RBA’s Best Reads of 2008: The Yearbook Edition (Part 1 of 4)

December 29, 2008 at 5:00 am 14 comments

prom-dancing I really struggled with how to organize my best of 2008 reads. As I’ve said before, I’m hesitant (and maybe too indecisive) to organize things strictly by category. So, this post is more or less the romance edition, tho’ some of these could be considered cross genre. (See what I mean? lol)

(ETA: At this point, this week will very roughly be:

  • Part 1-Romance
  • Part 2-Speculative Fiction & M/M fiction
  • Part 3-YA & Mystery
  • Part 4-Urban Fantasy)

So. I thought I’d have a little fun, and do this in yearbook “Superlatives” style. 

Oh yeah, these books weren’t necessarily published in 2008. Rather, they were books I read this year. These books were new to me. I figure, if they were new to me, they might also be new to someone else, and I love the opportunity to share a great new book or author! <g>

I read lots of amazing books this year, so I’ve broken it down into 4 posts.

If some of my reviews sound familiar, it’s because I’ve borrowed shamelessly from my previous posts.😉

Couple Most Likely To…

Run away with the Gypsies: Cam Rohan and Amelia Hathaway


Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

Amelia shoulders the responsibility for taking care of her family, and has decided that she will never marry, devoting herself to making sure her siblings are taken care of.

Then, Cam walks into her life. He is jaded by the fast, sophisticated women he encounters in London. Half Irish/half Roma, he yearns for the freedom of the Roma (Gypsy) life he was taken from when he was a child.Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

Neither of them are looking for love, and both of them are forced to re-evaluate what it is they truly want. I love how Cam is really forced to explore what it is he is truly searching for: freedom? family? independence? belonging? Once he decides what he truly wants, he moves forward with fearless intensity.

Amelia clings stubbornly to her ideas of the path her life will take. When Cam shakes that up, she doesn’t let go without a fight. She is also very independent. 

I loved seeing the two come together, working thru their personal challenges and becoming a couple.


Most Likely To…

Steal you blind and leave you smiling: Derek Craven

Poker chips

Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

Here’s a brief description from the author’s site:

A handsome, tough and tenacious Cockney, he rose from poverty to become lord of London’s most exclusive gambling house —a struggle that has left Derek Craven fabulously wealthy, but hardened and suspicious. And now duty demands he allow Sara Fielding into his world — with her impeccable manners and her infuriating innocence. But here, in a perilous shadow-realm of ever-shifting fortunes, even a proper “mouse” can be transformed into a breathtaking enchantress —and a world-weary gambler can be shaken to his cynical core by the power of passion…and the promise of love.

Dreaming of You by Lisa KleypasI think Derek Craven is my favorite LK protagonist. (And that’s saying something!) He’s a street smart cockney who has done it all. She’s an earnest bookish miss. I think what a love most about this, my favorite historical Kleypas is what Sarah brings out in Derek.

He’s so world weary by the time Sarah comes into his life: jaded and cynical. In Sarah, he sees all the goodness and kindness he has never experienced. He yearning, hidden by his streetwise attitude, is palpable. LK does angst like no other writer I know. 

I also loved Sarah. She is so hungry for life and love. I just adored how she was so accepting of the “girls” at Craven’s.


Couple Most Likely To…

Succeed: Devil Cynster and Honoria Wetherby

monopolyDevil’s Bride (Cynster series, book 1) by Stephanie Laurens

Talk about a power couple!

Honoria is very independent and confident, with a great sense of who she is and what she wants out of life (and it isn’t marriage to a titled gentleman.) Devil is very straight forward with his wants, and he wants Honoria. Circumstances bring them together in what appears to be a compromising situation, and the result is that they must marry. As soon as Devil realizes this, he sees how this is a good thing for him and his family.

Devil's Bride by Stephanie LaurensUsually in this kind of book much of the action revolves around the hero coming to the conclusion that he wants the heroine. With Devil’s Bride, he arrives at this point early in the novel and most of the action is spent convincing Honoria to marry him.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the mystery elements. The murder of Devil’s cousin brings them together at the beginning of the novel, and while who did it isn’t much of a surprise, their discovery of who did it and why is very entertaining.

The family loyalty in the Cynster men is irresistable, and the camraderie and strength of the Cynster women plays out so great in this series.


Best Smile and Most Popular…

Liberty Jones

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypasvanessa-hudgens

Who doesn’t just love Liberty Jones? Usually, it’s the hero I fall for in a romance (Cam, Derek, Jamie), but while I loved Travis and Gage, Sugar Daddy is definitely Liberty’s story.

Here is some of the back cover description:

She’s from the wrong side of the tracks
Liberty Jones has dreams and determination that will take her far away from Welcome, Texas—if she can keep her wild heart from ruling her mind. Hardy Cates sees Liberty as completely off-limits. His own ambitions are bigger than Welcome, and Liberty is a complication he doesn’t need. But something magical and potent draws them to each other, in a dangerous attraction that is stronger than both of them.

He’s the one man she can’t have
Sugar Daddy by Lisa KleypasWhen Hardy leaves town to pursue his plans, Liberty finds herself alone with a young sister to raise. Soon Liberty is under the spell of a billionaire tycoon—a Sugar Daddy, one might say. But the relationship goes deeper than people think, and Liberty begins to discover secrets about her own family’s past.

This book really sucked me in and held me there till the last words. Liberty was such an empathetic character, I couldn’t help cheering for her when she, bit by bit, built a life for her and her sister, Carrington. Her early scenes with Hardy are filled with yearning that really touched me. When I finally finished the audiobook, all I could think was, “WOW. What a great book.” 


Best Dressed…

Kilt guy

Jamie Fraser

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

It’s all about the kilt, baby! (I know this guy isn’t a redhead, but he looked good in a kilt.)

I chose the entire series, because I couldn’t pick just one book. This epic saga of Claire and Jamie Fraser just blew me away. The series really has it all: rollicking adventure (pirates! ship wrecks! duels!), steamy love, witchcraft, time travel, and did I mention kilts?

Actually, I was a little leery about the whole time-travel thing, but it worked really well in the story. Claire is such a fish-out-of-water, but that’s what makes it easy to identify with her.

Here is the book description for book 1, Outlander:

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon — when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach — an “outlander” — in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Outlander by Diana GabaldonI’ve always enjoyed historical fiction, and the research DG puts into each book is apparent, without feeling didactic. 18th century Scotland (and France, Carribean, America in subsequent books) really comes alive. Also, I think that it is so history rich, that it would appeal to a broad audience. I’ve actually loaded the audiobook onto my husband’s iPod, and can’t wait to see what he thinks.

I listened to the audiobooks for this series, and they were excellent. Davina Porter is amazing, and this is actually one of my top 3 all time favorite audiobook productions.

I know that the movie (if it really gets made) will take years to produce. If you’ve already read this series (or even if you haven’t) I highly recommend giving it a listen. I was able to locate all the audiobooks in the series at my local library.


Most Likely To…

Be the top story on the 11 o’clock news and Class Clown: Stephanie Plum

news-at-elevenThe Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich’s hilarious series is about my favorite bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum. I listened to the fabulous audiobooks, and often while I was listening to them, my husband would know which books I’m listening to because I’d be laughing out loud.

The books are zany roller-coaster rides, funny and fast-paced. Stephanie and her side-kick Lula are truly “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight” and the chaos that follows is always entertaining.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

I may have mentioned once or twice, that I love Ranger, Stephanie’s mysterious mentor. Ranger is dangerous, but always willing to help bail Stephanie out of a jam. His mystery makes him alluring, but he never takes himself (at least when he’s around Stephanie) too seriously. Ranger is cagey about emotional entanglements, and seems more than happy to let Joe Morelli, Stephanie’s on and off boyfriend, handle the “boyfriend” obligations like Friday dinners with Stephanie’s family.

My favorite books in the series have been those in which Ranger has played a central role, and I can find out a little more about him. Ten Big Ones and Twelve Sharp, which reveal more about Ranger are among my favorite installments of this series.

  • Janet Evanovich’s site.
  • One for the Money excerpt.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Best Reads of 2008, coming tomorrow!

Entry filed under: Adventure Romance, Best of 2008, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy Romance, Historical Romance. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Current Reads…Midnight Never Come RBA’s Best Reads of 2008: The Yearbook Edition (Part 2 of 4)

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. BevQB  |  December 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    You picked some good ‘uns, Renee!

    Devil’s Bride is closer to perfection than any other book I’ve ever read. It is one of my most cherished comfort re-reads. Now, if only they would re-release the audio format for consumers! Grrr– I’ve even emailed Recorded Books and BEGGED!

    You’ve actually LISTENED to all the Outlander audio books?! Those things are EPIC in length! Hell, I’ve never even re-read the print books because they’re so damn long.

    Okay, since you’ve been catching up with classics, here’s a rec for you– A Gentleman’s Wager by Madelynne Ellis (Black Lace). Another of my all time favorites and I re-read it at least once a year.

  • 2. Erotic Horizon  |  December 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Hello Renee,

    Can you please contact me on



  • 3. sula  |  December 29, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    omg, so many great choices here. Cam and Amelia were such a sweet couple. And Derek Craven has got to be the best Kleypas hero. Don’t even get me started on Jamie Fraser tho, because he is my ultimate all-time fav hero of any book/series/etc. Such an awesome couple, he and Claire. I’m curious to know how your hubby finds the book.🙂

  • 4. Renee  |  December 29, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Bev: Thanks for the rec! I feel like I’m playing catch-up with romance. It was a long break for me from the genre, and I’ve been rediscovering it this year.
    Yes! I listened to the entire Outlander series. I LOVE my libraries (I frequent 2, and the county one is for LA county, so their resources are extensive.) Some of the books were close to 50 discs!

    Erotic Horizon: Saw you over at Sayuri’s a bit ago! Welcome! I’ve sent you an email.

    Sula: I think Derek Craven is my fave hero right now. I’m going to do Nath’s Re-read challenge, and Dreaming of You will be on my list!
    I can’t wait for my guy to listen to Outlander. He really enjoyed Dead Until Dark, the first Sookie Stackhouse. It was really great to compare notes with him.

  • 5. Christine  |  December 29, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Renee!
    I’m currently composing my list of favorites for 2008 as well. I love the style of your delivery with your list–very creative!

    Unfortunately, I haven’t read a lot of the books you mention. But I did read Sugar Daddy in 2007 in hardcover and it made my 2007 list, so I know you’ve got great taste!🙂

    I’ve always wanted to read the Stephanie Plum books. Did I already say that once before on your blog?O_o

    Here’s to more great reads in 2009!

  • 6. Renee  |  December 29, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Christine: I’m looking forward to seeing what made your list! I’ve been having lots of fun with this, though putting it together has been sort of a time-suck –but a fun one!😛
    I just finished writing part 3, and will dive in for part 4 before bed.
    Stephanie Plum is great, if you are looking for a light, fun, fast-paced read.

  • […] Part 2 is the Best M/M and Speculative Fiction in 2008[…]

  • 8. katiebabs  |  December 30, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Jamie ock Jamie!😀

  • 9. Renee  |  December 30, 2008 at 11:08 am

    KB: I’ve actually got my guy to listen to the Outlander audiobook. He started it last night and is already on disc 3! I can’t wait to do an interview post with him for a guy’s perspective.

  • […] Posts Diana Gabaldon talks about the Outlander movieRBA’s Best Reads of 2008: The Yearbook Edition (Part 1 of 4)Upcoming Book ReleasesRBA’s Best Reads of 2008: The Yearbook Edition (Part 2 of 4)2008 Read BooksNew […]

  • […] Posts Diana Gabaldon talks about the Outlander movieRBA’s Best Reads of 2008: The Yearbook Edition (Part 1 of 4)Upcoming Book ReleasesRBA’s Best Reads of 2008: The Yearbook Edition (Part 2 of 4)2008 Read BooksNew […]

  • 12. KristieJ  |  January 1, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    LOL – I love the way you break them down. While I have read most of the books you’ve listed before 2008, I’m so glad to see you firmly in the Cravenator camp – heh heh heh

  • […] My 2008 Best Reads: Part 1-Romance […]

  • […] My 2008 Best Reads: Part 1-Romance […]


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Vintage pin-up girl reading
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