Sirius’ Best of 2020 list
The first book on my list is the best book with gay romance in it that I have read this year. The rest of the list I enjoyed very much, but the placement on the list does not show any differences in my enjoyment.
The Hanged Man (The Tarrot Sequence #2) by K.D. Edwards
This is the second book in the series and I thought it developed both settings and characters and gave us plenty of fun magical action.
I enjoyed the first book of this series, but this one definitely took my enjoyment up a notch and maintained it throughout the story. The blurb gives you the perfect description of the set up. Rune and his companion Brand are trying to protect their ward Max from the attentions of The Hanged Man. The Hanged Man wants to marry Max. Max doesn’t want that at all and who wants to be married to the monster? This is the main conflict in this book, but let us step back for a minute.
I loved how this book added so much detail to the world building. I have not reread the first book before reading this one, but I remember well that as much as I enjoyed it, at times the idea that the beings who live in the New Atlantis are based on the *Taro cards deck* seemed a little artificial and weird. I did not feel that way at all while reading book two. Starting with the introduction which reminded us about some things and if I remember correctly added others, I was able to imagine New Atlantis more clearly.
I also appreciated that while the author introduced many interesting spells, magical systems, and ideas that work in New Atlantis and that the residents use, the reader is also always aware that magic has limits, the magic takes tolls on the users, even on most powerful ones. The idea of the limits is reintroduced, but we also learn about more sophisticated magic which takes an even heavier toll on the users (I won’t tell you about this magic because spoilers, but it was very fun to read about).
Wolf in Sheep Clothing (Big Bad Wolf #4). by Charlie Adhara
In theory I love stories about shifters and especially about werewolves, but in practice I am rarely able to find shifters stories that make me happy about the execution of the plot and characters. Considering how happy Oliver and his prickly porcupine Cooper Dayton still make me after I have read book four, I think author had done an amazing job with those books.
“I confess that when I am reading a series that I love, especially a romance series, especially a romance series that involves the same couple, I get more nervous with every new book that appears. I get more nervous especially when I loved the previous books in the series, as I did your books. So many romance series become repetitive fast because authors (for me) fail to find believable reasons for the tension between the characters, but are determined to continue the series, and I end up shaking my head and abandoning the books eventually.
I am happy to report that I ended up loving this book just as much as I did previous one (my love for these books so far at least seems only increase.) I would have been perfectly happy for the previous book to be the last one, because I thought Oliver and Cooper ended up in a very good place and learned a lot about each other.
Turns out that the author had plenty of layers to peel off the guys while giving them another case to investigate. As the blurb tells you, our heroes go undercover to the werewolf couples resort (although werewolves with human mates are also allowed to come) to investigate a missing of the former alpha werewolf. I confess that when I was reading the set up I rolled my eyes a little bit. I thought that we already went through Cooper feeling out of place among werewolves and he and Oliver having communication problems.”
White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton.
This book was a complete surprise for me and a great surprise at that. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a great series.
A good friend mentioned this book that was coming out soon to me as something potentially interesting. My friend’s and my tastes always aligned very closely. Also I have seen and read so *few* books with gay romantic element in it lately that I one clicked right away.
I am so very pleased that I did. This looks like a start of the series, something that I expect almost every time I pick up a new book for the last couple of years, but encouragingly enough after I finished I was actually looking forward to learning more about this world and about the characters. When I finished this book, instead of thinking oh no, it would be endlessly stretched for god knows how many books to come, I thought – yes, more fun books are coming.
Adam was a very sympathetic character to me from the beginning of the book. He is a witch who is struggling to get by and who lives with his aunt. He is estranged from his mother and brother and he has a very good reason to think they treated him badly when he was younger. Committing somebody to the asylum when somebody does not need to be there can make person think such thoughts.
Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders (Dominion of the Fallen #3.5) by Aliette de Bodard
I put this novella on my list because I loved it, but even though you can understand events in this story without reading Dominion of the Fallen Trilogy, I do not recommend it because two main characters here are dragon Tuan and Fallen Asmodeus. You have to read how they actually got around to falling in love and being together, how their characters progressed to get to the point where they are in the novella.
Mean Machine by Aleksandr Voinov
This book was just multilayered . It went into so much depth about details of boxing, about characters and plot.
The romance story line was lovely. There was nothing more I could ask for. As I said, the most obvious aspect of power imbalance was resolved early enough in the book, I think somewhere around 46 percent of the story on my kindle ) and even if it was not there, it was not played out for kicks so to speak. Nathaniel and Brooklyn just clicked for me and the reasons for tension made perfect sense and how it was resolved made perfect sense. I often dislike what I call a mandatory break up between the characters simply because the reasons for it just don’t make sense and when the characters are staying away from each other for a while, often it makes even less sense and in this book it all made sense.
I have always enjoyed this author’s writing style and this book was no exception.
“Slide of skin on skin, brushing of lips, and the odd sense of peace and fulfillment right there, right now. Part of Brooklyn wanted Nathaniel to look away, because it was damn near too intense to stare at him like this, but another part of him realized the man’s hunger for him wasn’t merely sexual. But he’d known that, right?”
The sex scenes were smoking hot too (not too many, but really just enough for me), but there is a warning of the kind which I am issuing in connection with the sex scenes, because I had a little sideline squick and in case somebody else does too, I have decided to warn.
You’ve mentioned several books I’m already interested in, thanks for confirming that I will likely enjoy them.
Thanks for sharing your favorites, Sirius. I’ve added some titles to my list
Ordering the ones I missed now.
@Darlynne: @Kareni: @KR: I do hope you all enjoy whichever books you may end up reading from my short list :).
I own and intend to read (eventually) the 1st 3 books, but your comments about The Hanged Man definitely moved that series up on my TBR list. I’m currently reading The Last Sun and am liking it so far.
@Mikou: I am usually very nervous about overselling a book that I loved, but I liked “The Hanged Man” even more than The Last Sun and I liked “The Last Sun” quite a bit. Hope it works for you if you decide to give it a try.
I’ve got “White Trash Warlock” towards the top of my TBR. And not only did I love “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” I just finished the next book in that series and *adored* it!
I’d picked up the “Last Sun” when it was on sale, but hadn’t really picked it up to read yet. I’ll bump it up. :)
…and apparently I just picked up “The House of Shattered Wings” on sale, so that’s moving up the list as well.
@Random Michelle: Just want to make absolutely clear – I consider “Dominion of the Fallen” an outstanding trilogy, but it is NOT a romance. There are several romantic storylines, bur main plot is fantasy which at times get quite dark ( all romantic stories I cared about got their happy or at least HFN endings). Just wanted you to have the correct expectations :). Oh and of course the first book has no happy endings for anyone yet.
And yes I loved “Cry Wolf”. Loved it.
@Sirius: Thank you!
I came to romance by way of paranormal fantasy by way of urban fantasy, so I’m good with non-romances. :)
@Random Michelle: Excellent, just did not want to give the wrong impression.
@Sirius: I was going to try and “save” The Hanged Man for later since the publication date for book 3 has not yet been announced. My resolve lasted a whole day and I finished reading it this morning. Loved both of them and I hope the next one comes out this year.
I have such a long TBR. I want to savor them each, but also wish I could read them all at once.
@Mikou: Ha. I could not resist that book’s pull at all so you have stronger will power than I had.