Cindi’s Books of the Year: 2015

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BOTY 2015 - Featured ImageIn 2015 I was introduced to a creepy ghost who would give you nightmares. I met a young woman who only wanted to be who she was born to be, but had been denied that her entire life. I read the final book of a beloved series, though hesitantly because of my lack of love of the book before it. I watched a love story thirty years in the making by one of the best authors out there. I was on the edge of my seat wondering who a killer was in the swamps of Louisiana. I was reintroduced to a character I’d loved from before who needed to again find his way. I watched a man battle the horrific demons of his past as he found one willing to fight for. There were demons, tentacles and evil characters who cared more about themselves than that of their loved ones. I revisited a broken man who’d been damaged, but somehow found his way through to the other side. There were mysteries, gunfights, and more than a little romance. I laughed. I shed a few tears. In the end, I was thankful for the wonderful worlds and characters I met in 2015.
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When it comes time to do our favorites list, both Kazza and I have a difficult time each year. 2015 was no different. I didn’t read as many books in the past twelve months as the twelve before it, but what I did read kept me fully entertained. As with the previous years, only my #1 book of the year is listed. The others are listed in complete random order and were loved equally by me.
BOTY - First Quote PicI wish to thank every single author, whether your book is on this list or not, for doing what you do. Every time you sit down to write, you’re giving us so much and I’m beyond appreciative. 
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Thank you to all our followers and subscribers, both here and on social media. We love getting feedback on our reviews from you – readers just like us – and it means a lot that you take time out of your busy days to pop on here or to send us messages or tweets.  That gratitude also extends to all our guest reviewers. Thank you for being part of our team in 2015.
I also want to thank Kazza K, my blog partner and friend. When she asked me to collaborate on a reviewing site, I had no idea that we’d be as close as family over three years later. From our mutual love of books, to doing what friends do, we’ve grown right along with On Top Down Under Book Reviews. I look forward to many more years of our own version of crazy, both on the site and off. 😉
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My #1 Book of 2015 
The Rascal
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The Rascal by Eric Arvin
Paranormal Horror (Demons, Ghosts, Occult)
Published by Wilde City Press on October 7, 2015
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I’ve been in love with Eric Arvin’s books for a long time. From his erotica of old, to his romance and his horror, if Eric Arvin wrote it, I’ll be reading it. The Rascal tells the tale of a young married couple who move to a cottage in the middle of nowhere in hopes of fixing their ailing marriage. It doesn’t take long for them to discover that there’s more to the creepy cottage than meets the eye. They also discover that their marital issues might not be fixable at all. Once you begin reading the book, you’ll be wondering the same thing. From a faded movie star to a creepy ghost or three, The Rascal will suck you in and you’ll be scared – yet eager – to turn the pages to see what will be happening next.
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The Rascal is a fantastic book. There’s horror, a kinda/sorta romance, ghosts, a mystery… and many other things going on at once. If you’ve ever read an Eric Arvin book you know to expect the unexpected. That was definitely the case with this book. For that reason, The Rascal by Eric Arvin is my #1 book of 2015. Congrats, Eric, and thank you for another wonderful reading experience!
Full Review – The Rascal   Purchase Links – Wilde City, Amazon.com
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The Rest of My Favorite Books of 2015 
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Blink by Rick R. ReedBlink
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Gay Romance, Older Main Characters
Published by Dreamspinner Press on January 23, 2015
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My love of Rick R. Reed’s writing is well known, I believe. As always, I had a difficult time figuring out which book of his to add that was released in the past twelve months. So why this book? Blink is told in two parts. It starts in 1982 and ends in the here and now. There’s not a whole lot of together time for the two main characters, but there shouldn’t be. Each character has his own story to tell before the book reaches the finale. Told in alternating points of view, the reader is taken inside the head of each main character as they unknowingly make their way back to each other over a span of three decades. 
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A beautiful love story.
Full Review – Blink   Purchase Links – Dreampinner Press, Amazon.com
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Chyna Doll Book CoverChyna Doll (Horizons #4) by Mickie B. Ashling
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Bullying, High School, Intersex Main Character, New Adult, Romance
Published by Dreamspinner Press on February 23, 2015
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Chyna Doll is a book I almost didn’t read for a variety of reasons. One, it’s #4 in a series when I’d not read the first 3. Two, the main characters are teenagers. While I enjoy the occasional YA book (this is definitely NOT a YA book… that should be stressed strongly), I much prefer books where the two main characters are adults who will be finding their true HEA, not a HFN because of their ages. So, why did I read this when I admit to being hesitant? Because we were asked by the very kind Joleen at PAS Promotions to take part in the blog tour. It’s rare for us to agree to a tour without having read the book, so I took a chance. I am so glad I did. At no time at all did I feel lost over not having read the books before it, nor did the age thing with the main characters bother me in any way once I got involved in their story.
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I’m so glad I read this book. Not only did it introduce me to Mickie B. Ashling’s amazing writing, but it taught me so much about things I knew very little about before reading it. Chyna was born with a sexual development disorder and her parents failed her miserably. So miserably that I shed more than a few tears while reading this book. Why? Because I know that people go through the same thing Chyna did in the real world and it’s heartbreaking. There was no way Chyna Doll would’ve been kept off my favorite books of the year list.
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Full Review – Chyna Doll   Purchase Links – Dreamspinner Press, Amazon. com
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Crash and BurnCrash & Burn (Cut & Run #9) by Abigail Roux
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Contemporary, Cops/FBI, Humor, Mystery/Suspense, Series Finale
Published by Riptide Publishing on March 28, 2015
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Each year I seem to have a shocker. As in a book that surprises me more than any other. You’re thinking “This is Ty and Zane! How can you be shocked that you loved the book?” Easy, really. I had long been disappointed with how this series had begun to play out. I admit to only reading Crash & Burn because I’d invested so much time in the series that I wanted to see how it all came together. I was determined to see it through to the end, even if I went into the final book with trepidation.
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I seriously loved this book. The author went back to the days of old with these guys. By that I mean that it was Ty and Zane’s story and theirs alone. While the other players were there, they didn’t take center like the two books before it. I felt like I was reading the same Ty and Zane from way back when. To say the author ended this series brilliantly would be an understatement. For that reason I couldn’t not add this book to my books of the year list. It definitely earned a spot. Everything came together. There are no loose ends. Ty and Zane finally have their true happily ever after. Outstanding book and I’m so thankful I didn’t give up on the series when I was tempted to.
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Full Review – Crash & Burn   Purchase Links – Riptide Publishing, Amazon.com
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Cheating BastardCheating Bastard by Devon McCormack
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Gay Erotica, Non-Romance, No HEA
Published by Devon McCormack on December 5, 2015
This is a last minute addition to this list. As in, I literally just read this a few days ago. I’ve read everything Devon McCormack has written to date and I’ve loved them all. However, Cheating Bastard is my new favorite overall. Don’t take that to mean his others aren’t equally as good. They are. There is just something about this one that really stands out. Cheating Bastard is exactly as the title suggests. The main character, Blake, treats his boyfriend poorly. So poorly, in fact, that Blake constantly cheats while making the boyfriend believe he’s unable to perform after having gone through cancer treatments a few months before. This is the ultimate erotica story. There’s no romance, no HEA, and you will hate Blake with every fiber of your being. I loved every single word of it.
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Full Review – Cheating Bastard   Purchase Link – Amazon.com
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Murder on Faux Pas IslandMurder on Faux Pas Island by Casey McKittrick
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Gay Romance, Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Published by Lethe Press on June 21, 2015
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This is another book I almost didn’t read. It’s set in 1935 and my blog partner is more apt to read books set back in time than I am. Not that I don’t enjoy a historical book on occasion, but I usually want to read books with modern technology and lingo. I’d have missed out on a great book had I let this one pass me by. There’s a bit of romance, a big mystery, and a slew of interesting characters. The mystery kept me guessing until the end – a huge winner for me – and the characters kept me entertained from the very first page. If you’re looking for a book a bit outside of the norm, check out Murder on Faux Pas Island. You won’t be disappointed.
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Full Review – Murder on Faux Pas Island   Purchase Links – Lethe Press, Amazon.com
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Coming BackComing Back (The Belladonna Arms #3) by John Inman
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Gay Romance, Humor, Series
Published by Dreamspinner Press on August 17, 2015
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John Inman is another author who gives me fits when it comes time to do my favorites list each year. I loved them all, so how do I choose a favorite? I chose Coming Back because it takes the readers back to a beloved character in the Belladonna Arms series who had lost his way. All the players from Belladonna Arms are here in all their glory – including Arthur, the hilarious drag queen – but there’s more to Coming Back than humor. It’s about family. Not family by blood, but family just the same. This family, including a new resident named Barney, come together and bring their lost one home. I laughed, as I always do while reading this series, but I was also touched watching Ramon and Barney find their way to each other, with Ramon finally finding his home.
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And that cover? Hello! 😉
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Full Review – Coming Back   Purchase Links – Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.com
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Inside His ReflectionInside His Reflection by Zathyn Priest
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Contemporary Gay Romance, Family, Past Abuse, Psychological
Published by Wilde City Press on October 14, 2015
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Zathyn Priest got me started reading in the genre so you can imagine how thrilled I was when he announced a new release. I couldn’t get my hands on Inside His Reflection fast enough. I wasn’t disappointed. Inside His Reflection is two stories in one, really. While it’s contemporary, it also takes the reader back a decade to horrific events that shaped the lives of more than one character. Saying more than that would give the story away, so I’ll leave it at that. I will say that this is a great story that had me teary more than once. The author’s humor (that I love) is there, but there are some very serious moments throughout as well. From all the characters (both main and secondary), to the setting, and the actual story as a whole, I really enjoyed this book.
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Full Review – Inside His Reflection   Purchase Links – Wilde City Press, Amazon.com
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Sloe RideSloe Ride (Sinners #4) by Rhys Ford
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Contemporary Gay Romance, Mystery/Suspense, Series
Published by Dreamspinner Press on September 4, 2015
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This is another story about family, which I love. Rhys Ford put out two books in 2015 that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. One of those is Sloe Ride. While I loved the other book equally, Sloe Ride made this list because it’s from my first and favorite series by this author. My love of the Morgan clan is well-known. I was introduced to this huge Irish family in Sinners Gin (#1) when I picked up my first Rhys Ford book. I’ve been waiting for the youngest Morgan, Quinn, to have his own story ever since. Finding out that his love interest would be the broken Rafe? I couldn’t read it fast enough. Not only did the author do right by my favorite Morgan (Quinn), but she created such a wonderful story about love and what it means to be a family. The Sinners series has proven that real family takes care of their own, whether they are related by blood or not. That was definitely the case in this book.
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Full Review – Sloe Ride   Purchase Links – Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.com
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Pure IndulgencePure Indulgence (Pure #2) by Victoria Sue
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Contemporary Gay Romance, BDSM (Light), OFY, Series
Published by Dark Hollows Press on February 23, 2015
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I discovered the Pure series and Victoria Sue completely by accident. I was on Amazon one day and the cover for Pure (#1 in the series) stood out for me. A quick look at the blurb and I was hitting that one-click button. I’d never heard of the author before, but I’m all about discovering new-to-me authors, so I couldn’t wait to jump into it. I immediately got sucked into the world of the characters and the series became my own guilty pleasure. After Pure came Pure Indulgence, and later, Pure Innocence. It’s hard picking a favorite of the two books published this year, but Pure Indulgence really stood out for me because of the two main characters, Joe and Adam. They had been introduced in Pure and their sexual tension in that book was so thick I was eager to see them have their story. Great characters, a great story, and even a bit of BDSM thrown in.
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Full Review – Pure Indulgence (Pure #2)   Purchase Links – Dark Hollows Press, Amazon.com
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Wicked MenThe Love of Wicked Men: Season One (The Love of Wicked Men 1-6) by Brandon Shire
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Gay Erotic Fiction – BDSM, Erotica, Law Enforcement, Romance, Rough Sex, Some Violence
Published by TPG Books on May 14, 2015
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Brandon Shire is one of the most unique authors out there. Whether he’s writing full-on erotica or serious stories like Summer Symphony, his books always leave me in awe. The Love of Wicked Men was no different. Set in my state, it’s written in six different installments that make up one full season, telling the story of a ruthless attorney and a man he meets along the way. The reader isn’t privy to who the other man really is until long into the season. There are twists at every turn and just when you think you know what’s about to happen, the author throws you for a loop. None of the characters are as they appear and even the seemingly most insignificant ones end up being very significant before everything is all said and done. I really hope the author continues with a season two. If so, I’ll be all over it as soon as it’s released. I can’t say enough good things about season one.
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Full Review – The Love of Wicked Men   Purchase Link – Amazon.com
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Special Favorite
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DreamboatDreamboat by Rick R. Reed
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Gay Erotica, Short Story (12 pages)
Published by Rcubed on May 29, 2015
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I’ve already spoken of this author above, but I couldn’t not add Dreamboat to this list. It’s only twelve pages, but it packed one hell of a punch. You know an author is a master of his (or her) craft when they can tell a complete story in so few pages. Rick R. Reed did just that with this short. The reader doesn’t feel as if they are missing anything when they get to the final page. I didn’t review Dreamboat on On Top Down Under, nor did I really even do a real review on Goodreads or Amazon outside of a quickie paragraph. I chose not to review it because saying anymore than I did would’ve told the entire story. I wanted whoever read it after me to get what I got out of those few pages.
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This is Rick R. Reed at his best. I ended it being reminded of why I keep going back to him. I’ve read over 3 dozen of his so far, and have yet to read one I didn’t enjoy.
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Full Review – Dreamboat   Purchase Link – Amazon.com
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Congratulations to all the authors! I’m so excited to see what you all put out next year!
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14 Comments on "Cindi’s Books of the Year: 2015"

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Kazza K
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First off… oooh, shiny, shiny, shiny 🙂 I did not see your Book of the Year coming. I know how much you love Eric Arvin’s writing, including this book, but I still didn’t know. I love that we never know who is going to be the other’s BOTY and on the full list until after it’s published. Wonderful list, Cindi.

Congrats to Eric Arvin and all the other writers on Cindi’s 2015 BOTY. Really well deserved.
But, come on, did you have to let that Cheating Bastard on? Bahaha.

Mickie B. Ashling
Guest

I’m thrilled to see Chyna Doll on your list of favorites for 2015. Thank you!

Devon McCormack
Guest

*shrieks*

Oh, wow. I definitely wasn’t expecting this. Such an honor to be in the company of such talented and esteemed authors. I feel privileged to be one of the authors who has entertained you this year…even if a certain Aussie blogger *cough cough* is reluctant about my inclusion. 😉 Thanks to both you and Kazza for all your support and encouragement, not just this year, but since the beginning. Here’s hoping I can be fortunate enough to continue to delight and surprise you with my stories…

john inman
Guest

Thank you, Cindi. I\’m honored to have one of my books included in your best reads of the year. You\’re the best.

eric arvin
Guest

Thank you Cindi yet again for such a great response to my book! You’ve become the first voice I’m eager to hear on release of a new project. And to be included with so many great authors is humbling.

Jay
Guest

Corker of a list Cindi! There’s a couple on here I’m marking to read. I’m def gonna read Coming Back & Cheating Bastard deserves an award for best title. 😉

jana
Guest

The Rascal sounds so eerie. I’ve missed this book and i must get it. Some must read writers on here like John inman and Rhys Ford. I also have to get the Cheating Bastard it sounds like something i’d grab and read. Thanks for your books of 2015. I always look here for books i might not know or be sure i’ll read. Merry Christmas. 🙂

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