As 2021 comes to a close, I’m revisiting my 20 favorite romance novels of the year, and J.T. Geissinger is an author whose work easily made the list! I’ve loved every book that came out in the Queens & Monsters series in 2021, but Savage Hearts might just be my favorite one. It’s steamy and intense, with an antihero who is such a unique character. I loved the softer romance paired with the brutality of the mafia aspects, and I loved that it was completely unpredictable and distinct, even from the other books in the series. The Queens & Monsters series made my BEST OF 2021: My Favorite Romance Series list (found here), and I’m so looking forward to continuing it in 2022!
Read on for my original review, details on the series, a spotlight on Geissinger’s work, and plenty of quotes to give you a feel for the vibe!
There’s a reason why I’ve been one-clicking J.T.’s books without hesitation for years, and she just keeps getting better and better. I never know where the story will lead, but I’m always eager to hang on for the ride. This series has been blazing hot and immensely compelling, so this had a lot to live up to – and it exceeded all expectations. It might’ve even surpassed the other two books in the series. Going in, we knew absolutely nothing about either main character, and that made this an epically unpredictable adventure. I had zero idea what I was getting into, and that meant it was a fun, immersive read. This one plays up the dark humor, the banter, and the seriously smokin’ chemistry. I laughed out loud as often as I fanned myself over the steam. I LOVED this couple together, and the first half just flew by for me. Things get heavier and tenser as the story progresses, and the intimacy escalates along the way. It’s the perfect addition to a stellar series, approaching the mafia trope from a different direction. I loved every minute of it.
The story follows Riley, a woman whose life is turned upside down when she discovers that her estranged sister is dating a mafia boss. While the sisters haven’t been close for years, Riley agrees to take a trip and meet Sloane’s new guy. She had no idea what she was getting into. It’s not long before Riley realizes that she’s in way over her head, and there’s a Giant Hot Dangerous Stranger following her every move. The man is fierce and intimidating, obviously up to no good, and yet… strangely appealing. There’s just something about him that calls to Riley, and he seems equally confounded by her. As the two continue their strange interactions, things take an unexpected turn.
Now, I’m not gonna spoil the book for you. I think most of us expected Diego to be the next antihero, but let me say that I was NOT disappointed by Malek. He is soooo not what I was expecting, and I loved seeing the different sides of him. While this feels very much a part of the same series, this particular story has a completely different feel than the others. It’s J.T. at her best, with some softer, subtler moments and an antihero who is obviously bad, but… not. These two are fantastic together, and I loved going in blind. I want to tell you all the things that I loved about Malek, but I also don’t want to give the story away, so I’ll tell you that he is a fascinating man and leave it at that. This book also makes the series as a whole richer and stronger; sure, it can technically be read as a standalone, but you don’t want to do that. It also opens up some interesting paths for future books in this world, and I. AM. READY. Buckle up, because this is a sexual tension-filled, unpredictable read.
1) Not domesticated; wild and untamed
2) A brutal or vicious person
3) Malek Antonov
When my older sister calls out of the blue to announce she’s getting married, it’s a shock. She’s not the settling-down kind, and we haven’t spoken in almost three years.
Even more of a shock? Sloane wants me to visit her and meet her new fiancé. Curious, I decide to take her up on the offer.
I should’ve known something was wrong when she wouldn’t tell me where I’d be going. I should’ve known things were odd when she sent a private jet to pick me up. But there’s no way in hell I could’ve ever guessed what would happen when I finally meet her fiancé.
Head of the Irish Mob.
Target of a savage Bratva assassin who wants revenge for the murder of his brother.
Now, I’m thousands of miles from home, I’m smack in the middle of a mafia war, and I’ve got a Russian assassin who’s decided he likes the looks of me.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold.
They never met Malek Antonov.
HONORABLE MENTION: Ruthless Creatures
Honestly, all three books in this series easily could’ve made my Best of the Year list, but I try to select twenty different authors, so I only picked one. I highly recommend the whole series! These are standalone romances, but the suspense ties the series together, so they’re best read in order. Start with Ruthless Creatures – a link to my review is below.
An explosive new novel of love, lust, and obsession from bestselling author J.T. Geissinger.
Five years ago, my fiancé disappeared. He left me with a wedding dress I’d never wear. Left me with the kind of scars that can’t be healed. The man I built my future on vanished like a ghost. All that remained was my broken heart and a million unanswered questions.
Until a mysterious stranger arrives in town.
Tall, dark, and dangerous, Kage is as full of secrets as he is sex appeal. Though I know he’s hiding something, I’m drawn to him like a moth to flame.
The intensity of our connection is addictive, unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. Heat crackles between us with every look, desire flares into passion, and I fall hard, helpless to resist.
But when I discover how he’s tied to my fiancé’s disappearance, I learn what happens when you fly recklessly into fire:
You get burned.
Read my review here
Want to really dive in? Start with Beautifully Cruel or go back even further!
If you really want to get immersed in this world, Beautifully Cruel is a great place to start. Some of the characters in that book will tie into the overall story of Carnal Urges, but not in a major way. You can grab it on Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2zO7SA4, and my review is the first one to show up.
You want to go even further back than that? I’ll try to explain. Again, these are absolutely not required reading for Savage Hearts, but this is the order you would go in. The Bad Habit series is the least important. The Bad Habit rock star series (mega steamy and super angsty) is some of Geissinger’s earliest work. It introduces the hero (as a side character) who stars in the Dangerous Beauty trilogy (suspenseful and dark). Characters from Beautifully Cruel are introduced in the Dangerous Beauty trilogy. You won’t miss anything major if you don’t read the Dangerous Beauty trilogy first, but you’ll have more insight into the antiheroes of Beautifully Cruel and Cruel Paradise if you do.
For a deep dive on all things J.T. Geissinger, check out my author spotlight here!
About the Author:
J.T. Geissinger is a bestselling author of emotionally charged romance and women’s fiction. Ranging from funny, feisty rom coms to intense, edgy suspense, her books have sold more than one million copies and been translated into several languages.
She is the recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book, the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, and is a two-time finalist for the RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America®. She has also been a finalist in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.
Her first novel was published in 2012. Since then she’s written eighteen more novels. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, drinking wine, surfing the internet, and daydreaming about all the things she’s going to be when she grows up. She lives near the beach in Los Angeles with her husband and deaf/demented rescue kitty, Ginger.
Connect with J.T. Geissinger:
Join Geissinger’s Gang Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2Oj7iMg
Stay up to date by joining J.T.’s mailing list: http://bit.ly/39KRQol
More of the Best of 2021!
Top 20 of 2021: The Complete List – here
Best of 2021: Top Picks by Trope can be found here!
Best of 2021: My 10 Favorite Romance Series can be found here!
Every 5-Star Romance Novel I Read in 2021 can be found here!
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