Happy 2015! We tried to come up with our top ten reads for 2014, but found it impossible to limit the number to ten. Here, then are our top twenty favorites, listed by author. These are the books that moved us, made us laugh or cry, or possibly broke our hearts. They are the books we remember, and have given a place on our keeper shelves.
Mary Balogh has two entries from her wonderful Survivors Club series. The Escape is the lovely story of an injured war hero and an unwanted widow who find their place in the world and love with each other. Only Enchanting is about a no nonsense widow who falls head over heels for the first time with an injured war hero who finally feels secure when with her.
Monica Burns writes a romantic, exciting and emotional time travel tale in Forever Mine. Lovely epilogue.
Grace Burrowes released a trilogy of books so closely related, we count them as one. The Captive, The Traitor, and The Laird are stories of men who went to war – one became a tortured prisoner, one his forced torturer, and one with a mysterious purpose. After the war, each man must come to terms with his life and the things he has done, or has endured as he finds healing love. All three books are amazingly written. What a Lady Needs for Christmas is a story with plenty of heart and warmth about a wronged lady in a desperate situation who finds an unlikely knight.
Anna Campbell takes us on a roller coaster ride to happy ever after in her book, What a Duke Dares, as a lady turns down a proposal from the man she loves, when it’s obvious he’s only looking for a convenient marriage.
Liz Carlyle has written a scorching book of a lady fallen on hard times who becomes The Earl’s Mistress. This is absolutely one of her best!
Maire Claremont weaves another compelling tale of a Viscount wracked with grief in The Dark Affair. Can his nurse save his sanity and keep him from permanently living in the drug induced oblivion he seeks?
Tessa Dare pens a light and witty story of an heiress coming to claim her castle in Romancing the Duke, only to find the castle inhabited by the duke who owns it, and has no plans to give it up.
Meredith Duran gives us a story of a down-on-her-luck woman who masquerades as a housekeeper in the household of a man nearly maddened with grief and shame. He has shut himself away after the betrayal and then death of his wife in Fool Me Twice.
Juliana Gray has written a trilogy about sister princesses, fleeing assassins in their homeland, and disguising themselves as males to be safe. These are two tropes I really dislike, yet they were so well written, I was hooked. The third book, How to School Your Scoundrel, is a fantastic read, as are books one and two.
Laura Lee Guhrke created a very clever title for very serious subject matter. In How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days, we follow the progress of an estranged couple who agreed to live apart forever, but now find that circumstances have changed
Lorraine Heath crafted what I feel is her finest book. A man who always did the right thing loses his beloved wife, and vows never to feel again. Another young woman who has suffered in another way only wants his love. The epilogue of When the Duke Was Wicked is magnificently written. I love this book.
Judith James is a writer who deserves much more recognition. We had a long wait for The Highwayman, a novel loosely based on actual historical figures. Can a well born lady possibly find happiness with a reformed, yet notorious thief?
Sabrina Jeffries’ third installment in the Duke’s Men series tells a tale of an illegitimate man greatly wronged by his half brother. He is called upon to investigate in How the Scoundrel Seduces a young lady’s past, and her own uncertain birth.
Carla Kelly takes us to New Mexico in 1782, a place not often seen in historical romance. Marco and the Devil’s Bargain is a gritty, vivid, and real telling of how life was in this excellent continuation of the Spanish Brand series.
Courtney Milan shows us just how difficult the struggle was for women’s rights in The Suffragette Scandal. Beautiful love story included. Huzzah!
Sophia Nash‘s Royal Entourage Series about a ducal bachelor party gone horribly wrong continues with Prinny deciding who his next matrimonial candidate is. In The Once and Future Duchess, we have a perfect match, if only the potential groom can get past a foolish promise holding him back from true love.
Theresa Romain tells a story of a duke who’s a little batty (I love that!) and so determined to be in control of his passions, that he flees society to live in the country for a decade. Circumstances force him to return to town to seek a wealthy bride. There he encounters the woman who inspired his desire in To Charm a Naughty Countess.
Jess Russell amazed me with her debut novel, the story of a monkish duke, who can’t fight his desire for a widowed seamstress. Everything about this book, The Dressmaker’s Duke, worked for me. I can’t wait to read more from her.