Ele’s Top 10 Books for 2015

blood swampBuy Link Author Link GoodReads

BLURB
— Faking their own death was the easy part. —

After months of recovering from his injuries, Seth struggles with who he has become. Afloat in a reality he never planned, he tries to find the lost pieces of himself again. Find the purpose, motivation, and strength to get back into shape. He is sick and tired of being a burden for Domenico, who seems to have it all together. When Domenico’s jealousy pushes them into the spotlight of a biker gang with connections to their former mafia family, Seth decides to step up, and make his own decisions, no matter what risks they might entail.

Domenico Acerbi can’t trust anyone. Nightmares of Seth’s torture are still haunting his dreams, and if he and Seth are to leave the country quietly and disappear off the mafia’s radar, he needs to stay in charge and keep everyone under control. What he doesn’t need is Seth giving him attitude, keeping secrets, and distancing himself for no reason. And as if Domenico didn’t have enough on his plate already, Seth forces him to help some hooker. Being stuck in the swamp with a kid hunted by a bunch of bikers is not Domenico’s idea of laying low.

Sutphin BoulevardBuy Link Author Link

BLURB
Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens, to teaching in one of the city’s most queer-friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.


RattlesnakeBuy Link Author Link

BLURB
A drifter since his teens, Jimmy Dorsett has no home and no hope. What he does have is a duffel bag, a lot of stories, and a junker car. Then one cold desert night he picks up a hitchhiker and ends up with something more: a letter from a dying man to the son he hasn’t seen in years.

On a quest to deliver the letter, Jimmy travels to Rattlesnake, a small town nestled in the foothills of the California Sierras. The centerpiece of the town is the Rattlesnake Inn, where the bartender is handsome former cowboy Shane Little. Sparks fly, and when Jimmy’s car gives up the ghost, Shane gets him a job as handyman at the inn.

Both within the community of Rattlesnake and in Shane’s arms, Jimmy finds an unaccustomed peace. But it can’t be a lasting thing. The open road continues to call, and surely Shane—a strong, proud man with a painful past and a difficult present—deserves better than a lying vagabond who can’t stay put for long.


Blueberry BoysBuy Link Author Link

BLURB
Connor Graham is a city boy—a celebrated fashion photographer in New York. When his uncle’s death drags him back to the family blueberry farm, all he wants to do is sell it as quickly as he can. Until he meets his uncle’s tenant farmer.

Jed Jones, shy and stammering, devout and dedicated, has always yearned for land of his own and a man to share it with. Kept in the closet by his church, family, and disastrous first love, he longs to be accepted for who he is. But now, with his farm and his future in Connor’s careless hands, he stands to lose even the little he has.

Neither man expects the connection between them. Jed sees Connor—appreciates his art and passion like no one else in this godforsaken town ever has. Connor hears Jed—looks past his stutter to listen to the man inside. The time they share is idyllic, but with the farm sale pending, even their sanctuary is a source of tension. As work, family, and their town’s old-fashioned attitudes pull them apart, they must find a way to reconcile commitments to their careers and to each other.


Victim of LoveBuy Link Author Link

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Young lab scientist Olsen Westergard has worked long and hard to create order and stability in his life, and believes he’s finally content. But when he goes on a summer holiday trip with his friends, they try to rouse him from his customary caution, urging him to remedy his extended sexual dry spell. Their fumbled efforts to hook him up validate Olsen’s guess that he likely won’t meet the type of guy he’s looking for on this trip. Or rather, the type of guy he thinks he’s looking for.

But when a solo late night beach walk leads to a heated encounter with a drunken stranger, Olsen unexpectedly finds himself overwhelmed with turbulent desires—made worse when he later discovers the stranger’s surprising identity, and that ready or not, they’re about to get to know each other a whole lot better.


Carry The OceanBuy Link Author Link

BLURB
High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.

As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.

Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.


Homicidal Instincts by K.A. MerikanBuy Link Author Link

BLURB
— You can take a killer’s memory, but not his instinct —

All Seth wants is to live free with the man he loves. But escaping death at the hands of the mafia is just the beginning of an uphill struggle. When Domenico wakes up from his impromptu surgery and doesn’t even remember Seth’s name, Seth’s world falls apart. Suddenly it’s him who has to plan an escape from New York City and navigate their way to Mexico. All that without even knowing if the man of his life will ever love him again.

Domenico doesn’t know who to trust and what to believe. The man who introduces himself as his brother seems to hide dark secrets behind a cheerful smile. With the mafia breathing down their necks, there is no time to piece together the puzzle of Domenico’s life, and each time he thinks he’s solved it, a new part appears to be missing. Dom needs to find out who he really is, what he’s capable of… and what is the real story hidden behind Seth’s intense eyes.


trust the focusBuy Link Author Link

BLURB
With his college graduation gown expertly pitched into the trash, Justin Akron is ready for the road trip he planned with his best friend Landry— and ready for one last summer of escape from his mother’s controlling grip. Climbing into the Winnebago his father left him, they set out across America in search of the sites his father had captured through the lens of his Nikon.

As an aspiring photographer, Justin can think of no better way to honor his father’s memory than to scatter his ashes at the sites he held sacred. And there’s no one Justin would rather share the experience with more than Landry.

But Justin knows he can’t escape forever. Eventually he’ll have to return home and join his mother’s Senate campaign. Nor can he escape the truth of who he is, and the fact that he’s in love with his out-and-proud travel companion.

Admitting what he wants could hurt his mother’s conservative political career. But with every click of his shutter and every sprinkle of ash, Justin can’t resist Landry’s pull. And when the truth comes into focus, neither is prepared for the secrets the other is hiding.


Sign's of LifeBuy Link Author Link

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Successful lawyer Jeremy Speer has it all—a loving husband, a beautiful home, and a cherished dream that’s about to become reality. He’s learned not to take happiness for granted, meeting the challenges of life and love head-on with unwavering commitment and fierce devotion. A series of tragic events leave Jeremy shattered, adrift on a sea of unimaginable pain. He’s able to piece his life back together, but instead of embracing it, he merely exists, using isolation and punishing physical exertion to keep the world at bay.

High school teacher Kai Daniels has a heart for at-risk kids—he was one himself, and a teenage brush with the law and some troubled years behind bars left him scarred inside and out. With courage, hard work, and the support of friends, he’s built a fulfilling life that leaves no time for a relationship.

An intense encounter with Kai at a gay club ignites a spark in Jeremy that he thought was extinguished forever, but he’s unwilling to destroy the fragile peace he’s managed to create, and he leaves Kai humiliated and disappointed. Things should have ended there, but a bizarre occurrence brings the two together in a way neither of them expected.


signsBuy Link Author Link

BLURB
After spending most of his life in special schools, Caleb Stone now faces public high school in his senior year, a prospect that both excites him and threatens to overwhelm his social anxiety. As a deaf teenager, he’s closed himself off to the world. He speaks a shorthand with his parents and even finds it hard to use American Sign Language with people in his local deaf community. But Caleb finds comfort in his love of photography. Everything he can’t express in real life, he posts on his Tumblr.

Struggling to reconcile his resentment for his father’s cruelty with the grief of losing a parent, Luc Le Bautillier scrolls through Tumblr searching for someone who might understand his goth look and effeminate nature. When Luc reblogs a photo by Caleb, sparking a conversation, they both find it easier to make friends online than in person.

Luc and Caleb confront their fears about the opinions of the outside world to meet in New York City. Despite Caleb’s increasing confidence, his parents worry he’s not ready for the trials ahead. But communication comes in many forms—when you learn the signs.


More Gay Book Review Reviews’ Favorites for 2015

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