This post is more about the general shape of my reading in 2014 rather than being a top books of the year list – more general musings on what captured my interest this year with some specific mentions by way of example.
2014 was (again) very much a year of the contemporary for me. Most (but not all) of the contemporaries I read were GLBT and US set . It’s probably telling that the het romances I read tended towards the realistic (Sarah Mayberry remains an autobuy) and/or exploring less vanilla relationships (Cara MacKenna was an exciting new discovery – I loved Unbound with it’s dynamic heroine). No billionaires round my way in 2014!
In terms of individual authors, I went on a bit of Mary Calmes glom. In all, I read 8 Calmes titles this year, of which my favourite was probably All Kinds of Tied Down. (I’ve still to read any of the Matter of Time books, having been unwilling to commit to such a long series – I’m such an obsessive glommer that I know once I get going I won’t be able to stop till I’ve read them all – however, I downloaded a sample of book 1 last night so it’s only – wait for it! – a matter of time...)
Another big theme (to my own surprise) was college romances. In fact, my current read (which I’m loving) is Amy Jo Cousins’ Off Campus which falls into this category. Other than Off Campus, the best of these has been the superlative Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen but fun has also been had with Anne Tenino’s frat boys and J A Rock and Lisa Henry’s Versus books.
Westerns too. Z A Maxfield’s series has been superb.
2014 has also been notable as Josh Lanyon’s comeback year following his sabbatical. He put out three superb full length novels this year and I loved every one: Fair Play, Everything I Know and The Boy with the Painful Tattoo. High points, every one.
Turning to historicals, I’ve read a lot less in this genre this year, and what I have read has been less typical. A stand out read (and a polarising one, judging by the reviews) was Stone Age time travel romance (I know!) Transcendence by Shay Savage. I loved the central conceit of this story which is that the caveman hero is less hung up on masculine posturing than a modern day man. Smart and touching.
Other historical high points include On A Lee Shore by Elin Gregory, another stand out read. I just loved this book. I had a big No Pirates reading rule till I read this. It was rich and vivid and unexpected. Loved it. Other great historical reads came from K J Charles and Tamara Allan.
What else? There wasn’t much that was notable in pnr or sci fi for me, but I loved the Stitch anthology which had a fantastic Pinnochio/Frankenstein theme. Brilliant. Oh, and I really liked Bliss by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau which again had a great central idea – convicts who serve their victims instead of going to prison after being implanted with mind controlling chips. It’s a nice exploration of free will. I also stepped a toe outside the romance genre (arguably) with the compelling Written in Red by Anne Bishop. Fantastic, but I kept wanting more relationship from the MCs which underlined for me how important the romance element is for me.
Another theme in my reading this year has been indie reads – great examples include S P Wayne’s werewolf books and Santino Hassell’s After Midnight. I’ve also read heaps of short stories and novellas this year, culminating in a rash of xmas reads: Eli Easton’s Unwrapping Hank (I also loved her The Mating of Michael), Mary Calmes’ Where You Lead and What Can Be and Rj Scott’s Angel in a Bookshop. All great festive reads I’ll revisit at future Christmases.
Do I have a book of the year? I’m going to go with my gut on this – literally. The boom that got me in the gut this year, staying with me long after, was L B Gregg’s Men of Smithfield – Adam and Holden. It was lovely.
I know I’ll read it again and again.