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Piper’s Reading Roundup – July & August

Hi, peeps! Since I slacked last month and didn’t post my reading roundup, this post contains my favorite reads from both July and August! So, without any further ado… 🙂

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Being(s) in Love Series by R. Cooper – I’ve recommended plenty of titles by R. Cooper in the past, so seeing her on this list should come as no surprise. Instead of individual titles, though, I’m just going to mention her Being(s) in Love series as a whole. I have my particular faves (Little Wolf  and A Dandelion for Tulip), but really, I just love this entire series. R. Cooper has created a world I wish I could live in. I love seeing familiar faces pop up throughout the books, and I love R. Cooper’s skill at writing slow-burn and unresolved sexual tension. It’s such delicious torment waiting for the characters to finally get together. The pining, friends. The pining. I highly recommend this series for fans of urban fantasy romance. There are fairies and elves and werewolves and dragons and all sorts of wonderful creatures and characters that will steal your heart.

Priddy’s Tale by Harper Fox – When have I read a story by Harper Fox that I didn’t like? The answer is never. Her writing is lovely, as always, and then we have Merou, a delightful merman! This was a beautiful story.

Best in Show by Kelly Jensen – When I bought this book, going by the adorable cover alone, I thought I was starting a cute contemporary romance. Little did I know, because I failed to read the blurb, there’d be paranormal elements – like witches and a shape-shifting cat. Lucky for me, that’s not a problem! I’m a big shifter fan, it has to be said, and at the time, this fluffy adorableness was exactly what I needed. If you’re looking for something light and funny, check this out!

Staged by Kim Fielding – I admit to some hesitancy before starting this book. I’m generally not a big fan of books containing dub- or non-con elements, and slave fic can be pretty touchy for me too. The reason I took a chance on this book was the author. If you’ve followed my book rec posts in the past, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Kim Fielding. We have author/reader trust established, which means I know that no matter what she puts her characters through, she’ll get them to a happy (or happier) place by the end. I trusted her to do that here too, and I wasn’t disappointed. Fair warning, though – this is a lot darker than Kim’s usual work, and some parts were difficult to read, at least for me.

Bitten by Mistake by Annabelle Jacobs – As mentioned earlier, I’m a shifter lover, so when I saw this pop up on my FB timeline I knew I had to try it. Loved the world-building and the unique take on shifter/werewolf lore and I’m hoping to see more books in this universe in the future.

Loud and Clear by Aidan Wayne – This title was recommended to me when I was looking for a light, low-angst read. It was very sweet and there were no explicit scenes, for the readers who prefer that. I would’ve happily read more about these two characters, but sometimes what I really crave is a short, sweet novella, and I got that with this book.

Misfits by Garrett Leigh – The other day I was in the mood to read a good menage story and I asked for recommendations on Twitter. Misfits was mentioned by nearly everyone who answered, and though I’d shied away from reading any of the Garrett Leigh titles I own because people kept telling me they were really angst heavy, after several people, including Garrett, told me the story wasn’t too heavy, I decided to take a chance. I’m so glad I did, because it was a lovely story and an instant addition to my favorites shelf. There was a bit of angst, but nothing overwhelming, and I loved watching these three men come together. Highly recommended!

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The Cobbler’s Soleless Son by Meredith Katz – As I said before, I’m sometimes in the mood for a good short story or novella. This story was one I bought on a whim after seeing Megan Derr mention the title. I’d never read anything by this author, but I liked the blurb, and I’m pleased to say, I enjoyed it very much. I like stories about/featuring demons and this one had a fairy-tale vibe that appealed to me. I was quite happy and charmed by it.

The Hot Floor by Josephine Myles – This was another title that got recommended to me when I was searching for good menage stories. I’d had it for years but never read it for some reason. Well, now I regret having waited so long! I loved the characters and the way their relationship developed. The story was smutty and fun and I found Josh to be very sweet. I also loved the secondary characters.

Empty Net (Scoring Chances #4) by Avon Gale – Full disclosure, I can’t claim to be totally unbiased here. Over the last year, Avon and I have become very good friends, and at this point I’m lucky enough to get to read her work as it’s being written (and we’re also currently writing together). But I will say that my love of Avon’s work and our friendship both started sort of simultaneously. I was hooked with Breakaway and have loved everything I’ve read since. It’s been a trend so far with the Scoring Chances series that I’ve loved each book more than the last, and this is no exception. Isaac and Laurent’s story is the darkest book in the series, but still infused with Avon’s trademark humor and snappy dialogue. Watching these two guys come together was really beautiful. Laurent needed someone like Isaac who was willing to look beyond Laurent’s cold, surly exterior to find the vulnerable person underneath… because that person is definitely worth knowing and desperately in need of the love that only someone like Isaac could give him. Recommended, of course! And even if you’re not a hockey fan, I’d suggest giving this series a try. The books are about so much more than hockey, though if you’re a fan, like myself, there is plenty here to keep the sports lover satisfied too.

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Piper’s Favorite Reads of 2014

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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 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?

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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!

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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