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Sarah’s Best of 2011 List

The order here is me going through my reviews in reverse chronological order and listing my A- and B+ reviews (no A reviews — very sad). It was a pleasant surprise, really: I didn’t think I’d read that many good books in 2011. Shows you how memory can be a fickle thing. To keep it to ten, though, I had to cut out 4 books. Especially since I added two B reviews because they’ve stuck in my head more than some of the B+ reviews (that memory thing again).

First, some time travel: Rachel Haimowitz, Master Class and SUBlime. Haven’t reviewed them yet, but I will! Next on my list!
K.A. Mitchell, Bad Boyfriend. Grade: A-
Damon Suede, Hot Head. Grade: B+
A.L. Turner, I Just Play One on TV. Grade: A-
S.A. Reid, Something Different. Grade: B+
Heidi Cullinan, Dance With Me. Grade: B+
L.A. Witt, Out of Focus. Grade: B but how much it’s stuck with me would give it a higher grade.
J.L. Merrow, Camwolf. Grade: A-
Kit Zheng, Deconstruction. Grade: A- (Ooh, I should reread this…)
Anah Crow and Dianne Fox, One Real Thing. Grade: B for Brilliant. I recommended this one just yesterday on Twitter.

Sarah F. is a literary critic, a college professor, and an avid reader of romance -- and is thrilled that these are no longer mutually exclusive. Her academic specialization is Romantic-era British women novelists, especially Jane Austen, but she is contributing to the exciting re-visioning of academic criticism of popular romance fiction. Sarah is a contributor to the academic blog about romance, Teach Me Tonight, the winner of the 2008-2009 RWA Academic Research Grant, and the founder and President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR). Sarah mainly reviews BDSM romance and gay male romance and hopes to be able to beat her TBR pile into submission when she has time to think. Sarah teaches at Fayetteville State University, NC.


  1. L. A. Witt & Lauren Gallagher
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 13:44:35

    Cool! Thanks for the mention! :D

    L. A.

  2. Tara
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 18:47:14

    It’s worth noting that Deconstruction isn’t available for purchase anymore. I tried, but it looks like it got taken down everywhere after the Aspen Mountain Press kerfuffle.

  3. Merrian
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 18:50:24

    An interesting list with four stories that are in my personal top ten. I do hope Kit Zheng’s books hasn’t been negatively affected by the publisher’s bad behaviour towards their authors.

  4. Tae
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 19:04:39

    wow, I went out and purchased Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan based on your recommendation and that was only a B, and I LOVED IT. I guess I need to go looking for some new books this year.

  5. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 19:12:12

    @Tara: Holy shit, that sucks! :( That’s awful for Kit (and all the other authors).

    @Tae: I’d totally recommend anything else Heidi writes. She’s amazing. Glad you loved it so much and I hope you like some more of my recommendations here.

  6. Kaetrin
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 20:38:01

    What were the 4 you culled from the list?

  7. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 20:43:51

    @Kaetrin: Oh, lord! Um…two were L.A. Witt’s books, I know that. She’s amazing. One other was A.M. Riley’s Goldilocks and His Three Bears. Don’t remember the fourth.

  8. L. A. Witt & Lauren Gallagher
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 20:46:25

    @Sarah Frantz: Aww, thanks! :) The only other two I can recall that you reviewed were Ex Equals and AJ’s Angel. Unless you reviewed Static (why am I thinking you did? Ugh, my brain these days) and I completely and obliviously missed it (given the last few months of insanity, I wouldn’t put that past me LOL).

    L. A.

  9. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 20:47:36

    @L. A. Witt & Lauren Gallagher: Yes! Was EX EQUALS and STATIC. I have NOT reviewed STATIC, but keep meaning to, because I loved it enough to want to put it on this list. :)

  10. L. A. Witt & Lauren Gallagher
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 20:49:14

    @Sarah Frantz: I’m still stoked as hell you liked that book. Okay, that you like any of my books, but especially Static. You know what I mean. lol

  11. Merrian
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 00:50:00

    I can say that I loved both LA Witt’s Static – one of those books I bought a while ago and that has sat in my TBR and AM Riley’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears and it’s sequel too. There is a lovely spirit in the relationship between the guys in G&3B. It is one of those stories that shows you how people are better for being together than they were alone.

  12. jax
    Jan 02, 2012 @ 22:10:44

    Deconstruction is available at Rainbow books and on sale right now too. They seem to have at least some of the Aspen Mountain titles. I bought Dark Designs by LM Prieto recently too.

  13. orannia
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 00:30:14

    Sarah – thank you SO much for all your reviews in 2011! I’ve discovered some amazing authors via your reviews – I would never have tried Heidi Cullinan’s Special Delivery if it were not for your review and I now have Double Blind (which I hope to read next), Dance with Me and The Seventh Veil all on my TBR list.

    Static was my first LA Witt book and I really, really liked it. It won’t be my last – I have Out of Focus on my TBR list too, and I Play One On TV :)

    Oh, and can I echo B for Brilliant for One Real Thing. It was one of my ‘spoke to me’ books of 2011. It just…IDK…spoke to me :) It…made sense (if that makes sense?)

    And although I didn’t miss your review of Deconstruction somehow it has fallen off my TBR list :( Off to refresh my memory…and add it to my TBR list :)

    Here’s looking forward to a wonderful 2012 (and some amazing books :)

  14. orannia
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 00:31:01

    OOPS! Forgot to say, I haven’t read Hot Head, but I just discovered Damon Suede’s Hard Cell series. WOW!

  15. etv13
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 05:37:09

    I bounced off of Hot Head pretty hard because I found Dante’s attitude toward women and sex with women repellant, and I just wasn’t able to keep reading. If someone were to tell me he sees the error of his ways, maybe I could pick it up again. As for Dance With Me, I liked the characters well enough, but it seemed pretty unreal. Putting aside Fred Astaire’s character in Shall We Dance, is there really anyone who’s such a fantastic dancer they’ve succeeded in ballroom and ballet and Broadway, all three? Really? And what the hell was he THINKING, entering a competition as a same-sex couple and thinking everyone would just be so blown away they’d accept it? That’s either too arrogant or too stupid for words. But way less nasty than the obnoxious Dante.

  16. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 10:28:56

    @jax: Thank you so much for that information, except…my Google-fu is not working. I was going to post a link, but I can’t find it at ALL. Where, exactly, can this book be found?

    @etv13: Well, yes, I do know what you mean. Disbelief had to be suspended for DANCE WITH ME, but I personally was willing to do so. Obviously others had issues with this. And this was something that bothered me as I read, honestly.

  17. Making the lists… « JL Merrow
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 12:49:33

    […] And Camwolf is in Sarah F’s list over at Dear Author! […]

  18. Kit Zheng
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 18:24:23

    Dear Sarah,
    First, thank you so, so very much for your amazing review of Deconstruction. I had meant, ages ago when I first read it, to write you and thank you, but time and real life kept getting in the way.

    Then today, a friend pointed me to this best of 2011 list and it was such a wonderful, bittersweet thing. I’m so honored to be on this list… and so sad because, as mentioned, the situation with AMP was less than ideal. As of today, I’ve yet to see any royalties from this title. I’ve written to Rainbow eBooks to ask them to remove my book.

    Hopefully I will find a new home for the story. In the meantime, I’ll just ride out the bad times on the glow your review gave me. :)

    Thank you again.

  19. SarahF
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 18:51:45

    @Kit Zheng: Oh, that’s awful, I’m so so sorry. I hope things work out and please let me know if they do. Such a great book.

  20. jax
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 19:08:26

    @Kit Zheng: I feel awful about buying the book there now. I had no idea it could be made available w/o the author’s consent.

  21. Kit Zheng
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 19:56:48

    @SarahF – thank you. I will definitely let you know if I rehome the story. I’m just very glad you enjoyed it so much.

    @jax – Please don’t feel bad–you couldn’t know. Ultimately I’m most happy that people are reading and enjoying the book.

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