I read a lot of books in 2015 (more than 300 in total), so trying to pick my favorites for the year was not easy. After a lot of thought (and factoring in the number of times I re-read a book), I was able to narrow it down to my Top Ten Books of 2015.
And because it’s the end of the year, here’s one last contest. See the bottom of the post for full contest details.
And now the list, in no particular order:
Misfits, by Garrett Leigh (Riptide Publishing; March 16, 2015).
One Sentence Summary: A slow-build threesome relationship with men from very different backgrounds.
From the stunning cover art to the amazingly complex characters and relationships, Garrett Leigh did a truly amazing job with this novel. I’ve read menage novels before, but this one really stands out as one of the most perfect relationships I’ve ever read.
I read this one back in March, before I started blogging, but have been sadly remiss in actually writing a review. However, this book earns its place on my Top Ten list because of the way Garrett shows three men from very different backgrounds, and the fact that the novel focuses more on the relationship-building than the actual sex. (Although the sex is pretty phenomenal. Just sayin’.)
Lonely Hearts, by Heidi Cullinan (Samhain Publishing; August 11, 2015).
One sentence summary: Two damaged college boys find love (and kinky sex) while battling family drama that threatens to tear them apart.
If we’re ranking books by the number of times I’ve re-read them, then Baz and Elijah’s story is definitely right up at the top. Picking up right where Fever Pitch left off, this novel delves into some pretty dark topics while still managing to stay sassy and witty.
My Review: “…exceptional story-telling, combined with the fierce and unflinching characters of Sebastian “Baz” Acker and Elijah Prince, and Cullinan’s brilliant and memorable writing all combined to make this my favorite novel of the year so far.”
Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo (Henry Holt & Co.; September 29, 2015).
One Sentence Summary: If Oceans 11 took place in a magical fantasy, with badass teenagers and epic world-building.
One of my most anticipated novels of 2015, and it definitely lived up to the hype! Leigh writes YA fantasy like no other, taking characters who are brave and intricate, who are still young adults even though they’ve lived far beyond their years. Oh, and it’s a heist novel! Bonus points for being delightfully diverse and complex.
My Review: “The best part about this novel is the characters. Leigh balances six brilliant, fully-realized young adults perfectly. Everyone has their own personality, their own quirks, their own voice. They’re all flawed, and made all the more perfect because of it.”
How To Be A Normal Person, by T.J. Klune (Dreamspinner Press; October 16, 2015).
One Sentence Summary: A quirky loner meets an asexual hipster and learns that being normal is vastly overrated.
I could honestly ramble about how much I loved this book for hours. I mean, it’s an asexual romance, which automatically ranks it pretty high with me, but it’s also quintessential Klune, with witty and hilarious one-liners, weird and unique characters, and dialogue that had me literally cracking up.
“Oh Gus,” Casey said, wiping his eyes. “You are a delight. I am delighted by you.”
My Review: “This book is amazing. It’s ridiculous and weird and hilarious, and I possibly got a contact high while reading it, but I loved every single word of every single page. T.J.’s writing style is a breath of fresh air, and I can promise that he’ll make you laugh!”
For Real, by Alexis Hall (Riptide Publishing; June 1, 2015).
One Sentence Summary: a jaded older man and a fierce, naive nineteen year old find exactly what they need in one another, but finding love might take a bit longer.
I’m pretty sure everyone already knows how amazing this book is… after all, it was selected as Best Romance in Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2015. But this book is more than just a BDSM romance; it’s a coming of age, and a story about power exchange, and about what life means. It’s real characters, real situations, so lifelike that you expect them to jump off the page.
My Review: “There are books that you plow through in a single day and promptly forget about, and then there are books that you slowly pour over, savoring every scene like a fine wine and treasuring every brilliantly-written word. For Real was definitely one of the latter.”
Just Business, by Anna Zabo (Intermix/Random House; June 16, 2015).
One Sentence Summary: Sparks fly in the boardroom and the bedroom as two co-workers discover their sexual compatibility.
This book hit the absolute perfect balance for me between a gorgeous, complex relationship and scorchingly hot sex. I mean, wow. Justin and Eli are two of my favorite characters of the year, no competition! It’s BDSM and erotica, sure, but it’s also something much deeper, about trust and building a relationship and learning to open up.
My Review: “Everything about this novel was fantastic. The characters were intriguing and complex, the plot was interesting but not overwhelming to the relationship, and the sex was hot, hot, hot!”
Real World, by Amy Jo Cousins (Samhain Publishing; November 17, 2015).
One Sentence Summary: Two men realize that they’re going to have to fight for their relationship, but that love will always find a way.
I’m actually folding the entire ‘Bend or Break’ series into this one, because all of the books are so amazing! But Real World just blew me away. Five years after the events of Off Campus, Reese and Tom are still enjoying their HFN, but they start to realize that the real world is a bit harsher than anticipated. AJ’s characters are so realistic, so organic and genuine!
My Review: “I don’t even know where to start on this book. It was flawless, gorgeous, with characters so real they practically jumped off the page and emotions that were written like poetry. I read it twice in a row: the first time I devoured it, turning pages like I would suffocate if I didn’t get more; then again a second time, slower, savoring every paragraph.”
Catalysts, by Kris Ripper (Self Published; October 13, 2015).
One Sentence Summary: A kinky, poly, porny, queer story about a not-so-straight boy and his boyfriends (and girlfriend) (and friend-friends).
Kris wins the award for my favorite newly-discovered author of 2015. The power exchange and relationships in the Scientific Methods Universe have a level of detail that I rarely get to read, and this book absolutely blew me away. Each character is so delightful that I can’t get enough of them! But what I love most about this book (and the entire series) is how it eschews labels. The characters are who they are, and they like what they like, and that’s that! (PS, I have now devoured everything Kris has written. Multiple times.)
My Review: “I’m going to say it: this is the most realistic relationship that I’ve read in a long time! It’s not a romance, in my opinion, but it is absolutely a relationship. The pacing is fantastic, the reactions are authentic.”
A Seditious Affair, by K.J. Charles (Loveswept; December 15, 2015).
One Sentence Summary: Two men on opposite ends of the political and social divide find love (and kink) in 1820s England.
OH MY GOD THIS BOOK, I swear. Sexual chemistry, politics, history, and two brilliant men combine to make this novel not only one of the best of 2015, but one of the best ever. As much as I loved the first book (and a half) in this series, ASA blew me away. KJ writes historical romance like no one else… but not only that, the power exchange between Silas and Dominic was perfectly written.
My Review: “You should read this book if you like: heart-wrenching romances, clever characters, buckets of chemistry, and a conflict that keeps your turning pages as fast as your e-reader allows you. You won’t regret it.”
Maelstrom, by Jordan L. Hawk (Self Published; December 11, 2015).
One Sentence Summary: Another dark foe comes to Widdershins, but Whyborne and his husband Griffin are prepared once again to sacrifice everything to keep their town safe.
This is the best book in Jordan’s Whyborne & Griffin series yet! Combining historical New England with magical creatures and a touch of mythology, it’s a fabulously unique series. And with this book, Jordan really gets a chance to delve into the characters themselves, to show how they’ve evolved over the previous six books.
My Review: “Anyone who has read the other W&G books can expect the same level of anticipation and drama, the same fantastic attention to detail, and more brilliant characters and intriguing mysteries to be unraveled.”
Carry the Ocean, by Heidi Cullinan
Trust the Focus, by Megan Erickson
Trust (Temptations #3), by Ella Frank
I was so fortunate in 2015 to read so many incredible books, and to have a job that allowed me to read as many as I did!
What were your favorite books of 2015? Leave a comment with your list, or drop a link to your own post. Your comment enters you to win an e-book of any title on my 2015 Top Ten list! (Please leave some way to contact you. Contest closes December 31st at 11:59pm EST. Open worldwide.)
I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings!