Monday, December 13, 2010

Penelope's Top 20 List for 2010

Yep, 2010 has been a doozy. Aside from the near-death experience (!!!!), it also had some interesting romance reading.

Here's Penelope's Top 20 for 2010:

1. Best New-To-Me Sub-Genre: Amish romance. A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman was an unexpected pleasure...sweet, romantic, and the hero has a beard. What more could a girl ask for?

2. Best Debut Novel: No contest. Carolyn Crane's phenomenal UF masterpiece Mind Games blew me right out of the water. The totally original, quirky and satisfying novel was ridiculously brilliant. Bravo, Carolyn!

3. The Best Book I Never Read: Lover Mine by JR Ward? I appear to have fallen off the JR Ward bandwagon, and I'm not sure when I'll get back on.

4. Best Quickie: Lena Goldfinch's The Language of Souls was just a gorgeous book. Beautifully written, and utterly romantic. I loved the symbolism, and I adored the final perfect kiss.

5. Best Fictional Beard: Ian from Robyn Carr's A Virgin River Christmas. A big ole lumber-jack style beard. And it's red. Win!

6. Best Tortured Hero: Malkom from Kresley Cole's Demon from the Dark. An abused blood slave, on the verge of sanity....a true savage hero. His path to redemption was that much sweeter (and sexier).

7. Biggest Disappointment: Blameless by Gail Carriger. Soulless was one of my favorite reads of the year. The delicious chemistry between Alexia and Conall was just too good to be true. The fact that Carriger kept these two characters apart until the bitter end of Blameless was an enormous misstep.

8. Most Totally Unexpected Kick Ass Book With Most Unlikely Heroine And Hero: Skin Game by Ava Gray. When I started reading this book, I didn't think I was going to like it. Or the characters. By the end, I was completely absorbed and praying for their HEA. Amazingly fabulous book.

9. Most Insane Temporary Reading Obsession: Tie between "Tycoon" books and aliens. What the hell was I thinking?

10. Biggest Bunch Of Marshmallow Fluff: Julia Quinn's Ten Things I Love About You. The Bridgerton series seems a lifetime ago.

11. Favorite Mystery: Annette Blair's Death By Diamonds. Vintage clothes, cool paranormal heroine, and a yummy love triangle made this the most adorable mystery I read in 2010.

12. Coolest Paranormal Descriptions: Water Bound by Christine Feehan. Rikki's affinity for water was spell-binding and awe-inspiring. Now that's what I'm talking about!

13. Favorite Christmas Read: A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr. This book was so emotionally satisfying. And Ian was one of my favorite heroes of the year...a wounded gentle ex-soldier healed by the love of a good woman. Sigh.

14. Best Historical: A tie between The Endearment by LaVyrle Spencer and Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley. Both of these books were beautiful love stories.

15. Most Heroic Ferret In A Romance Novel: Dodger, in Married By Morning by Lisa Kleypas.

16. Favorite Recommendation By Another Blogger: Julia Barrett's Beauty and the Feast, recommended by Mandi at Smexybooks. Not only did I love this book, I love Julia, too...she's a total sweetheart and a wonderful writer. Good pimpin, Mandi!

17. Best Sex Scene: The bath scene in Kresley Cole's Demon from the Dark. Holy Macarena! Soap me up, Malkom. Come on, you know you wanna....

18. Best Heroine: This is a toughie. Runner-up for this category is Rikki in Water Bound. Christine Feehan took a huge chance creating an autistic heroine, but her risk totally panned out. Rikki is strong, loving, loyal and brave. She's a wonderful heroine. But my favorite heroine of the year goes to Denise in Jeaniene Frost's First Drop Of Crimson. Some other readers were not digging this book--it's quite different from Frost's Night Huntress series. But I thought this book was great, especially Denise, an ordinary woman thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Not only was she completely determined to save her family and Spade, I loved that she made a point to save another character who was unfairly slated for death. That was a truly heroic act.

19. Best Hero: My favorites for the year...Conall, the growly, sexy alpha werewolf from Soulless. Spade from First Drop of Crimson. Malkom, tortured sexy soul from Demon from the Dark. Aidan, hunkalicious Irish hero from Nora Robert's Jewels of the Sun. But my #1 favorite for the year is Lev from Water Bound. When Christine Feehan nails it, she nails it. Lev is a stone cold killer who is incredibly patient and understanding with the autistic woman he loves. Lev and Rikki's love story is a perfect example of Christine Feehan's mastery of the romance genre.

20. Best Book: I love the unexpected. Gail Carriger's Soulless was a mix of steampunk inventions, paranormal politics, had a wicked sense of humor, a hilarious heroine, and a sexy werewolf hero. It was delicious. Skin Game was a wild, sometimes violent, sexy, suspenseful ride. These were both in the running for best read of 2010. But my absolute favorite for the year is Carolyn Crane's Mind Games. The premise is stunningly original, the storyline fascinating, the characters compelling, the writing superb. I was pissed off when it was over. Something tells me Carolyn Crane is just beginning her ascent to literary greatness. In my not so humble opinion.

All my best,