I didn’t plan this, but I think 90% of the books I read in 2022 were m/m romances. Season’s Change by Cait Nary is probably what kicked it off. There’s a lot of variation within m/m, just like in romance in general and I have hundreds of books yet to read. My “own voices” list for m/m romances all by itself could keep me busy for months and months.
I also discovered this year that I have a few romance pet peeves. I only became a romance zealot two years ago, so I guess my honeymoon period is over and I am becoming more picky. Characters that don’t act or think their age drive me benonkers. And rom-coms that are all trope, no depth – well they’ve almost spoiled that sub-genre, which is too bad because it’s so huge. But I have appreciated the authors who are tackling disability more explicitly. In particular this past year I have noticed more attention to anxiety and depression, which I think is an important shift.
Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma (review here)
Fake engagement… we all know what happens next. The pretext for this fake engagement is different, though, and the exploration of dating in Desi culture is worth the read.
The Words by Ashley Jade (cw: body dysmorphia, fat phobia, domestic abuse)
Ugh. This book. It’s full of hurt, betrayal, well developed characters, and I couldn’t put it down.
Getting His Game Back by Gia de Cadet (review here)
I wouldn’t call this book a simple pleasure, it deals with the difficult challenges of chronic depression and suicide, but it is so rewarding when Vanessa and Kahlil finally get together.
M/M Contemporary Romance:
Eight Weeks in Paris by S.R. Lane (review here)
I kind of love it when one MC is forced by circumstance to revise their judgmental perceptions of the other MC. Lovely writing and one of my favorite “nurse him back to health” sequences.
Season’s Change by Cait Nary (review here)
I really loved this book and knew it would be in my top of 2022 list way back in February. Two hockey players with totally different backgrounds work their way through a season of hockey and an improbable slow burn romance. I really enjoyed Olly and Benjy and the tender yet hot love they found.
The Sunny Side by Lily Morton
Dean, Dean, Dean. My favorite character of the year. Read this book for Dean. I’m not usually keen on supermodel stories, but I loved this guys. And you can’t have a laid-back guy like Dean without an uptight foil.
His Last Christmas in London by Con Riley (cw: death of a spouse, prior to narrative)
I had pretty much given up on holiday-based romances when this novella changed my mind. I loved this two finding each other and I loved the way the holiday season progressed, the good with the bad (and sad).
Sem by Cora Rose
Cora Rose has published five books in the Unexpected series this year. Sem is the 2nd and one of the best. Typically when I read her books my inner dialogue goes something like this: “What?! No…. Nobody does that. This is weird. Is this weird? I love this.” Sem starts the novel stalking Magnus. See? That shouldn’t end well. But it’s Cora Rose, so it does.
Wildfire by Garrett Leigh (review here)
Great dialogue, great disability rep. I would have liked a better plot, but I loved the characters.
A Dash of Salt and Pepper by Kosoko Jackson (review here)
I loved the dialogue in this book about a young black man who winds up back in his hometown and falls in love with a local restauranteur in spite of his desire to escape.
M/M Fantasy Romance:
A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland
Best hair washing scene I’ve read all year. Seriously though, if you like fantasy without a lot of world building, this novel is for you. This is a dislike-to-love romance.
A Rake of His Own by AJ Lancaster
A prickly Fae and uncertain man. This romance/mystery is part of AJ Lancaster’s “Stariel” series. I read it as a standalone and the narrative furnished enough background. Two months later, I can still vividly recall almost every setting in the book.
Pool of Dreams by Sam Burns and WM Fawkes
I read this book because Goodreads told me, too, and I was quite glad. The scenario may not be unique: the barrier between the Fae world and the human one was deterioriating at the beginning of the novel, but the way it all unfolds is worth the read. Audric is the unlikely human king (very unlikely) and Syran is the Fae who put the barrier in place originally.
M/M Historical Romance:
The Gentleman’s Book of Vices by Jess Everlee (review here)
My favorite historical of the year! If you like your historical romances with a fair amount of progressive revisionism, this book is not for you. The external world in The Gentleman’s Book of Vices is still one of homophobia and incarceration of gay men. But it still a beautiful story of two men’s love and their living as openly as they could.
A Servant and the Gentleman by Annabelle Greene
I am a sucker for historical class differences, especially when, as in the case of this novel, the main characters come to need and respect each other in a way that is very mutual.
Thanks for sharing your list, @Kate H. I see some books to investigate!
Oops! The above was from me.