Romances I Want to See on the Large or Small Screen

byrdtheatre Recently we’ve seen a spate of books made into movies – Ender’s Game, Catching Fire and The Book Thief being three of the most recent. Which got me to thinking about romance novels I think would make excellent films or TV series. Books that I feel contain enough grit and depth to appeal to a wider audience while still containing the kind of luscious love stories that romance fans adore. I’ve added some casting hints just in case Hollywood needs the help. Here’s my list:

1. Nobody’s Baby but Mine – Susan Elizabeth Phillips – The story: Football hero and brainy scientist meet in the most unusual of ways. I can totally see Emma Stone as the brainy, feisty Jane. Cal is a bit harder but I can picture Mathew Fox (or a younger, hotter version of him) delivering the cereal killer line with aplomb. This sweet tale of a brainy gal and the jock she brings to his knees would make a terrific rom com. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites: Dabney’s Picks

RMBIt was the summer of 2008 and I, a passionate reader, had my first Kindle. It was magical–a device you could just push a button and get books, as many as you could find and afford, and read to your heart’s content. I’d had the thing for a couple of weeks and was perusing the Amazon Kindle page. I can’t remember if it was free or it was the most downloaded book of the day but that day I decided to buy Karen Marie Moning’s Darkfever. At the time, I hadn’t read a romance novel for over thirty years. That book sucked me in and I still haven’t been spit out. I had a problem, however. I wanted to read more romance but had no way to figure out which ones sucked and which rocked. Thank the gods for the internet. A few clicks and, boom, I discovered AAR. For the next two years, nearly every romance I bought I found through AAR and its Power Search feature. I discovered quickly that I loved well-written romances that were, well, hot. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Alexandra’s Picks

ravishingtheheiress Although I know other reviewers and staff have had a lot of trouble deciding upon their top ten romance novels, I have to confess it was mostly easy for me. This likely has something to do with the fact that I’ll be stranded on what is essentially a desert island for the next few months—that’s right, I’m off to college. There’s not much space in a dorm, so only the crème de la crème of my romance novel collection travels with me, and since many of those books have already been mentioned, it’s actually been fairly simple to whittle my list down to just ten.

Even so, I still have some books (like Julia Quinn’s Romancing Mr. Bridgerton or Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm) which I ache to write about and recommend. The books on my list have all been read and reread dozens of times. I take scrupulous care of all my books, and if you ran your hand down the spines of everything sitting on my bookshelf, you’d find perhaps 80% are in fairly pristine condition. These ones, however, look much more worn. They’re carted around (on vacation, off to college, etc.), they’re lent out to family and friends, and they’re the books most likely to be found sitting on a coffee table waiting to be spilled on.

So, without further ado, here are, in no particular order, some of my top bunch of romance novels—the true DIKs which I’ll be carting off to college this week. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites – Lea’s Picks

keeperofthedream As I’m sure a number of other AAR reviewers discovered when choosing their Top Ten Favorite romance books, it’s not an easy task. I whittled my list down to twenty and realized some of my absolute favorites still had to be marked off the list. I wondered, should I include those ultimate favorites from ten years ago when I was most passionate about the romance genre? Or, now that my tastes have evolved, should I choose newer discoveries that more closely match my tastes today? And since I listen to so many audiobooks, how could I keep those with excellent audio deliveries from influencing my choice of print books? Not easy. But then I realized just how much my Top Ten audiobooks list would differ from those books available in print format only and decided to not mix the two. I’ll save my list of top audiobooks for a Speaking of Audiobooks column.

As I reduced the list to only ten books, I decided to include a number of romances that were A+ reads years ago and a number that are my first choices today. After painfully marking a good number of extremely good, completely satisfying reads off the list, here are my Top Ten Favorites in no particular order. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top Ten Favorites: Caroline’s Picks

again Everybody has had so many interesting ideas for how to choose a top ten – breaking down by genre, assuming “pocket copies” of classics, choosing only books which haven’t been listed by other bloggers – so I apologize for using yet another methodology. I’ve chosen books which were so good that I have or would recommend them to non-romance readers. These are books which, in my opinion, stand as books, enjoyable and even lovable by people who will cut them no slack for genre conventions. I hope you love them as well!

Again – Kathleen Gilles Seidel

Again is a true buried treasure: an A grade here at AAR and my personal pick for single best romance ever, and yet it isn’t even in print. Seidel transports you into the meticulously researched world of a historical soap opera called My Lady’s Chamber (think Downton Abbey, but Regency), written by Jenny Cotton and starring Alec Cameron. I love Alec, a natural leader unable to ignore the problems at work causing Jenny distress (boy, could my workplace use a man like that!). Jenny is creative, intelligent, and gifted at her job. It is fascinating to watch Jenny’s real-life relationships play out in her characters. When one of her soap characters does something wonderful, and you realize that on some level Jenny’s falling for Alec… it’s just magic. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top 10 Favorites – LinnieGayl’s Picks

seaswept As one of AAR’s three pollsters – along with LeeB and Cindy – I truly adore the Top 100 poll. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it’s also fun to look at the ballots as they come in. I was excited when everyone at AAR decided to post their top ten romances as a lead-up to the Top 100 polling in October. But I was also a bit nervous. Since I’ve seen the ballots AAR readers submitted in 2007 and 2010, I know that my top ten romances are a bit idiosyncratic.

Like most of my colleagues at AAR, I decided to set up some rules for my Top 10. I’ve made no attempt to balance the list by subgenre. Nor did I limit my list to just one romance per author (as you’ll quickly see). But I did decide to list just one entry from each series or trilogy and went with the first in a series. In some cases the first entry isn’t my favorite, but these are series that I believe should be read from the beginning, they’re just that good. All but one of the romances on my list (#9) are frequent rereads and/or re-listens.

Unlike many of my AAR colleagues, while I adore Pride and Prejudice, it isn’t actually in the top ten on my ballot, so I didn’t have to make any rules about it. But I did struggle long and hard about placing a mystery – with seriously strong romantic elements – on my list. The first in the Amelia Peabody mysteries, Crocodile on the Sandbank, can almost be taken as a cozy romantic suspense, and was actually my “A review” when I applied to be an AAR reviewer. While the series definitely reads as mystery, at its heart is the endearing romance between Amelia and Emerson. While I stuck with romances for my list, one historical romance set in Egypt made it onto my list and another (Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase) just missed. 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

Unusual Occupations

zookeeper I’m a big fan of romance characters with well-rounded lives. I like my heroes and heroines to have friends, hobbies, and careers. Sure, once in a while a “couple on the run” or “cabin romance” will work for me, but such romances are not my preference. As a result, I was excited when readers asked that we open the Unusual Occupations Special Titles List for submissions, as it’s one of my favorites.

But what is it, exactly, that makes an occupation “unusual” enough to qualify for the list? The description of the list is one of the shortest of any of the Special Title Lists: Continue reading

What Makes a Special Setting Special?

My favorite of all the Special Title Lists is the Special Settings List. I can’t begin to say how many times I’ve scoured through that list looking for books to read in different exotic locales, paying particular attention to the Europe and the Middle East and Africa sections of the list.

I’ve written here before about my fondness for romances set in Greece. But in reality, I’m a sucker for romances set in any exotic or unusual location. Sure, like many of you, I love romances set in the U.K. But as a travel lover — both armchair and in real life — I long for variety in settings. Continue reading

Susan Elizabeth Phillips Booksigning and July/August Events

SEP1This is the one I’ve been waiting for! Despite living in Chicago for a good part of my adult life, I never managed to make it out to Naperville (far western suburb) to attend one of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ booksignings in her hometown. But finally, after years of hoping, she did an event not just close to my hometown, but in my hometown!

I had a feeling there would be a lot of people at the event, and I was right. However, I don’t think the bookstore was quite prepared for the size of the crowd. I was determined to arrive early in order to get a decent seat. I got there nearly 45 minutes before the event began and already about 70% of the seats were full. Initially the store had as many chairs out for the event as they’ve had for some lesser-known mystery author events I’ve attended. It was clear the setup wasn’t going to work. As people continued to pour into the store, the staff began putting out extra chairs.  The author’s books were in numerous places throughout the bookstore. There was a large bookshelf right next to the microphone filled with The Great Escape; I should say filled until 15 minutes before the event started when one of the staff came and took every book from the shelf, as they were running out up front.

Continue reading