The Best

Every romance reader has a list of the best and worst books she’s read.  Sometimes they follow what’s popular.  Sometimes they just grab you for some inexplicable reason and stay with you.  Here’s a list of my favorite books…for now.

The Best

“Angles Fall” by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts is one of my favorite authors, and that’s hardly surprising considering the fact that she’s dominated the romance world for so long.  I actually didn’t start reading her books until about a year and a half ago when I picked up “Midnight Bayou” in part because of a strange fascination I have with New Orleans (a place I’ve never been, mind you).  After “Midnight Bayou” I ripped through a whole stack of her other books.  “Angels Fall” was one of them.

What sets “Angels Fall” apart from her other books for me is Brody.  I have issues with a lot of alpha male heroes, but Brody transcends most of what annoys me.  Yes, he’s gruff and stubborn and would probably be annoying as hell in real life, but the important thing is that he’s flawed and that makes him seem all the more real.

I’m not a fan of the perfect hero school of romance writing.  No, a scar on his left cheek from a duel he fought at 21 is not enough of a flaw to make him stand out.  These have to be deep seeded personality quirks that force the reader to think twice about whether the heroine should actually  end up with him.  The author then has to work to show why this couple should be together.  When the realization moment comes (the “oh wait, I think I love you even though I shouldn’t” moment), I feel so much more invested in the relationship because I’ve seen the characters have to work and grow to come to this point.  Brody sells this book for me.

“Lord of Scoundrels” by Loretta Chase

This is generally recognized as the gold standard of historical romance.  What makes “Lord of Scoundrels” so jaw-droppingly amazing to read is that you not only have a strong heroine and an alpha male hero, but you can almost see the sparks between them jumping off the page.  The secret’s in the dialogue, my friends.

A lot of authors tell their readers that their leading lady is witty and smart, and we kind of just roll over and take it on faith.  Loretta Chase actually proves it to us.  From the very first meet in an antique shop, Jessica is sharp and smart.  And she’s not afraid to let us all know it.  The dialogue crackles with wit and charm, and it’s actually believable that Jessica could go toe to to with Dain.

Plus, who can resist a heroine who intentionally causes her hero bodily harm?

“Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

A doorstop of a book, “Outlander” was one of the first romances that was not a sweet Kensington I ever read.  I remember sneakily reading my copy under my desk in my high school math class.  I’m pretty sure I spent most of those math classes with a bright red face because of the fairly frequent sex scenes.  Ah to be so young and impressionable again…

Jamie and Claire will always be one of my favorite romance couples.  Not only does the book have time travel, plenty of Scotsmen, and a good helping of sex, it’s also got that magic formula of a great heroine and a dashing, warm hero.  I’ve given it to a few people as a starter romance despite its and have never met anyone (except my father) who didn’t regret turning the last page.

“Bet Me” by Jennifer Crusie

For some reason I avoided reading contemporaries for a long time.  After reading, “Bet Me” by Jennifer Crusie I have no idea why I waited so long.  From the above reviews, it should be pretty obvious that a great heroine and a hero I can actually imagine in the flesh really get me while I’m reading.  Min and Cal are another one of those pairings.  The dialogue is sharp and the characters have real lives with actual problems.  Plus the book has the best wedding scene I’ve ever read.

So those are my four favorites at the moment.  What are you favorites?  What makes a book grab you pull you in?  Who are your favorite couples?

Coming soon, my worst books.  I’m culling through my reading lists and narrowing things down as we speak.

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Clean Slate

I’m embarrassed.

There, I said it.

I really got into writing on this blog last summer and then, sure enough, as soon as things got hectic at work I let it all slide.

Shame on me.

Well here’s One Lady’s Trash’s relaunch.  I’ve wiped the blog clean.  I’m starting from scratch.  Carte blanche.  It’s kind of an exciting thing actually.  I have a whole year of reading ahead of me since it’s only March.  That’s a good thing too since it’s been a rather dismal year for romances on my reading list so far.

Why don’t we take a look?

January 2 – “The Secret History of the Pink Carnation” by Lauren Willig

January 18 – “The Masque of the Black Tulip” by Lauren Willig

January 22 – “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel

January 26 – “The Deception of the Emerald Ring” by Lauren Willig

February 15 – “Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny and Desire” by Leslie Carroll

February 16The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin

February 21 This is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper

February 24Shutter Island” by Dennis Lehane

February 28 In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” by Michael Pollan

March 8 – “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime” by John Heilemann & Mark Halperin

Some books I loved (“Wolf Hall” and “This is Where I Leave You”) and one book in particular I hated (“The Happiness Project”).  Obviously it was a good couple of months of Lauren Willig as I rushed to read her books before she appeared at Lady Jane’s Salon at Madame X in New York City, but notice that no other romance authors managed to sneak in.  Clearly, this has to be remedied.  Quickly.

Now I’m struggling to put together a list of what I want to read because the possibilities are so endless.  Part of me is yearning to revisit “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon for the first time since I read it sneakily under my desk as a junior in high school math class.  The other angel on my shoulder says that I should probably give a new author a try.  I just got my hands on an advanced copy of Sarah MacLean’s “Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake,” and Katheryn Smith’s “When Seducing a Duke” (saw her at Lady Jane’s Salon too) has been kicking around on my shelf for awhile now.

Decisions, decisions.