Discover our favorite indie eBooks of 2021! This year there was an abundance of amazing books that took us on journeys far and wide without ever having to leave the couch. In a range of genres, including historical fiction, cozy mystery, fantasy, romance, and more, there’s something for every reader among our 20 favorite indie eBooks of 2021. Check out the list (maybe check it twice!) and end the year in the comfort of a good book.
River, Sing Out by James Wade
Escaping abuse and poverty, young Jonah Hargrove joins the mysterious River—a teenage girl carrying thousands of dollars in stolen drugs. Together, they embark on a southern gothic odyssey through the East Texas river bottoms, while pursued by local drug kingpin John Curtis and his murderous enforcer, Dakota Cade. Meanwhile, keeping tabs on everyone is the Thin Man, a silent assassin who values consequence over mercy. Each person keeps secrets from the others—deadly secrets that will be exposed in savage fashion as their final paths collide and all are forced to come to terms with their choices, their circumstances, and their own definition of God.
What People Are Saying: “I enjoyed the loops of plot lines all centering back to Jonah and his life… I rarely comment on covers but this one stands out. The grace of the scene depicted is a direct contrast to the awkward intensity of the characters’ lives. Perfect juxtaposition.” – Jennie Reads, B&N Reviewer
Hepburn’s Necklace by Jan Moran
When costume designer Ariana Ricci leaves her groom at the altar, she takes solace at the Palm Springs home of her great-aunt Ruby Raines. Ruby is a Hollywood legend who began her career as an extra in the film Roman Holiday. While opening old letters postmarked from Italy, Ariana discovers relics from her great-aunt’s past, including an intriguing necklace supposedly from Audrey Hepburn herself! Aching for a fresh start and the chance to resolve an unfinished story, the two embark on a journey to the sunny shores of Lake Como, Italy that will illuminate the secrets of a bygone era and offer second chances at love—if they are bold enough to seize them.
What People Are Saying: “The characters of Ruby and Ariana are charming and the descriptions of Lake Como take you to Italy with them. I highly recommend this book for a delightful escape.” – booklvr61, B&N Reviewer
The Bequest by B.E. Baker
Abigail and Amanda may have married brothers, but they have almost nothing else in common. And then as widows they have no reason to interact. Until an eccentric uncle of their husbands’ leaves a massive cattle ranch to the women’s minor children. . . if they work the ranch themselves. A ranch that’s located near a small town on the Wasatch front that isn’t too keen on outsiders. They’re both going to turn the bequest down, clearly. It’s not like either of them could properly raise their kids or find love again in a backwater province like Birch Creek. But when things at home change dramatically—for both moms—they decide to give it a try. . . just for the summer.
What People Are Saying: “I loved this story, and the development and growth of these women and their families. The setting was described beautifully, so much so that it made me look up the town (it’s real!) so that maybe I can pass through there someday. The characters are real and flawed and relatable. I’m looking forward to the next book!” – Sunaftertherain, B&N Reviewer
John Eyre by Mimi Matthews
When disgraced former schoolmaster John Eyre arrives at Thornfield Hall to take up a position as tutor to two peculiar young boys, he enters a world unlike any he’s ever known. And at the center of it all is John’s new employer—a widow as alluring as she is mysterious. Sixteen months earlier, heiress Bertha Mason married the enigmatic Edward Rochester. She was powerless to resist his preternatural charm, but Mr. Rochester wasn’t quite the man he appears to be. In fact, he may not be a man at all… Now, John and Bertha contend with secrets, danger, and the eternal struggle between light and darkness. Can they help each other vanquish the demons of the past? Or are some evils simply too powerful to conquer?
What People Are Saying: “An entertaining and well-written Victorian Gothic story, blending seamlessly two classic books. With its wonderful portrayal of the two main characters and their story.” – Vesper2020, B&N Reviewer
Windswept by Annabelle McCormack
May, 1917. Ginger Whitman is a battlefield nurse serving in the Great War on the brutal frontlines in Palestine. There, a desperate and dying soldier entrusts a coded message to her care hurling Ginger into an unfamiliar, dangerous world. Then, the arrival of mysterious and handsome British intelligence officer Major Noah Benson offers a chance of help. But Noah may be as dangerous as he is charming. Hunted by a shadowy enemy spy, Ginger must decide if she can trust Noah. But as she grapples with her decision, Ginger makes a shocking discovery: a sinister secret that threatens to shatter the world she thought she knew.
What People Are Saying: “I enjoyed the premise, the pacing, and that this wasn’t just a historical saga. It also had mystery, suspense, history, espionage, and an intricate plot. While I enjoyed the characters of Ginger and Noah tremendously, I loved the location and the suspenseful thriller/mystery aspect even more.” – RachelDenise0, B&N Reviewer
Mystery & Thriller Favorites:
Down in the Blood by Malcolm Richards
Wealthy heiress Kerenza Trezise was about to marry the man she loved…until she killed herself. P.I. Blake Hollow is hired to find out why. Damaged by a near-death encounter with a serial killer, Blake knows this case is an opportunity to relaunch her struggling business. But as she attempts to infiltrate one of Cornwall’s richest families at their impressive estate, she learns that the Trezises have their own dark secrets to protect, and a shocking legacy of madness, horror, and death. Worse still, they’ll do anything to stop Blake’s private investigation from revealing the truth, including deception, intimidation, and perhaps even murder. They say family is forever. But they have never met the Trezise family…
What People Are Saying: “Malcolm Richards is one of my favorite authors because his characters are so well-drawn. I was sucked into the story from the beginning until the climactic ending. Even the creepy estate counts as a character, never mind the dysfunctional family members. I counted at least three plot twists. You may keep guessing and be WRONG!” – halseybir, B&N Reviewer
The Archivist by Rex Pickett
When an archivist at San Diego’s Regents University is found dead, Emily Snow is hired to finish the job she started—organize and process the papers of Raymond West, a famous, award-winning author. As Emily sets to work, she gains unsupervised access to the highly restricted “dark archives,” in which she opens a Pandora’s box of erotically and intellectually charged correspondence between Raymond West and the late archivist, Nadia Fontaine. Through their archived emails, Emily goes back a year in time and relives the tragic trajectory of their passionate love affair. Compelled to complete the collection and find the truth, Emily unwittingly morphs into a crusader on a mission to right the historical record.
What People Are Saying: “I enjoyed the archives setting and thought the discussion about “dark archives” was fun. The Archivist has issues, but I enjoyed the mystery aspect and it became a book I couldn’t put down until I knew whodunit.” – ConnieY, B&N Reviewer
I Am Not Who You Think I Am by Eric Rickstad
Wayland Maynard was just eight-years-old when his father took his life and left behind a cryptic note: I am not who you think I am. Who was his father if not the loving man Wayland knew? Terrified, Wayland keeps the note a secret, but his reasons for being afraid are just beginning. Eight years later, Wayland makes a shocking discovery and becomes certain the note is the key to unlocking a past even those closest to him want to keep buried. With the help of two friends, Wayland searches for the truth. Together they uncover strange revelations that raise more questions and deepens Wayland’s suspicions of everyone around him. Soon, he’ll regret he ever found the note, trusted his friends, or believed in such a thing as the truth.
What People Are Saying: “This is one terrific read. The mystery is compelling, the characters complex and relatable and the writing is lyrical and gritty at the same time. Not to mention I did not see that ending coming!” – ThrillsGirl, B&N Reviewer
The Death Code by Ava Strong
A serial killer is targeting victims in obscure historic settings. FBI Special Agent Daniel Walker is singled out from the Behavioral Analysis Unit and assigned to the FBI’s new Antiquities unit. The unit, formed to hunt down priceless relics in the global world of antiquities, has no idea how to enter the mind of a murderer. Remi Laurent, brilliant history professor at Georgetown, is the world’s leading expert in obscure historic artifacts. Shocked when the FBI asks for her help to find a killer, she finds herself reluctantly partnered with the blunt American FBI agent. Special Agent Walker and Remi Laurent are an unlikely duo, with his ability to enter killers’ minds and her unparalleled scholarship, the only thing they have in common is their determination to decode the clues and stop a killer.
What People Are Saying: “Wow, it starts slow, letting all the characters to build, but then halfway through it and u just can’t keep it down, amazing, u get as obsessed with cryptex, as Remi or the killer. Amazingly written.” – Fatima 88, B&N Reviewer
Engagement and Espionage by Penny Reid
Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil . . . and now they’re engaged! But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most “fowl” need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear Sabotage! Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?
What People Are Saying: “ENGAGEMENT AND ESPIONAGE is an intriguing, quirky and spirited mystery. The premise is compelling ; the romance is tender and light hearted; the characters are animated.” – Sandy Sch, B&N Reviewer
State of Grace by Marie Force
The holiday season is under way in Washington, D.C. But Metro Police Lieutenant Sam Holland is busier than ever as she contends with a vexing murder. Determined to close the case, Sam’s holiday plans are upended when there’s a second murder. This time someone she knows. Meanwhile, Sam’s husband, President Nick Cappuano, deals with the first national tragedy on his watch, forcing him on the record on a contentious issue as he fills the role of comforter-in-chief to a nation reeling from another senseless act of violence. With chaos swirling all around them, will Sam and Nick be able to pull off a big family Christmas at the White House?
What People Are Saying: “I have read every book in this series. Although it’s not out yet… I am going ahead and writing this review. This is how positive I am that this book will be 100% fabulous. I wait patiently for the next book drop, stay up all night reading, only to wait again for the next one. Do yourself a favor and go back to the first book and catch yourself up! You will not be disappointed! I ❤️ Marie Force.” – Clemson Girl, B&N Reviewer
Reel by Kennedy Ryan
I’ve long waited in the wings, preparing for my time to shine. I never imagined Cannon Holt would watch in the audience that night. Famous film director. Before I could catch my breath, everything changed. I went from backstage Broadway to center stage Hollywood. From being unknown, to my name, Neevah Saint, on everyone’s lips. Canon casts me in a star-studded Harlem Renaissance biopic, catapulting me into another stratosphere. But stars shine brightest in the dead of night. Forbidden attraction, scandal and circumstances beyond my control jeopardize my dream. Could this one shot—the role of a lifetime, the love of a lifetime—cost me everything?
What People Are Saying: “[This] is also a signature Kennedy Ryan book because it is seasoned with the spices that teach us something new and stimulate our thoughts about how our fellow humans exist and live their lives… Kennedy Ryan continues to secure her place as a power broker in the contemporary romance industry with the addition of her latest novel.” – NKellman, B&N Reviewer
My Summer in Seoul by Rachel Van Dyken
Intern with Korea’s number one record label? Yes, please. Find out there’s a huge scandal I need to help “manage”… not so much. My dream job is quickly becoming more of a nightmare. And the drama surrounding the biggest K-pop group in the world, SWT, is consuming my every moment. Spoiler alert. They hate me. Till the leader of SWT takes pity on me. But pity is dangerous when it comes from someone as beautiful as him. As their comeback nears, the stakes rise higher. And the price for survival might mean losing my heart. Like a character in a K-drama, I’m not sure if there will be an actual happily ever after… Or simply a lesson learned.
What People Are Saying: “Shining a light and giving us a glimpse of a different culture, this book is truly unique and like nothing I’ve read before and I seriously cannot recommend it enough.” – Stital, B&N Reviewer
Beside Irish Golden Fields by Ava Miles
Art teacher Angie Newcastle’s life is all monotone. After contracting the Wrong Man Syndrome and spending years in self-doubt, she no longer recognizes herself. When she loses her job, she knows her life needs a serious overhaul. Moving to Ireland, Angie takes up teaching art classes to her ex-pat cousin’s village community. Angie expected the golden fields beside her ancient Irish cottage to inspire her. She certainly didn’t expect anyone like reclusive sheep baron Carrick Fitzgerald. Neither want to find love. Only, Carrick is the most unexpected of Prince Charmings and he might help Angie make all her dreams come true.
What People Are Saying: “What a delightful read! I feel like I have made new friends. This story has it all: laughter, tears, animals, friends, magic, and romance!” – Krose, B&N Reviewer
Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight
Science Fiction & Fantasy Favorites:
The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Poppy never dreamed she would find love with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness, but first they must free his brother and find hers. Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, and now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown, becoming the Queen of Flesh and Fire. Except, the kingdoms’ dark sins will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head. And the greatest threat to them is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans…
What People Are Saying: “The Crown of Gilded Bones is a thrilling adventure from beginning to end. High fantasy, meet the sassy, badass heroine of the year… I promise you won’t be disappointed so do yourself a favor and get a copy today!!!” – teamlj425, B&N Reviewer
The Cornish Princess by Tanya Anne Crosby
Princess Gwendolyn of Cornwall is “blessed” at her cradle by three Fae gifts: a prophecy for her future, a gift of “Reflection,” and a golden mane. But no one understands more than Gwendolyn that her blessings are truly curses. Unless a man’s heart is true, she is destined to be coveted for her crown and despised for her face. To make matters worse, “The Romans are coming.” And according to the Goldenchild Prophecy only by uniting their dragon banners can they stem the Red Tide. But when Gwendolyn’s heart is tempted by a mysterious half-blood Fae whom she can never wed, she must decide between fate and favor.
What People Are Saying: “This is an amazing story! It drew me in right away and I didn’t want to put it down until I had finished it! The characters are fantastic and well introduced and developed through the story. I loved the storyline and it has a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming until they happened” – Sharon 70, B&N Reviewer
War of the Crown by Paul J. Bennett
War rages on and it stretches the Army of Merceria to the breaking point. Even with Norland armies marching in the north, their capital proves the tougher challenge and leaves Gerald no choice but to split his army. Meanwhile, devastated by the loss of its king, Weldwyn desperately struggles to marshal enough forces to repel the inevitable invasion from their greatest rival. Seizing the opportunity, the Twelve Clans flood across the border and are confident that this time they will fulfill their destiny. Now, as conflict sweeps across the lands, the Dark Queen finally unleashes her ruthless fury.
What People Are Saying: “This world built by Paul Bennett keeps expanding and adding exciting new charachters and features.” – Sledogz, B&N Reviewer
No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull
One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother has been shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real… And they want everyone to know it. As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters. At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark? The world will soon find out.
What People Are Saying: “The world Cadwell has so deftly created is one not so detached from reality… I am delighted to learn this is the first in The Convergence Saga series, and I hope this book finds its rightful audience in lovers of SFF, and very good genre fiction.” – PLyle, B&N Reviewer
Look To The Sun by Emmie Mears
For fifteen years, the National People’s Voice has ruled in relative peace, quietly snuffing out dissent wherever it’s found in Sanmarian. Rose Abernethy and Beo Mataya are two strangers drawn together by one thing alone: Red Sunrise. A mysterious book no one else seems to have read. A book only two types of people ever ask about—collectors and the National People’s Voice. As the façade of calm seethes into violent protests, Rose and Beo are caught in the middle. Drawn into the center of a forgotten tragedy, they discover the book may not only hold the key to the secret of the city’s past but also the key to its future.
What People Are Saying: “This book is just so good. Very prescient. The characters are relatable and have depth. I look forward to more by this author!” – AgentRusco, B&N Reviewer
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