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text 2019-01-18 18:47
2018 Romanices Wrap-up & looking forward to 2019

A final close to The Romanices Awards and 2018. After seeing a lot of you struggle with reading slumps last year, all my best wishes for a better 2019 :)


*clicking on book cover brings you to the post with all the nominees



Favorite Cover    Fav Secondary Character    Favorite Scene



Favorite Quote                      Favorite Heroine and Hero



Favorite Couple                    Fav Contemporary and Historical



Favorite Book of 2018



2017 Romancies Wrap-up


2016 Romancies Wrap-up


2015 Romancies Wrap-up



On to 2019 and my top ten most anticipated reads! I'm still reading 2017 new releases, so I'm a bit behind in series :/

*clicking on cover brings you to their Goodreads page










What are your most anticipated reads coming in 2019?

Best reading wishes to you all! 

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text 2019-01-16 18:43
The Romancies - Part Seven: Favorite Contemporary, Historical, and Book of 2018

I didn't make my reading goal this year and in fact, read the fewest books in a year since 2011. This was due to just life and I think we can all agree that 2018 was a year filled with distractions. I stuck with my themed reading months and am really enjoying how it is helping me whittle down my tbr; random number generator is great at picking books that would otherwise languish on it. 


I've still being trying to keep up with Menu Monday, which I realize now it has been about two months since I posted for that, must get back to it. 

In personal goals, I finally managed to get a bingo in Halloween Bingo! 


I hope you all have enjoyed this month long look back and reminiscing of books I read in 2018. The Romancies started off as a I'm grumpy alternative to GoodReads best books of the year, I couldn't handle how they didn't have a separate contemporary and historical category for romance books. New releases seem to get the most attention and I do see why but I hope seeing some of the hidden gems that make it to my nominees list encourages people to check some older books out. If nothing else, older published books will be easier on your wallet :)


I started The Romance Book Buddy Reading Group on GoodReads and love how reading with a buddy/ies has me diving deeper, appreciating, and discovering aspects to stories I might not have otherwise. Now that the work of putting the Romanices together is over, I plan on doing some more buddy reading. Hope to see you all in the group!


As always, love chatting, discovering, and reading with you all. I've always said, non-romance readers have no idea of the rebelling going on under those men's naked chest covers. Stories by women, for women, testing, feeling out, thinking, expanding, loving, and challenging our experience. For people who love to say they read everything "but romance", my pity. If people can find nuances and get different value from James Bond, Jack Reacher, and Jack Ryan, then maybe, just maybe, the whole romance genre has some characters with nuances and values too. Read and like what you like but don't yuck other people's yum :)

(This is not a call for people to explain to me how vastly different those three characters or author's writing styles are)



The following are my top ten contemporary and historical books I had the privilege of reading this year. 
(In no particular order)
*The books eligible could be published in any yearthey simply had to be read by me in 2018.
Clicking on book cover brings you to my review if I wrote one or Goodreads page if I didn't.
















A woman judged and put into a box by the world fights to break free and goes up against a grumpy, taciturn man but who reminds her of Gregory Peck from To Kill a Mockingbird, and quite possibly has a wildly softly strong beating heart. 

Chemistry, wit, banter, and loving, best contemporary I read this year :)



2017 Winner





















This was close with An Extraordinary Union but for how this one took me off guard, I read so much historical romance it takes extra umph to surprise and delight me. The chemistry, spark, and interaction between Jemdanee and Mr. Ridley grabbed me and didn't let go. This won't be a story for everyone but ooh boy, will it hit the sweet spot for some.


2017 Winner 



Favorite contemporaries and historicals:









I mean, probably not a surprise if you've followed my updates and read my review :)



Most of you have already done your best of list but if you haven't, let me know what your favorite reads from 2018!

My most anticipated reads for 2019 will be in my Romancies wrap-up post.

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text 2019-01-14 18:47
The Romancies - Part Six: Favorite Couple



*The books eligible could be published in any year, they simply had to be read by me in 2018. 
Clicking on book cover brings you to my review if I wrote one or Goodreads page if I didn't.











1.  Mary Frances and Ryder Only in My Arms by Jo Goodman


"What are you doing here?" she demanded. 
Ryder didn't miss that her tone was as icy as the water. "I didn't hear any splashing," he explained calmly. "I wanted to be sure you hadn't drowned." 
Mary made a sound that was both derisive and impatient. "You couldn't be that lucky." 
His pale gray eyes widened fractionally. "It didn't take you long to recover your sass." 
She wasn't certain she heard him correctly. "What did you say?" 
"I said you were sassy." 
It was a word that had never been applied to Mary before. Tart. Blunt. Sarcastic. Those were descriptions she had heard. Sassy was girlish, a little flirty. It made her feel gauche, youthful in a way that she'd never been, even when she was young.


My favorite thing about romance couples is when of them sees the other for who they truly are, which is usually in a different light from others. This couple was such a delight with their back and forth, snark, humor, and sexiness. I read romances hoping for a couple like this.


2.  Charlotte and Lucas A Rogue of Her Own by Grace Burrowes


“You are naughty.” 
Fatigue made his features sharper, and his smile more piratical. “Not naughty, married. Come be married with me, Charlotte Sherbourne.”


 At first glance, these two may seem opposites attract but their desires, fears, and wants are very similar once you see below their surfaces. This delved more into two people coming together after marriage and I very much enjoyed how they bonded. 


3.  Rowena and Wulf Forbidden by Helen Kirkman


He could not allow her to cry, not an Idess heart.


Rowena buys Wulf in a slave market, so yes, they have a combative relationship right from the start. The power dynamics and emotion the author was able to portray between these two was amazing and swept me up. Their relationship was slow burning and sparking at different turns and as most the story depended on them together, their chemistry did not disappoint.


4.  Dorothy and Richard The Black Madonna by Stella Riley


Richard lay with his fingers twined in his wife’s hair and said, ‘Out of the thousand or so things I have to tell you, only one seems important.’
She smiled at him. ‘I know. And I love you too.’


Not the main couple of the story but they stole the show with their love, caring, and sharing relationship.


5.  Jemdanee and Mr. Ridley Mr. Ridley by Delilah Marvelle


She jerked toward him, refusing to let him command her. “What did you mean by one day?”
“As in not now.” He flicked her forehead. “Cease letting your body dictate what you want. At your age, even a finger resting in your mouth seems exciting.” His tone hinted he was mildly amused. “You were riled by it, weren’t you?” He tsked. “Call on me in five years. In the meantime, do you need a towel for those moist thighs? Because I’d hate for you to slide off the bed and hit the floor.”


The restraint and coinciding slow burn weaved into this story, was/is EVERYTHING. These two sparked and burned on the pages, they pushed and pulled, and they gave and took. Theirs was the relationship I salivate to read in romance.


6.  Laurel and Flynn Brutal Game by Cara McKenna


"I'm gonna tell you something right now, and I want you to remember it every time I'm angry with you, for as long as we're together."

"All right."

"I wouldn't be this ripped up if I didn't love you. I don't waste my time feeling pissed or hurt or let down unless the person who managed to make me feel it actually matters to me."


A sequel, so we don't get their initial spark here but we do get a growing, aching, and solidifying of their bond. This couple could be considered unconventional but they do send out the hopeful message of someone out there for everyone. 


7.  Regina and Daffin Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman


She needed to set this to rights. “When we met last summer, I felt we had a connection, and I think you did, too.”
He arched a brow. “That, my lady, is a dangerous statement, and I make a habit of not commenting on dangerous statements.”


A very cute and sweet couple. Regina really puts herself out there and Daffin can't help but be charmed and attracted to her. I always love a hero that falls helplessly and gets his walls crushed down.


8.  Valerie and Scott - Blindsided by Gwen Hernandez


How could he not admire a woman who understood camouflage?" 


This couple was great in that Scott and Valerie meshed super well and it was understandable that such an accomplished guy like the hero would be a little rattled about how competent the heroine was and how her skills were more important in this situation. He gets rattled but he also found her hot because of this and I find him hot because of that.


9.  Emery and Wren The Fixer by HelenKay Dimon


“You still scare me a little.” She didn’t know why she admitted that, but it was absolutely true. There was no mistaking his smile now.
“The feeling is mutual.”


I really liked Emery and how she meshed with Wren, they played off each other very well; they had this slow dry heat thing that really worked. Wren was kind of an unconventional hero in a often used hero mold (action heroish) and I included them because of this, again, the whole there is the right person to match up with you out there of it all.


10.  Magdalena and Tadhg King's Warrior by Kris Kennedy


“Aye?” His voice was thick.
Her cheeks flamed. “Oh, aye. I thought…I thought you were going to…take me,” she finished in a rush, flushing.
One dark brow arched in silent reply, then he nodded toward her body, in front of which he still knelt, her gown still bunched against her belly, one of her knees still hooked over his shoulder. “I consider you taken,” he said, his voice roughened like a knot in silk.


As usual with Kennedy's couples, Magdalena and Tadhg sparked, sizzled, and steamed up the pages. These two never lacked for passion and they swept me up in their chemistry.




Jemdanee and Mr. Ridley

Jemdanee eyed it and him. He thought a woman choked by rope was…beautiful? His finger traced it, his voice fading. “I only point her out to those I trust.” Which hinted it meant something to him. 


The build up to Mr. Ridley showing this hint of truth and vulnerability and cracking the door open to Jemdanee, should be material for a writing, building romantic genre relationships class. These two blew me away with their chemistry. I'm often a sucker for tall, dark, and dangerous getting knocked askew by light and open heart. At first glance, Mr. Ridley seems like he should dominate Jemdanee but she more than holds her own against him and in fact, teaches him a thing or two.




2017 Winner 



2016 Winner


2015 Winner


2014 Winner



What couple was your favorite from the year?
Next time, Favorite Contemporary, Historical, and Favorite Book of 2018
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text 2019-01-12 22:54
The Romancies - Part Five: Favorite Heroine and Hero



Sometimes characters standout on their own, separate from the story or romantic relationship. Other times a character doesn't fully shine until they are paired with their partner who brings out their best. And on rare occasions, a character becomes lost when they are paired up. Thus, you'll find, maybe I really liked a heroine/hero but not when they are part of a couple and maybe I really like a couple but not separately.
*The books eligible could be published in any year, they simply had to be read by me in 2018.
Clicking on book cover brings you to my review if I wrote one or Goodreads page if I didn't.

Favorite Heroine Nominees: 











1.  Sophia Stanton-Greville The Hellion Bride by Catherine Coulter


He grinned at that. “Who was it who told me you were a regular hellion?”
“Some miserable man, I doubt not. Hellion —what nonsense! None of you can bear the thought of a woman making decisions for herself, being responsible for herself. You must always rule and order things to your own satisfaction, and you dare to call it protecting her.”


Really enjoyed how the heroine dropped some truth bombs and observations about sexism in her time. She called it out in the beginning of the story and tried to rail against the injustices. 


2.  Rowena Forbidden by Helen Kirkman


There was more than one man round here who could do with having his head chopped off.


How could I not love a heroine who thinks this? :)


She had placed her body between him and his target. She had no weapons. None but those that women had. Words and looks. And the hidden thoughts of the mind.


Rowena was a great strong woman character, at a time and place where her gender left her pretty powerless, she uses all her skills and thinking to protect her and her child.


3.  Jemdanee Kumar Mr. Ridley by Delilah Marvelle


“It was not your analogy to use. It was my analogy. An analogy I used with respect. Do you have any idea how many white British men have referred to me and my people as being animals?”
His features flickered. “Kumar. Cease. That wasn’t what I was—”
“Be mindful of how you speak to me.”
His voice softened. “I will. I’m sorry.”
It was something. “Be mindful.”
“I will."


Jemdanee is eighteen to the hero's thirty-two but she does a heck of a job of staying with him and challenging him. Along with her strength of character and heart, I really enjoyed her humor and lightness. I tend to lean towards dark and broody but Jemdanee reminded me that lightness can be a strength on its own too. 


4.  Elle Burns - An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole


This was who she was when she was allowed to be free from fear. 


A spy for the Union, Elle's strength, determination, and courage to take a chance on love was inspiring and emotional to read. Her anger and underlining pain give way to such a well of strength; she's the heroine you want to read about, hope you're a little bit like, and inspire to be. 


5.  Valerie Sanchez Blindsided by Gwen Hernandez


I loved this heroine, she was smart, not only in her computer abilities but understanding how the hero was better equipped to handle certain situations and listened to him. However, there wasn't a lot of that happening as she was the one who dictated a lot of the efforts to help them out of their bind. 


6.  Sadia Ahmed - Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai


“It’s hard to make your peace with someone who isn’t around anymore. Or more accurately, to make your peace with never making your peace.” She smiled sadly. “But sometimes it’s the only thing you can do.” 


 I thought Sadia was a great complex, multi-faceted heroine. Her inner family stresses along with grief, motherhood, money, and sexual desires are laid out so bare and real. It feels weird to wax poetic about a "normal" woman character as if other heroines aren't "normal", because what is normal and all that but dang it, I feel like I don't read a lot of normal heroines. Sadia is all of it, a mother, stressed, a daughter, horny, a sister, a list maker, bisexual, a widower, hurt, and etc. Loved her character.


7.  Evangeline Chandler - Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai


The author did an amazing job showing the growth Eve goes through as the story progressed. Eve went from hiding her wants and desires to allowing herself to express them and making no apologies for them. Eve's personal growth kind of dominated the story for me as her character was so well thought out and written.


8.  Lady Aslyn Hastings - Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath


“Associating with him, no matter how innocent, will lead you along the path to ruin.” 
She bloody well didn’t care.


Aslyn started off very sheltered and buttoned up but with some inner thoughts that hint at a will striving to break free. I, personally, thought Aslyn stole the show a bit with her living in quiet desperation. Her journey and growth from accepting her gilded cage, to starting to question, finding herself, and finally expressing and owning what she wanted was so satisfying. Usually it is the hero who stands tall during the declarations of love but, here, oh the heroine brings it and I was cheering her on. Aslyn could have taken the easy road but she spoke her truth and I delighted in following along on her journey.


9.  Lady Regina Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman


“All my life my family has told me what I should and shouldn’t do. What rules I must follow. And I’ve lived by them. Mostly. Where’s it got me? Lonely.


 I really liked Regina as she was a wonderful combination of vulnerable and courageous. When she is talking with Daffin you could feel how much she liked him and how nervous that would make her but then she would charge on bravely, such a great character. 


10.  Jane Winston My One and Only Duke by Grace Burrowes


Jane was a wonderful showcase of growing into her own, standing up to father, and being the more emotionally courageous one in putting herself out there to connect with Quinn.





Elle Burns


She's a spy, doing what she can in a way she can, fighting for freedom, badass. I also used the word "crotchety" in my review about her and heroines don't get to be this enough, I really enjoyed that about her. Elle simply made the story for me, from the plot, setting, to romance, it was her courage and bravery that made this one of my favorite books of the year.




2017 Winner





Favorite Hero Nominees:










1.  DEA Special Agent Dawson King True to You by Jennifer Ryan


An undercover hero that can't tell the heroine who he really is but finds himself falling for. He was strong, giving, and capable. However, even though he was sexy as all get out, he really makes this list because he could make one mean cherry tart.


2.  Mick Trewlove Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath


Never before had he ever been so weak-willed.
He was a man of strength, and yet he thought for her he'd go to his knees.


It's a little heartbreaking that Mick obviously just wants to feel acknowledged by his father, making him feel meaningful since he was given away as a baby. Mick was the hero where circumstances force him to have a tough outer shell but is angry and hurt over feeling abandoned. He was somewhat romance hero trope (a bit more sensitive) but how he fell for heroine made him very enjoyable to read.


3.  Cadeon Woede Dark Desires After Dusk by Kresley Cole


Cade had a certain sassy je ne sais quoi that I just couldn't help falling for and really liked.


4.  Gabriel Brandon - Garland of Straw by Stella Riley


A Colonel in the Roundhead army, Gabriel ends up married to a Cavalier woman. His strong, steadfast, and generous attitude made him a hero for any time period.


5.  Sam Fox A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian


And while only a fool would believe that a kitchen table supper between a rich man, a black boxer, and a three-legged dog could be the beginning of something good, maybe Sam was more foolish than he thought. 


Sam was such a strong character but in the most gentlest of ways. He had a similar shy, hidden aspect of his personality like Hartley, other hero, which due to their sexuality in their place and time is a necessity, but he also had rise to the front proclivity for, simply, caring. It was not an overdone martyr syndrome but no thought, generous, and loving way he made his choices. The way he acted, responded, and encouraged Hartley, was what made this story shine and fill my heart. 


6.  Leo Mardsen - Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas


He had choices, and each time he chose to accept the one invitation that placed him in the same country as her, so that help, should she need it, didn’t have to be summoned across oceans.


If you want a hero that pines, this is the story for you; I still get a little weepy remembering how Leo thought about the heroine. 


7. Ryder McKay Only in My Arms by Jo Goodman


"Because you have always been part of me," he said. "From the beginning. Not from the moment we met, but from the moment we were. There has been a place for you in my heart, under my skin." 


This is the "alpha" male I loved reading about, smart, capable, and strong but still waters run deep with some vulnerability. That, along with the dry humor and snark, made him a must add to this list.


8.  Kenny Kronek Small Town Girl by LaVyrle Spencer 


"How you doing, Kenny? I mean, with her gone?" 
He waited a beat before answering, dropping his cheerful banter. "Worst day of my life."


I wished we would have gotten a little more Kenny but the way he loved his daughter and missed her when she left home, still makes my eyes water a bit. He also had a humorous and snarky side that was fun when paired up with the heroine.


9.  Flynn Brutal Game by Cara McKenna


This pick isn't a surprise if you've ever asked for a more steamy rec from me, I almost always scream calmly say Willing Victim by Cara McKenna. This sequel fell a little short for me but Flynn still captured my attention. The way he loves the emotionally guarded heroine is everything.


10.  Cyrus Warner Retreat by Jay Crownover


Hero was a cool, straight-shooter, sexily self-assured, and wary of love cowboy who wore motorcycle boots. He played off the heroine well, giving and taking when he needed to, I'm a big fan of when the hero gives the heroine what she needs.





Gabriel Brandon


A little surprised that my favorite hero comes from a book first published in 1993, lol. Gabriel is a man I'd take in 1600s and 2000s, though. Maybe the war and drama of it all swept me up but Gabriel was a man, he got things done and cared for the heroine, all while being sexy as sin.



2017 Winner


Fav. Heroine/Heroes:








What heroine and hero captured your heart this year?
Next time, Favorite Couple...
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text 2019-01-07 16:33
The Romancies - Part Four: Favorite Quote


*The books eligible could be published in any year, they simply had to be read by me in 2018.
Clicking on book cover brings you to my review if I wrote one or GoodReads page if I didn't.










1.  Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts


"He frightens me, and embarrasses me. By trying to keep it contained, as always, I thought I'd limit the fear and humiliation. It's hateful to be a victim, Cade. Makes you feel exposed and angry and somehow guilty at the same time."


2.  A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian


He didn’t know what Sam wanted to hear, but he had a sinking feeling that whatever it was, he couldn’t say it.


3.  Forbidden by Helen Kirkman


She had placed her body between him and his target. She had no weapons. None but those that women had. Words and looks. And the hidden thoughts of the mind.


4.  After the Wedding by Courtney Milan


Instead, she reached out and took Kitty’s hands impulsively. “None of us have to be Half-Price anything anymore, you hear?”


5.  The Hellion Bride by Catherine Coulter


You see, Ryder, you refuse to believe me because you’re a man and men must place women into very neat slots. A woman is innocent or she’s not. There is no middle ground for a woman. A widow is all right, perhaps, but even then men assume that she will bed any number of them willingly, indeed, enthusiastically, because she’s used to having sex and knows what it’s all about. I have come to believe that once a woman has known a man intimately, she really isn’t to be trusted after that. Goodness, if the man is her husband she just might cuckold him. Of course, a husband can’t cuckold his wife. A husband can continue doing whatever he pleases. If he can’t get a woman to willingly bed with him, why he simply buys a woman for the night. Or, like you —a rich man—he keeps mistresses. And the man remains utterly respectable. Indeed, his credit rises with both men and women. It is nonsense and not fair.”


*Honorable Mention

He grinned at that. “Who was it who told me you were a regular hellion?”
“Some miserable man, I doubt not. Hellion —what nonsense! None of you can bear the thought of a woman making decisions for herself, being responsible for herself. You must always rule and order things to your own satisfaction, and you dare to call it protecting her.”


6.  An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole


I was just worried, is all,” she said, adjusting the ragged lace trim on Elle’s sleeve. “You remind me of my daughter sometimes. She had eyes just like yours . . . Caffrey sold her down South to pay off a debt. Every time I look at you, I wonder if she gonna grow up to be as pretty as you. And I hope she won’t.”


*Honorable Mention

Help me to understand,” he said. He was still asking of her when he should be giving, but he didn’t know how else to proceed.
“We don’t want revenge, Malcolm.” She looked at him like he was the densest bastard to ever walk the earth. “We want life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, just like any damned fool in these United States is entitled to so long as he isn’t Black or Red. So you can keep your outrage. All I can do is try to make a difference.”


7.  The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran


Do not look at me. Or, more accurately: do not see me.


8.  Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai


She was a mother, a widow. To a lot of people, she’d discovered, those two titles took precedence over being a woman.


*Honorable Mention

This line had me primal screaming/giddy/high: 
There was a reason he’d never gotten along with many men—these absurd power plays were too foolish. 
How bleeping amazing to have men relationships/dynamics called into the spotlight instead of the tired "women can't be friends because of jealously and/or competitiveness". I don't know, some justice was served for me with this line, lol.


9.  Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton


The trouble with belief is that it’s not the same as truth.’ 


10.  A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas


By your standards it isn’t rational, I know. But you can’t expect to be treated rationally when you are a woman, Charlotte. I can’t explain why—that’s just how it is. And you must learn to accept it.”
Charlotte was quiet. Livia thought that perhaps for once, she’d put some sense into her little sister’s head. But as they walked back into the house, Charlotte turned to her and said, “I will try to understand why. But I will not learn to accept it. Never.”



*Honorable Mention


The duke smiled out over the forest. “It works,” he said. “The people mutter against the witches. How do you do it, Fool?”
“Jokes, nuncle. And gossip. People are halfway ready to believe it anyway. Everyone respects the witches. The point is that no one actually likes them very much.”


Granny Weatherwax was often angry. She considered it one of her strong points. Genuine anger was one of the world’s great creative forces. But you had to learn how to control it. That didn’t mean you let it trickle away. It meant you dammed it, carefully, let it develop a working head, let it drown whole valleys of the mind and then, just when the whole structure was about to collapse, opened a tiny pipeline at the base and let the iron-hard stream of wrath power the turbines of revenge. 






This was a very close race with Milan's quote (loved the female bonding and rebelling the quote implies). However, the "And I hope she won't" guts me every time.



2017 Winner



2016 Winner


2015 Winner


2014 Winner


Have a favorite line that has stuck with you from this year?
Next time, Favorite Heroine and Favorite Hero...
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