LinnieGayl’s Favorite Mysteries of 2014

TSLong before I ever read romances, I was an avid mystery reader. My love of mysteries started as a child with Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, and continues to this day. The mystery community handed out the bulk of its awards for “best of 2013” in November of 2014. As usual, I was nearly completely out of step with the awards; I either hadn’t read the award winners (and nominees) or disliked most of the ones I had read. So I’m going to get a jump on the 2014 award year – by at least 10 months – and pick my favorite mysteries published in 2014.

The Dead in their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley – Yes, once again the highlight of my mystery-reading year occurred in January with the latest in the Flavia de Luce mystery series featuring 11-year old Flavia, a would-be detective and serious chemist (with a particular love of poisons). Set in 1951 England, the series continues to delight me. I’ll admit I’m now counting down the weeks (and soon days) until the next book is released. This latest entry seems to wrap up one part of Flavia’s life, and I’m very curious to see where she ends up in the next book. I should note that I both read these in print and listen to them in audio, and cannot recommend highly enough the narration done by Jayne Entwistle; she’s absolutely delightful.

The Counterfeit Heiress by Tasha Alexander – This is the ninth in the author’s Lady Emily mystery series set in Victorian England. As always, Lady Emily and her husband Colin are at the center of the story, featuring the mysterious murder of a woman who turns out to be an imposter heiress. I love Lady Emily and Colin’s relationship with each other, and with their host of friends. I’m also very curious to see what happens in the next book, as Lady Emily seems to be developing an interest in Egypt.

Moriarty Returns a Letter by Michael Robertson – This is the fourth in a series featuring two brothers whose law offices are located at 221B Baker Street. As part of the lease agreement, they had to agree to respond to letters to Sherlock Holmes, which leads them to many interesting cases. I discovered the series this past year and feel the latest is the best in the series.

The Question of the Missing Head by E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen – This is the first in a series featuring Samuel Hoenig, a man with Asperger’s Syndrome, who runs a business entitled Questions Answered. It’s a new business, and his latest “question” to solve is to discover who stole a head from a cryonics institute. All of the main characters – including Samuel’s mother – are interesting, and parts of the mystery surprised me. I can’t wait for the second in the series. As a note, E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen are the same person.

That Summer by Lauren Willig – This is a standalone from the author most known for her Pink Carnation series. There is a slight nod to the series in that one of the characters has a distant connection to a character from the series. But this definitely stands on its own. Like her Pink Carnation series, it features a modern story (2009) and an historical story (1849). While there is no murder involved in the story, there’s a definite mystery about a pre-Raphaelite painting. I liked both the historical and modern parts, but found myself particularly interested in the modern story. The historical part is decidedly darker than the historical parts of the Pink Carnation series, but intriguing, particularly with the links to the pre-Raphaelite artists.

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James – This is the author’s third book. While each of the books are set in the same time period (this one in 1919) and feature ghosts, they are all standalones. For me this is the darkest in the series, but also a completely engrossing mystery. The heroine — Kitty Weekes – lies about her identity and experiences and gets a job in a remote nursing home for shell-shocked soldiers. In addition to a particularly frightening ghost, the soldiers in the home have many secrets.

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny – In the author’s latest Armand Gamache mystery, the now retired Gamache is living in Three Pines – that virtually hidden small village in Quebec. I wasn’t sure where the author would go after the last mystery, as it seemed to resolve a number of story arcs. But in this latest book, she takes us back to many of the earlier books in the series and resolves some long-standing mysteries. I have come to love this series and cannot wait for the next. But the series features so much character development, and has so many linked stories that it absolutely must be read from the beginning.

The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths – This is the sixth in the author’s series featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. Ruth is an unusual main character; she’s grumpy, overweight, a bit of a loner, and is now a single mother of a young daughter. I found this to be much more interesting than the previous entry in the series, with parallel mysteries of mothers accused of the murder of their children in Victorian and present-day England.

The Harlot’s Taleby Sam Thomas – This is the second mystery featuring midwife Bridget Hodgson. Set in York in 1645, the story mixes a rather grizzly series of murders with information about life in York during the civil war. An historian, the author does a wonderful job conveying the history of the period while holding my interest in both the characters and the mystery.

That’s it, my top nine mysteries of 2014. Did you read any great mysteries you would recommend in 2014?

 

LinnieGayl

 

Eagerly Awaited December Releases

It’s looking like a lighter reading month around AAR this December. The holidays may be busy, but there are still some promising looking books to read coming out, though. And of course, with the Annual Reader Poll just around the corner, there’s still time to catch up on all those 2014 releases we’ve all been meaning to read….

Title and Author Reviewer
Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean Lynn, Dabney, Heather, Lee, Caz, Melanie, Alex
The Duke's Guide to Correct Behavior by Megan Frampton The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior by Megan Frampton Blythe, Dabney, Melanie
The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen Maggie, Lee
Twice Tempted by Eileen Dreyer Twice Tempted by Eileen Dreyer Lee, Caz
Abravadaver by Laura Resnick Abracadaver by Laura Resnick Rike
Christmas Where They Belong by Marian Lennox Christmas Where They Belong by Marian Lennox Caroline
Broken Open by Lauren Dane Broken Open by Lauren Dane Heather
A Christmas Reunion by Susanna Fraser A Christmas Reunion by Susanna Fraser Rike
An Inconvenient Wife by Caroline Kimberly An Inconvenient Wife by Caroline Kimberly Lynn
Charming the Firefighter by Beth Andrews Charming the Firefighter by Beth Andrews Rike
The King by Tiffany Reisz The King by Tiffany Reisz Shannon
A Cowboy for Christmas by Lacy Williams A Cowboy for Christmas by Lacy Williams Lynn
The HIghland Dragon's Lady by Isabel Cooper The Highland Dragon’s Lady by Isabel Cooper Rike

No Time Travel for Me Please

Along with a lot of people, I’ve been sucked into the marvelous Starz adaptation of Outlander. The cast is terrific, the production values are top-notch, and I’m really enjoying the scripts. But Outlander clearly illustrates something that, as a historian, I realized a long time ago: a lot of us modern ladies would be an absolutely catastrophically bad heroines for a time-travel romance. Continue reading

Eagerly Awaited November Books

November is definitely shaping up to be a blockbuster month for historical romances. Personally, I’m thrilled to see Jeannie Lin’s latest novel out, and most of us here at AAR can’t wait to get our hands on the big new releases from Joanna Bourne and Mary Balogh. What do you have your eyes on this November?

Title and Author Reviewer
Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne Blythe, Lynn, Dabney, Lea, Lee, Caz, Cindy, Alex, Mary, Rike, Jean, Caroline, Alex
Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh Dabney, Rike, Alex, Blythe, Maggie, Caz, Lee
Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews Lea, Jean, Heather, Melanie, Maggie
Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin Lynn, Maggie, Rike
Arhcangel's Shadows by Nalini Singh Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh Jean, Lea, Alex
Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella Lee
Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan Rike
Santa's Playbook by Karen Templeton Santa’s Playbook by Karen Templeton Caroline
Wild by Jill Sorenson Wild by Jill Sorenson Lynn
Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier Melanie
The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson Caz
Wish Upon a Snowflake anthology Wish Upon a Snowflake by Christine Merrill, Linda Skye, and Elizabeth Rolls Rike
A Yorkshire Christmas  by Kate Hewitt A Yorkshire Christmas by Kate Hewitt Lynn
Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney Lee
Alanna by Kathleen Bittner Roth Alanna by Kathleen Bittner Roth Melanie
Destiny's Captive by Beverly Jenkins Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins Lynn
Crossfire Christmas by Julie Miller Crossfire Christmas by Julie Miller Rike

Let’s Stop Winter from Coming: AAR Weighs in on the Ellora’s Cave Suit against Dear Author

christmas-wallpaper-80Note: None of us here at AAR is a legal expert on defamation, and we’re not going to pretend to be for purposes of this blog. Nothing on here is intended to serve as legal advice. Laws changes, and they vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so no blog can substitute for speaking to your own attorney.

We think by now everyone who isn’t living under a rock (or at least everyone who follows romance blogs and/or the publishing industry) is aware that Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc. and Jasmine-Jade Enterprises, LLC (collectively “EC” from here on out) has sued Dear Author Media Network, LLC(“DA”) and has also sued individually the blogger known online as Jane Litte(“Litte”), alleging that they have defamed EC and harmed the business. The plaintiffs seek an injunction, money damages, and also have asked the court to require DA to provide the identities of anonymous online commenters to one of its blog pieces concerning EC. However, as with many big lawsuits, the story doesn’t start with the court filing.  If you want a history of EC and its ups and downs, Litte gives plenty of that, together with citations, in her allegedly defamatory blog piece. And you can find plenty more stories even with a cursory search on Google. Continue reading

Eagerly Awaited September Books

So I blinked and…summer’s almost over already! And just as I was getting used to the sun and the heat. As we cruise into September, there are quite a few historicals that have folks here on staff excited (yay!) and we’re keeping up with new installments in some beloved series. However, the big news for most here at AAR would be the arrival of a long-anticipated new release from contemporary romance favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips. So, what are you looking for this September?

Title and Author Reviewer
Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips Dabney, Lee, LinnieGayl, Alex, Mary, Shannon, Caroline, Lea, Haley
What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson Mary, Lea, Dabney, Haley, Heather
The Songbird's Seduction by Connie Brockway The Songbird’s Seduction by Connie Brockway Lynn, Lee, Caroline
Festive in Death by JD Robb Festive in Death by J.D. Robb Blythe, Maggie
Once More My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath Once More, My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath Haley, Caz
Wood Sprites by Wen Spencer Wood Sprites by Wen Spencer Maggie, Anne
Winning Ruby Heart by Jennifer Lohmann Winning Ruby Heart by Jennifer Lohmann LinnieGayl, Lynn
A Scandal to Remember by Elizabeth Essex A Scandal to Remember by Elizabeth Essex Caz, Dabney
Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs Heather, Maggie
The Laird by Grace Burrowes The Laird by Grace Burrowes Mary, Caz
The Secret Place by Taa French The Secret Place by Tana French Dabney, Lynn
What a Duke Dares by Anna Campbell What a Duke Dares by Anna Campbell Caz, Mary
Enchantress by Maggie Anton Enchantress by Maggie Anton Melanie, Caroline
Lisette's List by Susan Vreeland Lisette’s List by Susan Vreeland Shannon
Honor by Lyn Cote Honor by Lyn Cote Lynn
Night's Honor by Thea Harrison Night’s Honor by Thea Harrison Jean
What I Remember Most by Cathy Lamb What I Remember Most by Cathy Lamb Lee
Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu Caroline
Close to Home by Lisa Jackson Close to Home by Lisa Jackson Shannon
Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh Cindy
Ghost Layer by Robin D. Owens Ghost Layer by Robin D. Owens Melanie
Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne Lee
Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover Anne
House Immortal by Devon Monk House Immortal by Devon Monk Shannon
Vampire Secretary, Vol. 7 by Tomu Ohmi Midnight Secretary, Vol. 7 by Tomu Ohmi Caroline
The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire Heather
A Home For Her Heart by Janet Lee BArton A Home for Her Heart by Janet Lee Barton Anne
The Maiden of Ireland by Susan Wiggs The Maiden of Ireland(re-release of The Mist and the Magic) by Susan Wiggs Lynn
Superman/Wonder Woman: Power Couple by Charles Soule Superman/Wonder Woman: Power Coupleby Charles Soule Caroline
Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley Season of Storms(reissue) by Susanna Kearsley Heather, Melanie

Interview and Giveaway with Sharon and Tom Curtis

9781455573288_p0_v1_s260x420Sharon and Tom Curtis. The husband-and-wife team started writing in the 70s and stopped writing in the 90s, and since then some of their books – especially the pirate romance The Windflower - have entered into legend. Hyperbole from a fan? Well, if you haven’t yet read the Curtises, who publish as Laura London, you’ve got your chance. Grand Central is reissuing all but two of their stories, which includes tomorrow’s release of The Windflower. To celebrate, we have an interview with the authors, and we have three (3) Advanced Reader Copies of The Windflower to give away. To put your name in the draw, just comment below before 11:59PM EST, Wednesday April 30, 2014, and we’ll pick three winners. (Unfortunately, because of the cost of postage, this contest is only open to those in Canada and the USA.)

And now without further ado, Sharon and Tom Curtis. – Jean AAR

You’re a writing duo!  I know of a few others in the business (fantasy author Ilona Andrews immediately comes to mind, although I know there are other collaborations), but there aren’t that many because, I imagine, it must be difficult finding someone whose style meshes with yours, much less turn into something even semi-coherent.  And your books are more than coherent – they’re magical.  How did you decide to start writing together, and why romance novels?

Tom and I were married in our teens, and we were both huge Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer fans. In our midtwenties, I started telling Tom that I wanted to write a regency romance. I wanted to live in that world in my imagination. One afternoon, I sat down at the typewriter and wrote the first page and a half of A Heart Too Proud. When Tom came home from work, he was excited to read it, and said “Hey, it sounds like a real book.” Tom wanted to join the fun, and so that evening, we began to write as a team. We can’t thank you enough for calling our books magical. What a wonderful compliment! Good feelings. Continue reading

Eagerly Awaited April Books

Sarah Mayberry, Carla Kelly, and Kristan Higgins all have many fans among our staff and since they all have new releases coming out in April, we were looking over that April release list with anticipation. If you are one of the many fans of the Pennyroyal Green series, you will be delighted to know that the latest installment is due that month. And, as you can see, there are a variety of other books out there catchout our eyes as well. What do you want to read?

Title and Author Reviewer
Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry Lynn, Dabney, Heather, Lee, Mary, Caroline, Rike, LinnieGayl, Pat
The Wedding Ring Quest by Carla Kelly The Wedding Ring Quest by Carla Kelly Blythe, Heather, Lee, Caroline, Pat, Lynn, Rike, Mary
Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins LinnieGayl,Lea, Mary, Jenna, Alex, Heather, Maggie, Lee
Between the Devil and Ian Eversea by Julie Anne Long Between the Devil and Ian Eversea by Julie Anne Long Dabney, Mary, Heather, Lee
Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James Maggie, Lynn, LinnieGayl
After the Scandal by Elizabeth Essex After the Scandal by Elizabeth Essex Caz, Dabney
Prince's Fire by Amy Raby Prince’s Fire by Amy Raby Caroline, Melanie
The Day He Kissed Her by Julianna Stone The Day He Kissed Her by Julianna Stone Dabney, Lynn
Unlacing Lady Thea by Louise Allen Unlacing Lady Thea by Louise Allen Rike, Caz
Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James Alex, Dabney
A Courageous Ride by Andrew Grey A Courageous Ride by Andrew Grey Pat
Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell Heather
For the Right Reasons by Kara Lennox For the Right Reasons by Kara Lennox Rike
Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach Heaven’s Queen by Rachel Bach Jenna
London's Most Wanted Rake by Bronwyn Scott London’s Most Wanted Rake by Bronwyn Scott Caz
It's Complicated by L.A. Witt It’s Complicated by L.A. Witt Pat
Moonlight on My Mind by Jennifer McQuiston Moonlight on My Mind by Jennifer McQuiston Caroline
Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley Fire Inside(mass market reissue of digital release) by Kristen Ashley Mary
A Shocking Delight by Jo Beverley A Shocking Delight by Jo Beverley Rike
Her Soldier Protector by Soraya Lane Her Soldier Protector by Soraya Lane Caroline
The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie Lee
Sharing Heart by Ken Murphy Sharing Heart by Ken Murphy Pat
Shards of Time by Lynn Flewelling Shards of Time by Lynn Flewelling Melanie

Speaking of Audiobooks: Romance Audio News March 2014

The Luckiest Lady in London 200Today we’re talking about a few promising coming soon or new release titles, taking a look at the audio side of AAR’s recent Annual Poll, sharing the Audie Award Finalists in Romance (complete with an opinion), and providing you with a list of all audiobook reviews at AAR since we started publishing audio reviews separately from Speaking of Audiobooks. There’s a lot going on!

New and Coming Soon Titles 

Sherry Thomas

The Luckiest Lady in London, the winner of AAR’s Best Romance of 2013 Continue reading