“We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day...maybe next year!
- Hughie Charles / Ross Parker
Yes, it's time to bid a fond farewell to 2017 and to some of the historical romance books that passed by my eyes this year. Before I do my little wrap-up of highlights, I would like to take a moment to say farewell to some romance authors we lost this year: Elaine Barbieri, Helen Cadbury, Janet Chapman, and Miranda Neville.
A few debut romance authors crossed my radar this year. Congratulations for becoming published: Clara Christensen, Sara Portman, Olivia Hart, Susan Cliff, Maggie Conway, Mona Kasten, Victoria Gilbert, Jessica Ellicott.
Now for my wrap-up. This has been an interesting year for me because I found some old treasures with a lot of dust on them and they made my outstanding list of 2017. This is my outstanding list; these are book which made me laugh-out-loud and also made a few tears appear in my eyes. And, if you have not read any of these books...what are you waiting for?
My Outstanding Historical Romance Books of 2017, in no particular order.
~ Loretta Chase, A Duke in Shining Armor (2017)
~ Mary Balogh, A Rogue’s Downfall: The Anniversary (1994), The Wrong Door (1993), and Precious Rogue (1995). Available via Hoopla.
~ Mary Balogh, The Famous Heroine (1996)
~ Mary Balogh, Lady with a Black Umbrella (1989). Available via Hoopla.
~ Mary Balogh, The Temporary Wife (1997).
~ Anne Stuart, The Spinster and the Rake (1982)
~ Mary Jo Putney, Angel Rogue (1995) aka The Rogue and the Runaway (1990)
~ Anne Gracie, Marry in Haste (2017)
~ Caroline Linden, The Secret of My Seduction (2017)
~ Deborah Simmons, The Vicar’s Daughter (1995, electronic release 2017)
~ Lisa Kleypas, It Happened One Autumn (2005)
~ Karen Ranney, After the Kiss (2000)
~ Kelly Bowen, Duke of My Heart (2016)
~ Kelly Bowen, A Duke to Remember (2016)
~ Kelly Bowen, Between the Devil and the Duke (2017)
~ Julia London, Wild Wicked Scot (2016)
~ Julia Quinn, And A Sixpence in Her Shoe, short story from Four Weddings and a Sixpence (the stand-out in an otherwise average group of short stories.)
No More Wire Hangers – Yes, it’s time for the 2017 Mommie Dearest Award. To win in this category you have to be a pretty nasty character. And, in Romanceland, there are always oodles of brothers who are in debt and their sisters are paying the bill, beautiful self-centered sisters, cold fathers, and conniving mothers. But the winner of this year’s 2017 Mommie Dearest award goes to a dead man. Yes, this year the award has to go to none other than the Earl of Riverdale from Mary Balogh’s new Westcott family series. Nothing more destructive than a bigamist marriage. And, we get to watch the fall-out caused by this callous man in a series which is just beginning.
2017 Steve Morgan Bonehead Award. There’s nothing better than a good old rant because the hero in the book is such a blockhead. For all of you who don’t know who Steve Morgan is, check out Rosemary Rogers’ Sweet Savage Love. Written in 1974, it is the epitome of the term bodice ripper. He is probably one of the most abominable heroes ever written. Cruel, unfaithful, possessive, jealous, etc., etc. Over the course of a book, The Bonehead hero does many unforgivable things and usually he never apologizes. The winner of this year’s bonehead award is from Julia London’s Sinful Scottish Laird. And guess what, instead of a man it’s a woman who has made it to the top bonehead status. Sometimes giving a female character male attributes to prove she is a strong, free-thinking woman doesn’t work. Women do not have to be male-vamps to be strong or to prove they have a place in a man’s world. Inconstancy doesn’t sit any better on a woman’s plate then it does on a man’s. A woman does not have to be like a man to have her own voice.
Sidekicks, aka Secondary Characters, aka Supporting Cast of 2017. Yes, where would our books be without those scene-stealers, those secondary characters who are the only thing one might remember from a book? You know what I’m talking about – sometimes those characters are so strong, they get their own fans. Fans who wait and wait for them to have their own book. And, sometimes those books work and sometimes they don’t (but that’s another story.) Here are my nominations for some memorable secondary characters I stumbled across this year. The winner for most memorable secondary character this year is dead. Yes, Julia Quinn managed to make me care a whole lot about Thomas in The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband. The interesting thing about Thomas, other than he’s dead, is that we get to know him mainly through letters, flashbacks, and the memories of others. In order to do that Ms. Quinn had to do some mighty fine writing for her secondary characters.
Now for some special mentions. I could not let this year pass by without mentioning three memorable moments from this year. First of all, even though I had some problems with Sarah MacLean’s The Day of the Duchess, one of the best written historical romance scenes for the year appeared in this book. In case you want to know which scene, it involves riding on a horse. There is so much emotional impact in that one little scene and I was amazed at such wonderful writing. Truly brilliant.
The second moment I want to mention is from Elizabeth’s Hoyt’s Duke of Desire. Raphael has to be one of the most angst-filled heroes I’ve ever read. This storyline was just too much, too painful. While the writing was superb, I found the storyline so disturbing I found it hard to read.
And finally, it was a pleasure to reread one of my all-time favorite Mary Balogh books, Lady with a Black Umbrella. This little gem of a book proves beyond a doubt that Ms. Balogh can write some pretty funny stuff. A wonderful, feel-good book.
So goodbye 2017. I’m always on the lookout for some new and exciting authors. Believe me when I say I know how hard authors work. Even when I’m am not as appreciative of your creation as you think I should be - I am after all only one voice. But, I realize you have all put a lot of yourselves into those words which are filling those pages. Here's to the authors we love and the worlds they bring us.
Kay is an avid reader of historical romance books, maybe with a little trip into paranormal land and an occasional journey into mystery world.