2013 Reviewer favorites

Aggie’s favorites, not in any particular order:

Loving Hector by John Inman, probably the funniest book I had read in 2013
Shy by John Inman, again really funny. I never read a book with so much poop in it!
A Touch of Spice by Helena Maeve, Whew, baby I loved the menage relationship in this book. A GREAT
ead. Hot, with a submissive male character, which I love.
Lust In Time ed. by Rob Rosen. A great anthology of m/m relationships throughout time. Yeah, one of my
favorites was the Woodstock story.
Me Go Mango by Mickey Corrigan. the title alone deserves 5 stars. Light and fun.
Sugar Babies by Mickey Corrigan, oh my, this nasty piece of fiction, reading more like a mystery and less of a romance, kept my attention and had me wondering up until the end, what would happen to the characters
But Not For Me by J.S. Cook. I don’t like mobsters but I lOVED this book, probably because some of the gangsters in this book were gay and there was lots of action and conflict.
Torquemada Killer by John Warren. A bit of a kinky mystery. I liked it

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ASABAT FAVORITE AUDIO BOOKS OF 2013
All but two of my 2013 favorites (Suspect, and We are Water) are M/M novels that I read and reviewed this year. All were in audio format. All but two include the publishers’ synopses. In no particular order, my favorite audio novels of 2013 were:

The Locker Room, by Amy Lane. 5/5 hearts
Xander Karcek has only wanted two things in his life: Christian Edwards and basketball—the man he loves and the game that let him escape a childhood he’d rather forget. His two obsessions have served him well. He and Chris beat the odds and stayed together through high school, college, and right on to the NBA. But life under fame’s microscope isn’t easy, especially when two men are pretending to be frat-buddies so the world doesn’t know they’re the next best thing to married. Their relationship survives the sacrifices they make and the lies they tell to stay together, but when their secret is exposed, the fallout might destroy them when nothing else could. Chris and basketball are the two things holding Xander together. Now the world is asking Xander to make a choice. Is there an option that includes a future with the man he loves?

Waiting for Ty, by Martha Ann King. 5/5 hearts

Tyler Coil doesn’t do men. But it’s harder to remember that each time he visits his best friend, Landon Burke. As a political reporter, Ty is good at reading people, and he can tell the lust is mutual. But giving in to it could mean alienating his ultra-conservative family.

Landon never desired a man badly enough to explore that side of his sexuality – until he met Ty. He’s waited four long years for a sign that Ty wants him too, and he can’t deny his needs much longer. So when a career opportunity arises out-of-state, Landon wonders if maybe it’s time to move on.

Then Ty crashes at Landon’s while working on a story – and a searing kiss ignites a night of mind-blowing sex that’s better than their most erotic fantasies. Forced to face his feelings, Ty must decide if love is worth the risk after all – before he loses Landon forever.

The Hardest Thing, by James Lear. 5/5 Hearts

Killing is easy. Love is…The Hardest Thing.

Once a major in the U.S. Army, Dan Stagg fell afoul of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. In his late 30s, tall, and muscular, Dan is prone to violence, always upholding what he views as justice. He’s offered a great deal of money to protect the young male “secretary” of a powerful real estate broker. The vain, shallow – but most of all hot – young man’s idea of protection includes sex. Dan quickly realizes something strange is going on: he’s being used as a shield for a much more sinister operation and must choose between easy money and sex or the ideals that he embodied in the Army. Why should he do the right thing – particularly when the army betrayed him? The Hardest Thing is a sexy gay mystery as only James Lear can write it: filled with lots of gay sexual encounters, romance, sweat, violence, and conspiracy.

Sight Unseen, by Hunter Raines. 5/5 Hearts

Daniel Van Doren was once a renowned writer, until he was blinded in the car accident that killed his lover. Now, all he sees are ghosts in need of help. They follow him everywhere, and the only way to be rid of his ethereal visitors is to help them resolve their unfinished business here on earth, so their spirits can find peace.

Ghostwriter Logan Riley is assigned to pen Daniel’s biography. He plans to reveal him as a fraud, but when they meet he’s struck by Danny’s quiet sincerity – and a growing attraction. Which makes sticking close to Danny to find out the truth more than a little distracting.

When they are attacked by a violent poltergeist, Logan begins to believe Danny’s not just telling the truth, he’s in grave danger. A spirit has learned how to harness the energy of the living to break through the barrier between worlds in order to harm Danny. And Logan may be the one to blame.

Jungle Heat, by Bonnie Dee. 5/5 Hearts

On a mission deep in the jungle, Oxford anthropologist James Litchfield comes face-to-face with a local legend: a wild man who wanders with mountain gorillas and lives as one of their own.

A chance encounter with the savage, whom James calls “Michael,” leads to games of observation and exploration. Their mutual curiosity turns to an attraction, one that Michael has never experienced and James is desperate to deny.

When members of the expedition unearth James’s secret discovery, a living specimen of man at his most primitive, Michael becomes a pawn in their quest for fame.

As their relationship deepens, James is compelled to protect Michael from the academics who would treat him as nothing more than a scientific acquisition, and London society, which threatens to destroy James’ and Michael’s passionate bond.

40 Souls to Keep, by Libby Drew. 5/5 Hearts

Seven years ago, Jase awoke with the mystical power to heal people—and no memory of his past. The only clue to his identity is the number forty tattooed on his arm. Driven by a mission he doesn’t understand, Jase follows his visions to those he’s meant to save. He is convinced that the fortieth person he’s drawn to—a little girl named Macy Pearl—is the key to finally learning the truth…

Social worker Lucas Jacobson has made a promise to protect Macy, orphaned when her parents were brutally murdered. So when Jase shows up in Naples claiming he’s there to heal the child, Lucas is wary, despite his attraction to the enigmatic stranger.

Then Macy is abducted, and Lucas has no choice but to trust in Jase. Scouring the city from its glitzy resorts to its seedy underbelly only deepens the mystery—and draws the two men closer. But Jase is certain of one thing: if Macy dies, a dark fate awaits them all.

Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction, by Trebor Healey, Felice Picano, Brandon M. Long, Mark G. 5/5 Hearts

In an age of hookups and cybersex, who has time for a little romance? For all those who think love’s gone the way of the 8-track tape comes a collection of new gay fiction designed to reignite their belief in love and romance. Follow the travails of a dog walker enchanted with his new client, a restaurant owner who catches the eye of his most loyal customer, a blind date fix-up, and other seekers of the lost flame as they stumble upon romance and a possible chance at love. Showcasing new work from some of today’s best-known gay writers, the stories in Fool for Love are a funny, sweet, and sometimes wrenching reminder of the joy romance brings to the human heart.

Boystown Series: Nick Nowak Mysteries, Books 1, 2, 3, by Marshall Thornton. 5/5 Hearts

In that we’re talking series here, I’ll skip the publisher’s summaries. In all three books of this series, Chicago PI Nick Nowak is a swaggering, self-confident, smart-assed, lovable bad-boy. Boystown 1, 2, and 3 is a compelling series thanks to Marshall Thornton’s writing and storytelling skills that are tight, fast-paced, riveting, and edgy. Marshall Thornton nails the speech patterns, attitudes of the affluent, and the blue-collar worldview of the city’s residents, which brings an almost living, breathing realism to the main character, his friends, and multiple loves.

The pacing is blue-collar, balls-out poetry in high-gear. His depictions of Chicago’s   working class and the poor are faintly reminiscent of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, and Richard Wright’s Native Son. Mr. Thornton makes neither apologies nor excuses for the socio-economic struggles segregating the poor, the middle-class, the very wealthy, and the criminal underbelly; he calls them as he sees them.

Glen and Tyler Series: Honeymoon Adventures, and Scottish Troubles, by J. B. Sanders. 5/5 Hearts

What I enjoy most about this series is the author’s unique characters and plots. As I mentioned in my review of Glen and Tyler’s Scottish Troubles, it would be a real magical mystery tour to spend an hour inside Mr. Sanders’ head.

In Honeymoon Adventure (book one of the series), Glen Merriwether (a masculine, kind-hearted hockey jock), and Tyler Conrad (a handsome trust baby/hockey jock), have been best friends since childhood. After college, they’re sharing an apartment and just scraping by, when Tyler tells Glen that, in order to inherit his grandfather’s fortune, he must be happily married by the age of twenty-five. Tyler has two months, and not a single marriage prospect, before the deadline. Silently in love with his best friend, Glen asks Tyler to marry him, initially under the pretense of saving his inheritance; and with that comes one of the warmest, funniest and most loving gay couples I’ve encountered in fiction. Mind you, this series is not a cutsie (twist your index finger in your cheek) chick flick love tales; rather, the series’ novels are tender love stories told from Glen’s heart. Throughout the first two novels in the Glen and Tyler series, J.B. Sanders delivers unique, witty, imaginative and fanciful characters and plots. Glen and Tyler are well-developed, colorful characters who will utterly captivate you, and the author pulls this off without a single “on stage” love scene.

We are Water, by Wally Lamb. 5/5 Hearts

We Are Water is a disquieting and ultimately uplifting audiobook about a marriage, a family, and human resilience in the face of tragedy, from Wally Lamb, the New York Times best-selling author of The Hour I First Believed and I Know This Much is True.

After 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh – wife, mother, outsider artist – has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her success. They plan to wed in the Oh family’s hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut. But the wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora’s Box of toxic secrets – dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs’ lives.

We Are Water is a layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection, told in the alternating voices of the Ohs: nonconformist, Anna; her ex-husband, Orion, a psychologist; Ariane, the do-gooder daughter, and her twin, Andrew, the rebellious only son; and free-spirited Marissa, the youngest. It is also a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art.

With humor and compassion, Wally Lamb brilliantly captures the essence of human experience and the ways in which we search for love and meaning in our lives.

Suspect, by Robert Crais. 5/5 Hearts

LAPD cop Scott James is not doing so well, not since a shocking nighttime assault by unidentified men killed his partner, Stephanie, nearly killed him, and left him enraged, ashamed, and ready to explode. He is unfit for duty – until he meets his new partner.

Maggie is not doing so well, either. The German shepherd survived three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan sniffing explosives before she lost her handler to an IED and sniper attack, and her PTSD is as bad as Scott’s.

They are each other’s last chance. He was a young cop on the rise; she was bred to guard and protect. Now they are shunned and shunted to the side. They are suspect. And together they will set out to investigate the one case that no one wants them to touch: the identity of the men who murdered Stephanie.

Nine months and sixteen days later, they remained free. They were still out there.

What they begin to find is nothing like what Scott has been told, and where it will lead them will take them both through the darkest moments of their own personal hells. Whether they will make it out again, no one can say.

Thrilling, emotional, intense, with some of the best characters and well-crafted writing in all of crime fiction, Suspect is further proof that “Crais just keeps getting better”

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This is VERY difficult!  They are not in order, other than the first one which is my top favorite.  It was nice to look back.

Forever Promised by Amy Lane

Fear Hope and Bread Pudding by Marie Sexton
Texas Family by R.J. Scott
Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin
PUP by S.J.D. Peterson
The Good Boy by Lisa Henry
Infected: Undertow by Andrea Speed
Parting Shot by Mary Calmes
Something Like Autumn by Jay Bell
Painting Fire on the Air by J.P. Barnaby

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Favorite Books of 2013 – Diane

This was a challenge, as I’m sure it was for all the reviewers, to take an entire year and sum it up into 10 books!  I was tempted to suggest I do a top ten list of books reviewed/author requests/personal reading, but figured Lucy and Kevin would laugh indulgently at me, then say cut it down to 10!  So, I’ve gone through all my reviews and my list of books read (about 178 total for the year as of December 29th), and pick out the ones that made the biggest impact on me.  However, as an addition at the end, there were three series/serials that came out in 2013 that I have listed separately since they are all more than one book, but incredible in their own way!

And really, no matter how I do this, when I see the rest of the lists, I’ll be thinking “I should have included that on my list”, so hopefully we all get all the amazing authors and books of 2013 covered!

1) From the Inside Out by Talya Andor
I loved this book!  It is the first book I’ve read by this author, but I have been checking out books since I read this because I enjoyed it so much.  This is a young adult book set in college years, Soren is a shy college student, hiding who he is and I am always drawn to stories about the shy people who might be coming out of their shell, the smart kids or “geek/nerd” characters, especially when matched up with seemingly “cool” or popular kids, I like that it gives the shy kids an opportunity to come out of their shell on a one on one basis, but it also gives the cool/popular kids a chance to shed their image and be themselves as well.  This book was on my favourites of 2013 list ever since I read it!

2) Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune
I know most TJ fans love the Bear, Otter and the Kid series, and I do too, but for all he has written so far, this book is my absolute favourite of his, I was hooked from the first page and had a hard time putting the book down!  TJ had made a comment about people not liking Benji, the main character, since he seemed so stuck in his grief, however, I think, if you have experienced a major loss in your life, you will understand Benji.  To me, this was an amazing book that I would recommend to anyone who likes reading about emotion, drama, some angst and surprise twists.

3) Mingled Destiny of Crocodiles and Men/Azrael and the Light Bringer by Eric Arvin
Although these are two separate books, I’ve listed them together as they are both so amazing, I cannot imagine someone reading the first one and if they enjoyed it, not immediately launching into the second!  These books pull you right into the story and right into the valley they are set in because the valley is as much a living character as any human character in the stories.  I’m not sure where Eric Arvin receives his inspiration from, but he is an amazing author with a skill to create a three dimensional world in your mind while you are reading his work.  These books mix mystery, fantasy, history and a bit of new age/occult into two incredible stories that I hope will not be the last we read of the valley.

4) Play Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker
An excellent coming of age story of a young man who is an amazing musician, but unfortunately, is quite effeminate and gets bullied as a result.  This affects potential friendships as well as his relationship with his brother, Mason, who is now in the same high school.  Between finding friends in unexpected places, the awkward stage of dating the wrong person before finding the right one and just trying to make it through the school year, this was a great young adult story.

5) Special Nobody by Brendan Spratt  A lot of first time authors, or first time reading authors, made the list for me this year and Brendan Spratt was an author request that I got the opportunity to review. This was not an easy book to read since it begins with the main character being in hospital and reliving his life and his choices that got him to that point, some of which were definitely self sabotaging.  However, it is so well written and the characters so powerful, that you are willing to go on this journey with Jason and the supporting characters of his life.

6) Cataclysmic Shift and F.A.S.T. Balls by Tara Lain
I am a Tara Lain fan, and I’ve put both of these books as selections since they were both released this year and I love both series!  Cataclysmic Shift is Aloysius’ story in The Aloysius Tales, and really, no matter how the story was going to end, tissues would be required because either way it is both a happy and sad ending, depending on which character you are!

For F.A.S.T. Balls, this is part of the Balls to the Wall series where Tara brilliantly and seamlessly matches opposites together then gives them an incredible story.  Jerry, who has been a lovable character throughout the series, finally gets his story and all you want is to give him a hug and show him how wonderful he is, and for him to find his true love – and for a fictional character, you feel awfully protective of him with anyone who might hurt him!

When you connect with characters, as I feel I have with both of these series and their characters!

7) Spark by Posy Roberts
This was the first book I’ve read by Posy Roberts, but I have been snapping anything I find of hers since because this was such a beautifully written story of young love that gets the opportunity to live again.
I loved the characters of Hugo and Kevin, but the supporting characters are just as well written!  I have not read the follow up yet, but I’m very much looking forward to it!

8) Northern Star by Ethan Day
I had bought this before going to GRL in October because it sounded really interesting, then Ethan Day read part of it at one of the author readings and it was the next book I read when I got home (and even got a print copy for Ethan to sign in Atlanta!).  I loved the story! Deacon expects the worst all the time, Steve has been pretending about who he is all his life, and there are many ways you can think of that they should not work as a couple, but the more you learn, the more perfect for each other they seem. It’s one of those books that you’d love to read a sequel, but then again, you don’t really need to!

9) Memorizing You by Dan Skinner

Many of my friends had read this book and spoke of how powerful it was for them, so I purchased it and had a hard time putting it down!  This is a coming of age tale that then travels through the lives of the characters of Ryan, the athlete who is from the “right” side of the tracks, where all is not as it seems and David, the average boy from the blue collar family.  They start as friends, but as they cross the line, their love must remain secret, and every moment is a new memory.  I won’t say how the story plays out, but I thought it was wonderful, tragic and just when you are thinking “no way, the book can’t end now”, get the tissues ready for the twist!  As all my friends said, it is a powerful book.

10) A Little Bit Country by SJ Frost

Ash is the lead singer of the rock band From Ashes, while Jackson is a solo country artist.  The two have had a back and forth media “feud” that they both wish had not started.  Jackson is a closeted gay man who hides due to fears about the reception he may get with his genre of music.  Ash, on the other hand, is out and proud, which fascinates Jackson, he actually likes him more than he’s let on in the media.  I loved the opposites who have more in common than they think theme of this book.  It had enough drama to have you cheering, enough hot scenes to keep you turning the page and strong enough characters that you want to read more about them.

Two others I have to mention for this year, because there were some amazing young adult stories that came out this year: Dear Diary by Alison Cassatta and Sunshine by Nikki Rae

Series and Serials

1) Pulp Friction – this was a fantastic series that included Lee Brazil, Laura Harner and Havan Fellows as contributors, although I have to say, my favourite set of stories from the series was done by T.A. Webb – City Knights.  What I thought was incredible about this series is that you have 4 different authors, all writing about characters who are connected, and the stories do intertwine while you also learn different parts of the story, but you never feel overwhelmed by details or overloaded by the multiple storylines.  At least I didn’t!  They have done a full volume of the entire series, while I read them as they were each released, but I highly recommend it to anyone who likes crime/gritty dramas.

2) Marshall’s Park by Lisa Worrall – The titles seem like they might be fluffy stories, but this is a wonderful series about two men and a little girl navigating the world of creating a family.  Some of the stories are fun, but some of them deal with some serious subjects and I felt they were dealt with in a real and sensitive way.  I am constantly on the lookout for more stories with them as I love these characters!

3) Yes, Forever Parts 1 to 5 by Bailey Bradford – A new format that Totally Bound decided to try this year of having some of their authors do a serial of short stories being released two weeks apart.  I started this one when two parts were out and thought it was fantastic!  If you have read Bailey’s work, you know she has done series with ranchers, shifters and spirits, this series has none of those.  For me, I had never read anything like this by Bailey, although I have read plenty of her books.  The characters were very real, very flawed and very scared to put themselves on the line.  It was incredibly well written, with fantastic characters and I would love to see a story for Henry sometime!

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JustJen

1.  Waiting in the Throes by Maddox Grey
2.  Aftermath by Cara Dee

3.  Long Time Gone by SE Jakes

4.  The Violet and the Tom by Eve Ocotillo

5.  Saving Alexander by Susan Mac Nicol

6.  Bring Him Home by Sammy Goode

7.  Beyond Duty by SJD Peterson

8.  The Final Line by Kendall McKenna

9.  Let It Go by Mercy Celeste

10.  Second Chance Sam by Christopher Bren

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Lexi

Horns & Halos – Anthology

Drinker Class X by Sasha Miller

Reborn by J. Hepburn

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Lucy

These are just in alphabetical order because I was going crazy trying to put them in a semblance of order by other criteria and it just wasn’t working!

500 Miles by Parker Williams because it showed the power of having someone in your corner, who believes you will never give up and makes you be a better person.

Blue Hair and 7 Pas by Kallysten because I love tie-ins to old tales (in this case, Bluebeard) and the rock star who could be surly and imperfect stole my heart.

Fated by Lexi Ander  because this was written off my prompt and picture for the Goodreads M/M Love Has No Boundaries event and Lexi did an amazing job with it!  Plus, she’s writing more of them.

Forever After by Kailin Morgan, again because I love the tie-ins with fairy tales and this glittery godfather was just awesome.

Forgotten Menagerie anthology by Storm Moon Press (particularly Nuts About You by Kate Lowell!) because the shifters are so unusual and it made me laugh.  I’ve read Nuts at least three times already.

Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan because Walter.  Just that.  Walter.

Nothing’s Missing Now by Westbrooke Jameson because it was, in my mind, the perfect couple.

Superhero by Eli Easton  because I think it’s the young adult book that resonated the most with me this year.  Owen?  He IS a superhero and I loved this book. It’s the one that made Eli Easton one of my favorites.

The Bitter Rednesses of Love by Dominque Frost because it made me love steampunk. Added bonus for it – even though there was cheating in the form of a kiss, I loved the MC anyway.  That’s a big deal for me!

The whole Dirty series by Kyle Adams because they are just funny!

Honorable mentions:

An Eerie Halloween by V.L. Locey  I nearly passed this one by after Halloween and I’m so glad I didn’t.

The Park at Sunrise by Lee Brazil  Bittersweet yet hopeful.

Twelve Tasks by Therese Woodson  A great idea to shake up your life.

When Adam Kissed Me by Chris Scully  A friends to lovers that worked perfectly.

I could go on and on and on, but these were the ones that really made the biggest impact on me this year.

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Mandy’s 2013 favorites

I had so many wonderful reads in 2013 ( not all were published in 2013, I just read them this year) and it is almost impossible to choose, but a few of the books left me feeling happy and wanting a reread right away. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few and I’m already kicking myself for the ones I’ve unintentionally left off my list.

Playing For Keeps by Lexi Ander

Full disclosure, this is the story that came from the picture I posted when the m/m GR group opened the picture prompt event LHNB. ( a picture, which I had been hoarding just waiting for the chance to have their story told)

I think m/m/m stories are my favorite kind, but most of the stories are how the guys get together, but I know that the HEA is really just the beginning and how much harder would it be in a ménage?

I loved the sexual tension that ran throughout the story, there was only one sex scene but that one was hot.  The guys are so different, yet perfectly matched. Brock being self conscious about his body, yet his guys loving exactly that which bothers him. AJ all quiet and controlled, except when it counts. Trent growing up with that kind of dad, poor guy, but he does have an awesome mom, and being an openly gay college football player takes some major guts.

All of that is shown in this story, but me being me, and because Lexi only just whet my appetite for these three guys…I need more and… guess what? Lexi said there is gonna be more, she’s planning on writing a novel about these guys, color me happy, thrilled and over the moon. Can’t wait.

And another shout-out Lexi wrote another LHNB picture prompt story Fated which really rocked the shifter/kilt fetish I have going.

A Dirty Drag Collection ( Dirty Drag #1,2 and 3) by Kyle Adams

This is a great free series, all three Dirty Drag books in one book.  Ashley is a sexy, trash talking, high heel, short skirt wearing, totally irreverent and unrepentant guy. One night at a bar he meets Rick, the quick bathroom hook-up turns into a boob napping start of a relationship with a very satisfying conclusion.

I laughed and smiled the whole time reading these, the one liners and banter between these guys is great, it has a touch of sensitive Ashley and romantic Rick thrown in for good measure . It’s a sexy easy fun pick-me-up read and I recommend it to everyone looking for a little happy.
I’ve read and loved everything Kyle Adams has released so far, always leaves me smiling.

Boy and His Dragon by R. Cooper

Dr Philbert Jones needs an assistant, desperately, the man umm..I mean dragon, might be brilliant, but he leaves notes in books, leaves those books wherever, has nothing organized and has so many valuable things he even loses them in his own house.

Arthur MacArthur is in financial straits, so he jumps at the chance to be ‘Bertie’s’ assistant, not only can he earn good money, but he is doing what he loves.
Bertie soon realizes what a ‘treasure’ he has in Arthur…

I won’t go into more, except to say it is a very romantic love story, they don’t get it on till 80% but the attraction and affection and love is palatable.

This quote just sums up Bertie’s feeling so well. *sigh*

“Don’t be. You were breathtaking, pet. To think one such as you…. I would have waited much longer for much less. For you, Arthur, I would wait until Doomsday, don’t you see? For you I’d serve.”

Keeping Sweets by Cate Ashwood

I have a thing for porn industry books and add in a young unloved virgin and a jaded star in the business, and it’s the book for me. I love it when a book makes me ‘feel’ the emotions the characters are going through, and this one did it.
I mean this quote:
“I brought this back for you,” Bran said. “It reminds me of you. So fragile and perfect, but withstanding everything life has thrown at you to come out the other side just as perfect.”

*sniff* someone needs to come mop me up. 🙂
Anyway I am sure to reread this one.

Whitewater by Meredith Shayne
So sweet, I swear this is like dessert, but without the calories and the sugar shock, of course Luke is a baker and his creations are described in detail in this book, which really isn’t fair, I wanna try all them all.

Luke is a great guy, he has loyal friends, a bakery he is passionate about and he perseveres even when assholes judge or mock him by his disability. My heart broke just a little bit for him every time he was so self conscious and afraid of how Cam would see him, or see how other people would look at him, and always worrying if Cam noticed.

But Cam’s growth, of seeing what is important and who is important was so great to watch, and Luke hopefully, finally seeing he is just as worthy and just as wonderful as ‘guys like Cam’. I loved it, and really, I am a HUGE fan of groveling and boy Cam did a wonderful job groveling, really, excellent. It took Cam a while to see what was right in front of him, but when he did I was so worth it.

Superhero by Eli Easton
I LOVE this book.

Here’s a quote from Jordan: “Damn, he looked fine in that burnt orange and black singlet with the big white W on his chest. As it was wont to do, my heart did a happy little squiggle in my chest before flopping over and surrendering in a puddle of goo.”

Jordan perfectly sums up how I feel about this adorable little YA story. I turned into a Mandy-shaped pile of goo.

I have read a few of Eli Easton’s stories this year and enjoyed all of them.

Gumption& Gumshoe by Alex Kidwell

Seriously, I had a smile on my face almost the whole time I was reading this, it was just a great big squishy hug read. Love it, love it, love it.

First, August, he’s our MC and a chinchilla shifter , he’s awkward, nerdy, klutzy and clumsy. He’s also a bit overweight and is unhappy about that, or rather is maybe made to feel uncomfortable about it. His love interest, or rather his secret crush is also his landlord, the older, grumpy but very sexy Sam.
I can heartily recommend this fuzzy happy feel good read

Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan

Short version: I loved it . I am a sucker for sappy and sweet and Disney HEA. And this one delivered!

Kelly appears to be a hot mess, every allergy known to man, sheltered and naive, waiting for Prince Charming and he wants the Disney fairy tale.  Then we have Walter, he appears all together and seems to have it all, but he’s just as messed up as Kelly, just in a very different way.

This was an excellent friends to lovers story, a story of coming out, looking behind the curtain, love, all kinds of love, friendship and loyalty.  And I have to add, at least for me BEST FIRST KISS EVER!

Kelly, really is a sweetheart, I think Walter described him best this way : “I think that’s my favorite thing about you. You’re a happy-seeking missile. The damnedest thing is, you almost always find it.”

Walter is wonderful, caring and so damn good. I really felt for him and am so glad he found Kelly and that he finally has someone who puts him first. “Don’t you think it’s time someone gave up everything for you?”

So, I got my HEA and my sappy side is now sighing in happiness and I am sure this will be a reread for me!

The Tin Box by Kim Fielding

When I finished the last page of this book, I had to take a deep breath and attempted to get my wayward emotions under control.  This is a powerful story, it had me crying, angry, frustrated and mad. It also had me laughing and smiling and happy.  I don’t really want to say any more, I want William and Bill to tell their story and hope that it touches everyone else the way it touched me.

And as a side note I want to give a shout out to Kim Fielding’s free LHNB story Treasure.  This one actually got my heart rate up, Julian is so brave and loyal, Kit is such a hero, the townspeople rock, and the sword fight had me reading as fast as I could..just to see what happens.

Oh what I wouldn’t give for an epilogue.

The Backup Boyfriend by River Jaymes

I admit I was wrong. ( try and keep it together people)
I thought this book would be a regular GFY trope. Alec would fall for the ‘straight’ guy and pine for him and the unfairness of it all. Dylan would, after an internal war with himself realize that he’s actually ‘gay’, at least for Alec. The ex would be an asshat and be miserable after letting Alec get away. Like I said, I was wrong.

I found this story to be so much more.

But soon the ‘backup boyfriend’ turns into a real friend and then more. The sex is hot and despite what I thought, Dylan has no problem sleeping with Alec.  He doesn’t worry about his ‘manliness’ or question his sexuality at all. It is as it is. I found that very refreshing.

“What does that even mean?” Agitated, Dylan strode a few steps away before turning to pace back. “Fifty percent gay? Fifty percent straight? Can I be ninety percent of one? Ten percent of another? I’m not part this or part that. I’m just me.” He came to a halt in front of Alec. “A hundred percent whole me.”

I loved watching these two men fall for each other, even if there are some very serious issues touched on in this book, but it never felt dark or depressing.  I think this was a great story, I really enjoyed it and read it in one sitting, definitely recommended. The epilogue was worthy of a big happy sigh.

Falling In Love With Crazy by Dane Waters

Wow. That was a ride. I had to take a deep breath and honestly wipe a few tears away at the end of this one. In theory I shouldn’t have liked this story. It starts out light and silly, with lots of banter and crazy behavior, there is a plot twist I’m not a fan of and tons of drama and melodrama – but I did like it. A LOT.

After the first few chapters of silliness and a bit of stalkerish and pushy behavior, I fell for Ryuu. And I felt for him.  He had fallen in love with a very complicated and sick man.

It got serious and my heart broke a little along with Ryuu’s, broke for Daniel: “Ryuu’s heart was breaking as he realized, for the first time, what crazy really was. It wasn’t cute. It wasn’t funny. It wasn’t something to joke about. It was scary as hell, and he was losing Daniel to it.”

Honorary mentions:

 You Get Full Credit For Being Alive by Cari Z
This story was part of the m/m group awesome picture prompt LHNB event. I loved this story, it was a mixture of deceit, redemption, second chances, hurt-comfort, perseverance, forgiveness, cloak and dagger, a dog, and some sadness and some sweetness.

#First Impressions #Second Chances by Heidi Belleau

I loved this free LHNB story. Yes, I did.

I wasn’t sure I would, the way it starts I sympathize with Jonah but I don’t really like him all that much, but that changes throughout the story.  I don’t want to give too much away, because reading how this enfolds is all part of the fun, but Jonah is a young, vain, insecure, self-conscious, neurotic, social media addict with a very soft heart and very sweet core he tries to hide. He also could be a fashionista poster child. He also has some awesomely funny thoughts in this story. Great one-liners running around that boy’s head.

Sebastian, ah, what to say about Sebastian except he is a sweetheart, and I love him and I’m so glad …ack..I have to control myself not to give anything away with my gushing..

But they are so opposite that it fits, and I think they are going to compliment each other so well.

Oh and before I forget, the author nailed the prompt picture, she got that scene in her story and I love how.   I would be thrilled to read more of these two.

Sweet as Chili Pepper by Veronica Sloane

Landslide by Mary Calmes

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Shereadsalot – In no particular order
Thick as Thieves by Tali Spencer – unicorn horn used as a dildo, epic buddy adventure, ’nuff said.
Prelude by Shira Anthony – Beautiful, angsty, melodic awesome!
Apple Polisher by Heidi Belleau – A quirky start to a solid series with real characters for romantic leads. Go figure.
Six Ways from Sunday by Mercy Celeste – Oh the angst and delicious hard earned HEA.
Catch a Ghost & Long Time Gone by S.E. Jakes – You read about Tom and Prophet and try not to get sucked in…I dare you.
Rule by Jay Crownover – Tattooed, pierced, sexy bad boys with an actual non-TSTL heroine FTW!
A Sinner Born by Avril Ashton – Finally the bad guy gets his man…just has to go through some drama to get there. The best of the series, IMO
Fettered by Lyn Gala – Oh. Yes. I. Just Yes. It’s so good. I purred.
Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway – What a romance – the girl who’s usually overlooked and the straight drag queen pulled it off.
The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles – Historical winner, word porn for the reader.
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Susan65
A Casual Weekend Thing by AJ Thomas

Saving Alexander by Susan Mac Nichol

Double Full by Kindle Alexander

Catch a Ghost by SE Jakes

Under a Crescent Moon by Mercy Celeste

Black Hurricane by Erica Pike

Breaking Point by NR Walker

Blindside by NR Walker

Long Time Gone by SE Jakes

Roughed Up by Hank Edwards

Let’s Hear it for the Boy by TA Webb

 

No particular order, I loved them all.

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Vivian
Sixteen Songs About Regret by JoAnne Soper-Cook was a bittersweet rock opera that subsumed me as I experienced a kaleidoscope of emotions.

Special Needs the Complete Story by K.A. Merikan introduced one of the most unique characters I’ve ever read and brought something completely new to my attention in a kinky Scooby Doo/ Psycho mash up.

Seven by Adrienne Wilder reignited my love for sci-fi thrillers single-handedly and for those who like a strong plot rather than a romance-centric book–this one’s for you.

If It Flies by Aleksandr Voinov and L.A. Witt reminded how beautiful an SM relationship could be and the handling of their interracial relationship made me so happy. Love Nick and Spencer.

A Boy and His Dragon by R. Cooper knocked me out of my usual reading patterns with its excruciatingly delicious slow burn–near death by flirting–and hello! It has a dragon shifter.

Let’s Hear It For the Boy by T.A. Webb ripped my heart out, but the zeitgeist of the 80s is perfectly rendered here. Beautiful and devastating simultaneously.

Captive Prince by S.U. Pacat epitomizes every thing I love in sagas with the machinations and world building, but honestly, I was seduced by Laurent at the onset.

Gambling Heart by Thom Lane hit a home run with this fantasy slave story wherein the slave is more powerful than the master. Plus it reawakened the D&D geek in me.

Mountain Prey by Lyn Gala both incinerated my hard drive with the scorching bondage and won me over with the shotgun wedding. Ballsy and it worked.

Tuck & Cover by S.J. D Peterson made me smile with the antics of two incredibly hot military guys battling it out in more ways than one–the quiet humor pushed this ahead of the pack of buff soldiers.

Love Continuance and Increasing by Julian Griffith was a nuanced regency  menage that drew me in with both it’s historical aspects as well as all three parties approach to the relationship.

Steamed Up anthology merits inclusion because it made me revaluate my opinions of anthologies–fantastic collections of steampunk shorts.

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Wendy
Training Season by Leta Blake

An Unlocked Heart by K.C. Wells

More Than Everything by Cardeno C.

Beyond Duty by S.J.D. Peterson

Not His Kiss to Take by Finn Marlowe

Family Unit by Z.A. Maxwell

Second Chances by T.A. Webb

Fear, Hope and Bread Pudding by Marie Sexton

Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux

Room at the Edge by Jane Davitt

Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless

Gambling Men by Amy Lane

Who We Are by T.J. Klune

Frog by Mary Calmes

Home Work by Kaje Harper

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Yvonne’s 2013 favorites:
These are some of the books I enjoyed reading & reviewing in 2013.  (A disclaimer–I included what I read in 2013 no matter the year it was published)

Bone Rider by J. Fally
Outtakes (Hollywood #4) By Tibby Armstrong,
Boy Crucified (Thomas Noel Mystery #1) by Jerome Wilde,
The South Side Tour Guide by Shelter Somerset,
Raining Men by Rick R. Reed,
Falling in Love With Crazy by Dane Waters,
Honor C by C. Zampa,
Dirty Laundry (Cole McGinnis#3) by Rhys Ford,
Line and Orbit by Sunny Moraine & LIsa Soem,
A Shadow of Wings by Linda Gayle,
The Nothingness of Ben by Brad Boney,
Johnny Smith (Jobless in January, #2) by Maria Ismine,

There were also some I enjoyed that I didn’t get to review here:

Nor Iron Bars a Cage by Kaje Harper,
Second Chances  by T.A. Webb,
Latakia by J.F. Smith,
Tell Me It’s Real by T.J. Klune,
Glitterland by T.J. Baer,
Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin, #1),
Bullheaded by Catt Ford,
Slam! by J.L. Merrow,
Caregiver by Rick R. Reed,
Family Man by Heidi Cullinan,
Pink Fizz by Thom Lane,
Trick of Time by J.L. Merrow,
Winter Wolf by S.P. Wayne,
Tigerland (Tigers and Devils, #2) by Sean Kennedy,
Second Hand ( Tucker Springs, #2) by Heidi Cullinan

There are others, too numerous to mention, that I also enjoyed  despite or even because of their flaws.  It’s been a fun reading year for 2013 and I look forward to even more delights in 2014.

 

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