As always, it’s been my privilege this year to read and review some wonderful books for Boys on the Brink but below are the ones that really stand out in my mind.

Spectacularly Broken by Sage C. Holloway

Turns out naked and hungover on the floor is not the most strategically sound place to be when your dad comes home early. Take it from someone who learned the hard way: nineteen-year-old Lysander Shepherd – son of movie stars, spoiled brat, enthusiastic proponent of drugs and orgies… and now, unwilling resident of Oak Hill Manor, a retreat for troubled teenagers.

Before he knows what’s happening, his designer duds have been switched for tie-dye shirts in therapy team colors, and he is surrounded by an assortment of misfits: a timid nerd, a mute girl, a hyperactive kid… and captivating loner Cai Fields, who is admittedly pretty hot, but seems to hate the world in general and Lysander in particular.

Soon Lysander struggles with lies, withdrawal, and several uncomfortable revelations that he never intended to make, but he also gains surprising amounts of support right in the middle of secret late-night parties, fisticuffs over doing the dishes, and, of all things, croissant blackmail. Even as Cai and Lysander finally give in to the irresistible attraction between them and make a grasp for happiness, their darkest secrets remain – secrets with the power to destroy everything they’ve fought so hard to have.

Read my review of Spectacularly Broken

The Deep of the Sound (A Bluewater Bay Novel) by Amy Lane

Cal McCorkle has lived in Bluewater Bay his whole life. He works two jobs to support a brother with a laundry list of psychiatric diagnoses and a great-uncle with Alzheimer’s, and his personal life amounts to impersonal hookups with his boss. He’s got no time, no ambition, and no hope. All he has is family, and they’re killing him one responsibility at a time.

Avery Kennedy left Los Angeles, his family, and his sleazy boyfriend to attend a Wolf’s Landing convention, and he has no plans to return. But when he finds himself broke and car-less in Bluewater Bay, he’s worried he’ll have to slink home with his tail between his legs. Then Cal McCorkle rides to his rescue, and his urge to run away dies a quick death.

Avery may seem helpless at first, but he can charm Cal’s fractious brother, so Cal can pretty much forgive him anything. Even being adorkable. And giving him hope. But Cal can only promise Avery “until we can’t”—and the cost of changing that to “until forever” might be too high, however much they both want it.

Read my review of The Deep of the Sound

Taking Him On (Checking Him Out, Book 2) by Debbie McGowan

It’s almost a year since Noah told Matty they needed to cool it, believing it was the sensible thing to do. After all, they were too intense, and they were both failing uni.

Now, with Matty just weeks away from taking up his place at a prestigious London dance academy, Noah is desperate to make the most of the little time they have left. It’s only a temporary separation, and they are forever. Or so he’d thought.

Read my review of Taking Him On

Secrets from the Edge by S.C. Wynne

Keith Williams is twenty-two and struggling to feel normal again. Once a rising super star in the competitive world of snowboarding, he’s only now healing from a horrible crash that almost wrecked his body and ripped his confidence from him.

Jesse Royce is a reporter embedded on a snowboarding documentary that Keith has agreed to be a part of. The two of them have always had a sexual attraction that’s hard to ignore. But Keith’s loss of nerve isn’t the only secret he’s keeping, and while it’s tempting to give into his desire for Jesse, it might end up being career suicide.

Read my review of Secrets from the Edge

The History of Us by Nyrae Dawn

Sometimes it’s not about coming out, it’s about settling in.

Eighteen-year-old Bradley Collins came out a year ago and hasn’t looked back since. Who cares if he doesn’t know any other gay people? Bradley has friends and basketball—that’s all he needs. Even if that means always sitting on the sidelines when the guys go out looking for girls.

When cute film-boy TJ tries to flirt with Bradley while his friends are doing their thing, he freaks. Yeah, he’s gay, but he’s never had the opportunity to go out with a boy before. He’s never had to worry about how his friends will react to seeing him with a guy.

Bradley accompanies TJ on a road trip to film TJ’s senior project documentary. In each city they visit, they meet with people from different walks of life, and Bradley learns there’s a whole lot more to being honest about himself than just coming out. He still has to figure out who he really is, and learn to be okay with what he discovers.

Read my review of The History of Us

Take the Long Way Home by J.A. Rock

Dresden Marich has failed out of high school three months shy of graduation. He’s infatuated with his online friend, Evan, alienated from his family and former classmates, and still trying to recover from his father’s death six years ago. He’s also keeping a troubling secret about his older brother, Gunner, who is away at boot camp.


Then Dresden meets Caleb, a judgmental environmentalist who’s hardly Dresden’s fantasy come true. But Caleb seems to understand Dresden’s desire for rough sex, big feelings, and, ultimately, safety. As Dresden becomes embroiled in a farmers market drama involving Caleb, a couple of bullying tomato enthusiasts, and a gang of vigilante vegans, he discovers he might be willing to trade a fantasy relationship with Evan for a shot at something real with Caleb.

But Dresden fears telling quick-to-judge Caleb his secret, and the news that Gunner is coming home sends him fleeing to California for a chance to meet Evan in person and hopefully fall in love. When the encounter doesn’t go as expected, Dresden faces a choice: stay in California and carve out a new life, or take the long road home to his family, Caleb, and a past he must face if he has any hope for a future.

Read my review of Take the Long Way Home

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