When your profession is writer/editor, idle time is always guilt time. Instead of an angel and a devil sitting on my shoulders, I have a two little dachshunds yapping “Why aren’t you writing?” whenever I have some free time. I decided to silence them with treats this year, in the form of dedicating a few hours after work three times a week to my own personal writing projects. While that has resulted in two, possibly three books that will likely see the light of day (via self-publishing) this year, there was a cost. And it was, alas, my reading time that paid most dearly.
So, while the five books I’m spotlighting this year are more than worthy of being on any best-of list, if you notice any major omissions (like, say, Hexmaker or one of Harper Fox’s treasures), it’s not because I didn’t like those books. It’s because I didn’t read them. Yet. But I did read a bunch of new-to-me authors this year, and I’ve given them some precedence over favorites I’ve mentioned many times before. Basically, the fine print is that this is more of a “Here are five great books” list than a definitive list of the best of 2016. The good news being there are just too many good books to read in the LGBTQ+ community and the publishing world at large. In a year that earned a permanent black mark in a lot of people’s memories, there are worse problems to have.
Everyone in the LGBTQ+ romance community raved about this book, and everyone was right. A pitch-perfect “rub each other the wrong way until they rub each other right” historical with a strong mystery plot, you will fall in love with the endearing yet flawed characters, cursing why their world acts to keep them apart while swooning over the meticulous period detail. Scrumptious.
Don’t overlook this little gem, a 1920s-set historical spy thriller featuring a cross-dressing analyst with big ambitions and a world-wary spook whose past comes back to haunt him. Together, they attempt to foil a major anarchist plot while trying hard not to fall for each other. The perfect setup for what will hopefully be a long and thrilling series. Devoured it over my vacation.
Please judge this book by its gorgeous cover! (The best of the year, IMHO.) Voinov is at the absolute top of his game in this heart-wrenching romance about finding your people and embracing the life you want to lead. Lars is a bit of a loner who takes pride in his work and in helping people. He finds a worthy project in both Rhys’ house and Rhys himself. But he wouldn’t be able to succeed without the help of the coven that embraces both him and his heathen beliefs. This one will give you the big-time warm and fuzzies.
I mean, what can I say about KJ Charles at this point? She brings it every single time. The third book in her Society of Gentlemen series, and the one I was most looking forward to. And, boy, did it deliver. Lord Richard Vane finds himself besotted with his ginger-haired valet, the wily David Cyprian. A passionate argument about class, morality, agency, and devotion ensues, along with more than a few misadventures. This book will challenge your preconceived notions of romance conventions while giving you all the romantic goodness you crave. Delicious and nutritious.
No, this is not a romance novel. It’s a survival kit. Brian K. Vaughn does it again, spinning the cultural markers and anxieties of our present day woes into golden, riveting storytelling. Marcos Martin’s jaw-dropping art brings Vaughan’s dystopian carnival ride to life. You will laugh, sometimes at yourself. Your heart will race. You’ll look on our world with new eyes. A masterpiece.
Hit me up in the comments with some of your favorite books of 2016. Because my TBR list isn’t long enough. 😉