Hello everyone! It is that time of year again, the time to look back at all the fabulous things I have read and try to winnow it down to my absolute favorites. This is so hard, let me tell you. First off, because I reviewed 219 books this year. Second, because so many of them were just so so good!
Given how many wonderful things I have read, I am bound to leave off many. It is almost impossible to choose only a small number of favorites. I tried to pick books and series that have really stuck with me through the whole year. So these are not just books I loved, but books that left a strong impression on me, in some cases many months after I first read them. I tried to stick with a Top Ten, although I did cheat and gave myself a bit of wiggle room. Here they are, in no particular order:
Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander
This story of a cop and his broken bad boy just grabbed me and never let go. I adored Peter beyond reason, and loved the partnership of him and Austin. This story made me laugh, was crazy sexy, and also such a great mystery/thriller. I was lucky enough to listen to it in audio with truly fabulous narration (and definitely my favorite audio book all year). Just fabulous and one I know I will read over and over.
Paradox Lost by Libby Drew
I am not usually a big science fiction reader, but I loved Paradox Lost. This story has a futuristic bent, but most of the book takes place in the contemporary world. The world building is fabulous here and the story is so exciting and suspenseful I couldn’t put it down.
If there is one author who had a breakout year for me, I would have to say it was Renae Kaye. I read three of her novels, along with a short story, and I loved them all (not to mention Jason has her book Loving Jay on his Favorites list as well). The Blinding Light was easily in my top handful of books I read this year. Kaye manages to give the story so much humor along with so much heart, not to mention incredible heat. I also loved The Shearing Gun and Safe in His Arms, and seriously I can not wait to see what Kaye has for us next.
Free Men Trilogy by Kate Aaron
I am not always a big fantasy reader but I love the master/slave trope so I picked up the first book in this series, The Slave. From the very beginning this trilogy just captivated me. I love the way Aaron gives us the different POVs of the three main characters, one for each book. She manages to make each book just perfectly fit the title character in style and tone. The story is fascinating and sexy and I loved this threesome so much.
Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan
When I read Fever Pitch, I said I thought it was the best thing Heidi Cullinan has ever written and I stand by that. Considering she is one of my all time favorite authors, you can imagine how much I adored this young love story about two college students who are each trying to find themselves. I didn’t think Cullinan could top my love for Walter and Kelly from Love Lessons, but Aaron and Giles just drew me in and wouldn’t let go. I still can not listen to Titanium without getting chills.
A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews
I think this was Andrews breakout book and I am so happy, because I love her writing and I think this book has gotten her the attention she really deserves. This story about two Amish boys growing up in a sheltered community could have gone really wrong, but Andrews does such a wonderful job of letting us feel the confines these young men face without ever resulting in mockery or derision of their upbringing. I loved to see them fall in love and slowly figure out that they just might be able to have the lives they truly want, if they are willing to give up everything they know. So beautifully done and I can’t wait for the next book.
The River Leith by Leta Blake
I just adored this book about a guy with amnesia and the true love he forgot. This story is so beautifully done as we follow Leith in the aftermath of an accident that takes away memories of his recent life, including his boyfriend Zach. We can just feel Zach’s pain as he tries to be patient and give Leith space, at the same time his heart is breaking. This book is so moving and poignant (and sexy), but never depressing or overwhelming. Blake gets the tone just right here. I am a huge fan of Blake’s writing and would also mention if you haven’t read last year’s Training Season, get on that because a sequel is coming! I will also use this entry to mention another amnesia story I just loved this year, Snowcroft Lost by Christi Snow.
The Mating of Michael by Eli Easton
The Mating of Michael was such a fascinating story, I was totally captivated. I think so much of this book rests on the narrow shoulders of Michael. Michael is adorable and all perfect sweetness. It is truly impossible not to love him. And he has a perfect match in James, who is having a rough time of it, and needs someone like Michael to give him confidence in his own worth and to brighten up his life. I found so many elements of this story fascinating, most especially Michael’s sex surrogacy work and the flashbacks to James’ experiences having polio as a child. I loved this one and have already gone back and read it again a couple times just to revisit with Michael.
The Magpie Lord was one of my favorite books last year and these final two installments of the trilogy more than lived up to the expectations Charles set after her first book. This series is such a wonderful combination of creative world building, exciting suspense, and fabulous romance between Stephen and Crane. I am so impressed by the way Charles crafted a trilogy here that is so unique and creates these fascinating characters and engrossing world. Charles has become a go to author for me on the strength of this series alone, but I must mention I adored her story Think of England as well.
When All the World Sleeps by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock
This story is so haunting and captivating, I find myself still thinking about it months later. Just that image of Daniel locking handcuffs encased in ice around his wrists in a desperate attempt to keep himself out of trouble, rather than sleepwalk and possibly kill again. The authors do such a great job of helping us feel Daniel’s pain, and then slowly letting him heal with the help of Bel. The authors create such a wonderfully messy story here where things are not neat and tidy with clear lines. The best part is that they make us love Daniel and Bel despite all of that, and I found this story so wonderfully engrossing, not to mention sexy as hell.
Ok, and remember when I said wiggle room? I have a handful of others I couldn’t resist mentioning here, just because they are all so amazing. We’ll call these honorable mentions:
- Bone Rider by J. Fally
- Mark Cooper Versus America by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock
- Seasons series by Jay Bell
- The Dream Alchemist by Joanna Chambers
- THIRDS series by Charlie Cochet
- Semper Fi by Keira Andrews
Thanks to some rereleases, audiobooks, and our Throwback Thursday posts, I had a chance to revisit some of my old favorites this year. These are all books I adore and read over and over again. I didn’t include them in the above list because I read them all for the first time in years past, but I wanted to at least mention them here:
- Special Delivery by Heidi Cullinan
- Collision Course by K.A. Mitchell
- Resistance by L.M. Turner
- Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville
- PsyCops series by Jordan Castillo Price