1) Lady of Weeds by W.R. GingellI love the way Gingell writes this tale of a cold, isolated Guardian of the Shore who must collect magic-infused seaweed before the selkies get it and whose life changes when a mysterious boy washes ashore with no memory and a hidden treasure. It's not the deep POV I'm used to in historical romance and even many fantasy stories. It's more omniscient and classic in feel, and it is perfectly suited to the brave and lonely (though she wouldn't admit it) Carys. The hero is charming, the story fraught with danger but relatively little action, and full of mystery. With selkies and magic in seaweed and sand, the story world holds an interest as well. I've kept it in my mind's shelf with much pleasure, and I hope to get a print copy to add my bookcase (and to read it again).
2) The Lord of Dreams by C.J. Brightley
A young women must rescue the fae prince who's been the villain of her previous adventures in the realm of the fae. A delightful romance and lovable, related heroine and noble hero; it still makes me smile to think of it. This one is definitely on my read-again list. You can read Laurie's review of it here.
3) And a tie for third: Identity by Camille Peters and Firethorn Crown by Lea DoueMy initial thought was to put Identity by Camille Peters as third and The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doue as Honorable Mention. Then I realized I read The Firethorn Crown at the beginning of the year and Identity a few weeks ago, which might affect my judgment. I enjoyed them both, both sweet romances with a fairytale tie-in. The Firethorn Crown is a fun retelling of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" with a sweet romance and lots of dragons of all shapes and sizes. Identity is a sweet romance and a Goose Girl retelling with a goose girl who becomes a ladies maid to a princess who looks just like her and who is then forced to impersonate the wild princess--on her honeymoon. The prince Anwen is forced to marry is sweet and a bit childish and Anwen is soon torn between her growing affection for him and the premonition that the princess will tire of her current scheme and force Anwen out of the marriage she forced her into.
Extras: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes and Mark of the Raven and Flight of the Raven (Ravenwood Chronicles) by Morgan Busse
I couldn't not mention two others of my favorite novel-length romances, but I put them here because I wouldn't say the focus is the romance. They have more of an adventure feel to them. But I love the romance as much as the rest of the stories. :)
Fawkes, with its fantasy retelling of the Gunpowder Plot and intriguing world of color powers and a protagonist who must become a hero, this is definitely one of my favorites--of the year and ever.
Mark of the Raven and Flight of the Raven (Ravenwood Chronicles) by Morgan Busse, again with a main character torn between family and destiny and the truth, is another great book. Great story world and wonderful hero to our strong, troubled heroine as well. :)