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Top Ten Romances of 2009 by Janine

We will be posting our Top 10 of 2009 this entire week. Today’s list is from Janine. The list is unranked. You can find more of her reviews here.

*Full disclosure from Janine: Meredith Duran and Sherry Thomas are my crit partners and good friends, but since I enjoyed their 2009 books tremendously, I felt it would be a glaring omission not to include those books on my list of favorites.

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character-driven books. Examples include novels by Shana Abe, Loretta Chase, Patricia Gaffney, Cecilia Grant, Judith Ivory, Carolyn Jewel, Laura Kinsale, Julie Anne Long, Alison Richardson, Nalini Singh and Pam Rosenthal. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, "Kiss of Life", appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com. or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

13 Comments

  1. Krista
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 19:18:20

    Gotta agree with all the Carolyn Jewel love going on… her historicals this year were excellent. Also, BRANDED BY FIRE was my only A+ read this year, so thanks for mentioning. Yay!

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  2. Jennie
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 19:32:34

    Great list! (I’m not just saying that because we have about 50% overlap!)

    Another reminder that I need to check out the Richardson. I still haven’t read the Singh, for some reason – I’ve almost started it a couple of times but then chosen something else. Maybe over the holidays.

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  3. Monica
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 19:46:20

    Wow, I haven’t read any of these…yet MWUAHAHA.

    Thanks for the recs.

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  4. Janine
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 19:58:12

    @Krista: Yeah, Jewel’s historicals were very good. Indiscreet came close to making my list, too.

    I had such a great reading year this year; there were a lot of contenders, and 2010 has great prospects too, so I’m really looking forward to it.

    @Jennie: Richardson’s Countess Trilogy should be read in order, IMO. Every novella in this trilogy is much better if seen as part of the greater whole. I don’t think The Birthday Present would be nearly as satisfying by itself, but I listed it by itself because that’s how it’s sold.

    As for the Singh, I think Branded by Fire is one of her best books — maybe even the best in the series. But that’s a lot because I loved Mercy so much.

    @Monica: I hope you enjoy them!

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  5. SonomaLass
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 20:22:20

    I totally agree about Carolyn Jewel, Meredith Duran and Sherry Thomas. They are doing some complex and interesting things with their historical romances; love them ALL.

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  6. Lusty Reader
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 20:43:11

    i love that we have some in common, makes me feel more validated somehow, very silly i know! ;)

    But especially Branded by Fire. It’s hard to pick one of the Psy/Changeling books as a favorite but I am *pretty* sure Branded by Fire is IT for me. Mercy and Riley were just so fun together, I loved how their personalities related to their shapeshifter natures, how they were playful, and especially how Mercy came from a fairly normal, tragedy free background. It was nice instead of everyone being super damaged for a change.

    Cheers to 2009, so many great reads!

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  7. Janine
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 21:41:59

    @SonomaLass: Agreed. I’m close to halfway through Sherry Thomas’s manuscript for His at Night as I write this, and so far, so great. I can’t wait to get the second half and find out what happens next!

    @Lusty Reader: That validated feeling is nice, even if silly.

    But especially Branded by Fire. It's hard to pick one of the Psy/Changeling books as a favorite but I am *pretty* sure Branded by Fire is IT for me. Mercy and Riley were just so fun together, I loved how their personalities related to their shapeshifter natures, how they were playful, and especially how Mercy came from a fairly normal, tragedy free background. It was nice instead of everyone being super damaged for a change.

    You make a great point. I often love to read about flawed or damaged characters, but in the case of Branded by Fire, I think a lot of what I loved about this was Mercy’s emotional core of love and strength. She was such a strong, loving, and healthy character, yet she was every bit as interesting as Riley, with all his emotional damage. I think it’s a real credit to Singh’s writing that she could take someone as well-adjusted as Mercy and make her so interesting to read about. In fact up to this point at least, Mercy is my favorite heroine in the series. Although, I’m really looking forward to Sienna’s book, too.

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  8. rebyj
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 22:48:39

    Good list! I really liked Megan Hart’s anthology it was worth buying and I enjoyed all of the stories. ( I RARELY buy anthologies)

    The Carolyn Jewel books are on my list to buy as is Quatran.

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  9. Janine
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 23:02:47

    Glad you enjoyed Pleasure and Purpose, rebyj. Thanks for letting me know! I hope you like Scandal, Indiscreet and Quatrain as well.

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  10. ilona andrews
    Dec 10, 2009 @ 09:41:45

    Thank you, Janine! I’m terribly flattered. Where is the blush emoticon when you need it?

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  11. Janine
    Dec 10, 2009 @ 13:46:49

    @ilona andrews: LOL. I know what you mean — sometimes I want a blush emoticon too. I just read On the Edge a week or so ago and I enjoyed it so much!

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  12. Cauterize
    Dec 13, 2009 @ 01:32:39

    I’m going to pick up immediately Pleasure and Purpose based on your recs! Sounds hot!

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  13. Janine
    Dec 13, 2009 @ 01:34:07

    @Cauterize: It is hot, especially the first story. I hope you enjoy it!

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