The highlights from my 2008 reading year continue, this time with the best of my honorable mention reads. These are the books I graded a B+, were excellent reads, but lacked that tiny mysterious little something that elevates a book into A territory. It's hard to describe, and hard to explain, but most hardcore readers know what I'm talking about. "A" books just feel differently don't they? But that doesn't mean the "B" books are "bad." They're still pretty darn good. And here's the best of the pretty darn good ones. Click on titles to see full reviews.
A Mother's Wish by Karen Templeton (Silhouette Special Edition 1916) - This was one seriously emotional read about a woman checking up on the child she gave up for adoption several years before, and the boy's adoptive father, who just lost his wife to cancer. The sugary epilogue dangerously teeters into Wendy's Huge Honkin' Pet Peeve Territory, which is why this one didn't end up a true keeper. Still, it just about damn near ripped my heart out.
Money Shot by Christa Faust (Crime) - The older I get, the less patience I have for verbosity. Which is probably why I'm a hopeless squeeing fangirl for pulp crime novels. I likes 'em fast, hard and lean, with characters of dubious reputations and femme fatales. Fausts' debut for the old boy's club, Hard Case Crime, puts the femme fatale in the starring role. A former porn star, raped and left for dead in the trunk of a car, who rescues herself and begins a mission of revenge in search for the truth.
The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen (Suspense) - The latest novel in the author's long-running Jane Rizzoli/Maura Isles series. After being disappointed in the author's last couple of books, I found this entry a marvelous return to form. Lean, economical, with a compelling suspense thread. It's also a very strong Jane installment, and our girl continues to be the smartest person in the room. Love her!
Layover by Megan Hart (Erotic Romance eBook-Only Short Story) - I'm a sucker for quick, sexy reads and this one hit the spot. Hart's full length novels for Harlequin Spice tend to be heavy, emotional affairs and this short story was fast, charming and sexy with a take-charge heroine and a hero who is hopelessly infatuated with her. Download this one, and read it in bed. Your partner will thank you for it ::wink, wink, nudge, nudge::
What a Scoundrel Wants by Carrie Lofty (Medieval Romance) - I read so few medievals, mostly because it's just never been my favorite time period in history. But I was compelled by Lofty's choice in a hero (Will Scarlet of Robin Hood fame), and appreciated that she wrote a heroine who is allowed to be just as morally ambiguous as the hero (hey, why should the boys have all the fun?). I did find the first half of this story a bit of a slog, but the second half really cooks.
The Promise Of Jenny Jones by Maggie Osborne (Western Romance) - OK, so this isn't my favorite Maggie Osborne. And I'll admit, it took a while for me to warm up to this story since hero and heroine spend very little time together for the first half of the novel. But once these two hook up? Whoa doggie, was this little story great! Fabulous, wonderful, tough as nails heroine. Seriously, I'm totally gay for Jenny.
As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn Parry (Romantic Suspense) - Currently only available in Australia, I continue to hold out hope that Parry will find a publisher here in the States. Winner of the 2007 RWA Golden Heart for Best Romantic Suspense Manuscript, this book is a real winner. Wonderfully damaged characters, a compelling suspense thread, and a beautifully drawn locale of the economically depressed Australian Outback. A skilled romantic suspense novel that effortless juggles both romance and suspense. A must read, if you can get your hands on a copy. C'mon U.S. publishers. Step it up!
And that's it. Next up? My final closing thoughts on my 2008 reading year. Hang in there folks, the finish line is in sight!