My list of reading favourites for 2013 features a mix of titles, both literary and genre fiction, including action/adventure, contemporary, fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery, young adult and (erotic) romance. Most of the books listed were released in 2012-2013, but there are a few that had been on my reading list for years and that I was finally able to get to in 2013. The past year’s best include stories from previously read favourite authors, as well as from author’s that are new to me, and I look forward to reading more of their works in the future.
I finished Marshall Thornton’s Boystown: Three Nick Nowak Mysteries earlier this year and after reading the first compilation of novellas in this extremely well written series, the main protagonist Nick Nowak is a character that lingers and has gotten under my skin. No other way to describe the effect of this character and his continuing story. At the first opportunity to do so, I picked up and pretty much devoured the second instalment in one sitting.
Boystown: Three Nick Nowak Mysteries by Marshall Thornton is the first book in this well-written and gritty detective series that is reminiscent of hardboiled crime fiction. The book is a compilation of three novella-length mysteries all set in Chicago, circa 1980-1981. The mysteries are engaging, and the writing features a captivating main character and sets an excellent overall mood for the stories.
When I began writing this post I had the intention of listing ten of my favourite books in gay fiction for 2010. But it quickly became apparent that it would be impossible to restrict the list to only ten. Despite the fact that my reading time was more limited over 2010 due to the demands of real life and work and I read much less than in previous years, there were too many reading gems that I did read and could not omit from the year’s best.
Over the course of the year I made several wonderful discoveries in new-to-me authors, finally got around to reading books that had been sitting on my shelves for years, I received some great recommendations from online friends, some of my favourite authors released incredible stories and I gave myself permission to re-read some past favourites without guilt.
In the end, twenty books (novels, novellas, anthologies and short stories) made the final cut of my best in gay fiction for 2010 across several genres – contemporary, erotica, horror, historical, mystery, romance and young adult. Some were weighty stories, others lighter fare with happy endings, and several had unforgettable characters that continued to haunt me long after I was done reading their stories. But all the books listed as my best of 2010 in their own way dealt with the stuff of life and fed my mind, heart and soul.
John “Mal” Mallory and Will Justason have moved past dating, though it’s still a race to hit the sheets every time they look at each other. Trouble is brewing, however, since hitting the sheets is a no-no for firefighters who work together. Will is ready to move forward, to tell the world that they’re together, but Mallory is still trying to keep their private lives to themselves.
With their careers on the line, Will’s brother pushing his own agenda and Mallory’s keen desire to live on his own terms, choices have to be made. Their work situation needs to change, and so does Mal’s attitude, or he’ll lose the one thing he wants more than anything in the world – Will.
Can a change of schedule save Mallory and Will’s relationship and send them dancing into their future, or will tension and frustration tear them apart forever when Will’s had enough?
September and October were steady reading months with some very good to excellent reads. Early in September I revisited (and reviewed for the first time) two of my favourite books by gay romance/erotica author Sean Michael – The Center of Earth and Sky and its sequel Painting the Desert now available only in a compilation entitled, Center (Torquere Press), and made a small dent in my reading pile with Tere Michael’s third book in the Faith, Love and Devotion series and the eagerly awaited sequel to Faith & Fidelity – Duty and Devotion (Loose Id). I also had the opportunity to review for Rainbow Reviews The Guardian Angel of South Beach by Neil Plakcy (Loosed Id) an author I’ve been wanting to read for a while, as well as reviewed for Three Dollar Bill Reviews Test of Faith by Aleksndr Voinov and Raev Gray (eXcessica Publishing). Finally, I had the pleasure of reading George Seaton’s Big Diehl: The Road Home (MLR Press) which I reviewed for Three Dillar Bill Reviews and his short story entitled Continuum (Untreed Read) for Rainbow Reviews, both of which I absolutely loved.
Painting the Desert is the sequel to The Center of the Earth and Sky in which Sean Michael continues the story of Whit (Bartholomew Whittaker), who lives with his lovers and beloved twins, Grey and Raine Holstein. They’ve been living a charmed and magical life, but their whole world is threatened when Grey is diagnosed with cancer, and everything starts to fall apart. Grey is their rock, and as he’s ravaged by the cancer treatments, Whit and Raine struggle to hold it together. Will Whit find the strength to be what his lovers need him to be? Can he remain in the center of such a storm and survive it intact?
The Center of Earth and Sky explores a year in the life of twins Grey and Raine Holstein and the man who becomes the center of their joined universe. Meeting one night under the dim lights of a neighborhood bar, Bartholomew “Whit” Whittaker becomes drawn into a sensual world where passion overcomes panic, where a simple meal can become an erotic feast and where love is the paramount rule.
The business of real life continued to interfere with my reading and reviewing during April and May. Too much work and lack of free time prevented me from reading as many books as I normally would over a two-month period.
On the positive side, virtually all of the books I did read fall into the category of very good to excellent reads. So the theme for Spring 2010 is quality over quantity. I’m starting to get through the backlog of reviews and hope to fall into a more regular pace of reading and reviewing for the month of June.
The Boy Can’t Help It: Sensual Stories of Young Bottoms by Gavin Atlas (Lethe Press) – Read Review
Tales From The Sexual Underground: Fact, Fiction and Stranger Than Fiction by Rick R. Reed (MLR Press) – Read Review