2019 Favorite Reads – Sheri

*blinks* And that’s a wrap on another year! Gracious me, it’s hard to believe. My grandmother always told me that every year that passes picks up speed and I didn’t exactly grasp what she meant. But now I’m beginning to see what she was saying. The one thing I’m trying to do more as these years fly by is to ‘be in the moment‘. It’s easy to lose yourself online or get swept up in the latest fiasco but those things will pass. They may leave a mark but eventually, they will pass. It’s been hard watching authors suffer from the heavy strains and hardships of 2019 and I can only hope 2020 brings a brighter lighter year for everyone.
Reviewing has begun to lose its luster and I’m not quite sure how much longer I’ll continue…I said I would keep at it while it’s still fun.
This is my seventh year and I’m holding onto the enjoyment for now.
Who knows what the next year will bring?
Until then, thank you amazing, strong, resilient authors…
please, keep doing your thing!

….*drumroll*…
In no particular order, here are my most treasured books and series from this past year…

“Memory of Scorpions: 1~ ‘Scorpion’ 2~ ‘Lying with Scorpions’ 3~ ‘A Taste for Poison'” by Aleksandr Voinov – This impressive series was rereleased and I couldn’t be more grateful. How I missed it the first time I’ll never know. Scorpions are a badass elite group, an exclusive team that members are born into and comrade takes on a whole new meaning. This intense and powerful series left me awestruck time and time again. Filled with devotion and betrayal as well as destruction and passion, I couldn’t get enough. Voinov delivers a potent trio with piercing emotions that leave an everlasting impression. If you’re looking for a wild ride that includes: fantasy, historicals, soldiers and unparalleled romance, look no further.
Scorpion AMAZON Lying with Scorpions AMAZON A Taste for Poison AMAZON

 

“Strays” by Garrett Leigh – I’m not ashamed of my addiction to GL specials. They are sincerely one of my most favorite things. True to course, as with anything penned by Leigh, the emotional upheaval here was intense. Nero and Lenny have a compelling and piercing story to share. I was caught, bound, and unresisting…desperately lost to the pages. If you can handle a punch in the gut on the road to a love story that’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced…grab a seat and prepare for a story full of real-life and loads of heart.
AMAZON

 

“Family Camp” by Eli Easton – Since this is Eli Easton, there is a lot to like. I always enjoy her smooth writing and was instantly hooked with this improbable pair. She delivers a powerful punch with this emotional and touching story; it’s full of passion, determination, and dedication. If you’re in the mood for a labor of love that includes the first stitches of a patchwork family who will tug on your heartstrings…welcome to Family Camp.
AMAZON

 

“Thrown off the Ice” by Taylor Fitzpatrick – Wow…what to say without saying too much? That’s tough. I was consumed with the tale of Mike and Liam. This is an epic story that burned a scar on my heart and I feel honored to wear its mark. I held onto every word, every page, every chapter…begging not to fall. If you take a chance on one story this year, this should be it.
AMAZON

 

“Cowboy Seeks Husband” by Leta Blake & Indra Vaughn – This was FUN. A new to me writing collaboration and hope it’s not the last book they share. Both Walker and Roan are driven to desperate measures when they agree to participate in the new gay bachelor reality show, Queer Seeks Spouse. I smiled, snickered, wept, and melted. If you’re looking for the full monty of feels, this little lion and his cowboy are exactly what you need.
AMAZON

 

“Paint it Black” by Amy Lane – I love this crazy group of misfits and could read about them till they are old and gray. This is Cheever’s chance and I cursed him and cheered for him…and loved him. This is Blake’s new beginning and I cried for him and believed in him…and loved him. Hurt. Healing. Harmony. Their road is rugged with wicked turns, but they figure out together they can make it through anything. Together they are a force to be reckoned with…because with love, there is always light. Beneath the Stain groupies need this book. And if you don’t know Outbreak Monkey, start at the beginning and…good luck.
AMAZON

 

“Love Me Whole” by Nicky James – If you’re looking for a stellar example of soulmates, this might be the most precise portrayal I’ve ever seen. Dissociative identity disorder is complicated. Oryn’s daily battles are exhausting and almost inconceivable. And their love is cautious yet all-consuming. Vaughn and Oryn are a perfect example of pure, powerful, unconditional love. Anyone willing to take a chance...Love Me Whole is one of the most tremendous love stories that I’ve ever read.
AMAZON

 

“Finding Home: 1~ ‘Oz’ 2~ ‘Milo’ 3~ ‘Gideon’” by Lily Morton – When it comes to Morton, I find myself somewhat of a broken record. I gush and squee and blather on but I just can’t help it. Because…every time it’s true. I think I have a favorite or perhaps she’s outdone herself only to be proven wrong again and again. I absolutely adored Oz. I still do. And yet, I am just as smitten with Milo. And then Gideon elbowed his way to the top. If you haven’t read this insanely amazing series yet, you really really should. If you are looking for vivid and vivacious stories of two unlikely men finding their perfect match, stop here!
Oz AMAZON Milo AMAZON Gideon AMAZON

 

“Soul on Fire” by Tal BauerRuthless. Unforgiving. Haunting. Elliot and Ikolo meet under dreadful conditions. It seems impossible to consider romance existing in the middle of an Ebola crisis in the Congo. And I would argue that this is not a romance. But it IS a love story. A hauntingly beautiful love story. Souls catch fire…and they weren’t alone. I won’t lie, this book hurts. But it also gives you hope. And there’s no greater gift a book can give you than that.
AMAZON

 

“Those Other Books: 1~ ‘The Other Book’ 2~ ‘Adam Only’ 2.5~ ‘One in Between’” by Roe Horvat – I’m a needy greedy reader when it comes to Horvat. It doesn’t matter what it is…it’s tantalizing and divine. Exquisite writing will take your breath away, concentrated pages pack a powerful punch, and sex may dominate but the tenderness is far more seductive. These ‘other books’ are erotic masterpieces and I felt fortunate to witness such breathtaking moments. I can taste the hope. Feel the love. With any luck, you will too.
The Other Book AMAZON Adam Only AMAZON One in Between AMAZON

 

Ta-da! That’s it.
I enjoyed reliving my best of 2019 and hope you did too. Of course, I always have trouble narrowing down my favorites…so here’s my honor’s list of spectacular books that deserve a shout out: “Everybody in the Place” by Suki Fleet, “Fated Hearts” by Garrett Leigh, “After Ben” by Con Riley, “Whatever it Takes” by Barbara Elsborg and “The Christmas Deal” by Keira Andrews. I continue to soak in the amazing stories of my ‘absolutely-must-read’ list and have found a few new names to watch out for.

Despite the highs and lows, 2019 has been good to me. I feel so lucky for the endless blessings I have received, not to mention all the awesome books! I will continue to strive to not take anything for granted and relish in all favors, big and small. I’ve found my way back to Goodreads this year and am thrilled with my new friends and was happy to see familiar faces still there.
As I close the final pages of this year I just want to say…
Hold your loved ones close and don’t forget to celebrate today.
Remember self-care is immensely important.
Find what makes your heart lift and don’t let it go.
And pass along a smile whenever you can.

Cheers to a bright new year!
And as always…
I hope the new year brings you lots of laughter, love, and books that will…. shake any funk.

Hugs,

sheri

“The Christmas Deal” by Keira Andrews

about

Will fake boyfriends become the real deal this holiday?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—except ex-Marine Logan is jobless and getting evicted. Worse, he’s a new single dad with a stepson who hates him. A kid needs stability—not to mention presents under the tree—and Logan’s desperate.

Then he meets lonely Seth and makes a deal.

Can Logan temporarily pretend to be live-in boyfriends to increase Seth’s chances at a promotion? If it provides a roof over their heads for the holidays, hell yeah. Logan considers himself straight—he doesn’t count occasional hookups with guys—but he can fake it. Besides, with his shy little smile, Seth is surprisingly sexy.

Make that damn sexy.

Shocked that Seth has only been with one man, Logan can’t resist sweetening their deal to teach him the joys of casual sex. No strings attached. No feelings. No kissing.

No falling for each other.

Easy, right?

The Christmas Deal is a steamy holiday gay romance novel from Keira Andrews featuring fake boyfriends, bisexual awakening, a clueless single dad with an angry preteen, and of course a happy ending.

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“Whatever it Takes” by Barbara Elsborg

about

War in Syria has devastated Zain’s country, destroyed his family and broken his heart. When there is nothing left to stay for, he journeys to England, determined to follow in his father’s footsteps and train as a doctor in London. He might be a refugee with no money, no friends and no qualifications but he still has his dreams and he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure his future turns out to be the one he wants.

Roman is a world away from the naïve Russian boy who lost everything, one devastating day. Now he’s a fixer for a wealthy Russian, keeping the guy’s business dealings away from the attention of the British authorities. Roman is balanced on a moral tightrope which grows more unsteady by the day. The last thing he needs is to become emotionally involved with a young Syrian, especially when he can’t afford to trust anyone.

A chance discovery in Roman’s car by Zain sets off a violent chain reaction and Zain is thrown into a world that threatens not just his dreams but his life. Roman has difficult decisions to make. He’s determined to do whatever it takes to keep Zain safe. But lingering shadows from their pasts as well as prominent figures from Roman’s present need to be eliminated if they’re to have a chance together.
As lies and danger escalate, are they doomed before they’ve even begun?

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“Hometown Christmas” by Garrett Leigh

about

Can Yani and Gavin go from friends to lovers this Christmas?

Yani Nicolaou is sworn off love for good. After fleeing a bad break-up in London, the only blood, sweat, and tears he has left are for his gyro stall at the Christmas market. Rebound fling? No thanks. He’s sticking to one-night-stands.

Ex-army vet Gavin Richie has even less capacity for romance. Managing a homeless shelter while recovering from injury keeps him far too busy. So what if he’s often alone? He’s content being single, or so he thinks until a chance meeting lights a spark he can’t ignore.

Yani is the warmth and affection Gavin hadn’t known he was missing. As Christmas lights up the city, their lives entwine in more ways than one. Falling for each other is easy. Holding on is harder, unless a hometown Christmas proves their love can last longer than the festive season.

 

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“No Place Like Home” by Annabelle Jacobs

about

Will Oliver get the gift he’s hoping for this Christmas?

Oliver Walker’s Christmas is shaping up to be a quiet one. That is until hunky neighbour Ed Middleton moves in next door.

Attraction is instant, but Ed is only there temporarily and neither wants to start something with an expiration date.

As the festive season approaches, holiday cheer wraps around them, and giving in to temptation is inevitable. But Ed is still set on moving in the new year—a fresh start, miles away from those he’s closest to.

If Oliver doesn’t want to lose his heart, he’ll have to show Ed that home is wherever he wants it to be, and love is possible no matter what.

No Place Like Home is a heartwarming story of love between neighbours, family and friends, about adorable rescue cats, and remembering that sometimes the very thing you’re looking for is right under your nose.

 

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“A Boyfriend For Christmas” by Jay Northcote

about

Archie’s posh parents want him to meet a nice girl–how can he tell them he’s fallen for a bad boy instead?

Closeted, innocent and lonely, Archie Arandale longs for someone special in his life. A Christmas party organised by his wealth management company is the last place he expects to meet the man of his dreams.

With his leather jacket, tattoos, and piercings, Cal Turner turns heads the moment he walks through the door. He definitely isn’t looking for a boyfriend, but Archie’s hesitant charm captures his attention, and sneaking off during the party to have a little fun can only make a dull evening more interesting.

After their reckless and thrilling encounter, Archie is keen for more experience and Cal is happy to oblige. The need for secrecy means this can only be a casual fling, yet as they spend time together in the run up to Christmas, their feelings become more intense than either of them had bargained for. How can Archie find the courage to tell his family about Cal, when Cal’s the exact opposite of the ‘nice girl’ they’ve been hoping for?

Contains: A closeted virgin, a tattooed biker, class differences, a dramatic coming out, a very inappropriate Christmas gift, and a happy ending (of course).

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“Recovery” by Con Riley

about

San Diego is a city of second chances for Jamie Carlson. His career as a photographer is taking off, and with the support of a loving surrogate family, he’s finally putting his party years behind him. The Bailey family helped him solve his drinking problem, but there’s no easy solution to staying sober now that Belle Bailey’s dying. Her last wish is a challenge Jamie can’t overcome without help.

Solving problems is Daniel Priest’s specialty. More than twenty years older than Jamie, he’s successful and experienced. He makes his living resolving corporate crises—but his personal life has been far from perfect. Now that his marriage is over, Daniel’s determined to make up for lost time. One night with Jamie isn’t nearly enough for him.

Daniel’s offer of help is more than Jamie expects from a one-time hookup. Even so, fulfilling the last wish of his surrogate mom seems impossible. Repairing her damaged family as she requests means facing his own past as well. Jamie could risk his hard-won recovery by admitting why he hit rock bottom. If he wants a future with Daniel, he’ll have to confront those reasons head-on.

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