10. Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas
This was my first dark romance. To be honest, I don't consider it romance at all. I see it as a twisted, love story that plays as many mind games with the readers as the 'hero' plays with the heroine.
The writing is incredible and made me a fan of Kitty Thomas. She is truly the Dark Queen of storytelling. I re-read this book just to get that haunting feeling of falling in love with danger, again and again. No one else has ever given me that feeling. Yet.
Which is fine. This book doesn't need to be replaced.
9. Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Some might consider THIS a 'pop book' but if so, you don't understand the term. Or don't agree with whether it applies to this book, which is fine too. ;)
What I love about this book is the heroine is different, the storyline is deep and fun, and IMO, out of all the authors in the genre, Ms. Harrison stay most successfully true to the characters. I've found other good paranormal novels since, but no series that I'll start over again just because I want to spend time with the characters again.
8. Safe Harbor by Tymber Dalton
When I read this book, I'd been looking for a great menage romance and I was struggling to find anything even just GOOD. There are plenty of erotica menage, but too many 'menage romance'--more so then than now--aren't really romances at all. They end without a HEA or even a HFN. Not for all three lovers.
But I felt the love in this book. I loved the characters and I believed in the bond built between them. Reading this book has me letting out a happy sigh each and every time.
7. The Secret Circle by LJ Smith
I seriously thought I'd have more YA books on this list when I really sat down and started listing my favorites. I have shelves full of YA books, but none that I loved so much I had to replace my old copies.
So why did THIS one make it into the top ten while the others are further up in the numbers? Well, it wasn't Vampire Diaries. That series had all the love, but THIS series had more characters, and I have a lot of respect for authors that can juggle many characters and give them all unique personalities.
For a YA novel, this also has a more complex story than some. This isn't just about a girl looking for love. This is about a young woman learning about her own powers and it was an awesome journey to go on with her.
6. Stygian by Santino Hassel
I read this book VERY recently, but I loved it so much I literally closed it, went one day, then read it again. The writing style had me hooked and I started looking for EVERYTHING by this author. I really wanted more of THIS world, but he's talented and all his books are worth reading.
This book doesn't follow any formulas--actually, it's something I find most of my favorites manage to avoid. There's a beauty to Stygian that is impossible to explain though. You really have to read it to understand.
5. Safeword Matte by Candace Blevins
I THINK this was my first book by Candace Blevins, but don't quote me on that. What I do know is the way she writes BDSM is very tangible. Her characters are realistic and you can feel EVERYTHING they experience.
It's so damn hot, but not in a way that had you reading with one hand...well, I mean, you could, but you'd be missing out on the details that have you catching your breath. Wincing and squirming and ready to use your safeword if you're not ready to be pushed a little closer to your limit.
4. The Men of Halfway House by Jaime Reese
This embodies everything I look for in a romance and I've lost track of how many times I've read the first book. And every book since.
The slow burn, the men who I've come to love, the storylines that draw you in...these books have everthing I enjoy in an emotional read. Another author with incredible talent, the words seem to disappear until you are standing right in the Halfway House, as desperate as the heroes for redemption and love.
3. Finding Eden by Kele Moon
One of my favorite movies is Dangerous Liaisons. Cruel Intentions is all right, but it doesn't have the same depth. Beyond Eden, and all the Eden books actually, gives me the same twisted, tempting characters that enjoy playing their own games to get what they want.
There's not much I enjoy more than a bit of naughty fun. A devilish smile and a well planned seduction heats up every page. Just talking about it makes me want to start reading them all again. Especially since I just finished the latest and these decadent characters are still purely wicked. In the best way, of course!
2. The Stand by Stephan King
Growing up, I LOVED horror novels. At one point IT would have been on this list, but by the time I hit high school, the idea of the apocalypse, of wars spanning the entire planet, of evil rulers controlling us all began to fascinate me.
To be honest, I couldn't understand HOW people could let that happen. But King is a master at exploring the human mind and letting you see how truly fucked up it is.
There's no nice way to put it.
As a species, we're fucked up.
But we're also amazing.
And this book shows both sides, often in the same character. And what's scary isn't the evil lurking among us, waiting to take over.
What's truly frighting is the idea that it won't need to lurk. We've proved again and again that we're capable of ignoring horror until it's standing at our own front doors. That we can look away until the stench of death is thick in the air and blood pools into the streets.
Not recently of course, but when you read this book, you won't wonder how it could happen anymore. It's obvious.
1. Xenogenisis by Octavia Butler
The name of this book was changed at one point to 'Lilith's Brood' and when my original copy fell apart I went to absolutely every bookstore in my area and NO ONE knew the book I was talking about. Since I read this book no less than THREE times a year, you can imagine I freaked.
I may have cried a little. I'm not ashamed to admit it. My grandmother gave me the original and while the book itself was still special, the story was the real gift.
The fact that it was a gift didn't make me love the story more or less though. I've been given other books, and while they look very nice on my shelves, they never held my interest for long.
Xenogenesis is...it's frightening. It's a world constructed in the future we've built for ourselves, one where we need to be saved. In the same way we've been saving creatures for a long time. Breeding them, changing them a little so they're healthier and stronger. The entire world needs healing after the beating it's taken and it's not so welcoming to us anymore.
So if you're not a fan of science fiction, it's not for you, right?
The characters are so well developed, the world is so vivid, I'd be so bold as to say Xenogenesis is a must read for ANY author. Octavia Butler was an incredible storyteller, a master at her craft, and reading her work can teach anyone how to write in a way that makes your characters real. Even if they're not human.
For anyone else, the story is beautiful, terrifying, and engaging. You'll pray for the characters to escape. Then you'll beg them to stay.
And in the end, you won't be sure which would be better. But you'll accept one truth. With each new generation comes new ideas. Some that can make or break us. But without them, we'll never move forward. And that is...
I hope you enjoyed this list and if you haven't read all these books, go grab them now! If for no other reason than they're there.
And if you're here, you love books too. So go give 'em some lovin'!