Reviewer Michele's Favorite Romances of 2012

Friday, January 4

Today we're featuring Musings reviewer Michele's favorite romance reads of 2012.  I think it's important to reiterate that we're not trying to say that these are necessarily the "Best" books published in 2012, but instead were each reader's favorite romance reads that they read in 2012.  In addition the books considered did not have to be published in 2012, but could have been published before last year.

And in case you missed the previous days posts outlining how the favorites were selected here are the guidelines that were used:
  • A book had to receive a 4.5 star or above rating to be eligible for "Favorites" consideration, then they were separated 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 each of us throughout the other words were memorable (the story was special in some way).  
  • You may also notice that not all of the subgenres of romance are represented for each person's 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", or isn't a subgenre that was enjoyed by that reviewer.
  • End result, these are the books that we would highly recommend even if it was a book that you normally wouldn't be drawn to. Long story short...We LOVED LOVED LOVED these romances and thank our lucky stars that we read them this past year!
  • Also good to note, not all of the books that made the list were published in 2012, some were published prior to that, but all were read by each person in 2012. 

Contemporary Romance: 

At the start of this year, it was hard for me to find contemporary romances that I enjoyed but as the year wore on, I discovered more and more of them, thanks to Twitter and Facebook and all the great reviewers online. Some of these could just as easily appear under the erotic romance category, but they are all wonderful contemporaries in their own right.
  • Hidden Paradise by Janet Mullany
  • Seducing Cinderella (Fighting for Love #1)  by Gina L. Maxwell
  • Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley
  • Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye
  • One Night with a Hero (The Hero #2) by Laura Kaye
  • Simply Irresistible (Lucky Harbor #1) by Jill Shalvis
  • Exclusively Yours (Kowalski Family #1) by Shannon Stacey
  • Thoughtless (Thoughtless #1) by S.C. Stephens
  • On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
  • About Last Night by Ruthie Knox
Honorable Mention: The Sullivans series by Bella Andre


I’ve grown to love the contemporary romance and hope to find more that are actually stand-alone and not part of an ongoing series where everyone is related and lives in that perfect little town with the cute name (not that those aren’t great reads, too!).


Historical Romance:

I’ve been reading historical romance since back in the day with Kathleen Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers, but the ones I read this year more than hold their own. These are the books that made me cry and yell and swoon.
  • Then Came You (Gamblers #1) by Lisa Kleypas
  • Dreaming of You (Gamblers #2) by Lisa Kleypas
  • Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas
  • Beguiling the Beauty (Fitzhugh Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas
  • Ravishing the Heiress (Fitzhugh Trilogy #2) by Sherry Thomas
  • Tempting the Bride (Fitzhugh Trilogy #3) by Sherry Thomas
  • The Price of Innocence by Susan Sizemore
  • Strictly Seduction by Shayla Black writing as Shelley Bradley
  • A Woman Scorned (Lorimer Family & Clan Cameron #2) by Liz Carlyle
Honorable Mention: The House of Pleasure series - Kate Pearce

As you can see, the bulk of my favorites this year came from the fabulous Sherry Thomas, who always knows just how to rip my heart out and make me beg for more. I’m looking forward to more older out-of-print historicals becoming available as ebooks as their authors, such as Shelley Bradley, regain their publishing rights.


Paranormal Romance:

Maybe it’s because I was such a huge fan of Anne Rice back when she was first writing the Lestat and Mayfair books but I’m just not very much of a paranormal romance reader these days. And yet, I managed to come up with ten great ones that made me very glad I’d taken the time to read them.

  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  • Dark Lover by J. R. Ward
  • Where There’s A Will (Good Girl Series #2) by Karen Kelley
  • North of Need (Hearts of the Anemoi #1) by Laura Kaye
  • West of Want (Hearts of the Anemoi #2) by Laura Kaye
  • Fetish by Sherri L. King
  • Platinum Passion (Gods of Love #1) by Jennifer Lynne
  • Aphrodite Calling (Gods of Love #2) by Jennifer Lynne
  • Dream Master by Claire Thompson
  • Petals and Thorns by Jeffe Kennedy writing as Jennifer Paris

This category might still put me off, but at least I know now that it’s not just about vampires and werewolves. I’m still not quite ready to seriously read a shifter romance, although I do have some of the Breeds books waiting to prove me wrong. If anybody can make me like them, it’s Lora Leigh.


Erotic Romance  (BDSM themed):

Now we’re in my reading wheelhouse. I read and love so many erotic romances this year that I had to split the category in an attempt to give more of them the respect they are due. Make no mistake, there are at least 15 more that I would have put on this list if it wasn’t limited to 10, and as you can see, I did still cheat a little by posting series where all the books were 5 star reads.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1) by E.L. James
  • The Original Sinners series (The Siren/The Angel/The Prince) by Tiffany Reisz
  • Release Me by J. Kenner
  • The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden
  • Hold ‘Em (Vegas Top Guns #3) by Katie Porter
  • My Liege of Dark Haven by Cherise Sinclair
  • Hostile Takeover (Knights of the Boardroom #5) by Joey W. Hill
  • Blushing Violet by Ann Mayburn
  • Master Class by Cassandra Carr
  • Sweet Persuasion (Sweet #2) by Maya Banks
Honorable Mention: The Club Shadowlands series - Cherise Sinclair


It’s safe to say from all the recent announcements by established romance authors that there is going to be an explosion of BDSM Billionaire trilogies in 2013, thanks to the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy. Here’s hoping the majority of them are worth reading.


Erotic Romance (non BDSM themed):

It’s a fine line between erotic romance and erotica, and all these authors made it look easy. It’s not.
  • The CrossFire series (Bared To You/Reflected in You) by Sylvia Day
  • Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun
  • Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun
  • Curio (and its 5 follow-up vignettes) by Cara McKenna
  • On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
  • Forbidden Pleasure by Lora Leigh
  • Broken by Megan Hart
  • Seven Sexy Sins by Serenity Woods
  • Inside Bet (Vegas Hot Shots #2) by Katie Porter
  • By Mutual Desire by Dalton Diaz
Honorable Mention: The Rough Riders series - Lorelei James


I love erotic romance, with or without BDSM. There are so many great new series and follow-up books in existing series that 2013 is going to be the year of erotic romance. I can’t wait!


 M/M GBLT Romance:

I’ve only recently started to appreciate same-sex romances, and my favorites are somewhat evenly split between M/M/F menages and M/M pairings.
  • Pulled Long (Long Shots #3) by Christine d’Abo
  • Calling the Shots (Long Shots #4) by Christine d'Abo
  • Long Hard Ride (Rough Riders #1) by Lorelei James
  • Rough, Raw, and Ready (Rough Riders #5) by Lorelei James
  • Backwoods (Shivaree #1) by Cara McKenna
  • Shivaree (Shivaree #2) by Cara McKenna
  • Getaway (Shivaree #3) by Cara McKenna
  • The Angel (Original Sinners #2) by Tiffany Reisz
  • The Prince (Original Sinners #3) by Tiffany Reisz
  • Siren Beloved (Texas Siren #4) by Sophie Oak

One of my reading goals in the upcoming year is to get all caught up with J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books so that I can be ready to read what is clearly the most anticipated M/M romance of 2013: Lover at Last. If online expressions of desire for this book are any indication of potential sales, this book could be the Fifty Shades of Grey for M/M romance. And that would be a good thing.


Dark Erotica:
For this category, I reiterate what Kitty Thomas always says: “Heed the disclaimers!” If these are the kind of stories you like, you will like these stories.
  • Big Sky by Kitty Thomas
  • Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas
  • Willing Victim by Cara McKenna
  • Deep Desires by Charlotte Stein
  • Restraint by Charlotte Stein
  • Keep Me Safe by Skye Warren
  • Topping From Below by Laura Reese
  • The Auction by Claire Thompson
  • The Dark Duet #1 and #2 by C.J. Roberts
  • The Business of Pleasure by Justine Elyot
Honorable Mention: The Marketplace series - Laura Antoniou


Romantic Suspense:

I don’t always like to read romantic suspense because the suspense often seems to distract me away from the romance to the point where I race through trying to get to the part where the couple is safe again instead of relaxing and enjoying the ride. But these books helped me see that a well-paced romantic suspense novel is something to seek out, not avoid.

  • Wicked Ties (Wicked Lovers #1) by Shayla Black
  • Decadent (Wicked Lovers #2) by Shayla Black
  • Surrender to Me (Wicked Lovers #4) by Shayla Black
  • Belong to Me (Wicked Lovers #5) by Shayla Black
  • The Dom Who Loved Me (Masters and Mercenaries #1) by Lexi Blake
  • A Dom is Forever (Masters and Mercenaries #3) by Lexi Blake
  • Crash Into You (Lovers on the Edge #1) by Roni Loren
  • Melt Into You (Lovers on the Edge #2) by Roni Loren
  • Truth (Consequences #2) by Aleatha Romig
  • Natural Law (Nature of Desire #2) by Joey W. Hill

I hope to finally get started on the J.D. Robb “In Death” series this coming year. They may take over the category entirely next time if they are half as good as everyone keeps telling me.


My Favorite Romance Read of 2012:

The Siren by Tiffany Reisz

Many books came close, but this one still rules 2012 for me. It stands alone as a fantastic self-contained story which breaks nearly every taboo on what is and is not appropriate in a romance novel and does it with style and grace and some of the best paced writing I’ve come across in a very long time. It also establishes a new world of the Original Sinners, one where we think we understand what is going on between its characters, at least until the next book in the series. I love how Tiffany Reisz can fill in the blanks that you didn’t even realize existed in a way that neither cheats the reader nor violates any previous canon established in an earlier or later story. She’s dancing on a high wire without a net and we can only hope she doesn’t fall before getting to the end of her performance. I can’t wait to read what’s next.

I have been a fast and prolific reader all my life, but 2012 was the year that my reading count exploded. Because I have only started being diligent about entering books into GoodReads, I don’t have a final definitive count but the total is in the range of at least 500, and likely well above that. To be fair, most of those books were in the 150-250 page range, and some were even shorter (hello, Decadent’s 1NightStand!). But I do spend most evenings and weekends reading, and thanks to the great internet recs and immediate availability of whole series on Kindle and Nook, it’s now fairly easy for me to discover a new series and spend a whole weekend glomming through them like a giant bag of Halloween candy. Both my husband and budget are hoping that I will be able to settle down and slow the reading (and book acquiring pace) for 2013. We’ll see.

*Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.


Cassandra Carr January 4, 2013 at 11:32 AM  

Thank you so much, Michele! I'm honored to be amongst such esteemed company!

Dalton Diaz January 7, 2013 at 8:10 PM  

I'm so honored! Wow, to be named among so many of my favorite authors!

DD,  January 9, 2013 at 10:01 AM  

I have not had the chance to review my best reads of 2012. However, I would like to say THANK YOU to a couple of you for recommending The Siren. Without a doubt, one of the best books I've ever read (And so is The Angel and The Prince). I had no idea it was even part of a series until I was halfway through. And now I find out I have to wait until August for the fourth installment. Ughhh.

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Post Archives


1 star 2 stars 3 stars 4 stars 5 stars Andrea Angels Anthology Aphrodisia Author's Angels Avon Awards Ballantine BDSM Berkley Billionaire Blaze Blog Hop Blue Book Trailers Booklover BookTrib Brava Candlelight Promotions Carina Character Interview Charity Chick Lit Christmas Cleis Press Conference Contemporary Contests Coupons Cover Reveal Cowboy DD Delacorte Demons Disappointments Disclosures DNF Domestic Violence Dorchester Dreamspinner Press ElaineReads ELF Ellora's Cave Entangled Publishing Erotic Romance Erotica Event Everything Else F/F Romance Fantasy Romance Favorites of 2009 Favorites of 2010 Favorites of 2011 Favorites of 2012 Favorites of 2014 Feature Feel the Heat Firemen Flipbook Forced Seduction Forever Romance Freebies Fun Friday Futuristic Gallery Ghosts Giveaway Goddess Fish Grand Central Guest Harlequin Hidden Gems Highland Romance Historical Fiction Historical Romance Holiday Theme HQN Humor Infidelity Intermix Interracial Romance Interview Irish Romance Julia Just Jinny Kensington Lendle Giveaway Librarian Links LitConnect Loose Id Loveswept M/M Romance Medieval Romance Melissa Meme Menage Menagerie Michele Military Romance MIRA Mira. Month in Review Movie Star Movies Muse Pictures Music Musician Mystery NAL New Adult Newsworthy Noble Romance Non-Fiction Novella Paranormal Romance Pierced Pirates Pocket Books Poem Poll Quickie Giveaway Quiz Random House Reading Challenges Reading Lists Recipes Reviews Riptide Publishing Rock Star Romance Hint Fiction Romantic Suspence Royal Romances Samhain Sci-Fi Scorpio M Seductive Museums Seductive Saturday Self Published Serial Novel Shapeshifters Share the Love Siren Small Town Sneak Peek Sourcebooks Spice Sports St. Martin's Steampunk Romance Summer Reads Sunday Brunch Surveys Susannah Tattoo TBR Thursday's Thoughts Time Travel Romance Tuesday Teasers Urban Fantasy Vampires Victorian Videos Vikings Virgin Western Winners

My FREE Kindle Quest

I've wanted a Kindle for what seems like forever, but haven't been able to afford it (and that's saying something since I can justify the cost of just about ANYTHING that I really want). I've tried winning one in one of the many giveaways that have taken place over the couple of years, but with no luck :( So I've decided to take matters in hand so to speak :) I've now decided that I am going to accumulate enough Swagbucks from my Swabucks searches to buy in essence my new Kindle will be FREE...funded entirely by my internet searches done on Swagbucks. I'll keep you informed of the Great Kindle Quest below (in case you're interested....if not feel free to just skip over this part, but really who wouldn't be interested in a FREE Kindle?)
Goal: $119
Current Swagbucks Amazon Gift Card balance: $90.00
If you'd like to learn how you can earn Swagbucks and earn your own Amazon Gift Cards to buy books, a Kindle or other merchandise sold at Amazon contact me and I would be more than happy to tell you how I plan to go about it. (just so you know you can earn both and gift cards on this rewards site)
Invesp landing page optimization

Book Blogs

  © Blogger template Foam by 2009

Back to TOP