One of the great pleasures of revising AAR’s Special Titles Listings is the re-discovery of old books. A reader nominates a title, or I spot it already on the list while I am adding AAR grades, and I remember I have it on my shelves or on my e-reader. I need to look up the date of publication and hero’s full name anyway, so I pick it up and start browsing. Usually I drag myself away and continue working on the list, but more often than not, I pick up that particular book again in the evening and make it my next read. What a great way to reaquaint myself with my library!
An equal pleasure is the discovery of new books. Sometimes I have already noticed some buzz about it online, but especially if it’s an older title, I may never have heard of it before. Again I need to look up detail: year of publication, reviews at AAR and other sites, exact description of the hero’s role … And before I know it, I am hooked. These days, instant ebook buying is usually no problem: All new and many, many backlist titles are available at a click, and I can start reading them almost instantly.
LinnieGayl, Cindy and I thought it might be fun to tell you about some of the titles we have come across while preparing the current STLs.
Spies, P.I.’s and Warriors (Rike): Suzanne Brockmann, Tall, Dark and Dangerous Series. What first got me hooked were two of the titles: Everyday, Average Jones and Harvard’s Education. How much better can titles get? And how did Suzanne Brockmann get away with these, with no cliché in sight? I did some research, and discovered that the books were series titles (at the moment I prefer short books) and had received excellent grades. Then I discovered that Harlequin has reissued the first six volumes in one boxed set just earlier this year, and so I went and bought it. I haven’t started on them yet, but am looking forward to it very much.
Deborah Smith, Sweet Hush. Here it was the first three sentences that had me hooked (I read them when I tried to find out how the hero’s name was spelled): “I’m the fifth Hush McGillen named after the Sweet Hush apple, but the only one who has thrown a rotten Sweet Hush at the First Lady of these United States. In my own defense, I have to tell you the First Lady threw a rotten Sweet Hush apple at me, too. The exchange, apples notwithstanding, was sad and deadly serious.” What also appealed to me was that the novel has a mature heroine and hero, and that is describes a clash of cultures.
Elizabeth Thornton, The Bride’s Bodyguard. Here I was attracted by the idea that, for a short time in the early 1800s, France and England could be at an uneasy peace, and that a girl could be half-French, half-English, and be at home in both countries. Merline Lovelace, Samantha Spade Mysteries. I am a sucker for a slightly ditzy heroine with a dry voice who does not take herself too seriously, so that was that. Add a hero who is a Customs and Border Control agent, and I am completely won over.
War (Rike): Meredith Duran, At Your Pleasure. The early 1700s are very rarely used as a backdrop for romance novels, yet one of my all-time favorites, Diana Norman’s Shores of Darkness, is set there. At Your Pleasure takes place a few years later, but I hope it will also capture some of that Defoean spirit.
Cons, Burglars, & Pickpockets (LinnieGayl): While the title lists three types of shady characters, the list actually features heroes or heroines on the other side of the law in any format. One of my favorite reads in recent years was added to the list this time. As I wrote in my DIK review of Susan Sey’s Money, Honey, this debut novel, is filled with witty dialogue, sizzling chemistry, and a truly dreamy former bad-boy hero. Although there is suspense, the focus is clearly on the relationship between the hero and heroine.“ While checking through the list I also discovered that one of my favorite older Nora Roberts titles, Homeport, is on the list. This story features a heroine who is an art curator and a hero who is a professional art thief. I’m going hunting for my copy of the book this evening; it’s time for a reread.
Rakes & Rogues (Cindy): I have loved scoundrels since the day Han Solo walked onto a movie screen. My love affair is still in full effect 30 years later and when looking over the list I can see my favorite authors well placed on the list. Anne Stuart had 8 titles on the list, 2 medievals (my all time fav book Lord of Danger (1997) is on the list), 3 in European historicals (which I want to re-read immediately) and 3 in contemporary. I was thrilled to see Stuart‘s Ruthless (2010), Reckless (2010) and Never Kiss A Rake (2013) each get more than one nomination to to be added to the list. Nora Roberts is quite clearly the Queen of the contemporary rake with 8 separate titles and then there is Roarke from her In Death series that has been on the list for years but was re-nominated this go around. Sherry Thomas, Tessa Dare and Sarah MacLean are authors making their debut on the list and I’m itching to get these books off my TBR pile.
Amnesia…Or Not (Cindy): I was surprised at how many new titles there were to add to this list, afterall, amnesia is a tough sale. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (2013) by Sarah MacLean has a hero who has no memory of a crime he is accused of while in Sherry Thomas‘ Tempting the Bride (2012) the heroine marries a man she depises but after a carriage accident she has no memory of him and they get a chance at love – at least I hope that’s how it works but I’ll be getting the book out to find out for sure. Another title that looks intriguing is What Alice Forgot (2009) by Liane Moriarty but I will have to read it with my chick-lit cap on.
We hope with the updated lists being published that you are finding just as many intriguing titles added to your favorite list and would love to hear how these latest additions have added to your reading.
Cindy, Rike, and LinnieGayl