Top of the Line


So many books, so little year left.  Thus, I give you my list of the best Romance reads of 2010.  I’m always looking for suggestions, so if I’ve missed any, please feel free to chime in

Mary Balogh, A Secret Affair 

The last of the set of linked books about the Huxtable
family, elevated out of genteel poverty when they inherit and earldom, this is
the perfect finale.  It’s the story
of mysterious cousin Constantine Huxtable, himself the eldest son of the former
earl, who was denied the earldom due to illegitimacy.  The impossibly bright and beautiful Hannah Reid, Duchess of
Dunbarton, decides that Con will be the first lover of her widowhood.  But Con is not easily led, and though
neither is looking for more than an affair, each begins to discover fascinating
depths in the other, until their simple affair becomes a great deal more.  

Joanna Bourne, The Forbidden Rose 

Once again, Bourne has set her talented sights on
France.  But this time she looks
past the Regency to the French Revolution.  William Doyle, who has a secondary role in each of her other
two recent Regencies, is probably England’s greatest field agent.  Marguerite de Fleiurignac is a
displaced aristocrat, who runs a network that helps other artistos escape the
bloody clutches of the mob.  It is
a Versailles of a novel:  gorgeous
and glittering, astonishingly large, and yet incredibly personal.  And Bourne gets bonus points for giving
us our first view (timeline wise, anyway), of Adrian Hawker, another of her
recurring characters.

Loretta Chase, Last Night’s Scandal  

After detailing the adventures of the rest of the Carsington
family, it makes sense that Chase would turn to the next generation.  We encountered Olivia Wingate and
Peregrine Dalmay as runaway adolescents in Lord Perfect.  Now
they’re grown up.  He is learned and
logical; she is outrageous and untamable. 
Together, they are as combustible a combination as ever.  A charming read.

Jennifer Crusie, The Cinderella Deal  

Crusie’s new novel this year was Maybe This Time, and it was a lot of fun.  Part ghost story, part love story, part Turn of
the Screw
fan-fiction, it’s a solid and
welcome return to Jenny’s single author status.  But in fact, my favourite title from Crusie this year was
the re-release of her long out of print category novel
The Cinderella
With Daisy Flattery and Luke Blaise, it’s all about
transformations:  of a home, of
art, of life.  It’s also about how
the choices you make, even when you think you’re compromising, can be the best
thing that ever happens to you.

Eileen Dryer, Barely a Lady  

Interestingly, this is the only new author on my list.  And she’s only new to
me:  Dreyer is an NYT bestseller
with a handful of RITA awards.  Barely A Lady is another Regency that takes place in France, but this one centres on the English in Paris. Particularly on Olivia Grace, a governess who stays to help with the
wounded soldiers.  She is also
divorced, which for her time is the kind of scandal that makes Paris
Hilton seem tame.  She finds Jack
Wyndham, the Earl of Gracechurch and her former husband, injured on the
battlefield.  When he recovers, he
cannot remember that they were ever apart.  Redemption follows. Amnesia stories can be tricky, but this
one was truly excellent

Elizabeth Hoyt, Wicked Intentions  roundbest.jpg

Hoyt moves back a few generations to the early Georgian
period of the eighteenth century. 
The world is smaller and more dangerous, and the language is more
formal.  Lazarus, Lord Caire, is
hunting a killer through the streets of St. Giles, London’s most dangerous
slum.  Widow Temperance, who runs a
foundling home there, agrees to help him search.  But the sophisticated lord and the religious lady have more
in common than a killer and an undeniable attraction.  They have past damage to overcome, and to the surprise of
each, they can help each other on all fronts. 

Julie James, Something About You  

Cameron Lynde is an Assistant US Attorney, and
currently,  the only witness to a
high-profile murder.  This means
she’s suddenly in contact with FBI Special Agent Jack Pallas.  The two have an unfortunate history,
one which left dents in both their careers.  But this time they have to work together; more than
Cameron’s life may depend on it. 
Another sizzling legal tale from the talented Ms. James.

Lisa Kleypas, Love in the Afternoon  

This book finishes Kleypas’ excellent Hathaway family
series.  It’s the story of
Beatrice, the wildest of the lot. 
It begins as a sort of Cyrano story, with Beatrice writing letters on
behalf of someone else to Captain Christopher Phelan, who is at war in
Europe.   Then Phelan returns,
badly damaged by war and looking for the author of the letters that saved his
sanity and his life.  Thankfully
Beatrice is well used to dealing with wounded animals.  What follows is a tender and amusing read, in which both of them are healed.

Nora Roberts, The Search  

I read all of Nora’s new releases this year (three
hardcovers, two trade paperback originals, and a novella), and this is my
favourite.  Fiona was
attacked years ago by a serial killer. 
She escaped then, and put him behind bars.  Now another killer with a similar pattern is on the loose,
and he’s after her.  But
this time she’s prepared.  A
trainer of Search and Rescue dogs, she knows how to cope with difficult
situations.  And this time she has Simon, an artist and furniture builder, on her side. 
I loved this book, for Fiona’s strength, for Simon’s grumpiness, and especially
for the dogs that romp through the pages.

Sharon Shinn, Troubled Waters  

Reeling from the death of her father, Zoe is brought to the royal city to marry the king.  But her heritage is even more strange and wonderful than she thought.  Once in the city, she discovers that she is the coru prime:  the head of her family, and able to access all the powers of water and blood.  She will need all of her skills to navigate life at court… and to win her battles with royal adviser Darien.  Another extraordinary fantasy from an accomplished writer.

Chris Szego wishes you Merry and Happy, and reminds you that only total idiots drink and drive.

Categories: Romance

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