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Sunita’s Best of 2010

My top 10 for 2010 reflect how idiosyncratic my reading has been this year. I read a lot of categories that were enjoyable but didn't stay with me, some of the most highly praised books of the year (cough Meljean Brook cough) are still in my TBR, and I spent much valuable reading time catching up on pre-2010 books in the m/m genre.   The books that made the cut all share two characteristics. First, they create compelling and well-realized worlds which are almost characters in themselves, and second, they are keepers in the sense that even if I don't plan to reread them, I can't forget them.

Two category novels (reviews coming soon, I promise) rose above the rest. Dating the Dreamy Doc doesn't break any new ground, but it brings a good series to a satisfying close and it incorporates classic category elements extremely well.   Dating the Millionaire Doctor takes big risk by setting the story in the recent wildfires in Australia and putting animals in jeopardy. But Lennox, who is a master at combining warmth, humor, and angst, pulls it off.

There are two previously published books (one reissue and one US issue) which I would hate for readers to miss, even though they've been discussed before. The Winter Sea is two stories in one (historical and contemporary) and it makes connections between the past and present in an ingenious way. It also does what I thought was impossible: it gets me to enjoy and finish a book with Scottish dialect! Emily and the Dark Angel is one of Jo Beverley's Regency series, and it combines classic elements (rake, aging spinster, Melton hunting country) in a fully realized world. It's a very intelligent take on the genre, and it reminds me how good traditional Regencies can be.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

8 Comments

  1. Jayne
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 11:34:45

    Interesting list, Sunita. I think I have the Lennox book on my Sony already and have been eyeing the Kearsley book too.

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  2. Sunita
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 12:29:06

    @Jayne: It’s a strange list when you look at them together! Some of them have obviously gotten non-top-10 reviews, but they either worked much better for me or were so interesting even in their shortcomings that the stayed in my memory and/or grew on me.

    The Marion Lennox has a injured koala. It was heartbreaking. I can’t believe she pulled it off. Typical Lennox, though, in that it’s not *just* angsty.

    I think you’ll like the Kearsley, given the ways our tastes coincide. It takes some well-used tropes and gives them a fresh spin.

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  3. Julie
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 12:35:32

    I loved that Sarah Morgan! She also wrote an excellent Christmas romance – Dr. Zinetti’s Snowkissed Bride and a fabulous Presents, The Twelve Nights of Christmas which are absolutely delightful!

    I’ve read that Susanna Kearsley and have throughly enjoyed it. She should release a new book in March, The Rose Garden, which look absolutely gorgeous!

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  4. MaryK
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 13:07:44

    some of the most highly praised books of the year (cough Meljean Brook cough) are still in my TBR

    Oh, I can so relate to that. You have no idea!

    It’s interesting to see “non-top-10s” in somebody else’s Top 10. It adds perspective.

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  5. Sunita
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 13:21:36

    @Julie: I agree on both the Morgans you mentioned. I thought Dr. Zinetti’s Snowkissed Bride was interesting in that the heroine really saw herself as unattractive, not just someone who needed a quick makeover.
    @MaryK: Thanks! If you click through on the review links, you’ll see that I gave a number of them B-range reviews. This obviously speaks to my inability to assign proper grades, but it also suggests that a book can be far from perfect and still be so well executed, or imaginative, or risk-taking, that it deserves recognition.

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  6. Liz
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 14:02:05

    I really enjoyed the Lennox and was impressed by the way she blended very serious themes, humour and sweetness. I never would have tried a Medical without your championship, I don’t think, but have enjoyed several. Also liked the Lanyon and Kelly; I’ve got a lot of the others on my Sony waiting to TBR, and am now looking forward to them more.

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  7. Barbara
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 01:23:38

    I’ve only read Ruthless on your list, and for whatever reason, it seems to either be universally reviled or loved. The longer out I go from reading it, the more I love it, I’m going to take it back down and read it again soon (it probably also has to do with the fact that I hated the second one, although the third was okay).

    I’m going to have to plead guilty on The Iron Duke too, but it’s sitting on the top of my pile next to the Olivia Cunning book, I swear!

    And now, since I seem to be the official thread-killer this past week at DA, I declare this conversation over, lol. ;)

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  8. Sunita
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 08:06:34

    @Liz: Thank you, that’s lovely to hear! For US Medicals fans, the Penhally Bay series is being released individually here in 2011 (the first book is out in paper form already). It’s a 16-book series set in a fictional Cornwall town, with different authors but overlapping characters. It features a number of well-known and liked authors (e.g., Morgan, Hardy, Anderson, Milburne, Kingsley, etc.) I’ll do my best to have reviews and recommendations as they are released.

    @Barbara: I know this is heresy, but I liked Ruthless better than Devil’s Waltz. Angela’s review was hilarious and I understand where she’s coming from, but for me this one and the third book were a return to the types of characters I loved in Stuart’s earlier historicals like Lord of Danger and Prince of Swords, complete with the great secondary romances.

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