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, y’all! These lists are cropping up on blogs all over and I thought I’d join in the fun. Note: These are the books I read and loved in 2013, but not all of them were actually published last year. They might be older books I just discovered. I thought it’d be cool to show them love either way. 🙂
Now, in no particular order:
Without Reservations by J.L. Langley – Why did it take me so long to read this book? I have no idea. But once I did, I consumed the rest of the series in a couple of days and have since reread them all more than once. Love. LOVE. And I can’t wait for more. This is my fave shifter series. 🙂
Fish and Ghosts by Rhys Ford – Well, what can I say? Rhys is amazing. Her characters are vivid and well-developed, even down to all the secondaries. I loved this book and I love her Sinner’s Gin series. She’s become one of my favorite authors and I feel very fortunate to be able to call her a friend now also. She’s one of the loveliest, kindest people around. ♥
El Presidio Rides North by Domashita Romero – This is actually a free online read, but don’t let that discourage you from checking it out! If you’re a fan of zombies and shows like The Walking Dead, you will love this story!
Criss Cross (PsyCop #2) by Jordan Castillo Price – Oddly enough, an entire year passed between me reading the first book in the PsyCop series and this one. I don’t know why exactly, since I loved Among the Living, but I did read a lot less in 2012 than I did last year. Once I moved on to Criss Cross, I devoured the remainder of the PsyCop books available and fell hopelessly in love with the series (and I’ve since reread them all, too). It’s now my favorite overall m/m series and one of my favorites in general. I love these books and these characters. If you haven’t read them yet and you enjoy paranormal mysteries with a dash of romance thrown in, then please do check them out. And, as a bonus, Jordan Castillo Price is awesome. 🙂
The Mark of an Alpha (Pack Discipline #1) by Kim Dare – I’m a big fan of Kim Dare and yet somehow hadn’t read any of her Pack Discipline books before last year. This is a shifter series and with Kim Dare at the helm, you know there’s a bit of BDSM involved, but that’s just how I like it! This and the 3rd in the series, The Duty of a Beta, were my faves, but I enjoyed them all very much.
Illumination by Rowan Speedwell – Rowan is a very sweet lady and her writing is beautiful. Illumination is the story of a rockstar and a reclusive artist who illuminates manuscripts for a living. Reading about the process of illumination had me hankering to give it a try myself. You could tell while reading that Rowan knows her subject matter and I can appreciate that in a book. Plus, Miles and Adam were hot together.
Unbreak My Heart by K-Lee Klein – What a heart-wrenching story this was. Cowboys, loss, grief, and finding love again. This was beautiful. I ugly-cried a few times.
Fear, Hope, and Bread Pudding by Marie Sexton – I can’t even put into words how much I loved this story. I think I read it 3 or 4 times after its release. I love Marie’s Coda books, but Cole’s book, Strawberries for Dessert, remains my favorite. In this sequel, we see the process of him trying to become a father along with his husband, Jon. I yearned with them, mourned with them, and rejoiced with them. It was lovely. Probably in my top 3 for the year.
Noticed Me Yet? by Anyta Sunday – This was the perfect little read. Cute, sweet, and unique. I read it twice last year and I know I’ll reread it again someday.
The Starving Years by Jordan Castillo Price – This was an amazing book. It had that sort of breathless, anticipatory feel you get when watching disaster movies. You get caught up in the characters’ panic and confusion about what’s happening and you stay on the edge of your seat until the ride is finally over. It was gripping, original, and wonderfully written, as is always the case with JCP. The romance is secondary to the action, but there was a bit of a love triangle that eventually developed into a ménage, and I enjoyed the dynamic of these three characters together.
College Boys (Men of Holsum College #1) by Daisy Harris – This is the beginning of Daisy’s popular Men of Holsum College series. I really enjoyed this book and this series and quickly went through them all and was left wishing for more. While more books in the series are unlikely, there are 8 available and they can all pretty much stand on their own. Check these out if you like reading about college-aged guys and you like your stories with a bit of angst and humor.
Six Ways from Sunday by Mercy Celeste – A football player, a Marine, best friends, steamy sex scenes, and lots of emotion. What more can you ask for? If you haven’t read Mercy, you’re missing out.
His Roommate’s Pleasure by Lana McGregor – Hot damn this was one hot story. Like, I was literally sweating. We have a couple of college roommates dabbling into BDSM for the first time and the results are smoking. If you like your romance on the erotic side, check this one out.
Fugly by KZ Snow – KZ Snow is an amazing author. One who I think doesn’t get near the amount of attention she deserves. Fugly was not my first read by her. That was The Zero Knot back in 2011, and that book remains one of my all-time m/m favorites. In Fugly we have a trio of egotistical, superficial guys who get cursed by a mysterious stranger and learn how little good looks really matter when your heart is ugly. I really enjoyed it. A modern day fable penned by an impeccable hand.
So, what were your favorite reads of 2013, new or old? I’m always looking for recs. Feel free to share in the comments. 😀