Musings Menagerie: My Favorites of 2010

Wednesday, January 5

Well, here it is.  My list of favorite romance reads from 2010.  Actually, it wasn't as hard as it was last year, but then again I changed the way I picked them this year.  

I started with looking at all of the books that I read that I ranked with a 4.5 star or above rating, then I separated them out by subgenre (historical, contemporary...).  Not all of the books that received a 4.5 or above rating made the favorites list.  The stories that made the final lists are ones that "stuck" with me throughout the other words were memorable (when sometimes I have a hard time remembering specifics about a book I finished a week ago, means that the story was special in some way for me).  You may also notice that not all of the subgenres that I read are represented in this favorites list....that's because the books in those categories didn't score a high enough star rating to qualify for the status of "favorite".  

These books are the ones that I would highly recommend even if it was a book that you normally wouldn't be drawn to.  If I didn't own a copy of a book that made the "favorites", then they would be on my buy list.  Long story short...I LOVED LOVED LOVED these romances!  And yep, I'm gonna do what others may be afraid to...I'm going to rank them. *Gasp*

Let's start with Contemporary Romances.  I know many of you don't enjoy these as much, but I would dare anyone not to fall in love with these books:
  1. Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis.  Loved pretty much everything about this book and was one of the few this year that received 5 stars from me.  The title is perfect for this book because it was in fact, irresistible.
  2. Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis.  Yep, her books were so nice she made the list twice.  I actually debated between the two for the first and second spots.  In the end since I didn't give Slow Heat 5 stars, but 4.75 it garnered the #2.
  3. Turn It On by Vivian Arend.  Vivian Arend I think is best known for her Paranormal Romances, but for me I think her Contemporary Romances are out of this world and this one is one of my favorites.
Honorable Mention:  Always by Lauren Dane.  This is not one of her better known stories, but the Irish hero in this romance absolutely charmed my socks off.  I really loved this one.  I can't remember why I only gave it 4.25 stars, but since it didn't make the 4.5 star cutoff I thought it at least deserved an honorable mention.

Let's go back in time now, and take a look at my favorite Historical Romances from 2010.  Surprisingly, even though I read way more historicals than any other type of romance last year, this list was relatively easy to make.
  1. The Leopard Prince & The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt.  What can I say I love me some Elizabeth Hoyt.  She made my favorites list last year, and at the beginning of this year I was still reading through her backlist.  Since the books were part of the same series I decided to list them as one choice.  I think Ms. Hoyt is one of the best, and most reliable historical romance writers right now...especially since her stories tend to be on the hotter side which I also enjoy :)
  2. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean.  I was drawn to this book because of the title....I mean the length of it was astonishing.  I had never read anything by this author and I can safely say that I could not stop talking about it to all of my friends and family until they had all read it. (and at least said to my face that they loved it too)...I was a Rake "pusher" and proud of it :)
  3. Ruthless Heart by Emma Lang.  Loved this book!  This book had the perfect balance between the hero and heroine.  Hard vs. soft.  Determination vs. Strength. An opposites attract story with heart and chemistry.  Loved it!
  4. A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl.  A hero to die for, and a heroine that goes through tremendous growth and self realization all with humor, wit, heart and heat.  Not to be missed.
  5. When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer.  I just read this one over the holidays and it gave me the same kind of feeling as Nine Rules to Break.  I was attracted to the book because of the title...just like Nine Rules, but this time because When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies, and we were approaching the New Year.  I am so glad I picked this one up and gave it a try.  I'll be starting the next book in the series as soon as I can go get it (which will be this week).
Honorable Mentions:  Seven Nights to Forever by Evangeline Collins, and One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare. Both are great romances.  If you love historical romances then definitely check these out.

It's kind of I look over these choices I am noticing that EVERY SINGLE one of those books had a heroine that I absolutely loved...and most times, for me at least, the hero is just a tad bit more important to me than the heroine, but these ladies....they ROCK!

I'm ready to turn up the heat a little bit, so let's get to my favorite Erotic Romances, shall we...
  1. Addicted by Charlotte Featherstone.  This book was an emotional roller coaster.  I couldn't put it down because I was so invested in these characters and all that they had to go through to find their happy ending.  It made me cry more than once.  I was completely addicted to Addicted.  I read it in one day, and was sad when it ended.  This one may not be for everyone, but in my opinion is one of the best books this author has written (so far).
  2. Sweet Temptation by Maya Banks.  If you want hot, then this one is for you.  I love the "Sweet" series.  I look forward to every new book in this series because of the cast of characters that the author has written.  The hero in this one is about as Alpha as you get...and frankly is a real dick during most of the book, but he has his reasons and redeems himself by the end, so it's all good. This book received mixed feelings from some reviewers because he shares the heroine with several other men, but to me the scene that received a lot of heat was necessary to the progression of their relationship. Sweet Temptation might be my favorite from this series....but since this series is still "in progress" I reserve the right to change my mind at a later date.
  3. Nauti and Wild by Jaci Burton and Lora Leigh.  Wow, what an anthology.  It was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it didn't disappoint...not one little bit.  Both of the stories would be worth the price of the book on their own, combine them into one book and it definitely earns a spot on the keeper shelf.  A great way to end both of the Wild Riders and Nauti series.
  4. Sinful by Charlotte Featherstone.  I actually read this book before Addicted.  I kept reading how everyone couldn't wait to read Wallingford, the hero's story.  And that cover, yeah I love that cover :)  Anyways, I was blown away by this book which was the first full length novel I read by this author.  I loved that it had a few similarities to one of my all time favorite classics, Jane Eyre.  It was dark, brooding, intense, sensual....a really lovely love story with an ending that is non-traditional, but perfect for the book (which the author took some heat over)....I loved it.
  5. Wicked Burn by Beth Kery.  This is one of this author's earlier novels, and when I say that, I mean like just a few years old.  She's had great success in the last few years, but this is my favorite of her's that I've read.  If you've recently read any of her newer releases, but haven't read this book from 2008...pick it up, you won't be disappointed.
Honorable Mentions:  Cowgirls Don't Cry by Lorelei James, and Breaking Free & Lean On Me by Cherise Sinclair.  I know many of you are wary about the whole BDSM subject matter in romance, but these two by Ms. Sinclair are fabulous.  They delve enough into the life style that you can appreciate what it is that attracts the characters to it, and are hot hot hot.  These two books by her are my favorites and are not about pain, embarrassment or being someone's love slave, but about trust, mutual pleasure and love.

I had the hardest time ranking the books in this actuality on any given day it could change depending on my mood.  They really are superb and all of them are about so much more than sex.

Now for my favorite book of all from 2010....drumroll please 

Broken by Shiloh Walker

Surprised?  I bet you thought it would be a historical romance didn't you?  But I have to say this book has stayed with me since March when I first read it.  Even then I knew it would make my tops list at the end of the year.  I just didn't know that it was going to be my favorite of the favorites. 

I loved this book.  It was the perfect blend of suspense, romance, character development...really everything about this story worked for me.  I especially loved the hero.  Of all of the heroes that I read this year, Quinn is my favorite.  I loved that the heroine was a mystery and we were given clues throughout the book that keep you guessing until the end, and there is no doubt about it that it was a romance.  READ IT!  and what's even better is that Amazon has it for only $6.00 right now, so of all of the books on my favorites list for 2010 this is the one I would buy if I didn't already own it (but even if I had to pay full price for it it would be worth it and I don't say that lightly) .  But in actuality all of the books listed in my Favorites of 2010 are worthy of your time and money, at least in my opinion :)

OK, there it is.  My favorites of 2010.  What were some of yours?  Agree, disagree?  I showed you mine, now you show me yours :)

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shiloh walker January 5, 2011 at 11:03 PM  

oh, thank you so much... :)

So glad you liked Broken!

Regina January 6, 2011 at 5:13 AM  

I just love Broken too! And Fragile as well... Good list!

Mary G January 8, 2011 at 10:15 AM  

Since our faves are similar in the other categories, maybe I'd better give your historical list a try.

And Broken yeah - just hooks you in. Like Fragile & The Missing, one of my all time faves.

Jill Shalvis January 8, 2011 at 11:05 AM  

Wow, thank you so much for including Simply Irresistible and Slow Heat!! Made my day.

Mitzi H. January 9, 2011 at 12:19 AM  

Just as a note after looking at these 2 lists is 1) either I carefully select the books I read or 2) I’m much to free with my A/B ratings…..Hehehe

My Favorites for 2010 (My grade of A) are:
The Heir by Grace Burrowes
Sinful by Charlotte Featherstone
The Troubleshooter Series (I only read books 1-3 so far) by Suzanne Brockmann
Naked by Megan Hart
Simply Insatiable by Kate Pearce
Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Duke by Sarah MacLean
Heaven Can’t Wait by Pamela Clare
Naked Edge by Pamela Clare
To Conquer a Highlander by Beth Kery
Wicked Burn by Beth Kery
The Ice Princess by Elizabeth Hoyt
Lessons from a Scarlet Lady by Emma Wildes
Wild Heart by Lori Brighton
Silver Lining by Rosemary Rogers
Mackenzie Family (4 books) by Linda Howard
One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake
Brother in Arms Series (I only read books 1-3 so far) by Samantha Kane
His Captive Lady by Anne Gracie
Dangerous Beauty by Anastasia Black
The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Anne Long
Branded as Trouble by Lorelei James

My Next Best Favorites for 2010 (My grade B,B+) are:
The Callahan Brothers Trilogy by JoAnn Ross
A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore
Broken by Shiloh Walker
Prisoner of Desire by Mary Wine
Bedding the Enemy by Mary Wine
Mistress by Mistake by Maggie Robinson
Skin Game by Ava Gray
Out of Uniform Series by Elle Kennedy
The Satin Sash by Red Garnier
Last Chance Rescue Trilogy by Christie Reece
Captive of Sin by Anna Campbell
Knight of Pleasure by Margaret Mallory
Guilty Pleasure by Lora Leigh
The Mane Event by Shelly Laurenston
The Marriage Ring by Cathy Maxwell
Release by Beth Kery
Flat Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy
A Rose In Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss

Jaci Burton January 17, 2011 at 12:21 PM  

Thank you so much for including Nauti & Wild on your list! I'm honored! :-)

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