1: Babs the Barber by CodCapers This is sheer fantasy, but of a type that is easy to relate to. Take a normal, everyday situation between two people who know each other and have held back in the past and let them loose to explore their sexual attraction. There's enough character development here to make the sex plausible. The storyline is just a setup, but enough to trigger the explosion.
2: Daze in the Valley by Jay Cantrell This story has depth and a real story. The characters are multi-dimensional, realistic within their world, and interesting with their own quirks and foibles. What I especially like is that against a background of a questionable industry it shows empowered women, good sex, and men who care about their partners. This is one of the top three stories I've read on SOL.
[EDIT 2/20/12]Today Jay posted the last chapter of "Daze in the Valley." It was a great story with over 300,000 downloads and still counting. Even though it was a satisfying conclusion with only a touch of sermonizing, I know I am only one of hundreds of fans who are sad that it will not continue. What I hope, though, is that Jay will come back strong in the next year with anothe extraordinary story. Congratulations on a job well-done!
3: The Heart Believes by Invid Fan This concluding (?) work in Invid Fan's Aether series starts out with a real bang. Can't wait to see the rest!
[Edit]Not only did the work start out strong, it ended strong. There is certainly room for Invid Fan to add more stories in this series, or to jump ahead a hundred years and show us what is in store for the families of Buffalo in the future. Readers should read all of both "Love Unexpected" and "From the Aether Comes Life" series. "The Heart Believes" brings both storylines to a satisfying conclusion.
4: Opus One by Ryan Sylander This story was repeatedly recommended to me by fans of "Model Student." They said that based on my other favorites and my story that I would like it. They were wrong. I LOVE IT!
Ryan writes with sensitivity, not only for his characters, but for the music world. I find it rare that artists of any medium cross over into another (like music/writing) and rarer still to see it done so well. I am working my way through Ryan's playlist for the pieces he references in the book. For a classical music lover, and a lover of good polyamorous coming of age stories, this one tops my list.
Thank you to those who have compared "Model Student" with "Opus One." After reading it, I am humbled.
5: An Ordinary Teenage Sex Life by bluedragon bluedragon writes character-driven erotica with a strong storyline. His characters are interesting and multi-dimensional. They actually have a purpose other than sex. He's a master at setting up believable tense situations and conflicts. You care about these characters.
6: Rebecca Danced by EzzyB EzzyB is a talented author who paints rich and highly emotional scenes. It doesn't take more than a chapter to be in love with each of his characters. The story of Rebecca is enchanting and the rise of Chaos is filled with triumph and hope. The series of three novels improves with each installment. This comes with my highest recommendations.
7: Revenge of the Nerd by RPSuch When beautiful, self-centered, and oblivious Ashley is clued in to the great experience of her college's newest nerd, she finds it hard to believe. He's not rich, not beautiful, and certainly not old enough. But over the course of this story, she realizes that he brings out the best in everyone around him--including her.
I love the fact that this is not a one-sided story. Both characters, and their friends and families, have a lot of growing and maturing to do. It is not only their strengths that set them apart, but also their vulnerabilities.