Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Dabney’s Best of 2012 list

When Jane asked for lists of our “Best of 2012,” I got stuck on what best meant. Did it mean the best in terms of quality? The best in terms of most enjoyable? The best in terms of standouts? Did books I called best this year have to be as good as books I called best last year?

I’ve decided to define best as the books I enjoyed the most this year and liked enough to reread at least once.

I’ve listed them in order of preference–that was a challenge, but I feel some of these are better than others. Three are novellas–it’s been a good year for that form. The list includes historical romances, a twisted semi-mystery, contemporaries, and one erotica novella. I read no fantasy or YA this year to speak of–something I’d like to change in 2013.

  • His Very Own Girl by Carrie Lofty review by me
  • Suddenly You by Sarah Mayberry review by me
  • Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun (a novella) review by me
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn review by me
  • At Your Pleasure by Meredith Duran review by me
  • Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas review by Jane
  • Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry review by me
  • Room at the Inn by Ruthie Knox (a novella) review to come
  • The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan (a novella) review by Jane
  • A Different Kind of Forever by Dee Ernst review by me



I loved romances when, back in the mid 70's, in junior high, I read every Barbara Cartland novel I could check out from the library. Then, thanks to a savvy babysitter, I got my hands on the hot stuff. To this day I can remember how astonishingly steamy I found Rosemary Rogers' Sweet Savage Love. I abandoned romance when I went to college and didn't pick one up again until 2007 when I got my first Kindle. Since then, I’ve read countless romances; loved many, liked more, hated some. Most of what I read is historical and contemporary romance, but I’m open to almost any genre. I like my books to have sizzle, wit, and plots that make sense. I’d take sexy over sweet any day. I’m a sucker for smart heroes and smart-mouthed heroines. When not reading or writing about reading, or wishing I could rule the world, I'm meddling in the lives of my kids--I have four, ages 17 to 21--, managing my husband's practice, doing bossy volunteer work, and hanging out with Dr. Feelgood.


  1. Carrie G
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 10:39:09

    Are the “Best of” lists meant to be only books published in 2012? Just curious. My own “Best of 2012” list would probably feature few books actually published this year. As a latecomer to romance, I’m still catching up on all the previously published stuff!

    Of your list I’ve read Her Best Worst Mistake and the Governess Affair. Both great reads. I have Room at the Inn, Suddenly You, and His Very Own Girl waiting on my TBR pile.

  2. Kati
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 14:09:19

    I’m so tempted by Gone Girl, but I desperately resent the $12.99 price for it on Kindle. I loathe agency pricing.

  3. cleo
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 14:54:36

    Oooo, don’t know how I missed your review of His Very Own Girl before, but it looks good – I like the WWII setting. I just put it on my wishlist. The three on your list that I’ve read (the two Mayberry’s and the Milan), I really enjoyed. And I agree with the order – Suddenly You was my favorite of those three.

  4. Mom on the Run
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 17:04:24

    Thanks to the review of A Different Kind of Forever, I bought it and enjoyed so much. Sarah Mayberry is an auto buy, I adore everything she writes, but I would’ve missed that other gem had you not shared.

  5. Dabney
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 14:29:19

    @Carrie G: These were just books I read published this year.

  6. Janine
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 14:55:11

    I’m looking forward to your review of Room at the Inn. I had a lot of thoughts about that novella and I would love to discuss it with someone.

  7. Dabney
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 14:57:40

    @Janine: I just reread it last night and was far more startled by church scene than I’d been the first two times I’d read it. I love the idea of a reimagined “IaWL.”

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