RT Editors' Best of 2013: Elisa's Picks

This blog post is part of a series that the RT Editors will be taking part in during the month of December. Please check back all month long for each editor's installment!

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With 2013 winding down, the RT editors thought December would be a good time to reflect on what each of us read this year and which books stuck with us long after we finished them. While this year's RT Awards winners won't be announced until our convention in May, we've decided to share our personal favorites of 2013, in no particular order. Today RT Web Editor Elisa Verna shares her favorites of this past year:

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The Mistress
by Tiffany Reisz

If I talk any more about my love for Tiffany Reisz you all will start thinking that she is either paying me or we’re related (false and false), but her Original Sinners series is so fantastic, twisted and beautiful and you should just go read it immediately. Every single character in this series is noteworthy, and they all come together in this glorious conclusion. The Mistress was like climbing the first steep drop of a rollercoaster, you bite your lip and sweat the entire time but once it’s over you wanna do it again immediately. 

     
 

Hard Way
by Katie Porter

Lemme tell you how I like my erotica: edgy with a really strong heroine. Hard Way was unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and while parts of it made me have to stop reading and take a moment, Katie Porter pulled off extremely rough, kinky sex in the most glorious way. Heroine Sunny had to be emotionally (and physically) tough to take what her husband Liam was dishing out, and the two exploring how sex can mend a marriage made this one delicious love story. 

     
 

Tear You Apart
by Megan Hart

Megan Hart’s Tear You Apart felt so real it made me ache. I know a lot of romance readers don’t enjoy it when characters cheat, but you really feel for heroine Elisabeth. Her husband is an OK guy and a good father and provider, but she refuses to waste away in a loveless marriage, and why should she? Enter hunky artist Will. Elisabeth’s strength and passion makes this one of the best books I read all year. I want to go read it again right now just thinking about it.

 

     
 

"The Principle of Desire"
by Delphine Dryden

This book releases next week, but you can read my extended review here. I’m an advocate for more dominant women in BDSM erotica, and heroine Beth really delivered. This is my favorite of Dryden’s Science of Temptation series thus far, and was such a playful, fun, sexy story. 

     
 

Fangirl
by Rainbow Rowell

I have a hard time relating to New Adult because my first two years of college were The Worst. I didn’t get really drunk and make out with hot guys and I didn’t have rich parents who paid for a nice apartment. I was really weird and sought refuge in online communities (shout out to livejournal for making years 14-19 tolerable), much like heroine Cath. Fangirl is the New Adult novel for everyone else, everyone who didn’t have the typical “college experience” and Cath is a riot. You’ll love this book, I promise. 

     
 

Dare You To
by Katie McGarry

I’m not a rabid YA fan, but a great contemporary YA every so often is exactly what I need. I’ll pass on the paranormal teens, but give me an angsty 17-year-old girl with a whole load of issues and a big crush on a cute boy and I am one happy reader. While Beth and Ryan come from opposite sides of the tracks, the way they support and care for each other is adorable. McGarry brings a small, southern town to life, seemingly with ease, and Dare You To was unexpectedly one of my favorite books of the year. 

     
 

Gilded
by Karina Cooper

The ending of this book knocked me on my ass. Karina Cooper is cruel to her characters, folks. Cherry St. Croix is without a doubt my favorite urban fantasy heroine, and while she makes a big decision in this book regarding her romantic interest, things can never be too easy for poor Cherry. I can’t really say too much without spoiling, but if you read Tarnished, don’t skip Gilded.

 

     
 

The Best of All Possible Worlds
by Karen Lord

I’m typically not a huge fan of slow-burn romances (as you might notice based on my erotica preferences), but the relationship that gradually forms between Dllenahkh — a Sadiri man of few words looking to help repopulate his dwindling, mostly all-male species — and Grace Delarua — a smart, curious, career-centric woman — unfolds in such a delightful way. Lord’s commentary on family systems gives the story depth, and her prose is beautiful. 

 

     
 

Fortune's Pawn
by Rachel Bach

This book was so much fun! I wanted to be Devi, except I would never have the courage to put my life on the line while also getting a kick out of it (ugh, no, never). Devi is a mercenary looking to make her way to the top of the ranks — as a member of the King’s personal security. Her first love is her body armor; her second is her gun collection. When she’s hired for security detail on a small trade ship, she thinks it will be an easy job, but what unfolds could possibly be more than Devi’s years of experience have prepared her for. Fortune’s Pawn has excellent battle scenes, a touch of mystery and a heroine I couldn’t get enough of. 

     

Do you and Elisa share some favorite books of the year? Which reads did you love in 2013? Let us know in the comments, and check back all month long for more editors' picks!