I thought it would be fun to let science fiction romance readers ‘write’ this column for me, and pick some of their most memorable SFR books of 2016. I posed the question in two places – the SciFi Romance Group on Facebook, which is primarily for readers to discuss books, and the SFR Brigade on Facebook, which is an authors’ group but does discuss books and other related topics. I’m a member of both and will also point out that many of us who write SFR are avid readers of our own genre.
My two rules were that no one could list their own book and the books had to be released in 2015 or 2016. Obviously this wasn’t a scientific survey of any type nor was voting involved. Readers were free to list as many or as few books as they chose.
In no particular order, here are a selection of memorable SFR books read in 2016, as defined by some of the most dedicated readers I know! (NOTE: Comments have been edited in some cases due to space limitations. Not all FB comments received were included but all books named by readers are in this post.)
Jan Benson spoke for many of us (myself included): “I gotta go with Gladiator by Anna Hackett. The whole concept was simple, and yet so different from anything the rest of us have done this year. I’ve read so very many but those in particular were the stand outs.”
Eileen Koven also mentioned Anna Hackett’s Noah and Holmes from her Hell Squad post-apocalyptic series with dinosaurlike aliens.
Diane Burton: “Pets in Space anthology. Don’t usually think about space travelers having pets, but why not? Fun short stories from excellent SFR authors.” (Veronica: thank you very much – I do have a story in this Library Journal Best Books of 2016 pick!) K. J. Van Houten chimed in as well: “I second the Pets in Space anthology! Quite an awesome collection showcasing a variety of writing styles by a number of terrific SFR authors!”
Cindy Spencer Pape mentioned another SFR anthology: “The Baby Its Cold in Space anthology was a fun read. It had a wide variety of stories and authors.”
Susan Grant’s Champion of Baresh came in for multiple mentions. Here’s what K. J. Van Houten thought: “… an exciting return to loved characters from her Star series with an exciting fresh start of its own.” Eileen Koven “…found it memorable.”
Deborah A. Kelly gave us some different titles: “Three stories that I loved that were well told, albeit in the typical alien/human female genre, were Deceit by Harmony Raines and Protected and Abducted, both by Evangeline Anderson. Another, different SFR was Specimen by Shay Savage. Of the four, this was my favorite. This one did not involve aliens, but human scientifically altered.”
Paula Lieberman chimed in with “Confluence by S. K. Dunstall, which is the concluding volume of a trilogy, which starts off ‘this could be SFR, though not necessarily’ and has a concluding volume culminate with ‘Yes, this is SFR.'”
Jenny Schwartz gave us a new one I hadn’t heard of: “I just read Audrey Faye’s Fixers of KarmaCorp series. Good stuff.”
Much love for Lindsay Buroker’s Fallen Empire series, including this from K. J. Van Houten: “This may be my favourite read of the year, and I put the entire series here instead of calling out individual books because they are not standalone, but one long, continuous story. Romance rides along with space opera adventure with a lot of twists and varying perspectives from both sides during the aftermath of an Empire vs Rebellion war.” Athena Grayson weighed in: ”I second Lindsay Buroker’s Fallen Empire, and I’m just getting into Jolie Mason’s series because Giant Robots.”
K. J. had a few more suggestions: “I could easily add tons more that I’ve read and enjoyed, like all of the Veronica Scott and Anna Hackett books, but didn’t want to flood your post!” (Veronica: Thank you for the mention!)
Virginia Louis added one: “… Claire Kent’s (aka Zannie Adams) Hold is one of my all-time favorite books that just happens to be SFR. I love that she falls for someone who is ‘not her type’ and the rise from misery by all three major characters. Great situation with very satisfying ending. Also, truly sexy but necessary for plot/story.”
Virginia also had a detailed rationale for a few more of her 2016 SFR favorites: “The Warrior’s Pet by Stephanie West and Her Alien Commander by Ashe Barker are my picks for the year. Ms. West was a new author to me when I happened upon this read, perusing Amazon Top 100 reads for SFR. Ms. Barker was not a new author for me but this was her first book in the SFR sub-genre. The worlds built and settings were somewhat unique in both. These two are my favorites this year; I did reviews on Goodreads for both, because they were just that good…. Both had very satisfactory endings and very strong heroines. Strong female leads can be tricky in the D/s environment. Honorable mentions for me go to Laurann Dohner for her new additions to the Cyborg Seduction series, Loving Deviant and Seducing Stag. This is my top SFR series of all time. I just love these cyborg men that she has set up in their situations. I also really like the clever way that the sex scenes seem so natural and necessary for the story/plots. Another honorable mention is Grace Goodwin’s Assigned A Mate, that launched her Interstellar Brides series. It was really a nice concept to have the historical mail order bride meet SFR. Nothing like the excitement of a new frontier, past or present. Finally, one last one that I’ll mention is Trapped by Alison Aimes. I’m just a sucker for the planetary penal colony SFR…This year Ms. Aimes has done another good job of this niche in SFR.”
Need more? I’ve got them, courtesy of the readers!
Lola Verroen of the Lola’s Reviews blog: “Pirate Nemesis by Carysa Locke was my favorite SFR read this year. I also really enjoyed Pets in Space and Romancing the Stars… I reviewed all of them…” (Veronica: And we authors love and appreciate reviews!)
Amy Riddle DeClerck: “I loved Libby Sinclair’s Deadlocked. The characters were sharply drawn, the action was intense and I want MORE!”
Jody Wallace: “Whichever books in Michelle Diener’s Class 5 series came out this year! Or all of them, LOL… The slow-burn romances, the proactive, independent heroines, and the fantastic, multilayered world building, not to mention the unique AI characters, combine to make the Class 5 series one of the most memorable in the genre so far, much less in 2016!”
Suzy Fren: “The Space Colonel’s Woman” by Jay Shaw.”
Meredith Gurr, who is a tireless champion of SFR novels, had this to say during the discussion: “I second Jess Anastasi’s Atrophy, and also Alison Aimes’ Trapped <— a bit of an escape from prison planet thing going with those two, and what a perfect scenario that leads to some sexy times! Also devoured and loved Carol Van Natta’s Jumper’s Hope. Her Central Galactic Concordance series gets better and better with each book. And, absolutely, Cara Bristol’s deliciously gorgeous cyborgs in her Cy-Ops series, Books 1 to 4.”
For her part, Carol Van Natta said: “I’ve been sinfully addicted to Anna Hackett’s Hell Squad series, and Lyndsay Buroker’s Fallen Empire series. I also loved Athena Grayson’s Huntress, and am looking forward to reading them next.”
And we’ll finish with a couple more – Riley Moreland of the Whiskey With My Book Blog: “So many great books have been suggested! My contribution would be The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny. The things I like: 1) the unusual concept that luck is an identifiable, measurable, repeatable phenomenon. 2) the hero – is he good or is he bad? Hmmmm 3) the post-apocalyptic but newly thriving Earth – also an unusual concept in SF.”
Michelle Diener: “I read and really loved Shifter Planet by D.B. Reynolds.”
And a list from Eileen Koven:
Breathing Vapor and Crash and Burn – Cynthia Sax
The Caphenon – Fletcher Delancey
Mission: Improper and Nobody’s Hero – Bec McMaster
Aliens in the Barn – Kyndra Hatch
The Tea Machine – Gill McKnight
Pico’s Crush and Jumper’s Hope – Carol Van Natta
Greyson’s Doom – Tracy Cooper-Posey
Breakout – Ann Aguirre
Blood Surfer – Debra Jess
Huntress of the Star Empire – Athena Grayson
Vin’s Rules – Lyn Brittan
Pirate Bound – Carysa Locke
Atrophy – Jess Anastasi
Thank you very much for everyone’s time and thoughtful comments!
Any books you’d like to add to our readers’ 2016 list?