2017. What a year. We’ve made it to the last day of this year. There definitely were some ups and downs and through it all books were constantly with us. This post is meant to highlight our absolute favorite books of this year. There were so many amazing books to chose from this year, we really had to hold ourselves back.
*Included are books that were released this past year.
(With one exception where we both mention a 2018 release.)
Off the Ice and Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn
To the surprise of exactly no one, these had to be included in this post. Sebastian and Tristan instantly became faves. Off the Ice is one of those books I ALWAYS recommend because it has everything I love: fleshed-out characters, an age-gap (with professor/student pairing), ice hockey(!!), a bit of a D/s dynamic, an amazing cast of minor characters — some of whom will get their own book eventually — and a conflict that is resolved beautifully. I’ve read this one five times now (I lost count at this point) and if you haven’t read it I can only strongly recommend you to do so.
This writing duo also brought us Permanent Ink this year. I fell in love with Poe only a couple of lines into the story and Jericho also inhabits a sweet spot in my heart. My list wouldn’t be complete without either of these stories. [Review]
Daily Grind and Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo
I want to include the whole Takeover series, but because the first three books were released prior to 2017 I’ll focus on Daily Grind, the fourth and last book in the series. I reviewed the book here. And just reading the review now I kinda want to reread the book (and series).
Another fave by Anna is their newest release Outside the Lines. This book completely charmed me and I love, love, love the characters. Simon is a cinnamon-roll, too good for this world and Lydia is a kickass woman, this is rounded-up with the sometimes thick-headed Ian. 😉 [Review]
His Quiet Agent by Ada Maria Soto
This book took me completely by surprise, because I had not expected to love this as much as I do. Arthur and Merlin enchanted me and just thinking about the story gives me fluttery, warm feelings. I could rave about it for hours or just tell you to please read that book. It deserves all the love by readers because (to me) it’s a truly special story. I only know of one other story — though there are probably more — with both MC’s on the asexual spectrum.
Soto deftly weaves a net with this low-angst, friends to lovers-story, to captivate the reader until they’ve read the last page. And you guys, this book has probably the most romantic declaration of love ever. Of course this has to be mentioned in my favourites of 2017. [Review]
Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke
This faves list wouldn’t be complete without Fortitude Smashed (and also the upcoming sequel Curved Horizon). I’ll stop raving about this series and how awesome Aiden and Shannon as well as Daisy and Chelsea are when hell freezes over and my birthday is on Christmas AND Easter. So… probably never. 😉 I pretty much said everything in my review already. Curved Horizon isn’t out yet, but I had the pleasure to be an early reader for it and – without saying too much – I loved the perspective and layers it added to the existing cast of characters, as well as introducing other awesome side-characters that hopefully will get their own story. Brooke is definitely one author to watch and I’m excited to see what 2018 will bring us from her.
Thaw and Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer
Own-voices. Asexual. Representation. Do I need to say more? The whole series has been a winner for me and Thaw especially stood out for me. There is still so little good ace rep out there and even less own-voices representation, that this book is one everyone should read.
With Thaw we have an ace MC who is not conflicted or tortured about her asexuality, one who is not “cured” by the allo-MC at the end of the story and it features an awesome, supportive cast of minor characters. [Review]
Another book I have to mention here is Heels Over Head because holy shitballs this book you guys. #Branemy are just so perfect for each other, I loved the slowly growing and evolving relationship, the push and pull between them was delicious and I really enjoyed the diving aspect of the story. 2017 is the year this author was first published and what a year it was.
Beneath the Stars by Lynn Charles
I read this early this year but still think of Sid, Eddie and Adrian from time to time. Charles wrecked me in the best way possible. Watching Sid and Eddie fall in love was beautiful and lovely Adrian is pure sugar, you guys. I know that not everyone is a fan of kids in romance but I loved it. It’s not just a gorgeous love story though, it also features an amazing cast of side characters and shows the complexity of caring for a family member. [Review]
The Art of Three by Racheline Maltese and Erin McRae
If you want to write the perfect book for Annie, the main characters need to have a bit of an age difference. I’m a sucker for those. But The Art of Three didn’t just have the age differences, it also just hit ALL the right notes for me. I loved the more fast-paced attraction between Jamie and Callum as much as the slower-evolving relationship between Jamie and Nerea and the already existing one between Callum and Nerea. There are so many layers to this story – the more I read the more I fell in love. Each character grows throughout the story and seeing them navigate their new relationship together, as well as the single pairs, was beautiful and so wonderfully done. [Review]
Spectred Isle by K.J. Charles
This book took me by surprise — I love Charles’s work, but I was NOT expecting to fall so deeply in love with this one. I’ve read it at least three times and every time I look through my Kindle I’m tempted to re-read it. It’s lush and infused with cool, creepy magic stuff which I dug. But more importantly, Charles just kills it at handling two characters who have been devastated by different aspects of the war and how coming together helps them both begin to acknowledge the depth of feeling and tragedy they’d been walling themselves off from. [Review]
I can’t let this years Faves List go by without mentioning that Charles also wrote a spectacular series this year — the Sins of the Cities series — and that An Unnatural Vice was another absolute gem this year. [Review]
Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke
It is nearly impossible for me to summarize in one paragraph just how special this book is. If you read my review, you’ll see that I did what amounted to a small literary analysis on it — one that I had to cut about half of because it was turning into an article length monster. Suffice to say this book is beautiful: symbolism, lyrical writing and a really nuanced, character driven story that draws you in and satisfies beautifully. And it’s sequel, Curved Horizon, which comes out in 2018 is just as beautiful. [Review]
And it Came to Pass by Laura Stone
This book is so incredibly moving. Stone is a detail oriented, wonderfully gifted writer with a knack for doing really hard, internal character work that never feels bogged down to too slow. This book manages to hit this beautiful sweet spot: Stone both challenges aspects of Mormonism (and it’s clear throughout that Stone is writing from personal knowledge) while showing all the really beautiful aspects and potentials of faith as a practice. Character chemistry was palpable. Stone managed to write a book that questions, examines, cherishes with intense character chemistry. [Review]
Small Change And The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish
Small Change is a really special book that did some really interesting, unconventional things. Parrish took risks within the genre, and executed them brilliantly. The protagonists in this book are well drawn: messy, complex, perfect, beautifully imperfect. Ginger gets what amounts to an adult coming of age, something we rarely see in romance but that is so true to live — the growing we do as adults in different stages of our lives. I love that Parrish chose to give us Christopher’s POV solely in letters to his brother. We got to see so much internal character work that wasn’t didactic or clumsy. Also, the heat factor — wow. Fantastic, sexy chemistry that jumps off the page. [Review]
The Remaking of Corbin Wale
This book is hands down one of the best books I’ve read in years. This book is delicious in multiple ways. If you love foodie stories with delectable descriptions of baked goods, and the processes of making them (so sensual), this book delivers in spades. But more, the MC’s jump off the page. They are so authentically completely drawn humans. Humans you will fall helplessly in love with. Furthermore, and perhaps the best, is the stunning world Parrish puts them in. Magical realism hits a soft spot of mine, and the way this was written made me never want to leave. Halfway through this book I was already sad that it was already over. This book is one of those special, special books that will leave you with a book hangover.
Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic by F.T. Lukens
This book is a MUST READ YA gem for 2017. It’s laugh-out-loud funny. It’s poignant. It’s creative as hell. It’s well written — Lukens’ voice and style always makes it easy for me to “see” everything going on. Bridger, our protagonist, is clever and endearing. He’s very much a teenager, struggling with coming to terms with his sexuality (particularly coming out). Lukens lets us in so that we see his loneliness, his insecurities, his wonder and shock at discovering this new world of myths and magic. Rules and Regs manages to be a coming of age story that hits every right note, as well as an interesting, rich and well imagined world of magic. The side characters are also just spot on. [Review] Of course, I can’t let 2017 go by without mentioning Ghosts and Ashes, the second book in Lukens Broken Moon series, which was just wonderful. [Review]
Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer
I love sports novels that take you behind the curtain of a sport. Olympic diving is not a common subject in our genre, and while I love watching diving, I really had no idea what goes on behind the scenes. Of note in this book is Springer’s skill in writing a closeted character in a way that doesn’t fall on clichés or overused tropes. She also balances two very different characters: one who is immediately charismatic (Brandon) and one who is initially dislikeable (Jeremy) and manages to draw them from one-dimensional characters into more complex people who struggle. Who make the wrong choices, who make hard choices, and who the reader really roots for. I heard a rumor as well that there’s a sequel in the works, which makes my heart sing. [Review]
Storm Season by Pene Henson
2017 was great year for beautiful F/F romance. At the top of that list, and one of the best books of the year, is Henson’s Storm Season. It’s gorgeously sensual, written in Henson’s signature style, which seems simple but deploys every word with purpose and intent. Lien and Claudie are a study in what initially presents as opposites attract. Both characters have a personal journey to take, and Henson pulls this off in the space of a book without it feeling rushed, clichéd or heavy-handed. This book is an Australian version of the snowbound cabin (huge storms that leave Lien stranded with Claudie); Henson takes a trope that satisfies and turns it into something bigger. She uses it as a springboard for both incredibly sexy scenes between the characters, but as a catalyst for the really meaty second half of the novel in which a lot of that character growth happens. [Review]