All About Romance's Top 100

Every few years the good people at my go-to site for romance ask their readers to submit their Top 100 romances and then compile a definitive list.  The last list was in 2007 and the Top 10 of the Top 100 was:
1) "Lord of Scoundrels" - Loretta Chase - 1995
This is a book people love so much, but I barely remember it, and honestly wasn't at all impressed at the time.  It's number one ranking has made me wonder if it was the setting where I read it, (Rock House) or if I just don't care for the novels of Loretta Chase.  I doubt it will hold the number one spot again.  
2) "Dreaming of You" - Lisa Kleypas - 1994 
I also love this book,  my favorite of all the Lisa Kleypas keepers on my shelf, and I have quite a few!
3) "Pride and Prejudice" - Jane Austen - 1813
I predict P&P will top the 100 this time around.  Everyone loves Darcy and Lizzie, and I think confusion came from whether it was acceptable to vote for a classic novel, placing it at Number 3.  
4) "Outlander" - Diana Gabaldon - 1991
This is a crazy cult favorite, number one a few lists back.  I read it once and liked it, but never read any sequels or developed a devotion to it.  It is the only romance a librarian has hugged while checking it out for me though!
5) "Flowers From the Storm" - Laura Kinsale - 1992
Another one I've read only once, but really liked.  It's biggest downfall is Fabio offering a flower to the reader on the cover, but thankfully it's been reissued...
6) "Slightly Dangerous" - Mary Balogh - 2004
My favorite (and everyone else's) of the "Slightly" series.
A twist on P&P and the best cold hero in ages.
7) "Devil in Winter" - Lisa Kleypas - 2006
A keeper for sure, but I believe it's high ranking came from being a recent release and fresh in everyone's minds.  I'm curious to see where it will fall, but my money's still in the Top 20.
8)"Bet Me" - Jennifer Crusie - 2004
My favorite contemporary romance of all time.
9) "Welcome to Temptation" - Jennifer Crusie - 2000
Another good one, but not quite a comfort read.  I've only read it twice.
10) "The Viscount Who Loved Me" - Julia Quinn - 2000
My favorite Quinn, first read when I was new to romance and she was my favorite author. However,  she's been putting out some real crap for about 5+ years, so, we'll see how she's fallen in the ranks!

The Top 100 was a great way to discover keepers and older releases I might not have discovered on my own.  For a while I was attempting to read all books on the lists - the reason why I read one (and only one) Nora Roberts and "Dream Man" by Linda Howard.  "Dream Man" made me realize I left a love of romantic suspense (a la "Mary Higgins Clark) behind me in the 7th grade, along with khaki pants and my natural hair color.  I don't have time to read authors I know I don't care for - I'll try one, and that's it.  Once again I ran out of time before submitting my personal Top 100 - it's an overwhelming task for me, plus some books I had from 2007 I don't even remember!  I'm excited to see the 2010 results, and hope to get my list counted next time around.  

"Dead Man's Cell Phone" by Sarah Ruhl

    Picture on found on Facebook, I'm not sure which audience member took it, but thanks for posting and thanks for coming.  This production featured not one, but two of my winter jackets (both looked better on Maggie, by the way) many yards of gold fabric, mod hair, cosmic pipelines, - and a handmade kidney lamp - I broke out the sewing machine for the first time in months.  Also, glitter drop.  Oh yeah.


A Letter to Rory Gilmore

Dear Alexis, 
If you ever want me to stop seeing you as Rory 
please make more films like "Sin City" 
and stop taking roles in movies that could be 
called, "The Good Guy" OR
"Rory Gilmore Lives in New York, Works as an Urban Conservationist, and finds Love."
Thank You,
Laci Hess

Alexis Bledel, a TV veteran herself, has now made two movies with quarterbacks from the TV show "Friday Night Lights."  "Post Grad" with Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen, the mumbling and sincere underdog) and "The Good Guy" with Scott Porter (the football star who lost the use of his legs in the pilot, Jason Street). This isn't terribly unusual, TV actors work on movies together all the time, such as "Can't Hardly Wait" during which I play the "Who Guest Starred on Buffy?/Do you remember their character's name?" game in my head.  Also any number of horror movies made in the mid to late 90's - (I Know What You Did Last...Season on the WB...) 

Anyway back to Ms. Gilmore - "Post Grad" was terrible (plus I saw it before FNL and didn't realize that's just how Zach Gilford speaks...) but I liked "The Good Guy" mainly because of the good guy in the film - who may or may not be Jason Street, I won't spoil it. 

"Anne's Perfect Husband" - Gayle Wilson - 2001

Here's the thing, Anne is perfect, the hero is wonderful - the first half of the book is perfect and the end  made me want to throw the book at the wall as hard as I possibly could!  

As with "The Bad Man's Bride," Gayle Wilson's "Anne's Perfect Husband" was recommended as a DIK on AAR,  I had very high expectations which I thought would be met...until I got about 30 pages from the end and the conclusion ruined this book for me.  I won't include any spoilers, but I started to question how the loose ends could come together in such a short time, not to mention when the hero and heroine would finally kiss!  With every page I read, I got more nervous - rightfully so as I found out.  I enjoyed both the hero and heroine so much, but hated how Wilson steamrolls an abduction scene into absolute torture into a pseudo-marriage of convenience between two people who are already in love -  all within the final chapters of the book.  
Two characters from the previous "Sinclair Brides" novels appear throughout, and there were some apparent inside jokes I didn't understand.  Without reading their story, I don't know how much of an ass Dare is - but he sure comes off as one in this book.  He's sarcastic and meddlesome all in the name of protecting his brother.  Sometimes I like reading the second book in a trilogy, it can peak my interest 
in the first couple and sometimes I won't even bother...

The plot has a "Daddy Long Legs" feel, the hero is appointed her guardian, expecting a small child and finding a woman of 20.  Major Ian Sinclair is a man of 32, who acts and appears older due to wounds inflicted from the war.  Anne's father was responsible for those wounds, including one piece of shrapnel which could be harmless forever or move from it's lodged location in his chest and kill him. The tension is wonderful, they share a house (it's all aboveboard because he's her guardian) and fall in love very quickly - each feels the love is and always will be unrequited, he due to threat of possible death and she because of her age and other miscommunications.  Great setup, huge fucking let down.

"The Bad Man's Bride" - Susan Kay Law - 2001

I have a list written a few years ago of recommended or DIK books to hunt down.  Unfortunately the list  ended up in a folder and never made it to the used book store - until last week.  I love the tiny one in our area, where I learned you do not tax bibles and has credit slips for books you bring in or bring return.  The romance section takes up half a room and they keep them organized by historical, contemporary, and series, plus it's all alphabetical. 
Last trip I found two I was looking for, "Anne's Perfect Husband" by Gayle Wilson and "The Bad Man's Bride" by Susan Kay Law.  I blame "The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice" for spoiling me a bit, plus my expectations from the recommendation list were pretty high.  I began Law's novel too soon and through no real fault of its own, it was a bit of a let down.  I wanted to be blown away, and wasn't.  It was a perfectly nice Americana/Western story of an inexperienced school teacher falling for a gruff father of one of her students.  Law throws a few curve balls (a nice surprise) making "The Bad Man's Bride" a perfectly enjoyable ride, just not one I'm likely to take again.  

Not For Halloween

But still pretty scary.

"The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice" - Abigail Reynolds 2010

Yes, it was the name that initially caught my eye, but I think I like the original title better.

This book sucked me in more than any in a long, long while - but after I finished and went to the bookstore to purchase my very own copy - I talked myself out of buying it.  Now, it's very likely I was simply feeling stingy - or maybe it's the weight of those TBR boxes in the corner of my bedroom.  I loved this novel as I was reading it.  But maybe it's like when you watch hours and hours of a TV show and get so sucked in to the characters (and let's face it, the love story) then after it's finished you have a bit of an entertainment hangover and only time will tell whether it was truly worthy of your emotions.  

"The Man Who Loved P &P" feels like three different books in one.  First the modernization of "Pride & Prejudice" - Contemporary New England, a feisty heroine Cassie, this time a marine biologist and a proud misunderstood man, Calder, a published author who comes from a prestigious political (Republican) family.  He's rich - she isn't - she's actually very ashamed of her background,  the journey of her acceptance provides a layer of depth to the story completely separate from any Austen references.  I'd have to say this was my favorite section, falling in love but fighting it every step of the way.

Next, Calder (Darcy) writes Cassie and himself into a modern retelling of P&P - entirely from Darcy's perspective.  While I always love to hear the hero's side of things it does take you out of their story a bit.  

Finally, the third section of the novel shows Cassie and Calder struggling against work and family to find their happiness together.  Reynolds' author bio says she's working on a sequel, and I for one am excited to read it.  I'd love to see this couple work create a family on their own terms and find out how Cassie deals with what seems to be an inevitable (Democratic) political future for Calder.  

Reynolds style and narrative swept me along for a roller coaster of emotions, but the POV confused me a bit.  I'd say 70 % of the book from Cassie's perspective, the P&P section from Calder's, however there are a few times even in the beginning that Reynolds jumps inside Calder's head for a paragraph or two and then right back into Cassie's.  However, this was a minor detail overall that didn't hurt the story.  
It's been a few days since finishing and my trip to the mall and I do think it will be a keeper.
When I re-read I rarely go start to finish - it's scenes I love and this one has some great ones.