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

Aged Out of Paranormals?

Growing up, I knew my mom had a bit of a romance habit. She read a lot of mysteries, but her bookshelf also spilled over with gothics, romantic suspense and the occasional Harlequin. Lately, though, she’s become a paranormal junkie. Writers like J.R. Ward and Kresley Cole are some of her new favorite authors and when she got a Kindle for Mothers’ Day, she was only too happy to start discovering the world of paranormal eBooks. We started talking books one day, and I asked her what made her start loving paranormals so much. Here was her answer, “I get that women in their 60s probably aren’t the target audience for most of these books, but they’re just so much more romantic than the books aimed at people like me.”

When I asked my mom what target audience she thought she fit into, she replied that most of the books with characters anywhere near her age seemed to be women’s fiction or what she refers to as “issue” books. While some of those are good and very relatable, I got the impression she found them a bit too relatable. Continue reading

Do We Give Paranormal Heroes a Pass?

werewolf Think about it. If I read a historical where the hero comes along, tells the heroine she will be his, and they engage in a courtship that seems to consist of bickering, near rapes, and the hero having to mark heroine as his in some physical way, you’d think I was reading an old-school 1970s/80s book, wouldn’t you? Sure, every now and again a novel comes along that has a hero pushing the envelope in terms of sexual coercion or controlling behavior, but it’s unusual enough that it often sparks controversy and readers talk about it.
Continue reading

AAR Featured in Bodice Ripper-Free Article on CNN.com

The mainsteam media came a-callin’ again and this time it came without any attitude. Woohoo!

I was interviewed last week about the popularity of vampire romances by Lisa Respers France, a reporter who told me she is a voracious reader. And, apparently, she is a reader with a wide open mind because there is not a whiff of ‘tude in the piece. How refreshing is that?

Ms. France also talked to J.R. Ward, Laurell K. Hamilton, Heather Graham, and Judy Scott of RWA about the appeal of the vampire and romance as one of the few bright spots in today’s economy. But I’m in there, too, talking about how smart women read romance.  And how great writers write romance. And about how many intelligent women who read romance are now out of the closet. It’s good to be out of the closet, isn’t it?

My thanks to Ms. France for the fun time I had talking to her about one of my favorite subjects and for writing such a balanced and attitude-free article on romance.

-Sandy AAR

The Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy Debate

ward Where to draw the line between paranormal romance and urban fantasy is hardly a new question. A number of articles and blog pieces have been written on the subject, including this one and also this piece . Given the manner in which books are marketed, it seems that many titles blur the lines and I seem to find books many consider urban fantasy shelved in the romance section or vice versa. So, where does one draw the line? For me, a paranormal romance focuses primarily on the primary hero/heroine relationship, and there needs to be an HEA. In urban fantasy, however, there may be some romantic elements, but the primary focus is on the fantasy plot(often the main character’s quest) itself – and the ending of any romantic subplot might not necessarily be happy. For example, I would consider Vicki Pettersson’s Signs of the Zodiac series urban fantasy but J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood paranormal romance.

Continue reading