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Piper’s Reading Roundup: Top 15 Reads of 2016

Hey, all! It’s been a while since I posted one of these, but since 2017 is rapidly approaching, I figured I might as well save it for a big end-of-the-year post!

Without further ado, and in no particular order, these were my top 15 favorite reads in 2016. (Note: I did cheat a little by choosing series in a couple of places, and these are books I read this year but they weren’t all necessarily released in 2016.)

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.

 

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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.

Misfits by Garrett Leigh – A couple of months ago 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 friends kept warning me about the high angst content, after several people – including Garrett herself – told me the story wasn’t overly heavy, I decided to take a chance. I’m so, 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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Shades of Gray by Brooke McKinley – Man, it took me way too long to read this book! I don’t know why I put it off for so long, even though I’d bought it when it first came out and multiple friends recommended it to me after its release. I loved pretty much every word. The angst, the yearning and attraction between Miller and Danny… I mean, it’s like my crack when it comes to books. I die for great UST (unresolved sexual tension). DIE, I SAY. And when they finally came together, it was scorching and I just wanted it to work out for them SO BAD. The ending was perfect. Highly recommended. (And damn, was I bummed when I realized McKinley didn’t have any other books for me to devour. /sadface)

Damned If You Do by Marie Sexton – This book was a pure pleasure to read. It had humor, mild angst, and SO MANY FEELS. Religion – or rather faith – played a huge role (obv, I mean, this is a book about a soul-acquiring devil falling for a Bible-quoting revivalist). I loved Sexton’s take on Hell. I laughed more than once, had a few heart squishy moments, and even got misty eyed toward the end. Whether you’ve read Sexton before or if she’d be new to you, I definitely recommend checking this out! (Also, heed the product warning from Samhain because if snakes aren’t your bag, a couple of scenes in this book might freak you out. Just a heads up.)

Power Play (Scoring Chances #3) & Empty Net (Scoring Chances #4) by Avon Gale – Full disclosure, I can’t claim to be totally unbiased here. Over the last year, Avon has become one of my best 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 a series together that was recently contracted by Riptide!). 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. Each book is infused with Avon’s trademark humor, skillful writing, and snappy dialogue. Watching her characters come together is always incredibly fun and gratifying — and sometimes heart-wrenching. 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 happy too.

 

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Farm Fresh (Naked Organics #1) by Posy Roberts – I loved how different this book was. It portrayed a “free love” commune in Oregon, which one of the main characters joins after encountering the intriguing Hudson, a man who lives/works in the Kaleidoscope Gardens and sells their produce and various other things during the farmers’ market on Jude’s college campus every week. Hudson and Jude come from similar backgrounds, but Jude is nursing some serious hangups when it comes to sex – guilt, shame, and memories of abuse at the hands of his parents, who think sex is for one purpose only: procreation. I was fascinated by the commune and Jude’s changes as he acclimated to life there. I’ve actually discussed the idea of a commune, although not quite this type, with friends in the past, and I think I’d love to live in such an environment. I’m looking forward to reading the next book, which features Hudson and Jude once again. They’re together at the end of this book, but their relationship is really just beginning. And as you can guess by this description and the blurb, this book is about poly/open relationships. If you’re not a fan of seeing sex happen with anyone outside of the main couple, then it’s probably best to avoid.

The Dead Past by Kate Aaron – Earlier this year I asked if there was such a thing as cozy mysteries in M/M. You know the sort – bookish librarian of bakery owner from a small town suddenly stumbles over a corpse and amateur sleuthing ensues. Someone mentioned the Puddledown Mysteries and I was intrigued enough by the blurb of the first book to try the sample. And when I came to the end of the sample I immediately purchased the book and kept reading right until I finished it. The story is set in a small British town in the wake of WWII. Hugo finds an elderly widow brutally murdered in the woods, only to have Tommy, the new groundskeeper on the property, appear on the scene mere minutes later. At first Hugo is suspicious, but then he starts to develop feelings for the mysterious Tommy as they bond in the aftermath of their mutual discovery. It’s a quiet, understated story in the manner of Agatha Christie or Louise Penny with no sex and very little physical contact. If you’re a fan of cozies, you’re almost certain to enjoy it. (I also read the next two books in the series and loved them too!)

The Benched Series by Misha Horne – This contemporary series starts with Rookie Mistake, and man, is it fun! Juno and Kyle are vivid, wonderful characters – especially Juno – and if you’re a fan of spanking and D/s elements, you need to be reading these shorts. The most recent one came out in October, and I’m eagerly awaiting more!

The Galactic Alliance Series by KC Burn – When this series was first recommended to me, I’d had the first book, Spice ‘n’ Solace, on my TBR list quite some time. I finally dove in, and I’m so glad I did! These sexy stories include fabulous characters and are perfect for anyone who’s a fan of sci-fi without an over-abundance of world-building and technical jargon to weigh the story down. I even asked KC Burn if there’d be more right after I finished the third book, which should tell you something. (She said yes, BTW. :D)

Tournament of Losers by Megan Derr – Friggin’ fabulous! If you like reading stories in which the hero has to compete in a tournament for their lover’s heart and hand, well, you will not find a better one in M/M! And it was written for me, after my shameless begging for this type of story on Twitter, so, you know, that made it extra special!

 

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Interborough (Five Boroughs #4) by Santino Hassell – I’m a big fan of this series, and this couple in particular. I’m really glad that Santino decided to revisit them and really cement their HEA. David and Raymond are by far my favorite couple in the Five Boroughs universe. Their chemistry is like whoa, and here we got to see them develop and strengthen as a couple in spite of some stressful life circumstances, which I think was necessary for the reader to believe their relationship can really withstand the test of time. They’ll be together forever. I know it! And it was good seeing glimpses of all the familiar 5B characters. That epilogue! I still haven’t recovered!

Must Like Spinach by Con Riley – I confess, it was the title of this book that first caught my attention. It was different – and I usually like different – and I’m so happy I decided to give it a go. It was my first book by Con Riley, but it certainly won’t be my last. I mean, what a gorgeous, character-driven, slow-burn romance! I loved the pacing. There was enough angst to keep it from being fluffy, and yet it was still a sweet story, and it perfectly fit my mood at the time. I know I’ll reread it again in the future, and I recommended it all over the place after I finished it.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – What can I even say about this book? It was my favorite read of the year, and I seriously doubt anything else I read in the next couple of weeks will even come close to knocking it from that pedestal. This is the sort of LGBTQ+ YA I aspire to write. I thought it was absolutely perfect, and if someday I produce a book that makes people feel the way Simon made me feel, I’ll consider my ultimate goal as an author accomplished. I loved it that much. All of the stars to this fabulous read. It’s one of the few books I own in 3 formats – audio, paperback, and ebook.

 

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Piper’s Reading Roundup: June – August

Hi, everyone! It’s that time again. With traveling and being ill, I missed posting my reading roundup the last few months. I’m now going to rectify that, just in case anyone actually follows these posts. 😛

These are the books I read and enjoyed throughout June, July, and August. 🙂

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Dragon Slayer by Isabella Carter – This book had everything I love. Great characters, UST (unresolved sexual tension), dragons, solid, engaging writing, and a believable arranged/forced marriage romance. Good stuff. (And don’t just take my word for it! It was a 2014 Lambda Literary Award finalist, so that should tell you something too.) I can’t wait for book 2, which I know the author is working on now.

Seducing Stephen by Bonnie Dee & Summer Devon – As I’ve said before, Dee and Devon are one of my favorite author match-ups. I’m never disappointed in their stories. I always love the characters and root for them and this was certainly no exception. Recommended for the historical fans out there, if you haven’t read it yet.

Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell – I loved this book, and well, I’ve already said it all in my Goodreads review, so check that out if you want to know my reasons. Suffice it to say, if you like your contemporary romance with some grit and lots of sexual intensity, you will enjoy this book.

Tail Slide by PD Singer – This was a fun little read about an otter shifter who likes to snowboard and the guy he meets while shredding powder on his favorite mountain. Very cute.

Yours, Johnny by Hollis Shiloh – I’m a big fan of Hollis Shiloh. Generally, her stories don’t have a high heat content, so if that’s what you seek, Shiloh might not be the author for you. However, if you don’t mind non-explicit or low-sex stories, Shiloh might be right up your alley. She has a great style, and this one was touching and bittersweet. I enjoyed it immensely.

Where There’s Smoke by Nico Jaye – Sweet, cute, smufftastic! There’s a firefighter and a kitty. What more could you ask for?

Claiming His Mate by Lissa Ford – This is book #1 in Ford’s Rogue Alpha series, and fair warning, it’s not a complete story. You have to read all 3 books to get their entire arc. If you don’t mind that and you like shifters, enemies to lovers, military/special ops elements, and locked-in-a-cabin-together scenarios, you’ll probably enjoy this.

FREEBIES

All of the stories below are part of the M/M Romance Groups’s “Love is an Open Road” event, which means you can download them all for free

The Frat Brat by Nico Jaye – More smuff (smutty fluff)! This was short and sexy with very light D/s elements. Frat boys, car washes, wet T-shirts, and a multicultural couple… is it getting hot in here?

Salvaging Toby’s Heart by Lexi Ander – Tentacles, people. TENTACLES. And a great hero in the form of Sol. Lexi rocks, and I love the world she created here (and I say we need more stories in this world!).

The Downs by Kim Fielding – Well, it’s Kim, and make no bones about it, she’s one of my favorite authors in this genre. This story lives up to everything I’ve come to expect from Kim — vivid characters, excellent world-building, and the sort of writing I can’t find any fault with. Highly recommended!

Bare-Knuckle Love by KA Merikan – This story. I’ve read a couple of Merikan shorties before this, so I’m familiar with their darker style, and frankly, I loved that they didn’t pull any punches with this story (pun intended). I mean, we’re talking about a motorcycle gang member — leader, actually — and an MMA style fighter. No one should be expecting tenderness or whirlwind romance. This story is gritty, dirty, violent, and intense. It’s also hot as hell. I loved it.

Above All Else by Dayton Idoni – More dragons! Enemies to lovers in a fantasy setting. This was sweet, very unique, and it’s non-explicit for those who prefer that. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think the cover reflects the story well.

Wolf’s Honor by Laylah Hunter – This was very short and I was left wanting more — in a good way. I could have easily read a full length novel about these characters. We had a character with a traumatic past, some hurt/comfort, an alpha worthy of running a pack, and well, the rutting and knotting certainly didn’t hurt. 😉 I think I need to go reread it…

Moondrop by Katey Hawthorne – I loved this story! It was sweet and sexy. I loved the world, the tone, the characters, and the writing. It’s urban fantasy/paranormal and definitely not a hot and smutty fast-paced affair, but I was swept away by it and I’d love to read another story in this universe.

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Reawakening (Forever Dead) by Charlotte Stein – Now, I realize most readers who follow this blog might strictly read M/M but I couldn’t leave this book out of this post because it was just that awesome. In the wake of a zombie apocalypse, June finds herself saved by two very different men and falls in love with them both. This had horror, humor, and everything I’d expect from a zombie romance, along with a couple of damaged heroes and some seriously steamy sex. I mean… I was blown away and I desperately wish we could see more of their story, though the author has no plans to write another story for these three characters. This went on my “to reread” pile the moment I finished it.

And that’s all, she wrote! What have you read and loved recently? I’m always looking for recs!

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