The best book of 2011 isn't out yet. Sorry. But it's out next week! We'll start there.

Among the best historical romances I have ever read, and certainly one of my top books of 2011: Cecilia Grant's A Lady Awakened.

Read the last Smart Bitches, Trashy Books on the joys of gifting.

Technically, the book release date is Dec. 27, but folks in the publishing world are calling it a January 2012 book. WHATEVER. People in publishing think it’s 2013 right now, so they are not to be trusted in matters of time and space. I bet they write the date on their checks all kinds of wrong every time they open the checkbook.

Continue reading >


 

A Lady Awakened (Bantam 2011) will be on sale for a few precious days in December, and since that is a time when we are all Most Likely To Be On Vacation, please, do yourself a favor and go get this book. It's very difficult to explain briefly, but I'll try: Martha is newly widowed and discovers that the man who is going to inherit her estate is a horrible, no good, dirty rotten piece of bad behavior. In an effort to prevent said Piece of Bad from inheriting, Martha decides to try to conceive a child that could possibly be her late husband's, thereby removing Piece of Bad from owning the estate and preventing him from doing More Bad Things. Conveniently, on a neighboring estate, a young man has been sent up from London by his father because he was a bit spendy on useless things, and his dad thought to teach him the value of having an estate and an inheritance.

Martha approaches Theo with a proposition: She will pay him for sex every day for a month, no questions asked, with a bonus paid if the baby is a boy. His money problems are solved, her estate problems are solved, and if she has to endure some passionless sex for a month, she'll do it. Otherwise, Piece of Bad will ruin a great many lives.

Sounds really crazy, right? OH MY GOSH it is so good. There is the Most Unsexy Sex Ever in this book, routine and awkward and embarrassing—and then there's conversations of incredible intimacy about land management. It takes everything about sex in romance and inverts it, making the sex a constant presence in the story while intimacy and emotional tension grow and grow.

I am throwing my hands up at the idea that you may not read this book. Please go get a copy. It is to be savored and enjoyed while each character grows into someone amazing, people I have not been able to stop thinking about.

And if you're looking for a Best-of list for 2011, here are some of the books I really enjoyed that were published this past year, some of which were selections of the Sizzling Book Club I run at Smart Bitches.

Wild and Steamy by MelJean Brook, Jill Myles and Carolyn Crane

(Anthology, self published by the authors)

Unlocked by Courtney Milan

(Self published by the author)

Lessons in Seduction by Sandra Hyatt

(Harlequin, 2011)

A Night of Scandal by Sarah Morgan

(Harlequin, 2011)

Here Comes the Groom by Karina Bliss

(Harlequin, 2011)

Unveiled by Courtney Milan

(HQN, 2011)

Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.