One of the nicest parts of looking up newly nominated titles for a Special Titles Listing is discovering and rediscovering great books. This time around, we were struck by how many of the titles we had to research for the present list were actually perfect summer reading material. We came across exotic settings, sea travel, luxury lifestyles and an over-all fairy tale quality. Here are some of the new titles that we found especially interesting, sorted by the list they are part of. Check out all of the results here.
Fairy Tale Romances: What could be more perfect for summer than a romance based on a fairy tale? These romances can evoke childhood memories of listening to tales of Sleeping Beauty or Snow White or Beauty and the Beast, with the added kick of a grown-up romantic relationship. All told 29 titles were added to the list, with the most — 13 — added to the Beauty and the Beast section, including Eloisa James’ When Beauty Tamed the Beast and E.D. Walker’s The Beauty’s Beast.
Pirates, Sheiks & Vikings: The summer reading element in these novels consists of the settings. Visions of crossing the ocean on the one hand, be it with a Viking or a pirate, and spending time in a palace right out of A Thousand and One Nights on the other, make for a perfect summer escape. The latter can be found, for example in Hajar’s Hidden Legacy by Maisey Yates, in which a scarred sheik hides his deformity until a beautiful princess arrives as his bride. In contrast, Darlene Marshall’s historicals, the latest of which is The Pirate’s Secret Baby, feature buccaneers and azure waters. Michelle Willingman’s To Sin With a Viking takes us even further into the past, back to 9th century Ireland. What their romances share is a glimpse of a world that is alien to us but that promises high adventure.
Royalty in Romance: The attraction of romances that feature royalty is twofold. If you look at historical romances, it lies in the seductive closeness to power, with its potential and danger, that the protagonists experience. Such a novel can make for a deeply emotional ride, like Libertine’s Kiss by Judith James, in which the heroine must choose between King Charles II and one of his courtiers. Looking at contemporary monarchies, power is much less an issue here than presentation and the pressure of being constantly in the public eye. Add to this the charm of a quaint imaginary European kingdom, and you as reader can enjoy the mixture of a fairy-tale-like setting and a social position whose intricacies we can only guess at, but which make for fascinating reading. Among the new addition to the this list are novels with a fairly light take on this, like Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase or Lessons in Love by Kate Davies. Others, like Pretender to the Throne by Maisey Yates, carry far more emotional punch. Reading any of these romances you can enter palaces and view the glittering Mediterranean Sea, and what could be more charming for a summer evening? Possibly being there in person, but as this cannot always be, enjoying it in a book can be an excellent second best.
Perfect First Spouses: The first spouses list doesn’t have the same fantasy element as the other lists. But it does have a similar “guilty pleasure” feel for many readers. While some readers complain about having read one too many “perfect first spouse” romances, for others, this is a guilty pleasure. The list is divided into “truly wonderful” first spouses, those spouses our hero or heroine struggles to compete with, and “deceptively wonderful” first spouses, the ones everyone thinks was wonderful, but turns out they had at least one major flaw. Two wonderful new additions to the list, both nearly ten years old, both DIK recipients here, are Nora Roberts Blue Dahlia and Black Rose. Once again, we’d like to thank all of the marvelous readers who submitted new entries for the list; we couldn’t do this without your help. We hope the updated lists provide you with some ideas for some new reads. As for us, we’re going to take a brief break from updating the Special Title Lists, and try to catch up on some reading of our own. Look for more lists to open up this fall.
Cindy, Rike, and LinnieGayl