Sooo, here we go.
The Highest Price to Pay by Maisey Yates – an African hero and a scarred heroine. Lovely. The story wasn’t about his color. He was happy about that, and so was everyone around him. The heroine is a fashion designer with some bad burn scars. The story doesn’t make light of them, but a yummy hero and some good research made for an absorbing read.
Loose Ends by Tara Janzen – The wonderfully imperfect and implausible Steele Street boys end their series with this book. I have read them all, and loved every one, and this last book didn’t disappoint. I had such a good time with this series.
Too Proud to be Bought by Sharon Kendrick – I love that Kendrick takes risks. Not all her books work for me, but she works on a theme of sacrifice, and sometimes for my taste, the heroine gives up a bit too much. But this book was great, not least because the heroine doesn’t take all the crap the hero wants to shove her way. She fights back.
The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton by Miranda Neville – my big historical discovery of the year. I hadn’t read Neville before, but I discovered a new-to-me author to love. I did enjoy this book, and I have a review copy of her next one, which I’m saving for when I’ve done something really good. It’s funny, accurate historically, and believable.
Inside by Brenda Novak – romance light, but an intriguing story about an insider working in a high-security prison and the deputy governor. Exciting, edge-of-your-seat stuff, and the other three in the series are great, too.
Shameless Playboy by Caitlin Crews – one of the Bad Blood books, notable for taking some chances with the Harlequin Presents usual fare. This one took typical tropes, the playboy and the southern belle with a past, and made it memorable, and a book I just dived into and didn’t stop until the end.
I just noticed – no paranormals this year, although I read a fair few. That’s a shame, because I love me some good paranormals.
Star Crossed Seduction by Jenny Brown – a diatribe about astrology masquerading as a historical novel. I have nothing against it, have even tried it myself a time or two, but I prefer my historicals without lectures. And without a brain-dead heroine.
The Bed and the Bachelor by Tracy Anne Warren – repeated date rape by the heroine on the clueless, supposedly brilliant hero. She gets the inexperienced man drunk and drugged and has sex with him. But the villain is holding her family to ransom until she steals a cipher from the hero. So that’s all right then.
His Unknown Heir by Chantelle Shaw – secret baby of the worse kind. The mother thinks she has the right to keep her pregnancy secret, because the hero has humiliated her. Then she’s surprised when the hero is angry.
Unworldly Secretary, Untamed Greek by Kim Lawrence — secretary/boss romances are a guilty pleasure for me. I know I shouldn’t like them, but I still seek them out. This had a “take your glasses off, Miss Smith – my, you’re beautiful” heroine who I immediately hated, and head-hopping that hurt my neck.
So many. That was my problem this year. I read a lot of forgettable, average books. I want authors to take a chance, even if it ultimately fails, and I am so heartily tired of the “high concept” book that ignores everything – characterization, plot, historical accuracy, logical plot development – in favor of the god High Concept. Stop it, already. Tell me about people and the problems they have to face in finding true love. I don’t care if he’s a Regency duke or a CIA agent, I want the romance.