AAR Staff Top 10 Favorites – Heather’s Picks

paradise When you’re a voracious reader, picking a top 10 is a daunting task. There are so many books that I’ve loved and in many different ways or for different reasons. Some may be because they’ve brought me to a particular sub-genre. Some I’ve loved perhaps because they struck the right note for me for where I was emotionally at the time I read them. And some are on my favorites list just because they have that certain je ne se quois that causes me to connect with the story and characters. Whatever the reason may be, AAR has brought me fantastic recommendations for many years thanks to the wonderful community of reviewers, pollsters, commenters, and visitors to our message boards.

My highly scientific method of decision-making consisted of going through my reading log and if a book made me squee with delight, I short listed it. Then I began the arduous task of narrowing down my choices to ten. My choices represent a variety of genres and styles, but all have become favorites of mine in some way. There are some glaring omissions, notably due to the fact that there are no medievals on my list, and a few favorite authors, while I consistently enjoy the books they produce, did not make the cut.

And so now it is time for me to pick my favorite children, er, books. Gosh, this is harder than it sounded at first. Continue reading

Secondary Romances and Risk-Taking

mcnaught I just finished Judith McNaught’s Someone to Watch Over Me, and the main characters are… fine. He’s a bazillionaire who’s loved her for a long time. She’s a successful Broadway actress who doesn’t trust his criminal past. Like I said, they’re fine, with all the faint-praise-damning and forgettability that that word generally implies. But the book will end up on my keeper shelf anyway, because the secondary romance between Detective Samantha Littleford and and her superior, Lieutenant Mitchell McCord, is just too good not to reread.

What made Samantha and McCord so enjoyable? I love office romance/off-limits attraction plot devices because they put up plausible barriers to the couple’s courtship. As the senior police officer, McCord can’t express any feelings towards Samantha without running afoul of every procedure and regulation in the book. Consequently, he’s so self-contained that Samantha can’t even tell if he likes her. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top 10 Favorites: Jenna’s Picks

drumroll Note from our pollsters: AAR is pleased to announce that starting on Tuesday October 1st, 2013 we will open polling for AAR Reader’s Top 100 Romance List. To get everyone ready for Top 100 poll we will post our reviewer and staff picks for their personal Top 10 Favorite Romances every Tuesday starting now until the poll opens in October.

As a way to get to know me as one of the newer reviewers as well as something fun to get us all excited for this fall’s AAR Readers Top 100 Poll, mine is the first installment in a series of AAR staff posts discussing our personal Top 10 favorite romance novels. It’s always nice to rave about your favorite reads, and I’m excited for the chance to talk up these books, hopefully inspiring you to pick up a title that you, too, might love.

When deciding what books to include on my personal Top 10 list, I used one criterion above and beyond the “must be a romance” dictate. I applied the ultimate DIK question – if I had a chest that could only hold ten books to keep me happy while stranded indefinitely on a deserted island, which ones would I choose to put in it? Continue reading

Guilty Pleasures: Let’s Spread the Joy

whitneyOne of the best things about the holidays is that we all give in to indulgence of our Guilty Pleasures for weeks at time.   Much chocolate and champagne consumption ensues – at least for this holiday-er.

As romance readers, though, we’re familiar with a different type of Guilty Pleasure:  Books we love that we don’t necessarily want to admit to loving to our smart women friends who read romance, too. Your GP may involve an un-politically correct plotline or an over the top Alpha hero you would hate in real life – whatever your particular brand of GP happens be, it’s your bidness, right?

So, without further ado, let me take the cover off a few of my personal brand of Guilty Pleasures:

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I’ll Admit It: I Like Duke Books

jacmanYes, I’m one of those romance readers who fits the cliché:  Just give me a box of bon bons and a shirtless duke in a cape and I’m all set.

Okay, so I’m not quite that clichéd.  Bon bons have w-a-a-a-a-y too many carbs and just slapping the title on any wallpaper character  doesn’t cut it.

I like dukes when authors make me actually believe they are dukes.

A sterling example is Mary Balogh in Slightly Dangerous.  Much of the book is told from Wulfric’s POV and the reader knows that every fiber of his being is consumed by the responsibilities of his rank to his family, his tenants, and his servants.  The life and livelihood of hundreds – and maybe even thousands – depend on him and he never forgets it even for one moment.

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