TBR Challenge – On the Edges of Our Seats

huntinghuman It’s been a while since I read a paranormal that felt fresh. For that reason, I was especially happy to read Hunting Human as I dove into the paranormal side of “paranormal or romantic suspense” for this month’s TBR challenge. This book is a 2011 release from Carina Press, and after reading it, I was rather disappointed to find that author Amanda E. Alvarez has apparently not released any other books. That’s a real shame because even if Hunting Human isn’t perfect, I’d give it a very solid B. My romance picks don’t often haunt me, but this book both made me smile and made chills run down my spine.

The chilling part starts early as we meet heroine Lizzy Williams in eastern Europe with her best friend Rachel. As they leave a bar and head for their hostel, the sense of foreboding increases. The reader just knows that something horrible is about to happen to these two happy young women, but reads on, powerless to stop it. When several men they encountered at the bar kidnap the duo and throw them into a van, my heart sank. I was horrified, but also so gripped by the story that I just couldn’t turn away. Continue reading

Eagerly Awaited Books – October 2014

It’s still pretty warm where I am in Virginia, so it’s hard to think October is just around the corner. This is especially true when I recall that the October list always seems to have that first wave of Christmas romances. I love me a romantic holiday tale, and I know I’ll be buying one or two to savor when the weather turns cold. What about you? What goodies does fall bring you?

Title and Author Reviewer
Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt Haley, Lee, Caz, Cindy, Alex, Mary, Heather
In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins in Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins Dabney, Mary, Heather, Jenna, Alex, Lee
Never Marry a Viscount by Anne Stuart Never Marry a Viscount by Anne Stuart Lynn, Caz, Cindy
Carolina Blues by Virginia Kantra Carolina Blues by Virginia Kantra Haley, Dabney
What a Lady Needs for Christmas by Grace Burrowes What a Lady Needs for Christmas by Grace Burrowes Caz, Mary
Indecent Proposal by Molly O'Keefe Indecent Proposal by Molly O’Keefe Dabney, Lynn
Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer Ashley Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer Ashley Mary, Lee
The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain Shannon
The Counterfeit Heiress by Tasha Alexander The Counterfeit Heiress by Tasha Alexander Linnie
Season for Desire by Teresa Romain Season for Desire by Teresa Romain Caz
Too Friendly to Date by Nicole Helm Too Friendly to Date by Nicole Helm Dabney
Christmas Brides anthology Christmas Brides by Suzanne Enoch, Alexandra Hawkins, Elizabeth Essex, and Valerie Bowman (contains both new and previously published stories) Lynn
Hope Burns by Jaci Burton Hope Burns by Jaci Burton Haley
Truth Be Told by Hank Philippi Ryan Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan Shannon
The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield Dabney
Betrayed By His Kiss by Amanda McCabe Betrayed By His Kiss by Amanda McCabe Lynn
Chained by Night by Larissa Ione Chained by Night by Larissa Ione Shannon
Deceived by Irene Hannon Deceived by Irene Hannon Maggie

TBR Challenge 2014 – Pick a Book For Me

dukesholiday For my “Recommended Read” in this month’s TBR Challenge, I chose The Duke’s Holiday by Maggie Fenton, a book which a number of my friends on Goodreads enjoyed and which was recommended to me by one of them.

It’s a fairly simple story – a very proper, highly fastidious duke with what the synopsis indicates is Obsessive (or is it Obsessional?) Compulsive Disorder meets his match in the form of a feisty, flame-haired mess of a women who thrives on chaos. I normally like the “opposites attract” trope, I like comedic romances, and the person who recommended it and I normally have very similar tastes, so it seemed like a good bet for a fun read.

Unfortunately, however, I seem to be in the minority of people who aren’t wild about this book. It’s not terrible by any means, but there are a number of things in the execution that just don’t work for me and to be honest, I didn’t find it all that funny. 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

TBR Challenge – Heating Up the Summer

shiver As summer comes to an end, I’ve been challenged to read a book with luscious love scenes. I immediately thought of Harlequin’s Blaze line, and grabbed Shiver by Jo Leigh, a 2010 release that is still available digitally. Though the story wasn’t quite as steamy as I’d expected, I still ended up with a sexy, fun read, and I’d give it a B.

My first recommendation to readers? Don’t judge this one by its cover. It’s a lot more offbeat and fun than that somewhat generic picture would suggest. After all, the hero not only owns a supposedly haunted inn; he also makes independent documentary films. The semi-reclusive comic strip writer known for her snarky humor didn’t strike me as a run of the mill character either.

Both lead characters are city folk who have no intention of leaving their usual environment, but they’ve ended up at a quaint, haunted inn in Colorado for plausible enough reasons. Sam Crider has inherited the inn where he grew up, and he’s come home temporarily to run it while trying to sell. Carrie Sawyer, on the other hand, has only come to the Crider Inn as a somewhat reluctant guest. Continue reading

TBR Challenge – It’s RITA Time!

prospero Note: This year’s RITA awards will be held next week at the RWA National Conference, so the July multi-blog challenge is focusing on reading RITA nominees and winners.

My choice for the multi-blog TBR challenge was Prospero’s Daughter by Nancy Butler, a RITA award winner in 2004. I loved it – it’s a beautifully written and tender romance in which an ex-soldier helps a badly injured young woman to recapture her spirit and zest for life in the face of the neglect of her seemingly perfect family. Morgan Pearce is inveigled by a friend into visiting the friend’s father to assist him in writing his memoirs. Not long after his arrival, Morgan literally stumbles across a lonely young woman sitting in a bath chair in the gardens, seemingly abandoned. She is Miranda Runyon, a relative who lost her parents in an accident three years previously, and who was left seriously injured. Her family has basically shut her away and now ignores her existence, and Miranda, once a vital, independent young woman, has more or less given up. Continue reading

TBR Challenge – Back to the Classics

seventearsforapollo This month’s TBR challenge, reading one of the classics, had me scratching my head for a little bit. Did I want to reach for one of those books that could be considered part of the romance canon(to the degree we have one), or did I want to pick a classic trope or author? In the end, I decided on Seven Tears for Apollo. When we start talking about old school romantic suspense or gothics online, certain names tend to pop up. Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Barbara Michaels – all have their fans. However, Phyllis Whitney is one of those names that seems to be mentioned almost as an afterthought.

I’ve read a few Phyllis Whitney novels, all historicals, and I did enjoy them. However, I had yet to read one of her contemporaries and so I gave this one a whirl. Written in 1962, it captures a world that for 21st century readers feels like a curious blend of old and new. Continue reading

Eagerly Awaited July Books

July looks like it’s going to be a month for historical lovers. Even though all of us here at AAR picked out some favorites across a variety of subgenres, historicals topped the list. Loretta Chase, Kaki Warner, Grace Burrowes and Mary Balogh all have new releases. I like to spend my summers lounging on the deck, daydreaming over a good book. What good books do you want to linger over this summer?

Title and Author Reviewer
Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase Caz, Lee, Lee, Cindy, Alex, Heather
Where the Horses Run by Kaki Warner Where the Horses Run by Kaki Warner Lynn, Pat, Lee, Mary
The Captive by Grace Burrowes The Captive by Grace Burrowes Jenna, Caz, Mary, Alex
The Escape by Mary Balogh The Escape by Mary Balogh Maggie, Alex, Lee
Hope at Dawn by Stacy Henrie Hope at Dawn by Stacie Henrie Caroline, Lynn
The Dead Will Tell by Linda CAstillo The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo Shannon, Maggie
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness Alex, Heather
A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber LinnieGayl, Caz
Landline by Rainbow Rowell Landline by Rainbow Rowell Caroline, Jenna
Straddling the Line by Jaci Burton Straddling the Line by Jaci Burton Haley
Awakened by Virna DePaul Awakened by Virna DePaul Shannon
On Sunset Beach by Mariah Stewart On Sunset Beach by Mariah Stewart LinnieGayl
Four Stories by Veronica Roth Four Divergent Stories by Veronica Roth Jenna
Second Chance Cinderella by Carla Capshaw Second Chance Cinderella by Carla Capshaw Lynn
The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs Maggie
Unwept by Hickmans Unwept by Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman Melanie
Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan Haley
Midnight Secretary, Vol. 6 Midnight Secretary, Vol. 6 by Tomu Ohmi Caroline
Noble Metals by L.A. Witt Noble Metals by L.A. Witt Pat
Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon Melanie
The Manhattan Encounter by Addison Fox The Manhattan Encounter by Addison Fox Lynn
The Boleyn REckoning by Laura Andersen The Boleyn Reckoning by Laura Andersen Caz
Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton Heather
Then Came You by Jill Shalvis Then Came You by Jill Shalvis Haley
Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok Maggie
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes One Plus One by Jojo Moyes Lee
No River Too Wide by Emilie Richards No River Too Wide by Emilie Richards Heather

TBR Challenge: Lots to Choose From

midnightangel Today we’re taking a little break from the RT author interviews for May’s installment of the TBR Challenge. For this month’s adventure through the TBR pile, I went looking for a book by an author represented multiple times in my stash of books waiting to be read. I’ve read a lot of Lisa Kleypas, but I still have plenty of her books in the TBR. The Russian angle of her 1995 historical, Midnight Angel appealed to me, so I decided to give that one a whirl.

Though the heroine is Russian, most of the book is set in England as we are treated to a governess and employer romance. Early on in the book, we as readers learn Tasia’s big secret.
She is actually a Russian aristocrat in disguise who has fled the country as she has been sentenced to death for killing her betrothed. Tasia has no memory of what happened to the man or whether she may have harmed him, but she is determined to live. Conveniently, she has relatives in England who give her a new identity and find a place for her as governess to Lucas(Luke) Stokehurst, Marquess of Stokehurst. Continue reading

Eagerly Awaited May Releases

With new books from Jo Goodman and Julie James, May is shaping up to be a month that just might be hard on the wallet. And let’s not forget, the legendary historical, The Windflower is finally being reissued in May. After hearing about this book my entire reading life, I’m curious to see if it’s as good as they say. What about you? Looking forward to anything this May?

Title and Author Reviewer
In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman Lynn, Dabney, Jean, Lea, Melanie, Pat, Heather
It Happened One Wedding by Julie James It Happened One Wedding by Julie James Lea, LinnieGayl, Heather, Caroline, Caroline, Maggie, Mary, Alex
Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris Mary, Pat, Maggie, Caroline
Dreams of Lilacs by Lynn Kurland Dreams of Lilacs by Lynn Kurland Lee, Alex, Pat, Caz
It Takes a Scandal by Caroline Linden It Takes a Scandal by Caroline Linden Dabney, Mary, Caroline, Caz
Far Gone by Laura Griffin Far Gone by Laura Griffin Heather, Lee, Maggie, Lynn
The Windflower by Laura London The Windflower by Laura London Caroline, Lynn, Shannon
The Witch of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney The Witch of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney Mary, Melanie
How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke Alex, Lee
Lawless by HelenKay Dimon Lawless by HelenKay Dimon Dabney
Fair Play by Deeanne Gist Fair Play by Deeanne Gist Maggie
The One and Only by Emily Giffin The One and Only by Emily Giffin Shannon
Searching for Perfect by Jennifer Probst Searching for Perfect by Jennifer Probst Haley
To Charm a Naughty Countess by Teresa Romain To Charm a Naughty Countess by Teresa Romain Caz
Possession by JR Ward Possession(mas-market reissue of hardcover) by J.R. Ward Shannon
Flying by Megan Hart Flying by Megan Hart Heather
Dark Serpent by Kylie Chan Dark Serpent by Kylie Chan Caroline
Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick LinnieGayl
One Night to Risk It All by Maisey Yates One Night to Risk It All by Maisey Yates Dabney
Breakable by Tamara Webber Breakable by Tamara Webber Pat
The Collector by Nora Roberts The Collector by Nora Roberts Lea
The Secret Woman by Victoria Holt The Secret Woman(reissue) by Victoria Holt Lynn
Noble Intentions by Katie MacAlister Noble Intentions by Katie MacAlister Melanie
Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris, 1932 by Francine Prose Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris, 1932 by Francine Prose Dabney