Phyl's 5 Phaves from December

Two of my favorites last month were re-reads. In some respects it was a flat month for reading with the busy-ness of Christmas, traveling, etc., etc. I read a non-fiction book that had me in stitches and I just loved. I'm a fan of ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike in the Morning and Mike Greenberg wrote a book a few years ago called Why My Wife Thinks I'm an Idiot : the Life and Times of a Sportscaster Dad. He writes about becoming a father and it was a fun read. That book actually came out 3 or 4 years ago.

5. Sold to a Laird by Karen Ranney. This was a "phave" back in November of '09. Here's what a wrote then (and it was still how I felt when I read it again): If you've read this blog for any length of time, it's no secret I'm a big Karen Ranney fangirl. I love her work. It's emotional and there's usually a plot twist I never see coming. This book is no different. Lady Sarah is the daughter of an autocratic, ruthless duke. The duke insists that Sarah marry a wealthy inventor, Douglas Eston, and Sarah is left with no choice but to obey. Douglas goes along with it because he falls in love with her the moment he sees her. (I love these kinds of stories.) Soon after they are married, tragedy strikes and as Douglas cares for Sarah through the tragedy she, in turn, grows to love him. With Douglas' help, Sarah learns more about herself and her family, and finds an inner strength that she didn't know she had, although Douglas sees it from the first. The third book in this trilogy is due at the end of March.

4. The Year of Living Scandalously by Julia London. You know, this is a book that quite possibly shouldn't have worked. But it did, and I think it's a tribute to the strength of the writing that it did. Keira Hannigan is an extremely impulsive young woman who agrees to help her cousin Lily by traveling to England to visit the estate Lily has inherited. Lily had lived there a long time ago and Keira bears enough resemblance to Lily that when Keira arrives she is mistaken for Lily. Rather than correct everyone, she allows them to believe that she is Lily. But soon she is forced to make one decision after another as "Lily" and she realizes that she has built a house of cards that could come tumbling down any moment. What saves this book is that Keira knows she's made a huge mistake and when an old friend of hers, Declan O'Connor, shows up, Keira isn't shy about asking for help. There's a mystery that's entwined in the story. Since this is the first in a series, the mystery isn't solved at the end of the book. Unfortunately there's a pretty huge gap until the next book is released. I recommend it, but I wish I'd waited awhile to read it. I prefer to read connected books close together. My brain leaks.

3. Emily and the Dark Angel by Jo Beverley. This is one of Beverley's earliest books, first published I think in 1991. It won a RITA and 20 years later I have to say that it really holds up well. This was a re-read for me. I first read it some 5-6 years ago and stumbled upon the re-issue in the library, so I checked it out and devoured it pretty quickly. It's a short, easy read. Emily is a spinster in the hunting-mad town of Melton Mowbray, trying to keep her home intact while she waits for her brother to return from the war against Napoleon. Her father is paralyzed, her aunt is eccentric, and so it is left to Emily to manage the estate. Piers Verderan arrives for the annual hunt, accidentally runs into Emily, and is quickly smitten, even though Emily isn't a particular beauty and seems far too practical. He pursues her relentlessly and it's a sweet courtship indeed. I highly recommend it.

2. Unforgivable by Laura Griffin. I have now read 5 books by this author and only once has she not landed on my "phaves" list. I think it was a near miss that time. Unforgivable is the latest in her Tracers Series, romantic suspense novels that blend police procedure and sophisticated forensics with just enough romance to make them all satisfying reads. This book tells the story of Mia Voss, a DNA specialist who becomes a target as she works with detectives to solve a particular string of violent murders involving call girls. One of the detectives she is working with is Ric Santos. She's worked with him in the past and thought for awhile that there might be something between them. But Ric had backed off and she'd seen little of him until one night she is car-jacked and she barely escapes with her life. I found this to be a riveting read and a nice change of pace from some of the reading I'd done earlier in the month.

1. Marry Me by Jo Goodman. This is, of course, the highly anticipated sequel to Never Love a Lawman. We're back in Reidsville, Colorado, where Dr. Cole Monroe has just moved to town with his younger sister. Shortly after settling in, Cole starts calling on some of the locals who live outside of town. On one of those calls he stumbles upon a severely ill young woman. Cole eventually takes her back to town where he can oversee her recovery and along the way the two fall in love. This is an extremely simplistic synopsis, but I loved how the story unfolded. To say more would give away some spoilers that help make the story so unusual. While Rhyne recovers fairly quickly from her physical injuries, it turns out she has a lot of emotional garbage to overcome as well. Her recovery from the latter is helped by her relationship with Cole who is a very patient hero. Once again I was enchanted by Goodman's writing, her humor, and her ability to create a memorable story.


  1. I love Laura Griffin. A couple were more meh, but even those were really good. It's a huge plus for me when the author can write good teamwork and actually show how they solve the case. Haven't gotten to Unforgivable yet, but it's been on my list for a while now.

    Loved Marry Me! Agree with everything you said.

    And Sold to a Laird has been on my TBR for a while now. Must get to it.

  2. I agree, Lori, that even the Griffins that weren't excellent were still good. I think you'll like Unforgivable if you've liked her other books. And I hope you like Sold to a Laird when you get to it.

  3. Janet W: Hello you!! Happy 2011. Did you see that Sunita wrote another terrif review of Emily and the Dark Angel at Dear Author? Check it out. Piers is quite the force of nature isn't he? Have you read "The Fortune Hunter" where you get to see more of him?

  4. Hey Janet, Happy 2011 to you, too! Yes, I saw Sunita's review and it was spot on. I did read The Fortune Hunter years ago, the 1st time I read Emily. Like many people, I think Emily is the best in the series. I'm so glad they've been reissued.

  5. Hi Phyl. I'm not familiar with any of your phaves for December. How was the anthology "The Lady Most Likely ... " ?

  6. I debated long and hard about TLML... and in the end I admit that there were a couple of things about it that bothered me, so I left it off the list. I think most people will like this, especially if they already like the 3 authors. Heck, I love Quinn and her story WAS my favorite. Hers had the 2 best characters. I just wasn't as fond as the other 4 protagonists.

    It's hard, I think, to write enough into a short story to make you care about the characters. I just think Quinn succeeded better than Brockway and James.


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