Before you all start to dissolve in left-over mince pies and get cracking on those racy New Year parties, we thought we would follow the good old End of Year Tradition and do a round up of 2009 and our best reads.
We are also announcing our favourite author of the year, our best book of the year, and the best cover of the year.
So here we go. In no particular order – as these are all books that we considered good enough to get the (as you can see!) extremely rare five star accolade from Speak Its Name. Well done everyone. ETA: I should add that these aren’t the BEST books released this year – merely the best of the ones we reviewed.
|American Hunks by David L. Chapman and Brett Josef Grubisic
The “American hunk” is a cultural icon: the image of the chiseled, well-built male body has been promoted and exploited for commercial use for over 125 years, whether in movies, magazines, advertisements, or on consumer products, not only in America but throughout the world. American Hunks is a fascinating collection of images (many in full color)…
|Outbursts! A Queer Erotic Thesaurus by A.D. Peterkin Erotic slang words from Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Australia, and other English-speaking nations…|
|An Improper Holiday by KA Mitchell
At last–a Regency that reads like a Regency! K A Mitchell was not an author known to me, so I was pleasantly surprised to be drawn in immediately with dialogue that was perfectly formal and with a real sense of time and place…
|Dash and Dingo: In Search of the Tasmanian Tiger by Sean Kennedy and Catt Ford
Stodgy British archivist Henry Percival-Smythe slaves away in the dusty basement of Ealing College in 1934, the only bright spot in his life his obsession with a strange Australian mammal, the thylacine. It has been hunted to the edge of extinction, and Henry would love nothing more than to help the rare creature survive.
|Fellow Travellers by T.C. Worsley
When Harry Watson, an attractive and personable ex-Guardsman, becomes involved with the young novelist Martin Murray, he is quick to assimilate Martin’s left-wing views. He fits readily into Martin’s circle, along with the earl’s daughter and communist Lady Nellie Griffiths, her playboy nephew Pugh, and the unconfident Oxford undergraduate Gavin Summers. But then Harry’s enthusiasm [...]
|Lessons in Power by Charlie Cochrane
Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, Book 4
The ghosts of the past will shape your future. Unless you fight them. Cambridge, 1907 After settling in their new home, Cambridge dons Orlando Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart are looking forward to nothing more exciting than teaching their students and playing rugby. Their plans change when a friend asks their help to clear [...]
|Man Oh Man! Writing m/m for Kinks and Cash by Josh Lanyon
Lambda Award finalist Josh Lanyon takes you step-by-step through the writing process: from how to find fresh ideas and strong hooks, to how to submit your carefully edited manuscript. With help from the genre’s top publishers, editors, reviewers, and writers – experts in the field of M/M and gay romantic fiction – Lanyon offers insight [...]
|A Son Called Gabriel by Damian McNicholl
Set in the hills of Northern Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s, the book is told from the point of view of Gabriel Harkin, the eldest of four children in a working-class family, who struggles through a loving yet often brutal childhood. It’s a turbulent time in Ulster, and, in the staunchly Catholic community to [...]
|The Golden Age of Gay Fiction edited by Drewey Wayne Gunn
It was the first great explosion of gay writing in history. These books were about gay characters. They were written mostly by gay writers. Above all, they were for gay readers. And, as this entertaining chronicle of the emergence of gay literary pride makes clear, it was a revolution that occurred [...]
|Games With Me (vol 1) by Tina Anderson andLynsley Brito
Ex Civil-War surgeon George Callahan is a man haunted by his past. Unwilling to deal with the demons of his childhood he turns to opium, and finds back-alley employment with the heartless brothel keepers of San Francisco’s Chinatown. [...]
|Lessons in Discovery by Charlie Cochrane
Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, Book 3
On the very day Jonty Stewart proposes that he and Orlando Coppersmith move in together, Fate trips them up. Rather, it trips Orlando, sending him down a flight of stairs and leaving [...]
|Lessons in Desire by Charlie Cochrane
Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, Book 2
With the recent series of college murders behind him, Cambridge Fellow Jonty Stewart is in desperate need of a break. A holiday on the beautiful Channel Island of Jersey seems ideal, if only he can persuade Orlando Coppersmith to leave the security of the college and come with him. Orlando is a quiet man who [...]
|False Colors by Alex Beecroft
False Colors is Ms. Beecroft’s second historical novel and like her first, Captain’s Surrender, it takes place during the time when the British Royal Navy ruled the seas and half the world—-the golden “Age of Sail.” The story opens in 1762 with Lt. John Cavendish receiving his first captaincy and an assignment to stop the Barbary Corsairs off the coast of Algeria.[...]
|Paper Moon by Marion Husband
When I volunteered to write a review of Paper Moon by Marion Husband, Erastes said, “Oh, wonderful! Another gay historical!” While the story is historical (it takes place in 1946) and does feature gay characters, I’m not sure that gay historical is the best description. Historical fiction that describes the experience [...]
|A Class Apart by James Gardiner
The Private Pictures of Montague Glover.
A Class Apart is a selection of photographs and letters culled from the archive of Montague Glover (1898-1983) documenting the intimate, rarely recorded lives of gay men in Britain from the First World War to the 1950s. The book features Glover’s three obsessions: the Armed Forces, working-class men, and his [...]
|The Persian Boy by Mary Renault
The story of the climactic last seven years of Alexander the Great’s life through the eyes of his lover, Bagoas. Abducted and gelded as a boy, Bagoas was sold as a courtesan to King Darius of Persia, but found freedom with Alexander after the Macedon army conquered his homeland. Taken as an attendant into Alexander’s [...]
|Artist’s Model by Z.A. Maxfield
Emile Laurent had a child’s fascination for artist Auguste Fournier. Now a grown man, he pursues Fournier with a passion born of worship. Fournier has denied his nature for the whole of his life. Paralyzed with fear, he rejects Emile’s advances, even in the face of desire [...]
Our Speak Its Name Author of the Year is CHARLIE COCHRANE for her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries series. (Samhain) Consistently well written, with a character arc that keeps the readers coming back for more. Like many series, it gets a little darker with each instalment, without losing the delicious sweetness. Orlando and Jonty are unforgettable heroes and they deserve the following they have.
The Speak Its Name Book of the Year is DASH AND DINGO: The Search for the Tasmanian Tiger by Sean Kennedy and Catt Ford. (Dreamspinner)
This got a thumbs up from so many Macaronis that it was impossible not to award this Book of the Year. It had everything, a thick, meaty plot, a great cover, humour, adventure, sex, thrills and spills. We can’t wait for more of Dash and Dingo.
And finally, the cover of the year. This year has seen a definite shift in the style of covers which gets a big cheer from me, less headless naked torsos, less hideous poser covers–I feel that the publishers are taking notice, and that more and more authors are being brave about saying “this is what I’d like” which has got to help. Dreamspinner Press and Amber Allure and really doing sterling work with their historical covers, and some of the best work on historicals has come from artists such as Alex Beecroft and Larry Rostant. Overall, though–I have to award ANN CAIN the award for her spectacular cover for “Checkmate” by Ariel Tachna and Nikki Bennett (Dreamspinner)
What made this stand out for us was that it was hand done, like the best of historical covers, that the wounded protagonist had facial hair(!!) and that the tenderness being shown between the two men was circumspect in keeping with the times. Plus the historical details and the shading.. oh it’s just perfect. So well done, Ann.
It’s been a great year, with more historicals released than ever before, more authors coming into the genre, and it’s going to get better and better.
Well that’s it. Nothing more to say but…
HAPPY NEW YEAR and we’ll see you in 2010!