Best Debut Romance Author of 2015 So Far Is……..

I’ll admit it; I tend to shy away from new authors. Give me a choice between a comfort read and an unknown quantity and I’ll almost always choose the comfort read. This is particularly stupid when I look at the outstanding authors who have won in the Best Debut Romance Author category in recent years.

  • 2014 Somali Dev
  • 2013 Emma Chase
  • 2012 Cecilia Grant
  • 2011 Jessica Scott
  • 2010 Rose Lerner
  • 2009 Tessa Dare
  • 2008 Sherry Thomas
  • 2007 Anna Campbell
  • 2006 Elizabeth Hoyt
  • 2005 Lisa Valdez

The best debut author category has frequently been a problem category for readers. By debut, we mean the author has not been published under any name or any genre prior to 2015. Each year we get a flurry of votes for authors who developed a new pen name in a given year. We also get votes for authors who switched romance genres. Sadly, we have to reject those votes.

So who are the genuine debut romance authors that have stood out in our minds for 2015? With the help of fellow AAR staff members I’ve come up with the following list:

I’m sure there are many additional wonderful romance authors who made their debut in 2015. Do you have any to suggest that are must reads? And who are you planning to vote for in this category?



Posted in Best of List, Books, Books with Buzz, LinnieGayl AAR | Tagged | 17 Comments

Santa Baby, Bring Me a Love Story

I have always been a sucker for a holiday romance. There’s something about the holidays that allow me to access the over-the-top, gushily sentimental core of my heart that is normally hidden under a layer of “loves complicated realism in romance.” At the holidays, I let myself get overwhelmed with love for and joy in my family and friends, and in my romance novels, I go for the holiday gusto every November and December.

I read a wide range of m/f and LGBTQ romance, and my holiday books are the same. In LGBTQ romance in particular, holiday stories are often focused on queer characters finding and making their own families after being rejected by their birth families. It’s heartbreaking and hopeful and embodies everything I love about holiday romance. Here are some of my favorite holiday books of all kinds:

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant is one of the most exquisitely written stories I’ve read in the past few years. The dry narrative voice is charming as all get out, and the story itself, of a falconer’s daughter and the gentleman she gets stranded with on the way to a house party, is delightful. It was especially interesting to read about two people who are in society but not of the upper echelon. And the writing! I wore out the highlight feature on my Kindle with this one.

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane is perhaps my favorite holiday book ever. It’s the story of Rusty and Oliver, who have been friends throughout high school and are heading toward more-than-friends, although Oliver has to clue the oblivious Rusty into that fact. When Rusty struggles at a too-challenging college and then comes out to his parents, Oliver and his dad and all their relatives are the ones who offer him a new family. This book makes my heart happy every year when I read it.

Kat Latham’s Mine Under the Mistletoe hooked me from page one after Ashley, the heroine from San Diego who’s done an apartment swap with a man in London, kicks Oliver in the junk when he climbs into bed with her in the middle of the night. Terrible winter weather has cancelled all flights, and Oliver didn’t realize Ashley’s plane was one of the last to be allowed to land in London. Two people stranded for the holidays together? Yes, please.

The Dickens with Love by Josh Lanyon is the story of a two men and a book. Lanyon invented a long-lost Christmas story by Dickens for this tale of an antiquarian book hunter in search of redemption and the man who can give it to him. I’ve never wished so hard for an imaginary book to be made manifest. Also, there’s an ocelot, a sparkling cocktail, and one of the heroes (not the book hunter) is named Sedgwick Crisparkle. You just can’t beat that.

The Menage on 34th Street by Elise Logan and Emily Ryan-Davis is kinky holiday fun. I really appreciated how well this book respects the reality of a military man’s restrictions on his behavior. As a fan of Navy SEAL romance, I’m not exactly a stickler for realism in most of my military romance, but I love how this book makes it clear that a marine can’t just set up house with a married couple without repercussions. There’s also lots of talk about communication and family meetings in this book about a trio with a complicated past.

Jodie Griffin’s Matzoh & Mistletoe is another kinky holiday book, about Becca, who volunteers every Christmas with her synagogue so others can celebrate, and Jeremy, the sexy cop she rides along with every year. I love finding holiday stories that include Jewish characters, so this was a treat. Also, angsty and hot!

ZA Maxfield’s Secret Light is another holiday story that pushes beyond Christmas. In Los Angeles in 1955, Rafe is hiding both his homosexuality and his German Jewish heritage, working hard to avoid prejudice by excelling as the slickest, most successful salesman in his company. After Rafe’s home is vandalized, he meets Officer Ben Morgan, and all of his secrets start to come out. Rafe’s fear is palpable in this period romance, and I found the story absolutely heartwarming.

Every year, I go on a holiday romance buying binge. This year, I’ve got Heidi Cullinan’s Winter Wonderland, Caro Carson’s The Maverick’s Holiday Masquerade, and Joanna Chambers’s Humbug at the top of my list, but I want more! Got any recommendations for terrific holiday romance for me? Gimme!


Amy Jo Cousins writes contemporary romance and erotica about smart people finding their own best kind of smexy. Her most recent book is Real World. She lives in Chicago with her son, where she tweets too much, sometimes runs really far, and waits for the Cubs to win the World Series.

Fun facts: Amy Jo can get back into a kayak in the open water if she falls out of it, taught herself and her son how to say I love you in seventeen languages, and once ran the table in a game of eight ball.

Real World is the fifth book in Amy Jo’s Bend or Break series.


Posted in Authors, Books, Guest Posts | Tagged , | 18 Comments

TBR Challenge: Books With Buzz

perfectrake This is my second year taking part in Super Wendy’s Multi-Blog TBR Challenge, and even though I don’t read the various romance sub-genres widely, I’ve nonetheless managed to find something in my TBR pile to fit the prompts each month. But I’m afraid I’m going to wuss out for the first time. The prompt is “It’s all about the hype” – and I don’t have anything that fits the bill. For one thing, historical romances don’t attract that sort of attention any more and for another, as an ex-PR professional, one whiff of hype is enough to make me head for the hills and almost guarantee I’m NOT going to read the book in question!

So instead, I decided to pick up a book from my TBR pile that has been recommended to me various times and is regarded as one of those that every self-respecting historical romance reader should have read. I don’t have too many of those on my TBR these days, and Anne Gracie’s The Perfect Rake is no Lord of Scoundrels or Flowers from the Storm. But it’s a thoroughly enjoyable story which, while mostly light-hearted and humorous, is nonetheless peppered with some darker themes and incidents which add weight to the overall texture and provide a necessary counterpoint to a book which could otherwise have turned into a farce.

It’s unusual to open an historical romance on a shocking scene, but The Perfect Rake does just that, as our heroine, Prudence Merridew has to rescue her youngest sister, Grace, from the severe beating being inflicted upon her by their vicious, maniacal grandfather. The girls were left to his guardianship following the death of their parents, and he frequently beats and abuses them all, accusing Prudence and Grace of being the devil’s spawn because of their red hair. When the old man falls and breaks his leg chasing Prudence down the stairs, she decides, once and for all, that they must get away before one of them is killed. With their grandfather confined to bed, and with the help of the local doctor, Prudence concocts a scheme which sees them away to London to stay with their great-uncle Oswald. In a few weeks, Prue will be twenty-one, and the guardianship of her sisters will revert to her; and if one of them can marry quickly, the fortune left them by their parents will become available to them. With her sisters being such beauties, Prudence is utterly convinced that they will attract the right sort of male attention, and so she has high hopes of their being able to escape their grandfather for good. Continue reading

Posted in Books with Buzz, Caz AAR, Lynn AAR, Romance reading | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Meatworks: A Guest Pandora’s Box

Hello everyone and welcome to our monthly AAR blog column. The basic idea is we choose a book every month and have a discussion about it. We being Elisabeth Lane (of Cooking Up Romance), a long-time romance reader who now creates recipes inspired by books and then blogs about it, and Alexis Hall, author of, most recently, For Real.

This month we read Meatworks by Jordan Castillo Price, an m/m romance set in a dystopian near-future where robotics technology reigns. Desmond Poole has recently lost a hand in a robotics accident and he is… failing to cope. He gets sent to group therapy where he meets Corey Steiner, a hip, young thing who has much better control of his robotic limb than Desmond. They have instant chemistry, but it takes them awhile to navigate the treacherous waters of their new relationship.

AJH: This your first JCP isn’t it? How did you find it?

Elisabeth: Loved it. Loved the characters, loved the world-building, loved the dark humor. Loved it.

AJH: Oooh gosh. Yes. I find her a really … I don’t quite know the word is. Uncompromising writer? She’s never hesitates to take an idea and run with it. Or allow her characters to be deeply, deeply unsympathetic in often quite unglamorous ways (Desmond is definitely an example of this!). So her books always leave me sort of moved and thoughtful and impressed, all at the same time.

Elisabeth: Yes, Desmond is definitely not your typical romance hero. He’s an alcoholic. He’s depressed. He’s had this accident where he ended up losing his hand, but even that, well, it was sort of his fault? He was involved with not-great people and he wasn’t that ambitious or well-wrapped even before he got hurt. Personally, I couldn’t have anything but sympathy for the guy, but I understand why other readers might not particularly like him. He’s made some pretty epic mistakes.

AJH: He’s a difficult narrator to spend time with, that’s for sure. But I really like that he’s vulnerable and stupid and self-destructive in ways that romance heroes often just aren’t allowed tobe. And also I like that he’s allowed to get himself into a better place by the end of the book, just in this very low key way of coming to terms with who he is and the decisions he’s made, and making some new choices for his life. I mean, since we’re essentially dealing with a disabled hero here, it’s quite significant that he is not amazingly brave or saintly, but nor is he completely helpless and ruined. For me, he’s just very human. Robot hand included.

Elisabeth: Yes, and the whole plot is basically about his learning to manage his disability, both physically and mentally. It’s interesting to see the evolution he goes through between his ex-boyfriend/social worker, his new love interest Corey and the couple of counsellors he has to see in order to continue getting benefits. It’s this whole exploration of Desmond handling things his own way, even when that’s not necessarily what society’s script would have him do. Like, the therapy helps him, but not in any kind of direct way. It’s more like learning to cope with the mess the system makes that gets him back on track.

AJH: This is all really complex stuff and I really liked the way the book engaged with it. But I think what I struggled with occasionally was the way his disability was sometimes treated as, well, disability. And sometimes almost as metaphor for the various things that Desmond hasn’t quite come to terms with: the actual circumstances of the accident, his relationship with his ex, broader issues about himself and his place in society. Which sort of brings us back to the thing you mentioned earlier about the whole lost-arm thing being his (and to a lesser extent Corey’s) own responsibility almost. Lemme find a quote:

In some sense, hadn’t we all? [done it to ourselves] Hadn’t the kid who’d blown off his fingers been asking for it by playing with fireworks? Hadn’t Corey worn himself into a state of reckless ennui by giving up his dream and settling for a dead-end job? Hadn’t I put the cherry on top of the stupidity sundae by cramming my hand into a workbot while I was loaded?

Elisabeth: I don’t mean to say…well, an accident is an accident. And I never got the sense that we’re intended to think either of the characters deserved what they got or anything. Really, the narrative is very non-judgmental of their choices. It’s just like…here’s where these guys are right now. And by the end of the book they’ve arrived somewhere different. I think I’d argue that both of them are in a “better” place than when they started, but it has less to do with morality than it does to do with just plain growth.

AJH: Yes, that makes a lot of sense. I, er, definitely found the book non-judgemental. I wasn’t trying to be all “Meatworks claims the disabled bring it on themselves by not trying hard enough!” Although, actually, something I kind of love about the book is that it’s essentially a romance between two queer benefit scammers – the Daily Mail would have a field day. I think it’s more that the book is very rooted in Desmond’s perceptions, and part of that is the way his attitude to robotics and general self-loathing impact on how he presents his own disability. To the extent of feeling semi-responsible for it in the passage I just quoted. The thing about Desmond is that he’s a profoundly unreliable narrator: it’s not just that he’s self-loathing (and probably at the lowest point of his entire life), he’s evasive and deceptive. He holds things back from himself and the reader. Which is fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. Like you don’t realise how seriously messed up he is about his ex leaving him (pre-accident) until the book is practically over. Although part of that journey for him is being able to accept that he cared, that the loss hurt, and that is okay to move on. All of which happens almost when you aren’t looking.

Elisabeth: So, as a reader, I really, really love unreliable narrators and having to figure out how characters feel and why they behave the way they do via subtext and Meatworks had that in spades. I think I picked up on the “messed up about his ex” business a bit earlier on in the story because he has that locked collar from his ex that it seems like “too much effort” to take off. That’s, like, Desmond-code for “don’t wanna”. 

AJH: Yes. Exactly. Feeling like you really know Desmond by the end of book, despite all his narrative shiftiness, is so satisfying. I did feel it left Corey slightly under-served though. How did you find the, err, romancey part of the romance?

Elisabeth: Well, one of the issues that I sometimes have with difficult characters is that they’re frequently paired with these enormously lovely people. So I was incredibly relieved to find that Corey really does have his own significant issues. They might not be as pronounced as Desmond’s, but in general I think Corey has more support structures in his life than Desmond does. In any case, I was quite glad that there was an element of figuring things out together. It was almost like a real relationship (ha!). What I mean to say is that there didn’t seem to me to be any artificial obstacles between the two of them. They had genuine differences to reconcile. So the, uh, romancey part of the romance worked for me.

AJH: It worked less well for me, I think. Not that I don’t see all your points. But because of the limitations and challenges of Desmond’s narration, he sort of won’t admit he has any real interest in Corey right until the end. And this is obviously *unreliable* (just like his attitude to the padlock and the way he talks about his ex) but because I couldn’t quite find my way through it, it was hard for me to see Corey. And understand why he was so interested in the first place. Why he kept coming back. And what made them go from casually fucking to talking about being boyfriends. Maybe I’m a less effective Desmond-Reader :)

Elisabeth: Well, to start with, I think Corey never really thought they were casually fucking. I think Corey would have been perfectly happy to move in that first night. Which…ISSUES…but Corey seems to have seen a lot in Desmond right away. And I think it’s born out eventually. I guess I looked at the interactions between Desmond and his ex as a kind of foil for the relationship between Desmond and Corey. Where Jim and Desmond didn’t work was where Corey and Desmond did. Jim was always pushing Desmond to be better whereas Corey seemed to think he already was. I think they gave each other room to grow into themselves. At its core, that’s all a romance novel ever really is: one person seeing the potential in another person.

AJH: I love that. Thank you. Heh, you’ve made me want to re-read the book. Something I found really intriguing about the Jim/Desmond relationship was the fact we never really found out why they broke up – only it was before the accident, maybe connected to Desmond’s choice of friends, and Desmond admits very explicitly towards the end of the book, he’s the one who sort of forces Jim in the nursemaid role. Again, I found that quite unusual for a romance in that Desmond’s relationship with his ex is very present and Jim isn’t a monster (though, uh, apparently he used to be a white supremacist?), as his sort of .. unfulfilled romance with the guy who sort of semi-led to Desmond’s accident.

Elisabeth: Yes and that leads to a pretty distressing scene in the book. I didn’t get the sense that Desmond was particularly distressed–it’s just what he has come to expect from the society he lives in. But as a reader, the whole group dynamic of his old friends was very uncomfortable to see. I just felt so bad for Desmond. For what he had to deal with growing up and then how it continued into adulthood.

AJH: Right? I … had a self-pitying little cry actually. Something I really love about the way JCP is that she writes queer characters very naturalistically. It’s always a fully-integrated part of a complex and real identity, and I tend to feel seen and recognised and reflected by them. Similarly, when she engages directly with themes of marginalisation and alienation they tend to be presented as part of a broader social tapestry. It’s not like anyone wakes up in the morning and decides to hate the gays today (well, maybe Westboro Baptists, I don’t know). And I don’t want to generalise, but I don’t know anyone who’s grown up queer and not been Desmond at some point. So in love with the hope of acceptance and willing to do pretty much anything to get it. Including sacrifice a hand.

Elisabeth: This was my first JCP as you say, but I also appreciated that…how do I say this? Sometimes I think scenes like the one between Desmond and his ex-friend get included in m/m in order to establish some kind of queer credibility, but it’s often random violence, which this wasn’t. I hate to say that it felt very organic, but it did. Authentic. 

AJH: Yes – I definitely agree that “homophobic violence” is … often de rigeur in m/m. Sigh. I think this worked for me, when scenes of Abuse The Gay usually don’t, is because it was primarily emotional violence? The violence of just not giving a fuck. 

Elisabeth: That makes sense to me. So, any closing thoughts on Meatworks

AJH: I think you got it exactly right when you said it was a story about growth. And everything that entails, including leave things behind. Err, I mean, not just body parts. But hopes and dreams and expectations. Positive and negative. I loved it. But I love JCP in general. Her atypical romances set in intriguing worlds. I can see how this might not work for some readers–Desmond being, well, Desmond–but I think it’s a wonderful damn book.

Elisabeth: I agree with all of that. Plus, it might just have been my mood, but I found the whole thing darkly hilarious. I’ve said before that often if an author’s sense of humor works for me, I’ll enjoy their voice and that’s at least some of what happened here with Meatworks. I just found Desmond’s wry, self-deprecating humor very charming. And you’re right that he probably wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, but I loved him. And the book.


Next month we’ll be reading My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne if you want to read along with us. We’ll be joined by AAR’s own Dabney Grinnan, which we always enjoy. 

Posted in Dabney AAR, Guest Posts, Pandora's Box | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

It’s a VERY big sale at Harlequin!

Like many other romance fans, I’d heard about the big Harlequin sale that started on November 10. Harlequin has been selling eBook editions for 10 years. They’re celebrating by having a big sale. Really big. 10,000 titles will be available for $1.99, until November 17. You can buy directly from Harlequin, or from other retailers — including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. To make it easier for you book addicts, Harlequin has a page where you can search for your favorite authors (and titles) to find out if those books are included. Hint: They probably are.

At first, I was reluctant to click any of the links. (“Books, Anne. Booooks,” they said.) I told myself that I still had Harlequin eBooks (and print books) to read. I shouldn’t be buying more. I used to buy eBooks from Harlequin’s site all the time, but that was back in my eBookwise days. These days, I keep my eBook shopping between Amazon and B&N, and I don’t want to add a third big vendor, only to accidentally buy the book at more than one retailer. (Yes, cough, it can happen.)

Then I did it. I looked at a blog post. OK, it looked interesting, even if I wasn’t familiar with many of the newer authors. But wait! I had some Harlequin historicals in my Amazon wishlist. Were any of them on sale? I sorted my Romance wishlist by price drops and found several titles waiting for me to pounce.

What about the other Harlequins? Where were the authors I used to read all the time? I tried Harlequin’s search feature, but couldn’t get it to work at first. Of course, bookworms don’t give up so easily. Those books had to be there! It was time to start approaching this like an ancient library with many paths leading to it. Unfortunately, now that Harlequin had stopped using the Silhouette name (read more on our older blog post Silhouette in the Shadows), changing almost all their lines to “Harlequin,” and had changed the style of many of my favorite lines, it was harder to find things.

Then I learned about something called Harlequin Treasury. If you like ‘em old school, this is where you’ll find them. Harlequin titles from the 1990s, and yes, Silhouette titles as well. Clicking that link tickled my long-dormant Harlequin Presents gland. If you’re like me, you probably get excited when you see names like Sandra Marton, Charlotte Lamb, Kay Thorpe, Lynne Graham, Caroline Mortimer, Emma Darcy, Sharon Kendrick, Sally Wentworth, Anne Mather, Roberta Leigh, and more. Or when you see titles like The Vengeful Husband. Or when you see Harlequin Presents covers with a white background and the hero and heroine inside a circle with a colored border. My wishlist was gasping for breath before I was done.

I had lots of fun reading the descriptions of the plots, and especially, the reviews (good and bad). Sure, today’s Harlequin Presents have the Greek tycoons and Italian moguls, and occasional sheikhs. But there’s something about 1990s Presents. How I used to love standing in my favorite used book store, reading the back covers and finding wilder and wilder plots. Last night, Amazon brought me right back there. I remembered the layout, remembered the way I used to pull out the books I was interested so that they stuck out just a little on the shelf, and got caught up in Presents fever. Heck, I could just about imagine the carpet and smell the books, and I could picture myself grabbing something with “Vengeful” or “Deception” in the title to see if it lived up to its promise. And the titles! They could go everywhere from Mistress of Deception to Savage Seduction, to more down-to-earth (by HP standards) titles like Hollywood Wedding. Sure, they’re lurid, but they’re much better than current HP titles, such as Bought: The Greek’s Innocent Virgin and Ruthless Magnate, Convenient Wife. Give me Haunted Dreams and Lace and Satin any day. Even Angry Desire. Or, of course, any title with words like with “Vengeful” or “Deception” — not to mention a plot to match. Heroes who distrust the heroines! Heroines who are too proud to clear up the truth with a few words! 

One of the very first Presents that showed up on sale when I searched the “Treasury” is The Vengeful Husband (The Husband Hunters Book 2) by Lynne Graham. This one has a will that forces the heroine to find a husband in a short time, a secret baby, and a hero who thinks the heroine stole an heirloom from him and is determined to make her pay. Because of poor eyesight, the heroine marries him without realizing who he is. If I found any one of those elements in a romance, I’d probably throw it down, but if you put them all together, they become that crazy fun that is a Harlequin Presents plot. You can have everything from revenge to deception to seduction, often in the same book. This was the sort of book where the heroine would agree to pretend to impersonate her twin sister as a favor, not realizing that her evil sister was using her to escape a vengeful would-be husband. Or the sort of book where the hero is surrrre that the heroine is a gold-digger, a liar, a slut, a thief, and perhaps even one of the Nephilim. (OK, I added that last part to make sure you were paying attention.)

Yes, some authors had over-the-top heroes who should have been arrested for the way they treated the heroines, but I guess that was sort of the point. Although I did roll my eyes at the scores of heroines who proved their ” honor ” when they turned out to be virgins. Uhm, double standards anyone? But again, that was part of the point, too. These were classic fairy tales set in modern(ish) times. Many of these heroes were like possessive alpha vampire heroes, but without the fangs and blood-drinking. The fun was watching them make their way back to their humanity. It was just a damned shame so many of them only did so in the final, say, page or so of the book. At the same time, in some ways, Presents authors had more freedom back then. Not every hero had to be a gazillionaire, and though it was rare, plots could even include mild paranormal elements, such as the mental connection in Charlotte Lamb’s Dark Embrace. And for all the abusive heroes, the first romance I read that dealt with spousal abuse was a Harlequin Presents by Robyn Donald. (Sadly, it’s not available in eBook format. Let’s hope that changes.)

What if you hate Harlequin Presents? This sale will still be the treasure that keeps on giving. Not only did I find Harlequin Presents, I also found Silhouette Special Edition — before they were called Harlequin Special Edition, and before the line had become more of a “heart and home” line. (They have Christine Rimmer and Lucy Gordon books, people!) And yes, they have Silhouette Intimate Moments books from before the line was retooled into Intimate Moments line was renamed Silhouette Romantic Suspense (and now Harlequin Romantic Suspense). (This was where I found my favorite Nora Roberts titles back in the day.) They also have older Silhouette Desires, by authors like Ann Majors and Joan Elliott Pickart not to mention Joan Hohl. If you’re a category reader of a certain age, Silhouette Desire was probably your introduction to hot romances. Even better, older Desires could have plots about everything from industrial espionage to characters getting trapped in a snowbound cottage — and writers like Jennifer Greene! As I scrolled through page after page of titles, I kept thinking, “Oh, that’s right! Jill Shalvis got her start with category.” And so did authors ranging from Jasmine Cresswell to Merline Lovelace and Gina Wilkins (and of course Jayne Ann Krentz, Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie, and so many more…).

And if it’s Harlequin you wants, there are older Harlequin lines — Blaze and Temptation, of course, as well as Superromance and Harlequin American Romance titles, and the original Harlequin Romance line. (Older Harlequin Historicals, too.) There are even books from defunct lines such as Sihouette Yours Truly (they have Marie Ferrarella!), Harlequin Laughter Love & Laughter (they have Stephanie Bond!), and the original Silhouette Romance line. Last night, I scrolled through about 14 pages of titles on Amazon, and still had at least half the Harlequin Treasury titles to go. 

What time is it? Is it that late. I should go to sleep. Wait. I just might want to go take a peek at the rest, just in case I missed something. Or just in case I remember that title I was looking for. You know, the one with “Deception” or “Revenge” in the title.

So tonight, I came back for more punishment. Once again, I tried the search page on Harlequin. This time, I learned to read the directions. Just as the site says, type the author name (or the title you’re looking for). Don’t press enter, or that will bring you back to the default results. For example, if you want to find Charlotte Lamb titles (we’re going old school here), start typing Charlotte Lamb. Bang! The available titles will show up.

This is your brain… This is your brain after finding all those books you wanted. My only regret is that my memory for titles and authors is so foggy, and there’s no way to search for “The one where the heroine left the hero because she was afraid she’d become like her abusive mother and hurt her children” or “That book where the heroine was a scientist, and the hero was a journalist who thought she’d faked her research.” So don’t mind me, I’ll be scrolling and scrolling through all these titles. If you hear click click click in the night, it’s not ghosts. Just me ordering more books.


AAR’s Anne

Posted in Anne AAR, Book news, Books, Romance reading | Tagged | 9 Comments

Our November Newsletter is online!

Welcome to November! We usually only send out our monthly newsletter but we thought we’d start posting it here as well. AAR’s Anne Marble puts these together every month! Enjoy!

(Wanna sign up? Click here.)

October Interviews and Author Posts

An Interview and a Giveaway with Lucinda Brant

Caz interviews author Lucinda Brant about Deadly Peril, the latest in her series of Georgian historical mysteries. If you haven’t read, Ms. Brant’s marvelous books, you’re missing out!

Why You Can’t Set a Wax Play Scene on Shabbos

Join author Tamsen Parker to find out the answer to this and other things she learned while writing Taking Flight, a BDSM erotic romance set in an Orthodox Jewish Community.

Revel with a Cause: The Outback Bachelor Ball

Learn about Bachelor and Spinster balls, grog, and swag from Karina Bliss, Joan Kilby, and Sarah Mayberry, authors of the The Outback Bachelor Ball trilogy.

Queer Romance Month Posts

This year we again participated in Queer Romance Month. Queer authors from around the globe gave us five great posts on LGBTQ+ romance. October IS Queer Romance Month!

31 Awesome Queer Romances You Should Read

Author and a Queer Romance founder Alexis Hall puts together a a list of 31 awesome queer romances. If you’re wondering where to start with LGBTQ+ romance, this is the place.

Queer Romance: Where Do We Go From Here?

Alexis Hall, Roan Parrish, EE Ottoman, and Santino Hassell discuss where they think the genre is, and where they hope it’s going.

Queer Romance Week: A Queer Fantasy Roundup

Ginn Hale, Nicole Kimberling, Astrid Amara, and Langley Hyde talk about fantasy romance in a discussion hosted by Alexis Hall.

Queer Historical Romance: A Roundtable

Maybe it’s not as depressing as you think… Joanna Chambers, Alex Beecroft, and KJ Charles discuss the challenges of queer historical romance.

A Queer Romance Month Post: Looking at Queer New Adult

New Adult is one of the most popular romance subgenres around. When queer characters are involved, that landscape of “first” themes can become even richer. Megan Erickson, Amy Jo Cousins, and Santino Hassell discuss LGBTQ+ NA.

Romances on Sale in November

Looking for a great book to go with the lengthening nights? Bessie Makris gives you the list of what is on sale.

 October AAR staff blog posts

Steps to Being a Modern Gentleman: A Rebuttal

After finding herself confused, appalled, and annoyed, Maggie Boyd takes on the controversial Country Life list of steps to being a “modern gentleman.”

Someday My Print Will Come Back

The news reports say eBooks sales are slowing. Or they just not looking at the whole picture? Do you read all print books? Just eBooks? Or like Anne Marble, are you a hybrid of both types of readers?

When Names Are a No-Go

Have you ever thrown down a book because the hero had the same name as your ex (ugh), or an in-law? Caroline feels your pain.

On “Say Yes to the Dress”

Dabney is just about a “reality show virgin.” That makes her reactions to this reality TV show even more fun.

TBR Challenge – Keep Me in Suspense

Lynn and Caz dared to read some suspenseful books this month. From a 2014 release by Wendy Corsi Staub, to The Dark Tower a Gothic romance published in 1965, find out what intrigued them the most.

New Reviews and DIKs

Our reviewers have been hard at work! Check out which books we are recommending. Learn about exciting new authors and buried treasures. Find out which long-awaited books satisfied the reviewers, and which disappointed them. There are reviews of everything from contemporary romances to paranormals to historicals and inspirationals.

Recent DIK reviews include books by:

Georgia Cates, Lucinda Brant, Lorraine Heath, Courtney Milan, and Sherry Thomas

New reviews include books by:

Jill Sorenson, Paige Tyler, Amelia Grey, J. D. Robb, Penny Watson, Irma Joubert, Alissa Johnson, Kristi Ann Hunter, HelenKay Dimon, Elizabeth Lowell, Kate Angell, Fiona Lowe, Lisa Kleypas, Addie Jo Ryleig, Eleanor Webster, Shayla Black/Lexi Blake, Jill Shalvis, Ally Broadfield, Lexi Ander, Madeline Hunter, Carla Kelly, Karen Ranney, Katie MacAlister, Marguerite Kaye, Meg Cabot, and Marissa Campbell

Message Boards

As always, our Message Boards ( have been very active, so please join us for a variety of discussions about everything from specific novels to general romance topics.

Hot new topics on the Let’s Talk Romance Novels forum include: Recently Read Fall/Winter; Mystery and Suspense Book Discussion 2015 Thread #1; Recs for books in which hero has to care for children; When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare;vOnly a Kiss Mary Balogh; Julie Ann Long Recommendation;  Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Fantasy Recently Read; Courtney Milan’s Unclaimed review; Bully Romance; Recently Read Summer; Once Upon a Marquess and A Curious Beginning. Also, check the Book ID posts out and see if you can help. There have been some real puzzlers this month!

On the Romance Potpourri forum, hot topics include: Official” Fabulous 15 Reading Challenge – Pt. II; Goodreads started best books of 2015 voting; An article on used paper books; Upcoming Releases Fall/Winter 2015; Graphic intimacy in romance novels; An article on writers and readers; Say ‘aye’ if you love Mary Balogh!; A book you just could not finish; The way I read or the end of a series?; Switching Genders in Romance; The Best American Historical/Frontier Romances?; and Recommendations – Angsty, but not overwrought?

That’s all for this month. Have a great one.

Anne Marble


Posted in Anne Marble, Newsletter | Tagged | 2 Comments

Eagerly Awaited November Books

November is certainly looking like a big historical month. After writing a number of contemporary romances, Lisa Kleypas has returned to historicals (and to Avon!), and many of us on staff couldn’t be happier. Carla Kelly also has a new release out, as does Grace Burrowes. And even though Once Upon a Marquess by Courtney Milan is not yet available on most sites for pre-order, her website indicates that we can expect it to arrive in mid-November – something Caroline, Caz, Mary, Alex and I were all happy to hear. So, what do you want to read this November?

Title and Author Reviewer
Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas Lynn, Anne, Mary, Alex, Caz, Heather, Cindy
A Talent for Trickery by Alissa Johnson A Talent for Trickery by Alissa Johnson Dabney, Heather, Lee, Lynn, Caz
Doing No Harm by Carla Kelly Doing No Harm by Carla Kelly Lee, Mary, Alex, Caroline, Lynn
Daniel's True Desire by Grace Burrowes Daniel’s True Desire by Grace Burrowes Mary, Caroline, Caz
It Happened One Christmas anthology It Happened One Christmas by Carla Kelly, Georgie Lee, and Ann Lethbridge Blythe, Caroline
Winter by Marissa Meyer Winter by Marissa Meyer Haley, Melanie
Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley Heather, Mary
His Housekeeper's Christmas Wish by Louisa Allen His Housekeeper’s Christmas Wish by Louise Allen Caz, Lynn
In the Waning LIght by Loreth Anne White In the Waning Light by Loreth Anne White Dabney, Lynn
Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier Maggie, Anne
No Groom at the Inn by Megan Frampton No Groom at the Inn by Megan Frampton Dabney
I'll Never Let You Go by Mary Burton I’ll Never Let You Go by Mary Burton Maggie
The Sport of Baronets by Theresa Romain The Sport of Baronets by Theresa Romain Dabney
The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe Melanie
Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray Maggie
White Lines by Tracy Brown White Lines: All Falls Down by Tracy Brown Shannon
Heartsong Cottage by Emily March Heartsong Cottage by Emily March Lee
Falling Into Bed With a Duke by Lorraine Heath Falling Into Bed With a Duke by Lorraine Heath Caz
Playing With Fire by Tess Gerritsen Playing With Fire by Tess Gerritsen Lynn
Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams Shannon
Rolling in the Deep by Rebecca Rogers Maher Rolling in the Deep by Rebecca Rogers Maher Dabney
Born of Betrayal by Sherrilyn Kenyon Born of Betrayal by Sherrilyn Kenyon Melanie
Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts Shannon
Scandal Takes the Stage by Eva Leigh Scandal Takes the Stage by Eva Leigh Caz
Dear Mr. You by Mary Louise Parker Dear Mr. You by Mary Louise Parker Dabney
The Bronte PLot by Katherine Reay The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay Lee
Deadly Peril by Lucinda Brant Deadly Peril by Lucinda Brant Caz
Posted in Book news, Lynn AAR, Romance reading | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

The Best Romance Short Story/Novella of 2015 So Far Is……

After a rather unexpected long break for some real life events, I’m ready to start again with our series of posts about the best of romances published to date in each of the AAR Annual Poll categories. Next up, is the Best Romance Short Story or Novella. Voting in this category used to be very easy; run through all of the anthologies you’d read during the year and pick your favorite story. Then along came eBooks, and with them a seemingly ever-increasing number of novellas. Some days it seems as if virtually every popular author – and every up-and-coming author – is writing a novella that’s either a prequel to their next book, an epilogue to a popular book, or a complete standalone. And with the increase in novellas, voting in this category has become a lot more complicated.

Last year’s winner in the Best Romance Short Story or Novella was a novella, by Cecilia Grant. That book is easy to identify as a “novella,” as the full title is: “A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong: A Blackshear Family novella.” But not all novellas are so helpfully subtitled.

A google search for “what is a novella” yields a definition of “a short novel or long short story” which isn’t all that helpful. The New World Encyclopedia states that, “A novella is a narrative work of prose fiction shorter in both length and breadth than a novel, but longer than a short story. Typically, novellas dramatize individual events, or a short series of events, such as a day in the life, or an important turning point in a character’s life.”

To complicate things even further, AAR’s wonderful power search function does not include “short story” or “anthology” or “novella” as a search term. Instead, we appropriately list short stories, anthologies, and novellas under the genre in which they best fit (e.g., European Historical, contemporary, etc.). Not wanting to give up, I used the power search to look for all romances first published in 2015 under any genre with a grade of A+, A, A-, or B+. I then looked at each of the reviews and checked for reviewer hints that it was a short story or novella, or the actual page length (around 100 pages seemed a good clue). I came up with three possibilities:

By scanning through the midweek mini columns published here, I came up with some additional possibilities:

I’ve recently read and can recommend the three novellas in The Outback Bachelor Ball – Win Meby Joan Kilby, Woo Me by Karina Bliss and Wait For Me by Sarah Mayberry. As things stand now, I’ll be voting for Wait For Me (a solid DIK for me) in this category in the Annual Poll.

Finally, I asked my colleagues at AAR for their suggestions about short stories or novellas that they’ve read so far or are eagerly anticipating in the remainder of the publishing year, and two had suggestions.

Caz commented that sheenjoyed Anna Campbell’s Three Proposals and a Scandal and noted it’s definitely in the B range for her. She would also add Dancing in the Duke’s Arms by Grace Burrowes, Miranda Neville, Shana Galen and Carolyn Jewel, commenting that, “I gave the whole thing 4 stars with the Neville being far and away the best – I’d give it a B+ on its own.  The Burrowes gets a B/B-, the Jewel a C+ and the Galen a C.”

Tress by Larissa Brown is Dabney’s absolute favorite novella of 2015.  Meredith Duran’s Sweetest Regret--part of a holiday anthology–also gets an enthusiastic thumbs. Dabney gives it a B+. She has high praise for Victoria Dahl’s erotic historical The Harlot–its take on consent is fascinating and well-done. Other novellas she read and liked this year include Tamsen Parker’s Craving Flight and Sarina Bowen’s Blonde Date.

LeeB suggested readers check out The Last Chance Christmas Ball with short stories by Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Patricia Rice, Nicola Cornick, and Cara Elliott.

Have you read any great short stories or novellas this year? If so, what are you going to vote for in this category in the Annual Poll?










Posted in All About Romance, Annual Reader Poll, Best of List, LinnieGayl AAR, Polls | 10 Comments

An Interview and a Giveaway with Lucinda Brant

AAR’s Caz interviews author Lucinda Brant today. Ms. Brant has generously offered a lucky winner the choice of an audiobook or eBook of her latest release Deadly Peril. To win, make a comment below.

Caz: I’m delighted to welcome author Lucinda Brant to All About Romance today. She’s currently writing two of my favourite series; one historical romance and one historical mystery, both of them set in the Georgian era. She never fails to impress me with her encyclopaedic knowledge of the period and, in the case of her Alec Halsey mysteries, her devious mind and gift for the tightly-written, complex but emotionally satisfying plot. The third book in the series, Deadly Peril, is released on 7th November, and I was keen to ask her about her inspirations and love of the Georgian era. Welcome, Lucinda.

Lucinda: Thanks for inviting me.

Caz: You’ve chosen to set your books in the Georgian Era (most specifically the second half of the eighteenth century).  Has that period always had a special interest for you, or was it a case of wanting to do something different – by which I mean, not Regencies?

Lucinda: I’ve had a fascination with the 18th Century since I picked up a copy of Alfred Cobban’s History of Modern France 1715-1789 when I was eleven years old. I bookend my interest between the 1740s and the 1780s, but stop short of the French Revolution. The Regency is on the other side of the French Revolution, and I’m not a great fan of George IV (whether Prince of Wales or King) and actually I don’t much like the clothes, which aren’t flattering for a big chested girl such as myself. Oh, and I prefer a man in a silk embroidered frockcoat and breeches any day!

Caz: I can certainly see the attraction ;) What else about the period particularly appeals to you?

Lucinda: The Georgian era is one wild ride! It would have been an amazing time to be alive, to bear witness to so much change and progress in such a short period of time. There had been nothing like it before, and since then, only our own era – from the end of the second world war until now, – that has seen that much upheaval and progress.

Caz: That’s a really interesting point, and not one I’d considered before.

Lucinda: Yes – the Georgian era was the beginning of the age of mass consumption, which continues on to this day. Those working the land were finding it increasingly difficult to make a living, began drifting to the big cities in search of work, and found this in the factories which were springing up everywhere to satisfy the demand for goods—everyday goods such as plates and cups, right up to the luxury end of the market with gold pocket-watches, snuffboxes, chatelaines, carriages, and furniture.

This change in the way people worked had a profound effect on the shape of cities, and the countryside, and how people viewed themselves and their place in the scheme of things. No longer were these people beholden to a liege lord, but to an employer who paid them wages. In much the same way today workers no longer have job security and feel loyalty to a company, for increasing numbers are now working on contract, or at home, with a good deal of the work done on line.

The Georgian era was also the beginning of the Age of Comfort when chairs, sofas, and furniture in general were no longer being produced just for utilitarian purposes, but for their aesthetics and how comfortable they were to sit on and use. Parisian townhouses installed flushing toilets, English great houses began to secure doors on bedchambers for privacy, and factories produced sofas, commodes, chaise lounges, and footstools in all manner of silks, velvets and feathery down luxuriousness.

I also prefer the aristocratic clothes of the 1740-1770s, even the outrageous hairstyles, the gigantic widths in the court mantuas, and the embroidered excesses in the frockcoats and waistcoats worn by gentlemen. Georgian Fashion for those who could afford it was all about experimentation and taking dress to the next, almost extreme, level. It was all about what you could get away with. And isn’t that much like our own times, where famous Fashion houses compete on the catwalks to be the most extreme and most talked about label. The same would have occurred in the ballrooms and royal drawing rooms in England and across Europe. Ladies wore their best silks and in widths that meant they were essentially walking billboards for their family and husband’s wealth. It was all about being seen and talked about. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde “it was better to be talked about than not talked about at all”.

Caz: That’s fascinating, and has certainly given me a different outlook on that particular period. As someone who reads a lot of historical fiction and romance, I always like books that give me an insight into the period of time I’m reading about, and that’s certainly something I have found in the books of yours I’ve read and listened to. I know that you’re currently working on two different series of books, one historical romance, and one historical mystery.  Which came first, and how do you manage to keep track of both series?

Lucinda: The historical romance series came first. I wrote Noble Satyr (Prequel and Book 1) to the Roxton Series, and after completing Book 2 – Midnight Marriage – I embarked on the Alec Halsey Mystery series. I’m sure this mild change in direction was a subconscious decision because I knew what was to come in Autumn Duchess, and how emotional I was about Antonia’s life as a widow. I think I needed to distance myself for a little while before taking a deep breath and plunging in as it were!

Writing about Alec Halsey energized me, and as it was a mystery I felt I could write a bit more about the grittier side of life.

So far I alternate between the two series. One year I research and write an historical romance, the next year I research and write an historical mystery. I am not so much a slow writer as a very thorough one. And I won’t put out a book until I am very sure my readers have a top quality read and product. That takes time and more than just my skills. I may write the books, but I have a team that helps me get the book to market.

Caz: Alec Halsey is – in a nutshell – utterly delicious.  Tell us about your inspiration for the character and how he came into being.

Lucinda: Thank you! I think he is too! ;)

I wanted a hero who was an aristocrat but who was on the periphery of his class – born with the silver spoon but had it taken away at birth. Alec is brought up by a forward-thinking (many would consider a lunatic for his ideas) uncle, Plantagenet Halsey, who is an MP, and because this uncle is the son of one earl and the brother of another he can say and do as he pleases. And so Alec has had this unconventional upbringing, which means he looks at the world differently to his peers. He is also patient, kind, a good listener, attuned to his emotions (a bit more than is good for him!) and the emotions of others. This makes him a very good amateur sleuth. And of course he is devastatingly handsome, said to be the product of his mother’s (a countess) affair with her mulatto footman. Ladies want to fall into bed with him, and gentlemen are envious and suspicious of him.

Caz: How has he developed over the three books so far?

Lucinda: Enormously! Well, in the first book Deadly Engagement, Alec is convinced he has overcome his feelings for Selina Jamison-Lewis, who was married off to another, and is intent on moving on with his life. Only to realise, almost too late, that he is still in love with her. The death of a friend draws him back into the social class that has shunned him for years. And then when something happens to point the finger of suspicion of murder at Alec, he again withdraws from society. Thus in Book 2, Deadly Affair, he only returns to London at the behest of an old school friend, and the murder of an old vicar sets him on the path of investigation. Alec is now a marquess in his own right, has inherited his mother’s enormous wealth, and so can pretty well do as he pleases, and does, with the help of his uncle and his unconventional valet. Yet, domestic harmony still eludes him when Selina refuses to marry him for reasons she keeps to herself. It takes until Book 3, Deadly Peril, with their lives, and the lives of their friends, in danger in the midst of a Continental civil war for the couple to finally reconcile, and for Alec to come to terms with a past that is haunted by unspeakable memories.

Caz: Do you have any idea at the moment how far you intend to take this series?

Lucinda: I have at least two more books in the series planned. Deadly Kin, which takes place in Edinburgh and at Alec’s estate in Kent; the fifth will see Alec, Selina and their family return to Bath and Somerset. But I wouldn’t be surprised if a third pops up, as one story tends to lead to another. In some cases, I just let the characters lead me!

Caz: Having read and/or listened to all three books, I am in awe at the deviousness of your mind!  Without giving too much away, tell us more about Deadly Peril.  Was it always your intention for this to be THE book which revealed Alec’s past?

Lucinda: Oh I do like to be devious (on paper)! I have intelligent readers, so it is imperative I provide them not only with an entertaining read but also with enough plot twists to keep them on their toes and hopefully never bored!

In Deadly Peril, Alec must return to the Continent, to the margravate of Midanich, one of his first postings as a junior diplomat when he was in his early 20s. Midanich is a fictitious country but it is set in the real geographical region of Lower Saxony known as East Frisia. As an ex geography as well as history teacher, I was a bit OCD about getting the details right. The country might be conjured up in my imagination but I researched the region’s geography and history and all of that is spot on. So says one of my editors, who just happens to be Dutch and knows this area well (he was also in the Dutch army, but that’s another story – but he did have an eagle eye on my depiction of the Margrave’s army!). So as you can imagine there was absolutely no pressure to get the details right! Ha! So he was VERY picky and ultimately impressed with my knowledge (I am as ever thorough! Ha!). Here’s a link to the area if you’re interested:

And, yes, Deadly Peril was always going to be the book that sees Alec and Selina reconciled, and allows them to move forward with their relationship. From Books 1 and 2 we learn about Selina’s abusive marriage and what unspeakable horrors she had to endure at the hands of her husband. Alec knows this has left her with deep psychological scars, scars she must heal and overcome to be able to marry Alec, the love of her life. But what she is unaware of until this book is the depth of Alec’s empathy for her past. She thinks that while she was married to a monster he was off cavorting around Continental embassies bed hopping, and doing his best to forget about her. She does not judge him, but she is unsure whether he is truly aware that it is no easy thing for her trust completely. And then he confides in her something so utterly shocking and heartbreaking, that she will never doubt him again.

Caz: Being an avid listener to audiobooks as well as an avid reader, I was delighted when your books began to appear in audio format.  I’ve listened to your two Salt Hendon books, narrated by Marian Hussey, who is very good, but with Alex Wyndham, you’ve struck gold.

Lucinda: I’m absolutely thrilled with the reception Alex has received as the narrator of my audio books. And so is he!

I knew as soon as I listened to his sample narrations that I’d found my Alec Halsey. And once he had recorded the first two books I knew I had, as you so perfectly put it “struck gold”. I just had to have Alex perform my Roxton series. He had never narrated a romance before, so I wasn’t sure he would be interested. But he was not only very interested, he embraced the books wholeheartedly. You see, he “gets” my characters. And that comes out in his performances, doesn’t it? He feels what they feel. He laughs along with them, becomes emotionally fraught when they do—he inhabits each character, and that’s what makes Alex’s performances masterful. Oh, and of course he has the most deliciously swoon-worthy baritone.

Caz: What are you working on now?

Lucinda: I’ve just finished the Deadly Peril audiobook production notes for Alex, and sent those off to him. So he’ll be starting to record that very soon. Hopefully readers/listeners won’t have a long wait for the audiobook. I hope before Christmas.

I am also working on a very special project for Alex, and we hope to have that in place and revealed in the New Year. Watch this space!

And I am presently completing my research notes to begin writing the fifth Roxton book Proud Mary. Lady Mary Cavendish, Antonia’s long-suffering first cousin and widow of Sir Gerald, deserves her happily ever after. Of course, Antonia and Jonathon, Julian and Deb, and Dair and Rory all put in more than an appearance. And there are a few surprises along the way that I think will please readers of the Roxton Family Saga enormously.

Caz: Well, you’re obviously a very busy lady! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, and good luck with the new book.

Lucinda: Thank you for having me as your guest, Caz! Your insightful questions gave me lots of food for thought, and were a pleasure to answer.


Posted in Authors, Caz AAR, Interviews | Tagged | 65 Comments

Steps to Being a Modern Gentleman: A Rebuttal

chantal-loves-vintage-paul-newman-2After being confused, appalled and annoyed by the various items on this list I determined to write my own guide to being a gentleman. After all, as a romance reader I am well versed in what it takes to turn the average guy from a typical dude into a dreamboat.

  1. A gentleman never denigrates an entire people and the place where they live. A true gentleman knows that every people and place have something to offer the world and critiquing Puerto Rico on a public list is in poor taste and ungentlemanly behavior. Lizzie Bennet would be appalled!
  2. A gentleman does not kiss and tell. Can unsnap a bra with one hand? Wow your date with that skill, not the internet.
  3. A gentleman is as at ease in jeans and a t-shirt as he is in a tweed suit. Gentlemanly behavior is not limited to a well-dressed moment.  A gentleman wears his swimsuit and sandals with the same confidence he would exhibit when wearing an Armani.
  4. A gentleman is friendly with those who choose to wear lavender socks and realizes that those that do can also be gentlemen. Perhaps I am wrong – I sincerely hope I am – but this seemed like a slam against Nathan Lane’s character in The Bird Cage (who wore pinkish purple socks) and also against gay men in general. For shame!
  5. A gentleman turns his mobile off during a date (unless he has a sick mother). A gentleman knows that a vibrating pocket is as annoying as a shrill ring. Unless he is a cardiovascular surgeon or in some other way needed for a possible emergency he turns the phone off while at a social event. And he never ever says, “Hang on a minute,” while he checks his phone instead of being present in the moment.
  6. A gentleman carries groceries or other heavy bags for those in need. A gentleman never saves his good manners for those whom he wishes to impress. He always offers help to those he sees in need.
  7. A gentleman doesn’t need to be reminded to end a relationship face to face. A gentleman gives all the people in his life the benefit of face to face conversations and confrontations when discussing a difficult issue.
  8. A gentleman sincerely enjoys pets and children. Knowing that these are groups who can spot a phony a mile away, a gentleman knows how to unwind enough to be the kind of companion a dog or a child can genuinely be happy to see. He never employs tricks when with either group as he knows this is the opening line to a story which ends with his humiliation.
  9. A gentleman never judges another’s dietary habits. Whether a friend is embracing a low-carb lifestyle or has chosen to go vegan a gentleman is supportive of their choice.
  10. A gentleman knows that gentlemanly behavior is not a skill set but a question of proper behaviors. A true gentleman might not be able to ride a horse or sail a boat and he may never encounter a gamekeeper. He will however walk whatever path he is on with generosity, goodwill toward all, a kind nature, decent table manners and the ability to laugh at himself.

In conclusion I’ll leave with you what one of our staff members said, ” a gentleman is not going to be such a class-conscious, denigrating, elitist knobhead that he’d feel the need to promulgate that narrow kind of value in a stupid tweedy magazine, where, let’s face it, he’s preaching to the choir until it gets picked up by media outlets. ”

So what do you think – what constitutes a gentleman?

–Maggie Boyd

Posted in Heroes, Maggie AAR | 14 Comments