I decided not to do a full-on Best of the Year list because there’s a bunch of 2012 stuff I haven’t read yet (sorry, Sherry Thomas, I have my entire New Year’s Day reserved for you) and I know many of those would be candidates.
So this is a Big Fat Disclaimer that these are books I read and reviewed in my inaugural nine months of blogging, but not necessarily published in 2012.
Permanent spots on my Desert Island Keepers list:
- Contemporary: Ride With Me by Ruthie Knox
By the time I got to the Red Bordello Motel Room Birthday Sex, I was a complete goner for this book. This is my standard for contemporary M/F romance, Tom Geiger is my Contemporary Fictional Boyfriend, I want Lexie to be my BFF and I have a huge Author Crush on Ms. Knox.
- Historical: A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant
Grant’s writing exceeds any literary fiction I have ever read, and the complexity of her characters is incomparable. I loved A Lady Awakened, but A Gentleman Undone blew me away.
- GLBTQ: Tigerland by Sean Kennedy
This is totally cheating because I squeaked in a One-Quote Review a few hours ago just so I could put this on the list. I could never do a full review of this one or Tigers & Devils because I adore Simon and Declan sooooo much I would be squeeing fangirl goo all over the place and you’d lose all respect for me.
- Inspirational: Stealing Home by Allison Pittman
I purchased this on a whim for my World Series of Romance baseball theme, expecting it to be a bit of humorous fluff. But I was so, so wrong because this book gave me everything I look for in an inspirational romance AND it made me ugly-cry. I’ll re-read it once I recover, which may be a while.
I couldn’t pick just one short story/novella because there were so many damn good ones. Like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one…. *~*happysigh*~*
My favorite reviews:
- Lessons Learned: My Summer of Harlequin Experiment
Let’s just say I learned a LOT about category romance and Romancelandia in general. I also added about 75 books to my TBR from all the recommendations I got.
- Side by Side: Julia Quinn and Cecilia Grant
This one took me forever to plan and format, but I love how it turned out, and it really helped me define my own view of what an author’s “voice” really means.
- Stealing Home by Allison Pittman
My one and only coherent A-grade review (I think my only A+), and I made Cecilia Grant cry. Need I say more?
- Black Sheep Sheik and The Spy Who Saved Christmas
Live-tweeting these was so much fun, and author Dana Marton single-handedly saved my Summer of Harlequin from an early demise.
- Lord of the Shadows by Kathryn Le Veque
I finally got to use all my Princess Bride quotes AND gratuitous-yet-historically-accurate phallic symbol images!
- The Cowboy’s Princess Wife
The Darts of Mockery were sharpened and aimed with deadly accuracy. But, admittedly, a target this ridiculous would be hard to miss.
- Cowboy Heat by Sable Hunter
Ah, the one that started it all. Sweet Jesus Honey Dews!
Yes, it’s a long list. I read a lot of good books, duh. In no particular order….
- “You aren’t man enough to try that, Mr. Dalton.” Wrong move. Oh Jesus Christ, she knew to the very millisecond when Jaime Dalton decided to accept her challenge. All she could hope for now was to make it up the stairs and into her room before he could…. “Oh, fuck.”
— Wicked Game by Mercy Celeste
- “Something curled inside me, sort of liquidy warm and scary as hell.”
— The 51st Thursday by Mercy Celeste
- They sat in indolent nakedness….
— The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe by Sabrina Darby
- The storeroom was airless and hot and the space was tight. But it was enough for what they needed.
— Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper
- “I’m here to horrify you,” he said.
— The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan.
- “What the hell is this? …What the Helen Mirren did you do to your book?”
— Galley Proof by Eric Arvin
- “Look at me,” Owen whispered. “Look at me until you can’t anymore.”
— Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov
- And by one means or another, he meant to have her. In the most unholy ways imaginable.
— Hot Under the Collar by Jackie Barbosa
- He did dirty, delicious things to her.
— Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas
- Tom was going to break her heart, and she was going to let him.
— Ride With Me by Ruthie Knox
- “I never thought I’d be penetrated by a Neville,” she said wonderingly. “Maybe a Colin, or a Simon….”
— About Last Night by Ruthie Knox
- Hey, I don’t know why exactly, because you can be a jerk sometimes, but I think your heart is in the right place and your jerkiness seems to arouse me. Let’s have sex.
— Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden
- If my purpose were to distract you, I should have commenced my erotic spectacle.”
— A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant
- “Sixty seconds.” She flicked one wrist and her reticule hit the floor. “Make them count.”
— A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant
- She was never going to get out of here. They’d find her dried-up and lifeless body years later, flung over a tuba, two flutes making the sign of the cross.
— A Night Like This by Julia Quinn
- “Shut up,” he said, and then he kissed her, because there was no other way of conveying how he felt.
— Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry
- Corporal Thorne could make a woman quiver, from all the way across the room.
— Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare
- “I just want to be the first choice for someone for once. Just once.”
— Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
- In the forms, she could see the gathered memories of their days together. She could see the hundred different want he thought of her. The flowing curves of wistfulness, the tight control of denial. It was all there. Anger, hope, longing. Desire.
— My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin
- “I’m a prick. A prickly, bitter volatile prick, destined to splat on the floor of life.”
— Love, Hypothetically by Anne Tenino
- She: “If I had the strength, I would so punch you.” He: “I’d let you and even pretend it hurt.”
— Summer Nights by Susan Mallery
- We stand there and just kiss, and with every touch, we seem to explain and apologise, and bridge that gap that yawned between us.
— Skybound by Aleksandr Voinov
- She could see those hands wrapped around the steering wheel of some super-expensive sports car, or reining in a wild camel. Or holding their baby.
— Black Sheep Sheik by Dana Marton
- Sean realized if he wanted to now he could push back, any time, because there was nothing holding him to the wall anymore. Nothing but Cormac’s unspoken expectation and Sean’s unspeakable desire to meet it.
— The Druid Stone by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
- If Ned’s eyes held half the power of that magician’s wand, Duke would be nothing more than a pinkie ring left spinning on a pew.
— Stealing Home by Allison Pittman
- “When we’re alone,” he whispered, “look up.”
— The Duchess War by Courtney Milan
- I read the intimidating words “Artichoke Soufflé,” and before I could perform the rare task of censoring myself, I blurted, “Oh, now you’re just fucking with us.”
— Bite by Jenny Lyn
- “Extra attention from a deranged terrorist was the last thing she wanted. Not unless they were one-on-one and she had a cleaver handy.”
— The Spy Who Saved Christmas by Dana Marton
- Mother of God, he had great hands.
— Room at the Inn by Ruthie Knox
- I only said I would stop talking to you, he’d written. I never promised to stop loving you.
— A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan
Oh, all right, maybe 30 was a few too many, but it’s my blog so suck it up and quit whining.
Other, um, memorable – yeah, memorable – quotes
Again in no particular order….
- “No one will ever know that you are the true creator of the Magna Carta.”
— Lord of the Shadows by Kathyrn Le Veque
- “My nipples picked you out of the crowd.”
— Squeeze Play by Kate Angell
- Their joining brought him toppling down on her, in the blazing splendor of the archbishop’s bed.
— By Royal Command by Laura Navarre
- He appropriated a name from Flibbery Jack, the pirate captain who would no longer be needing it, and gave it to himself.
— The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James
- Daddy told them how lovely his three girls were – almost as lovely as their mother….
— Loving Lady Marcia by Kieran Kramer
- She hadn’t considered that her personality might interfere with her plan of deception.
— Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure by Sophie Barnes
- Lord, she didn’t want to do this, did not want to be here, well she couldn’t do anything about it now since she already arrived, she despondently told herself.
— The Cowboy’s Princess Wife by Mysty McPartland
- “I just hope it doesn’t get out that I write racy romance novels…. I write love stories, most of them are mild – but the last one was a bit risqué. But don’t worry, only the girls know my pen name – Sable Hunter.”
— Badass by Sable Hunter
- …her knee resting right on top of his package. He just hoped she didn’t bear down hard and smash his wiener.
— Her Magic Touch by Sable Hunter
- And before he left the town square, he had stopped at the florist and bought a dozen peach colored roses. The color reminded him of her nipples.
— Hot On Her Trail by Sable Hunter
- “I’m going to use up all my orgasms.”
— Cowboy Heat by Sable Hunter
My eye-twitch thing is flaring up over a list of eleven [*whimper*] but my therapist says I can’t let my OCD rule my life so I’m just going to leave it like that and then gloat about it at my next appointment.
I was soooo looking forward to reading these, but they fell apart and left me sighing over what could have been.
- Cowboy’s Triplet Trouble by Carla Cassidy
A story about secret baby triplets should have been wacky fun. But it was boring.
- Veil of Pearls by Mary Lu Tyndall
I feel betrayed by all the five-star reviews for this, because the logic flaws and character inconistencies were just too much to ignore.
- Complete Faith by Sue Brown
I really want someone else to write this book and put some actual emotion into it.
- Season for Love by Marie Force
I used to pimp this series to anyone and everyone. Now I’m afraid to read the next books because I’m afraid they’ll just annoy me even further.
- Binding Arbitration by Elizabeth Marx
The amazingly amazing prequel novella set my expectations way too high for the melodramatic meltdown of the full novel. Italian mobsters AND Peruvian drug lords? Really?
- Redemption of a Hollywood Starlet by Kimberly Lang
This Harlequin Presents about the double-standard of slut-shaming managed to ignore the heroine and glorify the manwhore hero. What a waste of an opportunity.
- A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
A depressingly predictable Romance-O-Matic Regency with unlikeable characters. But I’m hearing the second book in the series makes up for this book of blah.
Egregious examples of WTFery and Piss-Me-Offery
If you read dreck like this, you’d be cranky too.¹
- Gnome on the Range by Jennifer Zane
Evil Villain is a ranch owner trying to retrieve stolen vials of valuable horse semen hidden in garden gnomes. Also, he’s a Psycho Dom who uses horse tranquilizers to disable his victims. Yay for demonizing BDSM!
- Squeeze Play by Kate Angell
An insulting excuse for a sports romance, with bonus fat-shaming and misogyny.
- The Cowboy’s Princess Wife by Mysty McPartland
More pathetic than rage-inducing, but a painful example of what happens when editing is a throw-away concept.
- The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James
I hated this book with a white-hot passion, and I’ve sworn off this author for good.
- Her Magic Touch by Sable Hunter
Still retaining the infamous honor of being the Absolute Worst Book I Have Ever Read. I’m usually all “sure, whatever works for you, go for it,” but I will never, ever find misogyny like this to be romantic, and I just want to shake some sense into anyone who defends this kind of mindset.²
- Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure by Sophie Barnes
The fact that this abomination was put out by a Big Six publisher is frightening. Beyond the lazy editing and blatant disregard for historical accuracy, the plot is too fucking stupid for words and the cliche-filled writing is cringe-worthy. This is my standard for Mistoricals; e.g. “Heiress Without a Cause wasn’t good, but it wasn’t ‘Lady Alexandra’ bad.”
Most popular posts
In summary: Flowcharts, Full Snark Bitchfests and Simile Sex.
- Flowchart: Are You a Misogynist?
- The Cowboy’s Princess Wife
- ‘A’ is for Author Crush, ‘D’ is for Dud (the “Will I Like Your Book?” flowchart)
- An Open Letter to J. Taylor Publishing (this still ranks really high on my search queries)
- Lessons Learned: My Summer of Harlequin Experiment
- Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure
- Lessons Learned from the Hell Yeah!/Dear Author Madness
- By Royal Command
- The Ugly Duchess
- Oh Dear God: Flaming Waves of Bliss and Hot Whipped Cream
And, last but not least…the weirdest search queries
These are some of the fun phrases that directed people (making some serious assumptions here) to my blog:
- the mother of all goat pictures
- world of smut
- pinup pregnant
- apocalypse tapestry
- sheikh deflowering a virgin
- she whips his balls
- m/m romance bdsm penis plug fiction
- he takes out his cock and she bears his cock with a whip
- it is possible a girl anus to be simile
- him and her whipped cream
- whipped cream sex for her
- vagina bliss cream
- pussy cream in waves
- i’m wanted by the cops from a huge misunderstanding
- hon·ey·suck·le tits clits
- naughty girl on girl quotes
- what does quicksand feel like flowing through your vagina
- vimot sport erotika
- cum se insteaza amnesia
- it was as if his dick had a homing device
- insta sluts archive
- tudor man whipped
- diks tattoo
- pirate poppy tattoo
- you are my sweetness
- romance love sex adult story post delivered to inbox
- erotic moppet
- moppet sex
- moppet sex model
I’m actually quite proud of most of those. Except for the “moppet” ones (*shudder*).
¹ There’s one more Oh Dear God book not included on this list that was so gawd-awful I couldn’t even form full sentences to communicate the true extent of its dreadfulness. A short review on Goodreads was all I could manage without making the eye-twitch permanent. It’s lingering in obscurity, and it needs to stay there. Even I have standards, dammit.
² I originally had the phrase “get your head out of your ass” in there, but I toned it down for the sensitive types who might be reading this.