Hi gang! I am here today with one of the posts I look forward to every year: Favorite Books of the Year! This year I read about 175 books, so choosing favorites is really difficult. There is no way to cover all the wonderful, exciting, sexy, romantic, suspenseful, and heartwarming books I read this year, and once again I am so thankful to get to read in a genre I love so much!
So, with all those fabulous books, how to choose? Mostly the items on this list are books that really have stuck with me over the year. They aren’t necessarily the books I rated the highest in my reviews. Instead, they are the books I keep thinking about, the books I want to read again, and to which I look forward to the sequels. Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg of awesomeness, but in no particular order, here are my 2016 favorites…
A Seditious Affair by K.J. Charles – This book was actually released last year but I reviewed it right after my Best of 2015 post so it missed the cut. There is no way I could leave this one unrecognized, as it is by far my favorite of Charles’ excellent Society of Gentleman series. The story has excitement and conflict galore as Silas and Dom find themselves falling in love in the middle of a political war that has the men on opposite sides. These guys are total opposites in both their class and politics, but somehow even as they argue, they see past that to really care for one another. And oh dear lord are these guys hot together. There is a major kink element as the structured and rule following Dom loves to submit in sexy ways to his radical Silas. You really want to have read this after the first book in the series to fully get the context of the story, but the series is great and well worth it (as is everything by K.J. Charles).
His Royal Secret/His Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace – This two-book set imagines that the Prince of Wales and future King of England is secretly gay, and explores what happens when he falls for a journalist. James has been hiding his sexuality for years, knowing that his personal responsibilities to his country mean that he can not come out. When he meets Ben, the two begin a secret and passionate affair that both men assume will have no future. James can’t be gay and Ben has been burned enough in the past he doesn’t want a relationship. Yet despite themselves, these guys fall for each other and soon are faced with decisions that can change both of their lives. Ben and James are charming and have great chemistry together. The story gives a fascinating insider’s look into the royal family and the incredible burdens that can come from living in a constant spotlight. And overall it is just really romantic and well done. You want to read these together as the stories flow one right into the other. But trust me, once you have read the first you are going to be dying to continue James and Ben’s story.
The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian – This is another historical I absolutely adored, made all the more impressive as it is by a debut author. I heard a lot of buzz about this book before I reviewed it, enough that I couldn’t stop myself from giving it a try, and I am so glad I did. There is a great opposite attract element as it pairs Jack, a former thief turned “fixer” to the common folks, with the uptight military man Oliver. The two have very different views on the law, on class structure, and on doing what needs to be done regardless of the rules. Over the story they work together on a case Jack has been hired to solve, falling for each other despite their wishes in the process. Aside from being a great story, this book is written with such cleverness as we watch Jack read people and figure out cues that most folks would miss in order to solve the mystery. Combined with a great romance and interesting characters, this one totally worked for me.
The Queen and the Homo Jock King/The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J. Klune (with audio by Michael Lesley) – This one is a tribute to the awesomeness that is the combined power of author T.J. Klune and narrator Michael Lesley. First off, both of these books are amazing. I both read and listened to Homo Jock King, and listened to The Lightning-Struck Heart only in audio. They are hysterically funny, in that way where you realize you are laughing out loud embarrassingly in the grocery story as you listen. In Homo Jock King, Klune manages the perfect blend of fierceness and vulnerability in Sandy. And Lightning-Struck Heart is a fabulous fantasy romp of craziness. So if you are not an audio person, run right out and buy these in book form right now because they are awesome. But if you like audio, you are in for a treat, because OMG is Michael Lesley amazing in these two books. They are both large ensemble stories and Lesley manages to capture all the characters so perfectly, to give them each distinct voices to showcase their personalities, and to get that perfect balance of humor and emotion that make the stories work. I can’t gush enough about this team and can not wait for more in each of these series.
Daring Fate by Megan Erickson – Megan Erickson creates a fabulous spin on the shifter story with this one and I have found myself unable to get it out of my head. The story has a really creative take on what is a common paranormal trope, something not easy to do. Add in two super hot fated mates in Reese and Dare, crazed undead werewolf zombie things, and an exciting adventure, and you have a fabulous story. I liked that this book had a bit of a fantasy feel to me. I am not sure quite what it is, but it totally worked for me. Do you know what else worked for me? Holy hotness, this is one dirty book! I mean, it is not like this author normally writes chaste stories, but this is so sexy, so dirty, and so delicious, she has outdone herself here. I am so excited that this is to be a series because there is just so much potential in this world Erickson has created. Loved this one!
Cold Fusion by Harper Fox – I love Harper Fox’s writing and she does such a wonderful job bringing a real sense of place to her stories (often set in Scotland, a place I visited and adore). In Cold Fusion, Fox pairs Mallory, a disgraced environmental activist, with Vivian, a brilliant and reclusive scientist. Vivian has discovered the secrets to cold fusion, something that would change the world. And something some people would kill to prevent from coming to fruition. The story nicely balances the suspense end of things with two really interesting characters. We have Mallory, who suffers from too much arrogance, but learns from his mistakes, paired with Vivian, the awkward (and virgin) genius. I love that these guys seem like they should never work together, but totally do. And the story is fascinating and exciting.
Trailer Trash by Marie Sexton – Oh, this story gave me all the feels! It is a quasi-historical set in 1986 and featuring two high school students in a small, dying town. Nate has recently moved there after his parents divorced and is barely handling the adjustment after life in his large Texas community. When Nate befriends Cody, everyone tells him to stay away – Cody is trailer trash, incredibly poor and untouchable to most folks in town. The boys fall for one another despite their rough circumstances, and the story is sweet and romantic and painful and lovely all at once. They are both afraid, but hopeful, and when they find happiness together you can’t help but cheer for them.
I’ll also toss in two more books here with a similar feel, and that is Leta Blake’s ’90s Coming of Age series. They also feature young men who are coming of age around this same era. This series will be a set of four stories following Peter as he figures out who he is and what he wants from life. You can’t help but adore him as he has both successes, and makes a total mess of things. I have been totally captivated by the first two books and urge you to give them a try.
A Time to Rise by Tal Bauer – I love a story that is a surprise and that is what I got from A Time to Rise. I had no idea what to expect here, but I wasn’t prepared for this high excitement thriller set in Vatican City and filled with all sorts of supernatural delights. Alain is a hunter who works for the Vatican fighting supernatural threats that no one knows about. He pairs up with Cris, a Swiss Guard soldier with a chip on his shoulder, and the two become tangled together in both the case and in love. The world building is great, the suspense is high, and the story is fascinating. This is the first of a new series and I am dying for more.
For this last one I am throwing a bunch of books all together. These are all books I loved, but that are also later books in a series. Many of the previous books have made it into past Annual Favorites lists, so rather than detail them all here, I am going to list them out (yes, I am cheating, but you try narrowing 175 books down to a handful!). So here are some more totally awesome books to check out:
- Santa Baby by Heidi Cullinan (Minnesota Christmas series)
- Fight the Tide by Keira Andrews (Kick at the Darkness series)
- Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat (Captive Prince series)
- Beta Test and Connection Error by Annabeth Albert (#gaymers series)
- Overexposed by Megan Erickson (In Focus series)
- Where We Left Off by Roan Parrish (Middle of Somewhere series)
- Hexbreaker and Hexmaker by Jordan L. Hawk (Hexworld series)
So that is it for 2016. I can highly recommend all these books and urge you to check out any you might have missed! Enjoy!