And now, here they are, our Best of 2015!
Carrie's Top 5:
- Feat of Clay by Susan Mac Nicol:
Let me start by saying I love Susan Mac Nicol, and I have read and recommended all the books in the Men of London series. These books are so well written, and I didn’t think she could do better than Suit Yourself, book three, but yeah, she proved me wrong and I am so glad she did.
- Make Me Soar by K.C. Wells:
All of the Collars and Cuffs books are excellent, and this one is no exception. You do not have to read them in order, though it helps, as the characters overlap, but each story can stand on its own. Buy it. Read it. You will love it.
- Lessons for Sleeping Dogs by Charlie Cochrane
If you like period appropriate verbiage and staging, REALLY GOOD mysteries, and colorful and witty characters, then this series is for you. You do not have to read these mysteries in order, just pick one up – it will not disappoint – and then you will go back for more!
- Three's Company by N.R. Walker
Be aware this is a rework of a book that came out originally about three years ago. It’s been revised, given it a new cover, and the story has been expanded somewhat from the original. I really liked the expanded parts of the story, as we get to see into the lives of these men a little more clearly, and it makes the book into more of a romance HEA than just a ménage storyline. I would recommend getting the expanded version. This is just one of those books that once you start reading you become invested in these characters and don’t want to put it down until the very end. That N.R. Walker has gone back and given us more of these men and their lives – BONUS!
- In-Decision by Sue Brown
In-Decision is part of a series of books brought about by a collaboration between Lisa Worrall and Sue Brown. So what do you get when you combine two incredible authors? An incredible series. I love these books. They are light, they are easy to read, they are heartwarming, and each of these authors has a true talent for not only character development but plot and timing.Honorable Mention: Trowchester Blues by Alex Beecroft
Jennifer's Top 5:
- Gyrfalcon by Anna Butler
This book is not a light read. It’s heavy. There is a lot of military and scientific jargon because of the setting, but honestly, don’t let that throw you off. For me, it just sucked me into the story even more. I was thoroughly engrossed in the lives of the characters and enjoyed reading about the military operations as they unfolded. I loved reading about the various ships, from the tiny Mosquito to the massive dreadnought, and all their inner workings.
- The Twilight Gods by Hayden Thorne
While beautiful, I thought the ending was heartbreaking. The choices Norris must make are difficult, and while perfect for the nineteenth century, sadly they are choices people still feel they must make today. It broke my heart and I sobbed through the last few pages. It was perfectly bittersweet.
- Yogi and the Bear by Nix Knox
God, I loved this book. There was so much to love about it, I’m trying to remember it all. I highlighted a lot as I read, to keep track and then tell everyone how amazing this was... Basically, you should read it for yourself.
- The Captain's Pet by Samantha Cayto
There are some tense moments at the end of the book that involve a mutiny and rebellion, but it was awesome, and I don’t want to give any of that way. Just know that I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next in the series. If non-con and dub-con doesn’t bother you too much, I recommend checking this one out.
- Down by Ally Blue
Whether you’re a fan of horror or not, I highly recommend you checking this book out. If I can manage to do it even with all of my fears, so can you! I just might have hid under the covers more than the typical person…and, maybe I got nervous every time a shadow twitched from the car lights outside, but whatever. I can always sleep next week or something.
- Honorable Mention: Chaos Station by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen
- Vespertine by Indra Vaughn and Leta Blake:
So, yeah…this is a fantastic read. There are too many kickass bits and characters to mention them all. Nicky’s story is hard to read at times – addiction is such an ugly thing, and a tough topic to tackle, but these guys did an amazing job. I wanted to squeeze him throughout the entire book. Jazz reminds him about all the best parts of himself, though, and together they are wonderful. The authors did an unbelievably brilliant job at making the story flow seamlessly and bringing all of the elements together. I wholeheartedly recommend this one! I will definitely be reading it again.
- Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan:
I highlighted fifty-seven passages in this book, you guys. Fifty-seven. Highlighter orgies like that don’t happen every day. Read this book. Or, the series if you haven’t started it yet, beginning with Love Lessons, of course – because Walter.
Sidenote: Ed and Laurie are a FANTASTIC addition to this book. If you want to know their story, and haven’t read Dance with Me, it’s being rereleased with an amazing new cover on September 8th!!
- How to be a Normal Person by TJ Klune:
I don’t know how TJ Klune ever got through this manuscript. I know some authors go through the same emotions while writing that we go through while reading – in this case: hysterical laughter, eye rolling, swooning, and tears, to name just a handful – which must have made writing this one an adventure and a joy. I know reading it sure was. I love so hard that this book exists.
- Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell:
Santino Hassell’s writing has been described as ‘gritty’. And it is that, no doubt. But, it’s also full of beauty and heart and wit. And romance. I swooned HARD for these guys. The writing feels authentic, not researched. Santino Hassell is simply a great storyteller, and great storytelling begins with great characters. Lisa and I couldn’t stop talking about this book for weeks after we finished it. One of the things we both kept coming back to was that final scene, and how utterly perfect and gorgeous the writing was. Another thing that was repeated numerous times, though, in varying degrees of flail, depending on the scene being discussed, was how much we just fucking LOVED these characters. They are so real, and there is so much meat to them…we honestly just couldn’t get enough.
- Gives Light by Rose Cristo:
There are so many fabulous moments in these books, too many to count. I definitely got good use out of my Kindle’s highlighter! I can’t recommend this series enough. Some of the best YA I’ve read in the genre. These books, and these characters, are going to stay with me for a long time.Honorable Mention: Maps by Nash Summers
- Cherish & Blessed/Truth & Tenderness by Tere Michaels:
Okay, so I’m a huge fan and just couldn’t get enough. I want to know these people in real life. I want to be their friend! The love they have for each other jumps off the page, and the emotions are of the charts.
Reading these stories was like visiting with a best friend. I just couldn’t get enough because my appetite for them is insatiable. So, Ms. Michaels, you need to give us more of Evan and Matt ASAP!
- The Protector by Cooper West
The story is not only about Alex and Marcus’s mating. There is a subplot of unsolved murders, a mad scientist, a latent Protector manifestation, and another bonding. I’m not going to spoil it because this book is a must read. It was pretty ingenious and fun, and I hope this is not the end of Alex and Marcus because I want to read more about their adventures together.
- The Chase by Nessa Vincent
This story is a gem and I highly recommend it. The writing was very good. The story flowed without any snags. It’s fun, fast, sexy and hot. So pick up a copy. And I hope there will be more.
- A Prince for a Kingdom by Meg Harding
A Price for a Kingdom held my attention thoroughly. It was fast paced and highly entertaining. Any fan of fantasy will greatly enjoy it. I did, and more would be greatly appreciated.
- Plaid Nights Anthology – Torquere Press
Any book that has gorgeous kilted men in it, who love sex and sin, is one I can get behind. This book has a little of everything: sexy bad boys, a little mystery, a little paranormal, and a lot of entertainment. It’s a must read.Honorable Mention: A Soul Remembered by Vivien Dean
Lynn's Top 5:
- Return to Me by James Oliver French
Wow, this story was an amazing read. I had expectations when I started the book but set them aside, one by one, the deeper I read. The complex inner workings of Todd, the main character, is the true focus of the story and kept me fascinated. We see him meet a man while they are both in college, and their relationship blossoms quickly. Still, this is not your typical romance. The author goes places I did not expect, which I appreciate. And there is neither a HEA, nor does it have a HFN. Just putting that out there. You’ve been warned.
- Jesse's Diner by Cardeno C.
What I loved most about this story was its simplicity. Right to the point, no angst, no miscommunication. Just two people finding love and companionship for all the right reasons. I thought I would have a problem with the age difference between the characters, but the author did such a great job with making them equals that age was never an issue.
- Small Steps by Chris McHart
I will say the author did a tremendous job in keeping this story real, in the alcoholism storyline and the havoc which this disease can cause. Seeing the aftermath and how it can truly change the lives of so many people was very realistic. Bottom line: it’s a story of acceptance, forgiveness and learning to love and be loved.
- Vanished 2 by Carter Quinn
OMG, this book. This is a gripping psychological thriller/mystery that takes a hold of you and doesn’t let go. An edge-of-your-seat read that makes you think you know what’s going on, then BAM, it takes another turn; a turn you never saw coming. A roller coaster ride that makes your stomach plummet, and, just as quickly, has your heart racing. Yes, it’s all that and more. As readers we have our own expectations of what we think should happen, and what we think will happen, but then at times the reality of what does happen is a letdown. With Vanished 2, it’s the total opposite. We never know what’s going to happen, so it exceeds any expectations we ever had.
- Pent Up by Damon Suede
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I would definitely call Pent Up a GFY story. I loved going on the journey with Reuben as he comes to realize that, yes, he is attracted to a man. His struggle to keep sober was real and, at times, heartbreaking. I really liked seeing two men at total opposite ends of the spectrum getting together and literally saving each other. It may be cliché, but it worked.
Karen's Top 5:
- Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford
In Fish Stick Fridays (along with every other book I’ve read by this author), she does an amazing job with the details. While reading, you can almost see, feel, smell, hear and touch what’s happening around the characters you’re reading about, and she does it without being wordy or drawn out. Such talent. I’ve decided that I can no longer say every one of her books is my new favorite. I think they are all amazing, and this is another to add to the list.
- Against the Grain by Charlie Cochet
Although the first books all revolved mostly around Dex and Sloane, they really showcase the entire team, and this book is Ash and Cael’s story. We get a little more background on things that have made these two who they are, and I don’t think their story could have been done any better than it was. Even though there was a change in the MC in this book, it still focuses on the team, so you still get snippets of all of the guys and girls we love. I liked getting a look at the team from a different perspective and to get to see a how Ash and Cael view the crazy going on around them. I seriously want a friend like Dex.
- Moment of Silence by Karen Stivali
As much as I loved Collin and Tanner in the first three books of the series, I think Moment of Silence is my favorite so far. There was something really sweet about Jason and Quinn. Although the attraction between the two was pretty evident right from the beginning, it was nice watching these guys hang out and become friends before things became hot and steamy between them; then…whew, things were definitely hot.
- Out of the Blues by Mercy Celeste
I am usually not a huge fan of angst or tear-your-heart-out books—truthfully, I have enough tears in my real life and reading is my escape from that—but I can honestly say I have no problem picking up a book by Ms. Celeste, knowing it is going to rip me to shreds. The stories are really just that good, and Out of the Blues is no exception.
- The Lightning-Struck Heart by TJ Klune
Gary and Tiggy…I really don’t even have the words. Most awesome hornless gay unicorn and half giant ever! Throughout the entire story I kept flipping between who was my favorite character and finally just decided there was no favorite. I love them all. There really isn’t a character mentioned that I didn’t love for what they brought to the story. I can’t even tell you how happy I am that I currently don’t have any books lined up behind this one to review so that I can immediately do a re-read of it.Honorable Mention: BOSS by Ashley John
Maryann's Top 5:
- Blood & Dirt by Lloyd A. Meeker
After reading Blood & Dirt I have definitely become a fan of Lloyd A. Meeker and the Russ Morgan Mystery series. This is the second installment, so if you have not read Enigma, it’s a must read before Blood & Dirt. Mr. Meeker takes us on another roller coaster ride, with so many clashing personalities for Russ to examine before he can solve the case.
- Dark Economy by M. Keedwell
Dark Economy is set in London, in 1829, and the author has really brought this time period to life. The writing style, settings, and the old English accent give the book its historical feel. We find that it’s also a time of indecision in the medical field, as well as intolerance toward gay men. It’s quite the page turner, full of suspense, danger and humor.
- Shiver by Jocelyn Drake & Rinda Elliott
Shiver was a surprise, a fast paced page turner filled with danger, suspense, wild fight scenes, and a crazy descriptive car chase. And, was not without humor. Oh, and the passion will tug at your heart strings. Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliott are just amazing with the written word. I seriously think this will be an exciting series. It left me hungry for more!
- Outcast Cowboys by Sarah Masters
Sarah Masters is one of my favorite authors, so I decided to see where she was going with Outcast Cowboys since cowboys and ranches are not usually what Ms. Masters writes. I was not disappointed in this page-turner at all. Outcast Cowboys is heartrending, with a dark psychological feel, and is a little eerie too, as death seems to be a part of this ranch—along with a horse that has a mysterious role. The book does have a warning about non-consensual sex, but it also contains several suicides, which might be disturbing to readers as well.
- And a Smile by BA Tortuga
BA Tortuga takes us back on the rodeo circuit with the Roughstock series in And a Smile. Coke Pharras, Dillon Walsh, and the bullfighters give us rodeo action packed with dangerous bulls, the bullfighters taking risks to keep the riders safe–and it seems like the bulls are winning.
- Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe
I could go on and on describing these amazing characters. I could speak of the lush and vivid prose that creates the setting for each life event discussed in the book. I could remark on how I have never experienced such a rush of emotions that included true worry that these two men would never admit their love for each other in time—even knowing they’ve already achieved their happy-ever-after. I could say again and again, read this story—it is a beautiful slice of history wrapped in a love that transcends all obstacles life chooses to throw in its path. But I will leave it at this…Other Side of the Line is a journey of love and endurance you will not want to miss. I highly recommend it to you.
- When I Grow Up by John Goode
John Goode has this uncanny ability to create stories that have that gloriously scary yet exhilarating feel of being on a runaway roller coaster. You love the ride but pray you survive the end of it. This latest Foster High installment nearly did me in. Every character you love, and some you hate, is in this story. They converge in a town that is still able to destroy a person with its inability to move forward, to see all the dark and nasty secrets that are covered in that sweet home town persona it gives off. Each character has their part to play in supporting Kyle during one of the toughest chapters in his life, and all of them will do whatever it takes to protect one of their own. The problem is that Kyle is nearly beaten by none other than himself. He has used up every get out of jail free card he has with Brad, and there really may be no way to salvage what he has come so very close to destroying on the path to growing up.
- King John by Edmond Manning
This was perhaps the most gut wrenching King novel to date. In previous books, we had been privy to Vin’s great moments of self-doubt and frantic worry that he was not going to do right by his Lost King—that he would be the thing to prevent a king from crossing over due to his fumbling, heavy handed acts that were meant to aid his king rather than hinder. This was the Vin we had grown used to—the one that we would shout at again and again to stop berating himself, stop worrying, stop running away from his own destiny. In this novel, author Edmond Manning has done the unthinkable—he has lulled us into this false sense of security. He’s come along side us and, with a nudge and a wink, assured us that Vin was just doing that “Vin stuff” he does and all would work out in the end. Till now. Till King John. Till an ending so shocking that I actually dropped my Kindle. No, say it is not so, Mr. Manning—say it is all just another elaborate clue that will lead to a happy-ever-after for our Vin–our Lost King who surely will get found.
- The Love of Wicked Men by Brandon Shire
I cannot pinpoint one thing that should make you read this book. I can only tell you that this novel is so compelling that I devoured it in record time, and may have whimpered at the end when I read that a second season may be planned. Season one of The Love of Wicked Men is undeniably one of the best novels I have ever read. I highly recommend it to you.
- Slaying Isidore's Dragons by C. Kennedy
Awww me, there is so much to this novel I have barely given you the beginning of why it is such an outstanding read. This bold, sweeping saga is a compelling story of redemptive love and healing grace. The people who inhabit Cody Kennedy’s Slaying Isidore’s Dragonsare heartbreakingly real and heroic, and their story is so important. I highly recommend this novel to you. It is one that will impact your life in so many ways and remind you that we must all be dragon slayers.Honorable Mention: A Way Back to Then by Robert Halliwell
- Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain
The resolution to this story is so very rewarding. I really enjoyed every single second of this book. All the secondary characters are really well written – even that PITA mother. I loved the rest of Billy’s family and Shaz’s “family” as well. This story is really about being true to yourself and finding what makes you happy then just going for it, even if you don’t think it maybe fits all your visions of what your life would be like. What a great lesson! I wish I had learned that lesson a lot sooner in life.
- Crossing Borders – Z.A. Maxfield
*Sigh* ZAM is truly a master of writing intimate family dramedy. As usual, her dialogue and the emotional IQ in this story is spot on. I so loved these characters and Crossing Borders sucked me in from the first page. Tristan and Michael, and their families and friends, feel like people you’ve known forever – and in a good way. If you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend you do it right away.
- Cronin's Key III – N.R. Walker
I have to say that I, for one, am sad to see this series end, and I’m hoping we at least get some little visits along the way with Alec and Cronin – and their friends – because they are a great couple and I will miss them. The way the author has woven history and mythology together throughout the series, along with creating such an interesting cast of characters in these vampires (with a couple of humans thrown in), it has been really fascinating. I still think these would make great movies, with Alex O’Loughlin playing Alec.
- Wild Fragile Vines by Vivien Dean
What a beautifully poignant story of a love that smolders for many years before it can burn brightly. Wild Fragile Vines is highly recommended as a wonderful example of a complete short story.
- The Last Thing He Needs by J.H. Knight
Tommy O’Shea’s life is crappy on his very best day. His mother died when he was young, and his father chose again, unwisely, and his stepmother is a drunk/junkie as well. He has shouldered the responsibility of his younger siblings, really, since was fifteen. At twenty-two, he just keeps trying to keep it all together. There are seven other O’Shea children – from Colleen, who is seventeen, down to twins Zoe and Max, who are still babies. In between are Mikey, Collin, Davey, and Carrie. Each of them is dealing with the family drama in their own way.
- The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles
From a macabre butterfly obsession to a demented Pied Piper to the very human enemy bent upon destroying our Mr. Caldwell, KJ Charles has mined the depths of imagination to come up with another outstanding novel to add to her body of work. One can only imagine there are more stories Robert Caldwell had to tell, but he saved the best of them for this collection, ensuring the novel’s place as one of the best I’ll read in 2015.
- Resistance by Amy Rae Durreson
The plot of this book is every bit as robust and gorgeous as that of Reawakening. There are moments of joy among the sorrow, and suspense amid Death that runs rampant through the streets of Tiallat and lays waste to those in its path. Durreson once again engages the reader’s imagination and uses her talent to illuminate every scene and paint a word picture that allows us to envision every detail of this novel’s setting. Resistance is a hero’s journey through trials by fire, a fire that burns strong and true and faithful, and cleanses and strengthens a god’s soul.
- Dangerous Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk
Both Henry and Vincent are fortunate to have people in their lives—Jo and Lizzy—who love and want the best for them, are the voices of reason, and who help to make up what many would call a bit of a misfit family.
And, where there’s love, it seems there’s always a way.
Dangerous Spirits is crackin’ good spec fic, fraught with emotion, tautly paced, packed with danger and chills, and—simple as this—it’s what we’ve come to expect from the author. This is an effortless read—unless you take into account the spikes in blood pressure—so light a candle, lay your salt lines, say your prayers, and dig into the fun.
- Blue on Black by Carole Cummings
Blue on Black is yet another outstanding novel by this author. I have had the pleasure of reading all her published work to date and can say without reservation that each of her books is an experience that may make you think a little harder, but the payoff in the end is always well worth the journey. When you’re in the mood for an Alt U, Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure trip into an (un)reality of (un)imaginably fantastic proportions, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Blue on Black.
- Devil’s Jawbone by BJ Sheppard
Author BJ Sheppard has tapped into the darker side of his imagination and pulled together a collection of horror stories that showcase the human monster which has the potential of lurking within all of us. Starting with “Legion,” this anthology takes on an eerie tone as the author begins to draw his circle. Imagery and allegory are painted in rich tones of the unknown in a poetic prose that does nothing but make the reader curious about what sort of place he’s leading us into. As it turns out, this author’s creativity is not only impressive, but he’s also just a bit disturbed in only the best possible way for those of us who love a good chill up our spines.Honorable Mention: Fool’s Gold by Jess Faraday
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