Chatting with Virginia Kantra about her Dare Island series

CBCarolina Blues, the fourth book in Virginia Kantra’s appealing Dare Island series comes out next month. Today, Virginia talks with AAR about heroes, sex scenes, and happy endings. Virginia is offering the Dare Island novel of his or her choice to three lucky AAR readers. To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment.
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When Strong is a Stereotype

THE OUTLAW  Poster for 1943 film with Jane Russell directed by Howard HughesI recently came across this wonderful piece by Sophia McDougall called “I hate Strong Female Characters.” McDougall is not referring to female characters with physical and emotional strength (for instance, she likes Buffy and Jane Eyre). Rather, she means the archetypal Strong Female Character, who establishes her “tough” cred through arbitrary rudeness, punching, slapping, kung fu, gunshots, etc. (McDougall calls it “behaviour that, in a male character, would rightly be seen as abusive (or outright murderous)”). Men are more powerful in Hollywood, on which McDougall focuses, but the female-centric world of romance has its share of SFCs, most famously in Lord of Scoundrels but also in some of my recent review books, such as Jo Beverley’s Seduction in Silk and Lilith Saintcrow’s The Red Plague Affair. But what about our heroes? Do we do the same token oversimplification of the other gender that male writers do? Are they strong, or are they Strong? Continue reading

Roses are red, violets are blue. Like love poems? Here a few.

love lineBefore romance novels there were love poems. Sometimes sweet, sometimes tender, sometimes raunchy but always intimate and direct. Most love poems are from the author to a specific lover, a genuine communication that wasn’t necessarily intended for commercial  consumption.  That authentic, sincere emotional communication can often capture the essence of love in far fewer lines than a romance novel. And it does so in such a way that it lingers on the mind and tongue in a way that a book often doesn’t. Continue reading

Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction Recommendations for Best of 2013?

loveliestchocolate LinnieGayl: One of my favorite categories in AAR’s Annual Poll is Best Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction. In most years I’ve read several books in the category and have a hard time deciding which book to vote for. This year is different. With just one month before polling begins on January 13, I realize that I haven’t read a single chick lit or women’s fiction book that I would consider voting for in the 2013 Annual Poll.

So I decided to take the advice we give readers: Do a power search at AAR. For Chick Lit titles published in 2013 that didn’t produce very helpful results; only Katie Fforde’s A Perfect Proposal, which received a B- from Maggie, has been reviewed this year at AAR.

A power search for best Women’s Fiction yields more titles published in 2013, including the following that interest me: Continue reading

A New Year is Coming! Eagerly Awaited Titles for January

It’s hard to believe that we’ve almost made it to 2014. One look at our list of Eagerly Awaited titles for January 2014 shows that we’ve definitely been looking for Jill Sorenson’s latest release. And if you’re looking for a historical read set outside the seemingly ubiquitous Regency and Victorian England, guess what? So were we! More than a couple of us are hoping that an upcoming WWI tale will be a read worth waiting for. And that’s the beginning of the list of books that caught our eyes. What do you want to read next year?

Title and Author Reviewer
Badlands by Jill Sorenson Badlands by Jill Sorenson Lynn, Dabney, Rike, Maggie
Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson Caroline, Lee, Maggie, Lynn
The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen Maggie, Lee, Lynn
Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder Melanie, Caroline
River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz LinnieGayl, Lauren
How to Master your Marquis by Juliana Gray How to Master Your Marquis by Juliana Gray Lee, Caz
The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin Melanie
Still so Hot! by Serena Bell Still So Hot! by Serena Bell Dabney
The Redhead Plays Her Hand by Alice Clayton The Redhead Plays Her Hand by Alice Clayton Mary
If Wishes Were Earls by Elizabeth Boyle If Wishes Were Earls by Elizabeth Boyle Lee
The Only One Who Knows by L.A. Witt and Cat Grant The Only One Who Knows by L.A. Witt and Cat Grant Pat
From Ruin to Riches by Louise Allen From Ruin to Riches by Louise Allen Rike
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley LinnieGayl
Boots Under Her Bed anthology Boots Under Her Bed by Jodi Thomas, Jo Goodman, Kaki Warner, and Alison Kent Pat
A Marriage of Notoriety by Diane Gaston A Marriage of Notoriety by Diane Gaston Caz
Ashes & Alchemy by Cindy Spencer Pape Ashes & Alchemy by Cindy Spencer Pape Rike
Mistress by Magick by Laura Navarre Mistress by Magick by Laura Navarre Lynn
In the Blood by Lisa Unger In the Blood by Lisa Unger Maggie
After the Storm by Maya Banks After the Storm by Maya Banks Lee
He Drank, and Saw the Spider by Alex Bledsoe He Drank, and Saw the Spider by Alex Bledsoe Rike
Temptation Ridge Robyn Carr Temptation Ridge(reissue) by Robyn Carr Pat
Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner Maggie
Prodigal Son anthology Prodigal Son(reissue) by Susan Mallery and Sarah Mayberry Caroline

I’m Never – No, Never! Getting Married

no-weddingNick is a romance hero. He’s never – no, never! – going to get married. You can see why, of course; you need conflict to drive a plot forward, and if Nick sees Elizabeth, falls in love with Elizabeth, proposes to Elizabeth, and marries Elizabeth without a hitch you’ve got one short (and probably not all that interesting) book. A hero (or somewhat less frequently, heroine) who is never – no, never! – going to get married can provide that hitch in the relationship that makes for a good conflict and interesting reading. Well, except when it’s totally lame. If there is one knee jerk conflict that authors like to turn to, this is it. I see it more often in contemporary novels, likely because birth control is widely available and modern sexual mores more permissive. But if pops up fairly often in historicals too, usually for different reasons. I can hardly open a book without running into Nick or one of his ilk. Since the my most recent read with a marriage phobic hero got on my last nerve, I decided to provide this helpful list of acceptable and unacceptable reasons to never – no, never! get married. 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

Eagerly Awaited October Books

Well, October is shaping up to be the month of Rachel Gibson around here, it seems. Plenty of AAR folks are very excited to see her latest release hit shelves! That doesn’t mean that we’re lacking for historicals, series romances or erotic romance to tickle our fancy, though. And then there are the Christmas books which will start hitting stores nice and early…

Title and Author Reviewer
Run to You by Rachel Gibson Run to You by Rachel Gibson Heather S., Mary, Wendy, Jenna, LinnieGayl, Alexandra
Lady Jenny's Christmas Portrait by Grace Burrowes Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait by Grace Burrowes Rike, Caz, Mary
The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley Lee, Lauren, Caz
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding Mary, Rike, Lauren
Christmas Bliss by Mary Kay Andrews Christmas Bliss by Mary Kay Andrews LinnieGayl. Lee
10 Shades of Seduction anthology 10 Shades of Seduction by Tiffancy Reisz, Portia Da Costa, Alegra Verde, Alison Tyler, Anne Calhoun, and Lisa Renee Jones Dabney, Lynn
The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter The Counterfeit Mistress by Madeline Hunter Mary, Lee
Teatime for the Firefly by Shona Patel Teatime for the Firefly by Shona Patel Maggie, Caroline
On Midnight Wings On Midnight Wings by Adrian Phoenix Wendy
Possession byJR Ward Possession by J. R. Ward Heather S.
Destiny's Surrender by Beverly Jenkins Destiny’s Surrender by Beverly Jenkins Lynn
Season for Scandal by Teresa Romain Season for Scandal by Teresa Romain Caz
In This Together by Kara Lennox In This Together by Kara Lennox Rike
The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot Lee
Spy's Honor by Amy Raby Spy’s Honor by Amy Raby Caroline
King's Mountain by Sharyn McCrumb King’s Mountain by Sharyn McCrumb Pat
Fatal Strike by Shannon McKenna Fatal Strike by Shannon McKenna Dabney
The London Deception by Addison Fox The London Deception by Addison Fox Lynn
Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander Behind the Shattered Glass by Tasha Alexander LinnieGayl
Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley Maggie
Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan Pat
Aiding the Enemy by Julie Rowe Aiding the Enemy by Julie Rowe Lynn
The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton The Unidentified Redhead(paperback release of eBook) by Alice Clayton Mary