Archive for the ‘Wendy AAR’ Category

Pandora’s Box: The Last Hour of Gann

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The Last Hour of GannWendy Clyde here. Dabney Grinnan and I are discussing R. Lee Smith’s The Last Hour of Gann, which was released in September.

While Dabney had read Ms. Smith, this is my first book by her and I was very pleasantly surprised by the book’s quality and complexity. When Dabney suggested we have a Pandora’s Box discussion I leapt at the chance, because The Last Hour of Gann is a thought-provoking, emotional book that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. It’s difficult to provide a brief synopsis for such an epic book, but the basic premise is the story of an earth woman, Amber Bierce, who, seeking to leave her bleak life on Earth behind, signs on for interplanetary colonization, dragging her reluctant sister along. Their ship crashes on an alien planet with thousands of human lives lost. Chances for the few survivors to flourish are slim to none until the party meets with an indigenous lizard-man, the warrior-priest Uyane Meoraq. Meoraq is on a religious pilgrimage when he encounters the flat-faced, soft-skinned humans. Deciding that there are lessons to be learned from this alien species he agrees to help them survive and allows them to travel with him to the temple he’s seeking. He finds Amber the most intriguing of all the humans and the two soon develop a friendship that deepens into attraction.

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The results of the AAR Top Ten Lists are in and the winner is….

Monday, October 7th, 2013

loverawakenedBack in April, we began, on each Tuesday, publishing a reviewer’s Top Ten list. There were no rules other than the books be in the romance genre. Over the next five months, we published twenty-three lists. Out of the 230 entries, we listed 201 books. We hit every genre (although we have a definitive fondness for historical romance), and waxed upon the works of 121 authors. After every one had weighed in, only one book garnered five–the most–votes: J.R. Ward’s Lover Awakened. (more…)

The Scenes That Stick With You

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

reading I was cowardly and scheduled my Top Ten Staff Picks as far out as I could, knowing the list would be difficult to compose and likely to change. As a result, I had a lot of time to ponder my favorite books, and what I realized is that each has a fondly remembered moment that often means more than the rest of the plot or even the characters, when it comes to memory. Those scenes that stick with you are the ones you describe to your friends when you’re trying to tempt them with a book or new series, or they’re the ones you recall when you’re trying to remember a book that you’ve temporarily forgotten but remember enjoying.

When my sister, who isn’t a romance reader, was resistant to the idea of Outlander, she was convinced to try it when I told her about Claire’s instant of revelation with the witch. Although it has been a long time since most of us read that scene for the first time, don’t you remember that gasp of shock? Or how can one forget the part in See Jane Score when Jane screws up her courage and tells Luc “I want to lick your tattoo” – you go girl! I used Jane and Luc to introduce my friend to Rachel Gibson.

I think all the best books and series have that one special moment that touches us. It doesn’t have to be large or important. It can be funny, ironic, romantic, poignant or sad, as long as it makes you feel strongly enough to remember it forever – and is most likely different for everyone. Here are a few of my favorite scenes. (more…)

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Wendy’s Picks

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

abandonedbride OK. It’s confirmed. I set my Top Ten Staff Picks blog date way too far in the future. I thought this late date was a good idea originally, because I knew that I’d agonize over the list and change it several times as I remembered favorites or became disenchanted with others. I mean, I have a LOT of books on my keeper shelves. How to pick the top ten? I kept wishing I could narrow it down to, say, my top ten favorite Linda Howards, or top ten authors, or top ten historicals by location or time period. How about the top ten paranormals by era, shifter or vampire, erotic or more subtle? Ugh! After weeks of thinking about it I finally had a pretty firm list, which I put in a “safe place” from which it (of course) subsequently disappeared off the face of the planet. Here goes, in no particular order…

 

The Abandoned Bride by Edith Layton. There are a lot of extremely high quality Signet Regencies from this era, and this is my favorite, hands down. The mere fact that it wins a spot on the list over competition such as Carla Kelly and Mary Balogh says it all.

 

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Kristen Ashley – The Best Kept Secret in Romance?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

own_the_wind Have you read Kristen Ashley? Have you even heard of Kristen Ashley? As the romance world has been buzzing on about other authors, Kristen has been in the background furiously writing book after book and self-publishing them on Smashwords. A search of her name will bring up multiple review sites where she has thousands of comments and reviews and her work has been widely described in the online romance community as “cracktastic” and “crackalicious” – yet, if you ask around offline you’ll find that your acquaintances have never heard of her. This has been going on for years, but may finally change now Kristen has been picked up by Grand Central Publishing. The highly anticipated (by her fans) first book from that pairing, Own the Wind-Book One of the Chaos series, was released Monday night.

The reason for the low name-recognition outside the online romance community may be in due in part to the fact that the author is somewhat of an enigma. One would think that with, by my count, thirty-seven works in her backlist, there would be a bibliography published somewhere with titles and release dates. For purposes of this blog, I looked everywhere and couldn’t find one. (more…)

Casting Romance Heroes (Again)

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

castingcall A friend and I who both love Kristen Ashley’s books have recently made a game of casting her romance heroes with actors from television and movies. That made me wonder about whom our reviewers have cast in their minds while reading their favorite romance novels. We’ve chatted about this a little bit before in the context of the AAR Top 100 Poll, but when I polled my fellow reviewers I still received some answers that surprised me. The general concensus was that we prefer not to cast romance heroes with known actors, and further that too much description was undesirable. (more…)

It’s Time to Revamp our Sensuality Ratings

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

AAR’s sensuality ratings have come under discussion lately due to the changing nature of the romance industry in general. With the recent proliferation of racier novels, what was once declared Hot may now be considered barely Warm by our readers. The language used in love scenes, once a deciding factor in rating, has also changed drastically in recent years.  Quaint euphemisms such as “manhood” or “heated channel” have fallen by the wayside.

If we update our sensuality ratings in response to changes in the industry, what sort of changes should we make?

One issue under discussion was possibly adding another category after Burning.  For instance, Penelope and Prince Charming by Jennifer Ashley was given a Burning rating because of some mild anal play and very frank love scenes. But does PaPC compare to Sarah’s Seduction by Lora Leigh which would be given the same rating by today’s rules?

And how should language affect rating? In the not so distant past the words “cock” and “clit” were pretty rare in mainstream romance, their presence garnering a Hot rating just on principal. Is it shocking to read a review rated Warm, only to find language once considered very blue when you read the book? Conversely, some readers may be disappointed to purchase a book rated Burning because of language or one delicately described incident of alternative lovemaking, when their hope was for something more raunchy.

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Pandora’s Box: Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

storms_heart While we no longer run Pandora’s Box as a monthly feature, every now and again, two of us will read a book and come to such different conclusions that we just have to talk about it and share it with you. That’s exactly what happened when Leigh Davis and Wendy Clyde read Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison. Curious to see what they had to say about it? Check below the jump for a brief description of the plot and then Leigh and Wendy hash it out.

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