What, you thought I'd be immune to more end-of-year listmaking? Please. I make resolutions at the Jewish new year in the fall, and then again on 31 December. Lists of books I want to read are nothing when I've already composed lists of things I want to do and places I want to go in the coming year.

Here are some books I'm looking forward to in 2013:

The Ashford Affair, by Lauren Willig

I mentioned this book in our latest podcast episode, but I learned about it a month ago. I've been trying to stop myself from reading it, even though I have an advance copy (don't hate me), because it doesn't come out until early April 2013.

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The book was described to me as "Downton Abbey meets Out of Africa," and at that moment my brain exploded with fizzy glee. Willig's books, such as her Carnation series, often feature parallel stories featuring one set of characters in the present, and one set in the past who are usually being researched by those in the present day. This book follows that same dual storyline, and I cannot wait to read it. One thing Willig does wonderfully well is female friendship and witty, often silly, banter, and I'm hoping for both of those things, plus a new setting: part of the book is set in Kenya. That's not a place I've read about before.

Love Irresistibly, by Julie James

Love, Irresistibly also comes out in early April. (Note to self: In April, you shall be very broke in the book budget.) In that same podcast, Jane from DearAuthor told me she'd already read this, and really enjoyed it. Julie James is fantastic at writing characters who are wonderfully real: flawed, interesting, glamorous (some of them), and dedicated. Her series focuses on the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI in Chicago, and each book focuses on two characters as well as the cases they are working on, or have worked on in the past. The best thing about James' books is the degree to which she gets the details right, and how she can turn even a meeting in a brown boardroom with two characters and their fourteenth cups of coffee into a fantastic and funny scene.

Unknown Nalini Singh Book of Secrecy and Possibly Mayhem, by Nalini Singh

Yet another book that (a) we talked about in our podcast and (b) is debuting in April. I swear, if the world actually ends in March, we are all screwed. This book is so special that the cover hasn't been revealed, nor the title. We're speculating that it's the story wherein Singh reveals who "the Ghost" is, and readers of her Psy-Changeling series have been anticipating that reveal - and the story - for awhile. There's enough time between now and the release date of the "Untitled Nalini Singh Project" to read the whole series, and it's worth reading. It's easily one of the best paranormal series in print. Then you can join the folks who are awaiting the Unknown Nalini Singh Book of Secrecy and Possibly Mayhem.Destiny

Destiny's Embrace, by Beverly Jenkins

LOOK! A book that doesn't come out in April! This historical romance comes out on 29 January, and I have a copy that I'm reading right now. Mariah Cooper escapes her abusive family home and her mother's business in Philadelphia by answering an advertisement for a housekeeper all the way out in California. She arrives to find the most disgustingly messy home she's ever seen, and a distractingly handsome gentleman named Logan, who, with the help of his ranch hands, made that mess. Mariah was hired by Logan's mother, but despite being appalled by the disrepair of Logan's home and by the disgruntled attitude of Logan himself, Mariah is not intimidated. She's eager to make a new life for herself and her discovery of California, and of herself, is making for some very, very fun reading. I keep trying to put this book down, and then I start reading another chapter. Jenkins is really awful about keeping me up late with her books. 

I hope your New Year is filled with wonderful books, the kind that definitely keep you up way past your bedtime, and the kind you can't wait to talk about. Happy New Year!

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