For heroines, we got:
- 2 Virgins willing to Ho' it up to support their families' medical expenses
- 1 Clueless Victorian Zombie Slayer
- 2 Spoiled Brats
- 1 Plain-Jane Heiress
- 1 Highwaywoman
- 2 Dewy-Eyed Debutantes
- 1 Undercover Mother
- 1 Navy Doctor
- 1 Surprisingly Virile Corpse
- 2 Mad, Bad Rakes Haunted by Dead Brothers
- 1 Severely Scorched Scotsman
- 1 Dirt-Poor Clerk
- 1 Mad, Bad, Not Particularly Haunted Rake Looking for One Last Hurrah
- 1 Amateur Detective
- 1 Abusive AlphHole
- 1 Super-Secret Zombie Hunter
- 2 Single Dads of Secret Babies
In the Romantic Obstacle Department, we got:
- "I can't marry him! He compared me to a freakin' woodchuck!"
- "I can't marry him! I'm in love with a flagrantly insulting and rude aristocrat who soothes my daddy issues!"
- "I can't marry her! I paid her for sex!"
- "I can't marry her! I don't have a pulse!"
- "I can't marry her! I killed my brother by indirectly instigating a series of events that eventually led to his accidental death! I am a monster!"
- "I can't marry her - at least until I recover her dastardly guardian's will!"
- "I can't marry her - she's the mother of my child! Gross!"
- "The love of my live DARED to marry another man more than a year after my death instead of martyring herself on my grave! THAT WHORE!"
- "I can't marry her! The secret-zombie-warrior life is no place for a lady!"
In Miscellaneous Oddities, November provided us with:
- Sexy Chess and Strip Dominoes
- Prodigious Amounts of Pine Boughs, Yule Logs, Holly and Mistletoe
- Religious-Themed Jewellery
- Very Weak Tea
- Zombie Grandmas
- Robberies Foiled by Runaway Jousting Equipment
- Hidden Wills
- A Magic Hoo-Ha
*November Pick* The Heart of Christmas, by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick, and Courtney Milan B+
Winner of the Best Debut Award. Okay, so as an anthology Heart of Christmas was a little uneven (reading Cornick's is a bit like reading an historical romance as imagined by Dr. Seuss), but wholly enjoyable. And, of course, we have Courtney Milan's first published bow - which is enough to have me slavering at the mouth for her novel Proof By Seduction (and made me dig up the Dangerous Book of Excerpts she and Tessa Dare gave out at RWA 2009). Yes, even the bad story in this collection is entertaining, so you have a bit of everything in this one.
Snowy Night with a Stranger, by Jane Feather, Sabrina Jeffries, and Julia London B
Winner of the "More of the Same" Award. Reading this anthology really didn't adjust my opinions regarding any of the authors involved in this anthology - Jane Feather still eschews terrible romance tropes while remaining dull, Sabrina Jeffries is silly but enjoyably so, and Julia London continues to fly under the radar with conventional titles but very emotional stories hidden underneath (Duuuuuncan!).
Something Wonderful, by Judith McNaught B-
Winner of the Heathcliff Lifetime Achievement Award in Asshat Heroism. Ah yes, the AlphHole hero - sure, he treats you like crap and suspects you of being a whore, but that's just because he loves you too much, and surely your glistening aquamarine eyes will be able to change that in no time! This novel has drama in spades, and a well-developed (if annoyingly cute) heroine - sadly, thanks to a hero who is such a jerkwad that the HEA has to brought about with a traumatic head injury, this book doesn't quite measure up.
Desperate Duchesses, by Eloisa James A/C+
Winner of the Best Series Introduction Award. This was a difficult novel to grade, but ultimately I didn't make it my November Pick because I don't grade romance novels on enjoyability alone. This book was frothy and fun - but the oh-so-delicious subplots were so numerous it hampered the development of the main romance. While we get a delightful snapshot of James' future characters, we don't get a whole picture of the romantic protagonists, and their characters are woefully underdone (Roberta in particular).
The Christmas Countess, by Adrienne Basso C
Winner of the "The Thing About Good Intentions..." Medal of Honour. This novel serves as the ultimate example of the fact that good books aren't built on creative ideas alone, but also on superior artistic execution. Countess conjures up a truly unique situation between the hero and heroine that could have been rife with drama (that is, the adoption of a child), that fails thanks to lacklustre writing that takes the easy way out.
*November Dud* Half Past Dead, by Zoe Archer and Bianca D'Arc D
Winner of the Mary Sue Prize in Characterization. I was looking forward to voraciously devouring this zombie romance anthology, only to discover that neither story possessed much in the way of ....braaaaaaains. With inconsistent world-building and shallow characterization in Zoe Archer's entry, and simplistic, listless writing in Bianca D'Arc's, this anthology quickly falls to pieces.