In her final column of 2015, PHS regular Barbara Wallace has a year-end review of her own.
Favorite Novel Read in 2015: Tie. Lauren Willig's That Summer and Barbara Hannay's Moonlight Plains. Interestingly, both of these stories deal with the consequences of forbidden love. They also nicely mesh duel stories, one present day and one from the past. If I had to pick one of the two, I'd give the edge to Moonlight Plains. Hannay fleshes out both the present and past stories to perfection while Willig's ending was a tad rushed. (She gets a pass though as the acknowledgements mention she barely finished the book in time to give birth.)
Favorite Category Continuity Series: The Vineyards of Calanetti. Okay, so this one might be a tad self-serving as I am book 8 in the series. That however, in no way changes how wonderful these books have been. The series follows the people of Monte Calanetti as they prepare for the Royal Wedding of the Century. The first six books make for the perfect binge read for over the holidays.
Favorite Celebrity Crush: Rob James-Collier of Downton Abbey. I added this category mostly because it makes my pal Donna Alward roll her eyes. And because it lets me post pretty pictures. (PS: Donna's new single title series is on my radar. It should start in late 2016)
Favorite Dystopian Novel Read By Someone Who Doesn't Read Dystopian: DL Eagan's The Liars. I don't normally read dystopian. In fact, I might be the only person on the planet who didn't read The Hunger Games trilogy. However, I was asked to review the Liars pre-publication, and I was riveted. You've got intrigue, plague and a romantic triangle, all of which leave you hanging on for the next book. If it held my interest, then it's probably going to be of interest to people who actually read the genre.
Favorite YA Novel Read by Someone Who Doesn't Read Young Adult: Run to You by Clara Kensie. Again, my motto is "if I liked it, then it's got to be outstanding." In this case, I know it is, because it won the Rita for Best First Book. Kensie manages to put you into the head of a sixteen year old who is the "freak" among a family of gifted paranormals. This may be the first book in a long time where I literally yelled "Holy Cow" at how the story unfolded.
Favorite TV Obsession: Power on Starz. On the surface, this is the story of a Ghost, a drug dealer trying to leave the business for the woman he loves. A deeper look, however, reveals a powerful study of two protagonists whose love has made them selfish and blind to the damage their affair is causing. 50 Cent (yeah, that 50 Cent) has created a world that is sexually graphic, violent, and hypnotic. It's not for the faint of heart. There are no true good guys in this story, just a zillion shades of gray. Like the drug dealing world itself, it's impossible to turn away once the show sucks you in. Added bonus, Omari Hardwick takes off his shirt at least once an episode, The man is too beautiful for words.
Favorite Food Obsession: Replacing carbs with vegetables. From cauliflower 'fried rice' to Zucchini zoodles, I'm in love with this new trend. I'm hoping Santa brings me a Spiralizer so I don't have to make my zoodles by hand anymore.
Category Book I'm Most Looking Forward to in 2016: Barbara Hannay's The Husband She'd Never Met. It's been at least 2 years since Hannay's had a Harlequin Romance out. I've always considered her an icon of traditional romance, on par with people like Liz Fielding and Betty Neels. I can't wait for this book to show up on my Nook.
Writing Conference I'm Most Looking Forward to Attending: NEC/RWA's Let Your Imagination Take Flight conference, April 29-30. I know that as an RWA Board member, I should be touting our awesome San Diego line up, but New England is my home chapter, and I truly can't wait for the event. Check out some of the speakers: Susan Mallery, Lauren Willig, Loretta Chase, Donna Alward, Tanya Michaels, and Susan Meier.