2016, the good and the bad, and my favorite books
2016 was an interesting year for me – new friends, new challenges; family drama good and bad; the launching of my Tracefinder series and further travels into self-pub. (And I am determined that the recent ARe debacle will not derail that. BTW, if you lost one of my books in the collapse of your ARe shelves, contact me.)
Gay Rom Lit in Kansas City was a highlight – my favorite GRL yet and the first shared with my friend and editor, Jonathan Penn. I continue to be amazed by the warmth and camaraderie of our genre. Many, many thanks to the all-volunteer crew of generous people who run the event. I hope to see everyone in Denver next October.
The US election… was a rough blow, a loss of some of my faith in the essential goodwill of Americans, and a new fear for the future. I don’t post about politics much here, but that may change a bit in the next 4 years. As the parent of two LGBTQ kids, the moderator of a growing YA group, and as someone who is concerned for the survival of our planet and everyone on it, I may have to step further into that arena. For now, I will have hope for 2017, that we as a community, and as compassionate, rational, and capable people, can come together to stand up for those who need it, and to advocate for empathy and equality.
I have several books planned for 2017. I hope to have the next Tracefinder book out in the first quarter of the year. The third Finding Family is also in the works. I’m planning a new YA free anthology. I look forward to writing and publishing and sharing the good stuff with friends.
One of the joys, consolations, and pleasures of my year was reading more great books. So I want to list some of my favorites, of those I read in 2016, in no particular order, choosing particularly books whose audience wasn’t as big as I feel the stories deserved.
Blank Spaces by Cass Lennox – This was a fun ride with a couple of great characters, and an exploration of a relationship with one Ace character, and one for whom sex is important. I really appreciated seeing a non-traditional HEA that works for those two men who will live it.
What It Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger – A wonderful, realistic, well-written story about two guys figuring out their relationship, with several strikes against them, and gender and BDSM components to their relationship. This book has solidly cemented Matthew Metzger as an auto-buy author for me. I love his guys – their edge of attitude and snark, their realistic conversations, the warmth down under the person they show the world. His main characters are complex, imperfect, and highly relatable.
Bitter Legacy by Dal Maclean – an impressive debut, that reads a bit like a PD James, with a murder mystery that was nicely twisty and filled with red herrings. The detective hero is a very appealing main character, and a little overabundance of coincidence at the end was a minor issue in a solid M/M mystery story.
Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe – from a past in the sixties of the South, to a near-future old age, two man make a very slow and round-about journey to a love that was destined from the start. The 1960s-70s-historical content feels well researched, and the issues of orientation and race are poignant but not melodramatic.
Come Back To Me by Edmond Manning – 5th book in “The Lost and Founds” series, and Vin finally gets a man who is strong enough to live with his broken edges, and gentle enough for him to feel safe revealing them. Manning writes like no one else in the genre, with a playful and perfect skill that can make me cry and laugh on the same page. A unique series to be read in order, starting with King Perry.
Chaos Station series by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen – amazing, angsty, adventurous, gripping SciFi romance, with two very broken men. I devoured the series in order, as fast as I could read them. Each is an emotional, wrenching, and rewarding installment. The endings are solid, but with lots of room for more to come through to the HEA.
Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory – historical spy adventure, with a cross-dressing, genderqueer hero and a lot of fun. It’s also a sweet romance, slow to start, as each man feels out the other, in an era when being found out to be gay was punishable by prison and hard labor. Briers is protective, Miles is prickly and unsure. They strike both sparks and mistakes from each other. I can’t wait for the sequel to this one.
Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace! by Claire Davis and Al Stewart – This YA/NA story is one of the better coming of age romances written in the POV of a main character who is clearly somewhere on the Autism spectrum. Coping with life and family, and recognizing love, make this a plausible story, and respectful of people and relationships. There were moments of humor, moments of pain, moments of ordinary life, moments of grace.
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin – I really liked that this YA book gave us a realistic, sympathetic, imperfect picture of a genderqueer teen. The secondary characters have a plausible range of reactions. The parents are nicely in the gray zone of loving but not understanding their child, and having comments and little moments that make Riley afraid of how they will react to the full truth. (note a trigger warning)
The Road to Silver Plume by Tamara Allen – no one writes better historical romances with flawed, sympathetic characters and a great period feel, than Tamara Allen. This was a very slow burn enemies-to-lovers adventure-romance, set in a period of American history I had not known well. I’ll be rereading this.
I read other great books from many authors – including Marshall Thornton, K.J. Charles, Alex Gabriel, Avon Gale, Harper Fox, J.L. Merrow, Alexis Hall, and many more. My overflowing To-Be-Read shelf continues to climb out of control, with books I can’t wait to try.
To everyone who reads this, I wish you all the best for 2017. May the year be one of peace and prosperity, of fellowship and personal growth, and one of love – in life, with our darling pets, within the pages of the books we read. May you reach for dreams, and receive bounty. Happy New Year.