One of the things I’ve been trying to do this year is read. Reading is one of the activities that fills the creative well for me. Diving into books, or getting pulled in, makes my head turn around my own stories.
So, what have I been reading? Well, my GoodReads challenge list is here. It, of course, doesn’t have the seven books I read for the RITAs or the works I’ve beta-read for others, so I’ve actually read a bunch more than that.
I’m going to point out a few from there. Up first is a series that unexpectedly pulled me in and grabbed me by the collar and made me keep reading: Layla Reyne’s Agents Irish and Whiskey series. They’re not standalone, so you do need to read them in order, and read all three. The relationship arcs over the trilogy.
It hit me in all the right ways. It’s romantic suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s hurt/comfort with a lot of both. It’s really smart men being emotionally venerable. It’s got great secondary characters. It’s got an internal conflict you can see coming like a train in a dark tunnel and you know it’s gonna crush you when it hits. And then it does and the resolution is wonderful and painful and perfect.
And it’s got Jamie, the most cinnamon roll of cinnamon rolls.
Another book I adored was Cass Lennox’s Blank Spaces.
It’s a lovely book about a loving but very queer relationship that develops into something that is just as loving and HEA as your typical monogamous (i.e, socially accepted) relationship. Both Vaughn and Jonah are lovely men, trying to find what they need in a world that has pretty rigid ideas of what “relationship” and “love” means. Vaughn isn’t interested in sex but craves connections. Jonah can’t live without sex but doesn’t understand relationships at all. They find something wonderful in the spaces between them…all while investigating art thefts at the gallery in which Vaughn works.
One, the writing of these is just SO DAMN GOOD. Even if you’re not into regency romances. I think one of the aspects I loved about these books is that the angst revolves more around class differences and social structure than around men loving men. Also, The Lawrence Brown affair deals with science and anxiety and family. The Soldier’s Scoundrel features a thief with a heart of gold and a wounded lord. These books are pure catnip. I want to roll around in them for days.
I also beta-read an early draft of a manuscript for Cat, and OMG people, it’s a wonderful book and SO queer. I’ll be yelling about that book as soon as it’s announced.
Last but not least, I just finished the first of Kris Ripper’s Scientific Method Universe books.
And I’m in love with this series. One book, and I want to read them alllll. They’re not so much a romance as books about friendships and family and love and sex and kink and relationships and finding the unexpected. This is another book where the relationships are just so queer that they make my heart sing.
The first book is about Will Derrie discovering he’s kinky and…not nearly as straight as he thought he was. It’s also about Hugh Reynolds discovering he can let people in. And about Truman Jennings discovering that sometimes boyfriends come with extra bonuses.
So that’s a little about what I’ve been reading! If any of these seem up your ally (or you want to branch out a little) give them a try!