'Tis the season, so this month's TBR challenge theme is Holiday Reads.
I chose This Wicked Gift, Courtney Milan's debut release and part of the 2009 HQN holiday anthology The Heart of Christmas. I bought it shortly after release because I'd heard so many wonderful things about Milan--including raves from a friend who finished second to her in an unpublished contest, then judged her entry in another contest and said she no longer had the slightest regrets about coming in second because Milan's writing was just that awesome.
And yet somehow I didn't get around to reading the novella until this year despite having read others of her books and completely agreeing that she is Just That Awesome. I'm not sure why, except that every time I looked at the anthology on my Kindle, it didn't happen to be the holiday season and I decided to save it for later.
Well, "later" finally came. I read the novella during a quiet evening on our Thanksgiving trip to Oklahoma (yes, I read my December TBR challenge book in November--I had lots of reading time for a change that week, and I knew my first half of December would be insane). It's brilliant. The anthology is worth the purchase price for that story alone, IMHO. It's such a rare treat to read a Regency with non-aristocratic characters, for one thing, and the writing and characterization are a pleasure for readers like me who live for smooth, skilled prose and characters who feel human and three-dimensional. Strong, strong recommend.
Much as I've enjoyed doing the TBR Challenge this year, I've decided not to join again for 2014. Looking back over my reading journal for this year, I decided I want 2014 to be more spontaneous. Somehow the instant I need to read a book, whether for a challenge like this, judging the Ritas, or for research, it becomes homework. And I'm enough of a Muggle version of Hermione Granger that I like homework in moderation, but for the past couple years I feel like I've been missing the joy of grabbing a book just because it's what happens to strike my fancy at that moment.