Archive for the ‘Heroes’ Category

Five Awesome Romance Things

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

bookofawesome3dIntroduction first: In case you were unaware of the 1000 Awesome Things blog, Neil Pasricha was at a down point in his life a couple of years ago, and decided to cheer himself up by blogging about the good, often unnoticed, things in life.  When gas prices go down just as you need some gas.  When you turn a pillow onto its fresh side.  The fact that we exist.  When a cashier opens a new cash line.  You know – awesome things.

1000 posts and 3 bestsellers later, the blog is over.  In (belated) honour of the 1000th post, I decided to write about the awesome things in romance.  It’s been a good exercise, because too often I focus on the annoying or tedious in romance novels.  But despite the bad stuff, there are many reasons I stick with romance novels, and they’re all awesome (in my opinion, anyway).  So here, counting down, are my Five Awesome Romance Things.

5. You can’t please everyone, but you can please someone. Publishing is a transient business.  Just think of all those thousands – no, millions of books that clutter used bookstores, books that are in and out of print, remembered and forgotten.  But what’s great about romances is that even 999 people think a book’s absolute crap, there’s probably at least one person who finds it awesomer than Kraft Dinner.

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Dark Shadows

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

darkBefore we had the tormented Carpathians, and the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not to mention Edward of the Twilight series, many people grew up watching Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows. No doubt the show paved the way for the acceptance of romantic vampires today. Yet many of today’s tormented vampires can’t hold a candle to Barnabas. In fact, Barnabas was all about the candles. Candles,  eerie music, cobwebs, fierce storms, crypts and graveyards. And unlike many vampires today, he was a true anti-hero.

Unlike many people from my generation, I didn’t grow up watching Dark Shadows all the time. I never seemed to get home at the right time, so I watched Captain Chesapeake instead. Still, although I was a scaredy-cat, I managed to sneak in a few episodes now and then.

When I heard that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were working together on a Dark Shadows movie, my first reaction was “Perfect!” I couldn’t wait to see it. Then I realized that many fans were upset with the trailer because the movie comes across as a send-up. They are not amused. Or as my sister-in-law pointed out to be, fans took the show very seriously.

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Speaking of Audiobooks: Giveaway Plus Author and Narrator Interviews (Giveaway Closed)

Monday, March 19th, 2012

The Madness of I MacWhen I discovered that Tantor was set to release Jennifer Ashley’s The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie on March 26th, I enthusiastically shared the news far and wide.  Published in 2009, it’s a favorite among romance readers winning Best Romance of 2009 in AAR’s Annual Reader Poll and ranking #10 in AAR’s 2010 Top 100 Romance Poll.  In print, we were mesmerized by hero Ian Mackenzie and, in audio, we hope to move the entire experience up a notch by actually hearing him interact in his matter-of-fact manner as he determinedly pursues Beth.

Today, we are celebrating the release of this much loved book with a giveaway and interviews with both author Jennifer Ashley and narrator Angela Dawe.

The Giveaway

We are giving away FIVE MP3 CD copies of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie courtesy of Tantor Audio.  Place your name in the hat by commenting on this column by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Thursday, March 22nd. Due to the cost of postage, the giveaway is open only to listeners in the U.S. and Canada.  We encourage multiple comments in our discussion, but you will only be entered in the contest once.  If you review for another Web site or blog, please don’t enter.  The winner will be notified by email on Friday morning and will have 24 hours to respond.  Another winner will be selected on Saturday morning if the winner has not responded.  Audiobooks will be mailed to the winners upon release of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.

Talking with Jennifer Ashley

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My Favorite Irish Heroes

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

irishcastle Maybe it’s the brogue. Or the green eyes so many of them seem to have. Perhaps it is the passionate, artistic nature. The Irish, after all, are credited with being great poets and musicians. It could be the magic – the Island is equated with all manner of faeries and myths. Perhaps it is their imports- men who look like Colin Farell, Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan all have the look of a good romance rogue. Whatever it is, there is nothing quite like an Irish hero, is there? With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, I felt it was time to pay tribute to lads of the Emerald Isle. Here are my favorites, in no particular order:
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Do We Give Paranormal Heroes a Pass?

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

werewolf Think about it. If I read a historical where the hero comes along, tells the heroine she will be his, and they engage in a courtship that seems to consist of bickering, near rapes, and the hero having to mark heroine as his in some physical way, you’d think I was reading an old-school 1970s/80s book, wouldn’t you? Sure, every now and again a novel comes along that has a hero pushing the envelope in terms of sexual coercion or controlling behavior, but it’s unusual enough that it often sparks controversy and readers talk about it.
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Endearments – Yea or Nay?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

imagesDearest, darling readers: I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day with your loved ones.  My day began quite unexceptionally, at school with those sweet children in my class, and all I planned to do when I got home was start Gaelen Foley’s One Night of Sin.  But guess what, cupcakes?  Before long I was sighing and shaking my head.  There was one thing, O Best Beloveds, that was driving me to near insanity – much as I am probably doing to you currently, my poor angels.  And that was the proliferation of endearments.

I have a hard time dealing with them, especially the flowery ones, and especially when they’re used often.  One Night of Sin has them in abundance and I find them nauseating.  But are they nauseating because it’s actually overkill, or is it just because I’m not used to them?

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Series, Series, and More Series

Friday, January 20th, 2012

We have all seen the trend that is happening in Romance novels these days.  The Series.  I can’t even remember the last time that I read a book that wasn’t a part of a series.  Paranormals, fantasy, Regencies – it doesn’t matter the genre, all the books seem to be a part of a series.  For me, that isn’t really a problem.  I like that.  I like that I don’t have to say goodbye to characters that I love and have come to care about after I finish a book.  I like that a younger sibling or a best friend that we like in one book finds their own HEA in the next book.  So this trend hasn’t bothered me all that much.  That is until very recently.

While I have no problem with the trend that all books are a part of a series, I have started to see something that I don’t like.  Usually, I enjoy a good epilogue.  It used to be that the epilogue was a small chapter at the end of the book where we get a chance to peek at the future.   This used to be a place that transcended the “series” chronology and jumped forward a few years and let us know that despite what may be happening is the great story arc of the series, this is what is happening with the couple currently.  A good example of this would be Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward.  At the end of this book, we get an epilogue that takes place 18 months after the book ended and the epilogue is a scene with the main couple, Z and Bella, and it steps out of the chronology of the series and gives a glimpse of the future.  I love these scenes.  They reassure us that all is well with the couple in the future, they reaffirm the HEA, and they satisfy any curiosity of children that may have been born or events that might have played out off page.

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My Beef Against Contemporaries

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

10553126It’s no secret that I like historicals.  No, change that.  I love historicals.  Yeah, I complain about the proliferation of Regencies.  But when all’s said and done, I look at my list of treasured books, and the vast majority are historicals.

My second preference would be for paranormals and fantasy.  Contemporaries, I’m afraid, are a very, very distant third.  I used to think this was due to several reasons, like the fact that historicals are my first love and that I love the escape into a separate world.  And those are still true.  But the other day, I had an epiphany, which, frankly, I should have had a long time ago: One of the main reasons I don’t read as many contemporaries as I do historicals is that 99.9% of contemporary characters are white and Christian.

My issue isn’t that I don’t qualify as either white or Christian.  After all, human emotions are the same all around the world.  And heck, I’m 100% Chinese, and I identify more with Eve Dallas than characters in The Joy Luck Club.  (Not an exaggeration.)

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Heads Up: The Annual AAR Readers Poll is Coming

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

I know that many of you are in a pre-holiday frenzy right now, and the last thing you need is more pressure. Then again, it’s better to have lots of warning. If you’re a longtime visitor to AAR, you know what’s coming in January. But if you’re new to AAR, let us give you a heads-up now. Yes, even though 2011 isn’t over, we at AAR are getting ready for the AAR Annual Reader Poll for 2011 romances!

Voting in the 16th AAR Annual Reader Poll will begin on Monday, January 16, 2012 and will end two weeks later at midnight on Sunday, January 29th. The Annual Reader Poll has a long tradition at AAR, and is one of the highlights of the year here.

The categories we used last year worked quite well. By changing the previous category of Erotica to Romantica/Erotica and the category of Worst Romance to Most Disappointing Romance, we were able to announce winners quite easily in all of the categories. So we’re sticking with a good thing and will be going with the same categories this year (see the bottom of this post for a listing of all of the categories  that will be on the ballot this year).

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Deal Breakers: Have We All Gotten a Bit Too Cranky?

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

stock-vector-policeman-yelling-stop-retro-clip-art-58890815Even a casual visitor to the AAR message boards quickly learns one thing:  We are an opinionated bunch.

And in just about every thread somebody posts about a plot device they loathe.  Be it a couple who jumps into bed right off the bat or an arranged marriage, the list of plot devices that we loathe seems to number in the thousands.  Maybe millions.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here, but not by much.  We’re a bunch of cranky pants.

And, when you think about it, we’re leaving authors with little to nothing to work with.  Because constructing a plot that doesn’t feature any of the devices that someone loathes would be nearly impossible.

Here’s what I think:  We’ve gotten so narrow in our list of what we’re looking for when we read, that we’re denying ourselves a whole lot of good stuff.

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