I started reviewing for AAR when I was pretty young – 18 years old, and still fairly new to the genre. My tastes have changed and evolved quite a bit in that time. Looking at my reviewer profile, which hasn’t been updated since I started, I am rather skeptical of my “favorites,” some of which I don’t even remember anymore. I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about Hidden Fires by Sandra Brown, except that 6 years ago it was apparently one of my favorites.
My philosophy in choosing favorites is two-fold. One, my Top Ten should be more than a fleeting “books I’m enjoying now,” and therefore aren’t recent reads, or ones that I’ve read only once. Two, they should have something in them that would appeal beyond the romance. I think there is a subtle distinction between “books that a romance reader would enjoy” and “books non-romance readers would enjoy.” There are definitely some stories that I would recommend to fellow romance readers, but not anyone else. The best books are the ones that I think, “I could give this to a friend, and they would understand why I love romance novels.”
“Disability” can mean a whole lot of things: blindness, paralysis, amputated limbs, deafness, a chronic illness, brain damage. When I first started writing this blog, I thought it was a rare occurrence in romance novels. However, when I asked the staff here at AAR to brainstorm, we came up with a much longer list than I had anticipated.
I sat down to write something kind of snarky about language use in historicals after having come across some particularly heinous examples lately, but I soon found myself thinking about something entirely different: Are we in the midst of a renaissance of the historical romance?
I think we may be getting there. Recently I read – and was blown away by – Anne Stuart’s Ruthless. The novel is a great one any way you choose to judge it, but it’s also noteworthy for taking place in 1765 in France. Yes, that’s right, I said France. But, refreshing as that different time and setting may be, I loved this book because it is a voluptuous (and, yes, I really think that word applies), full-bodied (yes, I like it, even if it is redundant), lush romance between a truly dissolute rake and a strong, self-reliant woman. And, even better, it reminded me of a classic of the author’s from a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time ago that I have saved since I first read it – Lord Satan’s Bride. And I am excited – oh, my, am I excited – about the remaining two books in the trilogy.
This week is extra special because we’re doing a double feature of Books with Buzz! As many of you know, Tessa Dare burst onto the scene last year with Goddess of the Hunt, and was our readers’ pick for Best Debut Author. I enjoyed reading that book as a reviewer, and readers have been thrilled with Dare’s storytelling ability as well as the mixture of humor and deep emotion found in her stories. She creates interesting, distinctive characters that really grow over the course of her stories and in One Dance With a Duke, she kicks off a new trilogy based around the members of the Stud Club.
I was able to read an advance copy of the book, and am anxious to read the rest of the trilogy now. Even better, thanks to Tessa Dare and the wonderful folks at Ballantine Books, 10 lucky winners will be able to get copies of One Dance With a Duke for themselves! Just comment below to be entered in the contest. And, now – here’s Tessa Dare!
1. Would you tell our readers a bit about One Dance With a Duke?
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so we wanted to put together a special romance giveaway for our readers. We have seen a lot of fabulous new authors making their debuts in the past couple of years. Seeing so many good new voices makes one very hopeful about the future of romance and we hope that these new authors will keep writing for many more years. Several authors whose debuts were published in the past two years have offered prizes for our prize basket this Valentine’s Day and we are very excited to offer it to you! One lucky winner will get a prize basket stuffed full of goodies that includes: