What constitutes a DIK/5 Star/Best of romance? For me, a DIK romance is a book that delights me, with characters I at least like (but normally, I love them) and a romance that leaves my heart a little gooey. I thoroughly enjoy reading it, don’t want to put it down, am sad when it is over and it normally sends me on a glom of the author’s back list. Or at least it sends me to Amazon to check when the next novel is coming. A good book is a good experience; it’s an event that you want to repeat and most of the time, repeat as soon as possible.

This year I read approximately 165 books, 18 of which are DIKs. Four of them – the fabulous Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy, Rachel Hore’s charming A Place of Secrets, Leila Rasheed’s Downton Abbey-esque Cinders and Saphires and Francine River’s Redeeming Love – were published prior to 2014. Two of them – Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson and A Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Witemeyer – were novellas. Two of them – Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardener and Precious Thing by Colette Macbeth – are not romances. Here are the romances that were on that list:

Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok – I loved the Cinderella nature of the tale, the unique look into Chinese-American culture, the heroine Charlie and her irrepressible spirit and generosity and the gentle, hopeful nature of the love story. So few books do a good job of capturing what it’s like to be a first generation American but this novel captured it perfectly.

Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh – I fell a little in love with hero Flavian Arnott, Viscount Ponsonby while reading this novel and am glad I found his heroine, Agnes Keeping, worthy of him. I liked that they brought out the best in each other. I always love Balogh’s depiction of the Regency period and I loved that the book is a love story between adults. So often romance novels depict love stories between 30 year old juvenile delinquents – I am always delighted when I read one about grown-ups.

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James – It had me at the opening scene in the coffee shop. When Sidney Sinclair shoots down pick up artist Vaughn Roberts it is just priceless. When they meet again later it is completely delicious. The book had a lot of LOL moments for me as well as just being a completely charming romance. Easily my favorite funny of 2014.

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner – Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac are fighting on opposite sides of a vicious revolution. Adding to the fun is the fact that there is something seriously wrong with the planet they are on. When they meet they should hate each other but somehow that’s not at all what happens. They feel a strong physical attraction, sure, but beyond that there is a sense of shared values – both Flynn and Jubilee are big picture people and it is that ability to see a world of possibilities and responsibilities beyond themselves that draws them to each other.

Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin – I love how Lin is able to capture the essence of a culture and make it both true to itself and relatable to the audience. That brilliance is in full force in this novel. Adding to the charm is the lovely, slow paced romance intertwined with court intrigue and daring adventure.

The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin – Lin is the only author to appear twice on this list and both times it’s for the same reason. She writes fabulous romances, interesting characters, intricately plotted mystery adventures and detailed, fascinating history. In short, Lin is a master of her craft. This love story between courtesan Mingya and Constable Wu Kaifeng is both sweet and multi-faceted and an absolute delight to read.

Hour of Need by Melinda Leigh – Leigh’s last few books were at best B reads for me but this book was an eye opener, a complete surprise and joy. Major Grant Barrett is called back from Afghanistan when his brother and sister-in-law are murdered. As guardian to his young niece and nephew Grant feels over whelmed but neighbor Ellie Ross steps in to help. Then both of them find themselves caught in a killers cross hairs. An interesting mystery and a delightful romance made this a top read for me.

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews – Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, continue their romance amidst a world gone horribly, magically awry. Because they are unable to control their beasts, many shapeshifter children can’t survive to adulthood. There is a medicine that can help but the recipe is closely guarded by the European packs, with whom Curran most assuredly does not get along. When the opportunity arises for the Pack to get their hands on some of the elixir, Kate and Curran do their best to make it happen. But is there really a pot of magic, golden cure at the end of the rainbow – or a trap? Excellent world building places this terrific romance at the top of the paranormal pack.

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James – No one does as fantastic a job on the eerie, spooky atmosphere needed for the gothic romance as Simone St. James does. In this offering we meet Kitty Weeks and Jack Yates, a nurse and patient at a haunted hospital.

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White – Jessamin is attending school in Albion and missing her island home of Melei. Her brown skin and low status have made her an outcast but that doesn’t bother her; her interest is in the education. An encounter with the gorgeous, enigmatic Finn, an aristocrat with powerful magic, sets her life on a new course. But Finn has an enemy, the vicious Lord Downpike, who will do anything to steal information Finn possesses. Will the thoroughly unmagical Jessamin be a help or hindrance to Finn? This book combined two great loves of mine: the first is people without magic being an important part of a magical battle and the second is a Regency-esque fantasy novel. Along the line of Patricia C. Wrede’s The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, A Matter of Magic (also by Wrede) , and the novels of Gail Carriger, this is a delightful mix of magic and manners .

That is my list of DIK reads for 2014. So how many books did you read this year? How many were DIKs?

 

Maggie AAR