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!