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

“Paint it Black” by Amy Lane

about

A Beneath the Stain Novel 

Everybody thinks Mackey Sanders and Outbreak Monkey is the last coming of Rock’n’Roll Jesus, but Cheever Sanders can’t wait to get out of his home town and make a name for himself where nobody expects him to fill his famous brothers’ shoes. He’s tired of living in their shadow.

Blake Manning knows the feeling. He’s been Outbreak Monkey’s second lead guitarist for ten years. He’s come to terms with the fact that he’ll never be Grant Adams, the guy he replaced, and that Kell Sanders will never love him like Mackey loved Grant. He got this gig on luck and love, not talent. So watching Cheever blow through Outbreak Monkey’s hard-earned money in an epic stretch of partying pisses him off.

Blake shows up at Cheever’s nonstop orgy to enforce some rules, but instead of a jaded punk, he finds a lost boy as talented at painting as Mackey is at song-making, and terrified to let anybody see the real him. It’s something he and Blake have in common.

Both men have to make peace with being second banana in the public eye. Can they find the magic of coming absolute first with each other?

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“Warm Heart” by Amy Lane

about

Search and Rescue: Book One 

Survive the adventure. Live to love.

Following a family emergency, snowboarder Tevyn Moore and financier Mallory Armstrong leave Donner Pass in a blizzard… and barely survive the helicopter crash that follows. Stranded with few supplies and no shelter, Tevyn and Mallory—and their injured pilot—are forced to rely on each other.

The mountain leaves no room for evasion, and Tevyn and Mal must confront the feelings that have been brewing between them for the past five years. Mallory has seen Tevyn through injury and victory. Can Tevyn see that Mallory’s love is real?

Mallory’s job is risk assessment. Tevyn’s job is full-on risk. But to stay alive, Mallory needs to take some gambles and Tevyn needs to have faith in someone besides himself. Can the bond they discover on the mountain see them to rescue and beyond?

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“String Boys” by Amy Lane

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Seth Arnold learned at an early age that two things in life could make his soul soar—his violin and Kelly Cruz. In Seth’s uncertain childhood, the kindness of the Cruz family, especially Kelly and his brother, Matty, gave Seth the stability to make his violin sing with the purest sound and opened a world of possibility beyond his home in Sacramento.

Kelly Cruz has loved Seth forever, but he knows Seth’s talents shouldn’t be hidden, not when the world is waiting. Encouraging Seth to follow his music might break Kelly’s heart, but he is determined to see the violin set Seth’s soul free. When their world is devastated by a violent sexual assault and Matty’s prejudices turn him from a brother to an enemy, Seth and Kelly’s future becomes uncertain.

Seth can’t come home and Kelly can’t leave, but they are held together by a love that they clutch with both hands.

Seth and Kelly are young and the world is wide—the only thing they know for certain is they’ll follow their heartstrings to each other’s arms whenever time and fate allow. And pray that one day they can follow that string to forever… before it slices their hearts in two.

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“Homebird” by Amy Lane

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Crispin Henry isn’t an adventurer. He learned early on that the world is a frightening place and that home is rare and precious. If his friends didn’t drag him to sports games and ill-advised trips to Vegas, he wouldn’t get out at all—and his trip to Munich for Oktoberfest is no exception. But it’s there that he meets Luka Gabriel, and he learns to take a chance.

Luka is a free-spirited world traveler, working at Oktoberfest to feed his enchantment with new places and new people. His only possessions fit in his backpack, and he depends on the kindness of strangers for a place to sleep. Crispin should know better—but he takes Luka’s hand anyway, and together they turn three nights in Munich into the relationship neither of them has been brave enough to risk—and neither can let go of.

When Luka turns up on Crispin’s doorstep before the holiday season, Crispin takes him in on hope alone. Yes, he knows the odds are good Luka will flutter out of his life again and leave him bereft, but isn’t it worth it to see if Luka is a homebird after all?

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“Regret Me Not” by Amy Lane

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Pierce Atwater used to think he was a knight in shining armor, but then his life fell to crap. Now he has no job, no wife, no life—and is so full of self-pity he can’t even be decent to the one family member he’s still speaking to. He heads for Florida, where he’s got a month to pull his head out of his ass before he ruins his little sister’s Christmas.

Harold Justice Lombard the Fifth is at his own crossroads—he can keep being Hal, massage therapist in training, flamboyant and irrepressible to the bones, or he can let his parents rule his life. Hal takes one look at Pierce and decides they’re fellow unicorns out to make the world a better place. Pierce can’t reject Hal’s overtures of friendship, in spite of his misgivings about being too old and too pissed off to make a good friend.

As they experience everything from existential Looney Tunes to eternal trips to Target, Pierce becomes more dependent on Hal’s optimism to get him through the day. When Hal starts getting him through the nights too, Pierce must look inside for the knight he used to be—before Christmas becomes a doomsday deadline of heartbreak instead of a celebration of love.

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“Bonfires” by Amy Lane

about

Ten years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.

Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.

It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.

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2016 Favorite Reads – Sheri

favorites

Looking back on my year of books from 2016 brings me great joy. It was a slower year but definitely not lacking in emotions, which I suppose sums up my year in general. I found myself gravitating towards comfort authors and sifting through older titles that I had previously missed. This perhaps was the most exciting; stumbling upon gems from years ago. I marveled as I uncovered truly amazing stories that were just as shiny despite not being brand new. I struggled to let go of a few captivating books and allowed myself to stay, transfixed with their beauty. Altogether, it was a wonderful year jam-packed with amazing books.

Without further ado, here are my favorites from this past year…..

 

“Brute” by Kim Fielding – Everything about this story rocked my world. I was utterly addicted and savored every word while listening to it on repeat. I had an audio book awakening this year and it was due to my infatuation of this book. If you haven’t read it yet…you must! AMAZON

 

Big Love” by Rick R. Reed – My adoration for this story stems from an individual character but all in all it’s a fantastic story. Reed is by far one of my favorite authors and it’s no surprise my top ten includes his triple R initials. This story is bursting with love and should not be overlooked. AMAZON

 

“Imperfection of Swans” by Brandon Witt – Slow and steady wins the race, right? It certainly did with this story! Witt is a fresh face for me and I really enjoyed his style. A powerful story with a personal touch and it left me overflowing with emotions. AMAZON

 

foxes cover

“Foxes” by Suki Fleet – I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again….Suki Fleet is vastly underappreciated. Her words have great power and everyone should know them. Danny deserves infinite love and he’s got it from me. If you don’t know Fleet’s work, trust me, you really really should. AMAZON

“Selfie” by Amy Lane – Oh my! This is an amazing yet tragic story that doesn’t pull its punches. It is long and full of emotional afflictions but I connected with Noah and was completely vested in his story. Con demonstrates that broken hearts can indeed heal enough to love again and I was overwhelmed with his revival. So good. AMAZON

 

“SPECTR Series” by Jordan L. Hawk – Hawk is another new-to-me author and I was thoroughly impressed. I’m perplexed that I missed her before but grateful I was introduced to this series. John, Caleb & Gray create some seriously badass paranormal romance and I blissfully got my freak on with this trio. If you aren’t familiar, I recommend putting it on your list. AMAZON

 

AMM cover

“A Mended Man” by Jaime Reese – Wow….this story was a labor of love. It’s an intense ride with intense men. It’s not an easy journey but it’s very much worth it. The Men of Halfway House are an obsession I am happy to surrender to. If you haven’t met these men yet, you’re sorely missing out.  AMAZON

 

playing for keeps cover

“Glasgow Lads” Series by Avery Cockburn – These sexy Scots stole my heart. I binge-read this series and grieved the final pages. Avery has a knack for creating the ultimate ‘opposites attract’ couple and they were dangerously dirty. And score! …Another new favorite author to add to my list! AMAZON

 

imperfect harmony cover

“Imperfect Harmony” by Jay Northcote – I adore nearly every story Northcote delivers but this one especially touched my heart. I believe it was simply because it opened my eyes a little wider and I truly appreciate when a story leaves you with a different perspective. Kudo’s to Jay and I can’t wait for what he has to come next year. AMAZON

 

Wolfsong cover

“Wolfsong” by T.J. Klune – This book is my…beloved this year. I loved absolutely every single thing about it…except the long tortuous wait for the sequel. I’ve never experienced anything like it and doubt I ever will. Klune creates the paramount of PNR and if you haven’t read it…please do. AMAZON

 

This wraps up my best of 2016 but I can’t go without shout outs to: “Just Drive” by L.A. Witt, “Diamonds” by Nash Summers, “The Last Thing He Needs” by J.H. Knight, “Drawn In” by Barbara Elsborg and “Perfect Imperfections” by C. Cardeno. These are all remarkable stories that deserve high praise and just barely missed the cut this year.

2016 was a year full of highs and lows and I always find it best to focus on the many blessings I’ve received. I hope you were as fortunate as I was and 2017 brings you many joys, smiles and books that will shake any funk.

Hugs,

sheri

 

“Selfie” by Amy Lane

about

One year ago, actor Connor Montgomery lost the love of his life to a drunk driver. But what’s worse for Connor is what he still has: a lifetime of secrets born of hiding his relationship from the glare of Hollywood. Unable to let go of the world he and Vinnie shared, Connor films a drunken YouTube confession on the anniversary of Vinnie’s death.

Thankfully, the video was silent—a familiar state for Connor—so his secret is still safe. He needs a fresh start, and a new role on the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing might be just that.

The move to Bluewater Bay may also mean a second chance in the form of his studio-assigned assistant. Noah Dakers sees through Connor’s facades more quickly than Connor could imagine. Noah’s quiet strength and sarcastic companionship offers Connor a chance at love that Hollywood’s closet has never allowed. But to accept it, Connor must let Vinnie go and learn to live again.

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