Happy New Year, reader friends! Welcome to the first part of my Best of 2017 series, which I’ve affectionately called ‘The Emoji Files’. When I sat down to try and do my ‘Best of 2017’ post, I ended in a completely bookish mess. I read 200 books in 2017, and since I’m pretty good at picking books I really enjoy, it gets difficult to narrow it down to a list of 10, or even 20. Then there’s the fact that I’m a pretty eclectic reader within the Christian fiction genre. I enjoy different books for different reasons, so it’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges.
In the end, I decided the easiest thing to do was to post a month-by-month snapshot of my favourite new releases for 2017—my Year in Review post. But in order to keep it from being too long, I really didn’t say much about any of those books. If you’re a reader looking for inspiration for your 2018 TBR, that’s not necessarily much help. And so ‘The Emoji Files’ was born.
Over the next five days, I’ll be sharing some Best of 2017 top ten(ish) lists based on the emotional responses they inspired:
😍 3rd January 2018 (today) – The Swoony Awards (le sigh!)
😆 4th January 2018 – The LOL Awards (from light-hearted to bust-a-gut humour)
😮 5th January 2018 – The WOW Awards (suspense, thriller, and high-stakes reads)
6th January 2018 – Got Me in the Feels (the books that reached in and pluck the heart-strings)
❤️ 7th January 2018 – Take Me Away . . . (fully immersive reads that took me to times and places far away)
And now, since I’ve already rambled on for long enough, I present the Swoony Awards for 2017, according to me. 🙂
Just the Way You Are ~ Pepper Basham
When it comes to the hero, Wes Harrison, Eisley said it best: Mama mia, what a man! This was definitely a top swoony read for 2017 (read my full review) but one of my favourite swoony moments in the book comes after one of Pepper’s increasingly famous ‘closet kisses’, when Wes says: “I want to do much more than make your pulse race. I want your friendship and your confidence. I want to make you laugh and be your best secret-keeper. I want to capture your heart.”
Really, what woman wouldn’t be a puddle?
Many Sparrows ~ Lori Benton
This book would have to be one of my ultimate overall top reads for 2017. What a story! If you haven’t read this book yet, check out my review to get the full scoop. Jeremiah Ring is the kind of hero who wins you over with his quiet strength, integrity, patience, and faith. And then, just when you think you couldn’t admire a man more, he comes out with this: “Clare, never think I regret a moment of what’s passed since I came upon you at that wagon about to birth that sweet baby girl you’re holding. I’d lay down more than a few months of my life for you. I’d lay it all down. All my years. This body too, if you need it.” SWOON! ❤
The Esther Paradigm ~ Sarah Monzon
I adored this Esther-inspired contemporary romance from Sarah Monzon, particularly her portrayal of the Muslim hero, Karim Al-Amir. The way in which he cherishes Hannah is beautiful, and if you want an extended excerpt of one of my favourite swoony moments, you’ll need to check out my review, but another of my favourite scenes is when Karim tries to help ease Hannah’s nervousness about the idea of marriage to him with a little lesson: “When two become one, even in as simple as act as a kiss, it is a little like a beautifully composed piece of music. Both are the conductor. Both are the orchestra.” You’ll have to get the book for the full scene, but I love his conclusion: “I’d thought to teach her that unity could be a beautiful thing, but hadn’t counted on learning in the process.” ❤
True to You ~ Becky Wade
This book got me in the feels in more than one way, and I highly recommend you pick up a copy if you haven’t already. You can read my full review here, but today, I’m focusing on the swoon-inducing feels, and one of my favourite moments is when Nora and John are baking:
“I’ve never used a rolling pin before.”
“Then you’re overdue.”
“Do I look like a girl?”
She giggled. “You most definitely do not look like a girl.”
He dipped his pointer finger in the open sugar bag, then swiped it across her cheekbone.
“Excuse you!” she protested.
“Oops,” he said. “My mistake. Let me get that.” He bent his head and kissed the sugar away.
She went still, butterflies swarming in her stomach.
He dipped his finger back into the sugar. …
Written in the Dust ~ Christina Coryell
Oh boy. There are SO many moments I could pick from this novel, I might as well just type out the whole thing! You’ll want to read Written in the Stars before you pick up this one, so that you get the full story, but Holly and Hunter, and Brooke and Gatlin are some of my absolute favourite characters. There’s something very raw and down-to-earth about them, even if their stories and emotions are a little more complicated. And of all the swoony moments to choose from, here’s just one teaser:
She couldn’t bring herself to look at his face, instead extending her fingertips to take the strawberry. Before she had it in her grasp, he lifted his other hand and plucked it out of his palm, quickly popping it into his mouth.
“Cheater,” she mumbled, staring up at his face as he bit into the berry, closing his eyes like he was savoring the taste.
“How you gonna taste it now?” he asked, catching her fingers in his hand and running a fingertip over her palm. …
Mercy me! (Read my full review here.)
The Red Feather ~ April Gardner
Red Stick warrior Totka Hadjo is a man of deep passion, and part of the draw to this story is the circumstances under which Totka and Adela’s love grows, but it is the deeply sacrificial nature of Totka’s love for Adela that had me swooning in this story. He does not understand why Adela’s Creator God stands between them and prevents Adela from binding herself to him, and helping her find her Papa may mean losing her forever, but he denies himself on both accounts for her sake.
“He took her chin and shortened the distance between them. His mouth descended to hers, anticipating the feel of her.
Her breast ceased mid-rise as her palm met his chest. “I’ve learned it is not wise to start what I cannot finish.”
He lingered a moment at her mouth, then shut his lids and redirected to her forehead. “Then I will continue to wait.” Voice husky, he gave her a crooked smile. “Though it slays me.” ❤ ❤ ❤ (Read my full review)
Just Maybe ~ Crystal Walton
Cooper Anderson. *le sigh* This guy does flirty and swoony to perfection, and then he has the whole man-with-a-baby magnetism going for him to boot. There are plenty of scenes to choose from, but I’m going to let you discover the best ones for yourself and leave you with this little taste:
“C’mon, I defy you not to dance to this song.”
“You’re impossible, you know that?”
“I think you mean charming.”
She snorted. “More like full of yourself.”
“Confident,” he challenged.
Her smile was winning the war. But when she still didn’t fully cave, Cooper feigned a look of concern at her hair.
“What?” She patted the top of her head.
“It’s just an inch worm.” He stretched out a hand. “Let me—”
An impressive combo of screaming and flailing began before he even finished. Quinn practically jumped in his arms. “Get it out.”
Laughing, he picked a tiny twig out of her hair instead and slid his hands down to the small of her back.
Her eyes tightened, his plan uncovered. “Smooth.”
“I thought so.” He took her hand in his and sobered. “Dance with me.”
Reclaimed ~ Jennifer Rodewald
I seriously love this novel, especially the hero, Paul Rustin. He epitomizes the honest, hard-working, country guy, and there’s something about the way he calls her his ‘pickle’ that gets me every time. There are some seriously swoony heartfelt moments in this novel, and then there are the sweet little moments, like this one:
“Hey…” He caught her before she stepped back into the kitchen. “You look beautiful this morning.”
She looked to the floor with a shy smile while her face shaded a lovely pink. Dang, if that didn’t make her completely kissable. Things to do, cowboy. Things to do. (Read my full review)
Titanis ~ Ronie Kendig
Okay, so this isn’t exactly a swoony novel, per se, but I couldn’t resist adding Eamon’s (Titanis’s) dramatic reappearance in Ellis’s world at the beginning of this novella: “God really knew how to make a beautiful man. It didn’t help that he’d erupted from the pool like an all-powerful god, dripping water and power. Sculpted muscles rippled beneath his left arm that bore an elaborate sleeve tattoo. An inked cross covered his right pectoral. Dark brown hair framed a heavily tanned face with firm planes and raw intensity.
Sah-WOON! *fans self vigorously*