DAMN, Samhain Books Are Amazing

Samhain’s announcement that they are closing (I raved about my publisher, editor, and cover artist here) kicked off a stroll down memory lane via my Kindle library. I thought it would be fun to do a blog post with some of my favorite Samhain books, because I’ve been buying from them for years and they publish a lot of my favorite authors. Little did I know this would be a project that would take me until 4am last night…

Samhain published some damn good books, my friends. HAVE AT THEM.

(I know this closing has kicked off a lot of Amazon criticism, and fairly so, but I want you to buy these authors’ books and I don’t much care where you do that. Samhain is having a massive ebook sale on their website on 2/29, so I’m linking there. You should absolutely drop the equivalent of a rent check there on Monday. And I’m also linking to Amazon because this list is way too long for me to do links to all 3rd party retailers and if one-clicking will get your money in these authors’ pockets that much faster, rock it out. You can, of course, find all of these books at iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, ARebooks, etc.)

love lessons

Heidi Cullinan’s Love Lessons series is both a personal favorite and a stellar example of why our cover artist Kanaxa is a genius. I love these stories and I love these covers. I also adore Heidi’s holiday romance series with Samhain, her historical novel A Private Gentleman, the wonderful Carry the Ocean, and her new steampunk book! All the love.

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If you haven’t heard me rave about Joanna Chambers’s Enlightenment series, you haven’t been listening. Exquisitely written, intensely researched, and absolutely fascinating to read, the trilogy begins with Provoked. There’s a spinoff book too! I’ve reread the entire series several times now and I’ll do it again.

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think of england

There is nothing KJ Charles writes that I will not buy immediately and stay up all night reading. Her books are witty as hell, fan-yourself hot, and full of adventure. Whether pure historical or historical paranormals, Charles is an autobuy author for me. Think of England was my favorite book last year, and I reread the Magpie series on a regular basis. (ETA: Charles’s new book, RAG AND BONE, is out today!)

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with or without him

Whenever I think of Barbara Elsborg’s With or Without Him, I remember it first for the smoking hot sex. I mean, SMOKING HOT. And then when I start to reread it, I’m reminded instantly of how damn funny this book is too. I love Elsborg’s voice.

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scrap metal

One of the earliest m/m romance novels I read was Scrap Metal by Harper Fox. This book is a perfect example of Fox’s lyrical prose, mastery of the setting so atmospheric it becomes its own character, and heartwarming romance. I have bought everything Fox has published since reading this book. She’s a wonderful writer.

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giving it up

Audra North wrote a book about a submissive SWAT dude and a Domme? And my editor was her editor? These are all the things I like in one lovely place. I am highly in favor of more smart femdom in the market, yes please.

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listen to the moon

You absolutely cannot go wrong with Rose Lerner. I could have picked any of her Samhain books for this list, but I have a weakness for historical novels that are not about royals. This story about a butler and a maid made me happy dance as soon as I saw it.

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heat trap

I love JL Merrow’s books, and the Plumber’s Mate series in particular is a favorite of mine. My grandpa was a union carpet layer in Chicago and every time I read a romance that features a blue collar worker, I’m happy to see that population represented. Plus, Merrow walks a terrific line with the psychic element, making it both fascinating and not too woo-woo for me. I love it.

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uncovering ray

Edie Danford’s Unconvering Ray brings non-binary to romance. It’s also a roommates romance, and that is one of my favorite tropes. I love forced proximity like whoa. Edie, by the way, is also a fantastic editor! I worked with her for the How We Began charity anthology and very much enjoyed her insight and story sense.

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the hierarchy of needs

I had the privilege of betaing Rebecca Grace Allen’s The Hierarchy of Needs and its super sexy ménage sequel. Rebecca is another one of my editor Christa’s authors. We are a lucky bunch.

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a treasure of gold

Piper Huguley writes books that fascinate me. I first came to know her through her self-published series, and her Samhain series has continued to mesmerize. Historical romance featuring African American couples, Piper’s books are must buys.

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cost of repairs

Cost of Repairs is book one of one of AM Arthur’s Samhain series. Arthur writes intense, emotional small town romance about guys who are just trying to make it through. I’m a fan.

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bad kitty

Okay. I freely admit that I did not even care what Teresa Noelle Roberts’s book was about when I first saw it. All I knew was that it was the best title/cover combo I’d ever seen in my entire life. BAD KITTY. But it’s fun, sexy sci fi, and that’s even better.

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the bohemian and the banker

Summer Devon & Bonnie Dee write m/m historical romance together (they may write other things too? it’s the historicals that are stacked up on my Kindle) and their titles always describe a couple that intrigues. I started with The Nobleman & The Spy last year and went on quite a binge form there.

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crossing borders

ZA Maxfield re-released a bunch of books with Samhain, including one of my favorites, Crossing Borders. The cop and the skate-boarding college student have a lot of challenges in this book, but I love the way their very different personalities fit together. I also love their respective family members, which is always a plus for me in LGBTQ romance.

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sole support

Gah. This book. Kaje Harper is a favorite author of mine, but with Sole Support she absolutely outdid herself. Broke my heart too. This book is as much about the struggle to take care of an aging parent as it is about the romance and it’s brilliant. Highly recommended.

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the corrupt comte

One of my favorite historical romances ever, with a heroine who stutters and a hero who is known as the “molly comte”. Edie Harris’s The Corrupt Comte is brilliant. Someday she will put out a sequel and I will squeal with happiness.

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the closer you get

Oh, hello, virgin in my m/m romance. Get on my Kindle right now. LA Witt’s The Closer You Get tell a terrific story about a guy who’s done the whole gay scene (and by “done”, we mean literally) and a newly out man from a conservative hometown. I love the development of trust between these too and the seriously hot UST. HELLO, TENSION.

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spice and smoke

Suleikha Snyder’s Bollywood romances are favorites too. I’m a Bollywood fan and I loved finding books set within that industry. I also really enjoyed the mix of gay and straight relationships within this book and the big cast of characters.

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the reluctant berserker

Alex Beecroft’s books fascinate me. This is an epic Viking historical romance, and I’ve been clear, I think, in my desire for more Viking romance. LGBTQ Vikings in particular, thank you, Alex Beecroft.

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big boy

Big Boy by Ruthie Knox is one of the best portrayals of single parenthood in romance that I’ve read. It’s also a magical story of two people who are playing a game of pretend that becomes real, despite their best efforts.

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Meg Maguire is also Cara McKenna, one of my favorite writers in the genre. Out of the genre. Just one of my favorites. Her Samhain books are complicated stuff. In Headstrong, I honestly wasn’t sure who the heroine would end up with for most of the book. In Trespass, the heroine does her best to steal from the hero and run away. The loner Montana vet doesn’t let her, of course, but their relationship suffers. It’s Maguire/McKenna. Trust me. You’ll love it.

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the slipstream con

I love this book! A menage story on a spaceship about a bounty hunter couple chasing a thief they want almost as much as they want to turn him in? Count. Me. In. I love all the books in the Slipstream Con series actually.

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rocky mountain freedom

Vivian Arend writes hella sexy books. I started her Rocky Mountain series with Rocky Mountain Freedom, which is, I believe, book six in the series. What can I say? My attention was grabbed by the m/m/f ménage romance in the series! But I’m working my way through the rest of the books from the first in the series, because she’s all kinds of fun to read.

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no souvenirs

I’m a big fan of snarky characters and Jae Sun and Shane really hit the right spot. I love KA MItchell’s cowboy scuba instructor and uptight trauma surgeon. Their relationship is screwed up and complicated and I’ve probably read this book a half dozen times, so that clearly works for me. Plus, they’re damn hot. And an Asian hero! Yay!

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double down

Holy dirty fighter pilots, Katie Porter! Yeah, this series is a lot of high adrenaline fun and sexytimes. It’s possible I might over-identify with the desire to bang an aviator. I’m just saying, Top Gun came out when I was fourteen. It was a game changer.

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come unto these yellow sands

So many fantastic Josh Lanyon books came from Samhain, including one of my favorite holiday novellas, The Dickens With Love. But I will forever hold a spot in my heart for Come Unto These Yellow Sands, one of the earliest m/m romances I read. It’s portrayal of someone living sober as an addict is absolutely brilliant, and the relationship between the addict professor and the small town police chief is pitch perfect.

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Phew. There. Go shopping, y’all. I know I forgot people. I’ll come back and add stuff later, no doubt, when I am awash with regret for having skipped someone I adore. But it’s 4am and I’m super tired, so this is where I’m stopping. For now…

I’m gonna shove my fabulous cover artist Kanaxa’s work in front of your face one more time too. Both she and my wonderful editor Christa Desir freelance and I highly recommend working with them. They are the bomb diggity. And super decent human beings too.

bend or break covers - 8bks

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Thanks for the love, Samhain. It’s been quite a ride.

ETA: I just realized that one of my favorite books of all time is from Samhain and I didn’t know it. JL Merrow’s Muscling Through is a Master Class in narrative voice. It’s funny and sexy and sweet, with a narrator unlike any other I’ve read. It’s wonderful. You should buy it. 🙂

muscling through take two

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DAMN, Samhain Books Are Amazing — 22 Comments

  1. Thank you for including BAD KITTY in this epic list.
    So many intriguing books I haven’t read yet because our beloved soon-to-be-former publisher had too many tempting titles for me to keep up with. Monday is going to be a helluva expensive day.

    • I know! I’m already eyeing the book budget and figuring out how much damage I’m going to do to it when I lose all control on Monday. 🙂

  2. Fantastic list, Amy Jo! I picked up a couple. I also have to sing the praises of Kaje Harper’s THE REBUILDING YEAR. That book is such a joy to read and re-read. Highly recommended!

    Best of luck to all the authors, editors and other staff affected by this. I can only imagine how difficult it is. 🙁

    • The Rebuilding Year is a wonderful book. 🙂 Another romance where I love the extended family presence. I’m fond of LGBTQ stories with blended families and children in them.

  3. I usually buy direct from publisher so I’d already given my credit card a workout at Samhain’s last sale which was also 40% off but now I’m going to buy more books on the 29th based on your recommendations. I’ve got books by about 1/4 of the authors you mentioned, including you of course 🙂 so I’ll have to make some decisions about which ones to buy, unless I want to give up food to support my book habit.

    • LOL. The constant dilemma: eat? or buy these books? There’s a reason I have a lot of rice & beans in the pantry… 😉

  4. So very sorry to see Samhain close! Very best wishes and thanks to them all. And thank you for the recommendations – a lot of them I know and love dearly but I’ll be looking at the rest tomorrow with a view to wrecking my book budget.

  5. Oh you nailed a LOT of my faves here. I own most of these and have read some of them 😉 Way more books than time unfortunately. I’m really sad about these publishers closing and I hope the authors and their books find wonderful new homes somewhere soon.

    • I have every confidence that they will. 🙂 There’s too much talent here not to find new homes or enjoy self-publishing. Either way!

  6. Wow. I am honored to be on this list–thanks Amy Jo! And I’m super honored to have been a part of a publishing family that produced such stellar, original, world-expanding, box-busting works. I’ve read many of these books multiple times. Samhain truly enriched my life. Thanks for celebrating like this–it means a lot. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Series Spotlight on Samhain Publishing! | Just Love: Romance Novel Reviews

  8. Pingback: Reading List as of February 29th: The end of Samhain | Amanda K Byrne

  9. Pingback: My Samhain Sale Picks – Cooking Up Romance

  10. Thanks for the info. A lot of new to me authors here and I didn’t know about the sale! I’ve got 40 minutes :p. Samhain has been my go to publisher for YEARS and I have no idea how I’m going to find new authors now – their coming soon page has been where I’ve found probably hundreds of my now go to autobuys. As a reader it’s heartbreaking as well. I’m in the minority of not being a Kindle person (I still have my Sony 505 with 1500 books on it) and I just hope we don’t see any more of a monopoly developing. Samhain is ending their run with class and style; and while I’d prefer to see them continue, if it’s the end, then this is the way to end it.

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