You Never Forget Your First

Sweet-Savage-LoveHere at All About Romance, our team of reviewers is dedicated to the romance genre. We read, review, and keep up with the goings on of all things romance. We’ve even had quite a few people who turned to writing romance as well. I wouldn’t call us romance addicts, per say, but we definitely have a strong habit. Like any good addiction hobby, there had to be a first time that captured our attention and made us life-long romance lovers. Continue reading

Checking in with Sarah MacLean

imageI was lucky enough to get a chance to sit down and chat with Sarah MacLean while at RWA. (This was before she won the RITA for best historical romance!) I wanted to follow up with her. I’d talked to her in December of 2013 about her challenge to The New York Times and that paper’s dismissal of romance. Since then, Sarah has been writing a regular column for the NYT’s rival, The Washington Post, about–gasp–romance novels.  Continue reading

Our First Take on Outlander: The Series

outlander_starzStarz’s adaptation of Outlander, with Caitriona Balfe as Claire and Sam Heughan as Jamie, premiered last week with a free online episode available here. Outlander is a legend in the romance world and here at AAR, where it’s placed in the top five romances in every annual poll except 2004 (it “crashed” to seventh). I’m a fan of the books but not a die-hard, so I’m not troubled by minor plot deviations or additions as long as they’re in the spirit of Gabaldon’s book. I’m looking for something that captures the detailed, warts-and-all Highland setting, Claire’s confidence and competence, Jamie’s honesty and enthusiasm, and their marvelous, inevitable attraction. On the basis of the first episode, I’m optimistic that this series is going to deliver. Continue reading

News from San Antonio

I I had to hit the ground running At RWA this year, leaving a family reunion in just enough time to make it to the Literacy Signing. Not the most relaxing way to start off a conference, but then you haven’t really lived until you’ve heard an adorable almiost-three year old call you Aunt “Life”. Nonetheless, I made it just in time and got to catch up with some great authors and hear about their work. Here’s what’s new (at least with authors A-L…sorry, by the time I got to the M’s everything was wrapping up).

Zoe Archer Zoe Archer wrote one of my favorite books last year (Sweet Revenge). She’s going in a new direction next year, and will be publishing Regency set historicals with Avon. They’ll center around women writers, and will be written under a new name to match the new direction – Eva Leigh.

Jo Beverley has been concentrating on her Malloren books recently, but is moving back to her Rogues series. Her next book will be Too Dangerous for a Lady (out next April), and will feature a heroine who is the sister of one of the Rogues who didn’t survive the Peninsular Wars. As she pointed out, it was a dangerous time, and not all would-be heroes or their friends survived it.

Kristen Callihan is continuing with her Darkest London series, which she considers to be more Gothic/Gas Lamp fantasies than Steampunk. Her latest, Evernight, comes out in August. The heroine has to work on (in the mechanical/metaphysical sense) a man who is back or revenge. Two more books are on the horizon – Souldown and Forevermore. And Kristen says it’s harder to come up with her compound word titles than you might think; many of the obvious choices have already been co-opted by YA.

Sherri Browning is working on the next book in her Thornbrook Park series, Affair Downstairs.

Claudia Dain was a name I hadn’t seen in awhile. She wrote some Medievals that received positive reviews here back in the day. With the wonders of the internet, they’re available again. She’s now concentrating on Regency historicals (which she self-publishes) and women’s fiction, which she writes under Claudia Walsh. He regencies are lighter in tone than her medievals, and the women’s fiction emerged because she felt she had a story to tell that didn’t quite fit the romance mold.

Megan Frampton used to write for AAR back in the day. She has a new series coming out with Avon starting this fall – Dukes Behaving Badly, which starts out with The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior in late November. She’ll also have a novella in February; novellas are a bit of a theme this year.

Laura Florand is moving from chocolate books to fragrance books. Her new series will feature an old Fragrance family from the south of France and will include four books and a novella. The first of these is Once Upon a Rose. Laura was drawn to fragrance as a theme because she loves rich settings and was able to do extensive research in the area.

Elizabeth Essex is an author I’d love to review – if only everyone else didn’t keep beating me to the punch. Her next book, out in September, is a shipwreck story with a heroine who is near and dear to Elizabeth’s heart. The heroine manages to talk her way into a royal expedition to the South Seas; Essex herself is a former nautical archeologist. It’s based loosely on the voyages of Darwin and Cook.

L.B. Gregg is another novella enthusiast – for her the length really works. Her newest novella with Riptide is part of a multi-author series involving a town in the Pacific Northwest where a werewolf TV series is filmed. Her particular story is bout a barista and an actor in the show.

Blythe Gifford had the first of two royal wedding stories come out in March. She also has a self published book set in the seventeenth century called The Witch Finder. We chatted about fellow Blythes we have known (not many), and Blythe has actually met Anya Seaton’s granddaughter (a fellow Blythe apparently). And all the cooler because Seaton’s writing and the way she showcased love and historical intrigue are what inspired Blythe to write those type of books herself.

Susanna Kearlsey has a new book coming out in spring – A Desperate Fortune. It’s a bit of a departure from some of her other books in that it doesn’t have a paranormal element (although it does have a dual storyline). It’s about a modern day code breaker who starts translating the journal of a 1732 Parisian and Jacobite sympathizer, and learns that the journal is not what it seems. Her next project is set in Colonial Long Island during the French and Indian War. Bonus: The modern day hero is a full-blooded Mohawk.

Caroline Lindon is still writing her racy Regency books, which have featured a mystery about the writer of – essentially – Regency porn. Said writer is about to be exposed…perhaps that’s a double entendre?

Jennifer Lohmann’s next book is Winning Ruby Heart, which has a disgraced Olympic runner heroine and sports caster hero. This piqued my interest as I have a son who runs, and much of our spare time revolves around cross country and track seasons. The heroine was a middle distance runner (5K and 10K for those of you who don’t spend your spring Saturdays watching teenagers run around in circles) caught doping who now runs ultra-marathons. Jennifer was influenced both by the Lance Armstrong Scandal and reading Born to Run (a fairly interesting and provocative book even if you’re not a runner).

Julie Anne Long just wrapped up Lavay’s book, and next up will by Lyon. Her series and her fandom are still going strong.

I’m hoping to catch those M-Z authors elsewhere this conference, as well as others like Tessa Dare and Julie James, who had longer lines. Stay tuned!

Peddling Visions of Beauty

STnude11382555281.tifThree weeks ago the weather turned, and I opened my closet to find some light summer skirts. No such luck –  I’d put on weight, so the old ones didn’t fit, and the others were too heavy for humid 27 degree weather. So I went shopping. I chose a mall and went with an open mind and larger than usual budget – I’m in my thirties, I want fairly good quality that’s not going to break the bank, and I have a body shape that can be difficult to shop for, vertically challenged and horizontally inconsistent. So yeah, I wasn’t expecting to find $10 skirts.

After three hours I was ready to do my head in. I’d run the gamut from Walmart to the Bay to Banana Republic, but I was a victim of Fashion, which this year seems to be either maxi dresses or skirts that just barely cover the vulva. And when skirts did fit me, in size and style, they were asking for something outrageous. $90 for a flipping polyester skirt, which I damn well know was made in an overcrowded Cambodian factory? No way. So I did what I should have done from the start: I went to a secondhand store and got 4 skirts of different styles for $30.

I went home feeling a curious mixture of fury and elation. $30 including tax, for a variety of work-casual skirts of different cuts and colours? Major back pat. But that I could literally not find anything suiting my age, body type, and budget in a mall of over 100 stores? Enraging. And I am hardly at an extreme. I live above the poverty line. I am able. I am not “plus size”. I am neither young nor old.  All of that should, theoretically, allow me run of the mall. But in fact I was screwed because Fashion allows for all of that except the most important: choice. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Mary’s Picks

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: Continue reading

Unusual Occupations

zookeeper I’m a big fan of romance characters with well-rounded lives. I like my heroes and heroines to have friends, hobbies, and careers. Sure, once in a while a “couple on the run” or “cabin romance” will work for me, but such romances are not my preference. As a result, I was excited when readers asked that we open the Unusual Occupations Special Titles List for submissions, as it’s one of my favorites.

But what is it, exactly, that makes an occupation “unusual” enough to qualify for the list? The description of the list is one of the shortest of any of the Special Title Lists: Continue reading