Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Top 12 of '12--The Inspy Romance Year in Review

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! & WELCOME TO 2013!

2012 was a year of awesome books. In fact, many of my fave authors released more than one awesome book. Even some debut authors released more than one! Considering the volume of books I read this past year due to my dual reviewing gigs here and over at USA Today's Happy Ever After blog, you can imagine how difficult it was to narrow down my favorites of Edgy Inspy Romance in 2012! I've listed historical titles & contemporary, fantasy & mystery, and YA & adult. And because this list is so diverse, I've decided against putting them in any particular order. Instead, I'll just give you the book cover and amazon.com blurb, a link to my review (if available!) and you can decide for yourself where you think I'd rank them! (click on the title of the book to purchase from amazon.com)





After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret---and the wings that come with. A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys' powers, as well as her role in a scientist's dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world. CLICK FOR MY REVIEW!



A time to live. A time to die. A time to dream.

Sleep disorders specialist Kennedy Plain has been diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor. When her research subject dies after trying to convince her he has achieved dream-induced time travel and her study is shelved, she enlists herself as a subject to complete her research. But when she dreams herself into 14th-century England and falls into the hands of Fulke Wynland, a man history has condemned as a murderer, she must not only stay alive long enough to find a way to return to her own time, but prevent Fulke from murdering his young nephews. And yet, the more time she spends with the medieval warrior, the more difficult it is to believe he is capable of committing the heinous crime for which he has been reviled for 600 years.

Baron Fulke Wynland has been granted guardianship of his brother’s heirs despite suspicions that he seeks to steal their inheritance. When the king sends a mysterious woman to care for the boys, Fulke is surprised by the lady's hostility toward him--and more surprised to learn she is to be his wife. But when his nephews are abducted, the two must overcome their mutual dislike to discover the boys' fate. What Fulke never expects is to feel for this woman whose peculiar speech, behavior, and talk of dream travel could see her burned as a witch. CLICK FOR MY REVIEW




Rowen Mar finds a strange mark on her hand, and she is banished from her village as a witch. She covers the mark with a leather glove and seeks sanctuary in the White City. She lives in fear that if she touches another person, the power inside her will trigger again, a terrifying power that allows her to see the darkness inside the human heart . . . 

But the mark is a summons, and those called cannot hide forever. For the salvation of her people lies within her hand. CLICK FOR MY REVIEW!




Renaissance is a word with hope infused in every letter.
 
Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.
 
When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.
 
When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be? CLICK FOR MY REVIEW!




Tessa Lancaster worked for her uncle in the Japanese mafia until she was sent to prison for a murder she didn't commit. Now, after finding God behind bars, she takes odd jobs as a bodyguard to keep her distance from the family business. In A Dangerous Stage, the second book in Camy Tang's Protection for Hire series, Tessa gets caught up in the web of lies surrounding a shady singing competition. Hired by one of the contestants, she works with Charles Britton---the lawyer who sent her to prison---to discover the dark figures manipulating the contest from behind the scenes. Tessa's abilities will be tested like never before as she's forced to balance the safety of her client's family and her deepening relationship with Charles. In the midst of the chaos, she holds on to her faith to keep her safe and bring down the shadowy organization. CLICK FOR MY REVIEW!



The author of To Die For returns to the court of Henry VIII as a young woman is caught between love and honor.  

Juliana St. John is the daughter of a prosperous knight. Though her family wants her to marry the son of her father's business partner, circumstances set her on a course toward the court of Henry VIII and his last wife, Kateryn Parr.
     Sir Thomas Seymour, uncle of the current heir, Prince Edward, returns to Wiltshire to tie up his concerns with Juliana's father's estate and sees instantly that Juliana would fit into the household of the woman he loves, Kateryn Parr. Her mother agrees to have her placed in Parr's household for "finishing" and Juliana goes, though perhaps reluctantly. 
     For she knows a secret. She has been given the gift of prophecy, and in one of her visions she has seen Sir Thomas shredding the dress of the king's daughter, the lady Elizabeth, to perilous consequence.
    As Juliana learns the secrets of King Henry VIII's court, she faces threats and opposition, learning truths about her own life that will undo everything she holds dear. CLICK FOR MY REVIEW!



Morgan Spencer has had just about all he can take of life. Following the tragic death of his wife, Jill, he retreats to his brother's Rocky Mountain ranch to heal and focus on the care of his infant daughter, Olivia. Two years later, Morgan begins to make plans to return to his home in Santa Barbara to pick up the pieces of his life and career.

Quinn Riley has been avoiding her past for four years. Standing up for the truth has forced her into a life of fear and isolation. After a "chance" first meeting and a Thanksgiving snowstorm, Quinn is drawn into the Spencer family's warm and loving world, and she begins to believe she might find freedom in their friendship.

The man Quinn helped put behind bars has recently been released, however, and she fears her past will endanger the entire Spencer family. As the danger heightens, she determines to leave town for the sake of the people who have come to mean so much to her.

Fixing problems is what Morgan Spencer does best, and he is not willing to let Quinn run away, possibly into the clutches of a man bent on revenge. But Morgan's solution sends him and Quinn on an unexpected path, with repercussions neither could have anticipated. CLICK FOR MY INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR!



12th century England: Two men vie for the throne: King Stephen the usurper and young Duke Henry the rightful heir. Amid civil and private wars, alliances are forged, loyalties are betrayed, families are divided, and marriages are made.

For four years, Lady Annyn Bretanne has trained at arms with one end in mind—to avenge her brother’s murder as God has not deemed it worthy to do. Disguised as a squire, she sets off to exact revenge on a man known only by his surname, Wulfrith. But when she holds his fate in her hands, her will wavers and her heart whispers that her enemy may not be an enemy after all.

Baron Wulfrith, renowned trainer of knights, allows no women within his walls for the distraction they breed. What he never expects is that the impetuous young man sent to train under him is a woman who seeks his death—nor that her unveiling will test his faith and distract the warrior from his purpose. CLICK FOR MY REVIEW! click for My Book Boyfriend, Garr Wulfrith!



Detective Kristen Conner goes undercover to find a serial killer who selects his victims - all successful young professional women - in the most unlikely of places - only to find herself as his next favorite target.

When Leslie Reed is found dead in her fashionable townhome, a red flag goes up in Washington, D.C. The FBI knows an elusive "organized killer" on a decade-long crime spree is at work again.  The problem is the Feds have only one tenuous lead to assist local police in the manhunt ... a most unlikely place the killer likes to find his victims.

Conner is light one her feet and packs a powerful punch - growing up in a cop's home, intense hand-to-hand combat training, and not being able to shoot a handgun straight - all encourage that. Her life is built on faith and family: she coaches her 7-year-old niece's soccer team, the Snowflakes, always shows up hungry for family dinner, and only misses church when she is fighting with her mom and glamorous TV news reporter sister - or relentlessly tracking down a ruthless killer.

Kristen is a good cop but she's never faced an adversary like the man the alternative press has dubbed the Cutter Shark.  From the opening chase scene that leads her to a back alley where a punk with a knife awaits her, to the climactic scene where she goes one-on-one with the hauntingly familiar man who is killing innocent women in her town, Cuts Like a Knife, is loaded with action, humor, a dash of romance, and wry introspection through the voice of its irrepressible lead character. CLICK FOR MY REVIEW!



The River of Time Series--a Top Pick for over 20 YA book bloggers (includidng yours truly!) in 2011! If you like romance, adventure and a dose of medieval Italian culture, you'll love WATERFALL (book 1), CASCADE (book 2) and TORRENT (book 3).

BOURNE, a novella (1/3 the length of a normal novel), picks up right where TORRENT left off...Find out what has happened to men returning from the battle, gravely wounded, to the Betarrinis, fighting for the men they love, and just who is hunting them next... CLICK FOR MY REVIEW!



Just a girl. The only one strong enough to break the cycle.

In Depression-era Mississippi, Millie Reynolds longs to escape the madness that marks her world. With an abusive father and a "nothing mama," she struggles to find a place where she really belongs.

For answers, Millie turns to the Gypsies who caravan through town each spring. The travelers lead Millie to a key that unlocks generations of shocking family secrets. When tragedy strikes, the mysterious contents of the box give Millie the tools she needs to break her family's longstanding cycle of madness and abuse. 

Through it all, Millie experiences the thrill of first love while fighting to trust the God she believes has abandoned her. With the power of forgiveness, can Millie finally make her way into the free?

Saturated in Southern ambiance and written in the vein of other Southern literary bestsellers like The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, Julie Cantrell has created in Into the Free—now a New York Times Best Seller—a story that will sweep you away long after the novel ends.




A grief that knows no boundary. 
A love without any limit. 
A need that doesn’t end at death. 
 
Corrie Saunders grew up in a life of privilege. But she gave it all up for Jarrod, her Army husband, a man she knew was a hero when she vowed to spend her life with him. She just didn’t expect her hero to sacrifice his life taking on an Iraqi suicide bomber.  
 
Six months after Jarrod’s death, Corrie retreats to the family home her husband inherited deep in the Missouri Ozarks. She doesn’t know how to live without Jarrod—she doesn’t want to. By moving to Saunders Creek and living in a house beloved by him, she hopes that somehow her Jarrod will come back to her. 
 
Something about the house suggests maybe he has. Corrie begins to wonder if she can feel Jarrod’s presence. 
 
Jarrod’s cousin Eli is helping Corrie with the house’s restoration and he knows that his dead cousin is not what Corrie senses. Eli, as a believing man and at odds with his mystically-oriented family members, thinks friendly visits from beyond are hogwash.  But he takes spirits with dark intentions seriously. Can he convince Corrie that letting go of Jarrod will lead to finding her footing again— and to the One she can truly put her faith into?

STAY TUNED... BECAUSE FROM WHAT I'VE SEEN SO FAR, 2013 IS GOING TO BE ANOTHER AWESOME YEAR IN EDGY INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE RELEASES! Blessings to you and yours for a prosperous 2013 full of love, reading, & romance! 

Image credit: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/photo_16555226_new-year-2013-sign-illustration.html'>dmytro121287 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
BOOK COVER IMAGES FROM GOODREADS.COM
BOOK DESCRIPTIONS FROM AMAZON.COM

10 comments:

  1. I'm so honored that my books made your list, Serena. Thank you!

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  2. Hey Serena ~ oh, yes, we so love the same books! I loved Tracy's, Lisa's and Julie's, too. In fact it was only a brain fade on my part that Julie's didn't make by list. I've Susan and Camy's on my bedside table to read soon.

    Can't wait to share our 2013 book loves as well :)

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  3. Aw thanks so much Serena!!!!! I'm so honored to have made your list! You totally made my day today!!!!!

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  4. Good job on the list! I'm adding them to my to-read list for when I need a great inspirational read in 2013.

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  5. Thank you, Serena, not only for the nomination on your list but the time you take to read, review and promote inspy fiction! You're a treasure.

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  6. Thank you, Serena, not only for the nomination on your list but the time you take to read, review and promote inspy fiction! You're a treasure.

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  7. I love the best of posts, I've been hopping around blogs and goodreads looking for books to add to my TBR pile. These look good!

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  8. Yay! What a fabulous list to be on!!! Thanks so much!

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  9. Yay! What a fabulous list to be on!!! Thanks so much!

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I love comments more than Starbucks! Thanks for leaving one!

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