AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Jean’s Picks

See, I knew that signing up for this blog would cause me a headache. How are you supposed to choose the top ten romances that rock your world? How? How? (At the back of my mind I have the Baha Men singing along, except it’s “How do you choose now? How, how, how, how?” Great. Hence the headache.)

Anyway, I figured the only way I can keep sane is a) recognize that I won’t hit them all, and b) acknowledge that if I am actually stuck on a desert island with only ten romance novels, I’d go crazy anyway, no matter what I chose. (Unless I chose, like, the Koran, Paradise Lost, and Journey to the West. Then maybe I’d not go all loopy.)

I decided that what I’d probably crave the most is variety, a little bit of every genre to suit every mood. It actually turned out to be relatively easy once I’d decided on this, looked at my Top 100 list, scanned my shelves, and sliced through the different categories. I’m happy with my choices – they’re all different in setting, subgenre, writing style, and character. I’ve also read each of them at least twice – I’m a serial re-reader, so I know when something works for me, when it doesn’t, and (most of important of all) when it stands up to the test of time. I don’t want to be stuck in the Pacific reading about, like, cell phones the size of bricks and silk printed dresses with palm trees adorning our benighted heroine. (Or something like that. That comes from the incomparable Judith McNaught, and I remember being completely horrified. Ghastly, truly ghastly.)

frederica So without further ado and in no particular order, here are my Top Ten Romances to Prevent Jean from Standing Under a Coconut Tree and Kicking It.

Frederica, by Georgette Heyer (Regency)

For good old light hearted Regency fun. Honestly, if I have Georgette Heyer, I’m good to go in the Regency department.





spymasterslady The Spymaster’s Lady, by Joanna Bourne (European Historical)

For the French road trip and a heroine who can remind me to suck it up, cause you ain’t got it as bad as she does.








Angels Fall, by Nora Roberts (Romantic Suspense)

For a romantic suspense that is funny, sombre, atmospheric, and completely enjoyable.











Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie (Contemporary)

For the funniest, most heartfelt straight contemporary I’ve ever read. Bonus: a couple that never has babies.






The Last Renegade, by Jo Goodman (American Historical)

For the moments when I need a slightly depressing read leavened by a hero’s kookiness.








Second Thyme Around, by Katie Fforde (Chick Lit)

For the modern kind-of ditz who finds herself, balance, and love, in that order.






dragon bound


Dragon Bound, by Thea Harrison (Paranormal)

For the times when I really need a mega alpha paranormal male who has been bored since time immemorial, only to fall at the feet of our snarky, spunky heroine.







Bound by Your Touch, by Meredith Duran (British Historical)

For the couple who end up in Canada! And, of course, for the angsty story preceding Canada.








The Windflower, by Sharon and Tom Curtis (Shipboard)

Come on. I’m stuck on a desert island. I have to have at least one shipboard romance to get me through this.








Nine Coaches Waiting, by Mary Stewart (Gothic)

Maybe if the heroine is running around France and wondering if her beloved is a murderer, it will make me feel better about my current situation.





That’s it for me. What do you think about variety versus quality in your top ten? What’s on your list?


- Jean Wan

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17 Responses to AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Jean’s Picks

  1. mari says:

    Hmmmm….you kinda have my taste in reading. Loved Dragon Bound, haven’t liked any sense then. I have seen the Cruisie book written up positivly elsewhere, but a heroine that just closes herself off to kids forever…..I know I am supposed to find this liberating but I just find it kinda sad instead. Will def give the Stewart a try and maybe the Heyer, but I have to really be in the mood for Heyer, otherwise, I start to roll my eyes…Couldn’t agree with you more about The Windflower, but ANYTHING this couple writes is well worth seeing out. Def. a cut above the rest. Haven’t read Bound by Your Touch yet, wil have to remedy. Thanks for the list!

    • Jean Wan says:

      I wasn’t totally enamoured of any other books after Dragon Bound either except Lord’s Fall, the second Pia & Dragos book. However, based on the snippet of Kinked on her website, I’m really looking forward to Aryal and Quentin’s story.

  2. I just can’t pass these choices up……WOW! 9 Coaches Waiting… I read a long, long, time ago…have never forgotten it…still have it on my keeper’s shelves. Crusie,Harrison, Heyer, the Curtiss’s…I love these writers’ works. I’ve been a lurker at AAR for a long time and just had to break the silence….

  3. Wendy says:

    Good list! I’ll be looking for that Stewart now.

  4. HJ says:

    Three of these are on my list of all-time favourites, and two others are by authors I rate highly. So I’m going to check out the others (except for the paranormal) as it sounds as though we have similar tastes.

  5. Joane says:

    I’ve only read ‘Bet Me’, which I loved, I like Cruise’s heroines. Not everybody needs children! I would like to read Frederica, The Windflower and Nine Coaches Waiting, they sound very interesting.

  6. Sandlynn says:

    Cool. I’ve only read a few of these books: The Windflower, The Spymaster’s Lady, and Bet Me. I liked them all but wasn’t as taken with the latter as many readers are. Based upon your recommendation, however, I’m looking forward to the Fforde book. I picked that up at a used book sale on a lark, not expecting a potential keeper. Hopefully, I’ll love it as much as you did.

  7. leslie says:

    What a great list! Frederica is my favorite Heyer, I think it is one of my top romances too. It’s a perfect book. And thanks for mentioning Katie Fforde she writes wonderful romances with funny likeable heroines……and dogs.

    I like all the books on your list, but Bet Me. I did not like Min, I wanted to, but she was just so obsessive about EVERYTHING!

  8. Sandir says:

    Bet Me would also be on my Top Ten and I really liked Angels Fall. I’m off to look for the Katie Fforde book.

  9. Sandir says:

    Also, I started the Spymaster’s Lady but couldn’t keep on because I found it depressing.

    • Jean Wan says:

      Yeah, it’s definitely dark. I added it to my list because I love it, and I realized I had a lot of light stuff on my list.

  10. frannie says:

    What an interesting list! I’ve read all of these except the Curtis’s, and, while they wouldn’t necessarily go in my top ten , I have reread each of them at least once; others, like Bet Me and the Last Renegade are annual rereads for me. So clearly you have great taste, Jean! I’m always sad when no one mentions my particular favourites – Rachel Gibson for contemporary, Julie Ann Long for historical, — perhaps they’re on your top 100?

  11. Mary says:

    The Spymaster’s Lady is a DIK for me as well.

  12. LeeB. says:

    I’ve read The Spymaster’s Lady, Bet Me, Angel’s Fall, Second Thyme Around, The Last Renegade and Bound by Your Touch. All excellent choices!

  13. Emilia says:

    I loved Bet Me, one of my all-time fav CRs. I found it refreshing that Min did not see kids as a necessity for happiness. Meredith Duran is a great author. I will check out Bourne’s book. I am loving these lists!!!!

  14. NBLibGirl says:

    Great list! Thank you!

    Love, love, love Heyer and Frederica . . . on any given day I can’t decide which is better Frederica or Sylvester. Crusie and Goodman would both make my Top 10 too . . . although have trouble picking out the one title that best represents them, so kudos to you! Thoroughly enjoy Bourne and Duran too.

    Have The Windflower in my TBR . . . guess I need to move it up. And while I love JD Robb’s In Death series, I’m baffled by a very consistent inability to enjoy Nora. . . . clearly I’m missing that DNA/gene. The woman clearly sells a lot of books! LOL.

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