If any of you read my review of BLACK SHEEP and ARABELLA by Georgette Heyer last month, you'll know that I'm hanging up my ballet slippers here on Christmas Eve and going off to seek new pastures!
Before I go, I want to do a round-up of some favorites that I've reviewed over the last five years - although basically anything I've talked about here, I've loved. That was part of the column's raison d'etre.
I thought I'd start with some mystery/romance combos. This genre has become my reading of choice over the last few years, partly because of recommendations from readers here. Thank you!
The first is the Amelia Peabody series from the late, great Elizabeth Peters. I've been eking out this wonderful series for the last few years - I've got three to go.
Next I'd like to mention the charming Daisy Dalrymple mysteries by Carola Dunn. These are set in the 1920s and they're absolutely delightful. You'll so enjoy the impetuous Daisy's adventures and especially her romance with police Inspector Alec Fletcher.
Julia Spencer-Fleming's fabulous Claire Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne mysteries through this site, so thank you, thank you, thank you. I think they're just extraordinary. Romantic and suspenseful and atmospheric and beautifully written, I can't recommend these books featuring a vicar and the local police chief of a small town in upstate New York highly enough. Start with IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER, and I bet you're ordering the rest straightaway! I've recommended these to friends high and low and everybody turns into a convert!
Nora Roberts kick lately. I particularly like her stand-alone romantic suspense books and of those, my favorite is THE WITNESS. This features a geeky and very appealing heroine who witnesses a Russian mafia murder as a teenager and spends the rest of her life trying to stay alive. What happens when she falls in love, much against her better instincts, with the local police chief of the town she's chosen as her latest bolthole? If she stays, she risks discovery. If she leaves, she'll break her heart. Wonderful characters and writing and a nail-biting situation. NORTHERN LIGHTS was another favorite!
The first is A WEDDING AT LEOPARD TREE LODGE by Liz Fielding. Liz Fielding is an absolutely exquisite writer whose books always make me laugh and cry and then sigh with joy at the end. A WEDDING AT LEOPARD TREE LODGE is about finding love where you least expect it and gathering the courage to risk everything to gain happiness. Highly recommended.
My final category recommendation is Sarah Morgan's RITA-Award winning DOUKAKIS'S APPRENTICE. This one's such fun. It takes the tried and true Harlequin premise of the heroine falling in love with the guy who makes a hostile takeover of her father's ailing business, and then turns it on its head. Full of surprises and laughs and lovely emotion. All of Sarah's books are good, but this one really lingers in my memory as a classic.
The first one is among my all time faves ever - Loretta Chase's MR. IMPOSSIBLE. People regularly pick her wonderful LORD OF SCOUNDRELS (also reviewed on this site) as one of the best romances ever written, but for me, there's just a tad extra goodness in MR. IMPOSSIBLE. It's funny, it's sweet, it's steamy, it's clever, and I lay good money that you'll fall in love with Rupert Carsington, the hero.
Liz Carlyle who I think would currently be my favorite historical writer. Picking a book of hers to recommend was really difficult, so I thought I'd go with the first one of hers I read, the one that started the addiction. THE DEVIL TO PAY is another book full of unexpected takes on a tried and true formula, a feisty heroine making a rake account for his myriad sins. One of the many things I love about Liz's books is that they create such a rich world. It's wonderful revisitng characters from earlier stories and seeing how the various strands of the series plots intersect and enrich the current book.And don't you love that cover?
Laura Kinsale's immortal FLOWERS FROM THE STORM. This is unlike any other book I've ever read and its intensity is amazing. Absolutely unforgettable! If anyone ever tries to tell you that romance is trivial and brainless, steer them in the direction of this book. Actually, don't - it's too good for the naysayers! It's a story of redemption and risk and forbidden love triumphing against impossible odds. A masterpiece.
So that's my top 10 of the books I've reviewed here on The Romance Dish. All are VERY highly recommended.
So what would your top 10 romance novels be? I'd love to see your lists!
Thanks for the recommendations! I'm always looking for new authors I haven't read before. Picking a top ten is hard! I love so many books it's hard to narrow down but I'll do my best. :DReplyDelete
In no particular order:
Blue-eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas (heart-wrenching with a difficult theme)
A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole
The Wild Child by Mary Jo Putney (different and emotional and wonderful)
Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell (so many fabulous reads!)
The Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer ( These Old Shades is about the hero's mother and father, great too!)
The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue by Barbara Samuel / Barbara O'Neal (Love all her books!)
Dark Fire by Christine Feehan (Great series especially the early ones)
Naked in Death by JD Robb (series - must reads for me)
Sarah's Child by Linda Howard (Love her books!)
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (special place in my heart)
The Search by Nora Roberts (The Collector is good too)
Whoops that's 11 and I could go on and on. ;) There is an excellent time travel series by Janet Chapman with sexy Scots. I love many of Nora Roberts Trilogies especially Three Sister's Island and the ones set in Ireland like Born in Fire, Born in Ice, Born in Shame, and the current series - I haven't had a chance to read the last one yet, it's newly released. And I love Gena Showalter's Lord of the Underworld series - so good! Okay, I'll stop now. :D
Oh, oh, how could I forget Suzanne Brockmann's Navy Seals?!Delete
Ha, Laurie! That was pretty much the dificulty I had - keeping it to 10 was really tough (although I cheated and included some series, you'll notice). What a great list. Love Barbara Samuel - wonder how she missed out on being on my list. And how lovely you've got Courtesan there. Thank you so much. And thank you for being such a lovely regular as a commenter on my blogs here. Lovely to catch up so often!Delete
Great list, Laurie! There are a few on there I need to add to my buy list. I adore Janet Chapman's Highlanders in Maine! Love every single one of them. <3Delete
PJ, Janet Chapman is new to me. I must check her out. I'm always happy to reads about a sexy Highlander!Delete
Hi PJ, Andrea and of course, Anna!ReplyDelete
Wow, Anna, I'm so much in awe of your ability to pick a top ten. I don't think I could do it! Will have to add some of those to my groaning TBR pile! So sorry to see you're leaving the Dish. It's been a lovely experience to work with these wonderful women, I'm sure.
Christina, PJ and Andrea (and Buffie and Gannon in the old days too) have been wonderful to work with. Ha, I'm already thinking of books I SHOULD have included. The problem is I'd then have to knock something else off the list. Oh, decisions, decisions.Delete
I don't know how she did it either, Christina. I sure couldn't choose a Top 10!Delete
We're sorry to say good-bye too but it sure has been a terrific five years!
PJ, it's been a privilege being part of this wonderful blog.Delete
That's tough. LOL. Here are more than 10: (Me too in no particular order)ReplyDelete
Linda Howard - Sarah's Child
Barbara Delinsky - Three Wishes
Robyn Carr - A Summer in Sonoma
LaVyrle Spencer - Twice Loved
SEP - Kiss An Angel
SEP - Nobody's Baby But Mine
Debbie Macomber - A Bend in the Road
Dallas Schulze - Tessa's Child
Lorraine Heath - Parting Gifts
Susan Mallery - Tempting
Toni Blake - The Red Diary
Julia London - A Summer of Two Wishes
Louisa Edwards - Hot Under Pressure - This is the finale of the series and Louisa perfectly captures the essence of the hero and heroine in the menus they prepare for the cooking contest
Julie Garwood - Mercy
More new books to investigate! :)Delete
Pat, oh, no, how could I have left out SEP? She's one of my all-time favorites and I've reviewed her a couple of times here. My faves of hers include First Lady and Match Me If You Can. Actually and now I realize I left out WELCOME TO TEMPTATION by Jenny Crusie. I think my list might be different if I did it today.Delete
I cannot leave off: Marie Force - I Want to Hold Your Hand - Homie is really the star of the book.ReplyDelete
Ha, Pat, we're all having trouble sticking to 10!Delete
I checked my submission for the last All About Romance survey of top 100 romance books, in 2013. Below is my top 10 list. I know many people argue about Gone With the Wind--whether it's a romance or not. Nevertheless, my list, my opinion! If I was creating the list today, I would probably switch my Sherry Thomas choice and include this year's My Beautiful Enemy in place of Ravishing the Heiress. (That's my favorite book of this year.) I enjoyed your post--and your many columns for The Romance Dish.ReplyDelete
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase
Flowers from the Storm, Laura Kinsale
When He Was Wicked, Julia Quinn
Cry No More, Linda Howard
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, Jennifer Ashley
Smooth Talking Stranger, Lisa Kleypas
What I Did for a Duke, Julie Anne Long
Ravishing the Heiress, Sherry Thomas
The Duke and I, Julia Quinn
LSUR, I should have included Cry No More. It's one of my all-time favorite books and I've reviewed it on the Dishes. I think it's a good thing I relied on my (unreliable) memory for my top 10. If I'd checked all my reviews, there's no way I could have stuck to 10. By the way, I agree with you about GWTW being a romance - it's just not a romance that ends happily!Delete
The Duke and I was my first JQ book. Love, love, love!Delete
I struggle each time I cast my ballot for AAR’s all-time top 100 romance novels, so choosing a top-ten is nearly impossible. I was able to do it for my blog in August 2013 only because I decided the list would be post-Heyer. That allowed me to cut Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice and Georgette Heyer’s Frederica, The Grand Sophy, Venetia, and The Unknown Ajax. I also stuck to straight-forward romance and cut women’s fiction titles such as Barbara Samuel’s No Place Like Home and Emilie Richards’s Prospect Street. After all that narrowing, I still would have found it easier to do a top 25, but I did choose a top ten.ReplyDelete
1. Pleasure for Pleasure (2006), Eloisa James
2. Lord of Scoundrels (1995), Loretta Chase
3. Till the Stars Fall (1994), Kathleen Gilles Seidel
4. Gallant Waif (1999), Anne Gracie
5. In the Midnight Rain (2000), Ruth Wind
6. Reforming Lord Ragsdale (1995), Carla Kelly
7. Simply Love (2007), Mary Balogh
8. Shattered Rainbows (1996), Mary Jo Putney
9. A Notorious Countess Confesses (2012), Julie Anne Long
10. Sea Swept ( 1998), Nora Roberts
That was over a year ago, and if I were making a list today, it would have to be longer because I could never omit favorites published in the past 15 months. And I’d have to do a separate list for mysteries, which Margaret Maron and Julia Spencer-Fleming would lead.
Janga, I should have included IN THE MIDNIGHT RAIN. That's a book I just love to death and I often use it in workshops as an example of beautiful writing. By the way, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the wonderful recommendations you've given me over my time at the Romance Dish. I know we have similar tastes in reading - while being different enough to make it interesting - so I've given so many things you've mentioned a go and rarely been disappointed.Delete
Janga is my "go to" person for new author/book recommendations!Delete
What I love is that our tastes coincide, PJ. She's never recommended something I haven't enjoyed.Delete
I love categories too. I will miss your posts here.ReplyDelete
1. Blackmailed into Marriage by Lucy Monroe
2, Montana Bride by Jillian Hart
3. Her Baby His Proposal by Teresa Carpenter
4. The Babe and the Baron by Carola Dunn
5. Tryst by Elswyth Thane'
6. Courting Claudia by Robyn DeHart
7. Skin by Lydia Michaels
8. Matthew by Emma Lang
9. The Admiral's Penniless Bride by Carla Kelly
10. To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer
11. A Convenient Wife by Carolyn Davidson
Wow, JCP, I haven't read ANY of those. What a wonderful addition to my TBR pile. I knew Carola Dunn had written Regencies - I haven't got around to trying them yet. Have you read M.C. Beaton/Marion Chesney? I'm deep into her Regency world at the moment.Delete
Lots of new ones for me too. Thanks, jcp!Delete
I love Elswyth Thane's books. My sister and I read and reread them growing up, and we both still reread her Williamsburg series and a few others, including Tryst every few years. My sister even named her oldest son after the hero of Remember Today.Delete
Wow, Janga, that's pretty special.Delete
Almost Heaven by Judith McNaughtReplyDelete
Paradise by Judith McNaught
Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas
A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran
Something About You by Julie James
Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson
When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas
His At Night by Sherry Thomas
Excellent choices, Kim! Almost Heaven is one of my favorite books by McNaught.Delete
I forgot to add What I Did For a Duke by Julie Anne LongReplyDelete
Kim, Lady Be Good was my first SEP - I reviewed it here: http://www.theromancedish.com/2013/10/lady-is-excellent.html Great list. Lovely to see so many historicals on it.Delete
1. What I Did For a Duke (Julie Anne Long)ReplyDelete
2. Pleasure for Pleasure (Eloisa James)
3. Secrets (Julie Garwood)
4. Whisper of Roses (Teresa Mederios)
5. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (Sarah Maclean)
6. Wicked Intentions (Elizabeth Hoyt)
7. The Hawk (Monica McCarty)
8. Sugar Daddy (Lisa Kleypas)
9. The Undomestic Goddess (Sophie Kinsella)
10. The Raider (Jude Deveraux)
Wow, lovely to see so many historicals on your list, Helly. I love Julie Anne's book but haven't read WHAT I DID FOR A DUKE. A few people have mentioned it - I must check it out.Delete
Lots of favorites on that list, Hellie. The Kinsella is the one one I haven't read.Delete
Anna, do check out What I Did For a Duke. One of Long's best, in my opinion.
I truly don't think I can. I have too many favorites and favorite authors too.ReplyDelete
Catslady, luckily I was restricted to what I'd reviewed here. The book that I love best that I did NOT review here is A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS by Eva Ibbotson. This is my perfect comfort read - must have read it at least 20 times. The world is always a better place once I've read that book.Delete
Anna, I have not read her. You may to really hunt online for a cheap copy of Tryst or get it using Interlibrary loan from a public library. It was originally published in 1939 reprinted in 1974.ReplyDelete
I'll definitely check it out, JCP. I really liked the M.C. Beaton Travelling Matchmaker stories, reviewed here: http://www.theromancedish.com/2014/06/regency-charmers.htmlDelete
I have tons of favorites, but I will go with books I have read multiple time, in no particular order:ReplyDelete
Sophie Kinsella - I've Got Your Number
Victoria Alexander - His Mistress by Christmas
Kristan Higgins - The Next Best Thing
Jill Shalvis - Animal Magnetism
Nora Roberts - Vision in White
Carolyn Brown - Darn Good Cowboy Christmas
Adrian Trigiani - Big Stone Gap
Loretta Chase - Mr. Impossible
Laura Florand - The Chocolate Touch
Terri Osburn - Meant to Be
There are more where that list came from!
Good list, Sharlene and a few new ones to add to my list. :)Delete
I love Trigiani's Big Stone Gap series. I'm interested to see how the new movie stacks up against the book.
Sharlene, lots of authors there who I've never read. So glad you're another Mr. Impossible fan!Delete
Love your list. I have read the Julia Spencer-Fleming series, but none of the others you listed. Except for the Daisy Dalrymple books, I have read books by all the other authors. I am going to be digging through my TBR Mountain to see how many of these books I have. I know I have many of the books in the Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody series. I just need to start them.ReplyDelete
As for my favorite books, I would have to think a long time about that. The Spencer-Flemming books would be there. Julie Garwoods' Highland historicals would be first on my list. Her THE PRIZE was the first romance I read. I really can't pick a favorite. THE WOLF AND THE DOVE by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Kat Martin's PERFECT SIN had some memorable scenes I go back and reread. I will have to think some more to decide other favorites.
Pat, lovely that you're another fan of JSF. I'm so grateful that this blog led me in her direction. I just love those books. The Wolf and the Dove has very fond memories for me - first modern-style historical romance I ever read. I remember being absolutely captivated by Aislinn and Wulfgar's romance.Delete