>> Saturday, January 05, 2013
2012 was a fantastic year for reading -for starters, I read some 150 books, about 30 more than in 2011! But it was great in quality, as well, and I really had to whittle down my list below, because there were plenty of candidates. I was so spoiled for choice that all the 10 books below are titles I gave A grades to, and I'm not even counting rereads!
My Romance - non-Romance ratio is now standing at about 60-40, so I'm doing 2 lists: the Romance one below, others in a few days. So, in no particular order:
Top 10 Romance Novels
1 - A Lady Awakened, by Cecilia Grant (2012)
The heroine, a recent widow, needs to urgently get pregnant, and hires a ne'er-do-well neighbour as stud. One of the freshest romances I've read in a while, very subversive in what it does with the sex and relationship, but at the same time beautifully romantic. It was so good that I will now buy anything Cecilia Grant writes.
2 - Real Men Will, by Victoria Dahl (2011)
The 3rd in a really strong trilogy, which got better with every book. The hero was the overbearing older brother who'd spent the first couple of books being all straight-laced and disapproving. Turns out a while back he'd had an amazing one-night-stand with the heroine, but giving her his brother's name. I loved this one as much for the family stuff as for the romance. BTW, another Dahl, Lead Me On, almost made the list.
3 - The Witness, by Nora Roberts (2012)
The heroine witnessed something as a teenager that has put made her a target of the Russian mafia. She's been on the run ever since, and her reclusive, prickly personality attracts the attention of the sheriff in the small town she moves into. The reason this one's such a standout for me is the ending, which is precisely what most people dislike about it. To me, it's not anticlimactic, it's refreshing for how it avoids the cliched final confrontation and does so in a way that's completely right for the characters.
4 - A Week To Be Wicked, by Tessa Dare (2012)
A bluestocking heroine, a rakish hero and a madcap dash to Scotland with a trunkful of dinosaur bones. It's a preposterous setup and the plot has no pretense of historical accuracy, but I loved this frothy, sweet, but very emotional book.
5 - Her Best Worst Mistake, by Sarah Mayberry (2012)
Violet has never liked her best friend's fiance, and the feeling was mutual. But then the best friend dumps him, and it turns out that dislike wasn't dislike after all. Loved, loved, loved this, and not just because the premise of a stuffy hero thawed out by the "wild" heroine is one I like. This had that, plus characters I loved. I also loved Mayberry's Suddenly You, which had a not-dissimilar premise (it was the hero falling in love with his friend's ex, in this case).
6 - Beguiling The Beauty, by Sherry Thomas (2012)
The hero, a powerful duke, has long been obsessed with the heroine's legendary beauty, but has the wrong idea of her character. This leads him to unwittingly humiliate her when he refers to her obliquely (but clearly to anyone who knows her) and unflatteringly in public. Which, in turn, leads to the heroine plotting revenge, the old "I'll make him fall in love with me and break his heart". Bits of these sound trite, but it's all in how it is done. The way Thomas writes this story makes it absolutely gorgeous.
7 - Riveted, by Meljean Brook (2012)
I adored the story of Annika, a young woman who's left her hidden village in Iceland to find her sister, and David, a man searching for his mother's mysterious birthplace. I don't want to say too much, just that 1) Annika and David are characters unlike any I've seen Brook write before, but just as good, and 2) There are some amazing, really cinematic scenes that left me with my mouth hanging open. Fantastic.
The next 3 are all December reads, so they're in my December summary already, and I probably don't need to say much!
8 - The Duchess War, by Courtney Milan (2012)
I especially don't need to say much about this one, as I posted the review just yesterday! Milan is firmly in my autobuy list now.
9 - Easy, by Tammara Webber (2012)
I was surprised at how much I loved this New Adult story, especially after an iffy beginning. It's got a lovely romance, but also a really strong message of female empowerment.
10 - Restraint, by Charlotte Stein (2012)
Erotic romance where the eroticism comes from the emotions involved, not the variety and kinkiness of the sex acts. Short, but very, very satisfying.