My all time, top of the list, favourite would have to be
But most of all, what stuck with me most in this story is the development of Whitney, how we're right there with her as she grows from a spoilt brat to a hoyden and all the way through to a lovely, mature woman.
I could read this book once a week and cry each time.
Now, let's say I'm allowed to take one more book because, you know, a year's quite a long time...
The romanticist in me always wants to give these two their happy ending and, I don't know, maybe there's a black spot on my brain that really thinks if I just read it one more time, the ending will change and everything will be sunshine and roses.
On the other hand, this book just would be the same without that famous... all together now... "Frankly, dear, I don't give a damn."
And then the powers that be make me an offer I can't refuse. Toss out the medical kit, they say, and you can take one more book...
Now I do realise this is cheating a bit as that's not the real book cover, but pass up a Colin Firth opportunity? Really? No, I didn't think so.You know how in school you're expected to pull every line apart, imagine snakes hissing and hear the horse trotting just from the word pattern? Understand the character's entire personality from a few well placed barbs? Well, I never used to get that. I'd nod along with the rest of class and stare blankly at plain english words that told me nothing more than the Oxford Dictionary said they should. Until Pride and Prejudice. Suddenly the underwoven play on sentences and words came alive and finally, finally, I knew what the hell my teacher was talking about. I discovered a whole new art with this novel, not to mention Mr Darcy may have been the first man I fell in love with.
Right, so time's a ticking, you know, with the apocalypse looming first thing in the morning and everything, guess I'd better just get on with the rest of the list nice and quick.
4) The Bride by Julie Garwood... possibly the first Scottish medieval romance I fell in love with. All those years ago, these highland laddies just knocked me off my feet. And because the official blurb just says it so well...
By edict of the king, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, youngest daughter of Baron Jamison...a feisty, violet-eyed beauty. Alec ached to touch her, to tame her, to possess her...forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this highland barbarian....
(5) The Steel Bonnets by George MacDonald Fraser... This is not really a romance. Okay, so it's not even a novel. But it is my number one research book for medieval Scotland and for extending the leash on my muse. Just when I think I've put my hero into a situation that is so bizarre I'm afraid it will snap the suspension of my reader's belief, I'll find a real documented case of some wayward Sottish laird who did just that. When it comes to medieval Scottish history, the facts are just as, if not more, entertaining that fiction.
6) Desperate Duchesses by Eloise James...I had to show this gorgeous cover, the reason I picked up the book in the first place Isn't it pretty? Arranged marriages are one of my favourite tropes, but for every one that worked out fine, in reality there must have been dozens where the husband and wife merely endured each other.
What I love is that this is the story of the arranged marriage that did not work out. At least not at first :)
(7) Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas... Also an estranged husband and wife story, but with a difference. This started out as a love marriage, then turned sour. Now, ten years, hubby wants an heir and these two finally get to sort things out. A beautiful story.
(8) Tempted by Virginia Henley... Ram Douglas is an alpha hero to die for and the heroine is such an outrageous hoyden, you just have to curl up and lose yourseld in this world. One of the things I love most about Henley is her vivid writing that makes you feel as if you're really experiencing that world.
(9) Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught... This one has it all. The rugged hero, The Duke of Claymore. The virgin kidnapped straight from the convent. Family feud. The king's decree that the hero and heroine marry. The hero's refusal to do anything of the kind. And a fabulous ending!!
(10) Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning... Last, but not least by a long mile. In fact, the only reason this one sits at number 10 is that there's time travel and also, I'd have to cheat here and just include her entire Highland series in this spot. Just because.
There are so, so many more favourite historicals that I'd happily be stuck with for a year. What are your favourites?