Best & Worst of 2009

Since The Hope Chest Reviews is not dedicated to the latest book releases, most of the books on this list were not published in 2009. Instead the list is compiled from the books that were read and reviewed during the 2009 calendar year. If you would like to view our Best & Worst picks for past years, please visit the archive.

Author of the Year - Winner

J. K. Rowling (3 - 5 star keepers in a row)

Author of the Year - Runners-Up (Tie)

Lorraine Heath (3 - 4½ to 5 star keepers in a row)
Elizabeth Hoyt (3 - 4½ to 5 star keepers in a row)

Best Overall Romance

Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath (5 stars)

Best Alternate Reality Romance

Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon (4½ stars)

Best Contemporary Romance

Fallen From Grace by Laura Leone (4½ stars)

Best Erotic Romance

Jane and the Sneaky Dom by Hannah Murray (5 stars)

Best Historical Romances (American)

Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath (5 stars)
Texas Splendor by Lorraine Heath (5 stars)
Texas Glory by Lorraine Heath (4½ stars)

Best Historical Romances (Britain & Other Countries)

Devil Takes a Bride by Gaelen Foley (5 stars)
One Night of Sin by Gaelen Foley (5 stars)
The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (5 stars)
A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel (4½ stars)
The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (4½ stars)
The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (4½ stars)
Tonight or Never by Dara Joy (4½ stars)
Touched by Fire by Kathleen O'Reilly (4½ stars)

Best Time Travel Romance

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (5 stars)

Best Romantic Short Stories

A Christmas Carol by Kathleen O'Reilly (5 stars)
You, Actually by Erin McCarthy (from the anthology Merry Christmas, Baby) (5 stars)
The Dragon Master by Mallary Mitchell (4½ stars)
Phantom Lover (from the anthology Midnight Pleasures) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (4½ stars)

Best Young Adult Books

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (5 stars)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling (5 stars)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling (5 stars)
Two Suns in the Sky by Miriam Bat-Ami (4½ stars)

Best Non-Fiction Books

Love in Condition Yellow: A Memoir of an Unlikely Marriage by Sophia Raday (5 stars)
She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman by Ian Kerner (5 stars)
Twilight: The Complete Illustrated Movie Companion by Mark Cotta Vaz (4½ stars)

Best Children's Books (Fiction)

Santa Paws by Nicholas Edwards (5 stars)
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (4½ stars)

Best Children's Picture Book

Find the Magic by Lee Cohen, Julia Harnett Harvey (4½ stars)

Most Surprising Winner

Two Suns in the Sky by Miriam Bat-Ami (4½ stars) - This book was a random buy from the library book sale, and did not have a particularly good rating on GoodReads. As such, I hadn't really expected much from it, but it ended up being a wonderful story.

Biggest Disappointment

The Indiscretion by Judith Ivory (1½ stars) - This book had all the elements to make it a story that I thought I would enjoy, but I ended up disliking the characters, the plot, and the author's writing style which didn't leave much else.

Funniest Read

Tonight or Never by Dara Joy (4½ stars) - The hero and heroine running stark naked through the halls of their manor house had me in stitches, as did all their crazy house guests.

Biggest Tear-Jerker

The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere (5 stars) - Occasionally I may get misty-eyed while reading a book, but rarely does one make me really shed tears. This one had me crying buckets even when I was just thinking about it and not reading it.

Best Christmas Stories

The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere (5 stars)
A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid (5 stars)
Santa Paws by Nicholas Edwards (5 stars)

Sweetest Romance

The tenderest, most touching romance I read this year that has milder content.
Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath (5 stars)

Steamiest Romance

For me, the steamiest romance doesn't necessarily have the most erotic content. Instead it is the book(s) that best combine hot, sexy scenes with a deep emotional connection that really make the pages sizzle.
The Princes Trilogy by Elizabeth Hoyt (4½ to 5 stars)
Tonight or Never by Dara Joy (4½ stars)

Worst Reads

The books/short stories I had the hardest time finishing.
The Indiscretion by Judith Ivory (1½ stars)
Under Her Spell (from the anthology Midnight Pleasures) by Maggie Shayne (2 stars)
Abide with Me by Una McManus (2½ stars)
Father Unknown by Tara Taylor Quinn (2½ stars)
Making Waves by Donna Kauffman (from the anthology Merry Christmas, Baby) (2½ stars)
Undercover Claus by MaryJanice Davidson (from the anthology Merry Christmas, Baby) (2½ stars)

Most Impressive Debut

These weren't 2009 releases, but they were the debut stories for each of these authors and quite impressive for a first effort.
A Christmas Carol by Kathleen O'Reilly (5 stars)
The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (4½ stars)

Best Overall Hero

Zarek of Moesia (Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon)

Best Overall Heroine

Lizzie Carlisle (Devil Takes a Bride by Gaelen Foley)

Most Tortured Heroes

Zarek of Moesia (Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon)
Ryan Kinsmore (Fallen From Grace by Laura Leone)

Most Tortured Heroine

Marilee Nelson (Seventh Heaven by Catherine Anderson)

Most Frustrating/Annoying Hero

Sam Cody (The Indiscretion by Judith Ivory) - Prior to meeting the heroine, this guy had left two other brides at the alter on three different occasions which is a most un-endearing quality.

Most Frustrating/Annoying Heroine

Brenda Rafferty (Abide Duet by Elizabeth Murphy/Una McManus) - A professing Christian who nearly drove me to distraction with her wishy-washy, contradictory, and judgmental nature, but I was most frustrated by her constant lack of trust in the hero.

Hottest Hero

John Sexton (Tonight or Never by Dara Joy) - His nickname is "The Lord of Sex" which pretty much says it all.

Most Perfect Couple

Houston Leigh & Amelia Carson (Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath)

Best Child Characters

Rawley Cooper (Texas Glory by Lorraine Heath)
Nathan Andrews (The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere)

Best Animal Characters
"The Dog" (Santa Paws by Nicholas Edwards)
Christmas (A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid)
Ryan's menagerie of abused & neglected animals (Fallen From Grace by Laura Leone) 

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