I have loved perusing so many blogs’ and readers’ best romance of 2017 lists, and I’ve discovered many books to add to my To Be Read list this way. It was also exciting to see Controlled Burn and Life on Pause on a few lists as well!
My reading year has been full of wonderful books by my favorite authors and several new-to-me and debut authors. This year, I also found myself doing huge rereads of some of my go-to authors during times of stress. (I should update my Goodreads bookshelves, but then I’d have to go to Goodreads…)
Below you’ll find a super long list of books I loved during 2017. These are not the only books I enjoyed this past year by any means–I know I’m forgetting many. But these stories stood out to me when I was making the list, and I’ve re-read about half of them already!
As a bonus, during the first week of January 2018, I’ve read Quinn Anderson’s new novella On Solid Ground, which is great and gave me earthquake nightmares, and I’ve started rereading Joanna Chambers’s Enlightenment series. The end of Book #1, Provoked, made me cry like a baby, again. My next reads will be Driven to Distraction by Olivia Dade (which I’m told has bookmobile sex in it), and Anna Zabo’s Outside the Lines.
*Not all of these books came out in 2017.
Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
I say these titles are arranged in no particular order, but this second chance m/f romance was my favorite of the year. It has intergenerational family drama, feuding families, a diverse cast, suuuuper hot sex, and a wonderful and moving portrayal of depression. I could gush all day. Run, don’t walk, to get this book and its sequel Wrong to Need You.
A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde
This age gap romance between a trans art student and genderqueer tech billionaire is simply beautiful. It subverts the age gap and billionaire tropes in wonderful ways, and I love the way Wilde portrays the discussions around consent and boundaries.
Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell
I pretty much love anything Hassell writes, but sports romances will always have a special place in my heart. This m/m football, opposites attract romance is heart-stoppingly sexy and moving. And I love the dynamic between the grumpy athlete and prickly assistant. Also, great bisexual representation! The sequel comes out very soon.
Small Changes Over Small Periods of Time by K.M. Szpara
FYI, the above link takes you straight to this short story. It’s free from Uncanny Magazine. I’m not sure if I’d catalog this story as a romance, but it’s relentlessly sexy and I loved it. It’s about a trans man who gets bitten and turned by a vampire. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but if you love fantasy or sci-fi, especially vampires, you need this story in your life. It’s very queer and very trans, and I could have read about the two main characters for an entire novel.
Due Diligence by Anna Zabo
This year was the year I discovered Anna Zabo, and they are now an auto-buy for me. I read Daily Grind (Bk. 4 of the Takeover series) right after it came out, and promptly gobbled up the prior books, including this one. This m/m second chance, office romance with a bi main character is about two wonderfully flawed men figuring out how to love each other again. And I LOVE it. I also like that one of Zabo’s heroes here is insecure, which I don’t think we see nearly enough of.
Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon
This f/f romance between two black college students has my favorite meet-cute ever. It happens in a strip club, and is sweet and hot and perfect. This book has amazing sex worker representation, is wonderfully sex-positive, and has a great secondary cast. I’ve reread this book more than once when I need a sweet and sexy read.
Kill Game by Cordelia Kingsbridge
This was a late 2017 read for me (after Christmas), and I couldn’t put it down. It’s an m/m romantic suspense between a detective investigating a creeeeeeepy serial killer and the bail bond officer who gets pulled into the case. The romance has a slow, realistic build, and when the couple comes together–whew! Get out the swooning couch. I also thought the gambling addiction of one of the main characters was handled well (though I can’t speak to its accuracy). FYI: this is a series and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger with the couple’s relationship up in the air. The sequel Trick Roller comes out soon!
Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha
I think I must have been the last to the Kit Rocha party, but I’m so happy I found these authors’ books. This is the first in the Beyond series (and as of writing this, it’s free). Beyond Shame is an incredibly sexy post-apocalyptic m/f romance with more than one orgy, and it is smart and hot. I love the heroine in this book, and her f/f scenes with the inimitable Lex. I’m all about bisexual heroines taking hold of their own power and sexual agency.
Rogue Wolf by Elliot Cooper
This m/m spaceship romance is fast-paced and exciting. It has space pirates and alien werewolves, and just trust me–you need this romp in your life. The main couple–the captain of a pirate spaceship and one of his crew members, who is a werewolf–are lovely together, but the whole crew will tug at your heartstrings. It reminded me a bit of Firefly, in that it featured a pirate spaceship full of quirky characters.
Single Malt by Layla Reyne
Reyne was a fellow 2017 debut author, and she has consistently put out some of the best books I’ve read this year. This m/m romantic suspense is the first in the Agents Irish and Whiskey series. It follows two newly-partnered FBI agents, and the push and pull of their romance through the series is delightful. I love the characters in this series, and the overarching suspense plot is full of twists and turns. I’ve reread the whole series twice now!
Perv by Dakota Gray
Gray was a new to me author this year, and am so thankful to have discovered her books. I read this hot, hot, hot m/f romance on a plane, and subsequently sweated my ass off and laughed out loud. The most important thing to know about this book (I think) is that the hero loves to give oral. Like a lot. He loves it a lot. Need I say more? The hero is kind of unlikeable, but I also thought he was hilarious, and it was complicated, okay? I also loved the heroine, and felt for her grief, which managed to feel very present, even though most of the book is from the heroe’s perspective.
Chasing Destiny by Megan Erickson
Erickson is one of my favorite contemporary authors, and it has been easy to follow this author to paranormal. I’ll be honest that werewolves are not normally my go-to, but I love the post-apocalyptic Silver Tip Pack series. This is the second book in the series, and I was surprised by how emotional the m/m romance made me. It packs a punch, for sure. The story is intense and fast-paced, and the second chance romance is sexy and perfectly done. I can’t wait for the next in the series.
Starting from Scratch by Jay Northcote
The Housemates series is one of my favorites, and Northcote is one of my comfort-read authors. This m/m romance between a trans student and a recent graduate has a perfect friends-to-lovers vibe, and has some of the kindest, nicest characters ever. It’s also super sexy!
Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn
This writing pair is a match made in heaven, and their m/m hockey romance between a professor and his student, who happens to be a professional hockey player, was sweet, hot, and uplifting. I loved the dynamic and chemistry between the main characters, and the diversity of the cast, including on the hockey team, was wonderful.
Hold Me by Courtney Milan
This enemies-to-lovers m/f romance with a trans heroine and bisexual hero was the perfect summer read for me, and I greatly enjoyed the incredibly diverse cast. It has two intelligent main characters who fall in love online while hating each other in real life, and I loved the progression of their relationship from disdain to love.
Bad Judgment by Sidney Bell
Bad Judgment is Bell’s debut, and it blew me away. This m/m romantic suspense is gritty, angsty, complicated, and emotional. I found myself utterly in love with the main characters here. One of the MCs is the definition of prickly, difficult, and vengeful and the other is a total cinnamon roll. This story had a lot of dark parts, and at points it was hard to read (check trigger warnings for violence, grief, domestic violence, and rape/attempted rape), but I was completely enthralled the whole time.
Small Change by Roan Parrish
This m/f romance has the definition of a badass heroine for me. She’s tough, independent, sometimes angry, bisexual, and owns her own tattoo shop. The hero is sweet as can be, and I love how supportive he is. Also, he makes her sandwiches, so he’s pretty perfect. This book has a diverse cast that I can’t wait to read more about.
At Attention by Annabeth Albert
It might not come as a surprise to you, if you’ve read my books, that I’m interested in how grief plays a part in characters’ happily-ever-afters, and this story confronts it beautifully. This m/m romance between a widower Navy SEAL and his best friend’s younger brother is heart-wrenching and emotional. It’s an age gap romance and one of the main characters has twin daughters, who I thought were portrayed very realistically. I love pretty much everything Albert has ever written, but this story is the one that’s stayed with me the longest. This whole series is great though.
Haven by Rebekah Weatherspoon
This super hot, super intense m/f romance blew me away. In the opening scene of the book, the heroine escapes a murderer who has killed her brother during a camping trip. The hero saves her. So they have this shared traumatic event between them, and the way they both handle the trauma feels very realistic. I love this courageous heroine and the hero is so protective and sweet. They fit together perfectly. Oh, and the dose of BDSM in this book is smoking.