There’s nothing I like more than sitting by a pool, or on a white sandy beach, under the shade of a palm tree, a little sun keeping me warm, while I read a book. In the dead of winter, it’s hard to get to the beach, or find a pool, with enough sun to keep me warm, but a girl likes to dream.
To appease my dreams, I like to read the type of book I would be reading as if it was the dead of summer and I was poolside, soaking up the sun, sipping a fruity cocktail. And not just any book— because this dream would not work if I were reading Wuthering Heights or Tess of the d’Urbervilles— it would be what I affectionately call the cocktail read. The type of book that keeps me entertained and engrossed while I sip an umbrella drink and relax the day away— either by a pool or perhaps fireside. Or just sitting on my couch ignoring my real life.
For most people, reading is a chore, something they have to do to complete a task or a job. That kind of reading is what I call informational reading— reading for necessity. And definitely not at all for pleasure. I read all the time— on my phone, on my iPad, paperbacks, hardbacks, bought books, and borrowed books. This year I read over 85 books— all for pleasure. I love to read— have loved it ever since I got my first library card so I could borrow Judy Blume’s Forever.
Which should tell you a lot about me and the kind of books I like to read— if you know anything about Blume’s coming of age opus. And while Forever is mostly a young adult romance novel, as I have gotten older I figured out what kinds of books I like to read during my personal time and while on vacation. And I’ll admit, I have always loved a good cocktail read. Some folks call these types of books “beach reads” or the newest catch-phrase: “mommy porn,” but whatever you want to call them— for me they are perfect for a bit of literary escapism.
So here’s a short list of the books I read in 2013 that were great fun, well-written, with engaging storylines and characters. They are books you can take on your next trip “Off the Rock” or ones that can help you escape to that imaginary pool, while you sip a virtual umbrella drink, waiting for spring to arrive. Trust me, they will make the cold slip away.
Eva Tramell and Gideon Cross are star-crossed lovers with hefty baggage from equally horrifying pasts. Much like the characters in Fifty Shades of Grey, these two are have possession issues and need major therapy to get through their relationship. Yet— the writing is SO MUCH better than the Fifty Shades trilogy, and the erotica is really well done. While I rolled my eyes enough to make my eyeballs become permanently glued to the back of my head during Fifty Shades, I wasn’t frustrated by the writing or by two unrealistic characters, like I was with Christian Grey and Ana Steele. Gideon is powerful and sexy, yet flawed, and Eva is a strong independent woman, and didn’t act like a whiny little girl who made me want to shake her every time she opened her mouth. Eva is smart and real, and doesn’t put up with Gideon’s control issues— which made her someone I liked and found believable. The first two books in the series, Bared to You and Reflected in You, were released in 2012— but the third book, Entwined With You was released in June of this year. All three are great getaway books and definitely beach, cocktail, and good mommy porn reads worthy of your time. And once you read all three— you will be waiting for the fourth book in the series which is rumored to be released in the next few months.
I have to admit that this series kept me frustrated and thinking until the very end. BUT— like the good psychological mystery the series turned out to be— it kept me guessing and it kept me reading. Which is what every author wants— for the reader to keep turning pages. Anthony (Tony) Rawlings and Claire Nichols start off as a couple who should be voted most likely NOT to succeed. In Consequences, the first book in the series, Anthony basically takes Claire prisoner and dupes her into thinking she owes him for paying off her six figure debt. While Claire is forced to learn about consequences, we learn that Tony may not be what he seems. In the second book, Truth, we see that Claire is a lot stronger than we originally thought. and she works to rebuild her life and figure out what she meant to Tony.
Consequences was released in 2011, and Truth in 2012, and the last book, Convicted, which wrapped up the series, was released in October of this year. Convicted brought out all of Tony’s secrets, seemed to redeem some of his behavior, and resolved the mystery behind his actions. These books are definitely not romance novels— but they are a trio of books that will keep you intrigued until you have finished a few of those umbrella cocktails. Trust me, you may need them to ease your anxiety, while you rush though Tony and Claire’s story, trying to figure out all the twists and turns Romig throws at you.
I love a good crime novel, so when I started reading romance novelist Nora Roberts’ futuristic police procedural, starring super-cop Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke, I was thrilled to learn there were 46 books— so far— in her series. I ripped through 23 of the series this year, mostly through audio books. My husband and I love to listen to Eve and Roarke solve 21st century murders, especially to kill time during a long road trip. Eve and Roarke’s relationship kicks off the first book, and soon you learn that both are very damaged people, successful at their jobs, and super hot for each other. Add to the cast of characters: Eve’s intrepid and delightful partner Delia Peabody; her tech nerd co-hab (co-habitant— it is the 2050’s— they don’t use terms like boyfriend or lover) Ian McNab; Eve’s mentor, the gruff but lovable Ryan Feeney; and Eve’s mother figure, psychiatrist Dr. Charlotte Mira— and you have an interesting mix of intelligent investigating, technology, and sexiness. Robb’s latest in the series is Thankless in Death, but I would start at the first Naked in Death and work your way through the series. They are fun books to read while you bake on the sand or cozy up to a winter fireplace.
A few cocktail garnishes
Here’s a few books that I thought were fun and sexy, and should be added to the list. One I just started reading last night and am in love with— The Boss by Abigail Barnette, staring Sophie and Neil. The book opens six years after they shared a very hot night together that changed the course of Sophie’s life, and led her the job which ironically has now made Neil her boss. There’s a sequel that I can’t wait to get to— The Girlfriend.
I would also suggest anything written by Laura Kaye— she writes some hot and sexy books that kept me engaged and entertained. She writes contemporary romance and a paranormal erotica series. Both of her genres are pretty fun escapes.
These are my choices for sexy and thought provoking cocktail reads from this last year. I know, I cheated a little, as I presented more of a series of books to read. But even if you only read one or two from each series, you’ll enjoy a mini-vacation in your head without ever having to do more than download a book. And if you bend your library card instead of purchasing it— think of all the money you could spend on real cocktails.