(Yeah, I don't know what that means. But, hey, it could sound raunchy, if you tried.)
So, I've discovered something about myself as a writer. To wit: if I want to actually do any writing, I have to not read anything by Kristan Higgins. She makes me throw in the towel. Her books are funny, and fun without being zany, and sweet. Her characters are real, and smart, and deserving of love. She makes me cry. A lot. So whenever I finish one of her romances, I sink into a depressive state, because why bother writing when she already has it under control? Foolishly, though, I read Until There Was You this week. Many tissues - many, many tissues - later, and I am happy to recommend anything by Higgins. At least I can rest easy knowing I only have one more of her novels to pick up before I've devoured everything she's ever published. That'll be a relief; I'll pencil in drafting the rest of my novel for a couple of weeks after I've finished that. (Kristan Higgins, if you're reading this, please don't publish anything new for a few months. Thanks.)
Jill Shalvis - I read my first (and second) by her this month, and anticipate ending 2012 with her name prominent on my Books Read spreadsheet. Based on The Trouble with Paradise and Instant Attraction, Shalvis makes frequent use of the zany / escapist fantasy tropes so common in romance novels. So, sure, I suspend disbelief a little to imagine being a cashier suddenly on a cruise in the South Pacific, surrounded by gorgeous, rich men. But if the dark brooding doctor with the French accent wants to irritate me and rile me up, I'll know that we're destined to be together, so that's nice. Shalvis has a very crisp writing style, sharp and light at the same time, and while hardly creditable, her characters are still believable and I enjoy their journeys to happily ever after moments.
The Winter Sea, and was hoping this would be as enchanting. It's not, quite, though it has many of the same elements: a woman searching for a place of her own, a man out of time, Jacobite plotters, and deft handling of the modern woman who finds herself in another century, I can almost hear Kearsley saying, "Why would this woman who suddenly time jumps back and forth NOT do X, Y, and Z when she was back in her own century?" and then creating a protagonist who applies logic to her freaky confusing situation. It's refreshing. (Yes, there are that many books with time travel, and yes, the modern people going back do show a surprising reluctance to Google about it.)