It’s the Holiday Season – But We’re Still Opening Special Title Lists!

suggestionbox So here we are in the thick of Holiday season and you have groceries to buy, baked goods to prepare, gifts to buy, decorate the house inside and out, buy a new dress for that annual Holiday party, all while trying to keep your home in tip top shape in case you get the lovely drop in. We here are AAR believe you could use a little ‘you’ time without a Christmas thought barreling through your head so we have opened 3 new Categories for the Special Title Listing and there isn’t a single Christmas theme in any of them! Continue reading

Special Title Listings Updated!

caressedbyice Whenever we look at the nominations for a currently open Special Title Listing, we are thrilled at how divergent the entries are. Each and every time, there are classics that for some reason no-one had thought of before, there are well-loved novels that were published during the last ten years or so, and there are recent books that have already made a great impact.

Taking the Virginal Heroes, there is Scaramouche, from Rafael Sabatini’s swashbuckling romances of the 1920s. There are Nalini Singh’s Judd Lauren from Caressed by Ice, and the Earl of Ardmore from Eloisa James’s Kiss Me, Annabel – both books were published in the 2000s. As for 2013 novels, there are Kaleb Krycheck from Heart of Obsidian (also by Singh), and Samuel Cooke from Courting Greta by Ramsey Hootman.

Newly entered classics on the May-Dec/Dec-May list are Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman (1947), Arabella by Georgette Heyer (1949), Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart (1956), and The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren (1974), an early male-male romance.
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And..We’re Opening Two New Special Title Lists for Submissions!

outlander2 Having looked at Experienced Women last time we updated the list, let’s consider their counterparts now: virginal men. What is so fascinating about Virginal Heroes? First and foremost that they confound all romance expectations. Romance heroes as such are expected to be suave, sure of themselves, confident in all matters – and that includes sex. How else, one may ask, will they be able to please the heroine so well that she experiences an orgasm the first time ever she has sex? How else can they pay the heroine the compliment that, although they have slept with dozens of women (or hundreds … take your choice), sex with her is more earth-shattering than anything they have ever experienced?

But let’s forget about the clichés of the genre for a minute and let’s consider real-life men. While many of them have sex with more than one woman during their lifetime, others are true to one woman only (just as it is the other way around). Which means that they are virgins when they meet their mate-to-be. So why not include the fictional counterparts of these men in the romance cosmos? Some of the heroes already on this list are utterly delicious – I am looking at you, Dr. Anthony Cook and Branden Kel-Paten, among others. So bring them on! Continue reading

Special Title Lists and Thinking About Definitions

thinker When we prepare to open one of our Special Title Listings, we look at the original definition and we look at the books that were nominated in the past and made their way onto the list, and matters seem straightforward enough. Then we write a little bit for the blog, trying to illustrate further what is so especially fascinating about that particular trope, and what variations there may be within it. Then you, our readers, nominate books. With most, the procedure is simple enough: They obviously fit the category, they have received glowing reviews here at AAR or at other respected sites, and on the list they go. But then there are the borderline books: They don’t quite fit the definition, but yet they are very close to it. Do we change the definition to encompass a larger range of books, to permit a wider variety within the list? Or do we stick to the definition because we don’t want to water down the list? Continue reading

Special Title Listings: The Bad Girls

spear_of_summer_grass Bad girl heroines hold a special fascination for many romance readers because these women go against the grain of what we expect in a romance in a number of ways. They are aggressive, they take the lead, they act selfishly or irresponsibly, and they may even be without remorse. They don’t mind using their charm and attraction for their own advantage, and they even use their bodies to get what they want. Often they are outcasts, be it from choice or from necessity. However, as many of them are strong, independent characters, they are highly interesting to read about.

There are several special title listings at AAR that contain such heroines.

The Tormented Heroines are at odds with their role in society, and this results in their acting against the rules of sweet and caring womanhood. They may be cynical, eccentric, manipulative, selfish, or any combination of these. In any case they are mad, bad, and dangerous to know, and it takes a very special hero to bridge their defenses and let them find happiness. With these heroines, it is often clear that even the happy ending is only a single step forward in a battle of wits that will last for and enrich their entire lives. No conventional happily-ever-after here! Continue reading

Special Title Listings: Summer Update

list As summer heads into its final months we’ve decided to take a bit of a break and are doing a light update for the Special Title Listings by opening just two lists for your suggestions. Even though we’re entering the Dog Days of summer we hope you’ll be able to help us once again and offer some great suggestions for the following lists: (1) Older Couples, and (2) Big City Contemporary Romances.

We look forward to seeing your submissions for these lists starting today Monday August 5 and going for the next two weeks ending Sunday August 18 at midnight. As a reminder, any additions to the list have to be: (1) the best of the best, (2) stand the test of time, and (3) actually fit the list for which they were submitted. Continue reading

Sports Romances and Heroines in Pursuit

list We don’t know what it is about the combination of Heroes in Pursuit, Heroines in Pursuit, Sports Romances, and Suspense & Mystery, but we seem to have hit all your buttons. Never since we have taken up the Special Titles Listings have we received so many nominations, in the case of Heroes in Pursuit and Suspense & Mystery more than 150 titles each. The good news is that these lists will be expanded considerably; the bad news is that we will just need a bit more time to do so. As a result, we are presenting the updated pages in two steps: Today the shorter Heroines in Pursuit and Sports Romances, and the week after next the other two lists. Continue reading

New Special Title Lists Open!

list We’re pleased to announce that we’re opening four more Special Title Listings for your suggestions. Even though it’s summer we hope you’ll be able to help us once again and offer some great suggestions for the following lists: (1) Suspense & Mystery; (2) Sports Romances; (3) Heroes in Pursuit; and (4) Heroines in Pursuit.

We look forward to seeing your submissions for these lists starting today Monday June 10 and going for the next two weeks ending Sunday June 23 at midnight. As a reminder, any additions to the list have to be: (1) the best of the best, (2) stand the test of time, and (3) actually fit the list for which they were submitted.

Suspense & Mystery
: While AAR is a romance site, we also recognize that many AAR readers – and staff – love romantic suspense as well as traditional mysteries with strong romantic elements. In this list we feature romances filled with intrigue, mystery, and mayhem. Traditional “gothic” romances are included, and suspense or mystery novels with a strong romantic sub-plot may be listed as well. It’s been over four years since this was last updated and based on the active thread on mystery and suspense on the Let’s Talk Romance Novels forum, we’re hoping to see a lot of great submissions from you to add to the list. Continue reading

New Special Title Listing: Big City Romances

chicago I’ve written here before about my fondness for the Special Settings list at AAR and posted here once about my love of romances set in Greece. I’ve scoured the Special Settings list numerous times for other unusual settings and have discovered some great reads. But there’s another type of setting that I’m particularly fond of and that currently doesn’t have its own list: big cities.

Romance readers often complain about the excessive number of small town/rural romances, particularly in category romances. While I don’t hate small town romances, I can only handle so many romances featuring small town sheriffs, or visitors from the big city who discover the wonders of small towns. As a long-time Chicago resident, I often find myself longing for big city romances (and I’m not talking about European Historicals set in London). Continue reading

New Special Title Lists are Open!

list We’re at it again! With the help of our readers we have found the right formula for adding new titles to the Special Title Listings. This month we are opening: (1) Nerds & Absent-Minded Professors, (2) Bluestockings and Feminists, (3) Beauty is in the Eye and (4) Unrequited Love. We look forward to seeing your submissions for these lists starting today Monday May 6th and going for the next two weeks ending Sunday May 19th at midnight. As a reminder, any additions to the list have to be: (1) the best of the best, (2) stand the test of time, and (3) actually fit the list for which they were submitted. Continue reading