I have read a lot — over 180 books this year — and so many of them were wonderful. So it is really hard narrowing it down to my absolute favorites for this list. What I try to do is find those books that make me sigh and think “Yes!” when I look back on them. Things that still move me even now, months after reading them. Books that make me want to run and pick them up again just from thinking about them.
So here is my list of 2015 favorites, in no real order. If you haven’t tried any of these, I would highly encourage you to check them out.
1) All the things Jordan L. Hawk – It is hard to believe that I read Hawk for the first time last January, when I read her short story in the Another Place in Time anthology. Of course, I had heard nothing but good things about her writing, but for some reason never picked it up. Well, with that story I started my Jordan L. Hawk reading binge and over 2015 I read 19 of her books and stories! I read the entire Whyborne & Griffin series this year, beginning with Widdershins and continuing right through Maelstrom. This parnormal/historical series is probably what she is best known for and with good reason. It is such a perfect combination of historical, paranormal, romance, and suspense. Each book is equally wonderful and I couldn’t be a bigger fan of these characters or the world she has built. This summer I also binge read Hawk’s Spectr series, a fabulous urban fantasy/paranormal series about a man who is accidentally possessed by a demon and how he tries to adapt to his new life with another being inside him. I adore all three of these characters and this series is so fascinating and exciting. I read the first six stories in about 4 days, barely coming up for a breath. It is one that I don’t think is as well read as her historicals but equally amazing. I also will give a shout out to Hawk’s Spirits series, another I read this year and totally loved. So basically, for me this was the year of Jordan L. Hawk. If you are not reading her books, you need to be. Every single thing I have read by her is fabulous and so well worth reading.
2) Kick at the Darkness by Keira Andrews – I loved this zombie apocalypse story with a paranormal twist thrown in. I love a good zombie story as something about the desperation of the situation can make for such an exciting book and this is no exception. It is thrilling and terrifying and romantic and sexy all rolled into one. I totally adored it and couldn’t put it down. As an honorable mention in the zombie trope, I also finished Evelyn Shepard’s fabulous Meteora Trilogy, a series I totally loved every step of the way and also highly recommend.
3) Captive Prince and Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat – I had heard nothing but good things about Captive Prince, and when I saw the second book in the series was coming out I finally read it, and I am so glad I did. This master/slave tale is so fascinating and the politics and world building are incredibly well done. I found myself totally engrossed in the interplay among these characters and both books are truly excellent. I can not wait until the third book is released earlier in 2016, and I will tell you, if you haven’t read these two yet, definitely check them out before the last book is released.
4) For Real by Alexis Hall – I love a good age gap story and this tale of a newbie Dom and his more jaded, older sub just completely captivated me. I just adored Toby, young and slightly awkward and still finding his way, paired with Laurie, who is burned out in the scene and gets his spark back through his connection with Toby. The relationship is incredibly well developed, the story is sexy, and the kink elements are so well done. If you are a fan of BDSM or age gap stories, this one is not to be missed.
5) Audiobooks – This year I started listening to lots more books in audio and find I really enjoy this alternate way of absorbing the story. In many cases, I listened to books I already had read and loved in book form, and got a new perspective when listening to them in audio. Sometimes the experience of listening really gives you new insight or an enhanced perspective over reading. In the case of these audiobooks, I loved them all when I first read them in book form, and this year I totally adored them in audio as well. These favorites included Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan, Clear Water by Amy Lane, The Mating of Michael by Eli Easton, Dance with Me by Heidi Cullinan, and Control by Mary Calmes and Cardeno C.
6) In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish – I went totally crazy for this debut book by Roan Parrish, so much so that I immediately emailed her and asked her to stop by the blog to talk with me about the book. I absolutely loved Rex and Daniel and appreciated the depth and wonderful character development of this story. It is poignant and well developed and sexy and romantic. I was completely captivated and am so excited for more in the series.
7) Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan – It is no secret I adore Cullinan and her writing. Practically everything that she writes makes it into my all time favorites list and she is such a fabulous story teller. But even among her many wonderful works, this one stands out for me. Carry the Ocean introduces us to two young men who don’t fit the typical romance hero mold. One has autism, one suffers from severe depression. They both face challenges, but what is magical is seeing how they learn and grow, both separately and together. I fell in love with Emmett and Jeremey and I can’t wait for more in this series.
8) Fish Stick Fridays and Murder and Mayhem by Rhys Ford – Ford is another author I totally adore and these two books were both 5-star reads for me. Ford manages to write such great exciting stories with great mysteries and wonderfully drawn characters. Murder and Mayhem features a thief and the cop who is trying to catch him. It is a great enemies to lovers story with an exciting mystery built in. And Fish Stick Fridays introduces us to two quite different men and one spunky little girl who are trying to make something together while an unknown threat looms. I could seriously recommend anything she writes to you, but I found this pair of books just fabulous and would strongly recommend them both.
9) Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson – This is the first book I read by Erickson and I just adored it. I love a good road trip story and this tale of a young man who is on a journey to visit some of his late father’s favorite spots is just fabulous. This is a lovely new adult tale that mixes the road trip, coming out, and friends to lovers, all themes I just love. I was totally taken in by this one and can’t wait to read it again.
10) Treble Maker by Annabeth Albert – I am a big reality show fan so I was immediately drawn to this story about two young men in an a cappella singing competition. I loved the behind-the-scenes feel of the story as the guys navigate the tricky world of the competition. But the best part is how well Albert creates two really fascinating characters in Cody and Lucas. Lucas, in particular, has such a unique coming out story and seeing the two guys support one another in the midst of competing against each other is really great. I just loved this one and am so excited for the series to continue.
So there you have it, my favorites from 2015. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the fabulous books I have read this year, but these are all stories that really affected me and that I want to read again and again. If you haven’t had a chance to read any of them, I can highly recommend them all!