Friday, February 17
Well, here it is. My list of favorite romance reads from 2011, and it's only February 2012 :) Most "best of" lists came out at the end of December/beginning of January and I really meant to get this posted sooner, but life intervened :) Anyways, here it is...better late than never, right? I can't wait to see what you think.
Here's how I selected my favorites:
- 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 sub-genre (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 year...in 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".
- End result, these are the books 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!
- Also good to note, not all of the books that made the list were published in 2011, some were published prior to that, but all were read by me in 2011.
Let's start with Contemporary Romances/Romantic Suspense, in no particular order:
- Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis (5.0 stars)
- Everyone Loves a Hero by Marie Force (5.0 stars)
- Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare (4.5 stars)
- Heaven Can't Wait by Pamela Clare (4.5 stars)
As you can tell I had a major romance addiction to Pamela Clare's brand of romance. And here's a hint for the 2012...she'll make that one too (Surrender will definitely make the list).
Here are my favorite Historical Romances from 2011...
It should come as no surprise that this list is the longest out of all of them. I was going to try and make each list have the same number or recommendations, but then decided against that. The ones that made the list were just too good to leave off to make the numbers even, and I couldn't narrow it down any further :) Again, in no real particular order:
- Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart by Sarah MacLean (5.0 stars)
- Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt (5.0 stars)
- Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt (5.0 stars)
- What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long (4.75 stars)
- Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks (4.5 stars)
- Unclaimed by Courtney Milan (4.5 stars)
- Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes (4.5 stars)
- A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare (4.5 stars)
- Mistress by Marriage by Maggie Robinson (4.5 stars)
- How the Marquess Was Won by Julie Anne Long (4.5 stars)
- Lord Ruin by Carolyn Jewel (4.5 stars)
- Touch of a Thief by Mia Marlowe (4.5 stars) ***Updated to add: Right now Touch of a Thief is on sale for only $1.79 for the Kindle version. That is a steal! It's also on sale at BN for the Nook for only $1.99. It's probably on sale elsewhere to so check out your favorite digital retailer for the best prices.***
There are a few new names to the historical category this year. I found Julie Anne Long, and wonder why it took me so "long" to find her, LOL. Pun not intended, but funny nonetheless :)
I also have a few favorites that made the list again, including Sarah MacLean and Elizabeth Hoyt. Seriously these ladies rock the regency (or in any period really)! Maya Banks made my list of favorites last year too, but in the erotic romance category. I enjoyed all of the books in Ms. Banks' Highland series, but Seduction of a Highland Lass is something special. And, I have been a fan of Tessa Dare's since her debut a few years back, but I think her Spindle Cove series is my favorite of all of the books she has written so far.
I've read Carolyn Jewel before, but only her paranormal romances. I thought they were good, but as I've said before paranormal is really just not my thing. But Lord Ruin came highly recommended by two virtual friends that I chat with at RRT on Friday's (Limecello & CaffeyCathie) so I decided to give it a try. I can't thank them enough for turning me on to her historical romances. I really loved Lord Ruin and will definitely be seeking out her newest one, Not Wicked Enough, released just this month.
And no matter what name Mia Marlowe uses (Emily Bryan, Diane Groe...) or who she writes with (Connie Mason) she continues to woo me with her words. I can't wait for the next book in her Touch of Seduction series, Touch of a Rogue, which comes out February 28th.
Last year I read only a handful of paranormal romances, so to make a list of favorites to recommend in this category is a bit ridiculous really. There are many other bloggers who know the subgenre of PNR/Urban Fantasy romance much much better than I do, because frankly I know very little, and they may or may not agree with my recommendation, but I seriously loved The Goblin King by Shona Husk (4.5 stars). I loved the world building, I loved the characters and I thought it was different, unique, and emotionally captivating. And while I don't expect to ready many paranormal romances in 2012, I most certainly will be looking for the next book in her Shadowlands series, Kiss of the Goblin Prince, which comes out in May 2012.
Now let's get to my favorite Erotic Romances, again in no particular order:
- Changing the Game by Jaci Burton (4.75 stars)
- Wrangled and Tangled by Lorelei James (4.5 stars)
- To Command and to Collar by Cherise Sinclair (4.5 stars)
- Rising, Freestyle Vivian Arend (4.5 stars)
These ladies bring the heat, but they also tell a damn good story! Next to historical romances, erotic romances are some of my favorites books to read. Combine the two and I would be/am in booklover heaven :) Seriously though, every single one of these books has a fantastic romance that just so happens to contain some hot lovin'...and I like it, a lot :)
There are some repeats in this list too, and I should say that I was a Beta reader for Rising, Freestyle, though that had no bearing whatsoever in my love for this story. I think it is my favorite of all of the books Ms. Arend has written so far. Cherise Sinclair continues to be a powerhouse when it comes to Erotic Romance with BDSM. And Lorelei James, she is my absolute favorite erotic romance writer...hands down.
I don't think you can go wrong with any of the books that made my favorites list, but there is one book that, even though it didn't score a perfect 5.0, was my most favorite of 2011 (and just so you know, it has nothing to do with the cover...really).
I read it early in the year, within the first couple of months, but it stayed with me and had one of my favorite heroines from 2011 too. It's kind of funny because I always say that heroes make or break a romance for me....but over the past two years it's actually been the heroine that played a major part in selecting my favorite book . For the heroine to be the "villain" in a previous story, but to then turn her around and make us cheer for her to get her own happy ending...that is some good story telling! It was everything that I love about a great romance.
So without further ado, my overall favorite from 2011 was....Changing the Game by Jaci Burton! I knew when I first read it that it would be a favorite...I just didn't know it would be THE favorite. LOVED, LOVED LOVED it!
OK, there it is. My favorites of 2011. What were some of yours? Agree, disagree? I showed you mine, now you show me yours :)
Like numbers? Here are some stats about what I read in 2011:
- Total books read: 116 comprised of :
- Historical: 56 (48%)
- Erotic: 27 (23%)
- contemporary: 26 (23%)
- paranormal: 7 (6%)
- Ratings overview :
- 4.5 stars or higher: 20 (17%)
- 4.0-4.49 stars: 42 (36%)
- 3.00-3.99 stars: 46 (40%)
- 1-2.99 stars: 8 (7%)
- Authors that made the list 2 years in a row?
- 6 are repeats,
- 7 are new to the favorites list.
- I tried 23 new to me authors this past year, but what is most interesting is:
- that 6 of the 18 authors that made my favorites list were new to me.
- That's 33%, which I think is HUGE considering I had no idea what to expect from them, though some came highly recommended which is why I decided to read them anyways...so maybe it shouldn't come as such a big surprise.
- 12 of the books that made the list were ones that I had agreed to review, the other 7 were just books that I was intrigued by.
- 80 of the 116 books I read in 2011 (69%) were print the other 31% were in the form of digital books.
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