Third annual Best Books of the Year Awards!

Welcome to the third annual “Best Books of the Year,” a purely subjective and personal exercise in which I name my most favorite books. I selected these titles from among my “recommended reads” list—those books to which I would assign at least 4 stars. But course, I would rate all of 2013’s winners 5 stars (and above).

When I say “this year”  I mean I read them in 2013—they may have been published earlier. Most of them are erotic, either erotic romance or erotica, because that’s what I write and I read in my genre.

As always, a book must meet three criteria to become one of my faves:

  1. It must be well-written in active voice with creative verbs and a minimum use of the word “was.”
  2. It must have a good, solid story and not use a thin plot as an excuse upon which to hang a gratuitous sex or spanking scene.
  3. It needs to have “legs.” A book must have staying power in my memory. Some books are like cotton candy—sweet at first, but then they melt away.

Beyond those criteria, what I think is a good book is purely subjective. A book’s essence resonates with me.  As I’m reading the book, I can tell it will be on my short list. With two exceptions, all of this year’s winners are self-published.  So don’t believe everything you hear. Many self-published books are as well-written and well-edited as those produced by big name publishers.

And now…the envelope, please.  This year’s Best Book Award winners are…

For a read that is both seductive and scary…

redletterswork1200wRed Letters by Krystina Stevens. Erotic thriller, self- published. Letters from a secret admirers are just what a neglected wife needs to boost her sagging self-esteem until she  meets her admirer and his admiration takes a deadly turn. By the end, I could not put this book down. A great example how a thriller can be suspenseful, scary, and sexy.

Red Letters Buy Link




For not sugar coating it…

crossing the lineCrossing the Line by Karla Doyle.  Erotica. (Although Ms. Doyle classifies it as erotic romance), self-published. Unable to give his wife what she truly desires, a desperate husband seeks to fulfill his wife’s fantasy—a ménage with his best friend. But soon after their free and easy weekend, the cracks in their relationship widen.  Like all of Karla Doyle’s other books, this one is witty and sexy. Unlike her other books, this one edges into the dark side.

Crossing the Line Buy Link


For style and substance…

downloadDesire in Any Language by Anastasia Vitisky. Spanking Romance, published by Blushing Publications. A coming of age story about a young woman studying abroad. Her lackadaisical study habits nearly derail her education until her mentor takes her in hand. This book has a literary quality rarely found in spanking fiction. (This is one of the ones that is not erotic).

Desire in Any Language Buy Link



For showing ‘how to do it’…

ms whitmanSpanking Ms. Whitman by Kate Richards. Contemporary Spanking Romance, self-published. An otherwise good employee is put to task by her boss for being late. Author Kate Richards takes a common spanking fiction trope—boss spanking a naughty employee—but writes it very well. An excellent example of a contemporary spanking fiction romance. This is how to do it, folks!

Spanking Ms. Whitman Buy Link



For a series that’s out of this world… 

krinarThe Krinar Chronicles by Anna Zaires. Science Fiction romance, self-published. Earth has been invaded by the vastly more technologically advanced  Krinar. But are they as benevolent as they seem?  Mia is an innocent college student until she captures of the interest of Korum, a powerful member of the Krinar who will not take no for an answer. Fantastic world-building. Compelling characters. The three books are: Close Liaisons, Close Obsession, and Close Remembrance.

Krinar Chronicles Buy Link



For spanking that is smooooth….

Lady-Katherine's-Conundrum-Final (1)Lady Katherine’s Conundrum by Celeste Jones. Regency Romance, published by LazyDay.  Lady Katherine was ostracized by Polite Society, but after a summer in seclusion, has managed to restore her reputation. She is desperate to re-enter society even if she has to smear a former friend’s reputation to do it. But her American husband is adamant: no gossip. A delightful and well-plotted historical fiction romance that feels authentic to its Regency period. The spankings, both erotic and disciplinary, meld with the plot and never feel gratuitous.

Lady Katherine’s Conundrum Buy Link


This year’s winners from chosen from among 61 Recommended Reads. Please click on the link to check them out. Thank you, everybody! It was a pleasure reading your books. 

This entry was posted in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Third annual Best Books of the Year Awards!

  1. Karla Doyle says:

    Thank you, Cara! I’m truly honored to see Crossing the Line included in your list. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it! 🙂

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Loved Crossing the Line. I liked the realism of it–it was a sexy read, but presented what can really happen in a menage relationship.

  2. Leeann Barker says:

    Thank you for your recommdations! I purchased Red Letters, and Close Liaison based soley on this read. 🙂

  3. How interesting that so many of your favorites were self-published. Not saying books through a publisher can’t be good, but I do think that shows the overall quality of self-published books is improving. Good list – I’ve read most of them!

  4. S.J. Maylee says:

    My TBR list just got longer. Thanks, Cara. 🙂

  5. What a treat to see Lady Katherine’s Conundrum on your list. I’m honored. Thank you so much. And thank you for adding to my TBR. Sure hope Santa brings me an Amazon gift card. 🙂

  6. Thianna D says:

    ooooh! Just found my next read: The Krinar Chronicles.

    Love it when an alien race comes to Earth

    And woohoo! Book 1 is free right now. Well, that’s a nice bonus 😀

  7. Thank you so much for the mention, Cara! Glad that you enjoyed it. I will check out some of the other books on your list.

    Oh, and Desire in Any Language will have a sequel quite soon. 🙂

  8. Thank you SO MUCH, Cara! I’m thrilled and humbled. You totally made my December!


  9. Patty Devlin says:

    I loved your list of books and bests- what a great idea… as great ideas often are- I might still this one for next year. 😉

  10. Renee Rose says:

    Great List! Lady Katherine’s Conundrum is pubbed by Lazy Day.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Ack! How did I miss that? I thought I went through every cover page looking for the publisher’s name. I corrected it now. Thanks, Renee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.