Best Reads in June 2018

This post gives a list of my favorite books I read in June 2018.

This list definitely shows my bias towards contemporary romance, but also includes fantasy, paranormal romance, science fiction, historical romance, erotica, and mystery stories. I am marking the audiobooks with an (A). I link to reviews where I have written them; and also where I have only posted trigger warnings, so you can easily find those.

I’m listing rep at the end of my descriptions. If you spot something incorrect, please do feel free to let me know. Also, I am not intending to out anyone; I get author info from the web and the book bio. If an author would like me to remove any info listed, please do let me know. I want to note that I use the word fat as a neutral descriptor when listing rep, and use the word queer when a character or author identify that way or when I am unclear about their identity but know they fall under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella.

For folks looking for stories with no on-the-page sex, I am putting three asterisks*** at the end of the description.

New reads

  • What Kind of Day by Mina V. Esguerra (contemp m/f romance novel)  I really enjoyed this romance, fell really hard for the heroine, and liked the way they navigated rocky waters together. It felt real, and it was lovely to see two characters in their thirties trying to navigate career crises. (Representation: Filipino MCs. Filipino woman author.)
  • A Season for Wishes by Lydia San Andres (historical m/f romance novella) I enjoyed this second chance romance, it was quiet & sweet. I liked the characters a lot, and am looking forward to reading more in this series of historical romances set on a fictional island in the Carribean. (Rep: Latinx MCs. Latinx woman author.)***
  • Begging for More: Queer Kink Erotica by Sinclair Sexsmith. (erotica vignettes) I really appreciated the dom POV in this book; it was unabashed, vulnerable, felt real. It is rare to find stories told from the dominant POV that show a dominant taking what she wants, doing things for her own pleasure, enjoying delivering pain. I really appreciated the dom POV in this book; it was unabashed, vulnerable, felt real. (Rep: Queer femme dominant woman MC, former sex worker. Queer MC who I read as a trans man. Non-binary butch dominant survivor author.)
  • Lord of the Abyss by Nalini Singh (fantasy m/f romance novel) I could not put this down. I had mixed feelings about the disability representation but found this semi-reverse Beauty and the Beast retelling so compelling. (Rep: Disabled heroine with PTSD. Fijian woman author.)
  • Hints of Spice by Christina C Jones. (contemp m/f romance novella) This has a single mom heroine who stripped to put herself through school and is now a counselor at a community center. Jones never fails to bring the humor or the heat, and this book has both, and a lovely amount of sweetness as well. (Rep: Black former sex worker heroine. Black hero. Black woman author.)
  • Supreme Courting by Lina Langley. (contemp m/m romance novelette) This story centers a closeted bi Supreme Court Justice who is visiting his home town to help put together his parent’s 50th anniversary party and the out gay younger baker hired to make the cake for the party. It was cute and sweet, and exactly the kind of fluff I needed today. (Rep: Bi man MC. Gay man MC. Queer Latinx enby author.)
  • Get at Me by Krystal A Smith. (contemporary f/f romance novelette) When CJ, the butch MC, spots a femme arriving at the community center, she is into her pretty much immediately, and they have lovely flirty moments with great chemistry, but Fatima, the femme MC is trying to focus on putting up the murals she was hired to do, and thinks C.J. is too much of a distraction. (Rep: Black butch lesbian MC. Black femme lesbian MC. Black lesbian author.)***
  • Four-Point Affective Calibration by Bogi Takács (SF short story) This short story about immigration and emotions and talking to aliens blew me away. (Autistic non-binary immigrant MC. Neutrally gendered Hungarian Jewish autistic author.)***
  • Protection, Inc series by Zoe Chant. (Paranormal m/f romance novellas) I really enjoyed this series of bodyguard/protectee shifter romances, most of which have fat heroines. I especially appreciated that the characters in these fated mate shifter stories really cared about honoring the consent of their partners, even when their inner beast wanted something else. (Rep: Fat heroines. MCs with PTSD. POC MCs.)
  • The Demon Prince by Ann Aguirre. (Paranormal m/f romance novel) I was blown away by this intense, lovely, angsty romance with MCs that try to keep things casual but just really can’t, in a fraught warlike situation. They have such chemistry, and I loved the femdom D/s dynamic and the menage scene. (Rep: Bi man MC with chronic illness and PTSD, Demisexual biromantic autistic woman MC. Bi secondary character.)
  • After the Gold by Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae. (contemporary m/f romance novel) I really enjoyed this friends to lovers/second chance romance between two figure skaters that had channeled all their explosive chemistry into skating and are lost as to how to manage the end of competing, both career-wise and in terms of their relationship. So much intensity and angst! (Rep: Bi heroine with knee injury. Queer non-binary author. Queer woman author.)
  • Counterpoint by Anna Zabo (contemporary m/m romance novel) I absolutely loved this meet-cute BDSM romance between a programmer and a rockstar who is really also a geek too. The BDSM was gorgeous, their arcs were so compelling, and I fell really hard for both heroes, was so grateful to see a careful, caring, vulnerable dominant character in particular. (Rep: Pansexual MC. Gay MC with anxiety. Bi/pan non-binary author.)
  • Pet Rescue Panther by Zoe Chant (paranormal m/f romance novella) I enjoyed this bodyguard/protectee fated mates panther shifter romance. The heroine works at an animal shelter and as they run from the dragon shifter assassin that is after her, she insists that they not leave the kittens behind. It has this wonderful rom com feel to it, and made a hard day a bit brighter. (Rep: Fat heroine.)
  • The Coyote’s Cowboy by Holley Trent (paranormal m/f romance novella)This m/f shifter romance novella packs an intense punch. Witnessing these two neuroatypical MCs (one with ADHD, one with PTSD) who both feel alienated from other people connecting and being sweet to each other as they try to extricate themselves from folks who were trying to control them gave me so many feelings. This is an intense whirlwind ride of a paranormal romance that I could not put down. (Rep: Black heroine with PTSD. Hero with ADHD. Black woman author.)
  • All or Nothing by Rose Lerner (historical m/f romance novella) I loved this, for so many reasons. The heroine’s grandmother was a converso, and she is trying to reclaim her Jewish identiity, and struggling with that, and it was just wonderful to read a romance that held the complexities of that struggle. Also, I loved all the layers of stuff in this story about consent, not just the kinky bits, but so much of the story was about consent and that gave me so many feels. (Rep: Bisexual Jewish Portugese immigrant woman MC. Bisexual man MC. Jewish woman author.)
  • Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault (fantasy novel) This novel takes the classic romance trope of enemies to lovers and reframes it for a non-romantic relationship, and it does that superbly. I loved it so much, so many aspects of the representation resonated for me, and it left me feeling so hopeful! (Rep: Demisexual biromantic woman MC with asthma. Fat genderfluid bigender allosexual aromantic MC. Many non-binary and trans secondary characters. Many queer secondary characters, including at least two arospec characters. Arospec asexual demigirl author.)***
  • Over and Over Again by Cole McCade (contemp m/m romance novel) Gorgeously written, quiet, slow burn, snowed-in angsty May/Dec holiday romance. With baby goats. This is an age gap romance with a taboo element, as the gentle giant older MC is a friend of the family and knew the younger MC as a child. (Rep: British-Hungarian Romani demisexual homoromantic man MC. Gay man MC. Native AmeriBlAsian POC demibisexual queer man author.)
  • Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut by R. Cooper (contemp m/m romance novella) I loved this book! Such a sweet story, the MC pines so intensely for his gay bear baker best friend & has no idea how to even approach dating because he spent his youth taking care of his family. (Rep: Gay Latix MC. Gay fat MC. Latinx lesbian secondary character.)

Rereads

  • Small Change by Roan Parrish. (contemp m/f romance novel) I adore the prickly angry heroine Ginger, and enjoyed this  just as much on my third read as I did the first two times. It’s a solid win every time for me, full of characters I love, the kind of angst that gives me so many feels, a deep and abiding queerness, and a hero who adores the queer heroine as much as I do and brings her delicious sandwich surprises. (Rep: Queer heroine that I read as neuroatypical. Trans and queer secondary characters.)
  • Early Autumn by Robert Parker. (mystery) I’ve been meaning to reread my favorite Spenser novel, but the #Marvelathon gave me the push to do it this month. It still holds a lot of the charm it held for me as a young person (though I can see the problems more clearly now too), offering a less toxic concept of masculinity and a fantasy of be rescued from two awful parents. This is a comfort reread, and the words still soothe me. (Rep: Jewish woman secondary character. Black man secondary character.)***
  • Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts (A) (contemp m/f romance novel) This is my most favorite Nora Roberts comfort read, and I tried it on audio for the first time this month. It is quite satisfying on audio, though I think the audio on book 4 is my favorite. This is a friends to lovers best friend’s brother romance and the heroine is a pastry chef who mainly does wedding cakes. I love all the baking details.
  • Key of Knowledge by Nora Roberts (fantasy m/f romance novel) This series is one of my comfort rereads, and I appreciate this second chance story with a librarian turned bookstore owner heroine who is tough, grumpy, and gives the novelist hero a lot of shit for breaking her heart when they were young.

July TBR (I likely won’t get to all of these, but it’s nice to have goals)

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