Giveaways, The Year In Reviews

Simply the Best 2014: The Finale – The Year In Reviews and a Giveaway


We have reached the end of our journey, folks, the final choices for our Top Reads of 2014. In case you’ve missed the others, check out Sammy’s and Tina’s selections HERE; Jackie’s, Lana’s, and Jules’ HERE; Lynn’s and Chris’s HERE; and Kim’s and Kathie’s HERE.

Rena and I are the last to go, and I paired the two of us together because we each, by coincidence, themed our lists just a bit. Rena’s choices are not only all selected from the Historical sub-genre, but they are also unique to the genre, each in their own ways. For my selections this year, you’ll find some among them (and yes, I listed two series because I’m a big cheater) are self-published, one falls under the Historical sub-genre, two of them are Alt U/Alt History, and one of them is a chronologized serial set in the 1980s world of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. And one features a group of some of the most charming and twisted killers I’ve ever read.

As we’ve reached the end of the line and are now looking forward to discovering some of the best books of 2015, The Novel Approach is offering you the chance to win a $25 Gift Card to Amazon or All Romance eBooks, winner’s choice! Just click the Rafflecopter image to enter before Midnight Pacific time on Saturday, January 3, 2015.

Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

And now, here are Rena’s and my selections for the best of the best this year had to offer.



21529170Flight of Magpies by KJ Charles:Flight of Magpies is another brilliant addition to KJ Charles’ magnificent A Charm of Magpies series. Reading the book was one of those instances where I was so deeply immersed in Lucien and Stephen’s world that I actually got upset when I realized how far I’d gone and how little I had left to read. It’s an experience that’s not new to me; it began with The Magpie Lord, and it had yet to show signs of fading or slowing down. That said, I don’t want it to happen, considering how much I adore this series.”


23202149Bloodline by Jordan L. Hawk: “Fans of Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne and Griffin series are in for a pretty dark treat with Bloodline – with a generous dose of tragedy, at that, but in ways that are a lot more complicated than simply death. As an installment of the series, Bloodline is perhaps the darkest and grimmest so far, but it does end in bittersweet hope that marks a new era, so to speak, for the characters involved.

The stakes in this book are significantly higher because everything becomes personal for Whyborne. We get to see his family’s history, which is intricate and bizarre and is steeped in magic.”

22544017Prosperity by Alexis Hall: “The first thing you’ll notice when you crack open Alexis Hall’s Prosperity is that the book’s written in some pretty heavy vernacular. Piccadilly, an orphan and a guttersnipe, narrates the story with so much sass and attitude to spare that his language, if at first a little challenging to get into if you’re not expecting it, almost serves like an emphatic exclamation point to his hilarious commentary. As he’s grown up in the streets of London, he’s illiterate and is sadly hardened for a boy his age (eighteen, he reckons, but isn’t sure), and his interactions with so many different characters – mostly adults who’re educated in varying degrees – are a never-ending source of delight. He’s alternately exasperated, mystified, resentful, contemptuous, and childish in his dealings with his fellow adventurers. And from a hardened urchin who thinks lowly of himself, Dil gradually develops into a cautiously hopeful young man who starts to believe that, hey, he’s got some worth, after all.”

bsb-juniorwillisJunior Willis by Richard Natale: “Richard Natale’s Junior Willis is a beautifully subdued account of a man’s sexual maturation during some of the most tumultuous decades in the 20th century. The novella begins in the 1950s, when Tom Larson’s first tour of duty in the Korean War places him in the path of Colonel Philip Dore, a married and closeted gay man who awakens Tom’s true nature. From here on, the story follows Tom through the years as he not only falls in love, but also gets himself hurt again and again, the miserable laws of the times compounding the pain by forcing him to suppress his needs and lose himself in work, if not seek comfort and questionable companionship in brief and unsatisfying liaisons.”

22224746Mending Him by Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee: “There’s no emotional wallowing in this book, which can be the downfall of historical gay romances, given the outlaw nature of same-sex relationships. Part of the book’s strength lies in the authors’ masterful use of restraint in laying out the complications and the triumphs not only of the lovers, but also of the Chester family, whose loving relationship with the two men shapes painful choices they all make along the way. The resolution to the problem of gay lovers in the 19th century is also plausible; modern readers might grieve over the lack of an out and proud relationship, but in their practical and emotionally rewarding way, Robbie and Charles prove to us that men in their position can carve out a happy life together, regardless of society and, especially, family. There’s defiance tempered by prudence and vice-versa, and one can’t ask for anything more.”



17453304Chance Assassin: A Story of Love, Luck, and Murder by Nicole Castle: “I’m in awe of this author’s ability to write a story starring not one but two characters who should be unappealing in every way. Nicole Castle has made Frank and Vincent loveable to a degree that has left me obsessing over this book. It’s a hallmark of truly brilliant storytelling I haven’t experienced since reading Maria McCann’s As Meat Loves Salt and I fell for the insane Jacob Cullen. This author’s writing style is fresh, her characters funny and vibrant, her version of romance refreshing, and this book is one disturbing, endearing, horrifying, and sexy surprise after another.”

WicklowsOdysseyWicklow’s Odyssey by R. Cooper: “The timing of this book couldn’t be more perfect, and you don’t have to be a Civil War history major to appreciate the events that build up to one of the more tension filled and action packed climaxes I’ve ever read in a book. You need only know the motives for the war, who fought it, and its outcome to understand how beautifully R. Cooper has twisted it to suit this clockwork, steam driven adventure, where a great iron beast is the Trojan horse that, if not lamed, could bring victory to the South. Every single anachronism purposefully woven into this novel does nothing but add to the sense of intrigue, every single character introduced along the way not only adds to the adventure but also exposes more about Wicklow Doyle, revelations that are sometimes frustrating, sometimes heart-tugging as he tries to understand what he’s feeling, but each and every one is a new layer peeled away from this complex man’s prickly exterior.”

BSB-TurnbullHouseTurnbull House by Jess Faraday: “With its (The Affair of the Porcelain Dog) brilliant and stunning sequel, Turnbull House, the continuing story if former rentboy, Ira Adler, and his ex-lover Cain Goddard (the infamous Duke of Dorset) Jess Faraday has done nothing more than secured her place on my must-read-authors list, and did it in little more than the opening paragraphs of this book.

With characters who are layered with charm and complexity, settings that play out visually like a full color series of daguerreotypes on the mind, a mystery that reveals how far apart Ira and Goddard have grown since Ira walked out two years before, and a fluid prose that draws the reader into the lives of the characters and the time of the story, Turnbull House is as flawless a historical novel as I’ve ever read.”

Daron_Omnibus_Cover_500px1-231x300Daron’s Guitar Chronicles (Volumes One thru Five) by Cecilia Tan: “As addictive as any books I’ve ever read, as heart-rending as any series I’ve ever loved, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles is, if not perfect, the quintessential compilation of music, drugs, sex, love, lust, and pain. My one fear as I got farther along in Daron’s saga was that the author would fail in her effort to keep this storyline fresh and vibrant and emotionally encompassing through its hundreds of chapters. I’m happy to report she damn well did. Daron’s Guitar Chronicles is a brilliant feat in fiction, far too luminous for this simple 5 star rating.”

2146294723251880Baal’s Heart (Caged and Sacrificed) by Bey Deckard: “Bey Deckard has written a book that’s a study in contradiction and a sublime characterization of three men who will eventually become one, introducing two characters in the dominant Baltsaros and the submissive Tom, two men who should be difficult, if not impossible, to love, but then makes it entirely impossible not to love them. When Jon comes between them, through no fault of his own, and then falls in love with both his captain and with Tom, becoming the foundation upon which both men will anchor themselves, Jon risks not only losing his heart but his sense of self, in the process, and it’s an evolution that’s a glory to witness.”

“As impressed as I was by Bey Deckard’s debut, Sacrificed has exceeded any and all expectations I might have had for the follow up to Caged. It’s a grand adventure the author is taking us on, a journey of heart, soul, and imagination that promises, at the end, even more to discover as this extraordinary series continues.”


48 thoughts on “Simply the Best 2014: The Finale – The Year In Reviews and a Giveaway

  1. Antonia says:

    I adored Flight of Magpies and Bloodline, and the rest of the books in those series as well. Mending Him was great and I have Prosperity waiting on my kindle, but there are lots more on this list I need to check out now. Thanks for the reviews and the giveaway!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pates says:

    What great review lists from everyone! They definitely are making my TBR longer! Thank you very much! :D
    Some of my favorites this year were: The Bells of Time Square by Amy Lane, A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews, Eskimo Slugger by Brad Boney, A River Leith by Leta Blake, The Ganymede Quartet series (1 & 1.5 so far) by Darrah Glass, Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan, & Stealing the Wind by Shira Anthony. Just to name a few! I could totally keep going. Hahaha!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Shirley Ann Speakman says:

    There were so many good books this year 3 of my favourites this year “Think of England” K J Charles, “The Art of Breathing” by T J Klune and “Nothing Special” by Jay Northcote. Then any books by Amy Lane, Andrew Grey and Jordan L Hawk etc too many to name.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Trix says:

    I loved Heidi Belleau’s STRAIGHT SHOOTER, Katriena Knights’ BLOOD ON THE ICE, Anne Tenino’s POSTER BOY, Jeff Adams’ HAT TRICK OVERTIME: A CLASSIC WINTER’S EVE (might be from 2013, but didn’t read it till later), and Eden Winters’ COLLUSION. I know I’m forgetting some, too…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rod B says:

    So many great books this year! Some of my favorites:
    Beneath The Stain by Amy Lane
    Take by Ella Frank
    THIRDS series by Charlie Cochet.
    Daylight Again by SE Jakes.
    And of course, anything that Josh Lanyon published this year. He’s just the king the mm genre!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. colette says:

    I’m terrible at favorite lists, but two books I really enjoyed this year we’re Bloodlines by Jordan Hawke and The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. I know there were others equally good, but I can’t think of it right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dreamseeker says:

    There were some great books this year. Flight of Magpies by KJ Charles, Bloodline by Jordan L. Hawk., Hell & High Water and Rack & Ruin by Charlie Cochet among others.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Denise Dechene says:

    Thanks for the giveaway. There were some great books this year.
    Loving Jay by Renae Kaye
    Blinding Light by Renae Kaye
    Fire and Water by Andrew Grey
    THIRDS series by Charlie Cochet
    Tequila Mockingbird by Rhys Ford
    Whispers by Emmett Skipper
    Us Three by Mia Kerick

    There are so many more that I can’t list them

    Liked by 1 person

  9. H.B. says:

    Thank you for the giveaway! There was so many books that I read this year that was good. So I’m just going to shorten it to my top 5 I think:
    A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews
    The King’s Men by Nora Sakavic
    A Hunted Man by Jaime Reese
    The Holiday Hoax by Skylar M Cates
    Chase series by JJ Scotts

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Barbra says:

    Hard question….I enjoyed everything by Josh Lanyon, Eli Easton, Jordan Hawke, KJ Charles, Renae Kaye. After reading the other responses, I’m off to check out the Jess Faraday books and several others. Thanks. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Allison says:

    So many of the books on these two lists are also on mine! I would add Lavender Rose by Theo Fenraven. Most of my other favorites were covered by your other reviewers! Happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nikoletta says:

    Read so many in 2014.The books that I liked most were from Aleksandr Voinov and Charlie Cochet, so many more though that I don’t remember. :) Also thanks for the giveaway!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Valerie C says:

    Prosperity and There Will Be Phlogiston are definitely on my list. Plus The Boy with the Painful Tattoo by Josh Lanyon, Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan and A Forbidden Rumspringa. I am currently reading Flight of Magpies so I will probably add that one, too. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. both Try & Take by Ella Frank
    everything by Kindle Alexander
    Ethan by Nicole Edwards
    The Flesh Cartel by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau
    The Sergeant by Christa Thomlinson
    Tameness of the Wolf series by Kendall McKenna
    THIRD’s series by Charlie Cochet
    Infected series by Andrea Speed
    SPECTR series by Jordan L Hawk
    Hell or High Water series by SE Jakes
    Cut & Run series by Abi Roux
    The Mate series by Cardeno C
    Assassin/Shifter and The 12 Olympians series by Sandrine Gasq Dion

    I’m sure I’ve missed some but these books were definite highlights

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Lisa says:

    A few of my favorites were Beneath the Stain by Amy Lane, When All the World Sleeps by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock, The Art of Breathing by TJ Klune, Saugatuck Summer by Amelia C. Gormley, and everything released in 2014 by SJD Peterson and SE Jakes. :) Thanks for the giveaway!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dreamy says:

    Thank you for this post and giveaway.
    My fave books this year:
    1) Fire and Water by Andrew Grey
    2) Facing Demons by Lynley Wayne
    3) Damaged heart by S.c. Wynne
    4) Paint The Sky by Lily G. Blunt
    5) Black Hurricane by Erica Pike
    6) Stand by You by AM Arthur
    7) The Pillar by Kim Fielding
    8) Secrets by Jeff Erno
    9) Patchwork Heaven by Jamie Samms
    10) Love comes silently by Andrew Grey

    I’ve more, though!!


  17. BabyBarlow says:

    Happy Holidays everyone!
    Thank you Lisa for this giveaway! So Cool!
    Let’s see my list for the 2014..
    – Phoenix Rising by CJ Bishop
    – My Partner the Wolf by Hollis Shiloh
    -Broken Pieces by Riley Hart
    – His Mercenary by Vanessa Sims
    – Dakota Skies by Taylin Clavelli
    – Memories of Forgotten Love by Cheryl Headford


  18. stella says:

    My fave this year:
    Renae kaye (Loving Jay and Safe In His Arms)
    Suicide Watch by Kelley York
    The Art Of Breathing by TJ Klune
    Always by Kindle Alexander
    The Last Thing He Needs by JH Knight
    and moreeee.. I’m sure I forgot a couple of books (at least) I really loved

    Thanks for the giveaway and Happy Holidays everyone :D


  19. There were so many that I really liked this year! My favorites:
    Loving Jay by Renae Kaye
    Try and also Take by Ella Frank
    Anything by Riley Hart, Andrew Grey, SJD Peterson and Jack L. Pyke.
    My reading taste is all over the place!


  20. Carolyn says:

    What great lists. I think part of the fun of them is finding reviewers who match up with ones you have loved and then being able to get the other books they’ve recommended, knowing you have matching tastes and sensibilities. Rena and Lisa, I’ll absolutely be following up with your lists.

    Some of my favorites this year (These writers have given me nothing but excellent reading beyond what I’ve listed here, and some should have multiple books next to their name, beyond the series I’ve listed. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up anything of theirs.)
    Prosperity by Alexis Hall
    The Place Where They Cried by Rose Christo
    The Reluctant Berserker by Alex Beecroft
    Vivaldi in the Dark series by Matthew J. Metzger
    Memory of Scorpions series by Aleksandr Voinov
    The Magpie Lord series by KJ Charles
    The Enlightenment series by Joanna Chambers
    Brothers of the Wild North Sea by Harper Fox
    The Mating of Michael by Eli Easton
    Touch Me by Chris Scully
    Training Season by Leta Blake
    Another Place in Time anthology by various authors


  21. Jbst says:

    Faith and Fidelity by Tere Michael;
    Assimilation, Love and Other Human Oddities by Lyn Gala
    The Art of Breathing by TJ Klune
    Charm of Magpie books by KJ Charles
    Temper Sanguine by Lou Harper


  22. Return on Investment by Aleksandr Voinov
    Dead Man and the Lustful Spirit by Lou Harper
    Daylight Again & Not Fade Away by S.E. Jakes
    Sharp Love by Ava March
    Payoff by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov
    Perfect Imperfections & the Family series by Cardeno C
    Hostile Ground by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov
    Takeover by Anna Zabo

    Plus, a BUNCH of the Love’s Landscape stories earned 5 stars from me – too many to list here, just so much talent! I’m forgetting some, I know.


  23. jenf27 says:

    Thanks for the giveaway! I have read so many great books this past year – it is difficult to choose just a few. But here are some of my highlights: Necropolis & Bloodline (Whyborne & Griffin), Spectr series, Charm of Magpies series, Silent, Memorizing You, Roads series, Cole McGinnis series, Rarely Pure and Never Simple, Lord of White Hell series, Something Like Autumn, Something Like Spring…


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