Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Vane is one of her yummiest heroes yet. And Bride is a great, sweet, well rounded (in all senses of the word) heroine.
The Nerd Who Loved Me by Vicki Lewis Thompson. The 2nd Nerd book I've read. Lainie and Harry didn't quite work for me. Mostly I think it was Lainie. She had a really tough time opening up. But some great secondary characters in here. Definitely worth reading for Harry's mom.
Out of Danger by Beverly Barton from 1991. Surprisingly great hero in Quent, but again, Beck is too stubborn for her own good.
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. Fantastic! Beautiful writing, bold characters, plenty of conflict, both romantically and in the external plot. How can you go wrong with this paragraph:
Had she but turned back then, and looked out once more on to the rose-lit garden, she would have seen that which would have made her own sufferings seem but light and easy to bear -- a strong man, overwhelmed with his own passion and his own despair. Pride had given way at last, obstinacy was gone: the will was powerless. He was but a man madly, blindly, passionately in love, and as soon as her light footstep had died away within the house, he knelt down upon the terrace steps, and in the very madness of his love he kissed one by one the places where her small foot had trodden, and the stone balustrade there, where her tiny hand had rested last.
Even by today's standards, the emotion is palpable, the fantasy inescapable. Wouldn't you give everything to have a man be that in love with you?
Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Talk about your opposite ends of the spectrum. It's not technically a romance. As a matter of fact, the heroine is torn between two extremely appealing men and it's not resolved by the end of the book. McKinley herself admits she's a slow writer, but I'm impatient for another installment of this. McKinley is a master world builder. Anyone who knows her Damar series is aware of a sense of transportation. A more cerebral read than The Scarlet Pimpernel, it nonetheless offers much stylistically.
Jane's Warlord by Angela Knight. I learned about Knight from an anthology. This futuristic tale is a balanced blend of wickedly hot Alpha hero, teetering on the jackass knife edge, and a smart, independent heroine who knows when to stand up and when to back off.
Never Too Much by Lori Foster. The follow up to Too Much Temptation. I think I preferred TMT. Ben was appealing, but a bit too pushy, and Sierra could have fessed up her Big Secret much earlier, I thought. Because she didn't, though, she became the heroine who hangs on to her independence for way too long just to prove that, really, she's an independent woman. But I learned a couple of things from this book. She weaves in a couple of subplots very nicely and hey, it's pretty hot. The sexually predatory nature of Ben's character is a major factor in the interaction between the protagonists.
A note on anthologies. I love 'em. I recently went on a kick where I picked up several at once and devoured them immediately. But I didn't read them just for fun. I was studying them. I write short and though it can be a curse, it's also very freeing to tell a simple love story. One couple, one nasty problem, one HEA. Now, you can pick up some anthologies and have every single story leave you with that "meh" feeling. I certainly don't expect every story to be a jewel, but I've learned it's often less to do with storytelling ability and writing craft than it is that some authors just don't understand the format. That aside, there is gold among the dross.
Tapestry featuring Lynn Kurland, Madeline Hunter, Karen Marie Moning and Sherrilyn Kenyon. From 2002 and still available on the shelves. That says something. Sherrilyn's tale "Dragonswan" was my favorite, mostly for the line, "Be kind to dragons, for thou art crunchy when roasted and taste good with ketchup." I nearly hurt myself laughing at that one. Lynn's "To Kiss in the Shadows" features a great heroine who can be herself because she has nothing to lose.
Bite featuring Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, MaryJanice Davidson, Angela Knight, Vickie Taylor. First off, there were two really awful stories in this. The authors apparently figured that this was the place to stick the scenes that their editor made them cut from a longer work. No romance(!), no tension, no satisfying ending. But the others made up for it. A novella, well written, is a multi-facted diamond where all the angles reflect back into the one pure fire of a perfect stone. There may be references to other stories to whet the appetite of readers for more of the same, but the author keeps the focus on the work at hand.
And for any cps and friends reading this today -- yes, I wrote on the wip already and I'm fixing to write some more. Monkey Boy is getting ready for a nap.
Oh I love Baroness Orczy! And some of the angst and passion in the books is almost painful to read. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.
I loved Sunshine. I thought that opening third was just fantastic.
I'm LMAO@ your take on JAne's Warlord. Very funny. I still have Tapestry--I collect Lynn Kurland because I love how she does Timetravel =)
You picked one of my favourite parts of The Scarlet Pimpernel
I agree with Anna -- wonderful wonderful stuff.
I sniffle every time I read that section, Michelle. It just makes my heart pound.