By December 20, 2017 5 Comments Read More →

The Best Novels of 2017 (That Won’t Make You Think Too Hard)

Listen, I’m not here to participate in a turf war between literary fiction and genre fiction. Especially since, as a librarian, I am professionally hardwired to distinctly not judge a person’s literary tastes.

That said, many year-end lists make me feel a little. . . left out. Not that Jesmyn Ward and Roxane Gay and Jennifer Egan and Sherman Alexie don’t deserve all the accolades they have earned—they do! Boy howdy, they do!

And yet they did not provide my favorite reading experiences of the year. Were they moving? Yes. Thought-provoking? Absolutely. But here’s the thing: I tend to like my reading not to do that. I like fluff, the kind of stuff a lesser person might feel guilty for enjoying. And I feel it is my professional responsibility to share my favorite not-guilty pleasures with you. So here are my favorite fluffy reads of the year, linked to their Booklist reviews when available.

 

The Chosen, by J. R. Ward

If you haven’t read J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, congratulations! You have probably accomplished something productive with your life. But also I am sorry for you, because you are missing out on the crackiest, zaniest, most bestest paranormal romance series in the world. See now, Layla, who used to be part of the Chosen, a supernatural cadre of virgins who served the worshipful vampire warriors, had a vampire baby with Qhinn who, after getting Layla pregnant, finally settled down with his Brotherhood Bestie, Blaylock, and the three of them have a non-traditional family of sorts. . . until Layla gets the feels for Xcor, who is a former bad guy, now good, and doesn’t want to taint Layla’s purity with the stains of his former badness. In short: angst. Enjoy!

 

 

An Extraordinary Unionby Alyssa Cole

This one barely deserves to be on the list, fluff-wise. I’m only including it because it is a romance novel, and there are some unenlightened people in the universe who think all romance novels are trashy and, therefore, unworthy of notice. However! Alyssa Cole’s series opener is set in the Civil War with an African American spy heroine and a hunky Scot who is not quite the Confederate he seems to be. This is, like, woke smoochin’.

 

The Farthest Edge, by Kristin Ashley

If you have not experienced Ashley’s super-emotional, super-alpha syntax (that’s right, her heroes are so alpha they take over the narrative voice), you are in for a twisty and addictive treat. Branch is the name of the hero. He lives off the grid. Evangeline is a dominatrix who needs some help regaining her inner dominatrix-ing. I’m not saying this is the dirtiest book I’ve ever read, but it is awfully specific. I guess come for the bejeweled butt plugs, stay for the heart-melting angst?

 

 

 

 

Going Dark, by Monica McCarty

I first encountered McCarty’s work when she was writing shirtless Highlanders with no time for a wee slip of a lass, you ken? I am happy to report that all that brawn and brood translates seamlessly to contemporary Scotland, where a damaged Navy SEAL-in-hiding butts heads (and butts—what?) with an environmental scientist.

 

The Lawrence Browne Affair, by Cat Sebastian

Dig, if you will, this picture: A curmudgeonly scientist on the Cornish coast, a determinedly loyal secretary with secrets, and the danger that ensues. Not very steamy, but full of wit and tension and, listen, can we keep on with this trend of LGBTQ historicals? Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Librarian and the Spy, by Susan Mann.

I’m not even going to write a real annotation for this book. I just want you to look at the title and try to fathom a universe in which I would have been able to resist. You cannot.

 

Mister Hockey, by Lia Riley

Now, I’m not normally one for sportsball, but that doesn’t mean I’ll turn up my nose at a steamy novel featuring a hockey superstar who pursues a curvy librarian. Plus, you try to resist a hero with a soft, gooey center. You can’t. Why would you even want to?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeking Sarah, by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

Billingsley has this magical power of creating stories so outrageous that you feel like you need to watch an episode of Scandal to be reminded of gentler times. This one features an orphan who discovers she is not actually an orphan, and that her mother is married to a handsome man with a college-aged son and that gives her some ideas for revenge. So good.

 

Virtually Perfect, by Paige Roberts

You know those books where a young-ish woman’s life falls apart, so she takes a job using her underappreciated genius to help out a mega-rich family until she gets herself sorted out? And sometimes there is a hunk? If you like those (which I do), this one is virtually perfect. (GET IT????)

 

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smaguire@ala.org'

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I am the Senior Editor for Collection Management and Library Outreach. Holla!

5 Comments on "The Best Novels of 2017 (That Won’t Make You Think Too Hard)"

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  1. charris@columbuslibrary.org' Chrissie says:

    Love this article!

  2. janedunning@charter.net' Jane Dunning says:

    Sing it sister! I totally agree with your sentiment!!!!! Happily retired, I read a book a day (just a touch OCD). After reading all (and I mean all) of Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Fern Michaels, Susan Mallery, Danielle Steel, Jude Deveraux, and Susan Wiggs, I drifted into historical romances! I adore Julia Quinn and have read all of her books and her favorite authors mentioned in her profile! Are there lists of “if you love this author” recommendation besides Amazon? I’m running out of authors I love!!!!

    • smaguire@ala.org' Susan Maguire says:

      The fact that you have read ALL of La Nora…I bow down to you, ma’am. What about Lisa Kleypas or Eloisa James? They both have a Julia Quinn-ish vibe. Or Sarah MacLean! She manages to infuse a modern sensibility into her historicals which I love.

      And, of course, there are a hundred years of Booklist reviews on booklistonline.com…

    • fishmansj@yahoo.com' Susan Fishman says:

      Also happily retired school librarian now reading adult “fluff.” Try Jayne Ann Krentz (writing under other names, too), Robin Carr, Susan Mallery, Nancy Atherton (cozy mysteries)

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