Friday, October 16, 2009

My Top 16 Romance List: In Memory of Kathleen Windsor

I saw this on another blog and thought it was a wonderful idea. To quote: "On October 16, in honor of the birth date of Kathleen Winsor, author of Forever Amber, please consider posting your top 16 romance novels. Thanks to Maili for idea. If the thought of 'all time' faves daunts you, just post what strikes you as 16 of your faves on that day — no commitment to keep the list in perpetuity."

This list was hard to come up with, as I have read so many wonderful romances that have stuck with me over the years. But in honor of Kathleen Windsor, here is a list of 16 of my absolute favorites (with the reasons why), alphabetized by the author's last name:

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Austen’s novels are a treasure trove, but I forced myself to limit myself to picking just one gem. To perhaps my own surprise, I picked Pride and Prejudice. Though I love this book, I tend to list Persuasion or Northanger Abbey as my favorites. So why did I pick this particular classic? Because the love story never fails to grab me. Darcy and Lizzie’s road to love is filled with obstacles, mostly of their own making, but how can you not fall in love with two bickering souls who are so imperfectly perfect for one another?

2. Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell: Though all of Campbell’s books are fantastic, her debut novel, Claiming the Courtesan, remains my favorite. Need proof? I own four copies of the book. Claiming the Courtesan is dark, no doubt about it. Justin is borderline villain for the first portion of the book, but not only does his behavior fit with the time period and his station, I was drawn to him even in his worst hour. His redemption and love for Verity comes through in the end, through no small amount of struggle on both their parts. This book is simply stunning and I loved it.

3. The Sherbrooke Bride by Catherine Coulter: The hero’s an ass, the heroine is stubborn, and the battle between them is nearly worthy of Kate and Petruchio. So why do I love this book? I haven’t the foggiest, but there’s something about it that always makes me grab it for another read. The insatiable need to re-read this book, despite the flaws of all characters involved, earns The Sherbrooke Bride a place on this list.

4. Aidan & Ethan by Cameron Dane: There is nothing better than a well-written reunion romance and Aidan & Ethan tops my list as the best. Its heroes are devastatingly sexy and their road to happily ever after not an easy one. Past wounds must be dealt with and overcome and I could not put this book down until I saw that happen. In the increasingly popular subgenre of male/male romance, this book is unquestioningly my favorite so far.

5. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: It’s a fantastic romance with 19th century social commentary in the backdrop. Though there are elements of Darcy and Elizabeth in John Thornton and Margaret Hale, North and South is no Pride and Prejudice (although if you like one, you will likely like the other). I fell for Thornton and Margaret’s arguing their way into love in this timeless classic.

6. Saving Grace by Julie Garwood: Garwood has a way of making me laugh, sigh, and fall in love with her characters, so it’s hard to pick just one of her books for this list. This book did all of the above, and has whisked me away for countless hours of entertainment with every read.

7. Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon: For me, there is no picking one favorite with Kenyon; quite frankly it was hard enough to limit the number to two. Dance with the Devil is unforgettable to me, with its angry, distant hero who reluctantly falls in love with the one woman (or rather nymph) who is utterly perfect for him. I dare anyone to forget the bread scene (and most likely only those who have read the book will know what I am referring to).

8. Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon: She’s a sweet, average, voluptuous heroine who’s been dumped by her jerkoff ex. He’s a drop-dead gorgeous Were-Hunter who thinks she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. Vane and Bride’s romance is one of the most tender, wonderful romances I’ve ever read and I never fail to think of it without smiling.

9. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas: And when he was bad, he was very, very bad. And when he was wicked he was better. Sebastian St. Vincent is one of the sexiest rakes in romance history. So who better for him to fall in love with than a quietly lovely, shy, intelligent heroine who stutters and that men don’t look twice at? This book, along with Quinn’s Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, is my go-to for comfort reads. It’s wonderfully written and has everything you could ask for in a perfect romance novel.

10. Born in Sin by Kinley MacGregor: Technically I’m picking three Kenyon books, as MacGregor and Kenyon are one in the same, but Born in Sin is one of my favorite historical romances and has to be on this list. Sin is a hero whose heart has been bruised and battered to the point he considers it dead. Good thing Caledonia convinces him otherwise. This book broke my heart and put it back together again, and there’s a scene in here every bit as unforgettable as the bread scene in Dance with the Devil.

11. The Flavor of Summer by Lyra Marlowe: This book grabbed my attention from the first and didn’t let go. Ariel and David are two of the sweetest characters I’ve ever come across and their story was a gorgeously written story of love and acceptance. I don’t know one person I’ve recommended this story to that hasn’t loved it.

12. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn: The handsome, kind hero and the intelligent, ordinary-looking wallflower *sigh* It’s so hard for me to name the reasons why I love this story, other than the talent of Quinn and the innate likeability of Penelope and Colin. The best way I can put it is that Romancing Mr. Bridgerton simply sparkles.

13. Sea Swept by Nora Roberts: I picked up my first Nora Roberts novel when I was 12 and I’ve been a fan ever since. Like Austen and Garwood, it’s darn near impossible to pick just one favorite, but I had to go with Sea Swept. It’s sexy, heartbreaking, and utterly unforgettable, simple as that.

14. Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh: I love, love, LOVE Singh’s Psy-Changeling series and Branded by Fire is one of my favorites. Mercy and Riley are both strong, dominant protagonists and they are perfectly matched with one another. They burn up the page, both in bed and out, and the book itself was fascinating from the first page to the last.

15. Cold as Ice by Anne Stuart: In the beginning of the story, Peter wouldn’t think twice about killing Genevieve; he’s that cold and, as an agent, it’s his duty to protect mankind, even if that means sacrificing one innocent. And yet they fall in love anyway. I love that Stuart’s heroes aren’t nice and her heroines are humanly strong (in other words, untrained civilians do not suddenly act like superheroes). Cold as Ice is fascinating, compelling, and, in my case, in need of a replacement after so many re-reads.

16. Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward: If ever a hero needed to find happiness, it’d be Zsadist. I fell in love with the scarred former blood slave in Ward’s first Black Dagger Brotherhood book, Dark Lover, and with his heroine in the second, Lover Eternal. Lover Awakened is a punch-you-in-the-gut kind of tale with the hardships both Zsadist and Bella face, but that makes the payoff with their love story is all the more worth it. I remember practically scaring a bookstore clerk with my enthusiasm when I bought the book and in the intervening 3+ years since I first read it, that enthusiasm has yet to wane.






Monday, October 5, 2009

Melinda Barron Book Order

Click on series title to jump to a particular reading order:

Ghost Seekers
The Pentagram Stones
Tygers Series
Graceful Series
Fingertip Fantasies
The Sons of Gunnmarr
Cat Shifter Series
Desires of the Lamp Series
Tales of the Magician Series
Doms of the Round Table
Stand Alones - BDSM
Stand Alones - Contemporary
Stand Alones - Futuristic
Stand Alones - Historical
Stand Alones - Paranormal/Fantasy



Ghost Seekers

Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Genre: Paranormal

1. Nuit Aux Trois
Devlin, Fletcher, and Quinn (M/M/F)

2. The Resurrection of Josephine
Martin, Noah, and Rumer (M/M/F)
My Review

3. Come As You Are
Franco and Tempest
My Review

4. Conjurer at the Crossroads
Pebbles
Note: Hero's name is purposefully omitted
My Review

5. Once Upon a Hereafter
Cameron and Bailey
My Review

top




The Pentagram Stones

Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Paranormal

1. Amethyst Eyes
Kellen, Tobias, and Ansling (M/M/F)
My Review

2. Garnet Strength
Jalon, Cian, and Gelsey (M/M/F)
My Review

3. Heart of the Bloodstone (M/F/M)
Jessup, Regina, and Notus
My Review

top




Tygers Series

Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary BDSM

1. Sweet Vibrations
Lake and Lucy

2. Sweet Perfection
Eric and Angelica

3. Sweet Silence
Diego and Sorcha

4. Sweet Awakening
Walker, Harper, and Oliver (M/F/M)

5. Sweet Redemption
TK and Helena
My Review

top




Graceful Series

Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary BDSM

1. Graceful Submission
Toffer and Grace

1.5. Graceful Mischief
Toffer and Grace

2. Undercover Submission
Cedric and Kennedy

top




Fingertip Fantasies

Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Genre: Contemporary BDSM

1. Transparent Illusions
Saffron
Note: Hero's name is purposefully omitted
My Review

2. My Kingdom for a Corner
Francesca

top




The Sons of Gunnmarr

Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Genre: Fantasy

1. Captured
Rugoff and Venise

2. Enslaved
Benedikt and Lilliana

3. Hunted
Egill and Abella

top




Cat Shifter Series

Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Paranormal

1. Cat Got Your Tongue?
Gaius, Parr, and Kalyn (M/M/F)
My Review

2. Nine Lives
Conner, Fox, and Ophelia (M/M/F)
My Review

3. Cat and Mouse
Simon, Jaci, and Josh (M/F/M)

top




Desires of the Lamp Series

Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Genre: Paranormal

1. Wish Me Up, Rub Me Down

2. Ailya Baban and the Cave of Pleasure

3. To Rub, Honor and Obey

4. Smoke, Fire and Desire

top




Tales of the Magician Series

Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Paranormal

1. The Captive One

2. The Lost One

top




Doms of the Round Table

Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Fantasy BDSM

1. Serving the Sword
√Član and Gwen
My Review

top




Stand Alones - BDSM


Party Favor
Martie and Jovina (F/F)
Publisher: Loose Id

Searching for Pandora
Drew and India
Publisher: Blushing Books

Mastering Her Desires
Kenan and Piper
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing

Miss Marigold Misbehaves
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing

Master of the Sun
Silas and Calliope
Publisher: Loose Id

Desert Surrender
Maddox and Clarissa
Publisher: Loose Id
My Review

Binding Gillian
Brad and Gillian
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
My Review


top




Stand Alones - Contemporary


The Research Assistant
Aaron and Tiffany
Publisher: Blushing Books

Lily's Lessons
Chase and Lily
Publisher: Blushing Books

Fantasy Honeymoon
Cole and Elizabeth
Publisher: Blushing Books

Figgy Pudding
Preston and Alice
Publisher: Blushing Books

Secret Alliance
Seth and Kacie
Publisher: Blushing Books

Dancing in the Moonlight
Mick and Lucia
Publisher: Blushing Books

Secret Santa
Kris and Carol
Publisher: Blushing Books

Tricky Situation
Walter and Doreen
Publisher: Blushing Books

A Trick of the Moon
Dario, Maura, and Declan (M/F/M)
Publisher: Loose Id
Note: This book is loosely connected to the Tygers Series
My Review

Bound by Tinsel
Burke and Fallon
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
My Review

The Pirate Wench
Royce and Melani
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing

Search Me Baby, One More Time
Bryan and Wren
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
My Review

The Pajama Party
Dane and Maureen
Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press
My Review


top



Stand Alones - Futuristic


Black Diamonds
Ferris, Tiny, and Savannah (M/M/F)
Publisher: Changeling Press
My Review


top




Stand Alones - Historical


A Dusting of Syn
Keran and Syndra
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
My Review

Compromising Liaisons
Sterling and Vesta
Ethan and Margaret
Calvin and Beatrice
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
My Review


top




Stand Alones - Paranormal/Fantasy


Through Traitor's Gate
Geoffrey and Sydney
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing

Jynxed
Asar and Jynx
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing

Three Ways to Wicked
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
My Review

"Mist" (in the Daughters of Odin anthology)
Albert and Mist
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
My Review

Waking Sebastian
Sebastian and Michelle
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing

"Iaha's Story" (in the Siren's Song anthology)
Shedd and Iaha
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing

Garden of Stone
Remington and Ursel
Publisher: Changeling Press


top


Please note: This page was written by me, so as always, please visit the author’s website for up-to-date, author-verified information as well as for information books that have not yet been included to this list.

http://www.melindabarron.com/

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Update

With real life being fairly crazy, I got a bit behind on updating around here.

Series and reading order for books by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kinley MacGregor, J.R. Ward, Eloisa James, Sabrina Jeffries, J.D. Robb, Nalini Singh, Julia Quinn, and Angela Knight have been updated. The rest will be updated shortly and more coming soon :)