So, like the other AAR staff who have submitted their Top Ten, I’ve been struggling to make decisions about what belongs on my personal top ten. And as I made a list of some of my favorite books, I noticed a pattern – I love clever heroines. I can put up with a lot of flak from the hero, if only I can relate in some way to the heroine. The heroines (or, in the case of #10, one of the heroes) try harder, go further, than expected of them. For many of them, they are smart and educated, but that’s not everything. They have a certain spark to them that pulls me in and makes me root for them. And in the end, I am ecstatic for them when they get their happily ever after.
There were, sadly, many, many books that got kicked off the list. I tried to put in a little bit of everything, but in the end, there was really only two criteria – how many times have I read it? And if I don’t own it, would I pay full price for it for the chance to read it again?
So, without further ado, and in no particular order:
1. The Wedding by Julie Garwood
Lady Brenna’s energy and courage (and desire to do good) more than make up for any of Connor’s short-fallings as a romantic hero. She is, easily, one of my favorite romance heroines ever.
2. What Happens in London by Julia Quinn
I love this book. How can I not put on my top ten a book that makes me laugh out loud every time I read it? And I love how the author pulled a bit of spy intrigue into the mix.
3. I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang (My boyfriend is a monster #1)
I am a fan of graphic novels and, quite literally, stumbled across this at the public library (seriously, I tripped over a pile of books someone left on the floor). Now it’s on my to-buy list. Short and sweet, though certainly not simple, it blends the YA high school romance well with the zombie outbreak.
4. What a Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken
Fantasy with dragons, hysterically funny! Gwenvael the handsome! Dagmar Reinholdt, the Beast! Brilliant! As I was reading this, before I even finished, I started recommending it to everyone I know who reads anything. I enjoyed this whole series, but this one was especially wonderful.
5. The Night Bird by Catherine Asaro
Though it’s the last of the Lost Continent series, this book stands well all on its own. Personally, I think it’s the best of the series, though all the books are good. The heroine is, quite literally, dragged into both a world and a fight that are not her own, and handles it beautifully.
6. Heart of Stone by C.E. Murphy
I’ve always loved gargoyles, and thought this was an interesting take on them as romantic figures. This was great as straight up urban fantasy.
7. Mystique by Amanda Quick (a.k.a. Jayne Ann Krentz)
I actually heard this one first as an audiobook. And as soon as I was done, I went back and found a physical copy at the public library. And then purchased a copy.
8. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
You know that feeling when you are reading, when you are so happy with what is happening (usually the happily ever after, or a particularly wonderful angsty bit) that it hurts your heart a little? This book does that for me. Each time. I adore the heroine, and the hero is just so damaged! I wouldn’t want him in real life, but he makes a wonderful character.
9. Sweet Starfire by Jayne Ann Krentz
I’ve long been a sci-fi fan, and this story was my first sci-fi romance. It has a great epic quality to it, complete with the long journey and hidden treasure (though it’s more of an anthropological nature than gold and jewels).
10. His Convenient Husband by J. L. Langley
I’ve read just about all of this author’s m/m novels and novellas, and when putting together this list, decided to pick her contemporary novel. My only complaint is that it is too short – I always want more to her stories. It is definitely a complete story, but I wasn’t ready to be finished with it yet.
So there you have it, ten of my personal favorites. Sadly, there were some wonderful books that got bumped off the list (Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught, Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon), and I had to completely ignore some of my favorite classics (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind) in order to whittle it down to ten. Unfortunately, with everyone else’s top tens, I now have a bunch more books to go and add to my bookshelves, as I know they will be favorites…..
– Melanie Bopp