Monday, January 30, 2012

Finally Back...

Some of you might have noticed the blog has been very quiet in the last couple of weeks. It was for a very good reason! You might remember months ago when I mentioned my brother had cancer and needed a stem cell transplant? And I was a match? After all the waiting and setbacks the transplant finally took place last week!

Look! Snow! Big deal since I haven't seen snow in nearly 20 years. I actually stood outside and got snowed on! LOL

I spent 9 days in Denver getting poked and prodded and poked some more while my brother got ready with 5 days of chemo and 2 full body radiation treatments leading up to the transplant. So far everything is going as the doctors expected which means big brother is feeling like crap while his immune system bottoms out so my stem cells can take over. That's a very basic explanation so if you want to know more you can read about the process here.

I got home late Friday night and spent the weekend with hubs and kids taking it easy. Lots of sleeping while my body works to get back to normal after the process. It's been an emotional past few weeks and now we waiting to see if the transplant worked. I'm so proud and amazed by my brother for his strength and his positive outlook through all of this. I just hope this horrible thing called cancer never touches any of you or your loved ones!

So now it's time to get back into blogging. It might take me a little while to get back into the groove. :) I did get some reading done while I was gone and hope to post some reviews this week. It was freeing in a way to get away from the computer and the internet. But I will say I missed you guys so much! It still amazes me what strong friendships we create without ever meeting yet still feeling such a close bond.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TBR Challenge Review: The Mistaken Widow

The Mistaken Widow
Cheryl St. John
Historical Romance/1869
Harlequin/August 1, 1998


Sarah Thornton wanted to shout, but revealing her true identity could only bring disaster on herself and her infant son. Still, sorrowful circumstance had turned a mistake into a miracle. She suddenly had a home, a family --- and Nicholas Halliday, a man as dangerous to her as he was desirable!

His newly widowed sister-in-law wore mystery as elegantly as an evening wrap, rousing more than suspicions in Nicholas Halliday --- for this beautiful stranger had a claim not only to the family fortune, but also to his heart and soul...!

Another year, another chance to conquer, or at least tame the ol TBR pile. Thanks to Wendy for once again hosting. It not only helps reduce the TBR pile, it also helps to confirm why certain books are in that pile when other participants post positive reviews of those books. I have a number of books by Cheryl St. John on the TBR pile but decided to go with The Mistaken Widow because it's a stand alone and I liked the mistaken identity premise.

Sarah Thornton's life has taken a tragic turn when she finds herself pregnant, alone and thrown out of her father's house. She's traveling west, trying to start a new life when another tragedy strikes. Sarah is then mistaken for the widow of a man from a wealthy family and is taken under the protection of his brother. It's easy to understand why Sarah doesn't tell the truth. If she had she would have been left destitute with her newborn child and no means to take care of him. Instead she is welcomed into a beautiful home where she and her son have everything they need. St. John does well showing how Sarah is pulled between her guilt and her desperate situation. But the longer Sarah lives the lie, the harder it is to confess.

Nicholas Halliday knows something isn't quite right about his brother's widow. She's sweet, quiet and his mother adores her. But Nicholas is suspicious and is determined to find out more about the woman his brother wed. Nicholas is not in an ideal situation - falling for his dead brother's wife. Talk about uncomfortable! I liked how he continued to question her story even as he was falling for her. He tries to keep his role as family protector, there's money involved, even as he continues to see Sarah as a wonderful person. He's certainly conflicted in his feelings for Sarah, thinking she's his late brother's widow along with his gut feeling that she can't be trusted.

Sarah is walking on a tightrope as she pretends to be someone she's not. It was inevitable the tightrope would become shaky and Sarah would start to fall. The cause of the fall didn't come as a surprise, neither did Sarah's reaction. So in that sense the suspense was not very suspenseful. The romance is slow moving, with Sarah and Nicholas having some huge obstacles to overcome. Even with those obstacles I was surprised at how long it took Nicholas to make his move and follow through.

The Mistaken Widow was a touching story of one woman's desperation to find a safe home for herself and her child. Instead she finds a family and love. It's sweet and tender, sad at times but ultimate a lovely read.

Rating: B

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

ARC Review: Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky
Veronica Rossi
Young Adult/Dystopian
1st in Trilogy
HarperCollins/January 3, 2012

EXILED from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland--known as The Death Shop--are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild--a savage--and her only hope of staying alive.

A HUNTER for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile--everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must learn to accept one another to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

Ah, I just can't seem to get enough of these young adult dystopian novels. In Ms. Rossi's world there are really two worlds comprised of the Dwellers and the Savages. The Dwellers live in Pods, sealed in from the Aether storms that ravage the world outside. The Savages live in tribes, surviving as best they can in the harsh environment.

Aria is meant to die and she would have without the help of an Outsider. She knows her best chance of getting to her mother is teaming up with the quiet Savage named Perry. But she doesn't have to like it. Right off, there's a feeling that Aria is different from the typical Dweller even if we see very little of the Dwellers after Aria is exiled. She has preconceived ideas about the Outsiders and their world which she allows to color her judgement of Perry.

Perry is desperate to get into Reverie and he's willing to do whatever it takes even if that means traveling with the Dweller Aria. At first she is a burden to him but he needs her help. He agrees to help her if she will help him once they get inside Reverie. It's an uneasy alliance they form for Perry thinks little of the girl who has had what he perceives as an easy life inside the Pods.

As Aria and Perry make their way across the bleak and dangerous landscape, they begin to learn more about each other and how their suspicions were not all based on fact. I liked seeing each character evolve into more than what they were. Aria learns of strengths she never dreamed she had and Perry learns to value himself.

It's easy to become absorbed in the world with it's menacing overtones, never knowing where the next threat will come from. While I found the journey Aria and Perry take compelling, I didn't get a feeling of completeness to the world itself. It needed more details on how the two separate worlds came to be.

Aria and Perry do have a romance but it stays secondary to their ultimate goals. They do become friends/allies before they take that final step to become romantically involved but I couldn't help but feel the romance was heavily influenced by their constant proximity and life and death situations. Along with them are secondary character who offer support and guidance but the focus stays on Aria and Perry and their relationship.

The story is told in alternating chapter POV between Aria and Perry. This seems to be the most common for young adult fiction. I enjoyed Ms. Rossi writing style - it follows well with a descriptiveness that can at times captivate. The ending is left with some questions answered but the future still remains open in this first book of the trilogy. I know I'll want to read about Aria and Perry and their continuing story.

Rating: B+

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Grading, Stars and Changes...

It's been something that I've been thinking about for a while - changing my grading system. I've decided to change my letter grade-to-stars ratio. I don't want to because I feel that an A+ read should get a higher grade than an A- read. Since Amazon and Goodreads still don't allow 1/2 stars it's become difficult to accurately translate the letter grades to the star grades. So I've decided to give in but I'll also include the actual letter grade on the review when posting to Amazon or Goodreads.

Previous Grading System ~

A+/A = 5 Stars
A-/B+ = 4 Stars
B/C+ = 3 Stars
C/C- = 2 Stars
D+/D = 1 Star

New Grading System ~

As = 5 Stars
Bs = 4 Stars
Cs = 3 Stars
Ds = 2 Stars
DNF = 1 Star

I decided to include DNF (Do Not Finish) since Amazon will not allow a no star grade.

It's my hope that the review itself allows other readers to understand any likes and dislikes I have of the book being reviewed and not place so much importance on the grade. But I know many readers, myself included, like to see the grade, especially when I have yet to read the book and only want to see the grade.

So how do you like to grade? Stars? Letters or something else? And if you post on review sites, how do you translate your grades? Curious minds...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: Show No Mercy

Show No Mercy
Cindy Gerard
Romantic Suspense
Black Ops Series/Book 1
Pocket/September 23, 2008


Only two things can compel journalist Jenna McMillan back to Buenos Aires after terrorists held her captive there just months before: a rare interview with a shadowy billionaire and the memory of the dark and dangerous man who saved her....


Bad guys, bombs, and bullets are Gabriel Jones's way of life. But he'll never forget the brash redhead he rescued not so long ago...or the passionate kiss they shared before he sent her packing....


Now, forced together by a bombing at the National Congress, Jenna and Gabe confront the urgent longings that simmer between them. But this surprise meeting is no coincidence. A ruthless enemy stalks them with deadly precision. The question is...if they make it out alive, will Gabe turn his back on Jenna...again?

I love when I start a new-to-me series that already has a list of titles going. Such is the case with Cindy Gerard's Black Ops series. There are currently six books in the series with the seventh due out in a few short weeks. (January 31).

Gabe Jones has been in a hell of a lot of dangerous situations but nothing has scared him more than seeing Jenna McMillan again. Right off I liked Gabe a heck of a lot. He's gruff, tough and very sexy! He exudes confidences in his work but when it comes to Jenna that's when he hits a wall. It was entertaining to see Gabe in action, falling for Jenna and defeating the bad guys. He's a man's man and a hero any woman would want.

Jenna McMillan has very strong memories of her time spent in Buenos Aires. She was terrorized, captured and feared for her life. She also met a man that left a lasting impression on her. While she can't forget either, she's determined to face what happened by going back to work, in Buenos Aires. She's very surprised when she runs into Gabe, or rather he literally runs into her, rescuing her from terrorists again. Jenna is smart and strong, not willing to let Gabe face all the dangers without her.

Gabe and Jenna spend a lot of time either running, fighting or recovering from their encounters with those that want them harmed. But they do find time to reignite that flame that started months ago. Their romance, even with all the interruptions, was believable. They actually find time to talk and find out what's behind Gabe's tough exterior and Jenna's fierce determination. I found I really liked these two together and lovers and as a team.

The story isn't all just Gabe and Jenna. The guys from the Black Ops team play a role in all that fighting, running and taking down of the bad guys. I loved these guys! They have different military backgrounds, along with some former CIA operatives but they have formed a tight unit, a brotherhood. Gerard does well in making each man distinct, enough to form impressions while still leaving more to be discovered in future books. They have that camaraderie of men who have survived battle alongside each other and forged unbreakable bonds. They also show their love of each other by teasing and torment, just like brothers do.

The action is fast, the setting interesting with both an urban and jungle backdrop. The guys, along with Jenna, have their work cut out for them with an enemy that is both evil and cunning.

Being the first in the series, Show No Mercy gives the reader plenty of over-the-top action, romance and sexy men with big guns! All that left me wanting more of these Black Ops warriors.

Rating: A-

Black Ops Series ~

Show No Mercy
Take No Prisoners
Whisper No Lies
Feel the Heat
Risk No Secrets
Leave No Trace (novella in Deadly Promise anthology)
With No Remorse
Last Man Standing (January 31, 2012)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Review: Sapphire

Jeffe Kennedy
Contemporary Romance/BDSM
Carina Press/October 24, 2011

A successful executive, M. Taylor Hamilton is on track with her ten-year plan. Too bad her personal life consists of hitting the gym and grocery shopping. Enter the seductive Adam Kirliss. They may have a working relationship, but everything changes at an office party when he handcuffs her to the rail of a yacht.

Taylor writes off the adventure as too much champagne, but when Adam challenges her to a date, she agrees to meet up with him. And follow his rules. They share a night of exquisite intimacy, brimming with both pain and pleasure. But afterward, fearful of losing her heart, Taylor pulls back emotionally.

Adam is determined to prove that she longs for the loss of control he can give her—and the passionate release it provides. How can he make her see that he wants her, and not just her body?

Sapphire is a short, intense story, easily read in one sitting. The intensity is what drew me in and kept me reading late into the night.

Taylor has no time for real pleasure, instead she finds pleasure working her way up the corporate ladder. One of her most recent triumphs included working with Adam Kirliss whom she intends to keep strictly as a business relationship. Taylor's curiosity is aroused by Adam's boldness and his offer. She's in need of a release from the stress of work and Adam is about to give it to her. Taylor is very typical in her focus on her career, believing it's the only way to achieve her career goals.

Adam Kirliss is far more than he seems, hiding an affinity for BDSM behind his cool predatory gaze. He sets his sights on Taylor and this guy doesn't give up! Seeing how determined he is, Taylor she probably just save herself some time and give in to his demands. When she does, he shows her how he can give her what she wants and needs. Adam plans out Taylor's seduction, leaving nothing to chance. So when she does take him by surprise, it's interesting to see him adjust not only his plan but his thinking.

The sex scenes are smoking hot, with bonus points for creativity! It's obvious Adam is no novice at finding pleasure in dominance. One thing that made this more than one bondage scene after another is seeing Adam and Taylor get to know each other away from the intensity of their sexual play. They have quiet, romantic moments, giving each other glimpses of their vulnerable side.

Overall, I did have some issues with the power plays that went on between Taylor and Adam but in the end, Sapphire proved to be a delicious erotic romance.

Rating: B+

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review: Marked by the Moon

Marked by the Moon
Lori Handeland
Paranormal Romance
Nightcreature Series/Book 9
St. Martin's/November 2, 2010

From Goodreads ~

Tough as nails Alexandra Trevalyn does what most people can’t: She kills werewolves. Once part of an elite group of hunters, she’s going rogue these days, though no less determined to rid the world of bloodthirsty beasts…once and for all. That’s why Alex had no choice but to kill Julian Barlow’s wife—and will have to pay the price. Julian’s brand of vengeance is downright devious, and now he’s turned Alex into a member of his pack. It’s only a matter of time before she falls under his spell. With the wild freedom of the wolf in her veins, Alex can’t deny that Julian wakes her most primal passions…and draws her that much closer to the moon’s call, where evil lies in wait.

There was a long wait of nearly three years between this book and the previous release in the series. After the wait, it took me a while to pick this one up. I had vague memories of what the previous books were about and didn't feel heavily invested in the series anymore. The good news is Marked by the Moon doesn't rely heavily on previous characters and the world building is well covered to allow this to be a stand-alone. The bad news, the pull of the moon was weak, leaving me less than satisfied.

Alex Trevalyn is a hunter and killer of werewolves - a Jäger-Sucher. For Alex, the only good werewolf is a dead werewolf. It's the only life she's know since she was a little girl and her mother was killed by a werewolf. Alex is a smart-ass, tough loner who doesn't play well with others. I didn't dislike her but never warmed up to her either.

Julian Barlow is a Viking and a werewolf who is out for revenge. He has a unique way of getting it but it doesn't turn out the way he planned. Julian hates Alex for killing his wife and at first we're given the impression that his wife was the love of his life but in fact, they had some major problems. He did love her but it wasn't perfect. The mega attraction Julian has for Alex really pisses him off! I found this amusing since he wanted so bad to hate her but couldn't stop wanting her. The guy has super powers beyond typical werewolf powers and yet he overpowered by a woman.

Julian and Alex are a very unlikely pair. She wants to kill him, he wants revenge. Where's the love? I had a hard time believing these two were falling in love. They didn't have much time together other than when they were arguing or having sex. The ending got all mushy and they both had much love for each other. I'm just not sure how they got there.

There is a murder mystery running through the story with locals being killed and one of Julian's pack the most likely suspect. I wouldn't say the killer was obvious but there were only a few characters to choose from. The reveal of the killer was anti-climatic since the main problem Julian and Alex faced, her having been a Jäger-Sucher, him wanting revenge had not been resolved. When the dust settled the positions Alex and Julian found themselves took an odd turn and I found it less than believable given how powerful Julian is.

I do have the next two books in the series on the TBR pile and I'll get to them someday but not anytime soon.

Rating: C

1. Blue Moon
2. Hunter's Moon
3. Dark Moon
4. Crescent Moon
5. Midnight Moon
6. Rising Moon
7. Hidden Moon
8. Thunder Moon
9. Marked By The Moon
10. Moon Cursed
11. Crave The Moon

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

ARC Review: Hidden Summit

Hidden Summit
Robyn Carr
Contemporary Romance
Virgin River Series/Book 17
Harlequin/December 27, 2011

From Goodreads ~

Sick of running into her cheery ex-husband and his new wife, Leslie Petruso accepts a job at the Virgin River branch of Haggerty Construction and takes the high road right out of town. Now she's got Paul Haggerty's business running like a well-oiled machine. In fact, things are so busy Paul jumps at the chance to hire an extra set of hands.

Just like Leslie, Conner Danson has been burned by love. But if Leslie was disappointed by her relationship going bad, Conner was decimated. He's got no time for women…although he spends an awful lot of time pretending not to notice Leslie. And she's pretty busy "ignoring" the chemistry between them.

According to Conner and Leslie, they have only one thing in common—they're done with love. But everyone in Virgin River can see that things are heating up at Haggerty Construction. And as far as Paul Haggerty can tell, the best thing he can do is hang on to his hard hat and watch the sparks fly!

When I read the blurb for Hidden Summit I was so thrilled to see a heroine with my name! I can't tell you how rare it is. I don't remember ever read a romance with a heroine named Leslie. But that's just a bonus since this is Robyn Carr's Virgin River series.

If you have to hide out, Virgin River, California isn't a bad place to do it. Conner Danson has lost everything and is now pretending to be someone else. I was expecting him to be a bitter recluse but he surprised me. He's friendly with the locals and slowly becomes part of the community. In doing so he also starts a friendship/romance with his co-worker Leslie Petruso.

Leslie Petruso is leaving her past behind for a new start in Virgin River. Her ex-husband is a complete ass, I couldn't believe some of the stunts this guy pulled! He definitely had a few screws loose. What she finds is a new home, new friends and a new guy. She hit the jackpot! She's smart, funny and a good friend. She's an easy heroine to like.

The romance is sweet and easy. Surprisingly it was Connor doing the chasing. I thought it would be Leslie trying to pull him out of his shell but it turned out he just couldn't resist her! She's the one who tries to put the breaks on and it makes sense since her ex is El Wackjob! Conner is persistent and woos Leslie, giving her every reason to say yes. I liked how Carr kept the power in this romance equal, with both saying how they felt and actually talking about their past relationships and the difficulties they have to over come.

It was great seeing the Virgin River gang. Jack is still as friendly, and nosy, as can be and Mel is there to rein him in. Brie got some page time, since she is Conner's local contact. And there are some fairly new residents that we got to see more of. Leslie and Conner fit right in with this close-knit community.

There is a suspense plot running through the story but much of the time I forgot about it. It stayed mainly in the background until near the end. The resolution to the plot felt rushed. It was the weakest part of the story. The main focus is on the developing romance between Leslie and Conner. Carr does do a nice job of including the other residents without loosing sight of the romance.

Hidden Summit is another terrific addition to this beloved series.

Rating: B+

Virgin River Series ~

1. Virgin River
2. Shelter Mountain
3. Whispering Rock
4. A Virgin River Christmas
5. Second Chance Pass
6. Temptation Ridge
7. Paradise Valley
8. Under the Christmas Tree (novella in That Holiday Feeling)
9. Forbidden Falls
10. Angel's Peak
11. Moonlight Road
12. Midnight Confessions (novella in Midnight Kiss)
13. Promise Canyon
14. Wild Man Creek
15. Harvest Moon
16. Bring Me Home for Christmas
17. Hidden Summit
18. Redwood Bend (February 28, 2012)
19. Sunrise Point (April 24, 2012)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Review: A Place Called Home

A Place Called Home
Jo Goodman
Contemporary Romance
Zebra/December 6, 2011

From Goodreads ~

When Thea Wyndham and Mitchell Baker learn they've been named joint guardians for their late friends' three children, they're little more than acquaintances. Barely polite acquaintances, at that. Something about Mitch's forthright intensity has always left ad exec Thea feeling off-balance, while Mitch makes no secret of his disdain when Thea offers him financial assistance if he'll take sole guardianship.

Thea is far from heartless. She's just plain terrified of her new parenting responsibilities. Both she and Mitch are romantically involved with other people. Yet the more time they spend together, the less certain she is of her loyalties. There are complications and mis-steps, tears and laughter - lots of it. And somehow, through it all, the dawning realization that the last place she thought she'd find herself could be just where she belongs.

I've been reading Ms. Goodman for many years but this is her first venture into contemporary romance, having stuck to historical and western romances. I must say I was cautious, knowing how much I enjoy her writing but unsure as to how that would translate into a contemporary setting. My concerns were needless, Ms. Goodman easily brings her wonderful, emotional story-telling to a modern day setting.

Thea Wyndham has suffered a tremendous shock. After learning her childhood friend and his wife were killed by a drunk driver, Thea then finds out she, along with Mitch Baker, has been named guardian of their three children. Thea is unprepared to become a parent to the children and makes this clear to Mitch. At first she comes off as cold and distant, showing only glimpses of her concern for the children. Thea's mothering instincts had been buried deep which made me want to know why. She's not cruel but has her shields up and defenses at full strength.

If you must appoint a guardian for your children, Mitch Baker is a great choice. He doesn't have kids of his own, in fact his experience with kids is with his friends children. But he embraces his guardianship even though inside he is terrified of making a mistake. Mitch is nearly perfect in his parenting, with only one real mistake. I kept wondering when his mask would slip and we would see the real person behind the perfection but it never really did. I would have liked to see him less than perfect since his perfection only served to spotlighted Thea's flaws.

The romance is balanced with the growing relationship between Mitch, Thea and the children. You really couldn't have the romance without including the children since they are the reason for Mitch and Thea to be together. I do think it's fair to say the romance wasn't always front and but character development apart from each other also occurred. There are other people in their lives that impact not only the relationships with the children but also how Thea and Mitch proceed with their growing feelings. Goodman handles it well, showing how each of the characters perspectives change and grow.

The ending didn't come as a surprise but getting there was filled with a complex romance that showed not only how two people can come together but can create a new family out of a tragedy. The main problem I had was Mitch's perfection, since flawed characters are so much more interesting. There was also the odd romance from two secondary characters. What made it odd is that it didn't add much to the overall story. I felt it was unnecessary to the main plot and found I cared little for either character. Otherwise, I enjoyed this contemporary romance from Ms. Goodman and will read any more contemporaries she writes.

Rating: B

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Favorite Books of 2011...

It's that time of year again. A fresh start with a new year. But before I start on the great books waiting for my in 2012, I want to recap my favorites of 2011. It wasn't easy to get the list down to the proverbial 10 so I decide to go for 20 and even that wasn't easy. The books that made the list are the ones I not only enjoyed but left a lasting impression on me. Links are to my reviews.

Favorites of 2011 in No Particular Order ~

1. The Greyfriar by Susan and Clay Griffiths ~ The Griffiths are new authors who blew me away with their steampunk vampire novel. Yes, steampunk vampires.

2. You Belong to Me by Karen Rose ~ Ms. Rose is one of my favorite authors (thanks Nath!) and she can always be counted on to deliver a well written romantic suspense.

3. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater ~ Different from her Wolves trilogy but so very, very good. No matter what she writes, Stiefvater delivers strong emotions and well developed characters.

4. Snapped by Laura Griffin ~ Love, love, love this romantic suspense series from Ms. Griffin. It continues to get better with each book.

5. The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa ~ Simply amazing young adult fantasy series. This installment took a different turn with the POV of the hero but it still delivered all the action, adventure and emotional punch Kagawa is becoming known for.

6. A Lot Like Love by Julie James ~ I've said before, I'm not fond of lawyer protagonists except for Ms. James' lawyers. This time, no lawyers but a hero and heroine I couldn't help but cheer on. Can't wait for About That Night!

7. Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis ~ If you know me, you know I love Jill Shalvis. Will even admit to being a fangirl. (Not something I do very often.) I read 6 books by Ms. Shalvis in 2011 with Head Over Heels my favorite.

8. Tempted by Elisabeth Naughton ~ Favorite hero and heroine in this series! A wild adventure with equally wild and emotional love scenes.

9. Heartbreak Creek by Kaki Warner ~ Mail order bride and Kaki Warner for the win! Warner worked her magic again with this new series.

10. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews ~ This series continues to grow and get better and better. If you love UF, this is one of the best!

11. When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James ~ What a lovely, funny romance! Completely enjoyed Ms. James take on one of my favorite fairy tales.

12. Breaking Point by Pamela Clare ~ Ms. Clare is a wonder. She writes romantic suspense and historical romances with exceptional talent.

13. One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming ~ Oh, if you haven't started this series, please do! Love this small town mystery series with the very unique lead characters - Reverend Clare Fergusson and Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne.

14. Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt ~ Ms. Hoyt is one of my favorite authors for a reason - I can count on her to tell me a wonderful story.

15. Blackout by Rob Thurman ~ Hands down one of the best Urban Fantasy series. Love Cal, Niko and Rob. These guys never fail to keep me coming back for more.

16. Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman by Lorraine Heath ~ Such strong emotions in this beautifully written romance. Still can't believe how much I ended up loving the hero!

17. Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole ~ I shifted away from this series for a while. Getting back into it I discover one of my favorite heroes - Malkom Slaine!

18. Hot Zone by Catherine Mann ~ This book took me on an adventure so unexpected I couldn't help but enjoy the ride. I need to explore Ms. Mann's back list for more gems!

19. A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare ~ So happy to have finally read something from this author. And the first time was a hit! Definitely a historical romance series I would recommend.

20. Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt ~ Do pirates ever go out of style? Not if Ms. Hoyt is writing about them!

And there's the top 20 of 2011. There were plenty of other fabulous reads last year, I could easily list a top 50. Here's hoping 2012 turns out to be just as amazing!