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Did you know that Amazon has a list of the top-selling and free sci-fi and fantasy books?
The list changes constantly — authors set their books to free temporarily to promote their work, and, of course, books move up and down in the rankings. But are any of the books actually worth reading? Well, I read the first few chapters of each to find out, so you don’t have to.
This week’s list is completely different from those of the previous weeks. So, if you’re a fan of free books, it looks like there are going to be new things to read all the time.
I’ve noticed that if you try to open the list on a mobile device, it will take you to the listings that cost money, instead. I’ve found that by switching to the ‘desktop site’ in the mobile browser, the free list comes up.
Oh, and if there’s a book that catches your eye, grab it quickly, since the books are often free for only a short time. And, Amazon allows you to lend your e-books, for free, to your friends. Even free e-books. Here are the instructions.
Most of these books are the first book in the series, and in each case, I’ve checked to see whether the rest of the books are free as well, or whether they’re in Kindle Unlimited. Learn more about Kindle Unlimited here.
The list is accurate as of the time of writing but may have changed since the story was posted.
1. Baby Me by Aidy Award
This is the fifth book in the nine-book Dragons Love Curves paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
So, first of all, a disclaimer — and this applies to nearly all the books in today’s list. I am not the target reader for romance books. Sometimes one will pull me in despite myself, but that’s the exception, not the rule. I don’t like books with naked male chests on the cover. Put on a shirt, dude. I tend to skip sex scenes, so books with a lot of sex in them annoy me. I don’t mind a little romance. Pretty much every story has a romantic subplot of some kind in it. But given the choice between gratuitous violence and gratuitous sex, I always pick the violence. I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe it’s something I should ask my therapist about. But I understand that other readers do love romance and do love hot and steamy sex scenes.
So I’m going to do the best I can with these. I’ll tell you what the story is about and how readable I think the book is. But, to be honest, by the time books make it to the top-ten list they’re all going to be pretty darn readable.
Okay, so this book is the fifth in the series. Normally, I wouldn’t read it, and read Chase Me, the first one, instead, to avoid spoiling it for myself. But in this case I’m pretty sure I’m not going to read these books, so I’m not worried. I’ll jump right in.
The book starts with a battle in a dark alley behind a deserted souk in the outskirts of Dubai. There are good dragons fighting demon dragons to save a succubus. They’re backed by a witch and a mere human, but the human is a serious bad ass with a pair of Katanas.
If I didn’t know that a romance was coming, I’d like this.
The author has a good sense of humor and the action is well paced. And, from the series title, it sounds like the female protagonists in these books are not stick-thin. I applaud the body positivity.
Would I read these books? If I didn’t have a mile-long reading shelf on my Kindle right now, I would. It’s fun and action-packed and I can get past the romance and the sex because the author’s got style and snark.
2. Hunting Season by Kate Rudolph
This is the first of seven books in the Guarded by the Shifter paranormal romance series. The other books are $0.99 to $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. The last book is scheduled to be released in January.
From Maria Korolov:
If you didn’t read the disclaimer above, it applies here as well. I’m prejudiced against romance books, naked-male-chest-on-the-cover books, and anything that smells of Twilight.
But I’ll take the plunge. For you, dear reader.
Stasia’s dad’s new wife is ten years younger than Stasia. Her dad wants her to come to a birthday party — for her ninth step-sibling. She’d rather not go, and is a little sorry that she moved back to New York, where the family is too close to comfort. Also, her father is obscenely wealthy. The family has a jet and a fleet of cars. Stasia herself has an inheritance, which she prefers not to touch.
While she’s walking down the street, on the phone with her dad, someone tries to kidnap her. Right in broad daylight, in front of witnesses. She fights back, and the people around her help.
I like Stasia. She’s competent and calm and collected, even in a crisis. This makes sense since she works in the ER.
The next chapter is from Owen’s point of view. He’s a werewolf and an army vet. His unit all got turned into werewolves and were kicked out of the army two years ago and started a security company. They’re just getting started, so they mostly take on small bodyguarding jobs. And a job comes in — to guard the heiress.
I actually like this, too. I know I said I wouldn’t, but I like both of the main characters. I can see myself coming back to this.
3. Protected by Aidy Award
This is the first of two books in the Claimed By The Seven Realms fantasy romance series. The other book is $3.99 and is scheduled to be released in January.
From Maria Korolov:
Aidy Award is a frequent flyer on these top ten lists. In November, we reviewed Hungry Wolf, the last book in the four-book Alpha Wolves Want Curves series of shapeshifter romance. And in June we reviewed Tamed, the first book in the three-book Black Dragon Brotherhood series, another shapeshifter romance.
Protected starts out on Christmas Eve. So, good timing if you want some more holiday spirit!
ClaraMarie is a plus-size ballerina trying out for the role of a life-size dancing doll, and doesn’t get the part. It goes to someone skinny. Of course. Meanwhile, her brother is running the family business into the ground with his stupidity. But she’s doing her part to save the family finances — she’s getting married to someone she doesn’t love.
I don’t like ClaraMarie. She’s letting her family boss her around, letting the other ballerinas boss her around, and has really low self-esteem and doesn’t seem to be particularly capable or competent. Judging by the cover, she’ll get to go on an adventure, do some ass-kicking, and meet a hot guy, but I don’t think I’d have the patience to stick around for that.
4. Bear the Consequences by Rochelle Paige
This is the first of seven books in the Fated Mates paranormal romance series. The other books are $1.99 to $2.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
This new series is a spin-off of that series and is set in that same universe. So if you like those books, check this out.
I have to say that I’m very confused by the series titles and numbering here. Amazon says that Fated Mates has five books in it, and this is the first one. But the book’s subtitle says that this is the first book in the McMahon Clan series and the fourth book in Fated Mates. I suspect that Black River Pack books are officially the first three books in the Fated Mates series, so you might want to start with those.
All that aside, let’s get into it.
Finley is the daughter of an alpha werewolf — okay, right there, I’m annoyed. There are no such things as “alpha” and “beta” wolves. This theory has been debunked numerous times. Wolf packs don’t have pecking orders. They do have family groups, and parents boss children around. So right there, strike one. I know, I know. It’s fantasy. We like the fantasy idea that some people are just superior to others based on random chance. It’s comforting, black-and-white thinking. We might not think that way in real life, but there’s a lot of stuff we wouldn’t do in real life that we enjoy in escapist literature. That’s why it’s called escapist.
The second strike is the “fated mates” trope. The idea that there’s one person out there who’s perfect for you, and once you found them you’re all set, sounds hokey to me. But Finley is all bought into this idea. Again, I know this is escapist fantasy. But it irks me. It irks me a lot.
Third strike — she’s a college student. I really dislike young adult novels because I hate young adults. I’m too old and bitter to deal with their whining. And Finley comes across as a little whiny. But, again, a lot of people like that kind of thing.
So I’m not going to keep reading because of those three things. But I fully understand that I’m probably going to be in the minority here!
5. Infiltrating Her Mate by Kylie Marcus
This is the first of five books in the Huntsville Misfits Pack paranormal romance series. The other books are $2.99 each and all except for the last are in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Another naked male chest. Another “fated mates” romance. Sigh.
Okay, let’s get into it. Harley is a curvy girl who can’t remember anything except that she’s got a map with a town’s name circled on it. She’s heading there on her motorcycle. She has to battle through a feeling of doom in order to enter the town and find that it’s deserted except for a warehouse with a bunch of motorcycles parked outside. So that’s where she heads.
Meanwhile, Lachlan is inside, watching a fight, when he gets word that someone, a redhead, has broken the perimeter. And Lachlan is an alpha. Sigh. Oh, and he doesn’t have a mate. So he and his pack mates are wondering if someone sent this strange woman into town deliberately.
And the minute she walks in, Lachlan knows that she’s his mate. He makes her fight him and throws the fight so that she can get to stay with the pack. And there’s something wrong with her. She’s wounded — Lachlan can smell rot. And for some reason, she’s not healing like she should.
I don’t find either of the main characters very appealing, so I wouldn’t stick with this book, even if I didn’t have a million other books queued up on my reading list.
6. My Fallen Dragon by C.G. Rayne
This is the first of three books in the Draknos Mates gay paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Julian is getting ready for work, checking the news for school closures. Several businesses have already closed due to the snowstorm. There’s a breaking news alert — there was an earthquake and a new island has suddenly appeared out of nowhere off the coast of England. There’s been a recent increase in earthquakes. Weirder still, the new island has buildings on it.
The local government sends planes out to look at the new island, and one is shot right down out of the sky. The news feed goes dark, but someone posts a video on social media — a group of golden dragons was flying over the island.
Then a new mountain mysteriously appears in Canada.
We then switch to the point of view of one of the dragons, Sevek, flying patrols on the borders of the royal lands, keeping an eye out on the other world beyond the perimeter of the energy shield. Specifically, the mysterious alien landscape with a city in it named Dallas.
Suddenly his body shifts into human form and he plummets to the ground — into the snow far below.
It’s a cool premise. I’m guessing that Julian and Sevek will eventually get together. The story is very readable, though I’m finding both of the two main characters a little bland.
7. The Naked Alien by Honey Phillips
This is the first of five books in the Exposed to the Elements sci-fi romance series. The other books are $1.99 to $3.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Jane wakes up because her roommate’s cat, Mr. Tiddles, puts his cold nose on her neck. But it turns out that it’s not Mr. Tiddles. It’s a weird pink-and-gold creature that looks to be a halfway between a cat and a monkey. And she’s naked. And she’s on an alien planet. She wraps herself in a leaf, and Mr. Tiddles helps her find water to drink.
Meanwhile, Commander Taraxan Bellkandis also wakes up naked on the same alien planet — and finds Jane. He enjoys seeing her lush curves and, at first, observes her at a distance, and then steps in to protect her from a giant spider.
Neither one knows why they’re there, and can’t even understand each other, though Taraxan’s language implant slowly starts picking up Jane’s language.
As they travel across the planet they are, of course, wildly attracted to each other despite being of different species. Also, Taraxan’s people mate for life, and he hasn’t found his mate yet. His work has been the priority.
So, yes, this is basically a porno. Except there’s a plot and the writing is really good. The author does a fantastic job bringing this alien planet to life. I’m not saying that this is my kind of book or that I’m going to keep it queued up on my Kindle to enjoy later. But I’m not saying that I won’t, either.
I just checked, and Honey Phillips has had books on this list before. In March, I reviewed her book Anna and the Alien, the first book in the 14-book Alien Abduction series. That book had a lot of sexy, sexy sex in it. Then, in June, we reviewed Mama and the Alien Warrior, the first book in the five-book Treasured by the Alien series. I’m sensing a theme here.
8. All Kidding Aside by Macy Blake
This is the first of two books in the Magical Mate gay paranormal romance series. The other book is $4.99 each and is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Victor drives a sleek black Mercedes when he arrives at the home of the Smith pack. That pack’s Alpha, Nick, has a lot of children — and is looking to beef up security. Nick already has a state-of-the-art security system, plus two magically-cloaked dragons circling overhead and vampire security guards. Plus a brownie.
Oh, and Nick’s mate is a hellhound.
I’m getting the feeling that I’m coming into the middle of the story here… Let me check. It looks like this is connected to her The Chosen One series, its spinoff Chosen Champions series, and the Hellhound Champions series.
But back to the book. With all that magical firepower, why do they need Victor? Oh, he’s a griffin. Looks like Nick’s brother is the Chosen One. Nick runs an orphanage for magical kids, and there are 40 kids on the property. Ah, Victor isn’t there to beef up security. He’s the money guy. He pays the bills for the whole operation. There are a lot of spoilers in this chapter for how all this came to be.
The books are all in Kindle Unlimited, and I might yet want to read them, so I’ll stop before I go any further.
Let me just say that the books are extremely readable, the characters are likable, and the author has hundreds of five-star reviews for each of her books.
9. Reluctant Concubine by Dana Marton
This is the first of seven books in the Hardstorm Saga romantic epic fantasy series. The other books are $6.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
This book has nearly 1,000 five-star reviews and the author has been on the New York Times bestseller list and won a bunch of awards.
Tera has just passed from childhood into womanhood, but her healing powers have not yet arrived. Her mother was a healer, and people came to their village for her services, but her mother had died, and nobody came anymore. Her father, Jarim, is a fisherman, but not particularly successful and there are days when they go hungry.
Her best friend, Koro, wants her to marry him, but if she does, she’ll never get her healing powers. She tries to put him off, hoping that her healing powers will kick in, but she’s hungry, and Koro’s father is a successful trader.
She can do some healing with potions and poultices, but she won’t be able to knit bones and bind spirits if she rushes too early into a physical relationship.
Well, it’s all a moot point, anyway, because, at the end of chapter one, everything changes.
The writing is very good. It’s a young adult fantasy, which is not my preferred genre, but I can easily see myself reading this book if I didn’t have so many others I’m already reading.
10. Claiming Marcus by Jocelynn Drake
This is the first of five books in the Lords of Discord gay paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
It’s the mid-1800s and Marcus and his three brothers are taking care of their insane, immortal mother. Marcus is willing to sacrifice himself, sentence himself to eternal damnation, and become immortal himself so that he can spend eternity guarding her. After all, he is already damned. But his three brothers refuse to let him do it alone. They will all transform.
Then we’re in the year 2003.
Ethan, a fifth-grader, is getting ready for the night when vampires come and kill his entire family, as well as everyone else on the floor of his apartment building — possibly the entire building. He escapes by hiding in a secret spot in the back of a linen closet.
Then we’re in 2019. Ethan is juggling three jobs while taking night classes. He’s decided to take a semester off in order to save up money for the last of his schooling, and he’s applying for a job as a personal assistant to Marcus Varik. Who has a rare skin allergy and can’t be exposed to sunlight.
Ethan gets hired. It’s a three-month contract position, but he’s going to get an apartment close to where he works, health insurance, and the use of a car. He’s now a step closer to finding the creepy female vampire whose voice has been haunting his memories since he was ten.
If that was the whole premise — Ethan hunts vampires and kills everyone who killed his family — I’d be good with it. But no. In the next chapter, we’re in Marcus’ point of view, as he’s attacked by a mugger. He drinks the mugger’s blood but is careful not to kill him. Marcus is a careful, polite vampire. I’m guessing that this means that Ethan and Marcus will get together. The title also kind of gives it away.
I’m very happy to see three gay romances on the list today. But I’m all romanced out.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
And watch me discuss the books in the video below:
MetaStellar editor and publisher Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist, writing stories set in a future virtual world. And, during the day, she is an award-winning freelance technology journalist who covers artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and enterprise virtual reality. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.