1. In The Middle Of Somewhere by Roan Parrish
Such a stunning debut novel by this author. The expressive, poignant writing is superb – evoking a great connection with the characters and settings. This book had a profound emotional effect on me, as I felt every emotion along with Daniel & Rex during their impassioned journey. I can still vividly picture every location, can smell the welcoming aromas present in the settings: such as pine, cedar, roast chicken and freshly baked gingerbread. Reading the end scene, I was smiling like a big old, satisfied, love sick fool wrapped in a cocoon of contentment. This book is one of those that has, and will, stay with me for a long, long time.
2. A Seditious Affair (Society of Gentlemen #2) by KJ Charles
A brilliant and delicious Regency novel. Top tier among the best historical books I have ever read. The author weaves her impeccably researched moments in history and her larger than life genuine characters into the finest reading. The entire cast, from the main characters of Silas and Dom – to all of their supporting crew – are fully fleshed out and presented in exquisite, raw detail. This book features soul searching, soul baring, gut wrenching revelations, breath holding suspense, gorgeous poetry, and cracking humor – presented with dialogue to die for. There is not a superfluous word in the entire book. Perfection.
*The audio performance by Matthew Lloyd Davies is exquisite and not to be missed!
3. In the Absence of Light by Adrienne Wilder
I was gobsmacked by this unexpected, beautiful, and powerfully written story about Grant – a man running from his past – who runs straight into his future in the form of Morgan. Morgan, an engaging and talented young man who happens to be on the autism spectrum, is never written as a caricature. He is brilliantly portrayed as the extraordinary individual that he is. This book is an excellent combination of the human spirit, romance, and page turning suspense.
4. Maelstrom (Whyborne and Griffin #7) by Jordan L. Hawk
One of my favorite series EVER spirals to new heights and new intensity in this latest installment. I can no longer imagine my world without the presence of Whyborne & Griffin and company – they are as real to me as the world outside my window. Jordan L. Hawk’s fertile imagination shows no sign of drying up and, as with each preceding book, I was under the spell of her writing. This book features leaping character progression as well as a collision course of many subplots which are key to the entire series. I laughed and I cried – and most of all I was immensely entertained.
5. Aleksey’s Kingdom (A Royal Affair #2) by John Wiltshire
This is the powerful sequel to the sublime historical, ‘A Royal Affair’. And wow, what a hair raising, provocative, pure adventure of a story! Creepy mysterious happenings, taboo topics, intense interactions, primal settings so real I was transported to them, capped off by a jaw dropping climax. All are part of this gripping and unique story- yet the real heart of the story are the hearts of Nikolai and Aleksey. A true love story taking place in the midst of eye popping horror and adventure – amazing! Books like these are why I read! Bring on book 3.
6. Beloved Unmasked by Brita Addams
Brita Addams has graced us once again with her supreme talent for writing historic fiction – my favorite sub-genre. This book’s setting – the infamous Storyville district of New Orleans – comes to life as a main character in itself. The interpersonal relationships between not just the main characters of David, Spencer and Emile, but several secondary ones as well, are all rich and meaningful. Many outcomes were anything but obvious, which added to this tantalizing read. I was extremely invested in having to know how things were going to play out for everyone.
7. With This Bling (Romano and Albright #3) – LB Gregg
It’s Ce. It’s Dan. It’s LB Gregg!! It’s old favorites returning in comic adventure gold, served along with a yummy side of sweetness and big, big heart. A thoroughly fun, satisfying third book in a favorite series.
8. Cold-hearted Concept (Concepts #2) by Whitley Gray
I didn’t even realize this highly anticipated sequel was coming until a week ahead of its release! The two wonderfully portrayed characters – FBI profiler Zach Littman and Denver homicide detective Beck Stryker – are back with a vengeance. In this book, the two are lovingly working on their personal relationship while attempting to solve a majorly creepy serial murder case that has also gotten…. personal. Together they rock not only the sheets, but their badges as well. Spellbinding, suspenseful, surprising, sexy. This story is all that and more. I’m already geared up for more Zach and Beck!
9. Winter Kill by Josh Lanyon
This mystery by a favorite author is a little quirky, a bit unexpected, a lot captivating, and one hugely satisfying helping of two imperfect men. Against the odds – and at times their better sense – Adam and Rob found light in each other against the back drop of dark woods and darker crimes. They both came to realizations – Adam while trying to reclaim his life, Rob while coming to realize he needed to downright claim his own life if he wanted a fulfilling future. A future which he hoped would involve Adam. Such a gripping thriller interplayed with moving personal growth and a convincing budding romance. I was really delighted with how the author combines those myriad elements seamlessly.
*Gomez Pugh absolutely shines in bringing the personalities of Rob & Adam to a whole new level of “real” in the audio version.
10. The HomePort Journals by AC Burch
Opening this book, which is written by a new to me author, yielded an unexpected, immersive read. The Provincetown setting – in particular the venerable estate of HomePort – was portrayed in immense glory. Through brilliant writing, the eclectic – and eccentric – cast of characters led by the gun-shy and disillusioned Marc – felt as though they walked right off the pages and into my life. This is a love story which spans generations and includes many forms of love. The manner in which the author utilized a very diverse and interesting combination of tone and POV is something that worked really well for m- it really drove home the emotional impact of the story. A truly unique, transporting, and satisfying read.
WIldcard: Fairs’ Point by (Astreiant #3) by Melissa Scott (2014)
This novel, released in 2014, is third in a series that began back in 1999. So, I’m a decade and half late to the party, and very happy to finally have stumbled my way in! This engaging fantasy series revolves around Nicolas, a government Pointsman, and Philip, his ex-mercenary partner in crime solving. The series focuses on the clever detective work by the men, and also on their slow blooming love affair. This slow build to romance fits very well with the overall story arc regarding the men’s individual journeys. As the series progresses, I am thoroughly enjoying how the magical world of Astreiant – and all of her depths – is unfolding along with Nicolas’ and Philip’s secrets.
Favorite cover art:
- In The Middle of Somewhere: art by AngstyG – The men on cover are clearly representative of the characters – Tattooed Daniel being held by the strong and caring Rex, both rising like a double phoenix. Rising from the wilderness where they made their self-discoveries & discovery of each other.
- In The Absence Of Light: art by the author – Adrienne Wilder. The reflections in the bottles gorgeously depict key scenes in the book. Overall, it captures Morgan passion for working with colored glass.
- Winter Kill: art by LC Chase. Startling, hugely intense, in your face image – just like the characters and action found in the story.