Welcome to Smugglivus 2009 – Day 7!
Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2009, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2010.
Today’s Guest: Julie James, author of the most awesome Contemporary Romance novels. Her books are love letters to old screwball comedies full of strong female characters and great, witty repartee. Her first book was Just The Sexiest Man Alive, reviewed by Ana.
Dear all, Julie James:
Relatively speaking, I’m a newcomer to romance.
As I’ve mentioned before, I began reading romantic fiction when Berkley bought my first book and my editor told me that I had, in fact, written a romance. (With a writing background in screenplays, I’d described Just the Sexiest Man Alive as a “romantic comedy.”) So for the past two years, I’ve been doing a lot of catch up. What a pleasure it has been to have found my way to this wonderful genre.
So as I sit back now and think about the books I’ve read this year, I realize that picking my favorites is nearly an impossible task. 2009 was a great reading year for me, and I know that as soon as this blog posts, I’ll remember a book—or several—that I forgot to mention. But here are a few that really stood out to me:
Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh: Newbie that I am to romance in general, I’m even more of a newbie to paranormal romance. But this book instantly turned me into a Nalini Singh fan. The world-building. The details. Just the descriptions of the angels’ wings alone are incredible. The hero. (Oh yeah, he’s an archangel.) And the climax. . . so visual and breathtaking, I think I was reading with my jaw on the floor. The next book in the series, Archangel’s Kiss, comes out in February and I can’t wait.
Fragile by Shiloh Walker: Dark, intense, and utterly compelling. Shiloh took the heroine and hero on one heck of an emotional roller coaster in this book, and I was right there with them. The hero’s twin brother’s book, Broken, comes out this March and—confession time—I’ve read it and think it’s just as gripping and suspenseful as Fragile. And it features a brooding, angst-y hero who definitely deserves a HEA.
Daring Time by Beth Kery: I’m such a fan of Beth Kery’s writing. Wicked Burn was the first erotic romance I read, and I was sold on Beth’s books after that. What I enjoy so much is that the stories, while sizzling hot, are incredibly romantic. The hero in Daring Time travels through time to save the heroine—what could be more devoted than that? Framing the story is a richly detailed setting—turn of the century Chicago—that made the book enjoyable on every level for me.
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase: I know, I know, what hole have I been in that I just read this in 2009? I thought this book couldn’t possibly live up to all the hype. It did. The scene—and I’ll be vague here for the last two people in Romanceland who haven’t read it—with Jessica and the gun? Priceless.
Beyond the Night by Joss Ware: Okay, so I’m cheating a little with this one, since it doesn’t come out until January 2010. But a little birdie slipped me an early copy of this book and I can’t help but include it in my favorite reads of the year. The world-building is, in a word, incredible. Post-apocalyptic romance with zombies and a Heroes-like twist. Ha—if I had a dime every time I read that. I stayed up late to finish the book because I simply couldn’t put it down. For something off the beaten path, yet still romantic, this is a series worth checking out.
In addition to the above, there are two non-romance books that have to be included in my favorite reads of 2009. First, The Help by Kathryn Stockett—a poignant, sometimes bittersweet, but ultimately rewarding and uplifting story about three women from different walks of life who find unexpected strength in each other, and more important, in themselves. This is one of those books you want to tell all your friends about after finishing it.
Second, Labor Day by Joyce Maynard. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting much from this book. I got it for free at the RWA conference and picked it up on whim over Labor Day weekend. How glad I am that I did. It’s a quick read about love and adolescence and the human need to connect with others and, in the end, is sweetly romantic. This book is probably the one that surprised me most this year because it turned out to be so much more than I expected.
Which leads me to my question. . . of the books you read this year, which one surprised you most? (Hopefully one that surprised you in a good way.) In the spirit of Smugglivus, I’ll give away signed copies of both Practice Makes Perfect and Just the Sexiest Man Alive to one random commenter.
Julie’s next book, Something About You, will be released by Berkley on March 2, 2010. To read an excerpt, visit Julie’s Website.
Go forth and comment! The contest is open to EVERYONE and will run until Saturday, December 12 at 11:59pm (PST). To enter, simply leave a comment here. ONE entry per person, please! Duplicate and/or multiple entries will be disqualified. Good Luck!