Cheers, friends, and welcome to our Best of 2018 reviewer picks!!! We’re continuing the countdown to the end of the year with Carrie’s fave reads, so enjoy and be sure to enter the Giveaway!
Charlie’s Rainbow by Victoria Sue – Victoria Sue has done it again. I think this story is better than the first one, and I really, really, liked Joshua’s Rainbow. Honestly, after the first book I hoped that Charlie would get his own HEA, but I just didn’t see how Sue was going to pull it off… Oh, but she did, in brilliant fashion! Even though this is the second book in the series, you don’t have to read the first to understand this one. It would be nice if you did, though, since the groundwork for this series is laid down in book one, with backstory on several characters and our first impressions of Charlie. This is a slow burn, with just the right amount of angst; after all, with Charlie’s and with Noah’s issues there is no way to make this a quickie and have it be believable. However, the journey is worth the trouble, as you will get to meet a whole cast of quirky, somewhat misfit characters and experience romance set in a tropical paradise.
Matchstick Men by Adira August – I love these books and this series. Great character driven novels that are well written and contain a depth of story are hard to come by, but these books fit that bill to a tee. Not to mention page melting BDSM, chemistry and two beautiful but flawed main characters.
The relationship begins to deepen for Hunter and Cam, the dance has begun in earnest, and the chemistry, the tautness of their interactions keeps your interest right where August wants it, and that is on Hunt and Cam. We really start to intimately get into Hunter and Cam’s headspace in this book. These characters are so complex, there is such a depth to Adira August’s writing that she once again draws us into the world of her MCs, and takes us on a roller coaster ride of love, horror, joy, and tension.
Two Feet Under by Charlie Cochrane – This book begins with Robin and Adam settling into new jobs. With the conclusion of that other business in Lindenshaw, they both have started anew in their respective professions. Adam has moved from Lindenshaw St. Crispins to Culdover Church of England Primary School. He’s become a deputy head-teacher, and he couldn’t be more ecstatic. Robin has moved from his old precinct to Abbotston, where he is the acting chief inspector while the current man with the job is out for a while. Getting away from Stanebridge and all that happened there is a welcome change for Adam, and he has high hopes that the temporary position will become permanent. We do get some secondary characters that have moved on with Robin and Adam, both from Robin’s old job. His newly minted sergeant is Pru, and his unwelcome houseguest is Anderson, his old sergeant from Stanebridge.
There’s a dead body. Of course there is a dead body! But who is she? Aaaand, this is where Charlie Cochrane excels. I didn’t get it, didn’t see it coming. Adam and Robin and, of course, Campbell are once again all three involved in Robin’s police work. Remember, these stories are mysteries wherein the characters involved happen to be gay. They are not romances even though our MCs met and fell in love within their pages, and their relationship is adorable.
Nobody’s Prince Charming by Aimee Nicole Walker – The Road to Blissville series is a spinoff from Walker’s Curl Up and Dye series, and Nobody’s Prince Charming brings together two crossover characters who we have all grown to love from Curl Up and Dye. Dare and Wren have been dancing around each other for awhile now. I would say this is a slow-burn novel for that fact, except that all that action took place in other books so I appreciated the fact that these two resolved into a relationship pretty quick in their own story. These are two very different but very feisty men, and this novel is full of Walker’s trademark snarky banter. The chemistry between these two has been obvious from the first and having them come together finally was exceptionally satisfying.
Yes, I recommend this book. I have enjoyed all the Road to Blissville stories and will read every one when they come out. This book is marked as a standalone, and it is. You can pick it right up and read it without having read any of the preceding books, but dive into Walker’s Blissville series. It’s a great, well written series of books, and her characters are well-defined and make you love them. They aren’t heavy, for the most part, just good, romantic reads that leave a smile on your face. This book in particular is a good one, one of the best as far as I am concerned.
Hush by Lynn Kelling – Have you read—no, experienced—the Manse series? If you have, then you know that Kelling doesn’t necessarily write the books in chronological order. Each and every one is so intense on their own and you can read them individually, but I am here to recommend you start with number one in the series and go from there. Books one through three were actually written and published in reverse order but shouldn’t be read that way. And once again, we have two connecting novels, Bare: book five and Hush: book four, which were written in reverse order also. These stories are all part of the Society of Masters series, which Kelling writes and shares with Jack L. Pyke, another contemporary BDSM, M/M author. Hush is the story of Rune, Oliver, Jackson, and Adam. It is a roller coaster of an emotional ride from beginning to end. At its heart it is a romance, but there are so many layers and nuances to it that wading in keeps you riveted.
Believe by Garrett Leigh – Ok, I loved it, just going to throw that out there right from the get go. This is book three in the Skins series and while each is absolutely a standalone, if you are familiar with Leigh’s writing at all, you know she likes to keep all her stories “in the family”, so to speak. So, while you can read this one all by itself, you actually won’t get the full picture unless you read the first two books also. Believe features Harry and Joe from Whisper (as Harry is Rhys brother), and it has Angelo and Dylan from Dream; it also has Marc from Soul to Keep and Efe from the Urban Souls works.
Rhys is at a crossroads. His life has become monotonous and his drug of choice—anonymous sex—just isn’t working to take him out of his head for a while anymore. When we met Rhys in the other books in the series, he seemed like a likable guy, a sex positive guy, but there were hints that all wasn’t right with him. Boy, were those hints right. Growing up in an abusive home has left some deep psychological scars on him. His easygoing nature masks an emotionally introverted man whose shadows often overpower him. The sexual extrovert we see in previous books all of a sudden has new meaning, and all the playing he does is now a cause for worry.
Leaning Into Forever by Lane Hayes – Who among us hasn’t been waiting for Geordie’s story? Well, it’s here, and it’s as fabulous as the man himself. We’ve been waiting, those of us reading this series, to see what kind of man Hayes would pair him with. Geordie’s very self-awareness meant that his counterpart would need to be able to stand on his own. He would need to be able to handle his own page time and be a character that had as much depth as the one we have lived with and worried about for several books now. I think Hayes hit it out of the park with Levi.
Geordie needed grounding with a solid character who could take all his uniqueness and not back down from it or ask him to change. He would be the first to tell you that he put the “queer” in being queer. How many men do you know could come through a door into a crowded tasting room in a winery and burst into show tunes? His outfits, his mannerisms, his speech patterns, and his very persona scream a man who isn’t willing to compromise who he is or wants to be for your personal sensibilities. Oh, but underneath the “show” is a vulnerable man who has a backbone of steel, who loves deeply and forever, is fiercely loyal, generous to a fault, and quietly introspective. Only Geordie can sit in a garden having a conversation with his dead lover, complaining about his blue velvet shoes. And his telling Mike about Levi… tissues will be required.
The Edge by SJD Peterson – It seemed through a great deal of the book that it was about two different storylines—Nash and his sub vs Joshua and his Dom. The stories ran parallel to each other since they were about the same men, respectively, but I wish we had a few extra pages at the end with the two of them together, when they finally got to a good place for both men. There was so much to overcome, so much for Nash to learn to be the Dom Joshua truly needed, and Joshua had to come to a place where he could let go of his past, not just lock it in a box in his mind. By the time you get to the epilogue, it’s like… whew! And I wish that part of the story could have been just a little longer, allowing us time to mentally rest and really put this relationship in concrete.
These men worked for their HEA, but Peterson wrote the story so that you, as a reader, are able to stay above the heady issues and let the story take you where it wants to. You won’t read a book where two men have fought harder for a chance at being together—not just being together but being healthy, happy, and whole—than Joshua and Nash.
Soul of Discretion by Susan Mac Nicol and M. Tasia – Soul of Discretion is the first collaboration between these two authors, and I hope it isn’t the last. Mac Nicol’s edgier side is complemented well by Tasia’s more romantic approach to writing, and the end result just works. Is it a police procedural or a mystery? No. It is, at its heart, a romance, and as such takes some liberties on the investigative side of the storyline. You can see where Mac Nicol’s additions ground the story when it seems to skew from probability, and provides a foundation for the characters that keep them relatable.
Simon Bridgeworth has worked hard to be the man that he is. Titled or not, he believes that hard work pays off. At twenty-eight he started Breakforce Limited, a company dedicated to interactive technology, AI systems, and creating better prosthetics for the disabled. Simon is a man in control, so when the new offshoot of his company in Canada loses over three million dollars, Simon is on a plane to track down what happened in person. Simon appointed one of his close friends, Jack Teeman, as the CEO of the Canada operations, and the betrayal is hitting him hard. A cryptic phone call from Jack has Simon wondering if something bigger than embezzlement could be going on.
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15 thoughts on “Simply the Best 2018: Carrie’s Fave Books and a Giveaway”
I really enjoyed Matchstick Men and its sequel. I’ve read some very good stories this year, like The Necromancer’s Reckoning by SJ Himes, Boy Shattered by Eli Easton, It doesn’t Translate by Ofelia Gränd. I hope next year is as full of good stories as this one has been
Some of my favorites were Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen and Charlie’s Rainbow by Victoria Sue.
I loved and is one of my absolute favorites of all time Broken by Nikola Harken, On Davis Row by NR Walker and Leaning into Forever by Lane Hayes :)
More authors for me to look into! Thanks!
Hailey Turner, Macy Blake, Sheena Himes, Meraki P Lyhne and Adira August books are all amazing
I’ve been really enjoying Ofelia Grand’s short stories, especially Snowflake. Loved it and wished it was longer.
Michele Notaro came out with the final book in her Taoree trilogy at the beginning of the year, which I loved, but then I love all of her books. Stella Starling’s The Boyfriend Game The Twelfth Date were both great. Lily Morton’s Oz was awesome.
Agent Bayne and Baelfire were good read. There are others too.
So many wonderful books this year! It is hard to name them, but great books from Rhys Ford, KJ Charles, Jordan Hawk, and many more.
Most definitely Charlie Cochrane – Lindeshaw and Cambridge Fellows!
Have also enjoyed some.Breaker titles this yesr
My top two favorites this year was Unbroken Promises by Nikki Ash and Further to Fall by Catherine Cowles. Also loved the Confessions series by Ella Frank
Sin and Tonic by Rhys Ford; Dragon’s Hoard by M A Church; City Dragons series by Lisa Oliver (book 1 Dragon’s Heat and book 2 Dragon’s Fire). All five books in the Enhanced World series by Victoria Sue. Angel Martinez Brandywine Investigations: Family Matters.
Some lovely authors are featured here. Thanks for the opportunity!
Great list with some books i have on my tbr list.
I love 2 Feet Under. I don’t know if it’s meant to be cute, but it is.