Before romance novels there were love poems. Sometimes sweet, sometimes tender, sometimes raunchy but always intimate and direct. Most love poems are from the author to a specific lover, a genuine communication that wasn’t necessarily intended for commercial consumption. That authentic, sincere emotional communication can often capture the essence of love in far fewer lines than a romance novel. And it does so in such a way that it lingers on the mind and tongue in a way that a book often doesn’t. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Tessa Dare, a perennial favorite here at AAR, releases her latest novel, Romancing the Duke, today. (more…)
LinnieGayl: One of my favorite categories in AAR’s Annual Poll is Best Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction. In most years I’ve read several books in the category and have a hard time deciding which book to vote for. This year is different. With just one month before polling begins on January 13, I realize that I haven’t read a single chick lit or women’s fiction book that I would consider voting for in the 2013 Annual Poll.
So I decided to take the advice we give readers: Do a power search at AAR. For Chick Lit titles published in 2013 that didn’t produce very helpful results; only Katie Fforde’s A Perfect Proposal, which received a B- from Maggie, has been reviewed this year at AAR.
A power search for best Women’s Fiction yields more titles published in 2013, including the following that interest me: (more…)
It’s hard to believe that we’ve almost made it to 2014. One look at our list of Eagerly Awaited titles for January 2014 shows that we’ve definitely been looking for Jill Sorenson’s latest release. And if you’re looking for a historical read set outside the seemingly ubiquitous Regency and Victorian England, guess what? So were we! More than a couple of us are hoping that an upcoming WWI tale will be a read worth waiting for. And that’s the beginning of the list of books that caught our eyes. What do you want to read next year?
|Title and Author||Reviewer|
|Badlands by Jill Sorenson||Lynn, Dabney, Rike, Maggie|
|Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson||Caroline, Lee, Maggie, Lynn|
|The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen||Maggie, Lee, Lynn|
|Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder||Melanie, Caroline|
|River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz||LinnieGayl, Lauren|
|How to Master Your Marquis by Juliana Gray||Lee, Caz|
|The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin||Melanie|
|Still So Hot! by Serena Bell||Dabney|
|The Redhead Plays Her Hand by Alice Clayton||Mary|
|If Wishes Were Earls by Elizabeth Boyle||Lee|
|The Only One Who Knows by L.A. Witt and Cat Grant||Pat|
|From Ruin to Riches by Louise Allen||Rike|
|The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley||LinnieGayl|
|Boots Under Her Bed by Jodi Thomas, Jo Goodman, Kaki Warner, and Alison Kent||Pat|
|A Marriage of Notoriety by Diane Gaston||Caz|
|Ashes & Alchemy by Cindy Spencer Pape||Rike|
|Mistress by Magick by Laura Navarre||Lynn|
|In the Blood by Lisa Unger||Maggie|
|After the Storm by Maya Banks||Lee|
|He Drank, and Saw the Spider by Alex Bledsoe||Rike|
|Temptation Ridge(reissue) by Robyn Carr||Pat|
|Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner||Maggie|
|Prodigal Son(reissue) by Susan Mallery and Sarah Mayberry||Caroline|
Nick is a romance hero. He’s never – no, never! – going to get married. You can see why, of course; you need conflict to drive a plot forward, and if Nick sees Elizabeth, falls in love with Elizabeth, proposes to Elizabeth, and marries Elizabeth without a hitch you’ve got one short (and probably not all that interesting) book. A hero (or somewhat less frequently, heroine) who is never – no, never! – going to get married can provide that hitch in the relationship that makes for a good conflict and interesting reading. Well, except when it’s totally lame. If there is one knee jerk conflict that authors like to turn to, this is it. I see it more often in contemporary novels, likely because birth control is widely available and modern sexual mores more permissive. But if pops up fairly often in historicals too, usually for different reasons. I can hardly open a book without running into Nick or one of his ilk. Since the my most recent read with a marriage phobic hero got on my last nerve, I decided to provide this helpful list of acceptable and unacceptable reasons to never – no, never! get married. (more…)
It was the summer of 2008 and I, a passionate reader, had my first Kindle. It was magical–a device you could just push a button and get books, as many as you could find and afford, and read to your heart’s content. I’d had the thing for a couple of weeks and was perusing the Amazon Kindle page. I can’t remember if it was free or it was the most downloaded book of the day but that day I decided to buy Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever. At the time, I hadn’t read a romance novel for over thirty years. That book sucked me in and I still haven’t been spit out. I had a problem, however. I wanted to read more romance but had no way to figure out which ones sucked and which rocked. Thank the gods for the internet. A few clicks and, boom, I discovered AAR. For the next two years, nearly every romance I bought I found through AAR and its Power Search feature. I discovered quickly that I loved well-written romances that were, well, hot. (more…)
Well, October is shaping up to be the month of Rachel Gibson around here, it seems. Plenty of AAR folks are very excited to see her latest release hit shelves! That doesn’t mean that we’re lacking for historicals, series romances or erotic romance to tickle our fancy, though. And then there are the Christmas books which will start hitting stores nice and early…
|Title and Author||Reviewer|
|Run to You by Rachel Gibson||Heather S., Mary, Wendy, Jenna, LinnieGayl, Alexandra|
|Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait by Grace Burrowes||Rike, Caz, Mary|
|The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley||Lee, Lauren, Caz|
|Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding||Mary, Rike, Lauren|
|Christmas Bliss by Mary Kay Andrews||LinnieGayl. Lee|
|10 Shades of Seduction by Tiffancy Reisz, Portia Da Costa, Alegra Verde, Alison Tyler, Anne Calhoun, and Lisa Renee Jones||Dabney, Lynn|
|The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter||Mary, Lee|
|Teatime for the Firefly by Shona Patel||Maggie, Caroline|
|On Midnight Wings by Adrian Phoenix||Wendy|
|Possession by J. R. Ward||Heather S.|
|Destiny’s Surrender by Beverly Jenkins||Lynn|
|Season for Scandal by Teresa Romain||Caz|
|In This Together by Kara Lennox||Rike|
|The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot||Lee|
|Spy’s Honor by Amy Raby||Caroline|
|King’s Mountain by Sharyn McCrumb||Pat|
|Fatal Strike by Shannon McKenna||Dabney|
|The London Deception by Addison Fox||Lynn|
|Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander||LinnieGayl|
|Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley||Maggie|
|Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan||Pat|
|Aiding the Enemy by Julie Rowe||Lynn|
|The Unidentified Redhead(paperback release of eBook) by Alice Clayton||Mary|
There is absolutely no possible way that I can trim my favorite romance novels down to ten. Therefore, I am going to take a page from other reviewers’ entries and exempt those written in the 19th century (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell). I am also going to state that Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is a given, but because the story continues and the end has not yet been written, it will be excluded from my top 10 list. I am also going to exclude A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught, because Jenna included it her list and I would not want to be redundant. So…in no particular order and with the caveat that I could exchange some books on this list at any time, here is my qualified Top 10 list: (more…)
As romance readers we like happy endings. I still remember the book that pushed me firmly away from historical fiction into the romance camp. The heroine was a New England ship captain’s wife. It started out with a romantic meeting and courtship, and ended with plummeting fortunes and marital discord. I closed the book and tried to think why I had wanted to read it in the first place, or why anyone would want to read it. If I’m reading for pleasure, I want it to end happily. But I have to wonder whether ending happily means it also has to end neatly.
Because we also complain about hackneyed epilogues. You know what I mean. It’s a year later, and the heroine has just given birth to the adorable heir (because I swear it is usually a boy). Our hero and heroine look at each other with gooey eyes and perfect happiness. There’s no hint that the baby in question might get sick, or their financial fortunes will undergo an abrupt reversal, or even that the beloved family dog will pee on the priceless Aubusson carpet. In other words, there’s no inkling that the hero and heroine are about to experience life as we know it. If there’s any hint of discord in an epilogue, it tends to be in the form of angst for the couple’s friend/relative/old school chum who will be featured in the next sequel.
What got me thinking about this in the first place? I read two with slipshod endings, both of which read as if the author got sick of writing and just ended the book with little thought or planning. One I have reviewed (and panned) already – Dusk with a Dangerous Duke. In this gem, the story ends with the hero and heroine professing their love as a house burns down around them (after bickering the book away), after which someone (no one ever says who) breaks down the door and presumably puts the fire out. The happy couple walks pout the door to live happily ever after (one assumes) without helping put the fire out, thanking the rescuer, or appearing in a happy epilogue with a dimpled baby in tow.
The second book is one I’m about to review (better than the first, but not by much), which leaves an ending with plot holes big enough to drive a semi through. My personal favorite was the way the hero’s brother had been grazed by a bullet and thought he was Russian. He stills thinks he’s Russian at the end of the book. Or was it the heroine’s brother, who was apparently kidnapped by Indians and renowned for his fiery red hair? Everyone knew about him (except the heroine apparently - she’d been trying to find him for five years). I’m pretty sure these loose ends will be addressed in the next book – which I will definitely not be sticking around to read.
Is there a happy medium somewhere? A non-gooey epilogue? A sunny – bot not completely unrealistic - ending? One where loose ends are tied up satisfactorily but not too neatly? One I can think of recently the struck all the right notes was Cecelia Grant’s A Gentleman Undone. The hero and heroine are happy, but their life is a modest one. Their immediate, pressing issues are resolved, but they aren’t exactly living in fabulous wealth - or bouncing a baby on both arms.
What kind of ending strikes the right note for you? Do you like the ooey-gooey love and babies? Do you need everything tied up in a bow?
– Blythe Barnhill