Smugglivus Smugglivus Guest Author

Smugglivus 2011 Guest Author: Rose Lerner

Welcome to Smugglivus 2011! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests โ€“ authors and bloggers alike โ€“ looking back at their favorite reads of 2011, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2012.

Who: Rose Lerner, author of historical romance. Ana has read and LOVED her books, In For a Penny and A Lily Among Thorns, and we’ve also had Rose over for guest blogs.

Recent Work: This year, Rose has published her second novel, A Lily Among Thorns.

Please give it up for Rose!

Four of my favorite historical romances of 2011:

This was so incredibly difficult. I read a lot more this year than I did last year, and I read dozens of amazing, amazing books. So many books narrowly avoided making this list, I’d start an honorable mention category if I thought I’d be able to stop listing.

1. The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin.

I’ve already raved about this book all over the internet, but it was one of those rare books that is completely perfect, where every moment feels like a revelation and you wouldn’t change a single line. I absolutely love the non-European historical setting (8th century China), which Lin portrays lushly and vividly. Plus I’m a sucker for characters with control issues and these were two tightly controlled people (the late Emperor’s courtesan consort, and the late Emperor’s enforcer, who must team up to fight for their survival and to avert civil war) who had never been able to really let anyone inside. Watching them learn to be happy was amazing. And as if all that wasn’t good enough, there’s a scene where he massages her feet, AND a scene where he gives her a tattoo. This book is understated in a way that just makes everything–especially the chemistry between the hero and heroine–feel more charged.

What are you waiting for? Read it!

2. Season for Temptation by Theresa Romain.

This is Theresa Romain’s debut, and I am so excited for the rest of her career! She has a completely unique voice that simultaneously recalls the best of bantery old-school Regency romances while being totally fresh. The book is hilarious, witty, good-hearted, and really sexy, and–okay, this isn’t a major point, but it made me so happy–it has brilliant chapter headings in the “In Which” format! I cannot adequately express my love for “In Which” chapter headings. Chapter 1 is headed “In Which an Unbelievable Number of Biscuits are Consumed,” and the book goes from there.

Julia is one of those awkward, quirky, enthusiastic heroines who says whatever comes into her head, which is a type I love, but I’m not sure I’ve EVER seen it done so convincingly, organically, and charmingly as it is in this book. I wanted her to be my friend within five seconds of her walking onto the page. And the author managed something very delicate–a hero who’s engaged to the heroine’s sister–while still keeping the hero and heroine nice, upstanding people.

Plus, it’s set during Christmas, so it’s perfect for a holiday gift!

3. Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn.

I love Julia Quinn, but this book was above and beyond even for her. If you are a Quinn reader, you’ll remember the Smythe-Smiths and their appallingly terrible musicales. This is the first book in a series about them! It’s also a girl-and-her-brother’s-best-friend book! Are you sold yet? I was.

Honoria and Marcus were adorable and sweet and everything you want from a comforting, wonderful comedy of manners story. But I also really enjoyed the darker stuff in the book–it ripped my heart apart, then sewed it back together, then warmed it! Marcus’s yearning for family and finding it with the Smythe-Smiths (he came to every one of their terrible musicales and pretended to enjoy himself) made me cry more than once. Honoria’s troubled relationship with her mother was amazingly done, and I love everything that’s been set up with her brother and the other girls in the quartet. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

4. Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare.

Okay, I’m cheating with this one. I’m a cheating cheater who cheats. This is a 2010 book–but I only read it a few months ago, and it was easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I have to tell you all about it! (But if you are set on 2011 books only, Dare’s new A Night to Surrender is also amazing.)

Meredith’s had a crush on the local lord’s heir for as long as she could remember. But when tragedy strikes and he leaves her village in the dust, she’s the one who holds the town together, financially and emotionally, running the local inn and teaming up with the local smuggler.

I love working heroines, I love heroines who are used to being in charge, I love heroines who can sometimes be distracted from sex by the lovely scrollwork on the ceiling of the hotel room that would look so lovely in her own inn…I freaking love Meredith in this book.

But it’s Rhys that grabbed my heart and would not let go. I have a not-so-secret love for heroes who don’t think they’re worth anything, especially if it ties into father issues, and Rhys was one of the best I’ve ever read. There’s a scene partway through the book where Meredith and Rhys are vacationing in Bath and run into the brother of one of Rhys’s dead army friends. The interaction is awkward and Meredith immediately assumes that it’s because he knows she is Rhys’s lower-middle-class mistress.

This is Rhys’s explanation: “It’s hard, sometimes, for men like him to greet me. I understand it; it can’t be helped. When Corning and I cross paths, naturally I remind him of the brother he lost. I can see it in his eyes, when he looks at me. He’s asking himself why a man like me survived when his brother did not. It’s a question I can’t answer. There’s no satisfactory answer at all.”


Two of my favorite TV romances of 2011:

1. Emily Thorne and Nolan Ross on Revenge.

Okay, so they aren’t technically a couple. I know in my soul that they will be! Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow–but soon, and for the rest of their lives. Emily is ruthless and bent on revenge, and Nolan is a socially awkward software billionaire who gets in way over his head helping her but is there for her all the way (but he’s not your standard TV geek either–he’s a really unique and awesome character with plenty of sharp edges and I love him to death). So far nothing explicitly romantic has happened between them, but their relationship is very intense and they fit together in such an unexpected, amazing way.

What I love most about the two of them is that Nolan is the only person Emily can be mean to. Everyone else in her life she has to pretend to be nice to as part of her plan, and then she can see him and say, “Shut up, Nolan, and don’t get in my way, oh and by the way here’s a list of things I need you to do,” and you can tell how much both of them enjoy it.

2. Jarrod and Brandi on Storage Wars

Okay, this is a reality show, so maybe they don’t belong on this list. But I absolutely love watching Jarrod and Brandi. At the start of the show, I was a little uncomfortable with how viciously they would bicker. But they were going through some really tough financial times, and as things started to even out for them, it became clear why they were a couple.

They love each other, like each other, laugh uproariously at each other’s jokes, even if they drive each other nuts sometimes. They are a team 100%. Even when they fight and one-up they accept each other’s decisions, and I love that the show doesn’t force Brandi into the uncomplicated role of nagging, humorless babysitter wife and Jarrod into the role of laid-back overspender husband like some Judd Apatow movie. One week Brandi bids on a storage locker Jarrod hates for more money than he’s comfortable with, and the next week it’s the other way round. They just love to give each other shit. Plus they’re both so adorable!

Five of my most anticipated 2012 books:

1. At Your Pleasure by Meredith Duran: I’ve loved all her books so far, and it looks like this one takes place during the 18th century!

2. Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas: EEEE I’ve been waiting! Sherry Thomas writes some of the most intense romances I’ve ever read.

3. A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant: The heroine is a mathematician/hard-edged gambler! I can’t even deal with how happy this makes me. (Grant’s debut, A Lady Awakened, is out this December 27th and I can tell you first-hand that it’s AMAZING, and so incredibly sexy.)

4. Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan: Two amazing authors co-writing a book about a human girl whose best friend starts dating a sexy vampire? Count me in.

5. Black Heart by Holly Black: The (I think) final book in the Curse Workers series! I’ve been loving these books (con artists + magic + fucked-up families + confused teenagers + social prejudice + geeky best friend +++++++) and I cannot WAIT to see what’s next.

What was your favorite romance of 2011 (TV, movie, book, celebrities, your own…)?

Thanks, Rose!


  • Mia
    December 5, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Yay, another Rose Lerner guest post! I really enjoyed your last one and was looking forward to reading this one.

    I’m not a huge romance reader, so I’m going to have to say that my favorite romance of 2011 was your book, In for a Penny! Okay, so it wasn’t published in 2011, but I picked it up after your post about A Lily Among Thorns and absolutely loved it. I haven’t had a chance to review it on my site, but I definitely plan on it.

    (Also, Black Heart is totally in my most-anticipated of 2012 too. Especially since Red Glove ended with me putting the book down and going, “Lila! Cassel! Nooooo!” OhhhhhmanIcan’twait.)

  • In which I am at all the best parties! Don’t worry, on the internet we always have a +∞
    December 5, 2011 at 11:08 am

    […] over at the Book Smugglers’ today talking about some of my favorite historical romances of 2011 (and two of my favorite TV […]

  • Rose Lerner
    December 5, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Aw, thanks, Mia! I’m so happy you liked it!

    I almost don’t know whether I want Cassel and Lila to end up together because I actually think that would be kind of creepy since he did, well, all the things he did to her. But I DO know I want Cassel to be happy MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD. So it’s tricky. I think my feelings are best summed up by a phrase stolen from this comic:


  • Cecilia Grant
    December 5, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks for the shout-out and oh, my god, my jaw is dropping at the sheer inspired-ness of a book about the friend of a girl who dates a vampire. Please let her smack some sense into her stupid friend! Vampires kill people! Not sexy!

    I am almost willing to bet you money that Emily and Nolan is never going to happen… but the show will spike way up in my estimation if it does.

  • Rose Lerner
    December 5, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Ceci–knowing the authors, I’m not sure the ultimate moral is going to be about how it’s a bad idea to date a vampire, but I fully expect it to be a totally fresh look at some tropes! Have you read the Demon’s Lexicon books?

    I just don’t want to believe that a show that’s otherwise as smart as Revenge is going to fall into the boring informed-attributes love-interest trap with Jack…but I’ve seen it happen to great shows before. However, I don’t care whether Emily/Nolan happens onscreen so long as they don’t do anything to completely rule it out, like killing one of them off or “Epilogue: 19 years later” or something (not that I’m bitter)! The sad truth is that most of my TV ships never happen, so I’m used to it! (And sometimes when they do happen, I end up wishing they hadn’t because it was so much better in my head…)

  • Marg
    December 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I just discovered Tessa Dare this year and I am loving working my way through her backlist! And yay! to a new Sherry Thomas novel.

  • Diana Peterfreund
    December 5, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I think Rose Lerner might be my new best friend. Emily and Nolan? LOVE.
    Or my new nemesis. It depends what I think after my credit card statement comes in from buying all the books she just recced.

  • Allison
    December 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Season for Temptation sounds really good! I just ordered the ebook for less than $5.

    My two favorite historical romances read this year were What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long and Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase.

  • Justine Larbalestier
    December 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you so much, Rose, for looking forward to our book. Made my day! I do, indeed, believe that the moral of our book is that dating a vampire is the worst idea in the history of the universe.

    Weirdly, though, my co-author, the (mostly) brilliant Sarah Rees Brennan seems to think that the moral is the very opposite of that and that vampires are prime dating material. Despite the fact that THEY’RE DEAD AND COLD AND REALLY OLD.

    I’m fairly sure that astute readers such as yourself will come away with my moral and not hers.

  • J
    December 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Off the top of my head, Lily Among Thorns was my favorite this year. Solomon and Serena were wonderful! Well worth the wait. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • J
    December 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Off the top of my head, A Lily Among Thorns was my favorite this year. Solomon and Serena were wonderful! Well worth the wait. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Rose Lerner
    December 6, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Marg–isn’t she amazing? TTbaR is my favorite so far, but I’ve loved ALL of them–Lady of Persuasion is probably my second favorite? Or maybe Three Nights? SO HARD TO CHOOSE.

    Diana–Hi new best friend! Let’s talk about Revenge! I have MANY THOUGHTS.

    Allison–Silk is for Seduction was AWESOME! It was definitely a near miss for the list…I will definitely have to check out What I Did for a Duke. What’s it about (besides a duke)?

    Justine–Hi! Yay, I’m glad I could make your day! I am open to either moral and will have to wait and see. ๐Ÿ™‚ The age thing is definitely always a bit disturbing if you think about it too hard, so I try not to–especially since so many vampires seem to want to date teenagers.

    J–Aww, thank you! <3

  • Sarah Rees Brennan
    December 6, 2011 at 2:29 am

    I am very pleased to see Team Human in such excellent company – Meredith Duran and Tessa Dare, I LOVE THEM!

    And my feeling on vampire romance is my feeling on all romance–there are ways to do it right, and ways to do it wrong, but always do it thoughtfully. And make jokes, because hey, why not. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And EMILY/NOLAN 4 EVA. I’ve been such a good girl all year, Santa, and all I want is for the heroine of a major US TV show to wind up with a bi guy…

  • Rose Lerner
    December 6, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Sarah–I actually first read Tessa Dare because you recommended Goddess of the Hunt on your lj! So happy I did.

    And my feeling on vampire romance is my feeling on all romanceโ€“there are ways to do it right, and ways to do it wrong, but always do it thoughtfully


    RE: Emily/Nolan–They are clearly the core relationship of the show, and if the writers pass over that in favor of some uninspired childhood-sweethearts storyline, I will CRY. And yeah, at that point, they are so CLEARLY the core relationship that you have to wonder why Nolan is ineligible and whether it has to do with his bisexuality…and I really hope the show doesn’t do that to me because I was SO HAPPY when Nolan turned out to be bi in the first place!

    But I am really hoping that I read them as MFEO because the show writers mean them for each other. I mean, together, they would own 100% of Nolcorp! Don’t tell me that’s not fate.

  • SandyG265
    December 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I didn’t read many romances this year. I was trying to catch up on YA and mysteries that I had backlogged.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.