This year was an incredible year for me as a professional writer. For one…I became a professional writer with the release of my first book, Her Sexy Sentinel, in January 2015. That book represents the culmination of a lifelong dream to be a published author—but the thrill ride didn’t stop there. In March, the first book of the Chaos Station series came out, followed by the second (Lonely Shore) in May and the third (Skip Trace) in October. Inversion Point, book four, is out in January (almost to the day that Her Sexy Sentinel was released!) and the fifth and final Chaos Station book, Phase Shift, will be released in May.
Over the course of the year, in addition to writing, I had a chance to read some amazing books, too—over 300 of them, in fact. (Before you ask, I don’t watch TV, so my main entertainment is reading.) Rather than try to run down my favourite individual books, I’m going to talk about 15 favourite authors I read this year and list one favourite book of theirs that I read this year (though it might have been published earlier).
Feel free to share your favourites, too! What authors or books made your year special?
Keira Andrews has been on my radar for quite some time, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading anything by her despite the praise I’d heard for her Amish m/m series. So when I saw that she had a paranormal m/m with zombies and werewolves, I had to pick it up. So glad I did! I loved the world-building and the characters. Keira assured me on Twitter that a sequel is in the works. Can’t wait!
Favourite book this year: Kick at the Darkness
I met ‘Nathan online in the Queer Sci-Fi group on Facebook and discovered he lives in my hometown of Ottawa! I might be biased, but I think Ottawa writers are pretty cool. Anyway, I picked up his novel Light and…wow. LOVED IT. A gay superhero saving the day at the Ottawa Pride celebrations? It was such a wonderful read. I’m eager for the sequel!
Favourite book this year: Light
Mary Calmes is my go-to author when I need a comfort re-read. In fact, I think I read the Matter of Time series three times this year. Her point-of-view characters are adorable and her alpha guys are very alpha. Her books are contemporary but they tread that line of fantasy, where you know these people and situations could probably never actually exist, but it’s so much fun, so involving and just so happy-sigh-inducing, it doesn’t matter. I’m loving her new Marshals series.
Favourite book this year: Fit to be Tied
With How to Walk Like a Man, Eli Easton reminded me why she’s one of the authors I turn to when I need a good laugh. Seriously, if you haven’t checked her books out yet, do! How to Walk Like a Man is the second book in her Howl at the Moon series and I thought it was even better than the first. Laugh-out-loud funny and poignant, which is a trademark of Eli’s. (And check out her Sex in Seattle series, too, particularly the second book, The Enlightenment of Daniel—there’s one scene in the middle that makes me laugh no matter how many times I read it.)
Favourite book this year: How to Walk Like a Man
Amelia Faulkner is a new find for me this year, but I’m loving her Tooth & Claw series about a blind vampire and his werewolf boyfriend. I love how there are so many mysteries that the characters have to uncover about themselves—vampirism and lycanthropy don’t come with manuals, apparently. Or mentors. Or the mentors are homicidal, which, you know, makes things difficult.
Favourite book this year: Balance of Power
Rhys Ford is another auto-buy author for me. Her stories are always full of adventure, love, and “oh crap!” moments. The biggest surprise for me from Rhys this year was Black Dog Blues, which I picked up on sale. I like Urban Fantasy, but it can be hit and miss…and the prevalence of love triangles in the UF I’ve read has kinda turned me off the genre. But I’m really glad I took the chance! I fell in love with the world she’s created, which is a near future, post-apocalyptic place where the faerie realm of Underhill and the mundane human world have collided. It was complex, but not so complex I couldn’t follow, and I absolutely adored Kai, snark and sharp edges and all.
Favourite book this year: Black Dog Blues
Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels
I am so thankful for meeting these ladies through our shared publisher! If you like foodie romance, you need to check out their In the Kitchen series from Carina Press. They write poignant, heart-tugging romance with characters you just want to pull into a hug. And they managed to redeem the guy who was a jerk in the second book, so yay! Also, I loved their novella Stripped Bare, which featured an established couple discovering a shared interest in BDSM.
Favourite book this year: In the Distance
Alexis Hall is another author who has been on my radar for ages and in fact, I’ve had Glitterland on my tablet for some time, but it keeps getting buried! But I devoured his most recent release For Real, which is a BDSM romance with a 19-year-old Dom and a 38-year-old sub. It’s a dynamic that shouldn’t work, but it does. So well. The characters are both so real and so true to themselves. It’s a book that’s definitely deserving of the accolades it’s getting!
Favourite book this year: For Real
Riley Hart writes awesome GFY/OFY (gay for you/out for you) romance. One of my favourite depictions of this trope occurs in her novel Collide, where the GFY character really struggles with this aspect of self-discovery. In Crossroads, she has two GFY characters…the ever-elusive double-GFY! But it’s so well done, with one of the guys absolutely eager to explore this new playground (while the other is a little more hesitant) and a smidge of angst.
Favourite book this year: Crossroads
Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore
My co-author, Kelly Jensen, flagged Peripheral People for me, saying “It has psychic detectives…in space!” and I replied, “OMG, it’s like it was written for me!” Maybe it wasn’t written with me in mind, specifically, but I loved this book. The Rainbow Awards judges did too, as it tied for first place in the Gay Sci-Fi/Futuristic category. Go Reesa and Michelle!
Favourite book this year: Peripheral People
Wow, Amy Lane. You know when you pick up an Amy Lane book, you’re going to feel things. Your heart might ache…or if might feel like it was ripped out of your chest and stomped on, depending on whether you read one of her light contemporaries or one of her darker books. But you know that by the end, everyone will be living their happily ever after—and damn, she’s good at writing those. I read a LOT of Amy Lane this year, and re-read at least three of her books, too (Clear Water, Dex in Blue, and Christmas Kitsch). Christmas Kitsch remains one of my all-time favourite books—I love Rusty so much! But I was absolutely haunted by A Solid Core of Alpha for days after I read it. It was such a heartbreaking read.
Favourite book this year: A Solid Core of Alpha
I love the Plumber’s Mate series by J.L. Merrow. The dialogue sets a wonderful sense of place, with the British slang—but it’s not too overdone. It’s gratifying to see Tom and Phil’s relationship progress, too! That ability to set a place so well in a reader’s head also comes into play in her book Fall Hard, which is set in Iceland and described so well, I could almost see the locations.
Favourite book this year: Fall Hard
Sam B. Morgan
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a special place in my heart for m/m romance featuring cops and detectives. I tend to haunt lists on Goodreads to find new authors, and I think that’s where I saw Sam B. Morgan’s books A Rookie Move and Slow Burn. They were both fantastic!
Favourite book this year: Slow Burn
I can’t remember where I first saw Chris Scully’s name mentioned but I remember the first book of hers that I read: Touch Me. And that’s what the book did—it touched me. It’s about a massage therapist who goes above and beyond for a few special clients who absolutely need the comfort of touch, even as his own world is imploding. It’s a beautiful book. When I saw she had a new book this year from Dreamspinner, I jumped on it. Nights Like These is a complete 180 from Touch Me, featuring a 40-year-old laid off tech worker starting over as a security guard, but it’s such an enjoyable book. Also, it starts in a Tim Hortons, so hello, instant winner for this Canadian.
Favourite book this year: Nights Like These
I picked up the first book in the Diversion series ages ago and it languished on my tablet, unread. While I was in New York this year at RWA and needed to unwind after a long day, I figured, hey, I’ll give it a shot. Yeah, I mainlined the series (four books at the time) in the five days I was at the conference. It’s such a unique take on one of my favourite tropes, law enforcement—Lucky is an ex-con working for a drug agency in lieu of serving his sentence in prison, a complete snarky jerk to everyone, just putting in his years before he can achieve real, full freedom. But everything changes when he’s partnered with a rookie agent who is incredibly capable, but has untold layers of issues. The character development of both Lucky and Bo is just…phenomenal. This series is SO GOOD.
Favourite book this year: Redemption
(And of course I have to give a shout-out to my partner in crime, my co-author, Kelly Jensen, who had some awesome releases this year, too. You should check out her story Wrong Direction from the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads (it’s free!) and her contribution to the Daily Dose 2015 package from Dreamspinner, Out in the Blue. And you’ll want to keep an eye out for more short contemporary fiction from Kelly in the new year! She’s got a story coming out that you guys will LOVE and you can quote me on that.)