My Top 5 (umm, 6) . . . historical romances
I’m really selective about the historical romances on my keeper shelf. I don’t have much shelf space, and am pretty ruthless about giving away and selling books that are not my absolute favorites. I also read a lot of historicals from the library, since they are so readily available. Right now I’m actually tracking down some of my favorites that I definitely want on my keeper shelf. Here are a few that already have prime placement on my shelf, or are on the top of my list to track down at the used book store.
ETA: This list is in no particular order.
To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt
Beautiful prose and quiet revelatory moments make this book a stand out for me.
I love Melisande’s quiet strength and determination when she proposes to Jasper in the opening scene in the book.
Jasper is a man who has lived through torture, and still suffers the emotional scars. He’s such a great combination of urbane gentleman and tortured hero.
I love that Jasper comes to love Melisande and doesn’t try to change her. He accepts her quiet, plain style as part of her. She accepts his quirks and doesn’t try to fix him.
My favorite scene(s) are where they visit each other’s empty rooms, trying to connect with the other, and reveal their true feelings (all without a word of dialogue.)
Here’s my review for To Seduce a Sinner.
Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
It’s funny, cause looking back at old posts, this book didn’t make my “Best Reads” of the month, yet was a Best of the Year. Partly, that was due to the fact that during October (the month I read Dreaming of You) I had also read Devil’s Bride, Tin Star, Sugar Daddy, and Seduce Me at Sunrise — all, truly excellent reads!
However, I also think it’s due to the fact that Derek Craven, DoY‘s hero, is the kind of character that really stayed with (and apparently, grew on) a me. His tough guy exterior belied an intense romantic, who loved the bookish Sara utterly and passionately.
My favorite scene, wasn’t a scene, exactly. It’s how Derek finds a pair of Sara’s spectacles, and carries them in his pocket. It reveals so much about his need for connection with her, his yearning. Oh man, I love it!
Here’s what I had to say in my Best of the Year post.
Scandal by Carolyn Jewel
I really like it when a hero and heroine have lived a little prior to a book’s opening. This is truly the case with Scandal, where Sophie and Banalit have both personal history, and history with each other.
This book develops such a sense of restrained passion that just seethes under the surface. It creates a tension that at any moment may erupt. And boy, when Sophie and Banalit finally do come together it is explosive.
But I get ahead of myself.
Sophie is a heroine who has been buffeted about by events in her life, and does what she can to mitigate the historically helpless position impoverished women were in during this time period. However, as I’m sure was often the case, even her somewhat successful attempts aren’t always enough, and it’s this vulnerability that indelibly marks her character. It also impacts her behavior toward Banalit, making for some screaming plot tension.
Banalit begins the story in love with Sophie, so unlike most romance heroes, his journey is not one of falling in love with the heroine, but one of accepting her journey to receiving his love.
Beautiful, beautiful book.
Here’s my review for Scandal.
The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
Lisa Kleypas writes the best heroes, and St Vincent is one of her best (next to Derek Craven, of course!)
Now, while the main action between St Vincent and Evie takes place in TDiW, so much of their history and character is set up in the previous Wallflowers books (Secrets of a Summer Night and It Happened One Autumn) that the story starts with a bang when Evie proposes to St Vincent. (Hmm . . . I just realized 2 of the books on my list start with a marriage proposal from the woman. I guess I like the set up!)
I also really like Evie. While she is shy and has been dominated in the past by her abusive relatives, she really takes control of her life when she shows up on St Vincent’s doorstep. She also doesn’t let St Vincent’s sophistication and self-confidence cow her. When she sets ground rules to their marriage, it’s St Vincent who has to grow and adapt.
St Vincent is the best example of the “reformed rake” hero-type that I can think of. He really starts with a big hole to dig himself out of, in terms of gaining the reader’s (and Evie’s) trust and liking by the time TDiW starts. And, he does redeem himself, making himself one of my favorite heroes in historical romance.
Here’s a review of The Devil in Winter in my November’s Best Reads post. (Scroll down.)
Lord of Soundrels by Loretta Chase
I love how Loretta Chase will take romance reader expectations, and totally stand them on their head. It’s this “unexpectedness” in her writing that makes Lord of Scoundrels really stand out for me.
For example, Dain is that alpha hero who is autocratic and demanding. He assumes (and demands) that things go his way. Yet, Jessica doesn’t let it intimidate her. She simply smiles and coos at him, giving him lots of sympathy for his being so “high-strung.” The part that just makes me want to laugh out loud is that after Dain’s initial surprise at her reaction to him, he accepts — and comes to enjoy — this attention from her.
The other thing I love about LoS is Jessica’s determination that Dain accept responsibility for his illegitimate son, and then sets out to make it happen. She doesn’t waste time in the usual angsting and drama of betrayal over something that happened will before they met. She rolls up her sleeves and takes control of the situation.
You know, I don’t think I have a favorite scene, so much as the fact that this books overall intelligence, in the characters and in its overall writing make it a special read.
Here’s my review for Lord of Scoundrels.
Devil’s Bride (The Cynster series, book 1) by Stephanie Laurens
It’s definitely the hero and heroine that make this book one of my favorites. Honoria is no shrinking miss. She is confident, opinionated, and not shy about letting her opinion be known. When she encounters Devil, she is nonplussed by this commanding man who takes charge and refusal to be intimidated by Honoria’s bossy ways.
Devil is the oldest of the Cynster cousins, and very much the leader of a group of alpha men.
I love how the family dynamics are so interwoven into this romance and into Devil’s personality. Also, I love a mystery to go along with my romance, and Devil’s Bride has both.
This is such a wonderful book, and I just wish the entire series was more consistently a good as this first installment.
Here’s a review of Devil’s Bride in my October’s Best Reads post.
It was really fun to look back on my favorites are remember why I love them so much. It definitely makes me want to go back and reread them.
I told myself that this would be a “top 5” but I just couldn’t leave any of these out as my absolute favorites. Of course, these aren’t the only ones on my keeper shelf, just the ones at the top of the list.
What are your top 5 (or 6)?
Entry filed under: Historical Romance, Top 5. Tags: Carolyn Jewel, Cynster series, Devil's Bride, Dreaming of You, Elizabeth Hoyt, Legend of the Four Soldiers series, Lisa Kleypas, Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase, Scandal, Stephanie Laurens, The Devil in Winter, To Seduce A Sinner, Wallflowers series.