Looking back at my “read” shelf on Goodreads since this time last year, I’ve read about 310 books. About 110 of those were 5-star reads for me…so I’m not going to give you one blanket list of my faves. Your eyes will probably glaze over halfway through, and I know my fingers and my brain won’t appreciate making a list that large.
So what I’m going to do is present a few “favourite of 2016” lists: my favourite fantasy romances I read, fave contemporary, etc. I hope you’ll find some gems in the lists! Keep in mind that they’re all going to be m/m, since that’s what’s filled my Kindle this year. Also, they might not have been published this year, but this was the year I read them.
Okay, all good? Here we go!
My fave paranormal romances
Paranormal romance and urban fantasy are two of my favourite genres EVER, so it’s not a surprise that quite a few of the 300+ books I read this year fell into this category. Here are a few I absolutely adored.
Wolfsong by TJ Klune
THIS BOOK. It’s epic and awesome. Not only is the story a page turner as we travel with Ox through his childhood into adulthood, but the prose of this book is just amazing. There’s a poetic quality to it that made it one of my fave reads of all time. I can’t wait for the next one!
Hunter of Demons (SPECTR #1) by Jordan L. Hawk
Why did I wait so long to read this series? It was awesome! The instalments are all novellas, so they’re super quick reads, but put them all together and you’ve got an epic paranormal adventure.
Wriggle & Sparkle by Megan Derr
What happens when you partner a kraken shifter who’s surprisingly well-adjusted considering he’s a monster of the deep with a unicorn shifter with a chip on his shoulder? A really enjoyable set of mysteries, that’s what! This book hit two of my fave catnips: shifters + law enforcement. Also, I loved that Lynn, the kraken shifter, can shift genders at will, too.
Best in Show by Kelly Jensen
This was my bestie Kelly’s first go at the paranormal genre and it’s just fantastic. Funny, emotional, sweet. I hope she revisits this world soon!
Triad Blood by ‘Nathan Burgoine
I love stories set in my hometown of Ottawa, and I especially love this one because it feels like maybe, if I looked hard enough, I’d be able to see this world. It’s a lot like Charles de Lint’s books in that regard. This one features a triad who are bound by need rather than love…but I hope we’ll see the love develop over the course of the series. (It’s gonna be a series, right, ‘Nathan?)
My fave contemporary romances
The thing I like most about contemporary romance is that it’s kind of a real-life fantasy. The characters might not be able to shift into other forms or cast spells, but they’ve got magic all the same, the sort we all have. Here are a few of my faves from this year.
Witches of London – Lars (Witches of London #1) by Aleksandr Voinov
This was a surprisingly gentle and sweet read by an author I’m more accustomed to being gritty and dark. The magical realism is strong in this book, but it’s still a contemporary, just one with a different viewpoint on the world. It’s a lovely story, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series.
How to be a Normal Person by TJ Klune
I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so hard at a book (unless it was another TJ Klune book). The premise of this one is kind of ridiculous, but the characters and their foibles just suck you into their weird and wacky world.
When Was the Last Time by Kelly Jensen
Of all the novellas Kelly released this year, this was my favourite. It’s such a sweet story about a guy realizing that, oh crap, he and his partner haven’t had sex in almost a year—and not because they don’t love each other anymore, but because life happened. His journey as he tries to balance work obligations with his desire to show his partner that he’s still the most important thing in his life is just so real.
Strong Signal (Cyberlove #1) by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
One of the things I loved most about this book was how Kai’s anxiety was addressed. There was no magic pill to cure him of it, but the steps he takes in his development arc because Garrett is that important to him were wonderful.
Will & Patrick Wake Up Married (Wake Up Married #1) by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths
This serial took me completely by surprise. I hadn’t read a lot of Leta Blake before this, and nothing of Alice Griffiths, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, particularly because the premise is kind of silly (but awesomely silly). But what I found was a series that never got bogged down or stale and a depth to the characters that the funny instigating event in the blurb doesn’t really illustrate. I highly recommend this series!
My fave fantasy romances
I kind of binged on fantasy romance this year. There’s just something about diving into another world that appeals…particularly since November. Ugh. Anyway, here are a few of my favourites!
This book was the first of Megan’s fantasy romances I’d read and I LOVED it. The world here isn’t your typical fantasy setting; instead of magic being a prized talent, people who can speak multiple languages are revered. They’re called Silver Tongues. The most talented, though, is the High King’s betrothed—whom he isn’t interested in, because he’s not a soldier. This was a fantastic, epic romp as Allen tries to figure out how to show his worth to Sarrica.
I have to give a mention here to a bunch of other Megan Derr fantasy romances I read this year and loved: Black Magic, The Engineered Throne, Bound (be warned; it’s really long!) and Tournament of Losers. They’re all fantastic and well worth checking out.
Reawakening (Reawakening #1) by Amy Rae Durreson
This series was a big surprise for me. I’d never read Amy Rae Durreson before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was an epic world of gods and spirits and all-powerful dragons, incredible beings who were still struggling in their battle against the ultimate evil. I especially loved the idea that a dragon’s horde was his people; it was just a wonderful concept and made these creatures that much more relatable.
The Lightning-Struck Heart (Tales of Verania #1) by TJ Klune
This book was so much fun. It was more than a little ridiculous, but so, so enjoyable. The unresolved sexual tension in the book is off the charts, and the emotional turmoil on Sam’s part especially was painfully delicious. I can’t wait for the next book!
Brute by Kim Fielding
I put off reading this book for awhile because the blurb kind of hints at an unequal relationship between a jailer and a prisoner. Rest assured, it’s not a creepy thing. There’s no power play in this book, and Aric (the Brute of the title) is a surprisingly gentle and sweet soul. It’s an emotional and poignant read, and definitely worth picking up.
My fave sci-fi romances
I didn’t read nearly as much sci-fi romance this year as I have in years past, but the ones I did read, I loved.
Safe in Your Fire (The Village #1) by Darien Cox
This entire series is awesome. It’s contemporary-set, on modern-day Earth, but…aliens. And honestly, one of the aliens is my favourite part of this series. I won’t spoil it…you need to discover him for yourself. I especially liked the sense of brotherhood between the men on the team; they’re colleagues, but they depend on each other 100%, and that makes for a very satisfying support network when the guys need it.
Different Senses by Ann Somerville
This book is actually a series of novellas, but they combine to tell a larger story. And what a story. It’s set on a human-colonized world a looooong time in the future. The world was actually colonized twice: first by one group of humans, who were then overpowered by another group of humans. (The implied comparison with the European colonization of the New World and the defeat of indigenous North Americans is not subtle.) The first group of humans has psychic abilities that are disparaged, while the second group of humans does not, and there’s a lot of discrimination that happens. The main character of the series is a cop who gets injured, and in the aftermath discovers he has some of the psychic genes of the first group of humans that he was previously unaware of. What follows is a journey of a man trying to accept himself and also trying to understand a culture he had previously ignored. It’s a long, slow build for the relationship portion of things, but that means that the journey and development arc is that much more satisfying. Highly recommend.
My fave romances with cops or other law enforcement
Cops or law enforcement in m/m is one of my catnip tropes. I devour them almost as fast as I can find them. Favourite authors: please write MOAR.
Tied up in Knots (Marshals #3) by Mary Calmes
I think I’ve re-read Mary Calmes’s Marshals series like three times now. I adore Miro and Ian…probably even more than Sam and Jory. (I know: blasphemy!) What I love most is that although Ian sort of fits the role of alpha in their relationship, it’s not as obvious as in Matter of Time with Sam. Miro can also be alpha, and he gives Ian a run for his money.
Dirty Heart (Cole McGinnis #6) by Rhys Ford
In the first book of the Cole McGinnis series, you discover that years before, Cole’s cop partner shot Cole, Cole’s boyfriend, and then committed suicide. It was the event that changed the course of Cole’s life, a huge, horrible attack that made no sense, and the question of why haunted Cole…and me, too! But by the time I picked up this book, after reading through all the others and going on Cole’s journey to finding love again, I realized that the reasons behind his partner’s actions didn’t matter—and how amazing was it to see that state of mind reflected in Cole’s narration. It was really gratifying, and a testament to Rhys Ford’s storytelling that she was able to bring this reader to that point the same as her character.
My fave sports romances
Confession: I don’t read a lot of sports romances, and the ones I do read tend to be hockey romances. Because…well, Canadian. Luckily hockey romances in m/m seem to be on an upswing! Here are some excellent ones I read this year.
Breakaway (Scoring Chances #1) by Avon Gale
One word: LANE. Okay, I’ll give you a few more words than that. I’ve reread this book a few times now, and the joy that is Lane and Jared still resonates each time. Lane is just so awkward. Amazing on the ice, but he’s not the smartest dude, and really has no social graces. But the best part of this book is when Lane gets traded. Avon Gale nailed his reaction perfectly.
Also, every other book in Avon’s Scoring Chances is one you should consider. They’re all super enjoyable, and while hockey obviously plays a bit part of the books (duh), it doesn’t overwhelm them. After Breakaway, my favourite is Power Play (#3 in the series), because Max is also adorably clueless but super happy about it and Misha is broody and stoic…they’re a perfect pairing.
Happy New Year!
Much love to my reader and author friends! May 2017 bring us all more awesome books and all the joy we can stand.