"Move 'em on, head 'em up
Head 'em up, move 'em on
Move 'em on, head 'em up
Count 'em out, ride 'em in,
Ride 'em in, count 'em out,
Count 'em out, ride 'em in
Well, it’s time to bid a
Now, I’m going to reflect on this year in my Romanceland. Much to my surprise, by the time this year started to wind down, I had switched almost entirely to the electronic format. Never thought that would happen to me, I resisted for so long. Anyway, I’ve been having a grand time enjoying the publishing world changes. All those self-published authors, prequels, freebies, old books being released…what a time we are having!
Some romance voices that we will miss: Maeve Binchy, Judy McCoy, Monica Jackson, Marcia Evanick and Penny Jordan (12-31-11.) And, a special goodbye to Nora Ephron…your work makes me smile.
Lang may your lum reek! All that hard word finally comes to fruition! Welcome to all you debut authors…And, out of the many, here are some who caught my eye: Cecelia Grant (2011), Manda Collins, Anne Lee Huber, Erin Knightley, Nina Rowan, Miranda Davis, Leigh LaValle, Samantha Grace, Jillian Stone, Anna Randol, Pamela Sherwood, Juliana Gray.
Welcome back! And, finally after years and years and years of checking your websites, welcome back to the fold Jane Ashford, Elizabeth Elliott and Danielle Harmon.
These are a few of my favorite things – la – la – la. Listed below are the books that were some of my favorite for this year. They are in no particular order.
- A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long
- Sweet Deception by Heather Snow
- A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare
- The Duke’s Tattoo by Miranda Davis (self-published, hazaa)
- Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt
- Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase
- Along Came a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle
- The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan (who knew small could be so big)
- Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville
- A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare
- When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris
- The Revenge of Lord Eberlin by Julia London
- Rules to Catch a Devilish Duke by Suzanne Enoch
- A Lady Awakened by Cecelia Grant
- Unraveled by Courtney Milan (Dec. 2011)
- Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover by Victoria Alexander (electronic download this year!!)
- The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James (the treatment of Rupert was uncomfortable)
- Jennifer Johnston is Sick of Being Married by Heather McElhatton (poop not funny)
- The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay
- Game of Thrones by George R R Martin (yes, I know it wasn’t published in 2012, but, hey that’s when I read it. And, it is a fantasy land for pedophiles.)
- Rules of Engagement by StephanieLaurens, Kasey Michaels, Delilah Marvelle or as it’s called at my house, the Stephanie Laurens show
- At Your Pleasure by Meredith Duran (still there staring at me and I am in the minority)
- Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea by Sophia Nash
- Much Ado About Rogues by Kasey Michaels
- The Husband Hunt by Lindsay Sands
- What an Earl Wants by Kasey Michaels
No more wire hangers…Now it’s time for the nominations for the Mommie Dearest Award. Yes, those women you love to hate and I found a bunch of them this year. But, I did narrow my list down to some very memorable vituperators. The social climbing, sister-in-law, step on crocuses Eleanor from One Starlit Night by Carolyn Jewel, part of the anthology Midnight Scandals. Any woman that deliberately steps on flowers is a spine chiller in my eyes. Maybe she tripped over one when she was a child, who knows? Eustace, the nasty words spilling out of the mouth, over-the-top mean sister from Rules to Catch a Devilish Duke by Suzanne Enoch. The histrionic Lady Shelby from How to Romance a Rake by Manda Collins. She takes motherhood to a whole different level. And, now we come to two women who I l-o-a-t-h-e-d…both of them heroines. The first one was Isabelle from Ravishing the Heiress and Dance at Midnight by Sherry Thomas. She was the epitome of self-centered, never a thought for anyone else, including her own children. She didn’t care whose feelings she stepped on in her race to James’ bed. And, how was she rewarded? Why she was given her own story… Dance at Midnight. Granted, Ms. Thomas changes her into someone else, but you can’t fool me, she’s was still a loser. Now, for the winner. There is more to this award than just shrieking at the top of your lungs. Exhibit A: Olivia the snarky heroine from The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James. Ooooo, I hatesssss Olivia. There is a fine line between being an amusing cynic and being a hurtful bully. Even if the person who is the brunt of the humor doesn’t know they are. They are still a victim. Rupert deserved better.
We all love our heroes, don’t we? Ummm, maybe not all of our heroes. In Romanceland we do have plenty of bonehead heroes and here are some that caught my eye this year. Let’s see if I can refresh your memory and you too can all groan along with me. Lucas, the sex-withholder from How to Dance with a Duke by Manda Collins. Let me see a show of hands. Anyone here seen any man withhold sex because someone doesn’t say “I love you?” That’s what I thought…no hands. Christian, the jump-to-the-wrong-conclusion-I-hate-you-I-hate-you-fickle guy from Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas. James, who abandons his wife to become a pirate, from The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James. Arrrrg. Braedon, from Unbuttoning Miss Hardwick by Deb Marlowe. Mr. Gloomy Gus. He eats worms, boo-hoo. Michael, from A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean. He kisses, then walks all over the downtrodden heroine. And, the winner of the Bonehead Hero Award is Fitz from Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas. Granted, right from the beginning I knew I was going to have a problem with Fitz, but he was even more bonehead then I expected. What an insensitive lout! He loves to entertain his martyr wife with stories of his prowess in bed with his mistresses. And, he just cannot get over his lost love, the horrible Isabelle. Bring me a pitch-fork, puleese!
You would think that with our jerk-wad heroes we wouldn’t need villains. Well, we do, just to make the heroes look better. I don’t know what happened this year, but I seem to have only one memorable villain. Maybe the rest were just cardboard. Sir Walter Patsworth from the short story What Happened at Midnight by Courtney Milan from the anthology Midnight Scandals. This guy gave me the willies. He is not your standard Snidely Whiplash kind of guy, no. He is a silent, creepy, quiet abuser.
Now, it’s time for those people who take over the story, even when they are not supposed to. Those wonderful secondary characters. In Romanceland, a number of these end up with their own story. Here are some of the ones that jumped off the pages at me this year. Let’s start with the town folk. There are three series’ that just shine because their authors have done an outstanding job of developing the people that inhabit the small villages. These town-folk just come alive in these pages. Spindle Cove by Tessa Dare, Pennyroyal Green by Julia Anne Long by and Hadley Green by Julia London. I love visiting these places. Now, to individual secondary characters. Lisbeth the wonderful narcissistic character from How the Marquess was Won by Julia Anne Long; the over-enthusiastic Miss Wharton, from Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie; the “handsome stupid man” from The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne by Madeline Hunter, Ian MacKenzie, still stealing scenes and still adorable from The Duke’sPerfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley; Joseph Tinbox, who brought a tear to my eye, from Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt. And, the winner is Rupert. Yes, Rupert from The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James. He was the bright spot in this book. He stole the show and he should have been a hero.
I don’t have a favorite hero or heroine category; however, if I did Smite Turner from Unraveled by Courtney Milan would be at the top. Even though this was published in 2011, it was too late to make it to my list last year, which is a shame, because it’s a wonderful book and I loved Smite. He is one of my favorite heroes of recent years. Right up there with Derek Craven and Sebastian Ballister, Marquess of Dain. Ahh, hairpins.
Gus Award. What’s a book without those adorable little critters stealing the shoes and scenes? Dr. Gibson, the dog from When Maidens Mourn by CS Harris. He proved that digging up bones could be mighty funny. Mr. Muffin, the dog who luved feathers from Along Came a Duke, by Elizabeth Boyle. Reggie the cat from Bedding Lord Ned, by Sally MacKenzie. If ever there was a matchmaker, it was he. Chrybolis the cat from How the Marquess was Won, by Julia Anne Long, provided me with some laugh out loud moments, especially while being rescued. The nameless horse who was responsible for the amnesia in Tempting the Bride, by Sherry Thomas. Badger the dog from A Lady by Midnight, by Tessa Dare. Badger knew how to take sides. And, the winner is Ghost the dog. Never were there truer friends then Ghost and our hero Smite. There were some very poignant scenes with our winner from Unraveled, by Courtney Milan.
Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for, the prestigious, gargantuan Mr. Toad Award. This award is given to the toad who garners my attention for whatever reason. Hugo’s Mr. Toad, from The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan. Hugo had me checking my medicine cabinet for something that was just the right finger circling size. He also created quite a stir when I read the word “hand” as “hands.” Poor Theo from A Lady Awakened by Cecelia Grant. It’s not Theo’s fault that the heroine finds his Mr. Toad repulsive. No sir, it’s not icky smelly or anything, even if it doesn’t do the normal magical Romanceland woo-hoo. It’s just the heroine has a few hang-ups. Oh, Jackson, I’m so sorry. Nothing says romance like hair; it just depends where it’s located. In A Lady Never Surrenders by Sabrina Jeffries, it’s not Jackson’s Mr. Toad who is the problem, it is the hair on his neighbors that make his Mr. Toad worth mentioning. And, it is hair that is responsible for making this year’s winner a real winner. Step forward and receive your award. Ta-ta-ta-dah! You, yes you, Winter from Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt. No, wait a minute, maybe you better not step forward, your appearance sounds a little scary to me. You see, Winter has the standard humongous hero equipment, don’t get me wrong, but he also has so much hair around his navel that it can only be termed as fur. There is so much fur/hair that one cannot see the belly button, let alone anything else, no matter what the size. Just the thought of it made me giggle. So, congratulations gentlemen, you made my year interesting!
And, now as the sun slowly sinks into the West we must bid adieu to 2012 and welcome in 2013. Personally, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all the trees remain standing and the electricity remains on. I’m looking forward to more books by Courtney Milan and hoping for a better way to track self-published authors. I’m keeping my eyes out for Miranda Davis’ self-published work coming sometime in 2013. I am also looking forward to the release of the last in the Deburgh series by Deborah Simmons, surprisingly enough called The Last DeBurgh. Sadly, we have Sherry Thomas taking a break from the Historical Romance world to write Young Adult Fantasy. And, has Lisa Kleypas abandoned those of us who love historical romance? I’m still checking for Sara Lindsey and I wish Julia Ross would pick up the pen again. One can never have enough books to read. And, to my fellow blog friends, I’m always happy when you drop by. Here’s to 2013.