Hi friends! I … well, I had played with posting this in early January, but then life was OMGWTF. And then I wanted to post it at the end of January. Because that’s what somehow made sense to me. So here we are. Anyway, I’m going with the post date and sticking to it!
This is a “tradition” I started way back in 2009. When everyone else was posting their “best books of the previous year” lists… I wanted to do something different. So I did. Now, we see more such lists as this one. I’m going to take credit. Because I can. And I’m feeling grouchy. [No seriously though – when I googled it in 2009 and wrote my first one I found not a thing. So you’re welcome, okay?!]
It’s also a bit flawed because some books, there simply is no information out there, other than the title and author, and I’m not willing to make it a top 10 want/recommended book based only on that. Um, this system works, you know, cuz it’s a bit quirky, a bit flawed, and yet exciting. Like me! >.> … yeah.
This year… I’m also making a tentative pledge to not only read but also review all ten books on this list. You’ll notice then there are no extras. Because… I want to set a goal I can actually accomplish. And now you guys can keep me accountable. (I’m already starting to think I might’ve made a mistake…)
Listed in nothing but chronological order… the books!
1. My Wicked Little Lies by Victoria Alexander
Evelyn Hadley-Attwater has it all—a genteel Victoria life replete with loving husband, ball gowns and elegant parties. No one, including the man she married, suspects that she was once “Eve”, a spy for England’s most enigmatic intelligence agency. Summoned for one final assignment, the excitement of her former life and memories of her mysterious, flirtatious boss “Sir” prove too tempting . . .
Adrian Hadley Attwater is a respectable, dignified gentleman. But even the most proper gentlemen have secrets of their own. Secrets from the rest of the world, from their families, from their wives. Secrets that have a price. Now, as the veil of secrecy frays, a tantalizing game of cat and mouse will test the bounds of unfailing love . . .
What really won me over was the book excerpt. I also bought the book. Especially because the kindle cost wasn’t the same as the print!
2. Secrets of an Accidental Duchess by Jennifer Haymore
With her pale hair and slim figure, Olivia Donovan looks as fragile as fine china, and has been treated as such by her sisters ever since a childhood bout with malaria. But beneath her delicate facade, Olivia guards a bold, independent spirit and the kind of passionate desires proper young ladies must never confess…
It was a reckless wager, and one Max couldn’t resist: seduce the alluring Olivia or forfeit part of his fortune. Yet the wild, soon-to-be Duke never imagined he’d fall in love with this innocent beauty. Nor could he have guessed that a dangerously unpredictable rival would set out to destroy them both. Now, Max must beat a Madman at his own twisted game-or forever lose the only woman to have ever won his heart.
I mean… a duchess! And then how Olivia “surprises” them all and… yeah. Much want. I mean, read the excerpt. I dare you to finish it and not have some sort of “!!!” reaction. Mine was “Oh. My. God!” and a giggle. <3
3. Taking a Shot by Jaci Burton
If you want to score, you have to get in the game…
The last thing Jenna Riley needs is more sports in her life. While her brothers are off being athletic superstars, she’s stuck running the family’s sports bar, whether she likes it or not. Then in walks pro hockey stud Tyler Anderson. As much as Jenna would like to go to the boards with him, she’s vowed to never fall for a jock—even one as hot as Ty.
Ty, intrigued by the beautiful bar owner, becomes a regular. He senses that Jenna wants to do something more with her life. And as he gains her trust, the passion between them grows, as does Ty’s insistence that Jenna should start living for herself. With his encouragement, Jenna starts to believe it, too…
But first, Jenna has to figure out what she wants, what she needs, who she loves, and if she has the passion and pride to take a shot at having it all—including Ty…
You can also read an excerpt here. Which is what won me over over the football book. You have to love a hero who just is a good guy, right? Especially when he’s a sports star. I don’t know why we give famous people so much more leeway (we can discuss that later) – but it’s still refreshing, especially in romances – to see them as “the good guy.”
4. Taming an Impossible Rogue by Suzanne Enoch
One year ago, Lady Camille Pryce left her haughty fiancé at the altar—for good reason. Not only was the marriage arranged before she could even walk, her betrothed was too smug to exert himself to meet her! Now, disowned, with no husband or family to support her, she’s left with one option: go to work in the notorious Tantalus Club…
A gentleman’s gaming house run by a woman, the Tantalus is no place for a proper lady; so, to save face, her jilted fiancé must retrieve her. But banned from the club, he’s forced to employ his ne’er-do-well cousin instead. A handsome, experienced rogue, Keating Blackwood is the perfect man to lure Camille away. But the moment they meet, Keating instead wants to save her…for himself. Impossible? Perhaps. But if Camille can make the ultimate player lay his cards on the table—and risk his heart—all bets are off…
It’s just… we all have read the “bad boy” hero, yes? And even sometimes the “bad girl” heroine – but here, she appears to be something of a bad girl, yet… not. I like that interesting premise. And you know, it’s always nice to see a rake brought to his knees through love. I also enjoyed how the guys talked to each other based on what I read.
5. No Longer a Gentleman by Mary Jo Putney
Grey Sommers, Lord Wyndham, never met a predicament he couldn’t charm his way out of. Then a tryst with a government official’s wife during a bit of casual espionage in France condemns him a decade in a dungeon, leaving him a shadow of his former self. Yet his greatest challenge may be the enigmatic spy sent to free his body—the only woman who might heal his soul.
Half English and half French, Cassie Fox lost everything in the chaos of revolution, leaving only a determination to help destroy Napoleon’s empire through her perilous calling. Rescuing Grey is merely one more mission. She hadn’t counted on a man with the stark beauty of a ravaged angel, whose desperate courage and vulnerability touch her frozen heart as no one ever has. With Grey, she can become the passionate woman she has long denied. But a spy and a lord are divided by an impassable gulf even if they manage to survive one last, terrifying mission….
I found this excerpt here, and it’s nice to see even damaged, the hero is still kind. Even in the beginning. Not to mention the fascinating premise! For me it was a pdf that opened in my browser, just an fyi.
6. Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione
They are here. They ride. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Thanatos, the most deadly Horseman of the Apocalypse, has endured thousands of years of celibacy to prevent the end of days. But just one night with the wickedly sexy Aegis Guardian, Regan Cooper, shatters centuries of resolve. Yet their passion comes with a price. And Thanatos must face a truth more terrifying than an apocalypse-he’s about to become a father.
Demon-slayer Regan Cooper never imagined herself the maternal type, but with the fate of the world hanging in the balance she had no choice but to seduce Thanatos and bear his child. Now, as the final battle draws closer and his rage at being betrayed is overshadowed by an undeniable passion for the mother of his child, Thanatos has a life-shattering realization: To save the world, he must sacrifice the only thing he’s ever wanted-a family.
The blurb, the start of the excerpt, I mean this isn’t even normally my thing. But come on here. And even the cover! I guess it appeals to my teenage self, because you know it’ll be Angsty McAngst-town. And sometimes? You just want a little of that. In fiction.
7. Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt
A MASKED MAN . . .
Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he’s the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles—protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.
A DANGEROUS WOMAN . . .
Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she’s asked to tutor the Home’s dour manager in the ways of society—flirtation, double entendres, and scandalous liaisons—Isabel can’t help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar—and his lips so tempting.
A PASSION NEITHER COULD DENY
During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed . . . But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything—the Home, Isabel . . . and his life.
I mean even the blurb just makes you [or at least me!] think “scandalous!” in a good way, of course. And I like how things just jump right in at the beginning. Always nice to find a half dead man on your doorstep… right?!
8. Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas
Millicent understands the terms of her arranged marriage all too well. She gets to be a Countess by marrying an impoverished Earl. And in return, the Earl
Fitzhugh receives the benefit of her vast wealth, saving his family from bankruptcy. Because of her youth, they have agreed to wait eight years before consummating the marriage—and then, only to beget an heir. After which, they will lead separate lives.
It is a most sensible arrangement. Except for one little thing. Somehow Millie has fallen head over heels in love with her husband. Her husband, who has become her very best friend, but nothing more… Her husband, who plans to reunite with his childhood sweetheart, the beautiful and newly widowed Isabelle, as soon as he has honored the pact with his wife…
As the hour they truly become husband-and-wife draws near, both Millie and Fitzhugh must face the truth in their hearts. Has their pact bred only a great friendship—or has it, without either of them quite noticing, given rise to a great love?
This one was hard. Like. Really
. I was so torn between this and Beguiling the Beauty
but… the premise of this one intrigued me more. Just watch me love the non-listed one more. It happened last year… But the whole “love at first sight
” line at the beginning gets me. When they’re kids it’s just so aaaaawwwweeeee. In books.
9. Tart by Lauren Dane
Juliet Lamprey is having the time of her life running her successful bakery, TART, when Gideon Carter comes back into her life. Returning home to help his grandfather run the family on the farm, Gideon is back for good. When they meet again, the spark between them is immediate, and it isn’t long before the former childhood friends play catch up in bed.
That’s not good news for local lawyer Cal Whaley. Though the sexually open but strictly monogamous Cal has loved Jules for a long time, he’s hardly ever taken it further than friendship. When he sees her start to fall for Gideon, he knows he has to make his move or risk losing her forever.
Who would have anticipated that all three of them would connect on such an intimate level? The trio’s scalding liaisons take them places they’ve never dreamed. But such an intensely passionate and unusual relationship comes with equally as complicated emotions, and when Jules must suddenly leave town, she wonders if she’ll have a choice to make when she returns
Every so often, you just want a spicier book. I’ve enjoyed Lauren Dane’s contemporary novels, and she writes ménages so very well. Also, hello! Bakery. Also, Cal! Love it! Want! There’s no excerpt yet… but I’m [pretty sure] Ms. Dane has been tweeting random lines from it. And… yeah. That’s enough for me. Also, I’m not going to link where the excerpt will go because it’s this weird pop-up-ey type and it like kills the website. Yeah I don’t know.
10. Exposed to You by Bethany Kane
HOLD UP. I know, you’re all thinking “Lime! That cover isn’t Exposed to You … that’s Addicted to You! Your citrus brain has… fermented!” Well, no, it hasn’t actually. That’s a place holder, because Exposed to You isn’t even up on Amazon yet. There’s no cover of course. (For the previous two I had to snatch and grab from author websites, so … thank you, Picasa!)
It’s not often you’re hired to paint a body tattoo—and what a body—on a total stranger at a Hollywood film set. A reserved and careful art teacher, Joy would never forget it. In a rare fit of raw desire she gave herself completely, knowing she’d never see him again, or ever repeat such a shameless, naked impulse.
Little did she know, the man with whom she shared that lightning bolt of lust was star Everett Hughes. For Everett, women and sex came as easily as fame. But how could he hope to convince the guarded Joy that beneath the hard body and sexy façade of celebrity was a real man who wanted only one, real woman?
In the heat of an intoxicating affair, Everett endeavors to break down her barriers, gain her trust, and expose himself as the real deal. But can Joy do the same, and reveal to him the vulnerable woman who longs to be loved, wanted, and desired forever?
I loved Addicted to You. And guess what? It’s only six dollars right now. I also loved Everett. And/so, if his book is anything like Rill and Katie’s? Yeah. I know it’ll be on my “favorites of the year” list.
There was a short list of about 16 books… with Sophia Nash, Manda Collins, Vicky Dreiling, Samantha Grace, Sarah MacLean, Jill Shalvis, Lisa Klyepas, Eloisa James and you know, others. Some didn’t make the list because they didn’t have book information up, so I couldn’t in good conscience put up a book I didn’t know enough about. Those authors I didn’t mention. Because, well, I’m not trying to call anyone out here.
There was a longer list of books to consider – about 30 or 40 of them. And… the way I did this? I did an advanced search at amazon looking at each month’s romance listings for 2012. I scrolled through about 5,000 titles. Yeah – that’s dedication. I also found some eye-bleachingly traumatic titles and covers, that in no way belonged in romance. I suffered for you.
So – what’s not here that is on your list? Generally I do an “honorable mentions” and all, but gotta keep it strictly to ten so I can reach my goal. 🙂