AAR Staff Top 10 Favorites – Melanie’s Picks

the_wedding So, like the other AAR staff who have submitted their Top Ten, I’ve been struggling to make decisions about what belongs on my personal top ten. And as I made a list of some of my favorite books, I noticed a pattern – I love clever heroines. I can put up with a lot of flak from the hero, if only I can relate in some way to the heroine. The heroines (or, in the case of #10, one of the heroes) try harder, go further, than expected of them. For many of them, they are smart and educated, but that’s not everything. They have a certain spark to them that pulls me in and makes me root for them. And in the end, I am ecstatic for them when they get their happily ever after.

There were, sadly, many, many books that got kicked off the list. I tried to put in a little bit of everything, but in the end, there was really only two criteria – how many times have I read it? And if I don’t own it, would I pay full price for it for the chance to read it again?

So, without further ado, and in no particular order:

1. The Wedding by Julie Garwood
Lady Brenna’s energy and courage (and desire to do good) more than make up for any of Connor’s short-fallings as a romantic hero. She is, easily, one of my favorite romance heroines ever.



2. What Happens in London by Julia Quinn
I love this book. How can I not put on my top ten a book that makes me laugh out loud every time I read it? And I love how the author pulled a bit of spy intrigue into the mix.





3. I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang (My boyfriend is a monster #1)
I am a fan of graphic novels and, quite literally, stumbled across this at the public library (seriously, I tripped over a pile of books someone left on the floor). Now it’s on my to-buy list. Short and sweet, though certainly not simple, it blends the YA high school romance well with the zombie outbreak.






4. What a Dragon Should Know by G.A. Aiken
Fantasy with dragons, hysterically funny! Gwenvael the handsome! Dagmar Reinholdt, the Beast! Brilliant! As I was reading this, before I even finished, I started recommending it to everyone I know who reads anything. I enjoyed this whole series, but this one was especially wonderful.





5. The Night Bird by Catherine Asaro
Though it’s the last of the Lost Continent series, this book stands well all on its own. Personally, I think it’s the best of the series, though all the books are good. The heroine is, quite literally, dragged into both a world and a fight that are not her own, and handles it beautifully.



6. Heart of Stone by C.E. Murphy
I’ve always loved gargoyles, and thought this was an interesting take on them as romantic figures. This was great as straight up urban fantasy.







7. Mystique by Amanda Quick (a.k.a. Jayne Ann Krentz)
I actually heard this one first as an audiobook. And as soon as I was done, I went back and found a physical copy at the public library. And then purchased a copy.






8. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
You know that feeling when you are reading, when you are so happy with what is happening (usually the happily ever after, or a particularly wonderful angsty bit) that it hurts your heart a little? This book does that for me. Each time. I adore the heroine, and the hero is just so damaged! I wouldn’t want him in real life, but he makes a wonderful character.






9. Sweet Starfire by Jayne Ann Krentz
I’ve long been a sci-fi fan, and this story was my first sci-fi romance. It has a great epic quality to it, complete with the long journey and hidden treasure (though it’s more of an anthropological nature than gold and jewels).






10. His Convenient Husband by J. L. Langley
I’ve read just about all of this author’s m/m novels and novellas, and when putting together this list, decided to pick her contemporary novel. My only complaint is that it is too short – I always want more to her stories. It is definitely a complete story, but I wasn’t ready to be finished with it yet.


So there you have it, ten of my personal favorites. Sadly, there were some wonderful books that got bumped off the list (Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught, Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon), and I had to completely ignore some of my favorite classics (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind) in order to whittle it down to ten. Unfortunately, with everyone else’s top tens, I now have a bunch more books to go and add to my bookshelves, as I know they will be favorites…..

- Melanie Bopp

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18 Responses to AAR Staff Top 10 Favorites – Melanie’s Picks

  1. LeeB. says:

    I like your criteria Melanie. Of all your choices, I’ve only read the titles by Julie Garwood, Julia Quinn, Amanda Quick and Lisa Kleypas.

  2. maggie b. says:

    I’ve read the Quick, Kleypas and Krentz and the “wonderful” books that were left off.

    I read one Catherine Asaro and it didn’t work for me. I should try her again.

    • Melanie says:

      This one was actually the first one of hers I read, which led me to the others in this series (which were, sadly, not as successful for me as The Night Bird). I’d definitely give it a try!

  3. Joane says:

    Well, yours is an original list, indeed. I have read only a couple of your books, and some of them I haven’t even heard of!!
    The majority of them belong to genres I don’t usually read. So, I take note and I will remember your list when I feel like trying something different.

  4. LeeF says:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderfully eclectic list! You have inspired me to FINALLY read some Julia Quinn.

    Love Amanda Quick’s single titles- I plan to get back to my library and start re-reading all the ones there (my favorite is Affair). Haven’t read that particular JAK but enjoy so many of her books. Dreaming of You is one of the few titles that I own both the book and the audiobook- such a great story.

    • Melanie says:

      This is definitely my favorite Quinn novel – I wouldn’t recommend reading the book that comes before it (it isn’t nearly as good, and almost turned me off reading this sequel). I don’t think I’ve read Affair, though – I’ll have to go find it!

  5. wendy says:

    Interesting list! I’ve read all but 3, and I should probably get those since I strongly agreed with the other 7.

  6. CarolineAAR says:

    I like the list. But I also loooove the correct use of the word “literally.”

    I’m excited to try some less famous authors and some more sci-fi/fantasy romance (vs. paranormals).

    • Melanie says:

      I have to admit, I loved “literally stumbled” a bit less as I was sitting on the floor of the public library with my books scattered about the floor, but the story was totally worth it ^_^

  7. Carrie says:

    I’m so glad to see Sweet Starfire on someone’s list! This much underrated JAK book is one of my favorite all time books, too.

    I’ve enjoyed the only Catherine Asaro I’ve read (listened to–incredible audiobook narrated by the late and definitely great–Kate Flemming/Anna Fields) and loved it.

    I also enjoyed What Happens in London. Stone Heart intrigues me and I’ll look into getting that. I haven’t read Mystique yet, but I usually enjoy the JAK books written as Amanda Quick, especially the earlier ones.

    Thanks for posting!

  8. CindyS says:

    I’ve been trying to cull my books and I didn’t literally stumble across a bunch of JAK titles but I did find about 10 of them and Sweet Starfire is one of those books I would never get rid of. Loved it.

    I’m excited to try your Asaro and Aiken – It’s nice to have a starting point with authors I have wondered about and since I loved 4 on your list I’m intrigued by the rest.


    • CindyS says:

      Oh, and now I want to re-read The Wedding – I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever read that one once while the rest were read many times over.


  9. Aida says:

    I love a lot of books by Lisa Kleypas but I particularly adore “Dreaming of You”.

    Derek Craven just carried the book! Christian Grey has nothing on him. I wouldn’t have a relationship with Derek in real life but he works so well in that novel, mainly because of Sara Craven, Lisa Kleypas’s heroine, the first romance heroine I’ve read who is a writer. I was 13 or 14 when I read “Dreaming of You”. I have read it so many times, the page where Derek broke down and cried when he thought Sara was dead is now in tatters.

  10. Aida says:

    My Own Personal TOP 10
    (not in particular order)

    1. Heaven, Texas (Susan Elizabeth Phillips)
    2. Dreaming of You (LIsa Kleypas)
    3. Something Woderful (Judith McNaught)
    4. The Wind Dancer Trilogy (Iris Johansen) — does this count as one or 3 top picks?
    5. Mr. Perfect (Linda Howard)
    6. Montana Sky (Nora Roberts)
    7. The Propisition (Judith Ivory)
    8. Courting Ms. Hattie (Pamela Morsi)
    9. Hummingbird (LaVyrle Spencer)
    10. Prisoner of My Desire (Johanna Lindsey)

  11. Aida says:

    Oh I also have to include “Castles” by Julie Garwood. Please please, can it be TOP 11? :)

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