Special Title Listings Updated!

caressedbyice Whenever we look at the nominations for a currently open Special Title Listing, we are thrilled at how divergent the entries are. Each and every time, there are classics that for some reason no-one had thought of before, there are well-loved novels that were published during the last ten years or so, and there are recent books that have already made a great impact.

Taking the Virginal Heroes, there is Scaramouche, from Rafael Sabatini’s swashbuckling romances of the 1920s. There are Nalini Singh’s Judd Lauren from Caressed by Ice, and the Earl of Ardmore from Eloisa James’s Kiss Me, Annabel – both books were published in the 2000s. As for 2013 novels, there are Kaleb Krycheck from Heart of Obsidian (also by Singh), and Samuel Cooke from Courting Greta by Ramsey Hootman.

Newly entered classics on the May-Dec/Dec-May list are Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman (1947), Arabella by Georgette Heyer (1949), Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart (1956), and The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren (1974), an early male-male romance.

As a result, the STLs continue to combine tradition and innovation, and we are very pleased about this. Thank you so much for your contributions to this variety!

Two aside notes: For the Virginal Heroes list, we also received some nominations for young adult titles. On consideration, we decided against including them, agreeing that in a young adult romance, the hero being a virgin is still not such an unusual thing for books in that genre, as very often the books are precisely about a very first romantic relationship in the protagonists’ lives.

In the context of the STL, some of you mourned the fact that such an excellent book as Unclaimed by Courtney Milan has not been reviewed here at AAR. Unfortunately AAR cannot review all good books – we’d need a much bigger staff for this! Though in the case of Unclaimed, it did get featured here on the blog. But if you, the readers, feel that a book is truly outstanding and we don’t already have a review for it in our database, we are happy to consider publishing DIK reviews written by readers. Just contact Blythe and Lynn here.

We invite you to come back for three more new lists to be opened on December 10. In the meantime, have a great time reading!

- Cindy Smith, LinnieGayl Kimmel and Rike Horstmann

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21 Responses to Special Title Listings Updated!

  1. Paola says:

    Are you sure Trevelyan of Kinsale’s Lessons in French is a virgin?

  2. Paola says:

    Also, when you asked for submissions you cited Heyer’s The Corinthian as example for the May/December, so I didn’t submit it, but it’s not in the list.

  3. Paola says:

    In the end of The Front Runner the young lover is assassinated, romances shouldn’t have always a happy end by definition?

    • Yuri says:

      Thank-you so much for the warning! I must admit I’d expect book in the Special Titles Listings to fit the definition of a genre romance including a HEA and I would have been very upset had I read this book and discovered it was a tragedy.

      Could we please have a warning that a book is fiction with romantic elements so we don’t expect the HEA rather than listing it under Contemporary romance?

      • Rike says:

        Thanks for pointing this out, Paola. It was not clear from the reviews we had a look at. We can add the classification as “fiction”, that should be warning enough that no happy ending is guaranteed.

  4. Elizabeth Rolls says:

    To be honest, I’d hardly call The Corinthian, or Arabella for that matter, May/December romances. In The Corinthian Richard is 29 and Pen is 17. Okay, it’s 12 years, but May/December? Really? Maybe Spring/Summer. Same with Robert Beaumaris and Arabella. The difference is again about 12 years. I’d class a twenty year age gap as being May/December. For which reason I’d class These Old Shades as May/December, but not the other two.
    I’m sure everyone’s mileage will vary on this, but in a historical I tend to give a bit more leeway to age difference than I might in a contemporary set romance.

    • Paola says:

      May/December is not the right definition, but it’s a story where the age gap is important, because he feels too old for her. There are Heyer couples with more years difference where the age is not an issue.
      Maybe the listing should be renamed.

  5. Elizabeth Rolls says:

    Okay. I’ve gone and had a look at the May/December list. I rescind my last comment. If anyone seriously thinks a six year age difference (Heyer’s Friday’s Child) is a May/December romance, then clearly a man of thirty is a geriatric! For heaven’s sake! Sherry, in Friday’s Child is 25. Actually the age difference is more than six years because Hero isn’t quite 17 when they marry, but I honestly cannot see how it can possibly be regarded as May/December. The whole point of the story is in fact the couple’s relative youth and lack of preparedness for marriage. They both, Sherry in particular, have to grow up. Damn it! It’s closer to YA than M/D!
    I’d hate to ruffle anyone’s feathers, but does anyone else think that we’re becoming just a little too politically correct over this listing?
    I certainly agree with the inclusion of the Jo Beverley story in An Invitation to Sin anthology, because that is a major issue for the hero because of the heroine only being 16 (I think). However, if he was 44 and the heroine was 30, I don’t think I would class it May/December. The gap in experience/maturity would not be anything like as wide.

    • Yuri says:

      I totally agree that ‘Friday’s Child’ shouldn’t be on the list – Sherry is way too young to be “December” and like you said, if he (or Hero) had been more mature then there wouldn’t have been a plot so pretty much the opposite of May-December!

      I suppose it’s a matter of relative maturity and whether it present as an issue in the plot, but anything less than 15 years would seem to be a fairly unremarkable age gap, particularly in historicals.

    • CindyS says:

      Wow, you don’t think a 14 year age difference is a big deal. I’m a touch shocked and since my husband is 12 years old than I am I think I can speak to what a difference in age can mean. And I don’t just mean between the 2 of us.

      My family was not happy to hear I was going to marry a man who was older than I was – in fact, I lied about the age difference saying it was like 7 years. Colour my mother horrified 4 years into my marriage when I mentioned I should have a Surprise 40th for my husband – yeah, I forgot the smudging of facts and it took the wind out of her sails. Doing the math, my husband is 12 1/2 years older than I am and 15 years younger than my parents – not exactly the mate they had in mind for me but they can’t fault that we are happy.

      And then there are the people who judge – I’m a 2nd wife so of course, there is an assumption made about who we are as people – which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I remember at the age of 25 a woman turning to her husband and saying ‘oh, she’s his secretary’ and then walking away. I was not his secretary ever but because we worked in the same building that’s how we were seen.

      Now, put 20 years between and H/H in a romance book and I’m squeamish – something about a 20 year old holding a baby that will hit me in the head (and the Brockmann additions to the list were some of my fav May/Dec (but again, I get an image in my head)). Especially in historicals because the family usually knows the other person.

      For real life, a few years age difference, to me, should be the norm (but most people today marry someone their own age), at 6 years I’m still fine but by 9 I’m thinking that’s enough of a split to have some differences (not the don’t marry kind of difference but you will definitely have different tastes in music). To this day I see anything that looks remotely like the early 80’s in decor and I know my husband is going to gravitate towards it and tell me he loves it – blergh. Now, being too young in the 70’s I can look at furniture that is 70s inspired and think ‘ooooh, nice’ but I respect when my husband says ‘no, it’s too 70s’ , after all, he was a teenager then.

      And finally, to expand the visual– when I was 12 my now husband married his first wife! By the time we met he had been married, gone through not being able to have kids, infidelity, the final downfall of a marriage etc and hey you have to be honest – they had good times too.
      Are Bob and I May/Dec – no, I don’t think so but when you look at many of the people around us – we are ‘different’ for lack of a better term.

      So even though there are readers who don’t think 14 years is much of a difference I beg to differ, My husband and I were brought up completely different and we had many experiences that were not shared making up the people we have become. 18 years of marriage and I know I made the right decision but to say I never once thought ‘uh, are we going to be able to do this?’ would be a lie.

      Hopefully having the age differences on the list will help others find the right kind of romance for them. And it was stated by the list that the age difference had to be a large part of the storyline.

      Just another opinion.

    • Rike says:


      Sherry in Friday’s Child is 23, because this trust ends when he’s 25, it’s mentioned that that’s still two years in the future, and he wants to gain control of his estate straight away, so he marries Hero.

      The book was not proposed by myself, but I think it fits the list in that the age difference here equals a huge difference in experience and expectations, and a vital part of Sherry’s inner growth is to recognize this and take responsibility for supporting his wife during her own process of growing up.

      We regard the May-Dec term not as a reference to actual age, but as a catching phrase to express that age difference plays an important role in the book. (“Books with an age difference” just does not sound the same.)

      • Elizabeth Rolls says:

        We’ll have to agree to disagree on these, Rike. You’re correct on Sherry’s age, but that just makes calling it a May/December romance even more bizarre to me. It’s more of a coming of age story for both of them which is why I suggested that it is closer to YA.
        I’m not sure that Sherry thinks of his age as meaning he has to take responsibility for Hero, but rather the fact that he is a man. For a man at that period, and even when Heyer wrote the book, there is very much an understanding that the man is in charge. Head of the household, if you like. (Doesn’t work too well around here, I have to confess!) There are Heyers where this doesn’t hold, though. A Lady of Quality and Black Sheep to name a couple. Probably Venetia as well.

        Anyway, I think May/December has a very particular connotation for me and for that reason I find it very odd to find some of these titles under this listing. The redefinition really doesn’t work for me at all. Which isn’t particularly a problem since I rarely look for reading matter according to theme. Most of the time I’m happy for the author to give me a surprise.

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