Look out for Sugarbeat’s Books new Top 10 Romance Novels of 2012 . . . Coming Soon!
Today, it’s a special treat to introduce to A Writer’s Life Blog, my good friend Barb Drozdowich, aka Sugarbeat. Her thoughts on the books she reads can be found at Sugarbeat’s Books. In her spare time, Barb helps steer clients through the WordPress maze at Bakerview Consulting; Barb calls herself a Student of WordPress, when, in all modesty, she is much more than that, solving WordPress problems for clients with aplomb. When Barb isn’t reading, she is raising her family, creating blogs and teaching WordPress. I know I’m going to get a lashing for even suggesting that Barb has any spare time. Barb loves the romance novel genre, and over fifty percent of all people who read, love these tales as well. I read all genres myself, but I wanted to pick Barb’s extensive knowledge of all things Romance and gather up a new list of the best romance novels of last year. She outdid herself. Please enjoy reading Barb’s Guest Post, and the books she highly recommends.
I love writing about Romance books almost as much as I love reading them, and when Justin Bog asked me about what novels in the genre kept reappearing in my memory, the best of the best, I accepted his challenge to write about my current top ten favorite romance novels. Because this past year has been a stellar year for outstanding books, narrowing my list to only ten books was a difficult task. I have been blessed to read one gem after another. I hope you enjoy my choices and find a few new books to read.
The Virtuoso by Grace Burrowes is the 4th book in her Windham series, a Regency series about a ducal family. Although I have enjoyed all of of the books in this series, The Virtuoso stands out to me. It is about Valentine, the youngest brother who has identified himself in this large family by his virtuoso musical abilities. The story starts with Valentine being told that he will possibly never play the piano again. He then needs to redefine himself. This process combined with Ms. Burrowes’ beautiful writing had me in tears, repeatedly. Wonderful story.
Midnight’s Wild Passion by Anna Campbell is the second book I have read by this author this year. I was so impressed by the first book, My Reckless Surrender, that I went searching for anything else she had written before I had finished the first. Midnight’s Wild Passion is the story of the Marquess of Ranelaw, an experienced rake bent on revenge and Antonia Smith, a woman who’s life was changed forever by a rake. Ranelaw is determined to punish Godfrey Demarest for ruining his sister by ruining Demarest’s daughter. He is not prepared for the companion, Antonia, who is determined to protect her charge from his attentions, even if she can’t herself resist him. Although this story is rather dark at times, it is a study in outstanding character development and a compelling love story.
On this list, I recommend two books by debut authors. Ripe for Pleasure is the first book in Isobel Carr’s series about a secret society of second sons. This book landed in my mailbox and right from the beginning it called to me. What an outstanding start to what promises to be a gripping series.
The second book by a debut author is Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid by Maureen Driscoll. Maureen and I found one another through Barnes & Noble’s Pubit event. Maureen created a heroine so captivating she had me cheering as I read. The heroine is strong and principled, standing up for what she believes in even when it results in her ostracism. This story has an HEA (which in romance circles is the acronym for Happily Ever After) that has to be worked for, but left me so impressed that I immediately started on Ms. Driscoll’s second book. Certainly a must read.
Of all the books I read this past year, only one paranormal romance made my top 10. Chosen by Blood is the first book in Virna DePaul’s latest series. It is complicated and a detail-filled story that cannot be read lightly. Regardless of how exciting the story was, if I read at too great a clip, I would overlook too many important details. I found myself going back to re-read. Excellent characters, an engrossing storyline, a hard fought for HEA, and a surprise ending has me anxious for the next book in the series. Chosen by Blood is a must read.
Shana Galen is an author that I discovered this year as well. After catching up, I have now read several of her books since the first one early in the year. My most recent read, The Rogue Pirate’s Bride is a swashbuckling pirate adventure. This story starts with our heroine dressed like a man, challenging a pirate to a sword fight to the death . Gotta love a woman who packs a sword! I’m a fan of pirate stories from way back, but this book has to be the best pirate story that I’ve read in years. It rollicks along and is impossible to put down till done.
Two of my choices are by well-seasoned authors, ladies who have created many a wonderful book during their careers. Sabrina Jeffries has now finished up her latest series, The Hellions of Halstead Hall, with A Lady Never Surrenders. Not only did this book serve as a fitting end to an outstanding series, but it featured another strong woman who wasn’t afraid to be one of “the boys” hanging around with her brother’s friends; it soon became apparent to all that she was more than capable of outshooting all of them.
The Sins of the Highlander by Connie Mason, with Mia Marlowe, is a Highlander story without match. It has everything that a reader needs – a brawny man in a kilt with a mesmerizing accent who carries a broadsword, and a capable, tough, yet beautiful Scottish lass who has “the sight” — along with a few villains thrown in for good measure. This is the first book I have read by Connie Mason in some years and I loved it.
My collection of top 10 romances is rounded out by books that I waited and waited for and then read through the night. Eleven Scandals to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean took a long time finding its way to publication. I eagerly anticipated this book because it featured yet another unusual heroine. Juliana Fiori is part English, but raised Italian. She is determined to ruffle the feathers of a duke, by challenging him to bring passion into his life. This book will have the reader laughing and crying. The characters of Juliana and her Duke are a delight.
My tenth and final choice is Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn. I must admit to a bias where Ms. Quinn is concerned. She has yet to write a book that I don’t find absolutely perfect. I had the honor of meeting Ms. Quinn at the bookfair at the Emerald City RWA conference last October. Excited is too calm a word to use to describe how I felt; I don’t even think I was coherent. I managed to walk away from the occasion with a signed copy of Just Like Heaven. I loved this book. It is a slight turn from the Bridgerton series I have enjoyed. For those Bridgerton fans out there, the heroine is a performer in those horrible musical concerts that are regularly featured in the Bridgerton books. It is poignant at times and funny throughout. Yet another gem by Ms Quinn.
Thank you Barb, for sharing your extensive knowledge and your love of great books. I hope others enjoy your recommendations as much as I do.
Best to all,
Justin, Zippy, Kipling, Eartha Kitt’n, and Ajax The Gray
If you would like to see Barb’s blogs, hit the underlined links above in the first paragraph. Please Follow Barb on Twitter @sugarbeatbc.
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My new eBook will be published on Wednesday at Amazon. This is the big news in my neck of the woods. More to come, but here’s the book cover: