LJ Best Books 2017

It's time again for LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry and literature, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles.   SEE WHO MADE THE LIST

Best Books 2014: E-Originals


Best Books 2014: Top Ten
Best Books 2014: More of the Best
Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction
Best Books 2014: Core Nonfiction
Best Books 2014: Graphic Novels
Best Books 2014: E-Originals
Best Books 2014: Romance

Marlene2014postFor the fourth year in a row, welcome to LJ’s Best Ebooks list. Each year, the available selections become richer and more diverse, and it’s a thrill to look back and see how many marvelous titles have been published.—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, Seattle

Clark, Sonya. Witchlight. Carina: Harlequin. (Magic Born, Bk. 2). ebk. ISBN 9781306576864. SF ROMANCE
Witchlight is the second title in Clark’s “Magic Born” series (after Trancehack). The books take place in a near-future dystopia where “magic-users” with enhanced psi-powers are being born in the general population. The United States has taken the unenlightened policy of locking up the magic born in urban ghettos and refusing to allow immigration to less restrictive countries; those nations in turn are boycotting the United States, leaving the nation in an economic depression and the magic born increasingly persecuted. In Witchlight, conditions are worsening as two people at the center of the controversy try to build political will among the normals to block further restrictive legislation. Although they fail, they manage to fall in love, even as the world they know is heading to the brink of destruction. This sf romance is for readers who enjoy their love stories mixed with lots of interesting political and moral dilemmas.

Dane, Lauren. Blade to the Keep. Carina: Harlequin. (Goddess with a Blade, Bk. 2). ebk. ISBN 9781426897634. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
bladetokeepBEST2014The first book in this series, Goddess with a Blade, was on the first Best Ebooks list back in 2011. In this paranormal romance, Rowan Summerwaite has ties to every faction in the political landscape but still kicks butt and takes no prisoners despite the danger. Her foster father is the leader of the vampires in North America, and her on-again, off-again lover is the vampire honcho in Las Vegas, but her job is righteously to stake any vampire who crosses the lines of the treaty with the humans. Here, Rowan must return to the vampire castle in which she grew up (and from which she ran away) in order to sit at a vampire council hearing with every vampire in the room aiming either to take her out or cripple her powerful mentor. Vampire stories always seem to have incredibly convoluted politics, and this series is no exception. But it is Rowan Summerwaite, caught among multiple worlds, who always steals the show.

Dev, Sonali. A Bollywood Affair. eKensington. ebk. ISBN 9781322098531. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
A young woman from a small Indian village, Mili has spent her life believing that she is still bound in the childhood marriage she contracted for when she was four and her groom was 12. She’s used her status as a married woman to test the boundaries of the traditional life her grandmother intends for her to have and has managed to attain an education and even a fellowship to an American university. The hero is a hot Bollywood director on a mission to get his brother out of that same childhood marriage, and he thinks he’s willing to do anything to achieve his goals. Sam Rathod doesn’t count on coming to care for Mili and all the contradictions she represents. The story gains momentum through its slow-building romance between two people who know they should resist each other but can’t because they complete each other. The various views of Indian culture represented in this first novel provide a fascinating backdrop to a sweet and moving love story. (LJ 9/15/14)

Hackett, Anna. At Star’s End. Carina: Harlequin. (Phoenix Adventures, No. 1). ebk. ISBN 9781426898105. SF ROMANCE
atstarsendBEST2014At Star’s End (and the follow up, In the Devil’s Nebula) is good old-fashioned space opera romance at its fun and fantastic best. An interstellar archaeologist heroine on a quest to find the relic that dive-bombed her mother’s career meets an intergalactic treasure hunter hero with a reputation for loving ‘em and leaving ‘em but always getting what he wants. Dr. Eos Rai is hunting for the long-lost Mona Lisa, and Dathan Phoenix is out to salvage anything that’s not nailed down. Star’s End is the legendary location where the last treasure ship from Earth disappeared. Eos thinks she knows the location, but when her own institution won’t fund her search, she purchases the services of the mercenary Phoenix brothers. Intergalactic adventures galore and tons of fun. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 3/28/14)


Kindred, Jane. Prince of Tricks. Samhain. (Demons of Elysium, Bk. 1). ebk. ISBN 9781619220898.
Kindred, Jane. King of Thieves. Samhain. (Demons of Elysium, Bk. 2). ebk. ISBN 9781619220911.
Kindred, Jane. Master of the Game. (Demons of Elysium, Bk. 3). ebk. ISBN 9781619220973. FANTASY ROMANCE
masterofthegameBEST2014This series is a follow-up/prequel to a series on the 2013 Best list The House of Ark’hangelsk. In this mix of mythology, demonology, and alternate history, we see the demon-hero of the previous series in the time leading up to The Fallen Queen. It is a tale of how a basically selfish gambler and serial Dom comes both to care about one demon in particular enough to fight for him and to learn that there are actually some things greater than his own comfortable situation that are worth going to war over. This is a marvelous story of how someone who should be a villain finds himself a reluctant hero. It also fully develops the romantic relationship between Belphagor and Vasily that was teasingly hinted at in the earlier series. A very hot fantasy romance for those who like seeing tropes and assumptions turned on their heads.

Knox, Ruthie. Truly. Loveswept: Random. (New York Stories, Bk. 1). ebk. ISBN 9780345545268. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
This title was originally posted as a serial on Scribd in 2013. May Fredericks came to New York to be with her high school sweetheart–turned–NFL quarterback. Yet she stabs her now famous boyfriend with a shrimp fork after the worst marriage proposal ever and flees the paparazzi by running into a dive in Greenwich Village. Unfortunately, she has no money, no ID, and no place to go. Divorced chef Ben Hausman doesn’t just rescue her, he transforms his initial white knight performance into a weekend tour of the New York that he loves. While May is giving Ben a reason to fall back in love with the city, he also finds himself falling for the small-town girl with the big heart. For lovers of contemporary romance with tortured heroes and heroines who grow beyond their original setting. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 8/29/14)

Pengelley, Nick. Ryder. Alibi: Random. (Ayesha Ryder, Bk. 1). ebk. ISBN 9780553393835. ACTION/ADVENTURE
ryderBEST2014Ryder received a starred review from LJ (Xpress Reviews, 8/15/14) and for good reason. This action/adventure/suspense/thriller features a heroine who is two parts Indiana Jones and one part Lara Croft in a story reminiscent of National Treasure. Ayesha Ryder is a former Palestinian terrorist and refugee who has become an anthropologist studying the ancient cultures of the land she once called home. An inveterate puzzle solver, she becomes involved in an overnight breakneck chase through the dark places of London. Her dead lover has left her a trail of clues to documents related to T.E. Lawrence that could change the balance of power in the Middle East. And this is just the beginning of Ryder’s escapades. For readers who love adventurous heroines who keep going no matter how the odds are stacked against them. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 8/15/14)

Quinn, Susan Kaye. Third Daughter. CreateSpace. (Dharian Affairs, Bk. 1). FANTASY ROMANCE
Third Daughter, and the recently published Second Daughter, is set in an epic fantasy world based on a combination of Bollywood and India under the Raj, featuring steampunk technology and high-stakes political chicanery for a setting that is fresh and new. Third Daughter is also a marvelous coming-of-age story about a princess in a matriarchy who must set aside her desires to marry for love in order to fulfill her royal destiny as negotiator in the barbarian country next door. What neither she nor her royal mother know is that the neighboring princedom is in the middle of a civil war, and the barbarian prince who sues for her hand needs her help, advice, and political savvy to keep his contested throne. A real treat for fantasy fans.

Scott, Jessica. Back to You. Forever Yours: Grand Central. (Coming Home, Bk. 2). ebk. ISBN 9781455553723.
Scott, Jessica. All for You. Forever Yours: Grand Central. (Coming Home, Bk. 4). ebk. ISBN 9781455553754.
Scott, Jessica. It’s Always Been You. Forever Yours: Grand Central. (Coming Home, Bk. 5). ebk. ISBN 9781455553785. MILITARY ROMANCE
itsalwaysbeenyouBEST2014Officer Scott writes intense love stories set among the trials, tribulations, and sacrifices of military service. Her books are very definitely romance novels, but the life is not romanticized. Back to You features a captain who is numbed by survivor’s guilt and keeps volunteering for one deployment after another, until his marriage nearly collapses under the strain. It is the intensely moving story of two people who adore each other so much yet come close to falling apart, only to find their way back. For lovers of military romance, it is well worth going back to the beginning of the series and starting with Because of You.

York, Robin. Deeper. Bantam. (Caroline & West, Bk. 1). ebk. ISBN 9780804177023.
York, Robin. Harder. Bantam. (Caroline & West, Bk. 2). ebk. ISBN 9780804177047. NEW ADULT ROMANCE
York (who also writes adult contemporary romance as Ruthie Knox) has crafted a story about two college students who are facing terrible issues at home yet find solace in each other. Caroline is the target of revenge porn by her ex; West’s dysfunctional family lives in a depressed town where violence is the norm. West hopes to get out but knows that he’ll have to return to protect his sister from their drunken mother and her abusive boyfriends. For a while, Caroline and West are able to create a world that gives them a flicker of happiness, but then West throws out one last cry for help, and Caroline comes to his turf to try to win him back. This story is not just for lovers of new adult romance but for anyone who likes a story in which the protagonists come up against difficult odds and great pain in order to succeed. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 1/10/14)


Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"


  1. Mary K Chelton says:

    Glad you included Jessica Scott, Kris. She is wonderful!