by Anna Campbell
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2010 is packed with great things for you.
I've already started the year off in style with a reading binge (well, probably I should say I finished the last year with said reading binge) and I thought I'd share the fruits of my labors with you.
The end of the year is always such an incredible whirl but then I take a few days off. Usually there's some visitors involved (there were this year) but in between I indulge in a feast of completely non-educational guilt-free TV and a reading binge.
It takes me back to how I used to read books before deadlines and real life interfered with my addiction. Starting the day knowing that I needed to do nothing and be nowhere and I could just give myself up to a wonderful story until I reached the last page.
And what is a girl to do then?
Why, pick up the next wonderful story!
Sadly, my life no longer affords many opportunities to wallow in books like this which is one of the reasons I absolutely adore these few days every summer. It's hot outside although this year we actually had rainy days after Christmas - even more delicious to lie around and read about these gorgeous heroes and their wonderful heroines. I stash away books I know will be good for this break. And this year I was lucky as a lot of my favorite authors had books out for Christmas.
Anyway, here is a quick thumbnail sketch of a couple of books that really took my fancy. If they're in your TBR pile, read them, they're great. If they're not, get thee to a bookstore pronto!
I love novellas but sometimes the collections can be a mixture of hit and miss. Not in the case of THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS which features stories by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick and Courtney Milan. Mary and Nicola's stories are both really touching and romantic and Courtney's debut, THE WICKED GIFT, made me think I was witnessing the birth of a star. It's brilliant and features, for a refreshing change, middle-class characters rather than people from the top of the social ladder. I've read an advance copy of Courtney's PROOF BY SEDUCTION which was a January release and it's utterly brilliant. Don't miss it!
Laura Kinsale is one of the geniuses of the genre (or any genre, for that matter). Her first book in several years is out in February and yet again, I was lucky enough to get an advance copy. LESSONS IN FRENCH is wonderful, lighter than many of the vintage Kinsales, but still with a fantastic emotional punch and her beautiful, beautiful writing. And it features what I'm sure is going to be one of my favorite characters of 2010, the heroine's prize bull Hubert! Seriously, you will lose your heart to this particular alpha male!
One of the best mystery/romance series out there at the moment is C.S. Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries. Sebastian is a viscount in Regency London who, because of his peculiar range of skills, is drawn into investigating murders that the powers that be (and remember, this is before there's a regular police force) would rather just went away without scandal. I read the fourth in the series, WHERE SERPENTS SLEEP, over Christmas. Wow, what a story! And seriously, I'm in love with Sebastian! These books are beautifully written, dark, moody, emotional, and have a very strong romance plot to accompany the mystery. Highly recommended.
Over the last year, Sarah Mayberry, has become one of my must-buy writers. She writes really punchy, sexy, emotional romance and her latest, HER SECRET FLING, is no exception. It uses a romance theme I always enjoy - hatred into love - and features a fabulous ex-Olympic swimmer as the heroine. I love how Sarah gives her characters unusual backgrounds - her last Blaze heroine was a tattoo artist!
Susan Elizabeth Phillips is another goddess of the romance genre. I had a wonderful time (and stayed up far too late) with her latest, WHAT I DID FOR LOVE. It's another hate into love story - perhaps there's a bit of a vogue for those at the moment. Georgie York and Bram Shepard starred in a mega-successful sitcom when they were teenagers, but the romance on screen wasn't mirrored in their real personal clashes. Through a series of mishaps, years later, when both Georgie and Bram are struggling to resurrect their careers, they end up married to one another. It's such fun watching them learn about each other and gradually fall in love, completely against their better judgment. By the way, I adore those shoes on the cover - aren't they gorgeous?
What other noteworthy reads brightened my break? Tiffany Clare's fabulous debut THE SURRENDER OF A LADY, again an advance copy. Keep an eye out in autumn, 2010, for this really sexy story about harems and sensuality and lost love found. Liz Carlyle's WICKED ALL DAY is going to be one of my reviews on The Romance Dish in the next few months so watch out for that. Ditto for Barbara O'Neal's beautiful THE SECRET OF EVERYTHING.
So have you read any of these books? Are any in your TBR pile? Did you pick up any great books over Christmas? Let's start adding to our lists!