AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Rike’s Picks

cotillion All the romances listed below are true Desert Island Keepers for me, and for each of them the following holds true: Whenever I open them to reread a particular scene, I cannot put them down again, and I end up reading the whole book. Each and every time. So this list is entirely subjective, with no regard to subgenres or dates of publication – although to gain entry on this list, a romance must have been around for a few years, otherwise I won’t know whether I will reread it again … and again … and again.

The order in which I have placed the books is not according to preference, but, as far as I can remember, according to the time in which I discovered them and added them to my own personal canon. Continue reading

In Search of the Real Regency

Regency In my search for good historical reading, I’ll admit that I’m sometimes guilty of something. I’ll moan about Regency-set historicals as a shorthand for “historicals with idiot twit leads, wallpaper settings and stupid gimmicks that make me crazy.” And I know that’s not fair of me. The Regency period itself has much to recommend it, and modern-day silliness dressed up in poofy gowns was certainly not what it was all about. I don’t dislike the Regency period as a historical era; it’s more that I’ve read too many books that claim this time period as their setting even though one would never be able to discern this from the text of the book itself.
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What Makes a Book Unforgettable?

magic I had fun seeing the RITA and Golden Heart award nominations go up yesterday. There were some really good books up there! At first, I was just noting that I had read more of the nominees(and had more in my TBR) than in past years. But then, as I pondered this list of books that stood out in the minds of RITA/Golden Heart judges, it made me think on a more subjective level about what makes a book really stand out in my mind.

Certainly polished writing helps. If the reader is constantly slogging through poor punctuation, clumsy phrasing, and the inveterate abuse of homophones, it’s hard for the story to speak to one. However, beautiful words without heart just won’t do it. And that’s where I find things hard to quantify.

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Setting the Mood

muhldorf castle So, what about a setting makes it feel romantic? We tend to complain about settings being too wallpapery (the 21st Century Regency) or too cliched (every small town in possession of a fetching heroine must be in want of a sheriff’s attentions to her), but what makes settings great?

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You Never Forget the First

susannah When I saw Sarah Johnson’s giveaway over at Reading the Past, her request for people to comment with the name of the novel that got them interested in reading historical fiction. Her contest got me thinking not just of historical fiction I have loved, but about the first novel that hooked me on romance. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pick just one! There have been too many firsts along the way for me.

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