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We'd like to take this opportunity to toast our fabulous monthly contributors, Anna Campbell and Trish Milburn. Here's to you, ladies! *raising our glasses* Thank you for your continuing support of and enthusiasm for The Romance Dish! A special thank you to reviewer extraordinaire, Janga! You have our heartfelt appreciation for sharing your comprehensive and insightful reviews with the Dish readers.
And that brings us to our most important thank you. That, dear readers, is reserved for you. Without you, there would be no TRD so thank you for making this a regular stop on your daily internet journey!
Since we're winding down another year here at The Romance Dish at the same time that we're winding down another year of fantastic romances, we thought it would be fun to talk about our favorite books that we've read so far in 2012. Andrea and I will go first.
Andrea here! So, in the past year, we’ve read a lot of great romances and I’d like to dish about a few of my favorites that I’ve read in the last twelve months. Note: some were released in the past year and some are past releases that I was finally able to read in this last year.
What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long (March 2011)
I read this one right after our second anniversary celebration (I know, I’m behind). It was my first book by Julie Anne Long and it blew me away. Wow. Her writing is engaging and her dialogue is witty and sharp. The characters are real and endearing, especially Alex and Genevieve. I loved them! It’s a revenge story that totally worked for me in every way. If you haven’t read this one, or if you haven’t read Julie Anne Long, you simply must! She is an amazing historical author.
After years and years of people recommending this historical romance to me (especially Janga, whom I give a ton of thanks), I finally made time to read it this year. Like JAL’s, I was blown away! No wonder everyone raves about it and it tops so many people’s lists of all-time favorite romances! It is, in a nutshell, a fantastic historical romance. The way Jess handles Dain is nothing short of awesomeness. When someone mentioned that she shoots him, I found myself anxiously anticipating it and the scene did not disappoint. The attraction between Jess and Dain was instantaneous and extremely palpable.
A Girl Like You by Maria Geraci (August 2012)
I reviewed this one in August and will repeat—I loved this book! Again, it is not your typical romance (there are four possible heroes), but Emma’s journey to find her hero was thoroughly entertaining. Maria Geraci’s writing is sharp and I was glued to the pages. It is fun, sexy, and I was thrilled with who Emma ended up with. This book surprised me with how delightful it is and I recommend it to all.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (March 2012)
I reviewed this one with high praise and Top Dish status back in March. I loved it! This series is a mix of the Hangover and Regency England and this first installment is just as hilarious as you can imagine. And I love humor in my romance. This book is lighthearted and sexy and it was so much fun watching Alex and Roxanne torment Roxanne’s worthless husband and see him get what he deserved. Add in a colorful mix of secondary characters and you’ve got a recipe for a wonderful historical romance!
Scandalous Desires (November 2011) and Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt (July 2012)
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my love of Elizabeth Hoyt and her Maiden Lane series as amongst my favorites of the past year. It is easily one of the best-written and emotionally satisfying historical romance series out there. “Charming” Mickey and Silence (Scandalous Desires) have a rocky start that centers around his daughter, Mary, but it’s Silence’s love for that little girl and her sweet spirit that melts Mickey’s black heart. Winter and Isabel’s story (Thief of Shadows) has a different backdrop with a few surprising twists that completely satisfied this reader. If you haven’t read Elizabeth Hoyt, you should!
The Last Renegade by Jo Goodman (September 2012)
PJ here! I've read some wonderful books this year. Coming up with six favorites was no problem at all. Paring my list down to only six was considerably more difficult! Here are my choices, in no particular order.
Barefoot in the Rain by Roxanne St. Claire (October 2012)
I fell in love with Roxanne St. Claire's sizzling romantic suspense stories and lamented her move to women's fiction but, after reading Barefoot in the Rain, my immediate thoughts were, "Brava, Ms. St. Claire!" and "I can't wait to see what you bring us next!" Every so often, a book comes along that is more than the sum of its parts. This is such a book. St. Claire has created a beautifully complex story of second chances, of love in many guises - between a man and woman, within the tight bonds of friendship among four college roommates, within a family torn asunder by violence, in the creation of a most unlikely "family" between former enemies - and of forgiveness, sometimes the most profound, and most difficult, gift a person can bestow. Richly populated with vividly drawn characters and deeply emotional circumstances, this is a story that haunts me still, several weeks after reading it.
How to Romance a Rake by Manda Collins (July 2012)
A new author with a bright future, Manda Collins cemented a place for herself on my auto-buy list with her second published novel, How to Romance a Rake. I adore authors who aren't afraid to take risks and Collins does so brilliantly by matching a physically disabled heroine who's a wallflower with an exquisitely handsome darling of the ton. An unlikely match to be sure but one of my favorites of the year. With flawless writing, Collins blends humor, mystery, heartache and passion into a book that grabbed my heart from the start and holds it still. If you aren't reading her yet, you should be.
Paris in Love by Eloisa James (April 2012)
While not a romance in the traditional sense, this book - a memoir penned by historical romance author Eloisa James - has romance in its soul. It's the story of the year James and her husband sold their house, took sabbaticals from their university teaching jobs and, along with their two children, moved to an apartment in Paris, France. It's a glorious series of verbal snapshots of one family's year-long moment out of time and while it doesn't lecture or preach, it does leave the reader with many lessons learned. A few I've taken from my three readings (so far) of Paris in Love: to savor each day we're blessed to experience, to not fear new adventures, whether they be trying a new recipe, learning a new language or moving to a foreign country, to tell the people in our lives what they mean to us for we never know how long they will be with us, to laugh, to smile, to bring joy to every new day and every new experience. Christmas is right around the corner. If you haven't read this book yet, put it on your Christmas list or, better yet, do yourself a favor and buy a copy for yourself!
A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare (April 2012)
I'm quoting myself here but this excerpt from my review of Tessa Dare's debut book, Goddess of the Hunt and the second excerpt, from my review of A Week to Be Wicked, describe my feelings about Dare's writing in general and, specifically, in A Week to Be Wicked better than any other words I could write.
Every year there seems to be one debut author who bursts upon the scene and absolutely knocks my socks off with her superb writing skill. This year, that author is Tessa Dare. In her debut book, Goddess of the Hunt, Dare showcases her command of the English language with exquisite prose that sings across the pages with a lyrical quality that is a joy to read. Her characters are so vividly drawn that they practically leap from the pages and her story unerringly hits all the right notes.
That one paragraph could apply to every book that Tessa Dare has written but none more so than A Week to Be Wicked. In Colin and Minerva's book, not only does Ms. Dare hit all the right notes, she creates new ones. In a story that flows like fine wine, she brings us two characters that light up the pages with humor, passion and a romance that had my heart singing with joy. They made me laugh, made me sigh, brought me to tears and continue to draw me back to them weeks after first reading their story. Every book Tessa Dare has written sits on my keeper shelf. I love them all but none has touched me as deeply as this one.
I highly recommend every book that Tessa Dare has written but none more so than A Week to Be Wicked. With every book she writes, this talented author takes Regency romance to new, and exhilarating, heights; every word pure pleasure.
Betrayal: A Bella Terra Deception Novel by Christina Dodd (April 2012)
The final book in a stunning romantic suspense trilogy set in the California Wine Country, Dodd cranks up the tension and the sizzle in this heart-stopping third story about the powerful Di Luca brothers and the dangerous mystery that puts their business, their lives and the lives of those they love at risk. Christina Dodd is one of my favorite authors and I happily follow her from historical to romantic suspense to paranormal and back again. I can always count on her to create multi-dimensional characters who snag my interest then place them in situations that engage my emotions. I care about her characters and, in the Bella Terra novels, she gave me an entire family to care about. From the first page of the first book to the final page of Betrayal, I savored each word like the finest wine from the Di Luca vineyards. This one went straight to my keeper shelf, along with its sister books, Secrets of Bella Terra and Revenge at Bella Terra.
I'm a long-time fan of Julie Anne Long's books. I've read and enjoyed everything she's published. Her Pennyroyal Green books, however, hold a special place in my reader's heart and as much as I loved What I Did For a Duke and Perils of Pleasure, I do believe A Notorious Countess Confesses just may be my all-time favorite JAL book. And that's saying something! This beautifully poignant story of Adam Sylvaine, a country vicar and Evie Duggan, a widowed countess with a wicked past captured my heart and is the reason I'm typing my portion of this blog at 2am instead of 9pm when I had planned to do it. Adam is one of my favorite heroes of this year; perhaps in my top 10 heroes of all time. And Evie - well, she just about broke my heart. Their's is a story not to be missed. It's part of a series but you don't have to have read the previous books to get the full measure of enjoyment from Adam and Evie's story. But, once you finish A Notorious Countess Confesses, I bet you'll want to!
Okay, those are my top six (today) but I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention a few more that left a lasting impression on me. Honorable mention goes to...
Sins of a Virgin by Anna Randol
Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed by Anna Campbell
Colorado Dawn by Kaki Warner
Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas
Wilder: The Chosen Ones by Christina Dodd
What are some of your favorite books from the past year? Did you discover any favorite new authors? Did any of our books make your list?
Are we bringing you the reviews and guest authors you'd like to see? Feel free to let us know how we're doing and what you'd like to see at The Romance Dish during the coming year!
Now for the fun stuff! Because it's our anniversary and we love giving away prizes, here are the goodies for today:
U.S. Addresses - A box of books to three randomly chosen people leaving a comment on today's blog. (Please put US at the end of your comment)
International Addresses - Three randomly chosen people will each receive a book from The Book Depository! (Please put I at the end of your comment)