Memorable Reads of 2023


“And books, they offer one hope that a whole universe might open up from between the covers, and falling into that universe, one is saved.” – Anne Rice

AT THE beginning of 2023, I made a New Year’s Resolution to read more. Specifically, I wanted to choose reading over watching TV in my downtime. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with watching TV—in moderation, and that’s something I’ve always battled with. And it didn’t have to be exclusively novels. I read those narratives, of course, both long and short, but I also enjoyed novellas, short stories, graphic novels, and, not surprising to anyone who knows or follows me, comic books. 

I’m not completely satisfied with my year-end result; I could have done better. Still, I’m happy knowing I can do it; I can select reading over Bravo shows (I wouldn’t be surprised if we never saw Denise Richards again!), Cartoon Network, Shudder, and Judge Judy reruns. 

Here’s the thing: I plan to make the same New Year’s Resolution for 2024! Sure, sure, I also want to work out more; I can’t wait to be screamed at by far too peppy instructors who look like Greek Gods wanting me to bike harder on the Peloton! And I must endeavour to write on a tighter, more structured schedule. And no, writer’s block is not an excuse to go to Starbucks for a Green Tea Frappuccino. Well, I mean—OK, but not so much this year! I have some resolve.

To finish out 2023, I’m using this last BLOG post to highlight 15 books I read this year that particularly stood out to me. Some were as scary or thrilling as hell, while others pulled at my romantic heartstrings. Some took me to wondrous and magical places, and some brought me back to an era of history and adventure I always dreamed about living in.

Similar to what I read in 2022, many of these works had significant LGBTQ+ content, which I’m unapologetic about. This past year, I made a conscious choice to focus on reading horror, thriller, fantasy, and romance that featured LGBTQ+ characters and queer experiences within these Genres, and they had to feel respectful and authentic. 

The following list is alphabetically organized by last name and does not exclusively contain works published in 2023. Also, it does not include graphic novels or comics (though Rainbow Rowell’s SHE-HULK graphic novels are exceptional, and anything by Tom Taylor, especially NIGHTWING, is outstanding!).

Hell and Gone by Tal Bauer 

In the Crazy Mountains of Montana, a man is hanged, two cowboys go missing, and hundreds of cattle have up and disappeared. Amid a sprawling rural community, corruption is around every corner. Greed leads men to do terrible things. And if two gay men, a rancher and stock inspector, find romance amid danger and mystery, all the better.

Cold Day Dawning by Thom Collins

Set in Nyemouth, a small town on the northeast coast of England, the novel takes the reader on a journey of suspense, murder and romance involving a missing sister, a love interest with PTSD, and dark familial revelations.

The Devil Wears Pink by Matthew Dante

Originally published in the MM Anthology Cruising, this updated and lengthened story is a wonderfully witty romance involving a delightful game of vindictive pranks and one-upmanship between two different gay men. A terrific May-December gay romance on a cruise ship amid the Seven Seas.

Love To Hate You (Revised Edition) by Matthew Dante

Along with a new cover, 5000 words have been added to the original text, increasing the story’s already captivating humour, sexiness, and emotional depth. This is a heartfelt romance about a gay man living a fast-paced lifestyle in Los Angeles who returns to his hometown after being betrayed by both his fiancé and so-called best friend to pick up the pieces of his life and start over. Oh, and the very hunky but loud and often annoying next-door neighbour may be interested in helping with that.


Oracle: A Story From The Reels by Brian B. Ewing

A well-crafted Urban Thriller, this is the first book in a series that focuses on Tom Sisto, an introvert with a tragic past gifted with a psychic power to experience first-person memories of victims and evil-doers alike. Oracle reads like a well-paced, cleverly constructed story arc from an engaging TV crime procedural. Viscerally gut-punching mystery.

Nomad: A Story From The Reels by Brian B. Ewing

Like OracleNomad focuses on a particular serial killer, but this time, the maniac has no ties to Sisto; the killer is a completely unknown variable. A compelling, character-driven Urban Thriller that’s a must-read. This book has so much to offer: biker culture, undercover police work, allies and adversaries, including a cunning, calculating serial killer, and an independently wealthy, newbie police officer with a psychic gift. A story with grit, suspense, blood, and tension!


The Housekeeper by Talbot Finch

 This historical “novelette” focuses on the relationship between two Victorian men over a short period, but its length doesn’t diminish its impact. The depth of emotion and connectivity between the two men, the only featured characters in the story, as they each discover their mutual attraction is powerful and touching. This is a magnetic queer love story about a broken man using emotional and physical isolationism to deal with past trauma and its life-altering consequences, rediscovering joy through the intervention of a compassionate stranger.

Violet Reverie by Talbot Finch

This work takes inspiration from the gothic romance novels of the nineteenth century. Finch utilizes same-sex desire, emotional connectivity, the battle for authenticity, and even jealousy to enrich his narrative with passion and intrigue. And he never loses sight of the romanticism. A haunting, foreboding atmosphere. Complex, often tortured relationships. Is this a book that features the supernatural or psychological trauma brought on by fear and anxiety? Very compelling fiction! If I were to pick one book above all others as my favourite for 2023, this would be it.

Raven’s Creek by David-Jack Fletcher

Masterful misdirection, complex flashbacks, intricate plotlines, and a f*ck ton of awesome monsters. Smartly written horror with queer content, including two gay husbands in over their heads, and science gone AMOK, AMOK, AMOK! Not for the faint of heart. For a moment, even I was like, “Am I sure about this?!” LOL

Second Go-Round by Andrew Grey

A thoughtfully written novel about an older gay couple, a former world champion bronco rider and his rancher husband, who have been together for decades (finally!), but things have admittedly gone a little stale. This is a story that features how vital communication and effort are to sustain healthy, lifelong relationships, gay or not, and to not take the one you love with all your heart for granted. It’s a complex gay romance with some steam mixed with a dash of realism featuring a demographic too often ignored today in favour of YA relationships. 

A Queen of Blood and Glitter by Benjamin Kissell

A beautifully written Dark Fantasy with a uniquely poetic text that harkens back to the work of Edmund Spenser and John Milton but with a distinctly queer and contemporary flavour. The half-Faerie drag queen, Blodeuwedd, aka Miss Nomer, has a score to settle. They’ve suffered a terrible loss resulting in a deep pain that demands vengeance. A clever plan is conceived to get that revenge. Remember, it’s not personal. It’s Drag. But of course, it secretly is personal–and Blodeuwedd’s drag persona Miss Nomer is a vehicle of vengeance, a powerful personality, a dark, striking image created and weaponized. Fabulous never looked so deadly.

Of A Certain Age: Romance In Reno 3 by Lee Maxwell

Well-paced gay romance with angst and dramatic tension only inserted into the narrative with thoughtful intent to move the story along. There are multiple meaningful conversations between the protagonists and supporting characters around several topics, including, obviously, age differences in relationships. Of A Certain Age has a level of maturity in the narrative that must be noted. 

Apparitions by Adam Pottle

An ambitious piece of writing featuring queer and deaf characters in a predominantly rural Canadian setting. It has a documentary-style feel and a significant leaning toward psychological thriller—even an aspect of crime fiction serialization. The novel has a strong component of Gothic Horror: claustrophobic elements, vivid, disturbing nightmares, and multiple seemingly inescapable, bleak landscapes. It’s not always a comfortable read, but Pottle’s passion for inventive storytelling and a robust desire to create a space within contemporary fiction for the Deaf community—for Deaf queer characters—makes his work compelling, entertaining, and invaluable.

Suddenly, Last Summer by Michael Robert 

A sweet, beautifully written gay romance that shines a light on unrequited love, discounting the agency of younger gay men to know their hearts and maybe some later regret in the face of second chances. It’s a savvy narrative about maturity, pining versus perseverance, and romantic reminiscing. The dialogue and inner monologues are often quirky and might not resonate with some, but take it with a grain of pickles–I mean salt. If you get it, you get it.

Take Me With You by Michael Robert

I’m a sucker for a good, soapy amnesia storyline, especially when it’s as well-written as it is here. A great thing about the novel is that while it encompasses a lot of traditional melodramatic tropes, like a rich man/poor man, small-town atmosphere, forced proximity, and amnesia, Roberts writes it all with such an easy hand; nothing feels forced or expected. The deep emotional connection I had with the characters and the setting is a testament to Robert’s writing skills.

Well, that concludes the reading and reviewing portion for 2023. I can’t wait to start diving into some new works, including many on my TBR List, starting Jan 1st! My first pick? Upon The Pale Isle Of Gloam: A Gothic Horror Novella by Mark Gulino.


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