You know, if I don't catch up on these posts pretty soon, I'm going to totally forget what I read.
5. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. Allen's unique lyrical story-telling made me a fan with her first book, Garden Spells. Like her previous books, there's a touch of mysticism, a touch of romance, and several quirky, interesting characters. Allen certainly manages to do a lot with just a few words (her books are relatively short compared to most novels). The themes in this book include the nature of friendship, forgiveness, tradition, and secrets. It's hard to describe this book, so I'll just say go read it!
4. The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig. This is another solid entry in Willig's Pink Carnation series. Laura Grey, a graduate of the Selwick spy school, goes to Paris and poses as a governess in the home of Andre Jaouen, an official in Bonaparte's Ministry of Police. Laura had hoped for an assignment a little more dramatic than watching over Andre's two children. But she soon gets more than she bargained for, especially when she discovers that Andre is not quite what he seems. In turn, of course, Andre eventually discovers that Laura is MORE than he expected. That was quite fun. Another facet I liked is that both Andre and Laura are older and somewhat lonely. The way they were drawn to one another seemed very natural. I know that many say that some parts of this series of books are anachronistic. But I do like the way Willig writes and I thought she did an excellent job in this particular book of creating characters with more depth than some of her previous books.
3. The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this inspirational Regency that involves two people from the working classes. The unusual characters and setting really drew me in and I've been working on reading Klassen's backlist ever since. I blogged about this book here back in April.
2. A Borrowed Scot by Karen Ranney. I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a huge fan of Karen Ranney. I love the emotion that always comes through in her writing. This book is the 3rd in a trilogy of rather loosely-related books that are connected by a mirror with mystical powers. Although the mirror plays a very minor role in this book. The book's beginning seemed rather improbable when heroine Veronica MacLeod is caught trying to sneak into a meeting of a secret society. Montgomery Fairfax, the brand new Lord Fairfax comes to her rescue and ends up agreeing to marry her to prevent her from losing her home along with her good name due to the scandal. Despite the odd beginning, this marriage of convenience story really drew me in. Montgomery is an American from a branch of the Fairfax family that had left Scotland several decades earlier. Montgomery lost his entire family to the American Civil War. The estate he inherits in Scotland is not home to him. Veronica herself has no real family to speak of. Together they overcome the inauspicious beginning to their marriage and find a way to build a life and a home together. This book is filled with fascinating historical details that complement these interesting characters and their relationship. Ranney really excels at writing books that focus on the emotional journey her characters take.
1. Dangerous in Diamonds by Madeline Hunter. This much-anticipated conclusion to Hunter's "The Rarest Blooms" series was worth the wait. The enigmatic Duke of Castleford becomes intrigued by Daphne Joyes, the woman behind The Rarest Blooms, a floral business Daphne runs with her friends who appear in the earlier books. Daphne is a woman with some serious secrets and she goes to great lengths to preserve those secrets. The Duke is a man determined to discover all of Daphne's secrets. A bored aristocrat, Castleford lives a life of debauchery which he begins to give up as he gets to know Daphne better. As usual, Hunter gives her characters a lot of depth and the journeys both Castleford and Daphne take are fascinating and emotional. Hunter writes great dialog and it's wonderful to read the witty exchanges, not only between Castleford and Daphne, but between the other characters as well. Hunter's books are almost always a treat.