5. Forbidden Falls by Robyn Carr. Robyn Carr has become my new crack. I can't get enough of the Virgin River novels. Shoot me now. They're sappy. They're full of babies. The women have almost all been through some sort of trauma--widows, abusive ex-husbands, rape, etc., etc. But Carr weaves some excellent stories about the growing town of Virgin River, up in the mountains of Northern California. Virgin River comes across as this mini-utopia. This particular book was both emotional and funny, and it touched on issues of faith without being preachy. And it was NOT weighted down with back story!!! This time there was just enough to move the story forward. Thank you for that, Ms. Carr because that is one criticism I've had of previous books in the series. Anyhow, FF is the story of Virgin River's new pastor and the church he is restoring. He hires Ellie to be his new assistant. It turns out that Ellie is in desperate need of a "respectable" job in order to win custody of her kids back from her ex-husband. Naturally there's more to Ellie's story and as Pastor Noah gets involved their relationship becomes personal.
4. Fault Line by Barry Eisler. I had the privilege of writing a review of this which appeared here at Dear Author. I enjoyed this fast-paced thriller which was by a new-to-me author. I've gotten the first of his John Rain novels from the library and am looking forward to reading more of his books.
3. Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale. I've been thinking about writing a full blog post about this book, but time has gotten the better of me and I'm not so sure I'll get to it. Suffice it to say that I was thoroughly entertained by LiF. I think sometimes people make so much of this extremely talented author that it's almost intimidating to talk about her books--especially this book since it is her first new one in 5 years. It's a Regency-set historical, set out in the country. Callie has been jilted 3 times and at 27 she is lonely and has serious self-esteem issues. She was once in love with her neighbor, Trev, but her father drove Trev away. Now Trev is back, Callie's father is dead, and even though Trev says he loves her, he doesn't seem to want her any more than the men who jilted her. Of course Trev DOES want her, only because of how he spent the last 10 years since leaving home, he doesn't feel particularly worthy of Callie. Emotional, poignant, funny--these words describe LiF.
2. Lawless by Nora Roberts. My #1 phave for December was Roberts' Loving Jack and it told the story of Jackie who was writing her first romance novel. Parts of that fictional novel are woven through the plot of Loving Jack. In Lawless, the fictional novel becomes a real novel and we're treated to the full story of Sarah and Jake. This was yet another of my large print library reads, although I see Lawless was re-released in 2009 in a two-fer called The Law of Love. I think I read once that Lawless is Roberts' only historical. If true, it's a shame because she did the historical very well. You have some common tropes here--the innocent and sheltered, but determined, heroine in Sarah, and the jaded hero in Jake, who can't help feeling protective. This was a fun read.
1. A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh. Hands down this month it has to be this one. Of course I'm biased because Mary Balogh's books re-introduced me to romance fiction. But I honestly think this is the best thing she's written in years and I was so taken with the twist and the way she crafted the story. It stuck with me for weeks. I wrote more about it here.