Analyzing The Top Ten
On one of my romance groups, the moderator asked us to look at our list of favorites and say why we loved them. I looked at mine and this is what I came up with:
1.Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
--I could write a thesis on how wonderful this book is. Most of all I love the hero. Dain is a strong, masculine, sexy but oh-so vulnerable hero who has more money and land than he knows what to do with. But he really truly needs to be loved. Dain must be one of my all time favorite heroes. His story is so sad I could weep. But he's a bad boy. He claims only to love himself. However, it's soon made clear that he hates himself because no one ever showed him that he was worthy of love. Jessica, the heroine is so amazing. If I could pick a romance heroine I would want to be friends with I would pick her. She is strong and independent. She had the fortitude to go after the man she wants, take him warts and all, but clean up the mess in his life, and heal his heart, and not turn into a whimp in the process. She actually shoots him (he deserved it). There are scenes that make you cry and in the next scene you are laughing out loud. This book should be Romance Writing 101. I love the scene when he acknowledges his son. I had tears rolling down my cheeks.
This is my all time favorite romance hands down!
2.The Shadow and The Star by Laura Kinsale
--Samuel was an amazing hero. He was a warrior, a virgin, wounded, and very passionate under all that control. Leda was a heroine that you would like and could identify with. The writing was like poetry. The writing is artistry. I love the way Kinsale captured the repressed emotions that signify the Victorian period to me. The characters aren't anachronistic like some books. They are deeply at home in the Victorian setting. Their morals and beliefs aren't Millennial. So some readers may not fall in love with them the way I did. The love scenes are so vivid and intense you feel like you are in the room with the characters. You feel the revelatory emotions that Samuel and Leda feel (both virgins).
3.Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
--The ultimate love story with a flawed hero who pulled himself out of the gutter and became a millionaire. He's still rough around the edges and utterly real. He becomes Prince Charming to you despite his crooked tooth, guttural Cockney dialect, and rough manners. He falls hard for Sara and acts like someone truly in love. Just reading how much he loved Sara made me weep. Kleypas is a wonderful writer. She knows romance. She knows that romance is ecstasy mixed with angst. Pleasure and pain. This book is lush and poignant. One of the best and most memorable love stories ever written.
4.All Through The Night by Connie Brockway
--This one isn't a light romantic romp. You feel all the darkness that envelops Jack and Anne. You feel Jack's world-weariness (he reminds me of Kiefer Sutherland on 24 as Jack Bauer). Anne is actually two women: One an ever so proper and repressed widow. The other a fearless, sensual jewel thief. There is a great scene where she 'molests' Jack while he is tied to a chair. It was great and so different from anything I've ever read. This book has two tortured characters who are alone in the dark until they find each other, passion, love, and healing. At the end of the book you almost sigh in relief because you're not quite certain they'll get their happy ending. But they do!
5.A Well-Pleasured Lady by Christina Dodd
--This book is sexy, a little bit different. Tons of chemistry between Mary and Sebastian, reluctant at first. A hero who isn't lilly white. But neither is the heroine. Mary is very very repressed. She doesn't want to feel anything. And Sebastian wants her to feel everything and realize that he won't be ignored. This book sparked controversy among readers, dividing them into two different camps, all because of the first love scene. I was floored by the emotion in that scene. I had been reading romances for over ten years when I read this and it made me sit up and take notice. This book shows that love isn't always a pretty emotion, but the power of it can save a person.
6.Rules of Engagement by Christina Dodd
--Pamela is a strong woman who conquers the heart of a rake. She seduces him in this one. Light-hearted, well-written and sexy. This is a good book to read after you've read a heavy book or had a rough weak. It will leave you rejuvenated. But don't feel like you won't get your money's worth if you buy this one. Although it's light there is emotion and depth or I wouldn't love it.
7.Some Enchanted Evening by Christina Dodd
--Princess Clarice is independent, a survivor. She's become a bit of a con artist to survive, staying just a few steps in front of her powerful enemies, and knowing that she needs to go home but may never be able to return there. When she ends up in Hepburn's village she's planning to stay just long enough to recoup her losses. The Earl of Hepburn is a bit of a rogue who thinks he's in control. He had been forced at an early age to take control of the situation, after all. He's had a whole village depending on him. He's returned from war where all his illusions were lost, having been betrayed by a superior officer. Black and white don't exactly exist and he's out for revenge. He intends to use Clarice to get his revenge, believing Clarice to be the type to go along quite easily with his plans for the right compensation. And if he wants her in his bed, he'll manage that as well. In the process he falls in love. And when he falls, he falls hard. The characters were vivid and interesting. The love scenes were wonderfully steamy. I loved the fact the hero and heroine both had their secrets and flaws. Another fun but fulfilling read!
8.The Texan's Wager by Jodi Thomas
--I love this hero. Carter McKoy is very unusual for a romance hero. He doesn't talk much and tends to separate himself from the community. People think he's slow and weird. But he is deep and intriguing.
Almost instantly he forms a profound connection with the women he wins in a marriage lottery, Bailee. Their relationship is a joy to watch unfold. The elements of a grand western are also there in this book. The heroine is strong and capable, a true survivor. But she is open to love despite her strength. From practically the first moment they are together you feel like they are meant to be together forever. This is a pure and true love story.
9.The Mercenary by Cherry Adair
--This is a really good adventure novel. Sexy, suspenseful with a likeable heroine in over her head and a not-so-good hero. I love this book!!! It's one of those books that you want to turn around and reread just after you finish it the first time.
10.Ritual Sins by Anne Stuart
--Another truly excellent dark romance with a hero who is not quite heroic. This book is not for everyone but I love it. It's sexy and edgy with tortured characters who manage to find love despite the dark surroundings and the darkness in their hearts. Luke the hero is actually the worst sort of con-artist. He's pretending to be a religious leader. At first I hesitated to read it because of this. I am very religious myself and hated the idea of hero who is misleading people spiritually. But I skimmed it because I love the author and had to buy it. Reading this book you realize that Luke is due a recogning. He gets it from the daughter of one of the women that his false doctrine had swayed. She left all her money to them and her daughter is fighting angry about it. Rachel comes to kick ass and take names. She had a history of sexual abuse that has her deeply angry and locked tight within herself. Surprisingly, Luke is the man who helps her to open up and to overcome her painful past. This is another book about characters healing through dark and ugly circumstances.
As you can see my favorite books have flawed, hurting characters who find healing and redemption in the course of the story. Typically I don't find myself attracted to stories that are really light and fluffy. It's funny, that. I love to laugh. My favorite movies are funny ones. But in romances I like the angst. My favorite books are the ones that make you laugh one minute and cry the next. The books that make you earn the happy ending by ploughing along through the anguish, accompanied by the characters. I also love sexy books with descriptive love scenes that show the deep passion and connection between the characters. My choices reflect that. I love romance and these books are the reason why I will stand up loud and proud and declare that I am first and foremost a romance novel reader! Who needs literary fiction?