When 2016 started I was in the midst of a nearly three-year long reading slump, and close to quitting as a reviewer here. For the first time this lifelong reader struggled to start any books, let alone finish them. Instead of eagerly looking forward to squeezing in reading whenever possible, I could go days on end without reading anything. Fortunately, I’ve broken out of the slump and have so far read 114 books this year, including a number of DIKs. I primarily broke out of the slump by reading a variety of genres in both fiction and non-fiction, always simultaneously working on at least three books. But while some of the non-fiction proved interesting, none broke into my Top Ten of the year. My best reads of 2016 are primarily contemporary romances, and are dominated by Sarah Morgan; and also includes a couple of historical mysteries, and a steampunk. My favorites, in no particular order, are:
When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz
I’m loving JAK’s return to straight romantic suspense and this delivered for me both in terms of a fantastic hero and heroine and with an intriguing mystery.
A Terrible Beauty by Tasha Alexander
The latest in the author’s Lady Emily series is set on Santorini. I found the mystery interesting, and continue to like where the author is taking Lady Emily and her wonderful second husband Colin.
Imprudence by Gail Carriger
The second in the author’s Custard Protocol series not only offers the further adventures of Rue and her crew but also some bittersweet moments with Rue’s parents (the hero and heroine of the author’s Parasol Protectorate series. I loved this, but don’t recommend starting at this point in the series.
Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
I loved everything about this first in the From Manhattan with Love series, the characters, the romance, the setting – this series has it all.
Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan
I love friends to lovers stories and this second in the From Manhattan with Love series truly delivered.
Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan
I didn’t expect to like this as much as the earlier entries, as Eva – a hopeless romantic – seemed too sappy for me. But Eva proved to have depth, and the brooding Lucas is a fantastic hero. Much to my surprise, this final entry in the From Manhattan with Love series is my favorite!
A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
Unlike so many of my colleagues here, I’ve never been able to appreciate Sherry Thomas’ historical romances. But I was intrigued by the descriptions of this mystery, featuring a female Sherlock Holmes, and decided to give it a chance. Oh my! Charlotte Holmes is a fantastic, unorthodox character. I can’t wait to see where the author takes her next.
Love on her Terms by Jennifer Lohmann
This category romance doesn’t pull any punches, featuring a heroine with HIV and a hero whose beloved wife committed suicide. It was fascinating watching these two very different people navigate numerous minefields to get their HEA.
Dating the Guy Upstairs by Amanda Ashby
This is another fun friends to lovers romance in which the hero and heroine almost accidentally discover that there’s something more between them than friendship.
Fall by Karina Bliss
Rise, the first in the author’s Rock Solid series, was a DIK for me last year, and this second entry is as well. The action picks up here where Rise ended, and we get to see how the repercussions from events in the first book play out on other members of the band. I was hoping for Dimity’s story, and pairing her with Seth proved a great choice. These two seeming opposites are each incredibly complicated, and I love seeing them work their way into a real relationship.
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I haven’t read Sarah Morgan yet, but I’m intrigued.
So good to see Sherry Thomas’s A Study in Scarlet Women on so many lists this year!
I will read Sarah Morgan’s books — because I have a few of them — however, I opened Sleepless in Manhattan and, on the first page, she referred to Rockefeller Center as *The* Rockefeller Center and it threw me right out of the story. I checked to see if she was native to the city or an American and she’s not. So, I wonder if there will be a number of these type of things that will throw me out of the story. I know American authors write about places in England, let alone places and things in other centuries and other cultures, and I often wonder if they are getting it all right. So, this is one example where I kind of see what an English reader might be feeling when an American is writing a story set in their country.
I’ve seen other people native to or very familiar with NYC say this series has enough mistakes to bother them. (Or is just too implausible–like where they live, lack of diversity, etc.) Not to discourage you from reading Sarah Morgan! I’ve only read these 3 myself and I know she has a huge back catalog.
I don’t know if yours is a rethorical question, but in my personal experience and humblest opinion, American and Australian writers do rarely get it right when they set their stories in the Bristish Isles. But we usually ignore it if the characters are attractive and the story is told in a compelling way.
It is something that happens when you set your stories in a land that you know very little about. And it is not only something that happens when the setting is British.
One of the things I deeply dislike about Sarah Morgan’s books (I hated the few I’ve read) is the way she portrays anything ‘continental’. Her French or Italian characters, for instance, are just one cliché after another. It is obvious she really knows nothing about those countries and their people. But seeing that so many people love her books, I think it is just a matter of the market she writes them for, that they don’t care about these inaccuracies -or they don’t see it.
They are a fantasy, not an accurate description of the real places. She does not talk about real Italy or real NY, If you accept that, you can enjoy them, and I think it is easier if it is not your country or your hometown.
I’m reading Sunset in Central Park right now and I noticed a couple of terms used that pulled me out of the story. In the US, we say “near-sighted” and “far-sighted” when referring to vision and she used “long-sighted” and “short-sighted” instead. She also used the term “wash your teeth” instead of “brush you teeth”. This was all in the same short scene, which is probably what made me sit up and notice. Other than that, I am really enjoying this book, as I did Sleepless in Manhattan and I’m looking forward to the third one.
I’ve tried Sarah Morgan but I just can’t get into her books.
Don’t forget Karina Bliss’ What the Librarian Did. Even though it’s not an “official” part of her “Rock Solid” series, Zander is introduced.
I really liked What the Librarian Did! After reading that I couldn’t imagine Zander ever being a hero on his own, but Rise definitely worked for me as well.
I loved that series by Sarah Morgan as well. Like you, book 3 turned out to be my favorite, which was unexpected.
I still haven’t read the Sherry Thomas book. :(
I’ve tried and tried to get into Sarah Morgan but she just doesn’t do it for me. But agree with Sherry Thomas’s Sherlock; that book was on my list. Will look into your other choices. And congrats on breaking out of the reading slump.
Reading is so subjective, it’s interesting how one author completely works for someone and not for others.
YES to all the Sarah Morgans!! I have Lohmann’s on my list and haven’t gotten to it yet – will have to bump it up the list. Glad you broke out of your slump and I hope 2017 turns out to be a good reading year as well.
Thanks! I really liked the Lohmann; I hope you do as well.