Welcome to "Turning Pages," where the magic of literature unfolds in the captivating world of books. As we bid farewell to another year, it's time to reflect on the literary treasures that have left an indelible mark on my heart and mind. In this edition, join me on a journey through the enchanting realms of storytelling as I unveil my personal top 5 literary picks for 2023. From gripping narratives to thought-provoking prose, these books have not only entertained but have also become cherished companions in the tapestry of my reading adventures. So, let's embark on this literary exploration together, as we celebrate the power of words and the joy of "Turning Pages."
Kicking off our literary countdown at number five on my favorite books of 2023 list is...
The Nanny by Lana Ferguson
Suddenly unemployed and on the brink of eviction, Cassie Evans is left with two choices: get a new job (and fast) or fire up her long-untouched OnlyFans account. But the job market is terrible, and as for OnlyFans. . . . Well, there are reasons she can’t go back. Just when all hope seems lost, an ad for a live-in nanny position seems like the solution to all her problems. It’s almost too perfect—until she meets her would-be employer.
Aiden Reid, executive chef and DILF extraordinaire, is far from the stuffy single dad Cassie was imagining. He shocks her when he tells her she’s the most qualified applicant he’s met in weeks, practically begging her to take the job. With hands that make her hindbrain howl and eyes that scream sex, the idea of living under the same roof as Aiden feels dangerous, but with no other option, she decides to stay with him and his adorably tenacious daughter, Sophie.
Cassie soon discovers that Aiden is not a stranger at all, but instead someone who is very familiar with her—or at least, her body. Given that he doesn’t remember her, Cassie is faced with what feels like an impossible situation. As their relationship heats to temperatures hotter than any kitchen Aiden has ever worked in, Cassie struggles with telling Aiden the truth, and the more terrifying possibility—losing the best chance at happiness she’s ever had.
I devoured this book in less than four hours, and it was nothing short of amazing. One aspect I particularly enjoyed was the profound understanding between Cassie and Aiden regarding their shared history, and the fact that they didn't hold it against each other. While I do wish Cassie had disclosed the information about their connection to Aiden sooner, I empathize with the complexity of her situation. Additionally, the infusion of sass from Sophie added an extra layer of enjoyment to the narrative. The quick pace, coupled with the intricacies of the characters' relationships, made this reading experience truly memorable.
Sliding into the fourth spot on my cherished list of favorite books from 2023 is...
Redeemed by Lauren Asher
One mistake destroys my career. I go from most eligible bachelor to monster, hiding from the world. At least until Chloe breaks into my home. My new fake girlfriend is a temporary fix to my biggest problem. But as our game changes, so do my feelings. There’s only one issue stopping me from claiming her. Me.
It all started with a birthday wish, some vodka, and an ancestry kit. That’s how I end up in Italy, finding my long-lost father. But one decision lands me a fake boyfriend I don’t want. The more we pretend, the easier our ruse becomes. I told myself not to fall in love with a liar like Santiago. I should have listened.
This book was truly exceptional. The journey of both Chloe and Santiago as they battled their inner demons and emerged victorious added a poignant depth to the narrative. What began as a facade, a fake connection, gradually transformed into something profoundly real. Witnessing Santiago's triumphant return to racing after his life-altering accident was nothing short of awe-inspiring. The growth and transformation of his character throughout the story were remarkable, and Chloe played a pivotal role in that evolution. The authenticity of their connection and the mutual support they provided each other underscored the power of resilience and love in overcoming personal challenges.
Securing the impressive third position on my list of favorite books from 2023 is...
Terms and Conditions by Lauren Asher
I’m destined to become the next CEO of my family’s media empire. The only problem? My grandfather’s inheritance clause. Fulfilling his dying wish of getting married and having an heir seemed impossible until my assistant volunteers for the job. Our marriage was supposed to be the perfect solution to my biggest problem. But the more we act in love for the public, the more unsure I feel about our contract. Caring about Iris was never part of the deal. Especially not when breaking her heart is inevitable.
My plan to marry Declan was simple in theory. Move in together. Throw a wedding. Have a baby. We set rules to prevent any kind of issues. Ones that were never meant to be broken, no matter how much Declan tempts me. But what happens when our fake relationship bleeds into our real one? Falling in love was never an option. At least not for me.
This book was an absolute gem. The dynamic between Declan and Iris was a captivating dance of resistance and desire. Their fierce battle against the pull of attraction added a layer of intensity to the narrative. What I found particularly delightful was the nuanced portrayal of their emotions – Iris succumbing to her feelings first, only to be met by Declan's even more profound fall into love. Undoubtedly, this installment has claimed the title of my favorite in the series, thanks to the depth of character development and the irresistible chemistry between the protagonists.
Taking the runner-up spot on my list of beloved books from 2023 is...
The Fake Mate by Lana Ferguson
Mackenzie Carter has had some very bad dates lately. Model train experts, mansplainers, guys weirdly obsessed with her tail—she hasn’t had a successful date in months. Only a year out of residency, her grandmother’s obsession with Mackenzie finding the perfect mate to settle down with threatens to drive Mackenzie barking mad. Out of options, it feels like a small thing to tell her grandmother that she’s met someone. That is, until she blurts out the name of the first man she sees and the last man she would ever date: Noah Taylor, the big bad wolf of Denver General.
Noah Taylor, interventional cardiologist and all around grump, has spent his entire life hiding what he is. With outdated stigmas surrounding unmated alphas that have people wondering if they still howl at the moon, Noah has been careful to keep his designation under wraps. It’s worked for years, until an anonymous tip has everything coming to light. Noah is left with two options: come clean to the board and risk his career—or find himself a mate. The chatty, overly friendly ER doctor asking him to be her fake boyfriend on the same day he’s called to meet the board has to be kismet, right?
Mackenzie will keep her grandmother off her back, and Noah will get a chance to prove he can continue to work without a real mate—a mutually beneficial business transaction, they both rationalize. But when the fake-mate act turns into a very real friends-with-benefits arrangement, lines start to blur, and they quickly realize love is a whole different kind of animal.
This book quickly became a cherished addition to my collection. As you'll discover in my upcoming seasonal reading wrap-up, I just got this book and it effortlessly secured the second-place position on my list. What captivated me most was Mackenzie's unapologetic authenticity, a quality that added a layer of relatability and depth to the narrative. Noah, despite his initial gruff demeanor, revealed a heartwarming love for every facet of Mackenzie. Their relationship, initially rooted in a business transaction, evolved into a beautiful testament to the power of genuine connection.
Claiming the coveted top spot on my roster of favorite books from 2023 is...
Set on You by Amy Lea
Curvy fitness influencer Crystal Chen built her career shattering gym stereotypes and mostly ignoring the trolls. After her recent breakup, she has little stamina left for men, instead finding solace in the gym – her place of power and positivity.
Enter firefighter Scott Ritchie, the smug new gym patron who routinely steals her favorite squat rack. Sparks fly as these ultra-competitive foes battle for gym domination. But after a series of escalating jabs, the last thing they expect is to run into each other at their grandparents' engagement party.
In the lead up to their grandparents' wedding, Crystal discovers there’s a soft heart under Scott’s muscled exterior. Bonding over family, fitness, and cheesy pick-up lines, they just might have found her swolemate. But when a photo of them goes viral, savage internet trolls put their budding relationship to the ultimate test of strength.
This book clinched the top spot on my list for a myriad of reasons, with the primary one being my admiration for the portrayal of a character who defied society's conventional standards, particularly the notion that being thin is the sole pathway to success in life. The narrative's departure from the prevailing norms resonated with me, offering a refreshing perspective that challenged societal expectations and celebrated individuality. In a world often fixated on conforming to a narrow definition of beauty, this book stood out as a beacon of empowerment, emphasizing that true strength lies in embracing one's unique identity rather than succumbing to external pressures.
While the literary landscape of 2023 unfolded with an abundance of captivating stories, these five particular books emerged as the undisputed stars of my reading journey. Although numerous tales left an indelible mark on my heart and mind throughout the year, these five works of literary brilliance truly distinguished themselves. Each one, a beacon in the vast sea of storytelling, resonated with me on a profound level, standing out amidst the multitude of narratives that filled my bookshelf. As I reflect on the literary treasures discovered in the past twelve months, it's these exceptional titles that have etched themselves into the fabric of my reading experience, making 2023 a year to remember in the world of literature.
As we conclude this exploration through the literary landscapes of 2023 with "Turning Pages," the journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. The top 5 books presented here have not only entertained but have also enriched my perspective and left an enduring impression. From the fifth book that kicked off this literary adventure to the chart-topping favorite, each title brought its own unique magic to the turning pages.
In a year teeming with literary delights, these selections stood out, creating a tapestry of emotions, ideas, and worlds that linger long after the final page. As we bid farewell to 2023, let these books serve as timeless companions, reminding us of the power and beauty that resides within the written word.
Whether you've read along or are inspired to pick up these gems yourself, let's continue to turn the pages, seeking solace, adventure, and enlightenment in the boundless realms that books offer. Here's to another year of literary discoveries and the ever-enticing journey of turning pages. Happy reading!