Cross-Country House Party: A Guest Post (and a giveaway) from Bronwyn Scott and Marguerite Kaye

Scandal at the Midsummer Ball had its genesis when we received a house party invitation from Harlequin. The details were sketchy, we were provided with a picture of the venue, the name of our host, some suggested dates, and a mood board. We share an Editor and we’d worked together previously on the Castonbury Park series, but we’d never actually spoken, far less met, and we live on different continents and inhabit different time zones. But right from the start, the idea of jointly creating a Regency house party that was scandalous, romantic and sexy, really appealed to both of us. We wanted our stories to be fun, and we were also determined to have fun writing them.Screenshot 2016-05-30 09.59.27

And boy, did we! Our duet would share a common cast of colourful characters and span a week-long series of sumptuous events. Two distinctly separate romances would be played out, but we wanted our characters to meet, converse together, socialise, and be free to wander in and out of each other’s stories. Continue reading

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Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas: A DIK Review

Marrying Winterbornethe second book in Lisa Kleypas’s dearly anticipated Ravenels series, begins with Lady Helen Ravenel calling on Rhys Winterborne, a man to whom she was briefly engaged. As almost anyone who read the first book, A Cold Hearted Rake, will tell you, Rhys and Helen utterly upstaged that story’s lovers and left historical romance readers longing for more.

And more, wonderfully more, readers do indeed get. Marrying Winterborne is as engrossing a story as any of Ms. Kleypas’s earlier works–my favorite is It Happened One Autumn–and, in it, her writing is as good as it’s ever been.  Continue reading

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Eagerly Awaiting for June 2016

Here’s our monthly look at what titles we’re excited about reading in the next few weeks.  June boasts some highly anticipated titles by some of the biggest names in historical romance -Lisa Kleypas and Elizabeth Hoyt – as well as new books from Nalini Singh, Sarah Morgan, Jennifer Probst and sees Julie Anne Long making her début as an author of contemporary romance.

Here’s just a small selection of the titles AAR staffers are looking forward to getting stuck into.  Do you agree with us, or do you have some goodies to add to our TBRs?

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Remembering Jo Beverley

jbWe were saddened to hear about historical romance author Jo Beverley’s death yesterday. (You can read about her and her passing at the Word Wenches blog.) Ms. Beverley was a giant in her field. She wrote over 40 historical romances and won five RITA awards. She is one of only 18 writers inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. Ms. Beverley was a frequent poster on our boards and several of our staff have lovely memories of her and her books.

Maggie Boyd:

On our own boards Jo once said,  “I like my romance rich and over the top“.  She certainly seemed to write to that criteria. My very first Jo Beverley novel was A Most Unsuitable Man. While I  list several of her books among my favorites, this is the book that got me hooked on this particular author. I think what I loved most about the tale was the high drama and the wonderful hero. Fitzroger was strong, brave, resolute and heroic. He became heroine Damaris’ champion not by fighting a villain for her but by saving her from embarrassment. It sounds a little thing but I think all of us could use just such a hero from time to time. And the story was just how Jo described her own favorites – rich with romance and over the top adventure. Continue reading

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When Romance Dies

caWARNING:  This post has spoilers for the TV shows Castle, Downton Abbey, ER, Robin Hood, and Being Human.

I will admit, I love the television show Castle but I haven’t been as loyal a viewer as I used to be.  For the years it was appointment television I was definitely a CasKett shipper and would find myself cheering every time they got closer or getting upset for each missed opportunity.  When news broke that actress Stana Katic was leaving the show I was quite upset with the online chatter claiming her character Kate Beckett might be killed off in the season finale.  In the fictional world of the show that would be a bombshell to say the least. (This post was written before the final aired.) Continue reading

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DIKlassic: The Knight and The Rose by Isolde Martyn

Title: The Knight and the Rose

Author: Isolde Martyn

Grade: A

Setting: Medieval Romance (1320s England)

Sensuality: Warm

Readers who loved Isolde Martyn’s The Maiden and the Unicorn (Our DIK review is here.) have been waiting (patiently or not) for the stateside publication of her next book. Here it is, and it takes the reader for an exciting ride as it follows the story of a forced, falst marriage and how the two parties involved eventually make it a true union.

Lady Johanna Fitzhenry is looking to escape from her husband Fulk de Enderby, who beats her constantly and has not gotten the heir he demands. She manages a bit of freedom when she is summoned to her parents’ home at Conisthorpe, although Fulk has sent along his odious sister Edyth to keep an eye on Johanna. Once at Conisthorpe, Johanna’s mother, Lady Constance, decides to help her daughter and enlists Geraint, a rebel fleeing from the Battle of Boroughbridge who is passing himself off as a scholar named Gervase de Laval. Continue reading

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Alexis Hall interviews K.J. Charles (and a giveaway)

KJ Charles’s three Society of Gentlemen Regency romances were all rated Desert Isle Keepers by All About Romance. A Seditious Affair, which was awarded a coveted A+, was voted tied first for Best LGBTQ+ Romance in the All About Romance annual poll, and received Honourable Mentions for Best Romance and Best Historical Romance set in the UK.

Today, author Alexis Hall interviews KJ about the Society of Gentlemen trilogy.

AJH: What drew you to the Regency period as a setting?

KJC: When I wrote the initial story, The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh, it was pure homage to the classic Regency romances. I wanted sexy queer Heyer, so I did my best to write some. But the Regency is an incredibly interesting period of social change and turbulence, war, riots, upheaval, the old order hanging onto power and the rise of modern thought. So when I was thinking of expanding the short story into, erm, a massive trilogy, it seemed like a good opportunity to explore some of that. Continue reading

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A Guest Post & Giveaway from Stella Riley

Lords of Misrule March 2016

Still tied to his desk in the Intelligence Office, Colonel Eden Maxwell has become increasingly disenchanted with both Oliver Cromwell and his own daily existence; and with the advent of new Royalist conspiracies, he despairs of ever getting away.
Then a brick hurled through the window of a small workshop sets in motion a new and unexpected chain of events. After all, who would want to hurt Lydia Neville – a young widow, giving work and self-respect to maimed war veterans considered unemployable elsewhere? But when the assaults in Duck Lane escalate, threatening the life and remaining limbs of some of Eden’s former troopers, finding the culprit becomes personal.

At their first meeting, Lydia finds Colonel Maxwell annoying; by their second, having discovered that he had arrested and questioned her brother in connection with the Ship Tavern Plot, she mistrusts his motives. On the other hand, it swiftly becomes plain that she needs his help … and has difficulty resisting his smile.
Solving the increasingly hazardous mystery surrounding Lydia is not Eden’s only task. Between plots to assassinate the Lord Protector and a rising in Scotland, he must also mend the fences within his own family and get to know his son. Life suddenly goes from mind-numbing boredom to frenetic complexity.

With reckless Cavaliers lurking around every corner and a government still struggling to find its way, Lords of Misrule is set against a time of national discontent and general failure. But readers of the previous books in the series can look forward to catching up with old friends as well as meeting new ones … while, against all the odds, Eden and Lydia find danger and reward in equal measure.


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TBR Challenge – Expect the Unexpected

leviswill I’m a fairly eclectic reader (just check my Goodreads account for proof of that), so when confronted with a theme calling on me to pick out something completely different, I found myself at a bit of a loss. I decided to go with the “outside my comfort zone” side of things, and I picked up Levi’s Will by W. Dale Cramer. I read plenty of inspirationals, but I have often been candid about Amish books just not being my thing. I only had this 2005 novel in the TBR because a couple bloggers I respect had praised it to the skies. Having read it, I now see why.

The book opens on an Amish farm in the 1940s as 19 year old Will Mullett flees his father’s home together with his younger brother Tobe. The two eventually find their way south from Ohio, where they end up taking on various manual labor jobs to support themselves. Early on, we learn that Will has fled not only the Amish religion and way of life, but also an impending marriage. The young woman he was courting is now pregnant and Will is expected to marry her. Knowing this makes Will a more morally ambiguous and complicated hero than we normally find in inspirational fiction, watching him grow and grapple with larger questions of faith, morality, and identity makes this book a real standout.
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Dee Ernst on Writing, Getting Older, and Lessons Learned (and a giveaway!)

I began writing when I was in my forties, and I began for one important reason — I couldn’t find any books that I really enjoyed reading.

I was a grown-up woman in a happy marriage, with kids and friends and a job history that had afforded me independence and had left me with the feeling that yes, I could do anything I wanted.  And every time I picked up a book, especially a genre fiction book, I was reading about characters that were totally outside my realm of understanding.

I was not a virgin beauty, kidnapped by a falsely accused Duke who also happened to be incredibly hot and great in bed. Nor was I a Vikings daughter battling my way to reunite with my One True Love, even though we only shared one smoldering (of course) kiss.

I was not a twenty-something, scatterbrained, country bumpkin, lost at sea in the big city, desperate to please her man, her boss, and afford new shoes.  I didn’t stumble over myself in new situations, turn to jelly in the presence of an attractive man, and didn’t take bullshit from my roommate, mother, or possible sister-in-law.

I was not a fragile fawn that had been beaten, raped, run away, overcame drug addiction, gave birth and finally learned self-worth, all before the age of sixteen. (I’m looking at you, Oprah Book Club.)

Where was the smart, savvy woman who took charge of her own life and unapologetically went after what she wanted?  THAT was a character I could get behind. Continue reading

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