Happy New Year's Eve! I enjoyed a fabulous year of reading (228 books read, for a total of 74,526 pages - whew!) and I'll always mark 2011 as the year that I began this blog. In celebration of the wonderful year that was, I've selected my favorite books of the year. It's heavy on historical romance - I seemed to find lots of success with those this year - but there are a few other genres represented. There's no order to this list, just those books that I loved and that earned a place on my keeper shelf.
When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James – The second installment in James' Fairy Tales series was absolutely wonderful. Not only does she turn the story into a perfect Regency tale, she bases her hero on Dr. House. Linnet and Pierce's story made me laugh and cry (more than once!), and it was the book that inspired me to start The Brazen Bookworm. (Review)
The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh – Balogh completed her Mistress trilogy years after it began, this time with the long-sought-after love story between the exuberant Angeline Dudley and her taciturn husband, the Earl of Heyward. (Review)
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook – Steampunk romance! I listened to the audio version of the first book in Brook's Iron Seas series, and I loved every single second. It's steamy and exciting and compelling, and it was my favorite audio book of 2011. (Review)
The Naked Werewolf Books by Molly Harper – Harper's light paranormal romances were one of my favorite discoveries of 2011. These Alaska-based romances were my favorite, but I also loved the Nice Girls books that featured children's librarian-turned-vampire Jane Jameson. I've done the books in text form and on audio, and I highly recommend them all.
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly – This was the most powerful YA book I've read since The Hunger Games, and I couldn't get it out of my mind for days after I finished it. The dual stories of 21st-century Andi and Alexandrine of the French Revolution were so compelling that this one was a no-brainer for this list. (Review)
Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl – The Donovan Brewery trilogy was one of my favorites of the year. This book, the second in the series, featured the sexy, kilt-wearing bartender Jamie Donovan, and Dahl's characteristic humor made this one of my favorite contemporaries of 2011. (Review)
Divergent by Veronica Roth – Set in Chicago, this dystopian thriller featured some of the most breathtaking, suspenseful scenes I've read in years. Heroine Tris was one of the more likable YA characters I've read about in a while, and I'm anxiously awaiting Roth's follow-up, Insurgent, which hits stores in May. (Review)
Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter – Oh, Castleford, you delicious, rakish duke! This book made my list because I was so absolutely satisfied with how Hunter ended the Rarest Blooms series and gave the Duke of Castleford his own story. Daphne was a fabulous heroine as well, and I enjoyed every page of this book. (Review)
Unlocked by Courtney Milan – I've reread this novella at least ten times, and it never fails to break me out of a reading funk. Lady Elaine Warren has been the target of the ton's derision for years, and when her main tormenter, the Earl of Westfeld, returns from abroad, she's determined not to let him see how much he hurt her. This is the perfect short read, and it's the perfect accompaniment to the rest of Milan's Turner saga. (Review)
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – Ooh, a literary vampire novel! This book blended mystery, history, oenology, literature, geography and the supernatural into one fabulous read. Hero Matthew Clairmont may be a centuries-old vampire, but he's every bit as delicious as any contemporary hero. The book is the first in Harkness' planned All Souls Trilogy, and Book Two, Shadow of Night, is due out in July. (Review)
My One and Only by Kristan Higgins – This second-chance love story is Higgins' best work. A formerly married couple is forced into a cross-country road trip, and each confronts their responsibility for the collapse of their marriage. Higgins' books are always funny and romantic, and this one tops them all. (Review)
Thanks for all your support, comments and recommendations throughout the year – cheers to a 2012 full of happiness and great books!