In no particular order.
1. King Daniel (The Lost and Founds #6) by Edmond Manning
From the gorgeous writing to the intriguing characters, there was a lot to love about this book. Even in a setting that delved into the magical, the characters were anchored in a realism – amazing, fallible, brave, scared, their very humanness made them a joy to know. Every word in this book was chosen with such consideration, and the core themes of the light and shadow within all of us made me pause and just sit with those thoughts for a little while. For me, that’s a real gift from a talented writer.
2. The Long & Winding Road (BOATK #4) by TJ Klune
During the characters’ journey through this series, I have grown to love them and the family they have made for themselves. It made saying goodbye sad in the final book, but it was also a joy to see them settled into their lives by the end. It’s been quite the rollercoaster, but I treasure every moment I got to spend with wonderful characters. They will always own a corner of my heart.
3. Rebel (415 Ink #1) by Rhys Ford
Rebel is a wonderful introduction to a new series about five “brothers” who all come from difficult backgrounds and have forged a family together. This book focuses on the middle brother, Gus, and the second chance he has to find the love he deserves with Rey, then man he ran from. Gus’ four brothers also play prominent roles, as we get to know them and the unbreakable bonds between the five of them. I adored Rey and just wanted to wrap Gus up and protect him from ever being hurt again – not that he’d ever allow that!
4. Braving the Rapids (Rocky Mountain Boys #2) by Brandon Witt
This book was a real pleasure to read. With two MCs I adored, their romance was, for the most part, a gentle love story with only a couple of small obstacles in their path. I appreciated the well-developed characters, the humour provided by the delightful Rosalind Abel, and the joy of Matt’s journey of discovering the man he now was, rather than the one he had been, whilst also opening himself up to the love between himself and Todd.
5. Bonfires by Amy Lane
Aaron and Larx are two forty-something men who have spent the past couple of decades building their lives around raising their families. I adored both of the MCs and I loved the realness of them trying to fit their lives together, with all the complications that involves when there are families involved. I also loved that their maturity meant any conflict in the story came from outside their relationship and not from lack of communication or internal angst. Bonfires was a wonderful story of hope and love and I loved every word of it.
6. The Impossible Boy by Anna Martin
I adored this book so much. Stan and Ben were beautiful together and the romance between the rising rock star and the beautiful generfluid fashion magazine art director was an absolute joy to watch grow. The characters were wonderfully written and completely believable. Even with some darker themes in Stan’s history of struggling against anorexia (which was never dealt with dismissively, but didn’t dominate the character of Stan, either), The Impossible Boy was an absolute joy to read.
7. Finding Home by Garrett Leigh
Fifteen year old Leo and his little sister Lila have been shunted from foster home to foster home until they eventually come to the Poulters, Leo’s last chance at finding a home. Charlie, who was in the foster system himself, now considers the Poulters his family. They have cared for him and provided him with a loving home unconditionally. Charlie knows they would also provide one for Leo if only Leo would allow them to. As Leo’s history is revealed, Charlie begins to understand why Leo has held onto his fierce anger and complete distrust in the world, Lila the only exception. My heart ached so much for Leo. As hard as it was to see how much Leo’s experiences had damaged him, it was beautiful to see his heart slowly unfold as he came to trust Charlie and what they had together.
8. Draakenwood (Whyborne & Griffith #9) by Jordan L Hawk
Nine books into the it and this series still captivates me. Quite astounding considering I’m not much of a fan of historicals, even paranormal ones. However, the quality of writing, with strong world-building and brilliant characterisation, make sure this series continues to be one of my favourites and Draakenwood was yet another fabulous instalment.
9. Skin After Skin (PsyCop #8) by Jordan Castillo Price
Love, love, loved getting inside Crash’s head, to hear his story and see Jacob, Vic and the others through his perspective. This book was everything I had hoped a story from Crash would be and more, and I loved every word, from beginning to end.
10. Darkness (Common Law #3) by Kate Sherwood
Darkness is the second to last book in an all around fantastic series. The draw between Wade and Jericho was compelling and I was never quite sure where their relationship was going to go. The balance between the relationship element between Jericho and Wade and the police investigation plot line was well done and the pacing kept me turning the page to see what would happen next.
Bonus: Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt #1) by Heidi Cullinan
The way the author portrays both of the MCs, one autistic and the other who has clinical depression, is so well done. It’s a beautiful story, beautifully written.