope Hearts, Claire Contreras (Amazon Digital, 2015)
So here’s the thing: I downloaded Claire Contreras’ book on a whim with zero expectations. I was looking for a new read, nothing in my TBR list was doing it for me at the moment and so I went to browse Amazon, obviously. Then, up pops Kaleidoscope Hearts and I said, “sounds like my kind of thing, why not?” I’m all for the older-brother’s-best-friend romances, and knowing that main character Elle, who just recently moved back in with her brother after the passing of her husband, already had a history with Oliver (the brother’s best friend) was enough to convince me I’d like this one. Add in the fact that Elle’s brother never imagined Oliver would go anywhere near Elle and you’ve got yourself a story. To say I was instantly hooked is an understatement. Holy. Wow. Angst, angst and more angst. I ran the gambit of emotions as I read this book. I laughed with the characters, I was pissed when they were pissed, cried (and I’m talking the hard, ugly, you have to sit up because you can’t cry any longer while you’re laying down kind of cry), and literally felt my heart break when Elle’s did. Do not. I repeat, DO NOT start this book at 9 pm. I did and I never went to sleep that night. I don’t know how Contreras did it and while I had been wishing, hoping and praying for some kind of sequel or second book in the series, it somehow got away from me that she’s released TWO more books in the Heart series since I read Kaleidoscope Hearts. You can now purchase Paper Hearts and Elastic Hearts on Amazon and let me tell you, they are already on my iPad just waiting for for me.
RoomHate, Penelope Ward (Amazon Digital, February 2016)
Oooof. Penelope Ward is just one of those authors who never let’s me down (much like how Rachel feels about Kristen Ashley). I can pretty much pick up any book by Ward and fall instantly in love. So it’s safe to say when I downloaded RoomHate, I knew I was in for some fun. What I didn’t know was that I was going to go on a ride that included the knock-down drag-out, rip-your-heart-from-your-chest-and-then-replace-it-later-only-to-rip-it-back-out-again kind of emotions. Well, by the time I swiped through the last page of this book, the birds were chirping, the sun was up and my alarm was going to start blaring in t-minus 50 minutes. Yep. Less than an hour was the only sleep I got the night I read RoomHate and I don’t regret a second of it. Amelia and Justin’s story is angsty, lovely, hot, sad and holy hell is it frustrating. Let me be clear: Justin is a complete P-R-I-C-K in the beginning and you really aren’t sure why but Amelia knows and while she isn’t happy about it, she gets it. You see, SHE broke his heart. And he’s still angry. But Justin held a special place in Amelia’s grandmother’s heart, so when she died she left them each half of her beach house. Now they’re both under the same roof (along with Justin’s current girlfriend) and they’re not speaking. So what happens when years of anger and angst start to come together mixing with new emotions? If you haven’t already abandoned this page to download it, then you’ve already waited too long. Go. Read. Fall Hard. You’ll thank me later.
Fighting for Forever (The Fighting Series), JB Salsbury (Amazon Digital, 2015)
It’s unfortunate that I have to admit that I’ve only recently discovered JB Salsbury’s brilliance. The Fighting Series is one I literally stumbled across and wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. With the seventh book, Fighting Fate, having just been released on May 3, it’s safe to say that I had my work cut out for me when I first came across the series at the end of March. But I dove in head first, reading Fighting for Flight (book 1) and I instantly fell in love with Raven and Jonah. I craved these books like a pregnant woman craves, well, anything! It was all I could do to get through the work day, get home and crawl in bed with the next story. And with six books (at the time) to read, I was up for nights on end, getting through as much as possible before it was just ridiculous and I HAD to sleep (Editor’s Note: Don’t worry. I’m OK and made it to work just fine each morning despite my book hangover state!). So I’m just finishing up Trix’s story in Fighting for Forever, I’m exhausted and I don’t want them to stop! Thankfully, book seven is here and I’ve already got it next up on my iPad, but right now I’m loving reading Mason and Trix’s love as it unfolds. She’s the town stripper desperate to solve her sister’s murder and Mason’s half brother is in town ready to stir some trouble. The two have no time for romance or the possibility of love but they can’t exactly stay away from each other either. The sense of community that Salsbury writes in this series, the brotherhood, the family ties, the fighters themselves (YUM!), it all just works seamlessly. You WANT to be a part of what these people are to each other and you will root for them. I promise. Salsbury tends to keep the plan for the series close to the chest and she’s releasing a new book, Split, in November that doesn’t seem to be tied at all to The Fighting Series, so if book seven is the last it’s a crying shame. Regardless, the series is a knockout and it’s one that will stay permanently on my iPad.