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TT #19: Read with Me

11 Jun 2008

I’ve been down on books and writing lately because–let’s face it–it’s so very easy to be critical. To counter some of that negativity, I compiled a list of the books I read so far this year and highly recommend.

Read and Recommended for 2008 YTD

Number 1
Blue-eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas. First-person narration, spans several years, abused heroine…all things I hate, but Kleypas wrote a damn good read. And Hardy is oh-my-freakin’-wow hot.

Number 2
Alibi Man by Tami Hoag (re-read). Fast-paced, gritty, engrossing, strong protagonists. Without question, Hoag is my favorite suspense author. And I was pathetically thrilled at the minuscule romantic elements she weaved into the story.

Number 3
Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (re-read). I read it in hardcover, bought it the first day it came out in mass market, and read it again in one sitting. It’s funny and emotional and incredibly re-readable, be it short passages or from cover to cover. Ain’t She Sweet is still my favorite SEP, but this one is a close second.

Number 4
Dirty Martini by J.A. Konrath. Smart, wise-cracking female lead who is truly strong, not like those heroines who are supposedly kick-ass just because they have black belts in three different martial arts and/or speshul powers (ironic that a man would write a female character I absolutely adore). I was hooked from the first book in the series.

Number 5
Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase. I didn’t love it as much as everyone else in the romance blogosphere, but it’s my second favorite from Chase, right after Lord of Scoundrels. For some reason, I’m okay with women sleeping around in both historicals and contemporaries, but not when money is exchanged. (And all you cynics out there who view marriage to be nothing more than a financial transaction, please hold your tongues.)

Number 6
Passion by Lisa Valdez. Yes, I’m late to the party, but the heroine’s name is really off-putting and, frankly, I just didn’t know about this book. I had issues with the over-the-top mothers, but I can see why everyone’s clamoring for the sequel.

Number 7
Sizzle and Burn by Jayne Ann Krentz. She has a formula, she sticks with it, and I’m okay with that. (On a side note, I skip the sex scenes in all her books.)

Number 8
Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong. She might be the only true paranormal writer left on my reading list because she hasn’t gone ’round the bend and her world-building has held up even after eight books.

Number 9
If His Kiss Is Wicked by Jo Goodman. A nice, meaty historical with intelligent, witty characters. Suspense is so-so, but I don’t expect it to be strong in a historical romance.

Number 10
Queen of Dragons by Shana Abe. I hated the cliff-hanger ending but it’s still a superior read in comparison to other books with paranormal elements on the market. (Kelley Armstrong is the only true paranormal writer on this list because I consider Abe’s books to be historical romances with paranormal elements.)

Number 11
Fire and Ice by Anne Stuart. I’m an addict. I’ll buy anything with her name on it. (However, I’m grateful this one is the last book in the Ice series.)

Number 12
Blue Smoke and Murder by Elizabeth Lowell. The prose, while not as purple as her older releases, is lavender; the protagonists and antagonists use many similar phrases, making it disconcerting at times; the tone is textbook in some parts; the romance unconvincing; the ending not terribly satisfying…wait, why is it on this list? Oh, right. Like Harlequin Presents, she’s a habit I can’t break. Force of Nature by Suzanne Brockmann. I binged on nearly a dozen of her books in the last two months, and this is the most enjoyable one so far. I have issues (when don’t I?) with how Troubleshooters, Inc. recruits left, right and center, but the underwear scene in the cellar was awesome.

Number 13
The Third Circle by Amanda Quick. (See comments for number 7.)

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 Jun 2008 4:41 PM

    You are just very cool, Ann. So many authors are worried about THEIR books. Good for you for promoting and liking other authors. YES!

    Happy TT!

  2. 11 Jun 2008 5:12 PM

    I’ve read the first in the series by J. A. Konrath. I loved the heroine, too. Great TT.

    I published my very first TT today!

  3. 11 Jun 2008 6:00 PM

    Thanks for this summer reading menu!

  4. 11 Jun 2008 8:12 PM

    We like a lot of the same books. Have you read J. R. Ward? I highly recommend. Are you on goodreads?

  5. 11 Jun 2008 8:48 PM

    opengroveclaudia – I’m a reader first and a writer second.

    Clara – Welcome to TT! Hope you stick around. And is Jack awesome? Strong without being butch or bitchy.

    SandyCarlson – Maybe you can do my summer reading for me since I’m going to be up to my eyeballs in work.

    Journeywoman – Hmm…uhmm… Yes, I have read JRW. Was with her from Dark Lover, but I might have to separate from her due to irreconcilable differences between me and Lover Unbound and Lover Enshrined. And I’m not sure what is goodreads.

  6. azteclady permalink
    11 Jun 2008 9:02 PM

    Me, Suzanne Brockmann fangirl–so we won’t discuss your issues with her books 😀 I’m waiting on tenterhooks for Into the Fire (end of July!!!)

    Me, a recovering Elizabeth Lowell addict–unbelievable, but it can be done. (Same with Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz, by the way 😀 )

    Me, newly converted Shana Abé fangirl–I’m waiting on Queen of Dragons to come out in paperback, I loved the first two in the series, and just got the Last Mermaid omnibus.

    Have some of the other titles in my TBR mountain… who knows when I’ll get there.

  7. 11 Jun 2008 9:20 PM

    I’m waiting for the MP3 of Into the Fire. I am completely in love with the audio versions of Brockmann’s books. The two readers are amazing and it’s like having someone read me a bedtime story. (I really miss those radio mystery shows I used to listen to as a kid.) I get a little weirded out hearing the sex scenes read out loud, but I can fast-forward through those scenes.

    EL, JAK/AQ…don’t see it happening. I see their books and my hand picks ’em up of its own volition.

    I saw that other readers were put off by Maricara in Abé’s QoD. They thought she was too cold and aloof, but I saw the distance as a protective shield since…well, you’ll find out when you read the book.

  8. Jane permalink
    12 Jun 2008 12:12 AM

    I really like “Sizzle and Burn.” Why do you skip the sex scenes in her books? Anne Stuart is a fave of mine, too. I loved “Cold As Ice.”

  9. 12 Jun 2008 5:16 AM

    I loved Natural Born Charmer and Fire and Ice, and congratulations for jumping on the Passion bandwagon. It’s crowded up here, but since everybody has such great taste, it’s kind of fun. The Kelley Armstrong and Loretta Chase books are in my TBR pile.

  10. 12 Jun 2008 11:03 AM

    Jane – With JAK, lately I realized i don’t read her so much for the romance as for the well-paced plot and dialogue. I enjoy her H/H interactions and I find myself wishing she could ditch the sex scenes and do more dialogue. (And JAK’s face is rather well-known and I keep superimposing it over her heroines, so I’m sometimes a little uncomfortable reading those scenes.)

    Ooh, another Stuart fan! I love, love, love her contemporaries, even the categories, but I’m going to make a lot of Laura Kinsale and Judith McNaught fangirls gasp when I say my fave historical romance is Stuart’s A Rose at Midnight. My fave contemp from Stuart is Glass Houses. I re-read that book at least twice a year. It’s so well-loved that I had to cover it with self-adhesive plastic. If only Harlequin would ditch the DRM on their e-books…

    Darla – I glad I’m late to the Passion bandwagon, seeing as how Valdez is still working on the sequel.

  11. 12 Jun 2008 5:20 PM

    I haven’t read any of these, I may have to check them out! Thanks for the recommend!

    Happy TT!

  12. 16 Jun 2008 1:55 PM

    Methinks this is a good list. I’ve read about 1/3 of those. We must buy a lot of the same books.

    Have you read Sherry Thomas’ Private Arrangements? That and Sugar Daddy (haven’t read Blue Eyed Devil yet) were my top picks this year.

    But skipping sex scenes? I’d never.

  13. 18 Jun 2008 5:58 PM

    Jill – I tried Thomas’ PA, but, unlike for most of Romancelandia, it didn’t work for me. The plot is unique and the prose is good (however, I really wouldn’t have noticed the prose had it not been for the gushing on Dear Author), but the characters themselves left me cold and I didn’t really care if they got their HEA or not. Basically, the book didn’t hit me emotionally.

    I enjoyed Kleypas’ SD, but I loved BED. I guess I like my heroes a little rough around the edges.

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