Hey, everyone! This time of year you’ll see a bunch of these lists popping up, but I always love to share my favorite reads, so I’m hopping on the bandwagon. 🙂
Note: While these are the books I read and loved in 2014, not all of them were actually published this year. They might just be new-to-me, but I want to show them some love either way. These are all books I rated 5 stars. I’d include my 4-star reads, too, but we’d be here all day. 😉
Now, in no particular order:
Phoenix (Death Rose #1) – Melanie Tushmore
I really can’t praise this story enough. Set in the 80s, in the height of hard rock and glam metal, we have the story of artist, Alex, and his ultimate crush, guitarist Danny Death. We see Alex as a youth when he first encounters the band and follow him into adulthood. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Meatworks – Jordan Castillo Price
I think my quote from earlier this year says it all:
Life in Desmond Poole’s world is dark and messy and full of self-destructive choices. He’s not your traditional romantic hero, and Meatworks is certainly not your conventional, feel-good romance. The characters are damaged and their path to love rocky. Yet that in itself is the appeal. Jordan Castillo Price breaks molds and defies formulas. Her work is always a breath of fresh air for its grittiness and realism. Meatworks is no exception. If you’re anything like me, it’ll dig its hooks in you and refuse to let go, even weeks after you reach the final page.
These characters are flawed. They’re real. And as always, JCP is a master of her craft.
Hell & High Water (THIRDS #1) – Charlie Cochet
If you’re into M/M and you haven’t heard of Charlie’s THIRDS series, where have you been hiding? For the paranormal lovers, these books have it all. Shifters, alpha males, action, humor, smexiness, mystery. Even if you’re not a paranormal fan, you might enjoy this series. It’s definitely worth checking the first one out.
Better Than New – Charley Descoteaux
This was such a gem. It was a free short story, part of the Love’s Landscapes offerings, and dealt with a disabled hero and some hurt/comfort. I loved it from start to finish, and I highly recommend it.
Static – LA Witt
This book meant so much to me for such personal reasons that I left a comment on LA Witt’s Facebook wall to thank her mere moments after finishing it. It’s labeled as a shifter book, but it’s really so much more, and addresses gender identity issues in a way I’d never read before.
The Border – Kim Fielding
It’s no secret that I love Kim Fielding’s writing. She wrote a couple of my favorite books in the entire genre — Brute and Speechless — and her stories are never lacking in emotional depth and the sort of prose I can only hope to aspire to. This little novelette packed so much story into so few pages. It earned a spot on my favorites shelf, and I’m sure I’ll reread it again and again.
Life After Death (Infected #3) – Andrea Speed
Another not-so-secret love of mine is Speed’s Infected series… but it took me a long, long time before I worked up the courage to start this book. If you’ve read the previous books in that series, you might know why. To avoid spoilers, I won’t go into details, but I will say that my emotional journey with this book — and the entire series — will stay with me for a long time to come. Forever, in fact, since I have a tattoo in honor of the main character, Roan.
As He Watches – Finn Marlowe
This is another freebie, part of the Love Has No Boundaries stories offered from the M/M Romance Group in 2013. I have a bit of a fetish about men in lingerie, and this book hits that spot in such a good way. It’s BDSM, there’s some humiliation, and it’s hot as almighty hell. I’ve already read it twice.
Protection – SA Reid/T. Baggins
This book wrecked me. WRECKED. I only downloaded it originally because it was free on Amazon, but boy, am I glad I did. I only had the vaguest idea what it was about before it started, which was both a curse and a blessing. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but if I had, I might not have taken a chance on reading it, and that would be tragedy. This book was amazing, and definitely a standout among the books I’ve read this year.
Tequila Mockingbird – Rhys Ford
What can I say about Rhys Ford? She is amazing in every single way and has a mastery of the language I doubt I’ll ever possess. Her Sinners series is one of my faves. Love, sex, mystery, music, and characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Read her books!
That Last Thing He Needs – JH Knight
This was a great story that reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows, Shameless. This is the story of Tommy O’Shea, who is struggling to raise his seven siblings without any help from his drug and alcohol abusing parents. At its heart, this story was about family — the one you’re born into, and the one you build for yourself. I loved these characters and I’m so happy to have had a chance to be part of their world for a while.
Of Last Resort (Princes of the Blood #1) – Megan Derr
Megan Derr is one of my longtime favorite authors in M/M. I reread her stories constantly. Her Princes of the Blood series started earlier this year with Of Last Resort, which I absolutely loved. We have a plain hero rejected by his fiance when he decides to undergo the “Blooding” to try to become a Prince of the Blood. No one expects him to survive, but of course, Raffé surprises everyone, himself included. If you’re a fantasy fan, definitely check this out. The other books are just as good.
Sixty Five Hours – N.R. Walker
This is yet another free read, and it is fantastic. We have humor, enemies-to-lovers, hot sexy-times, and Walker’s engaging style and strong characters. Really, what more could you ask for?
Mark Cooper versus America – Lisa Henry & JA Rock
Yay for more lingerie! Love, love, love this book. So hilarious, so well-written, so frickin’ hot! Go forth and read it!
The Other Guy – Cary Atwell
This is a book I don’t even remember why I purchased. Something about the cover drew me in, maybe, and it sat on my Kindle for ages until I was on vacation earlier this year. Man, did I regret not reading it sooner. It was amazing. Funny, engaging, friends-to-lovers, which is one of my all-time favorite tropes. I enthusiastically recommend it, especially to those of you who like “fade to black” or non-explicit sex scenes.
(Watch Me) Break You – Avril Ashton
Avril’s stories are often dark and gritty, but man, when her characters fall, they fall hard. The emotions are intense, the sex is always scorching, and you can rely on her for a happy ending despite the odds. Plus, she includes all sorts of interracial/multicultural relationships. This is why she’s one of my faves, and this book did not disappoint. It contained all of my favorite things about Avril’s writing, plus ventured places she hadn’t gone before, which I appreciate.
Then the Stars Fall – Brandon Witt
This was a family-focused story that also deals with grief and the prejudices involved with being an openly gay man in a small, conservative town. There were kids and pets and lots of vivid secondary characters, plus a slow-burn romance, which I tend to adore, as I love sexual tension. It was lovely. I even bought the paperback and asked Brandon to sign it at GRL, I loved it so much. And it’s another one for the readers who prefer non-explicit stories.
Brothers of the Wild North Sea – Harper Fox
Wow. I would probably call this my second favorite read of the year. I can’t describe how much I loved this book. The history, the magic, the enemies-to-lovers romance in the truest sense of the term. Harper Fox is a brilliant author with such immense talent I can’t help but feel awed when I read her stories. They are really a gift. This book was gorgeous, and nothing else I say can do it justice.
Second Skin – Genna Donaghy
This book was fun and different and has gotten a lot less attention than it deserves, in my opinion. I loved everything about it, the characters, the story line. Everything.
Bone Rider – J. Fally
Brilliant! This was easily my favorite book of the year. I loved it so much. Humor, action, romance. Simply awesome. Some people might not be fans of all the different POVs, but I thought it really worked. It couldn’t have been told any other way. I will buy anything else J. Fally releases without question based on my love for this book. It really felt like watching a movie, a la Die Hard. I gushed about it everywhere.
And those were my favorite reads this year! I might add to this list if I read something amazing between now and New Year’s Eve, but for now, these were the books I enjoyed reading most.
What were yours? Any books to recommend?
Hey, all. 🙂 So I’m introducing a new thing on the blog today. Even before I was published, I rarely wrote reviews. Now, I don’t know how comfortable I am trying to write up critical reviews of work by my friends and peers. You’ll never find an actual review, a la Jessewave or The Novel Approach, on this blog. But I’ve never had a problem yelling it from the mountaintops when I love a particular book. I like to spread the love, and that being the case, since I’m just as much of a reader as a writer, I’ve decided to post about the books I love, old or new. This won’t necessarily be happening on a regular schedule because of course it’s all dependent on when I come across a book I’m really crazy about, but to kick it off I’ve decided to go with a doubleheader featuring two books I read and loved recently. And without any further ado…
First we have A Sinner Born, which is book three in Avril Ashton’s popular Brooklyn Sinners series, the story of Syren and Kane. Syren is a man with many, many secrets. Kane is a man still grieving the death of his partner. And when these two come together, it’s sizzling. As an added bonus, one of the heroes has a panty fetish, which is one of my kinks, so the book really worked for me! For the more sensitive readers out there, there is some difficult subject matter, like self-harm and mentions of rape and child abuse, but I thought those topics were all well-handled. So if you like federal marshals and bad boys with a lot of attitude, I definitely recommend you check this one out!
Secondly, is Rowan Speedwell’s Illumination.
Now, I make no secret of the fact that I think Rowan Speedwell is pretty much the bee’s knees. She’s an awesome person and an awesome writer, and I haven’t read a single thing by her I haven’t loved. Illumination is no exception. You can tell the subject of illuminating books is something Rowan is very familiar with. In fact, she does it herself, and her knowledge of the subject makes itself known in this book and adds such richness that it made me wish I had a halfway decent hand at drawing or painting so I could try it myself. Then there are the characters, Adam and Miles, who are both battling their own demons, but came together so beautifully. I was rooting for them both the whole time, and I loved the book so much that when I saw Rowan at GRL, I bought a copy of the paperback so she could sign it, despite already having the ebook. Rowan knows her stuff and her writing is lovely. Every time I read a book of hers, it’s like a gift. So, of course, this one is highly recommended. ❤
And as a disclaimer, some of the books I love will doubtless be by people I know or consider friends, because my friendships with a lot of my fellow authors began when I loved one of their books and contacted them to say just how much. But there will also be books featured by authors who I’ve never really spoken to or maybe only rarely on social media sites. Suffice it to say, I’m trying to keep it unbiased, but when I love a book, I love a book, and I have no problems saying so. Friend, acquaintance, or stranger, it doesn’t matter to me who wrote it. 🙂