I was going to start off by saying I felt that I had read fewer books over 2015 that had really captured my imagination compared to previous years. These are the books where I find it hard to let go of the characters and their world after the last page, and they’re the ones that end up on my annual favourites list.
Then I looked at my previous years’ summaries (this is obviously why I do them), and in 2013, I “only” had seven on my list. So having eight* in 2015 hasn’t been that bad considering.
*I also have 30 books which would occupy the Honourable Mentions spots (if I had them!) so I’m not feeling that bad.
My Very Favourite Books Read During 2015 (in random-ish order)
Kate Sherwood‘s MARK OF CAIN (M/M contemporary romance): This one narrowly missed my cutoff for 2014 favourites – I think it was one of the first books I read in 2015. Sherwood made a really unlikely pairing (Mark’s a gay priest, Lucas’s an ex-con who was jailed for killing Mark’s brother) more than work for me. (Also, this one prompted a rather large glom of Sherwood’s backlist.)
Naomi Novik‘s UPROOTED (fantasy): This very lovely fantasy is making the rounds of the Best Of lists, and it’s made mine too. UPROOTED was an unexpected surprise from the author of the very different Temeraire books, and earned a place on my keeper shelf.
Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy‘s HIM (M/M NA romance): I already knew I loved Sarina Bowen’s writing; I discovered I loved Elle Kennedy’s writing as well this year. And this collaboration more than lived up to its promise. It was funny, sexy, and romantic (plus sports romance – always a bonus!). I’m thrilled there will be a sequel in 2016.
KJ Charles‘ A FASHIONABLE INDULGENCE and A SEDITIOUS AFFAIR (M/M historical romance): KJ Charles’ writing is always pitch-perfect, regardless of genre. I fell hard for the first two installments of her Regency trilogy – both packed full of political intrigue and tension – and am eagerly awaiting the third.
Kate Elliott‘s COLD STEEL (fantasy): I was not convinced by the first book in this trilogy at all. But I kept reading and was amply rewarded by the final book. COLD STEEL brought the entire story together – I was totally engrossed in the rich fantasy world dreamt up by Elliott, and rooting for Cat and Vai (and Bee!) all the way.
Lois McMaster Bujold‘s GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN (SF): Slightly cheating here as this is technically a 2016 release, but I bought the e-ARC direct from Baen because well, a new Vorkosigan. I don’t know if it’s my favourite in the series (MEMORY probably still holds that spot), but because of the significance of this book to the series arc as a whole, it could not not be on this list.
Lynn Kurland‘s PRINCESS OF THE SWORD (fantasy romance): I finally got around to starting Lynn Kurland’s much-loved Nine Kingdoms series this year, and well, why did I wait so long? PRINCESS wraps up the first trilogy in the series – I adored the humour and the chemistry between the two leads in these books, and spent quite a few late nights reading just one more page.
Finally, not on this list because they’re technically re-reads, but ahead of Manna Francis‘s new Administration 2015 release, I splashed out and bought the series as ebooks (most of the stories are also available for free online). They’re probably not stories for the super-squeamish as sex and violence abound in this SF dystopian series, but the story, the character arcs, and yes, the romance kept me engrossed and living in Toreth and Warrick’s world for a good few weeks. There are hints of another sequel, and I cannot wait.