Sunday, 11 October 2015

It's that #SYTYCW15 time of year again. Top Picks

Every year I try and second guess which of the entries will make it all the way to the top. This year, because of the Wattpad experience, I decided to use only the #Top55. I simply didn't have the time to go trawling through the zillions of entries that latched onto the contest.

Unlike last year, I'm one of the semi-finalists so I could be considered to have a vested interest. But being strong minded, I do not include my fabulous entry in the Top Picks. You can take that as read.

I read every first chapter of the #Top55 semi-finalists and did venture further on some stories. I mention this in the summary attached to each title if applicable.

My criteria is very simple. I think the book deserves to be in print and I want to read it. I've also kept in mind whether the book meets the criteria of the imprint.

The choices may not be the ones you would make but that is the beauty and the peril of the publishing industry. There are books for every taste and every taste may vary. Most of them I have only read the first chapter so I have no idea if they live up to the promise.

The overall quality of the chapters is very high as you would expect, being hand picked by the Harlequin Editors.

These are my Top Ten Picks in Alphabetical Order

A Soldier’s Princess – Romantic Suspense

This is a crazy mix of princess and bodyguard and potential destruction of the universe as we know it. Or at least a portion of it. This is a reunion romance and we get a good look at Alana and Gage and their past in this chapter.

Catch the Fallen Star - Superromance

Jonah is a recovering addict, placed in a small town under a false name so his mega stardom doesn’t bring down the paparazzi. Andi has moved into the house next door with her daughter after an ugly marriage breakdown. I’ve read the full story so I know how it turns out. The hero and heroine are well drawn.

Finding Home – Special Edition

Andie has had the responsibility of her family ever since the tragic death of her parents when her youngest brother was still at school. Her specialist Christmas shop is vital for the family finances because her other brother is still building up his veterinary practice. Connor has history with Andie back when she was a high school senior so his return to sell her building out from under her is adding insult to injury. This is another story I’ve read right to the end. At times it felt like almost too much was happening but it fits the SE line well.

 Love Like a Man – Blaze

This has a strong chick lit feel at the beginning with the Heroine Claire and her two BFFs.  Claire is a career woman but thought she had found her ideal man until he didn’t want to settle down (and promptly married a school teacher). I couldn’t help think of When Harry Met Sally. Now she’s going to forget settling and just date for fun. Gabe is a building contractor doing renovations in her office building and they meet. All his mates are married and settling down so he’s looking to settle. This could be fun.

Love on the Nile – Carina Press

My first thought was of course the Agatha Christie mystery “Death on the Nile” but once I read the blurb it was more like a taste of vintage romance. Good times.
Natasha with her youngish brother Nicky are joining their Aunt Lucy for a holiday in Egypt. She is disconcerted when they arrive to find their Aunt has organised a cruise down the Nile with an enigmatic archaeologist named Kyle. What’s not to like?

One Taste of You – Romantic Suspense

Zoe is our heroine in this chapter. She’s reeling from a put down from her ex that she is sexless and unappealing. You see where we are going here. Her best friends dress her up and send her out on the town to slay all the men. Which works fine, until she spots Zeke. Zeke is an undercover cop and he’s out to trap prostitutes tonight. He’s normally homicide but he’s on loan to vice. You see where we are going here. The next meeting is going to be a doozy.

Out of Focus – Superromance

This is listed as a superromance but it also has a little suspense in it. Eva is in a witness protection program with her children. She’s made a new life as a creative photographer with a small gallery. Her life becomes complicated when her assistant wants to promote the gallery through social media and the assistant's Journalist brother comes to the island. Marshall needs a good story to get a promotion and Eva could be it. I’ve read this right to the end.

Reunion romance. Bing. Music teacher Angela is desperate to fulfil her promise to take the school’s Jazz Ensemble to an event in Madrid. The school is against it, seeing anything not sport connected or academic as a waste of money. Her one chance is Daniel, her first love who is now a wealthy celebrity chef and who donates to the school regularly. Only trouble is, she ran away without confronting him when she saw him lip-locked with his ex-girlfriend fifteen years ago.

Tethered by Twins – Presents

Ah…Presents. Secret babies...blackmail…marriage of convenience. All the good stuff. Of course we don’t get that in the first chapter…that came in the pitch. Rose has come onto Drew’s yacht to tell him a secret but he is in a drunken stupor. Not a man she wants anything to do with even if he is mourning the recent death of his wife. The one he said he was engaged to when he was dumping Rose four years ago. Oh the angst.

Reunion romance. This is my catnip. Ava and Davi have history. Three years ago he dumped her but now she needs help and he’s the only man apart from her estranged father she can turn to. In return, he takes over her life and passport. This is looking like an angsty read.

Yes, I couldn't resist putting a few more in. Hey if the SYTYCW15 Top 50 can jump to 55 who am I to stick to numbers?

This is a reunion story. Tawny, the heroine, left Alex the hero, taking their daughter. We don’t know what triggered her leaving but we learn something of her troubled background which could be significant. Alex makes an appearance and we get a little view of where he is at. Tawny is very sick and that forces a confrontation she's been avoiding.

Chasing Mr Crown – Superromance

Unusually, this story has multiple viewpoints, not just the Hero and Heroine. This is the story of Natalie and Dash who meet just as Natalie is leaving for a new job across the Atlantic. They make a connection, but Natalie doesn’t quite trust it and at the end of the chapter we aren’t quite sure what will happen. This is another story I’ve read right through. It was a bit nerve wracking at times once Natalie’s sister enters the scene.

Dating the Undead – Nocturne

This is actually a cute and flirty chapter for a nocturne. It’s told in first person which kind of suits the chick lit feel. The heroine is Silver and she meets a cute and intriguing guy when she gets thrown out of a party. He has unusual speed and seems able to read her mind. Only his eyes are sparkly…sort of. This world view includes Vampires as a regular part of society.

It’s Only Temporary – Superromance

Classic Boss and Secretary trope. Penny is an appealing heroine, temping while she has med school on hold. There is a reason for it but we don’t find out in this chapter. Hero David is the usual, too good looking womanizer. All the same he comes across well. Banter is clever and the rapport is believable. Chapter ends on a nice juicy hook.

Mr Wrong – Kimani

I was a little confused at first with this story. I made the mistake of reading the comments and this author apparently writes Justin Bieber fan fiction. However, the hero is NOT Justin Bieber though there is a secondary character that could be modelled on him. The heroine, Madison, is an image consultant, and she’s just been handed the job of white washing the Rap scene’s biggest bad boy ready to take over his estranged father’s entertainment company. Madison is an interesting character with a strong back story. We haven’t met the hero in person yet, but he looks like one hell of a challenge.

The Shape of Us – Nocturne

First person POV. Jessica is a shifter mage in a small community. She’s alienated from the pack but when the female Alpha’s son comes into hospital with something odd preventing his natural shifter healing abilities, she’s drawn back into the circle. We get to meet Ian, an ex who still has a powerful effect on the heroine. And from the description, maybe on any woman in a five mile radius.

Another classic presents with revenge, a stolen jewel, and sizzling attraction. Lady Georgina remembers Idriss well. He was her playmate 20 years ago before he and his mother were sent away from her uncle’s castle. Now she needs to find a jewel left to her by her uncle and supposedly in the hands of the Sheikh, Idriss. In her role as party planner, she has the opportunity to go to the castle and search for the jewel. And not fall for Idriss. Hehe.

I think Ryan really says everything about what I want to wish for ALL the contestants, not just the ones featured here.

And of course that includes my own entry.  Known as #spymistress on Social Media this is the story of Trauma surgeon Gabe and Anna, a Russian spy.

To see my stunning book trailer with an earworm that will make you wish for Anna to put you out of your misery Click here

And to double your suffering I have made a second trailer. Click Here.


  1. So many great stories! I have to find time to read them all. Thanks, Fiona.