Congratulations to the 2016 GraveTells Book Award and Readers Choice Award winners! #GTBA16 #GTRCA16
The votes have been cast, the recipients chosen. These are the winners of the GraveTells 2016 Book Awards, including those selected by GraveTells as genre standouts and those voted as the favorite romance stories, characters, authors, and publishers of 2016! Let’s celebrate the winners!
2016 GraveTells Book Award Winners
The authors and stories recognized below were chosen by GraveTells on the merits of quality, engagement, feels, overall excellence, and that je ne sais quoi that makes a romance linger long after the last page has been turned. Congratulations to the 2016 GraveTells Book Award winners! <3
Book of the Year
There were a few strong contenders for BotY in 2016, but none lingered the way Selfie did.
Author Amy Lane is the epitome of prolific. She has published over one hundred books across a span of nearly 12 years (do the math on that), seven in 2016 with multiple publishers. What sets Selfie apart? You can read what I wrote in my 2016 May Book of the Month post here, or check out my review of Selfie. Here are some highlights:
I freaking love Connor. He’s this big-hearted, hunky, wounded, vulnerable movie star with the spirit of a kid and the energy of a certain just-keeps-going bunny. Connor is all at once loveable, hilarious, relatable, and pitiable. He’s one of those guys who is so convinced he’s not worthy that he can’t see just how amazing he really is, and he steals nearly every scene he’s in. And since the story is told from his perspective, that’s pretty much all of them.
Amy Lane just reaches right in through your bleeding heart and tugs a nice hey-how-are-ya on your freaking soul. Just when I thought this story couldn’t possibly get MORE gut wrenching, it went and just DID.
I. LOVED. IT!
This is a story for anyone who has lost someone special and wondered, “How will I go on? Was it ever really real?” And I think, regardless of how sad our individual histories can be, Selfie carries a message that can bring a smile and a feeling of hope to any broken hearts out there. What a beautiful, charming story. Exceptionally memorable and enjoyable. Grab a box of tissues (or two) and go read it. Right now!
Selfie is first an emotional journey through the depths of grief, second a romance. There are three major characters in this book: Connor, Noah, and Vinnie (Connor’s dead ex-boyfriend). Vinnie’s very real presence throughout the story took everything to the next level, a risky choice in a genre where romance usually equals 1+1. Selfie made me laugh and cry, and squeezed my heart at every possible turn. This is a MUST READ romance for any fan of m/m books, movie stars, and riveting romances.
Editor’s Choice Award
The Editor’s Choice award is aptly named. I edit romance (and other genres), so my bar for excellence in a story is very high. Any romance I call “Editor’s Choice” has to totally kill it across elements like originality, pacing, continuity, engagement, character development, world building, voice, and sheer heat. This year’s winners didn’t just hit that bar, they destroyed it.
Followers of my yearly book awards will not be surprised to see author Emma Chase here yet again (this is her third year in a row to make the cut). I can’t seem to get enough of her signature style of wit, determination, and crazy roller coaster feels.
Check out my review of Royally Screwed to find out more about what made it so damn irresistible! Here are some highlights:
This story is an absolute delight, a guaranteed roller coaster of passion and privilege and charm and want and lust and soft hearts in gilded cages. Author Emma Chase had me laughing and crying and yearning throughout the entire read. Royally Screwed is easily one of the best romances of 2016.
Extravagance? Check. Alpha male with an attitude? Check. Can’t-keep-me-down heroine with a heart of gold? Check! Royally Screwed has all that, and so many great moments. I absolutely adored this book.
Royally Screwed is unapologetically a Cinderella story, and it flips the saved-by-a-prince trope on its head. And—of course—Prince Nicholas dances, drives motorcycles, flies helicopters, prepares sushi, and woos small children with natural grace. And he’s HOT. And lusty. Even Disney couldn’t pen a more ideal prince.
The other winner of this year’s Editor’s Choice Award came as a total surprise. I’m not a “new adult”, so books in that genre have to really impress me to receive even decently high review marks. Author Cecy Robson blew right past all my new adult reservations and delivered a memorable, emotional story that transcends genre boundaries.
Read my review of Inseverable to find out what sets this book apart from so many other 2016 New Adult reads. Here are some highlights:
Inseverable is the perfect mix of youthful hope and excitement, steady and mature self-sufficiency, and that vital rush of emotion and intensity the New Adult genre is so well loved for. But unlike other—what I personally find to be annoying—NA books, Inseverable is grounded and responsible. The characters are likeable, relatable, entertaining, and have depth. I believed them, and I followed them across the pages like I was part of the crew. When someone who is nearly forty can so strongly relate to twenty-somethings, the author has done something very, very right.
The glaring disparity of tone in the hero’s intro compared to the heroine’s happy-go-lucky lifeguarding summer life sets the mood for this couple’s entire relationship, and it highlights the vast difference between them in life experiences: innocence of spirit vs hardened cynic. Told from dual first person perspective, this story carefully portrays each character uniquely. Callahan’s voice is hard, distinct, a little sarcastic, a lot no-nonsense. And—satisfyingly—very convincingly male. Trinity’s is hopeful, optimistic, sweet, determined—a candy shell around an old soul.
Series of the Year
This year’s Series of the Year simply demanded to be recognized.
When I first read author Elizabeth Varlet’s Fierce & Fabulous over the summer, I couldn’t stop thinking about Ansel and his fellow dancers. These guys are ballsy and fabulous, not a combination you see everyday in the romance genre. So as soon as I got my hands on Dark & Dazzling, I devoured it in less than a day. This follow-up story met all my (rather high) expectations from the first book and threw down its own gauntlet: Come and get me, if you dare. I loved Azariah’s spirit and determination and loyal heart. I loved his spunk and vanity and killer fashion sense. Both books feature some really tough times for these guys and their lovers, but Dark & Dazzling really went places most romances don’t dare to go…and it paid off.
Here are a few highlights from my reviews:
Fierce and Fabulous is unlike any gay romance I’ve ever read. It’s real and gritty but rides an undercurrent of hope and courage. Its characters are unapologetically unique and true to themselves even in the face of loss and danger.
Ansel is practically his own star, burning so brightly and with so much potential that people naturally gravitate to him. He’s an addict who secretly yearns for so much, but is so scared to try that he keeps the world at bay with sarcasm and sass, flaunting the differences that make him stand out.
This story is emotional and gripping, the first in a series about a quartet of men who each dazzle in their own unique way. Recommended for readers who love sassy, fabulous, ballsy male-male romance.
Azariah is so charismatic, this bright light that you just can’t keep your eyes off of. I love that this series is based around badass femme men: these guys dance for a living, wear makeup and stilettos, and live life on their own terms.
Even in book two, I can tell this series won’t get stale or predictable. And the dancing, oh it is to DIE for. The choreography is written so perfectly: I can practically see these guys kicking ass and flaunting the moves in their sky-high heels and rock star gear.
Connelly and Z’s story is intense, shocking, deep. The author doesn’t shy away from hard choices and she doesn’t take the safe route through the conflict. The result is a vibrantly, painfully, beautifully evocative story featuring characters who bleed through the full spectrum of love and lust.
Author of the Year
This year’s Author of the Year was a new-to-me author in 2016 but quickly made my auto-buy list.
Avery Flynn writes with pop and sizzle, one of those authors you know is going to deliver strong, magnetic characters (of both genders!) and thrillingly hot sex scenes. Every story, every time. I reviewed her on GraveTells three times in 2016, and I still didn’t cover all of her releases, a smart combo of self and traditionally published stories.
Here are some highlights from my reviews and features of Avery Flynn’s books this year:
His Undercover Princess has all the gloss and sex appeal of a billionaire romance—the hero’s name is even Dom. How perfect a play is that?—with the twists, turns, and excitement of a romantic suspense.
His Undercover Princess is fast-paced wicked fun, a book that hits the sweet spots of moderate story length, excitement and danger, and a solid emotional connection between the two saucy leads.
Taz and Bianca steam up the pages with their smokin’ hot chemistry, and their cutting personalities make for a fascinating pairing, all snark and punch and determination.
Oh man, I love these characters!! The women are ballsy and talented; the men are strong, skilled, and dominating (yet wary of all that girl power!); and the B-Squad setup is legit. Taz and Bianca are HOT together. And they’re not afraid to show each other off to a crowd, which will be a real draw for all the exhibitionists and voyeuristic readers out there. These two are raw and dirty, and their personal scenes just sizzle.
Debut Author of the Year
Lea Kirk kicked off her romance writing career with momentum & spirit!
In her very first year as a published author, Lea Kirk released four stories. FOUR! Two were full length—Prophecy and Salvation, the first two books in her SciFi romance series Prophecy—and two shorts, All of Me and Space Ranger. The short stories are also part of the Prophecy story universe and each was featured in an anthology with some well established authors: Romancing the Stars and Pets in Space. Lea Kirk’s stories have heart and humor and run the full spectrum of emotion, from grief and fear to joy and soul-deep love.
And this lady hustles. Even for an established author, releasing so many quality self-published stories in a single year—having to wear multiple hats across the entire publishing cycle—can be daunting. Lea is also quite active on social media and openly communicates with her fans, always with warmth and graciousness. How she finds the time to do all this, I have no idea, but I adore her stories and am excited to see what’s coming next in the Prophecy story world! Here are some highlights from the GraveTells review of Prophecy:
Prophecy combines romance and sci-fi very well. The romance is sweet and the sex scenes are more sensual than explicit. The stakes are high, there’s a dose of humor that keeps things from getting too bleak, and there are heroes to root for, including those who make up the supporting cast of characters.
2016 GraveTells Readers Choice Award Winners
Turnout for the 2016 awards was STELLAR. I mean, wow, guys. Seriously. AH-MAZ-ING! Here are some fun numbers…
- 109 unique authors and publishers were nominated across 22 categories
- More than 2,200 readers cast over 43,000 votes (!!!)
- Over 700 tweets, retweets, shares, and comments dominated social media across 5 days of voting (and those are just the ones I know about!)
YOU GUYS ROCK! And you love you some steamy romance books, just sayin’. *wink*
Here are your #GTRCA16 winners!
Favorite Romance: The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Sexiest Story: One Hot December by Tiffany Reisz
Favorite Contemporary Romance: Hawke by Sawyer Bennett
Favorite Cowboy Romance: Falling for the Rancher by Tanya Michaels
Favorite Historical Romance: Rendezvous With Yesterday by Dianne Duvall
Favorite Paranormal Romance: My Guardian Gryphon by Krystal Shannan
Favorite Fantasy Romance: The Old Dragon of the Mountain’s Christmas by S.E. Smith
Favorite SciFi Romance: Gladiator by Anna Hackett
Favorite Romantic Suspense: Deadly Silence by Rebecca Zanetti
Favorite New Adult Romance: Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen
Favorite LGBTQ Romance: Winter Ball by Amy Lane
Shout out to Sarah Nicolas for placing second! This race was SUPER close! Only 18 votes separated first and second place.
Favorite Menage Romance: Ink Enduring by Carrie Ann Ryan
Favorite Kinky Romance: Submission Is Not Enough by Lexi Blake
Most Promising New Series: Blood Brothers by Rebecca Zanetti
Most Outstanding Series: The Misters by J.A. Huss
Most Original Story Universe: Galactic Gladiators by Anna Hackett
Shout out to Anna Zaires for placing second! This race was SUPER close! Only 11 votes separated first and second place.
Most Promising New Author: Stephanie St. Klaire
Most Engaging Author: Meghan March
Standout Heroine: Nell Ingram from Curse on the Land by Faith Hunter
Sexiest Hero: Ryder from Smoke & Fire by Donna Grant
Hottest Couple: Elena and Raphael from Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh
Favorite Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Shout out to Berkeley Romance for placing second! This race was SUPER close! Only 17 votes separated first and second place.
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