I read quite a few good ones last month and it was hard to narrow it down to just 5. So as a bonus here 3 honorable mentions that didn't make the cut: The Last Rake in London by Nicola Cornick, Flashpoint by Jill Shalvis, and Your Mouth Drives Me Crazy by HelenKay Dimon. Fun reads all. But the 5 best of the month were:
5. Never Lie to a Lady by Liz Carlyle. This one came out last year, but I waited for all 3 books in the trilogy to be published before starting in on it. It was worth the wait. I liked this story of two people who felt very much on the outside of the society in which they lived. They had much in common and their story was very believable. The plot involves some interesting intrigue that pits the hero and heroine against one another at first and I enjoyed the way it was resolved. And I swear, Liz Carlyle gets the best covers.
4. The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran. This is the author's first book. It was the winner in a first chapter contest held by gather.com. It is set against the fascinating history of the 1857 Sepoy rebellion in India. I confess I know little of this era or area of the world, and that made the story all the more fascinating. For a first book, it is very well written, although some of the pacing could have been improved. Nonetheless, I sure hope Ms. Duran will be published again.
3. Letters to a Secret Lover by Toni Blake. This contemporary has an unusual setting--a small town in Montana. Having been to a few small Montana towns, it was easy to imagine the setting and some of the quirky characters who lived there. This was an extremely entertaining read with a handful of twists that kept it interesting. The dialogue is smart and funny and I had a great time reading it. I'll be looking for more books by this author.
2. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. This book seems to be iconic among online romance readers. I frequently see references to this book and when I ran across it at the library I figured I really should read it. What a brilliant book. Really. The dialogue is snappy and funny. The heroine is overweight and cannot believe the gorgeous hero is really interested in her. I love the way Cal breaks down her defenses, almost against his own will. The secondary characters are equally brilliant. It's excellently plotted and paced. Now I get why this book is so popular.
1. Tapestry by Karen Ranney. Well, I think I already said enough.