Friday, July 1, 2022

Family Research News for June 2022


After about an 11-year break I started up with the genealogy again. A small part of my decision to restart was that Ancestry was offering half off on their 6-month subscription plans. I went for the highest tier, the All-Access Plan which includes access to their worldwide records, Newspapers.com, and Fold3. The larger part was that I needed a project where I could feel a sense of purpose and possibly even consider it some sort of legacy project. 

My sisters and I were raised somewhat isolated from both sides of our family and any discussions about relatives were between adults and never clarified for us. It's been my impression that no one (except a handful of exceptions) in our family has ever wanted to talk about themselves or their immediate families. When I've gathered enough courage to ask questions I have allowed it to make me feel like a complete nuisance. Almost all of the knowledge I have about both sides of our family have come from documents after they've died. There are almost no family stories. My feeling is, we don't have to be rich, famous, or super accomplished to have a story to tell. 

In putting together a "paper trail" of documentation on our relatives I can almost get a sense of what they might have been like. Their hopes for a better life (frequently moving and changing jobs), their hopes for a more fulfilling personal life (marrying, divorcing, remarrying), their struggles (losing children, health issues, legal troubles, financial woes), and their successes (community affection and respect, a loving and united family, occupational advancement, etc.). This is my way of getting to know our ancestors. I hope my family feels the benefits much in the same way. On to the family introductions... (FAMILY HINT: To see how they are related to you, all you have to do is claim (contact me) or log in to your Geni Profile.)


Latest Discoveries and Acquisitions


Photographs

FINCH, Lewis and FINCH, Sarah (LAMB)
GROETZ, Edward and (LINDLEY), Gretchen
HILL, Hiram (1862 Medina-Cleveland Stagecoach Driver)
KANE, Herbert Mathew, Sr.
KANE, Herbert Mathew, Jr.
KENYON, Charles Champlin and KENYON, Lucy (GOULDIN)
KENYON, Samuel
KINSEY, Shirley (DAVIS)
MEDEIROS, Harry Vincent
MEDEIROS, Wilhelmina "Minnie"
MUSCH, Bonn Charles (Skateland Building built in 1944, repaired in 1947, sold in Mar 1955)
OLDS, DeForest M.


Headstone Photographs

ARRUDA, Joseph Jordan, Sr.
CARVALHO, Edwin E.
DAVIS, Elmo Earl and Angelina (CABRAL)
FRAME, Carl and (GROETZ) Jean Ann
GREENO, William
GROETZ, Edward and (LINDLEY), Gretchen
HAWK, Leona Stella (LONG) (NOBRIGA) (COSTA) (ARRUDA)
HAWK, Montie
HILL, Robert Wayne
LITTLETON, Almira (RAYMOND)
KINSEY, Shirley (DAVIS)
MIKES, Jacqueline Mary (HILL)
SABEN, Frederick Carl
SYLVESTER, Sarah (CARVALHO)
WALLING, John Luman


Birth Certificates/Records


CABRAL, Antonina CARVALHO
CABRAL, Manuel, Jr.
HILL, Bert


Marriage Licenses/Certificates/Records

CARVALHO, Kate and RODRIGUES, Joseph
CARVALHO, Rose and CABRAL, Manuel
HILL, Ernest and HANNAN, Margaret
HILL, Maybelle and SABEN, Frederick Carl
HILL, Maybelle and BENNETT, Arthur William
HILL, Raymond and CRUM, Letha (2)
HILL, Robert Wayne and KIRCHNER, June
LINDLEY, Gretchen and GROETZ, Edward
LITTLETON, Hattie (HILL) and PLUM, Elmer


Death Certificates/Records

HILL, Bert
HILL, George E.
HILL, Harry
HILL, Unnamed Baby Girl
PLUM, Elmer Alexander
RODRIGUES, Joseph
WALLING, Bertha (PARKER)
WALLING, John Luman


Census Records

BENNETT, Maybelle Ellen (HILL) (1930 & 1940)
CABRAL, Manuel Jr. (1940)
DAVIS, Elmo Earl (1950)
HILL, Ernest Talfred (1950)
HILL, John Richard (1860, 1900, & 1910)
HILL, Maybelle Ellen (1930 & 1940)
HILL, Raymond (1920, 1940, & 1950)
HILL, Robert Wayne (1940 & 1950)
HUMPHRIES, Alfred and Lucy (KANE) (1910)
OLDS, DeForest M. (HILL, Mildred) (1930 & 1940)
WASHBURN, Gilbert Harry (1930)
WASHBURN, Harry Harrison (1950)


PASSENGER LISTS

CABRAL, Manuel, Jr.
DAVIS, Elmo Earl  
MARTIN, Dennis
MARTIN, Marian
MARTIN, Raleigh
MARTIN, Vivian

    
WWII Draft Registration Card

CABRAL, Manuel Jr.
CARVALHO, Edwin E.
DAVIS, Elmo Earl  
HILL, Raymond
MEDEIROS, Frank
WALKER, Dayle Samuel, Sr.
WASHBURN, Harry Harrison
WASHBURN, Gilbert Harry
WASHBURN, Richard Harrison


Newspaper Notices (Birth, Death, Funeral, etc.)

ARRUDA, Joseph Jordan (death notice)
CARVALHO, Edwin E. (death notice)
DeCOSTA, William Kealoha (name change decree)
GRIMM, Katherine E. (HILL) (KENYON) (death & funeral notices)
HANNAN, Catherine (fatal train incident)
HAWK, Montie (obituary)
HILL, Charlotte Ellen (KENYON) (delayed death notice)
HILL, John Delbert (delayed death notice)
HILL, Robert Parke, Sr. (obituary)
HILL, Robert Wayne (obituary - funeral home)
HILL, William Henry (obituary)
HUMPHRIES, Alfred (obituary, estate notice)
HUMPHRIES, Lucy (KANE) (social notices, obituary, estate notice)
KANE, Herbert Matthew (marriage license notice, several articles, obituary)
KANE, James, Sr. (several social notices, death notice)
KANE, James, Jr. (social notices)
KANE, Julia Agnes (McCORMICK) (several social notices)
KANE, Rinaldo Edmund (obituary)
KENYON, Ernest S. (death notice)
KENYON, Lucy (GOULDIN) (obituary)
KONANUI, (DeCOSTA) Josephine (obituary)
LEWIS, George E. (obituaries)
LONG, Albert [Delbert] Warren (two notices, obituary)
LONG, Leona Stella (marriage, birth, & divorce announcements)
LONG, Maria Augusta (CARVALHO)(death notice, obituary)
MEDEIROS, Frank (obituary)
MEDEIROS, Harry Vincent (obituary)
MEDEIROS, Katherine (CARVALHO) (RODRIGUES) (obituary)
MEDEIROS, Wilhelmina "Minnie" (engagement announcement, obituary)
SLABAUGH, Dorothy (HILL) (death notice, obituary)
SLABAUGH, Joseph Pierson (obituary)
SORIANO, Veronica Shirley (ARRUDA) (death notice)


Newspaper Articles

DAVIS, Robert and Diana (several items)
HILL, Maybelle Ellen (several articles)
KANE, Herbert Mathew, Sr. (with photo)
KANE, Herbert Mathew, Jr. (with photo)
KANE, Rinaldo Edmund  (interview w/photo)
MUSCH, George (several detailed articles)
SLABAUGH, Dorothy (HILL)  (interview)


Added the Following Individuals to the Tree

Fook Sang HEU
Fong LING
Henry Young LING
Kui LING
See Kyau LING
Dr. William Shin LING
Dai Kyau WONG
Lau Shee WONG

AREND, Paul Edward
BENNETT, Arthur William
COSTANZO, Joseph Carl
CRUM, Letha Irene
DAVIS, Elmo Earl
HILL, Robert Wayne
LEWIS, Donald Leroy
LEWIS, Elvin Merl
LEWIS, Ralph Yates
KINSEY, John
KIRCHNER, June Marguerite
KIRCHNER, Thomas Joseph
LITTLETON, Almira (RAYMOND)
MULDOON, Marguerite Eleanor
OLDS, Helen
OLDS, Lillian Ruth
PARKER, Bertha M.
PLUM, Elmer Alexander
SABEN, Frederick Carl
SEICH, Jay Steve
WALKER, Dayle Samuel, Jr.
WALLING, Bertha (PARKER)
WALLING, Dora
WALLING, Fred Guy
WALLING, Harry
WALLING, Minnie
WALLING, Nellie
WELLIVER, Harold "Jess"
YATES, Nettie

Latest Requests and Queries

  • Colorado State Archives: Digital copy of the marriage license/certificate for Ernest Talfred HILL and Margaret Beatrice HANNAN. [RECEIVED]
  • Cook County Circuit Court Clerk (Archives): The divorce records for Herbert Mathew KANE and Melvina (LaCHANCE) KANE from 1923. [PENDING]

Latest Contributions 

  • Updated and added Geni Profiles for the above individuals, added all public documents above, and merged several duplicate profiles.
  • Suggested edits, and added data and photos to many Find A Grave memorial pages.
  • Added information, dates, and tags to over half of the approximately 290 documents in the HILL Documents Album on Flickr and added above associated documents to other family history albums.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Between the Pages - Books I Read in 2021

"Books minister to our pain, our curiosity and wonder, our needs, our loneliness, our souls." ~Terri Guillemets

To all the authors whose stories entertained me this year, and especially those who wrote my favorites below, you've earned my highest esteem, gratitude, and adoration. Thank you!

As I haven't discovered a better way of expressing the following, I shall repeat what I said in previous years...

The books I select as my favorites each year are those that: I get lost in; the ones that while reading, I lose all track of time; the ones that evoke the strongest emotions; the ones that make me laugh, cry, blush, gasp, and sigh. Yeah, those books!

Each year I meticulously review my database and Goodreads shelves to select my favorites. Even though I arbitrarily decide upon the categories, I am careful in considering which books deserve each designation.

Sadly, no matter how much I love a book, I am unable to recall details. In other words, although my devotion is clear, my memory is not. I would, indeed, like to attempt to explain my choices to anyone who may be interested.

In 2021, I finished a total of 46 digital library books (Kindle and audiobooks). I completed 50 Kindle Unlimited books, and listened to 8 Audible Plus titles. There were 4 books that I did not finish this year. As far as genres go, I read 5 classics, 3 non-fiction, 10 contemporary mystery/suspense/thriller, and 22 historical fiction, most of which were mysteries. The remaining 206 were sub-genres of romance.

There are several books that were published this year that I wanted to read but was unable to, some of which were published late in the year. I may have to make an exception for some of them and include them in a future list, just as I made an exception this year for one Special Mention book that was published in 2019.

I'll be starting out 2022 with nearly 250 books on my to-be-read shelves—primary and secondary—and the 50+ books on my library wish list. I've chosen the Reese's Book Club pick, Lucky by Marissa Stapley as the first book to begin in 2022 and set my Goodreads Challenge goal at 200 books.

My 2021 Stats

My Goodreads Challenge total was 246 (first reads and rereads of single titles).
My database total was 193 (first reads only and book bundles are counted as a single title).

(Note: I receive no monetary compensation. I only wish to show my appreciation. The book links below open up to the corresponding Webpages on Amazon.com or Audible.com.)

 My Favorites Published in 2021

(alphabetical by author)

Single Titles

Broken French by (Na)Tasha Boyd
Don't Kiss the Bride by Carian Cole
The Dark Hours (Ballard & Bosch #4) by Michael Connelly
Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone (Outlander #9) by Diana Gabaldon (my short & sweet review)
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Ignite (Cloverleigh Farms Next Generation #1) by Melanie Harlow (my short & sweet review)
The Lilac Cadillac by Jane Harvey-Berrick
Martyr's Promise (Elemental Covenant #2) by Elizabeth Hunter
The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
Indigo Ridge (Edens #1) by Devney Perry
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams


Special Mention

Savaged by Mia Sheridan (published 05/27/2019) (my review)

Series Titles (two or more installments published within 2021)

The Fisherman Series by Jewel E. Ann
Bellamy Creek Series by Melanie Harlow
Elemental Covenant Series by Elizabeth Hunter
Calamity Montana Series by Willa Nash (Devney Perry)
Clifton Forge Series by Devney Perry


Favorites by Category

Favorite Contemporary Romance - Broken French by (Na)Tasha Boyd
Favorite Historical Romance - The Lilac Cadillac by Jane Harvey-Berrick
Favorite Romantic Suspense - Martyr's Promise (Elemental Covenant #2) by Elizabeth Hunter
Favorite New/Young Adult - The Girl in the Love Song (Lost Boys #1) by Emma Scott
Favorite Paranormal Romance - Martyr's Promise (Elemental Covenant #2) by Elizabeth Hunter
Favorite Romantic Series - Colorado High Country Series (Breaking Free #8 & Take Me Higher #9) by Pamela Clare
Favorite Audiobook - (tie) How to Get Lucky by Lauren Blakely & Joe Arden and narrated by Joe Arden (my review). Devil in Disguise (Ravenels #7) by Lisa Kleypas and narrated by Mary Jane Wells.
Favorite Alpha Male - Griffin Eden from Indigo Ridge (Edens #1) by Devney Perry
Favorite Romantic Hero - Jamie Fraser from Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone (Outlander #9) by Diana Gabaldon
Favorite Romantic Heroine - Winnie MacAllister from Ignite (Cloverleigh Farms Next Generation #1) by Melanie Harlow
Favorite Romantic Couple - Margaret Anne "Megs" Hill & Mitchell James "Mitch" Ahearn from Take Me Higher (Colorado High Country #9) by Pamela Clare
 

Most Tormented Hero - Shane Hall from Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Most Heroic Hero - Mitchell James "Mitch" Ahearn from Take Me Higher (Colorado High Country #9) by Pamela Clare
Most "Kick-Ass" Heroine - Margaret Anne "Megs" Hill from Take Me Higher (Colorado High Country #9) by Pamela Clare
Most Realistic Romance - Don't Kiss the Bride by Carian Cole
Most Luscious - Broken French by (Na)Tasha Boyd
Most Erotic - Saint (Priest #3) by Sierra Simone
Most Heartrending - The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
Most Humorous - Ignite (Cloverleigh Farms Next Generation #1) by Melanie Harlow
Most Taboo - Saint (Priest #3) by Sierra Simone
Most Pleasant Surprise - The Fisherman Series by Jewel E. Ann
Most Surprising Plot Twist - The Lilac Cadillac by Jane Harvey-Berrick
Most Striking Cover - Heard It in a Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves
 

Most Anticipated Books of 2022 

Wild Irish Rose (Molly Murphy Mystery #18) by Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles
Bound to Fall (Colorado High Country #10) by Pamela Clare
Reckless (MacKinnon’s Rangers #4) by Pamela Clare 
The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis
Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover
The Summer Proposal by Vi Keeland
Heart and Arrow (Rothvale Legacy, #3) by Raine Miller 
Juniper Hill (Edens #2) by Devney Perry
Amped (Trent Brothers #2) by Tina Reber (We've been waiting for many years but I'm still hopeful!)
Nightwork by Nora Roberts

Book Bundles I Read in 2021

Since my book database counts a multi-book bundle as a single book, the following is a list of the individual books from within the book bundles I read this year. The remainder of my 2021 book database follows.

Tempt Me (#1) 09/17/2021 (8 out of 10 stars)
Break Me (#2) 09/17/2021 (6 out of 10 stars)
Teach Me (#3) 09/18/2021 (8 out of 10 stars)
Surrender to Me (#4) 09/18/2021 (8 out of 10 stars)

The Black Room by Jasinda Wilder
Door One 02/10/2021 (8 out of 10 stars)
Door Two 02/10/2021 (8 out of 10 stars)
Door Three 02/10/2021 (8 out of 10 stars)
Door Four 02/10/2021 (8 out of 10 stars)
Door Five 02/10/2021 (8 out of 10 stars)
Door Six 02/11/2021 (6 out of 10 stars)
Door Seven 02/11/2021 (8 out of 10 stars)
Door Eight 02/11/2021 (8 out of 10 stars)
The Deleted Door 02/11/2021 (6 out of 10 stars)

Individual First Time Reads of 2021
(The (a) following a book's title designates an audiobook and a (p) denotes the signed paperback of a book that I previously read via Kindle. The table is best viewed in landscape mode on mobile devices.) 

Books I Read in 2021


Author Title Publication Year Reading Date My Rating
Adamson, Gil Ridgerunner 2020 7/16/2021 8
Ann, Jewel E. The Naked Fisherman 2021 11/24/2021 8
Ann, Jewel E. The Lost Fisherman 2021 11/25/2021 10
Armentrout, Jennifer L. Wicked 2014 5/12/2021 4
Aster, Willow True Love Story (p) 2013 9/13/2021 10
Biller, Diana The Widow of Rose House (a) 2019 11/29/2021 8
Biller, Diana The Widow of Rose House 2019 1/12/2021 8
Blakely, Lauren My One Week Husband 2021 3/12/2021 6
Blakely, Lauren Unbreak My Heart (a) 2018 1/18/2021 8
Blakely, Lauren; Arden, Joe How to Get Lucky (a) 2021 1/15/2021 10
Bowen, Rhys Murphy's Law (a) 2013 5/6/2021 10
Bowen, Rhys Death of Riley (a) 2013 5/8/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys For the Love of Mike (a) 2013 5/11/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys In Like Flynn (a) 2013 5/13/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys Oh Danny Boy (a) 2013 5/14/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys In Dublin's Fair City (a) 2013 5/14/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys Tell Me, Pretty Maiden (a) 2013 5/15/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys In a Gilded Cage (a) 2013 5/15/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys The Last Illusion (a) 2013 5/17/2021 6
Bowen, Rhys Bless the Bride (a) 2013 5/18/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys Hush Now, Don't You Cry (a) 2013 5/19/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys The Family Way (a) 2013 5/20/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys City of Darkness and Light (a) 2014 5/23/2021 6
Bowen, Rhys The Edge of Dreams (a) 2015 9/14/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys Away in a Manger (a) 2015 9/18/2021 8
Bowen, Rhys Time of Fog and Fire (a) 2016 9/20/2021 10
Bowen, Rhys The Ghost of Christmas Past (a) 2017 9/22/2021 8
Bowen, Sarina Roommate 2021 6/4/2021 8
Bowen, Sarina Bittersweet (a) 2016 5/2/2021 8
Bowen, Sarina Steadfast (a) 2016 5/4/2021 8
Boyd, Natasha Broken French 2021 4/28/2021 10
Brown, Sandra Blind Tiger 2021 8/18/2021 8
Bruder, Jessica Nomadland 2017 3/1/2021 8
Caine, Rachel Heartbreak Bay 2021 3/25/2021 10
Callihan, Kristen Make It Sweet 2021 3/8/2021 6
Carlan, Audrey Resisting Roots 2016 10/9/2021 4
Carr, Robyn Return to Virgin River 2020 1/7/2021 8
Castle, Emma Love in the Wild (a) 2020 2/15/2021 8
Christy, Samantha Benching Brady (a) 2018 2/19/2021 8
Christy, Samantha Stealing Sawyer (a) 2018 4/19/2021 8
Clare, Pamela Breaking Free 2021 4/30/2021 10
Clare, Pamela Take Me Higher 2021 9/21/2021 10
Clinton, Bill; Patterson, James The President's Daughter 2021 6/20/2021 10
Cole, Carian Torn (a) 2016 11/10/2021 10
Cole, Carian Tied (a) 2017 11/21/2021 8
Cole, Carian Loving Storm (a) 2018 11/17/2021 8
Cole, Carian Asher (a) 2020 11/24/2021 10
Cole, Carian Don't Kiss the Bride 2021 2/3/2021 10
Cole, Carian Don't Kiss the Bride (a) 2021 11/11/2021 10
Connelly, Michael The Dark Hours 2021 11/19/2021 10
Connor, Claudia Waiting on the Rain 2020 1/1/2021 10
Cooper, Anderson; Howe, Katherine Vanderbilt 2021 9/27/2021 8
Cross, Kaylea Undercurrent 2021 6/14/2021 6
Davenport, Jack Ropes 2018 7/7/2021 6
Force, Marie Fatal Invasion 2021 8/8/2021 10
Force, Marie Fatal Reckoning 2021 8/9/2021 10
Force, Marie Fatal Accusation 2021 8/11/2021 8
Force, Marie Fatal Fraud 2020 8/12/2021 10
Force, Marie State of Affairs 2021 8/14/2021 8
Force, Marie How Much I Love 2021 7/17/2021 8
Force, Marie Desire After Dark 2016 7/26/2021 6
Frank, Ella Pure Seduction 2021 3/24/2021 6
French, Tana The Searcher 2020 1/5/2021 6
Gabaldon, Diana Drums of Autumn (a) 2008 12/17/2021 10
Gabaldon, Diana The Fiery Cross (a) 2011 12/30/2021 8
Gabaldon, Diana Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone 2021 12/10/2021 10
Garvis Graves, Tracey Heard It in a Love Song 2021 11/11/2021 6
Garvis Graves, Tracey On the Island (p) 2012 2/17/2021 10
Garvis Graves, Tracey Uncharted (p) 2015 2/18/2021 10
Hall, Alexis Boyfriend Material (a) 2020 2/12/2021 8
Halle, Karina Black Sunshine 2021 3/30/2021 8
Halle, Karina The Royals Next Door 2021 9/8/2021 6
Hannah, Kristin The Four Winds 2021 2/3/2021 10
Harlow, Melanie Make Me Yours (a) 2020 1/8/2021 10
Harlow, Melanie Call Me Crazy 2021 2/26/2021 10
Harlow, Melanie Tie Me Down 2021 5/25/2021 10
Harlow, Melanie Ignite 2021 11/25/2021 10
Harlow, Melanie Some Sort of Happy 2015 12/21/2021 10
Harvey-Berrick, Jane Battle Scars (p) 2017 5/4/2021 10
Harvey-Berrick, Jane The Lilac Cadillac 2021 10/27/2021 10
Henry, Emily Beach Read (a) 2020 6/24/2021 6
Hunter, Elizabeth Saint's Passage 2021 4/26/2021 8
Hunter, Elizabeth Martyr's Promise 2021 11/16/2021 10
Hunter, Elizabeth The Bone Scroll 2021 10/4/2021 8
Hunter, Elizabeth Sweet 2021 12/22/2021 6
Hunter, Elizabeth Fate Interrupted 2021 8/7/2021 8
James, E.L. Freed 2021 6/3/2021 10
James, Nicole Wicked 2021 3/27/2021 6
James, Nicole Shane 2021 10/6/2021 8
James, Nicole Green 2021 11/21/2021 6
James, Nicole Saint 2021 8/26/2021 8
Jordan, Skye Flashpoint 2021 2/26/2021 8
Jordan, Skye Smoke & Mirrors 2021 8/20/2021 6
Keeland, Vi The Invitation (a) 2021 4/24/2021 10
Keeland, Vi The Invitation 2021 1/23/2021 10
Keeland, Vi The Spark 2021 7/19/2021 6
Keeland, Vi; Ward, Penelope Well Played 2021 11/6/2021 8
Kleypas, Lisa Devil in Disguise (a) 2021 10/3/2021 10
Kleypas, Lisa Devil in Disguise 2021 9/2/2021 8
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night 2021 11/20/2021 8
Kleypas, Lisa It Happened One Autumn 2009 12/25/2021 10
Kleypas, Lisa Devil in Winter (a) 2021 10/2/2021 10
Lacey, Rachel Lost in Paradise 2019 12/28/2021 6
Lane, Prescott All My Life 2018 9/21/2021 6
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player (a) 2013 2/4/2021 8
Lauren, Christina The Soulmate Equation 2021 5/23/2021 10
Mallery, Susan You Say It First 2017 12/7/2021 4
Miller, Raine Naked (p) 2013 9/13/2021 10
Miller, Raine All In (p) 2013 9/16/2021 10
Miller, Raine Eyes Wide Open (p) 2013 9/20/2021 10
Miller, Raine Rare and Precious Things (p) 2014 10/11/2021 10
Miller, Raine My Lord (a) 2021 8/6/2021 10
Miller, Raine My Lord 2021 1/9/2021 10
Monroe, Max The Bet 2021 8/22/2021 6
Nash, Willa The Bluff 2021 2/7/2021 8
Nash, Willa The Brazen 2021 7/28/2021 10
Nash, Willa The Naughty, The Nice and The Nanny 2021 11/8/2021 6
Nash, Willa Three Bells, Two Bows and One Brother's Best Friend 2021 11/8/2021 6
Nash, Willa A Partridge and a Pregnancy 2021 11/8/2021 6
Nickless, Barbara At First Light 2021 12/11/2021 8
Nickless, Barbara Dead Stop (a) 2017 7/30/2021 8
Novak, Brenda The Bookstore on the Beach 2021 5/22/2021 6
Perry, Devney Noble Prince 2020 2/1/2021 8
Perry, Devney Fallen Jester 2021 6/21/2021 10
Perry, Devney Tin Queen 2021 9/24/2021 10
Perry, Devney Christmas in Quincy 2021 9/28/2021 6
Perry, Devney Indigo Ridge (a) 2021 12/5/2021 10
Perry, Devney Indigo Ridge 2021 11/10/2021 10
Perry, Devney Forsaken Trail 2020 2/4/2021 10
Perry, Devney Dotted Lines 2021 4/7/2021 10
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth When Stars Collide 2021 7/5/2021 8
Preston, Beverly Catching Ember 2021 10/11/2021 6
Proby, Kristen Underboss 2021 5/1/2021 6
Proby, Kristen Headhunter 2021 5/3/2021 6
Proby, Kristen Off the Record 2021 5/24/2021 6
Quinn, Julia Bridgerton: The Duke & I 2020 1/19/2021 10
Redman, Eric Bones of Hilo 2021 6/24/2021 8
Reichs, Kathy A Conspiracy of Bones (a) 2020 5/6/2021 10
Reichs, Kathy The Bone Code 2021 8/3/2021 8
Reid, Taylor Jenkins Malibu Rising 2021 6/29/2021 8
Reilly, Cora Bound by Honor 2014 3/13/2021 8
Reilly, Cora Bound by Duty 2015 3/14/2021 8
Reilly, Cora Bound by Hatred 2015 3/15/2021 8
Reilly, Cora Bound by Temptation 2015 3/15/2021 8
Reilly, Cora Bound by Vengeance 2017 3/16/2021 8
Reilly, Cora Bound by Love 2018 3/18/2021 6
Reiss, C.D. Complete Submission (Beg, Tease, & Submit) (a) 2018 3/20/2021 10
Reiss, C.D. Mafia Bride 2021 4/24/2021 6
Reiss, C.D. Mafia King 2021 7/10/2021 6
Reiss, C.D. Mafia Queen 2021 10/26/2021 4
Reiss, C.D. Only Ever You 2019 10/18/2021 6
Reynolds, Burt But Enough About Me (a) 2015 4/27/2021 6
Roberts, Nora Legacy 2021 6/2/2021 6
Romig, Aleatha Kingdom Come (Underworld Kings) 2021 12/28/2021 8
Ryan, Kennedy Block Shot 2018 2/24/2021 10
Ryan, Kennedy Hook Shot 2019 5/28/2021 6
Salsbury, J.B. Wild North 2021 5/23/2021 8
Score, Lucy Forever Never 2021 4/2/2021 8
Scott, Emma The Girl in the Love Song 2021 4/10/2021 10
Scott, Kylie Pause (a) 2021 4/18/2021 8
Scott, Kylie The Rich Boy 2020 8/30/2021 8
Scott, Kylie; Carlan, Audrey Love Under Quarantine (a) 2020 5/29/2021 6
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Frankenstein (a) 2013 1/13/2021 8
Sheridan, Mia Savaged 2019 1/25/2021 10
Sheridan, Mia Savaged (a) 2019 8/19/2021 10
Simone, Sierra Saint 2021 11/1/2021 8
Sivec, Tara Seduction and Snacks (a) 2013 10/24/2021 6
Stevenson, Robert Louis The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (a) 2017 1/14/2021 6
Stoker, Bram Dracula (a) 2012 9/26/2021 6
Swan, T.L. The Stopover 2019 4/4/2021 10
Swan, T.L. The Takeover 2020 4/4/2021 10
Swan, T.L. The Casanova 2021 8/29/2021 8
Thorne, Sally Second First Impressions 2021 4/30/2021 6
Tijan Canary 2021 10/6/2021 6
Torre, A.R. The Good Lie 2021 9/5/2021 10
Tucker, K.A. Sweet Mercy 2019 9/10/2021 8
Tucker, K.A. Gabriel Fallen 2019 9/11/2021 8
Tucker, K.A. Dirty Empire 2020 9/12/2021 8
Tucker, K.A. Fallen Empire 2021 9/15/2021 6
Tucker, K.A. The Wolf Hotel: Complete Series 2018 9/18/2021 8
Twain, Mark The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (a) 2016 10/2/2021 6
Valentine, Marley Without You 2020 1/21/2021 6
Van Dyken, Rachel Ruthless Princess 2020 1/29/2021 4
Ward, Penelope The Aristocrat 2021 8/31/2021 10
Ward, Penelope The Crush 2021 3/26/2021 8
Ward, Penelope When August Ends (a) 2019 8/15/2021 8
Ward, Penelope; Keeland, Vi Not Pretending Anymore 2021 4/27/2021 8
Webber, Tammara Breakable (p) 2014 9/6/2021 10
Wharton, Edith The Age of Innocence (a) 2008 9/30/2021 6
Wilder, Jasinda The Black Room 2021 2/11/2021 8
Williams, Tia Seven Days in June 2021 8/26/2021 10
Young, Samantha Here With Me 2021 9/10/2021 8
Young, Samantha There with You 2021 10/24/2021 8

Exported from BookCollector 12/30/2021 2:57:34 PM

Saturday, August 7, 2021

My Top Twenty-One All-Time Favorite Romance Reads

I don't know about you, but I find it impossible to answer any of the what's-your-favorite questions. Favorite movie? Favorite food? Favorite song? And the list goes on.… Recently, I've been wondering...could I, the impassioned reader of nearly 3,400 romance books, choose one absolute favorite book?! A single book?! Oh, the pressure! Just when I thought I might be able to, I'd think of another amazing favorite, and then another. 

Sheesh. Fuhgeddaboudit! Why should I choose just one? Who's making the rules here?! HAH, me!  Soooo...essentially these twenty-one books are all considered romance (I've decided that a series about the same couple counts as one very long book. I made a further exception to one of the series because I couldn't pick just one. 😊). However, they fall into several different sub-genres: contemporary, erotic, suspense, new adult, historical, and paranormal. 

These remarkable and memorable books are all tagged as favorites in my database, if I read them since I've been doing my yearly favorites post they are on it, they are all books I have re-read (and/or re-listened to), and, most importantly, they are all books "I get lost in; the ones that while reading, I lose all track of time; the ones that evoke the strongest emotions; the ones that make me laugh, cry, blush, gasp, and sigh." (<----That is the description I use every year in those year-end favorites lists.) 

Another detail that shows how much I love a book is when I do whatever it takes to get a signed paperback. Of course, I wish I had signed copies of all of them, but I am thrilled to have the twelve that I do (edited 2022-02-25: I now have TWENTY!). I will attempt to describe why each of them means so much to me. I realize that only a couple are super well-known, but popularity wasn't a consideration in them achieving my highest regard and long-term affection. I cannot recommend them highly enough! 

The books are listed alphabetically by the authors' last names.


2022-01-15:  I have that signed paperback now!

Catching Caden, book one in The Perfect Game Series by Samantha Christy, turned out to be the perfect love story. I have major league feels for Caden & Murphy—their beautiful and meaningful slow burn friends-to-lovers romance hit a home run and left me feeling gloriously smitten. *swoons* I am no sports fan, but I truly loved this remarkable romance in every way. I loved it so much that I bought it after reading it in Kindle Unlimited last August and then bought and listened to the Audible book! And maybe someday I'll have a signed copy, too!


Have the Kindle & Audible versions. Not available in trade paperback.

When it comes to choosing my favorite sub-genre of romance it's always been my first instinct to say romantic suspense. It's also first instinct to think of Pamela Clare, who writes stellar romantic suspense, as well as contemporary and historical romance. Striking Distance is book #6 in her highly rated I-Team Series and was published in November 2013. After reading about Javier Corbray and Laura Nilsson as the featured couple in the sizzling novella, "First Strike," I was eager for Striking Distance to be released the following month. Let me tell you, this is one on-the-edge-of-your-seat story. There's a level of authenticity to the military and war time reporting that reads like this is absolutely what it would be like! Of course, Pamela Clare was an investigative reporter and newspaper editor, so she's got the chops! I can't imagine the amount of research and knowledge she has, given how superbly she writes the details of these dangerous occupations. This is definitely a gritty story with some horrendous events that left me gasping. But after all of that suspenseful stuff came the development of a relationship built from respect, trust, empathy, devotion, and ultimately a hard-earned lasting love. Whew! I get all choked up just recalling how special Javier and Laura are. It's a book that's so good I wanted to listen after I read, which I did when I got the Audible version adeptly narrated by Kaleo Griffith. Striking Distance went the distance, and it more than earned its place here.


Sadly, Worth the Fall is not available in paperback.

Worth the Fall is such a beautifully done heartwarming and emotional story. One would think it was written by an established author but nope. Claudia Connor wrote this stunner on her first go. Talk about an impressive debut! Matt McKinney (Currently #4 on my Best Book Boyfriend List), Abby Davis, and her children were written with so much heart they pulled every (heart)string I had. It was one of those rare books that I literally could not put down. Staying up all night was the only emotional decision to be made. (Pshaw on being practical!) There were precisely the right amounts of conflict, worry, and insecurity. So when these two beautiful souls finally got beyond those real world struggles, I wept with joy! Yes, tears. Lots of real tears. Totally worth every_single_one. Claudia Connor continued writing heartfelt stories. You should read them...oh, and listen to the audiobooks. 😚

2015-11-25: Books #1 & 2 signed! 2022-02-08: #3 not signed! 🤔

Do you have times like I do when nothing but a good dark romance will do? Well, out of the many (hundred-ish?) I've read, none have filled whatever perverse need I have like The Monster in His Eyes Trilogy by J.M. Darhower. I first read The Monster in His Eyes in a few hours in October 2014. What?! It was over already?! I was like gimme more Naz and Karissa now! I immediately bought and read Torture to Her Soul on_the_same_day! The following April I bought and listened to the Audible version of book one. (Disappointingly, no audio versions were released for books 2 & 3). Target on Our Backs was such an unexpected surprise. When I had finished Torture to Her Soul, I hadn't thought there was a need for another book. What was I thinking?! Of course there was, and J.M. Darhower must have known it. I dove headfirst back into the dark world of Ignazio Vitale and Karissa Reed. And, just like that (*snaps*) I was done and missing them already! I thought Karissa was naive thinking Naz had become less dangerous (not me, I knew better), but he was still inherently Ignazio. All I know is that I have read them a few times, and Naz still gives me the chills. (Effective, yeah?) Oh, and that man is salaciously lethal, even with a pen and a belt. Not dangerous, my backside! If you're wanting to know tropes, here you go...mafia, age gap, forbidden love, and accidental pregnancy. Let yourself go to the dark side for this series. For a "monster" like Naz, I'm there...you should be, too!

2022-03-17: These lovelies need Sylvia Day's autograph!

The year was 2012, and there was a new erotic romance book heating up my Goodreads feeds. It was about six weeks after its release, and my curiosity was more than piqued. Needless to say, I caved and went for it. I could not have expected the journey that this 5-book series would lead me on. That book that had set the romance world on "fire" was the first book in the Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day. Bared to You and the subsequent books, Reflected in You, Entwined with You, Captivated by You, and One with You—feature the dazzling disaster of a couple, Gideon Cross and Eva Trammell. If ever there was a couple with a load of (designer) baggage it's these two. Individually, I don't know which of them had the most damaging childhood. Together, I think they fight nearly as much to be together as they fight with each other. If you want conflict to spice things up, then look no further than these two hot messes. Now, you may be thinking it doesn't read like I even like these books. Well, you'd be reading me completely wrong because I'm absolutely crazy about Gideon and Eva! An over-the-top fictional couple like Mr. Cross and Ms. Trammell deserve my jubilant devotion. So here it is. I've read the books and listened to the audiobooks several times. Even when I'm losing my patience with them, I'm wishing them all the peace, joy, and happy-ever-afters fictionally possible. They're super rich. They can do anything. They don't need anyone else. They should just run away, and I don't know, go hang out in a tree house and make love all day every day. Yeah, that sounds perfect! Gawd, I love 'em. 🥰

2022-03-02:  From The Poisoned Pen, signed by "Herself"!
 
You know that phrase, "the one that started it all"? Well, Outlander is that one for me. The book that started my adult onset passion and absolute predilection for romantic fiction. To this day, nearly 30 years after first reading it, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser continues to be my #1 book boyfriend. Yes, I've read all eight novels (novellas, too) in the Outlander series. I've listened to the first three audiobooks, and I eagerly await each upcoming season of the Starz series, but this first taste of the Outlander universe remains my favorite. I've read it three times and surely will want to revisit it again. I think of all the books I've read (about 5,000), this series has got to be the hardest to genre-fy. Let's see, it's historical fiction (with real historic events featured), it's science fiction, it's fantasy, and finally, it's romance. The word "epic" fits for the entire saga but especially to the cross century love that Jamie and Claire have. When Jamie says things like: “Oh, aye, Sassenach. I am your master . . . and you're mine. Seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own.” AND this: “Does it ever stop? The wanting you? Even when I've just left ye. I want you so much my chest feels tight and my fingers ache with wanting to touch ye again.” *swoons* Thanks to 'Herself," Diana Gabaldon, for her decades of commitment and dedication to all things Outlander.

2015-05-09: Received my copy back signed by Tracey!
 
I feel very sentimental about On the Island. I'm not exactly sure what part of this remarkable debut novel has influenced these feelings, but there is this one especially powerful scene that caused the most intensely soul-crushing reaction when I read it (and still did when I recently reread the book). That's some impressive writing! I feel that from the opening line to the last sentence, this book is as close to perfectly plotted and paced as is possible. It's ideally balanced between setup, character introduction, the passage of time on the island, and life following their rescue. The young hero, T.J., and his tutor, Anna, are characters to empathize with, to care about, to root for, and to love. Tracey Garvis-Graves is a very gracious author. She shows her gratitude to her readers, and we show her our appreciation without hesitation. Nine outstanding books and counting. I have loved them all and On the Island was my first. 

2021-05-04: Thrilled to have Battle Scars signed by JHB!

War is horrendous, and to be the setting for a romance novel takes some genius writing skills. Jane Harvey-Berrick displayed those skills from beginning to end in Battle Scars. Marine Corps Sergeant Jackson Connor and foreign correspondent, Margaret Jean (MJ) Buckman, are such remarkable and heroic characters. Their degrees of dedication to their jobs and then to each other are impressive to say the least. Throughout the story I found myself crying, not only for what was happening in the lives of MJ and Jackson, but also over the author’s inclusion of actual devastating historical events. Jane's melding of fact and fiction is seamlessly done. One thing that stands out to me is how realistic and sensible the conversations between Jackson and MJ are. The author doesn't have them conversing like a romantic hero and heroine. They feel like real people in real situations, quite often breathtakingly dangerous situations. It's not all dirt and danger, though. There are humorous moments, strong platonic friendships, close-knit family interactions, and romantic & sexy encounters. I consider Battle Scars my favorite book of 2017 (out of 280!). Recently, when my long awaited reread was possible between the actual printed pages of a personalized author-signed paperback, well, it made the story even that much more meaningful.

2022-03-02: Having these signed beauties is EVERYTHING!

I am so not a fantasy girl. I think of myself as a literal reader. Fairly consistently while watching or reading fantasy, I scoff and make light of so many of the make-believe things I find so unbelievably, well, unreal. So you might want to ask how is it that this vampire fantasy series ends up an all-time favorite? Well, to me the answer is just this: Elizabeth Hunter. She’s the reason. Oh, and her oh-so smexy fire vampire, Giovanni Vecchio? I wouldn’t kick him outta bed for scorching the crackers! The Elemental Mysteries world and characters she has created never seem to leave me feeling anything but delighted to be spending time with them. Giovanni, Beatrice, and their entire "family" (preternatural and human) all speak to me; and the part that blows me away is that I get them. I understand their motivations for the most part, and that thrills me. I can love fantasy. Elizabeth Hunter proves it to me with every book of hers. Giovanni and Beatrice are such a fascinating couple. One very vampire and one…not. With lots of intelligent dialogue, perfectly placed humor, fantastical world building, exotic locales, those oh-so necessary bits of conflict, and some steamy hot, sexy times how could I not want to revisit A Hidden Fire, This Same Earth, The Force of Wind, and A Fall of Water again and again?

2022-03-31: The movie editions were gifts from my daughter. Christian's books were gifts to myself.

No books I've ever read have offered me such diametrically opposing emotions of pleasure and grief than the Fifty Shades Series. Fifty shades worth? Hmm. Pleasure from reading my very first erotic romances featuring BDSM and being absolutely drawn into the world of Christian and Ana. Grief over the mass public hysteria and condemnation because erotic romance finally hit the mainstream. Especially with such unassuming covers and titles. I don't think that those of us who are avid romance readers were horrified. Maybe a little shocked? It definitely wasn't the end of the world. Sheesh, relax, they're fiction! And, I still think very romantic. I wrote quite the review of the initial three books (from Ana's perspective) when I read them in 2012. If you're at all interested, it can be found here. If you check out that review you'll see that I read Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed ELEVEN TIMES EACH! Holy crap! I was completely enraptured with them. I've since calmed down quite a bit; but anytime I think of the series, I get a bit sentimental. Besides reading the books again, I can get my fix of Christian and Ana by watching the movies and listening to my 100-song Fifty Shades playlist (which I have, many times!). I have also listened to the audiobooks; I was extremely disappointed with the narration in the original trilogy but loved Zachary Webber's narration of Christian's books. Waiting for E.L. James to complete the three books (Grey, Darker, & Freed) as told by Christian; and, well, they were definitely worth the wait. The reasons for some of his mercurial thoughts and behaviors were uncovered. Finally! I have a lasting affinity for Christian and Ana; and knowing they're settled and all is right in their world makes me unrealistically happy!

These will likely never be signed but I'm still pleased to have them!

The Ravenels Series (Cold Hearted Rake, Marrying Winterbourne, Devil in Spring, Hello Stranger, Devil's Daughter, and Chasing Cassandra) by Lisa Kleypas—ah, how much do I love them? Let me count the ways. 1) They're filled with delightful, colorful characters. 2) There are commitment phobic rakes who fall hard for their lady loves. 3) Those aforementioned lady loves are all bright, open-minded, intelligent, compassionate, loving, and unaware of their very pleasing appearances. 4) Reading as the heroes fall under the charms of their heroines is just so much fun! (Goody-goody, hand-clapping, and giant-smiling kinds of fun! I recall some serious swooning on my part, too.) 5) And if reading the books wasn't enough fun, I then listened to the audiobooks (this all done via my library's digital collection). OH MY GOODNESS! The narrator of the entire series is freaking fantastic! (I have yet to read the 7th book, Devil in Disguise, but have it on hold.) The written stories that I loved so much were brought to life very vividly and flawlessly by Mary Jane Wells. They are beyond-description good! When I was gifted an Audible 12-month subscription while on a free month, can you guess which books were my first acquisition? You betcha. I got all of them and listened again! Honestly, I'm much more of a contemporary romance reader. I do make exceptions and am beyond ecstatic I made one for this series. Undoubtedly, it is my favorite historical romance series ever!


2022-03-29: I tried to get a signed copy from the author...🙁
 
 
This is an updated cover, and it's throwing me off. Oh, not from the story. I will love that no matter the cover. Rock Me (Ross Siblings #2) by Cherrie Lynn, introduced me to the hot rocker/tattoo artist Brian Ross. And let me tell you, he is dreamy! There is the little thing about him being a heavy metal guy and me being more of an alternative rock girl; but I have never let that diminish my crush on him. There are many details that make this book one of my top favorites. One, of course, is Brian. Another is that I like and empathize with Candace, the heroine. There is the fact that it is a bit of a forbidden love trope. I really appreciate the realism that comes across in the characters and their lives—daily real life kinds of struggles, family prejudices issues, critical decision making—you know, stuff we can all relate to. There are lots of setbacks and heartbreak on the road to Brian and Candace going from casual acquaintances to a super hot and committed couple. They had to prioritize and compromise, and that made them even more relatable. It is another story that came to life with amazing narration. Alix Dale did a fantastic job voicing both Brian and Candace in the audiobook. Hooray to another way to enjoy this story!

2013-12-14: Books #1,2, & 3 signed by Raine at an event! 2014-12-13: #4 Received in the mail!

The Blackstone Affair Series (Naked, All In, Eyes Wide Open, and Rare and Precious Things) has a powerful pull on me. It draws me back in every few months, and I can't imagine resisting that pull. Ethan James Blackstone and Brynne Bennett have my ever-loving and overflowing devotion. Ethan Blackstone, is a filthy-mouthed, sexed-up, um, gentleman? Yes, ma'am!  He is ultra charming and divinely vocal with his intentions, which happens to be exactly what beautiful, damaged Brynne needs. They've each survived horrific damage to body and soul and not without lingering effects. I saw the following quote and thought of these characters immediately: "Everyone comes with baggage. Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack." That is exactly what they do for each other! These books were the very first of my "trinity" books. I have them in Kindle, Audible, and signed paperback; and they've been well loved! I've read and reread. Listened and re-listened. Imagine loving a series so much that you've listened to them TWELVE TIMES! Yep, that's me and I'm not embarrassed—even a little. Raine Miller created Ethan in the image of British supermodel, David Gandy—perfect choice in the looks department. Oh yeah. By the number of times I've listened to the audiobooks you can probably tell I think they chose the perfect narrators, too. Shane East is the only one who could be the voice of Ethan and Grace Grant was the ideal Brynne. The only way to make this series more desirable to me is to release more books! I follow Raine Miller online everywhere, and she's mentioned at least one more book is in the works. Ooooooh, more Ethan and Brynne! *claps excitedly*

2022-03-29: Isn't it gorgeous? No chance getting this signed but I'm still thrilled to have it.

I've read my fair share of student-teacher romances but none more fine than this debut novel by Leah Raeder/Elliot Wake. I think the author created a character that is in a class of herself in Maise. I believe it's Maise that sets the tone for the entirety of Unteachable. I was impressed by her character's fortitude, bravery, intelligence, and prodigious vocabulary. Her observations, descriptions, and dialogue are quite astute, and her and Evan's sexual chemistry is off the charts. This keenly written book inspired me to highlight a great number of passages and to reread and re-listen to the audiobook numerous times. Unteachable is not a lighthearted romance but it is certainly a thought provoking one. I should mention that Maise is a very mature, jaded eighteen-year-old when she hooks up with the handsome older, Evan, at the beginning of the book. Little did they know... 

2021-09-21: Gayle?! See explanation in this Instagram Post

Let me start out by saying that CD Reiss is a word wizard. Some call her the "Shakespeare of Smut." I consider her a genius. I mean, she wrote this book about a detrimentally superstitious baseball player who woos and kinda strings along an elementary school librarian. What's there to love in that? Well, loads, if you go by how many times I have reread and re-listened to the audiobook. I'll reiterate, I don't do sports. I am not a baseball fan, but I am most definitely a fan of Dash and Vivian, the hero and heroine of Hardball. I also love Vivian's Jewish step-father, her students, the author's description of Los Angeles, and the camaraderie of the team. But let's be honest, the main reason I love Hardball is the undeniable chemistry between Dash and Vivian. Vivian is straight-up a good woman, a good daughter, a good student advocate. Dash, if nothing else, is honest. He's also always been strictly about baseball. I appreciate very much how the author wrote his struggle to do right by his game while doing right by Vivian. It's called compromise, people! That's one of my favorite themes in a romance. Let's see more, please. I'll just leave my comment after my first time reading it right here. ------> "Hardball covered all the bases and hit a home run with that epilogue. I'm done for. LOVED IT!" ⚾

2015-11-30: Books #1, 2, & 3 Signed by SR! Now, how do I get a signed copy of #4? 🤔

How to describe such a lush, grand, cultural, and passionate series? Well, those descriptors are a start, but the Gabriel's Inferno Series (Gabriel's Inferno, Gabriel's Rapture, Gabriel's Redemption, and Gabriel's Promise ) is so much more. It's indescribably romantic and filled with literature, art, music, and Professor Emerson. Granted, he's a bit of an ass to start; but he redeems himself—in regards to Julianne, anyway. Ah, Julianne, his brown-eyed angel...she's sweet and kind, but she matures and doesn't put up with his snobbery and hot temper. There is much Gabriel, being The Professor and all, can teach Julia. And he does, but he also makes a good student when it comes to learning the art of being kind from Julia. The books have a huge fan base around the world. There are extremely active communities of Gabriel's Inferno devotees in many countries, including the United States. The author, Sylvain Reynard, interacts a great deal with us. SR is very gracious, indeed. I have read the books and listened to the audiobooks. My next read will be between the pages of my signed copies. Not only can I read and listen to the audiobooks, but because Passionflix optioned the series, I can watch the movies! That is, I can watch parts one, two, and three (5.5 hours!) of Gabriel's Inferno which have premiered; but Gabriel's Rapture is in post production, and we "Passionistas" are super eager about that! I'm particularly thrilled, as these were the only books I recommended to Passionflix; and I am thrilled they listened to me! 😉

2022-02-24: At long last...The Witness signed by Nora!

It's been nine years since I first read The Witness. I have read and listened to the audiobook (Julia Whelan's narration is superb!) several times since. I still find it remarkable that it is Nora Roberts' 200th book! It's another story that stirs nostalgic feelings, which every so often leads me to download it back into my Audible app for another visit with Abigail/Elizabeth and Brooks. Those two...they just hit all my happy buttons. I wrote a really gushy review back in 2012. If you're interested, you can find it here. This book has fascinating plot lines involving Elizabeth's restrictive childhood, her act of rebellion and its repercussions, her character's evolution, character introductions, and character interaction. The dynamic between uptight genius Abigail and levelheaded Brooks is the perfect coupling. The delicious banter that ensues is captivatingly clever! The Witness is an all-around exceptional romantic suspense.

The Search isn't yet available in trade paperback in the U.S. The wait is on!

The Search by Nora Roberts—gosh, I get so lost in this one! The suspense aspect is quite chilling. The heroine, Fiona, is capable, driven, focused, and quick-witted. She trains dogs and does volunteer search and rescue. Dogs, you say?! Yes, there are lots of dogs! Then the most adorable grouchy hero and his pesky puppy are introduced into the mix. I love grumpy Simon and his trouble making Jaws! When Simon and Fiona meet it's so enjoyable; but when things become seriously dangerous, they, along with her dogs and close friends, become a vigilant unit to protect her. What a team! The way the entire group puts protection in place is brilliantly choreographed. To have a posse like that would be amazing! There are a lot of those extraordinary Nora Roberts conversations where each comeback is the perfect reply. The book is an immensely gratifying romantic suspense. More suspense than romance but what's there is quite satisfying. The audiobook is very good, too!

This one has many covers. I'm hoping for an updated one on the trade paperback.

Carnal Innocence has been a favorite since I first read it in 1992! I've read it five times since and listened to the audiobook a couple of times, too. It's definitely an oldie and a goodie! It is a bit dated, but I think it's still relevant. Confession time: overall, I am not a fan of a Southern accent. That said, I will also confess that when Tucker Longstreet, our Southern hero of the story, utters his first, "Yes'm," I_was_charmed! Dang, he's so affable, generous, handsome, and, yes, charming, too. He just warrants being adored; and he is, by most everyone except the new-to-town Yankee, Caroline Waverly. She's not impressed...at all! Some pretty awful doings are going on in and around his small town of Innocence, Mississippi. Of course, Tucker and Caroline end up in the middle of those awful doings. Still, what develops is some of the most entertaining flirting in my romance-reading history. The way Nora Roberts sets the tone for each of the main themes—the romancing and the suspense—is masterful. And I'm not about to write off this treasure because it's a bit outdated. No, ma'am, it's deserving of my constancy.

2022-03-29: So many covers are available. This current one is pretty.
 
Of the twenty-one books on this list, Family Blessings by LaVyrle Spencer affects me the most emotionally. Another way to put that is, it induced the most ugly crying. This is a major tearjerker! The loss that Lee Reston suffers is the most heartbreaking kind. Christopher Lallek comes bearing the most horrible news but ends up coming to Lee's rescue...repeatedly. (He currently holds the #2 spot on my Best Book Boyfriends List!) My first reading occurred in 1995 with a paperback copy I bought at the Waldenbooks across the street from where I worked. I read that paperback three times, each time bawling my eyes out. Years went by without reading it, when in 2013 I bought the Kindle version. I read it, and...queue the waterworks, again. Then in 2017 while cruising our local library's fundraising store, there on the front table was a hardcover copy in pristine condition for one dollar! Of course, I snatched it up, and once again, reading it reduced me to sobbing. How gifted a writer LaVyrle Spencer was to instill this kind of tearful devotion! All of her books were meaningful and relied on the realism of family life, but Family Blessings? I feel it is in a class by itself. It's not entirely tear-inducing. Oh, no. There was much to feel positive about, and I think it concludes very splendidly. 🥰

2013-09-09: Received my signed copy of Easy from Tammara Webber!

Easy (Contours of the Heart #1) by Tammara Webber was my very first new adult read. I knew it was really special then; but nine years and about 150 new adult books later, and it remains the most special. I reread that Kindle edition; and in September 2013 I won a signed copy, which I read a couple of years ago. I think the manner in which we were introduced to Lucas, how he made his subsequent brief appearances, and finally, how he started to stick around really gave him an air of mystery. Couple that with his tattoos and lip-ring, and I feel that initial impression just didn't fit with his innate goodness. (Lucas currently holds the #3 spot on my Best Book Boyfriends List.) There are several difficult themes dealt with in Easy, which I feel the author handled remarkably well. The story has a real world quality to it. Some of it is raw and frightening. Some of it is subtle and thought provoking. The characters of Jacqueline and Lucas are exceptionally intuitive, empathetic, and intelligent. He notices much more about her than her looks, and she discovers much more lies beneath his looks. Easy is easy to love!

Well, that's my list. I'm extremely curious. Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What are the things that make a book a favorite of yours? What are some of your favorite romances? Any books you are looking forward to reading? Do you strictly read or do you do listen to audiobooks? Or both, like I do? Thank you so much for checking out my love list of books!

(rev. 05/11/2022)